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September 2016 Prayer of the Month: The Best Way to Live

Posted by Patricia A. Lynch on

This month's free reflection is taken from

Edith Wharton, Illuminated by The Message

Compiled and introduced by Patrick T. Reardon

Patrick T. Reardon is the most recent contributor to ACTA’s popular Literary Portals to Prayer series. Each contributor scours the works of their favorite author, playwright, or poet to extract passages that lead to prayer. Then excerpts are carefully selected from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition to make each pairing of literature and Scripture a prayer starter or, as some have described it, literary lectio divina. Edith Wharton, Illuminated by The Message, as well as all the volumes in this series, contains fifty such prayer starters from works such as The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth.

Here's what readers have said about Literary Portals to Prayer:

I have been so "illuminated by The Message" that I am using the books to pray—especially when I am tired or discouraged or, at times, even joyful. In any case, I hold them as a source of grace.

I wanted to share with you that the kids and I read the first devotion in your book the night before school started, and then revisited it the next morning. We talked about what it means to "be the hand of God." It was such a wonderful conversation.

This wee wonderful book has a favored place beside my bed now. Morning, sometimes noon, and nighttime the snippets gave me pause for solace as I read this jewel for the first time. And now, I read and reread them again, still not wanting to put it down.

Individual volumes or sets make thoughtful gifts for literary fans of all ages and can be used in the classroom, for small group discussion, and in a variety of ministries. Try one! Collect them all!

Edith Wharton, Illuminated by The Message

A Passage from Edith Wharton


Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death; yet there are always new countries to see, new books to read (and, I hope, to write), a thousand little daily wonders to marvel at and rejoice in, and those magical moments when the mere discovery that “the woodspurge has a cup of three” brings not despair but delight. The visible world is a daily miracle for those who have eyes and ears; and I still warm my hands thankfully at the old fire, though every year it is fed with the dry wood of more old memories.


A Passage from The Message


After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.


About the Author

Patrick T. Reardon is a Chicagoan, born and bred. He has been writing about the city, its region, its planning issues and literary scene for more than forty years. For much of that time, he was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He has also written extensively about his Catholic faith in articles and essays in a variety of newspapers and magazines. His books include Daily Meditations (with Scripture) for Busy Dads; Catholic and Starting Out: 5 Challenges and 5 Opportunities; and Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s Silence. His website is, and his “Pump Don’t Work” blog is at

Related Titles

Charles Dickens, Illuminated by The Message
Compiled and introduced by Jon M. Sweeney

Louisa May Alcott, Illuminated by The Message
Compiled and introduced by Susan Bailey

Hans Christian Andersen, Illuminated by The Message
Compiled and introduced by Mary K. Doyle

Previous volumes: William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Elizabeth Gaskell