Fr. Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk, died on June 3, 2005 after a car accident, but not before he wrote a book of prayer and spirituality that is worth reading and pondering over. Fr. Basil found 15 questions in the Gospels which he proposed to the reader to ponder on along with him. They cover the topics of God, life, and ourselves. He used the ancient prayer methods called lectio divina and centering prayer to ponder these questions, giving short descriptions into how to use these two methods towards the end of the book.
Fr. Basil, as many may be aware, was known for his many writings on prayer and spirituality; one of his most famous is Centering Prayer, published in 1982. He brought his knowledge of the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, the saints and the monastic tradition to bear in this book. He said in the book that he did not like to use the term “spiritual director” but liked the term “spiritual father.” In many ways he was a spiritual father, and this comes out in this book.
Chapter four of the book is entitled “Who do you say that I am?” which is the source of his book’s title. He asks readers to think of themselves before Jesus and him asking them this question. He ponders with the reader about different possible responses, as he does in other chapters. There are not always answers; in fact, more questions may come up. He provides many topics or questions to ponder on and makes the reader think about what their answers could be to those various questions. He provides many questions and possible answers, but ultimately the reader has to find his or her own answers to the questions posed by Jesus in the Gospels.
This book is a good spiritual tool to learn how to pray over the Gospels. This is one of Fr. Basil’s last books. There are two more due out towards the end of this year.