The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have this week published a new communal prayer book, known as the Book of Hours, which uses inclusive language and reflects the cross-cultural membership of the congregation.
“It is 15 years since our prayer texts have been revised,” said Good Samaritan Sister Mary McDonald, who chaired the core committee responsible for compiling the new book.
“These [texts] were in three volumes. We now have one bound copy which, besides being practical, is also aesthetically pleasing.”
The new Book of Hours is inclusive of those women who have joined the Good Samaritan Congregation from Kiribati, Japan and the Philippines with texts in each of their languages.
The Good Samaritan Liturgical Calendar includes local saints and commemorations of local or national significance, for example, Lorenzo Ruiz of the Philippines; Thomas Nish of Japan; Betero Terawati and Rataro Tiroi of Kiribati.
Saints in the Pacific region are remembered, such as Peter To Rot of Papua New Guinea, as are saints more recently canonised or beatified, Mary MacKillop, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and John Henry Newman.
This new Book of Hours is in keeping with, and links the sisters to their Benedictine tradition which celebrates and gives priority to the Liturgy of the Hours or Prayer of the Church.
Quoting from the introductory text of the new book, Mary said: “In our Benedictine tradition, first place has always been given to the celebration of the Work of God… By the very act of coming together to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours – our first work – we pray as an ecclesial people.
“Thus our communal prayer at morning and evening… is a means by which the assembled community truly constitutes in a special way, the Church at prayer.
“As one of the central elements of our Good Samaritan prayer life and spirituality, the Liturgy of the Hours is a recurring and integral sign of the community’s unity in Christ and of our common life. We assemble in order to pray in one another’s presence, to pray in forms and in language that we hold in common, and to be open to the needs of the other and of our world.”
About 30 Good Samaritan Sisters were engaged in the preparation of the new Book of Hours, with small groups responsible for selecting scripture passages or hymns and poetry, writing prayers of intercession, while others worked on translation or layout and design.
“These sisters have generously shared their time and talent to bring the publication to completion,” said Mary.
Mary also acknowledged the publisher, Sylvana Scannapiego and her team from Publishing Solutions, who “guided the project with generosity and professionalism”.