The Prayerful Kiss (A Collection of Poetry and Prose)

by Francis Etheredge

Are a “Prayer” and a “Kiss” irreconcilable? This is the question Francis Etheredge examines through this medley of “moments,” both painful and beautiful, which are laid out as a kind of word-quilt that ranges over many years of life and writing. A theme among these “impressionistic” accounts of life is the “sharp thread” of an almost endlessly repetitive pain of “passing through” relationships. Marriage emerges as a triumph of God, reconciling the apparent contradiction between the “prayer” and the “kiss.”

Paperback: $14.95 | Kindle: $9.99

Introduction and Poem "The Prayerful Kiss"
"Oh Flaming Fire" from "The Prayerful Kiss"

Contents

Preface by Helen Williams

General Introduction

A Reader-Writer Dialogue

Joseph: Husband of Mary, Mother of The Son

Part I: Today

The Prayerful Kiss
A Philosophical Psalm 139
Christ

Part II: Spiralling Upwards?

The Four Seasons

Autumn Triptych (I)
Winter’s Frosty Days (II)
Spring-a-Light (III); and
Summer Clothes us All (IV)

Part III: Searching

A Trilogy in Search of Self
Running Speech (I)
Particularism (II); and
Water from the Rock (III)
Why Did I Look?
Dew

Part IV: Pain and Joy

Indelible
Suicide
Hidden
The Prayer in our Search for Work
Losing her
Freezing
The Family Tree

Part V: Passing Through

Psalm 151
Loneliness
Mud
A Friend
In the Church Wood
Experience
A Trilogy of a Kind
Grape Juice (I)
Blossom (II)
The Question (III)

Part VI: Writing

My Words Bled
Day-Broken-Bread
Word-Lights
The Gambler
A Bluesy Day
I Wrote
Word-Work
After-words
Without Words

Part VII: Christ and His Church

A Trilogy: Exhausting Human Experience
Part I: The Endless Cycle of “Relationships”
Part II: Psychological, Philosophical and Theological Answers
Part III: The Answer of God in Action
A Crib Trilogy
Christmas (I)
A Christmas Present (II)
The Children’s Gift (III)
Ecumenism (2002)
An Angel
The Domestic Church
Oh Flaming Fire
Let us Pray

Evangelization


AUTHOR ARTICLES

“Conception: A Contradiction?” by Francis Etheredge, Homiletics and Pastoral Review (December 11, 2020), available here.

REVIEWS

“Amazon Review” by Aimee O’Connell at Amazon.com. (December 7, 2020), available here.

“Kelly’s Reviews” by  Kelly Jayne Lazell at Goodreads. (June 5, 2020), available here.

“The cure for loneliness the world won’t tell you about” by Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ. Aleteia (February 10, 2020), available here.

The Prayerful Kiss, Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism (January 31, 2020), available here.


TESTIMONIALS

The Prayerful Kiss is a prolonged, transcendental and theological – Catholic – meditation on God, Christ and Mary. The meditation assumes many forms: poetry, reflection, confession, philosophy, abstractions, reminiscences, and prayer. If I have missed a category out – so be it; it is a dense and complex book! Perhaps the starting point to understanding it is contained in the Preface where Etheredge is compared to GK Chesterton, and particularly Chesterton’s wonder at life. I think it true to say that Etheredge marvels that existence exists (’Out of what impenetrably white lightness suddenly spoke Existence?’), and part of his quest is to search for its meaning, its deeper layers of meaning. Indeed, the arrangement of the book in that sense is like an onion as Etheredge unpeels, strips back, and determines to reach the still point where his longings are satisfied. For the collection veers from profound abstractions to highly personal anecdotes and stories. It could be said that Etheredge is a Christian for our times, for out on social media we have a plethora of people going on about their problems, mental health issues, vulnerabilities and uncertainties, etc., but in an entirely secular way in which somehow underlying most of the griping is the complaint that the State should do more in supporting them. There is none of that with Etheredge: it is from the living God that salvation is to be found, salvation in all things. The most moving and pivotal incident in the whole collection, and which underpins most of it, is the abortion of his first child, whom he perceives to be still alive in heaven; and also whom he equates, in terms of its emotional intensity, with the dead Christ in the arms of Mary. As he says, ‘Thirty years on, however, this child is as present to me as every other child [he currently has 8 other children and 2 further ones who are ‘in heaven’]; and, even if I cannot explain it, I am conscious of a fatherhood that I cannot forget.’ This loss is something that Etheredge, or anyone else, can barely come to terms with; but unlike most people who, for one reason or another, decide to move on, Etheredge won’t move on: he has to confront the demons of this devastating tragedy, again and again. He has to wrestle – as I imagine Jacob did with the angel on the ladder to heaven – until finally all is reconciled: in his mind, emotions, spirit; and the great reconciler is his imagination as he explores all the nuances of his tragedy. To say it is his ‘imagination’ which is the great reconciler is not here to be secular: for the imagination is the creative spirit itself that God imbued all humanity with in the original Creation. Thus, it is God speaking and reconciling through him. All this, however, can make for heavy work – it is so intense, one finds it difficult to read in large chunks. That said, there are moments of simple beauty too: ‘A beautiful singing, / Of Love being the beginning.’ So I strongly recommend this book: if you are struggling with your faith, then this is for you; if you have no faith and think the world has done you down, then read what happened to Etheredge; if you are looking for a deep affirmation of life and creation, then this book will not disappoint.” – James Sale, Amazon.co.uk review

“The One, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful are transcendental attributes of God. The Prayerful Kiss is a reflection of true beauty and connects us to God in a way that no other book has ever done.” – Gordon Nary, Editor, Profiles in Catholicism

A Prayerful Kiss is an astounding book! I never thought I would find a 21st century Catholic metaphysical poet, but now I have. Besides that, you can actually understand the poems, which is rather rare for readers like myself! In what might be a new genre, Etheredge alternates sets of poems with autobiographical material, and his commentaries are as potentially life-changing as his poetry. Get it, read it, and let the Spirit flow!” – Ronda Chervin, Ph.D. is the author of numerous books on Catholic spirituality and a professor of philosophy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven.

Francis is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word, and a trilogy From Truth and Truth (Volume I-“Faithful Reason”; Volume II-“Faith and Reason in Dialogue”; Volume III-“Faith Is Married Reason”), all of which are published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing; and of The Human Person: A Bioethical Word, The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads through Dead Ends, The Prayerful Kiss, Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration,  and Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry, all of which are published by En Route Books and Media.

See Francis’ other books, too, entitled Scripture: A Unique WordFrom Truth and truth: Volume I-Faithful ReasonFrom Truth and truth: Volume II: Faith and Reason in DialogueFrom Truth and truth: Volume III: Faith is Married Reason.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “Posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. Poetry; short articles; autobiographical blog; excerpts from books; and “Philosophize: A Ten Minute Write.” He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction). Enjoy these additional articles by Francis Etheredge:

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