The mainstay of Catholic daily readings, prayers and reflections, Magnificat, has a new competitor in town. My guess is that Magnificat has little to worry about by way of subscription attrition, but one never knows. The new kid on the block is Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, published by The Liturgical Press. At first glance it resembles Magnificat in startling detail: similar size, comparable contents, etc. Yet, there are subtle differences that distinguish this newcomer from the older sibling of daily prayer companions.

The first thing of note is the rather impressive editorial board of Give us This Day. I am not sure how much direct involvement this board has in the production and day-to-day operation of the periodical, but the choice to include some of the most popular spiritual writers and speakers (and their reciprocal decision to accept the position) bespeaks the quality of the start-up product. The editorial board, about which much has been discussed — including by The Liturgical Press itself in its own promotion of the new periodical, includes:

  • James Martin, SJ
  • Bishop Robert F. Morneau
  • Kathleen Norris
  • Irene Nowell, OSB
  • Timothy Radcliffe, OP
  • Ronald Roheiser, OMI

You are bound to recognize at least half, if not more, of the group. The first issue (August 2011) includes two short essays, each by Ronald Rolheiser and Jim Martin. I’m not sure what the regular inclusion of such writing might be, but I would assume that this pattern might continue and other editorial advisors would contribute likewise in the future.

I recently got my hands on the first issue (August 2011) after hearing much about its forthcoming status. I am impressed. When producing a text that offers the daily mass readings and prayers as well as an adapted form of the Liturgy of the Hours, you are left with little wiggle room for creativity. In this regard, Give Us This Day can look a lot like Magnificat or Living With Christ (both of which I’ve had subscriptions to in the past at various points).

But in contradistinction to Magnificat, for example, I have to echo the keen observation of commenter on the Catholic Moral Theology blog back in June, who noted that Give Us This Day provides daily reflections that are in fact related to the readings, prayers and memorials of the given day. Magnificat, while offering a similar daily reflection, seems less-concerned about a logical correlation between the readings, prayers and memorials of the day and its at-times non-sequitorial meditation.

In an attempt to side-step what will likely devolve into a “conservative” vs. “liberal” publication debate (whatever those two labels mean), I can anticipate some saying that a publication like Magnificat is geared to a more “traditional” audience, while Give Us This Day is founded as a clear alternative. I have found many of the Magnificat reflections less-accessible and, frankly, consistently “dry” over the years. There does seem to be an operative spiritual milieu that appeals to a particular audience there that does not appeal to me. Meanwhile, Give Us This Day seems to offer something that I find more palatable and there are likely others who would likewise appreciate this new publication.

In an interview with Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, over at the Pray Tell Blog, the new editor of Give Us This Day, Mary Stommes, answered the question: why another publication such as this?

There are lots of other resources available, and people do often ask, “Why Give Us This Day?” I respond by describing daily, weekly, and monthly content. It soon becomes clear that Give Us This Day, while similar to other familiar resources, is very different. Day-by-day, people will hear a wide range of voices from our Catholic Tradition. St. Augustine and Flannery O’Connor, St. Therese of Lisieux and Fr. Michael Casey—the list is practically endless—all these voices have something important to say to us today, something that leads us into the communion we desire.

What emerges in these parts of the whole—the monthly essays and prayers, the weekly “Within the Word” feature, the daily content—is the intimate link between Scripture, liturgy, and life. Scripture and liturgy are life-giving and life-changing. They draw us in and send us out. The more voices we hear affirming and proclaiming that, the better it will be for us as a Church.

I believe that the daily reflection content of superior quality and diversity is this publication’s biggest asset. I think that you can count me among the first subscribers and I will certainly recommend this — if what follows reflects in kind this first issue. But, as someone who is well aware of the challenges of religious publishing today, the launch of any new periodical is a difficult one. I hope that The Liturgical Press is able to sustain its effort well into the future.

2 Comments

  1. My subscription to Magnificat just expired, and while I certainly enjoyed the daily prayers and readings, I also found the reflections to be rather “dry.” I think I’ll try Give Us This Day and see how I like it! Thanks for the review, Dan!

  2. I was given a gift subscription to “Give Us This Day” by a family member. I am a professional Catholic intellectual, and after more than a year of this gift subscription, I have decided to cancel it. “Give Us This Day,” while having the daily mass readings, which is nice, is much inferior to Magnificat in terms of content, especially, but also in design and format. There is an overbearing “narrative” in evidence with “Give Us This Day” that carps at the Holy Spirit-guided authenticity of our Catholic heritage. Great saints, both male and female, are turned into humdrum political figures instead of people on fire with God. Protestant “saints” replace those canonized by the Church. The faith is reduced to social causes, not love of God that spills out into love of neighbor. Plenty of confusion and faith-damaging material abounds.

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