‘Grace in Progress: Prayers for the Beautifully Broken’
Author: J.C. Beichner
Length: 78 pages
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2017
Available at: Kino Library
Grace is a good thing to talk about, a good thing to meditate on and in this Easter season, it’s good to know, despite our brokenness and sinfulness, that God gives it freely to us.
The whole thing seems like a fairytale, however: we live our broken lives, abound with sinfulness and yet the Lord is almost unimaginably merciful with us.
In her newly-released, self-published book, “Grace in Progress: Prayers for the Beautifully Broken,” J.C. Beichner presents her witness to brokenness and God’s grace and presents us with a fine set of prayers for every form of brokenness that we experience.
First, a word about self-publishing: with digital printing, publishing costs have dropped dramatically. As a result, more writers can publish but then we must judge each book on its own merits instead of relying on the reputation of the publisher. It’s the wave of the future and will change the face of publishing forever.
Fortunately, for us, this book is beautifully written and Beichner is a local author whose experiences we can all relate to.
Beichner begins with her experience at Mass, something we can all relate to. Her favorite part is our response to the Ecce Agnus Dei, the elevation of the Host and the proclamation: “Behold, this is the Lamb of God” … where we reply, recalling the Roman Centurion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Proclaiming that we are not worthy for Christ to even enter under our roof is a true admission of our own brokenness that relies solely upon God for His mercy. Simple and profound stuff.
Beichner’s story is many of our stories: a product of divorced parents; moving in with grandparents; grandparents and a parent passing away. This story leaves us broken. We find ourselves lonely, thinking that all we have is ourselves; we rely on friends, mostly those who share the same problems in life.
Beichner became pregnant and decided on an abortion. Her description of the facility is on par with Hollywood renditions of zombie movies: shadows, bad lighting, no one to greet her, faceless nurses and doctors. She hid the abortion from her boyfriend who was shipping out with the Army. She hid the abortion from her mother and everyone else but God.
She spent her life in service after those dark days and met her future husband at the scene of an automobile accident — she was with the police department and he was with the fire department. They dated and seven years later, married. Her husband retired from the fire department and that is when they moved to Arizona. He was Catholic but she was not. Still, she chose to attend church with him and it was there that she made her realization — all are broken and fall short of the glory of God. She finally told her mother about the abortion and her mother, in turn, told her about a similar experience that she had when she was young: she had a child and placed the child with an adoptive family. Beichner was shocked, of course, to learn that she had a sister.
Sin upon sin, forgiveness upon forgiveness and one day she told her husband that she wanted to become Catholic, a testament to the healing power of the Church.
Thus, her book of prayers for the broken.
“Help Me Follow” she titles her first prayer. “Lord,” she writes, “Thank you for your peace …” This prayer sums up the trauma, the brokenness, the forgiveness, and the peace to be found in the Lord; something for all of us.
Twenty-one prayers follow for each of us who acknowledge and understand our own trauma, brokenness, forgiveness and strength in the Lord.
This is an eminently readable and useable book for all of us.