The Publicans Prayer Book is a wonderful addition to your devotional life.
I recently purchased the Publican's Prayer Book by Sophia Press. Sophia Press is the official publishing arm of the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton. They have two dozen or so books available about the Melkite and other eastern churches. Spurred by my recent visit to the local Melkite monastery and my general interest in the Christian East, I decided to look for a way to incorporate some eastern practices into my devotional life.
The leather on this volume feels near identical to that which can be found on the Harper NRSV XL. I believe the NRSV XL is bonded. I'm not sure if this is real or bonded. The cover smells real. But at any rate, it is a very nice, textured, soft leather cover. The gold stamping is well done. The book does not lay flat, but that's fine since this is a hand-held book. The Publican Prayer Book comes with five very slender ribbons.
The Publican's Prayer Book contains a section on daily prayers (morning through prayers before sleep), prayers for various needs, devotions for Communion, and examination of conscience, prayers before, during, and after Confession, a section for the Liturgical Year, Canons, Akathists (more on those in a minute), Church Father commentary on various subjects, a glossary of terms, and finally a section on Eastern Christian practices.
There is quite a bit between the covers and enough explanation in each section to help a Latin Rite Catholic like myself participate in the life of the East. One of the best things they added was the glossary of terms. I have to admit - I have no problem telling you what an Antiphon, a Canticle, or a Collect is but if you asked me what an Akathist, Kontakion, or a Metany was before using this prayer book I probably would have looked at you sideways. I had heard all these terms before but allowed them to go in one ear and out the other. The glossary should be longer however. As it stands there only a few terms defined. It would have been nice to have several more pages of eastern liturgical lingo.
There is a lot of artwork throughout the book. Not all of it is so well done however. Rather than finding high quality images to use of certain icons it appears they used small images and blew them up to fit on the page. Some of it looks like clip art on a poorly designed website.
And yet there are other images that are very well done.
There is only one prayer which might present a problem for some. In the prayers for various needs section there is a particularly beautiful prayer for aborted children. The prayer seems to assume that heaven is open for them and that is a highly debated subject in the Church. Personally I hold to the “limbo” theory and believe it to be an extremely generous one. However we do know God is not bound by his Sacraments. That said, G.K. Chesterton once warned that the ultimate tyranny is when the exception becomes the norm.
The Morning, Daytime, Evening, and Prayers Before Sleep will be your most used sections of the book. However the heart of the text in my opinion seem to be the Canons and devotions for Confession and Holy Communion. The prayers themselves are among some of the most beautiful I've ever seen in any prayer book.
At $35 I highly recommend adding this to your library. If any eastern Christians have anything to add here about any of the prayers included I welcome them in the comments section.
You can purchase this book here.