IN TIMES of hardships and temptations, a prayer book that nourishes the heart and soul can be of great help.

“Straight from the Heart: A Prayer Companion,” a project of Fr. Mario Jose Ladra, parish priest of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, compiles prayers written by lay people.

The 400-page book is composed of daily prayers, prayers to Jesus Christ, prayers to saints, Marian prayers, prayers for families, and prayers for personal needs and spiritual healing. There are also prayers for the different professions, prayers for the religious and faithful, and prayers for the dead.

Some of the prayers were written by actor Alfred Vargas and movie director Mario de los Reyes.

“I tried to get original prayers from those people in their own profession so that they can express well what is in their hearts,” Ladra said.

Also included is the late Cory Aquino’s prayer for her son President Benigno Aquino III.

The book gives emphasis on the Blessed Virgin with 10 prayers proclaiming that Mary is the mother of Jesus.

“I believe that Mother Mary moves the heart of Jesus. The Filipino Catholics are very close to the Blessed Mother. The prayer book cannot be completed without the Marian prayer,” he said.

Ladra said his favorite among the prayers is a miracle prayer, which he uses during healing Masses.

A certain Asuncion Aguilar, in a testimonial, said the book was “miraculous,” recalling the fire that broke out in her house in 2010.

“Noong ang aming bahay ay nasunog, kasama ang maraming kagamitan. Pagkatapos ng sunog, isang bag ang naligtas at sa loob nito ay naroon ang aklat ng mga panalangin,” Aguilar stated in her testimonial given to Ladra.

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There are 29 prayers to saints which the author said were his favorites. Among these are the prayers to St. Joseph, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Philomena.

In the ninth edition of the book released last Feb. 29, prayers for athletes and call center agents, a prayer to heal the Mother Earth, and the prayer of Blessed John Paul II were added.

The idea of coming up with a prayer book started when Ladra thought of compiling the prayers used in his parish. More than 250,000 copies of the book have been sold in the Philippines and the United States since it was first published in September 2007. Ladra said that even Pope Benedict XVI received a copy of the prayer book.

There is a Filipino version of the book.

Ladra said the book has a two-fold mission: To serve as a guide for those people who want to start a life of prayer, and to support the seminaries in the Philippines like the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Bulacan, St. Vincent Seminary in Iloilo, and the Lorenzo Mission Institute in Edsa, among others. Proceeds of the book will also go to charities and victims of tropical storm “Sendong.”

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