We turn to the past, to the distant past, to the Church's infancy, putting forward a plan for meditation, during the course of a year, on the writings of the Fathers. Thomas Spidlik's ''Patristic Breviary'' provides, not a prayer book for daily use -- Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Anglicanism already have their liturgical collections for this purpose -- but nuggets mined from the Fathers of the Church for meditative reading. When even various Twelve Step programs use books of daily meditations (and Spidlik's entry for March 18 sounds like it is straight out of Alcoholics Anonymous), it is fitting that recourse be made to the Fathers daily. Spidlik chooses to follow the secular calendar rather than the Church's calendar. Thus, he begins with January 1; many of the meditations for the beginning of the year involve creation. The selections for June involve marriage, and the readings for the time around Labor Day happen to touch on work (a surprising coincidence in a book first published in Italy by a Slavic writer!). Spidlik's Patristic sources are briefly but usefully described in a concluding note ''On Authors and Texts.'' If you don't know where to start in J.P. Migne's 378-volume Patrologiae Cursus Completus
, begin with Spidlik. 447 pp. New copy, but has suffered rough handling in Publisher warehouse. Near fine copy, but with creased rear cover corner. Text pristine.
An Eighth Day View:
By presenting insights of the Church Fathers for meditation each day, arranged by topic each month, this little volume offers an introduction both to the Fathers and to monastic prayerful reading.