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Father Ayo writes book on ancient Christian prayer

Author: Arts and Letters

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“Gloria Patri: The History and Theology of the Lesser Doxology,” by Rev. Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., professor emeritus in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, was recently published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

The “lesser doxology” which Father Ayo examines is an ancient, and, as he puts it, “pivotal” prayer which Christians have said for two millennia, often referring to it as the “Gloria Patri,” the first two words of its Latin version: “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

An ancient feature of Christian liturgy, the lesser doxology is said so often, and so often formulaically, that familiarity can occlude an appreciation of its depth and intensity. “Almost nothing in the formulation of Christian prayer,” Father Ayo writes, “is as simple in examination as in appearance.”

Accordingly, he considers the etymology of the prayer’s wording, the history of its usage and the theology it evokes, celebrates and upholds.

“I hope to show how theological examination can enrich praying,” Father Ayo says, “and how the `Gloria Patri,’ inviting spiritual reflection, can ground and deepen a theology of glory.”

“Nicholas Ayo’s latest book on prayer reflects both his command of the literature and his profound personal commitment to the patrimony of Catholic spirituality,” said Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. “This work is an exemplary successor to his earlier works on the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary,and the Apostle’s Creed. `Gloria Patri’ is a work not just to be read but to be savored.”

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1981, Father Ayo is the author of many other books on spirituality and prayer, including “The Hail Mary: A Verbal Icon of Mary,” “The Lord’s Prayer: A Survey Theological and Literary” and, most recently, “Saint Nicholas in America: Christmas Holy Day and Holiday.”

Contact: Rev. Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., at 574-631-7443 or

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on August 22, 2007.