Boise couple combine talents to create visual prayer book
Matthew, Ashley and Luke Peck. (Courtesy photo/Peck family)
By Gene Fadness
Both Matthew and Ashley Peck of Boise were raised in Catholic homes. From early in life they began to hear the prayers that after time, almost by osmosis, are committed to memory.
The upside to memorized prayer is that one can send up an Our Father, a Hail Mary, a Glory Be when needed. The downside, Ashley Peck wonders, “Are we really grasping the words we are praying? Are we connecting to them or just regurgitating the words?”
Both Matthew and Ashley were familiar with the pocket-sized prayer books that most all Catholics have in the nightstand. A visual person, Ashley appreciated it when some of the small prayer books had art to go with the prayers, but most did not.
One night while Matt and Ashley were praying the Rosary, Ashley began to envision a prayer book that would include Catholic art along with insightful quotes to “raise one’s prayer life to new heights.” She stayed up late that night. “The whole premise of the thing just kind of unfolded. I was so excited.”
“I did the layout and the design and Matt did research for the insights,” Ashley said. “It was cool how both of our talents came together.”
The result is “Everyday Prayers: A Visual Collection of Prayers and Insights from the Catholic Treasury to Raise Heart and Mind to God.”
Printed by Caxton Printers in Boise, the soft-covered book, at 8 x 10, is larger than most prayer books to allow space for beautiful four-color images and tastefully placed insights from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from saints and Church fathers, to go with each prayer. The larger size and tasteful style also makes it possible to be a coffee-table book that could launch a conversation about prayer.
Matt researched the prayers, cross-referencing key concepts from the prayers with words from the Catechism, saints and popes. “It really kind of wrote itself,” he said. “I had a lot of material to choose from, so we picked the insights that we felt had the highest impact.”
The night that Ashley began working on the concepts for the book was not the first time she had thought about a prayer book with inspiring images and insights.
The two were living in Pasadena where Matt was working toward his master’s degree in marriage and family counseling at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school. “Evangelicals are good at creating resources that are engaging, enriching and dynamic,” Ashley said. “But, what they put together is very modern. They don’t have the centuries of beautiful art that we have.”
Thus, the prayers in the book are set against a backdrop of a photo from a beautiful cathedral, painting or statue.
The 143-page book is divided into “collections” of prayers, including Essential Prayer, Marian Prayers, Prayers of Thanksgiving, Prayers of Petition, Prayers for Moments and Prayers at the Cross.
The dedication is “For our Blessed Mother, who is the Perfect Prayer and inspiration for these collections.”
The Pecks are hoping that this will be the first in a collection of illustrated prayer books. They are planning for future volumes that target specific audiences: families, couples, men, women, and prayers of the Saints. They are looking at a smaller digest version that one could take to Adoration and also creating prayer journals.
The target for the first volume, however, was smaller. “We made it for ourselves,” Ashley said. “I am the target audience because I looked at it as something I wished that I had. I remember thinking, ‘How has this not been created; a prayer book that uses artwork to complement prayers with deeper meaning?”
The book sells for $25.99 and can be ordered from the website prayerfulcatholic.com.
The Pecks want to create a non-profit entity, “Restore Thy Church,” that would give proceeds from book sales to church restoration projects to, as Ashley puts it, “add beauty and elevate the mind and soul to God.”
The restoration now taking place at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, where the Pecks are parishioners, is the perfect example of the type of project that could be supported by “Restore Thy Church.”
At a more practical level, the fund would support basic maintenance projects as well. “There’s a lot of vandalism happening at churches now, creating an even greater need of funds for restoration,” Ashley said.
The prayers and tasteful art in each book may do as much or more to “Restore Thy Church” than would physical improvements.
ABOUT THE PECKS
Ashley Peck was raised by a Catholic family in the Bay Area of northern California. She attended St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, near Oakland, where she studied business with a concentration in marketing. She is currently the director of communications for a general contractor based in Pasadena and is able to work from her Boise home.
Matthew Peck was raised in Carson Valley, Nevada and has an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Matthew met Ashley in 2014 at Lake Tahoe near where he grew up. They got married in 2019 and moved to southern California where he could pursue his master’s degree at Fuller.
The Pecks came to Boise when Boise State University selected him from a nationwide pool of candidates to its apprenticeship program for a doctorate in counseling education. He is a counselor at Cornerstone Psychological Associates in Boise.
The Pecks have one son, Luke, who is just over a year old.
They love Boise, Ashley said, partly because of the “vibrancy of the Catholic community. It’s immersed in young families. We’ve never seen anything like it.”
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