After reading Shirt of Flame: A year with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, I feel grateful to author Heather King. Through this book, King uses her immersion in the life and writings of Thérèse to make this saint vibrant and relevant for contemporary seekers.
In the past I had picked up the writings of Thérèse and found her to be unremittingly optimistic. Thankfully, King has blessed me with a fresh perspective on this young woman, who lived quietly from 1873 to 1897, and her approach to spirituality.
Throughout this worthwhile, enjoyable book King relates significant moments in the life of Thérèse with events that have shaped her own spiritual journey. Each of the twelve chapters concludes with a beautiful prayer, each based on that chapter’s theme. The book concludes with a helpful appendix of life events in chronology. Unobtrusive endnotes aid the reader in locating sources for quoted passages in the text.
Like Thérèse, King invites us to consider how we are spending our days. Are we making time for prayer? How much energy are we giving to loving others? Are we mindful that through serving others we might show our love for God? As King writes, “To let our own flames burn hot, then, requires a radical re-ordering of our time, energy, activities, attention, and orientation of the heart.” I encourage you to pick up this book and experience how these lessons might touch your own heart.
A Catholic convert, author Heather King also has written the books Parched and Redeemed. Her essays have been published in a number of magazines, and she blogs at .
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received for this review.
Posted in book review | Tagged Catholicism, memoir, spirituality, Thérèse of Lisieux, women saints | 1 Comment »
This Wednesday, February 13, marks the beginning of Lent, the season preceding Easter in the Christian calendar. Many will observe a special period of prayer, perhaps including fasting and almsgiving as well.
Lent can be a time of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation. Lent provides an opportunity to be intentional about turning one’s mind and heart to God. Lent can create an increase in joy, as we undertake to remove obstacles that stand in the way of a connection with God.
May we all find inspiration in the writings of the prophet Isaiah, who reminds us to see individual spiritual practices within in a larger picture of relationships:
This is the fast that pleases me:
to break unjust fetters,
to let the oppressed go free,
to share your bread with the hungry
and shelter the homeless poor.
If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness. (Isaiah 58:6-7, 10)
For prayer resources during Lent, to help keep the heart fixed on the peace and justice embodied by Jesus, I highly recommend Pax Christi USA. In particular, they offer a booklet The Light of Lent through the Gospels, written by Megan McKenna, which offers encouragement to “stretch out our hands and spirits to be for and with others.” This booklet contains not only scriptural reflections, but very practical ideas for how to apply teachings on peacemaking in daily life. Through reflection on how to live peacefully, may we be led to actions that show God’s love in the world.
Posted in reflection | Tagged Catholicism, Christianity, Lent, prophets, spiritual disciplines | Leave a Comment »
Work that uses our God-given gifts and talents can lead to a deep contentment. Yet the road to satisfying work can be winding and bumpy, full of detours and barriers. In Loving Work, author Mike Hayes shares his vocational journey with readers. He offers several practical tools based on his own experience of seeking rewarding work. What changes might you be craving in the area of work and vocation? Mike Hayes will be a joyful companion as you explore your questions, beginning with a call to notice the moments and places where you feel most alive.
I enjoyed learning how Hayes shifted from a career in radio to his present work in campus ministry. Little by little, light shone on his path and he was able to make choices that let his heart shine through his work. Whether you are craving major change, or need to see your present work in a new light, the questions Hayes offers will assist you in reflection and decision-making.
We are invited to examine our hopes and fears, and to lay everything before God in prayer. We are encouraged to bravely step beyond the familiar, and to reach for that which best allows us to express God’s love onto the world.
Hayes writes with honesty and compassion, making Loving Work an easy and encouraging read. It would be ideal for sharing with a friend who struggles to find her vocation, and makes a very helpful addition to church and public libraries.
Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received for this review.
Posted in book review | Tagged Orbis Books, service, spirituality, vocation | Leave a Comment »
To inspire your prayer life in this new year, I recommend A World of Prayer: Spiritual leaders, activists, and humanitarians share their favorite prayers.
Published by the consistently excellent Orbis Books
, this exciting collection of over 100 prayers was edited by Rosalind Bradley
. The prayers come from a breadth of religious traditions and from cultures around the globe. The collection includes favorite prayers selected by prominent people of faith, including theologians, artists, writers, musicians, and Nobel peace prize winners. It is uplifting to see Mairead Corrigan, Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Islam gathered in one place. Each prayer is accompanied by a personal commentary or reflection.
As a small taste, I offer here one of my own favorites, written by Teresa of Avila, who lived from 1515 to 1582 in Spain. It was selected for this volume and translated by theologian James Alison.
Nada te turbe, May nothing wind you up,
nada te espante, Nothing affright you;
todo se pasa Everything comes and goes
Dios no se muda God, still, just there;
la paciencia Through patience
todo lo alcanza; All will be achieved.
quien a Dios tiene If you have God,
nada le falta: You lack nothing:
solo Dios basta. God alone will do.
prayer © 2012 by Rosalind Bradley
Disclosure: No fee was received for this review.
Posted in book review | Tagged in, inspiration, interfaith, multicultural, peacemaking, prayers | 1 Comment »
Great Mosque, Damascus © 2007 Pattern in Islamic Art
Happy New Year! As I reflect on my hopes for 2013, I am feeling deeply aware of the many blessings in my life. May we share a spirit of love and generosity with everyone we meet in this new year.
In the spirit of sharing my blessings with neighbors in need, I am holding a Mercy Corps giving challenge during January. For every new email subscriber, and for every new”like” this blog’s facebook page receives, I will donate $1 (up to $50 total) to Mercy Corps to help with the Syrian refugee crisis. Also, I am looking for a generous individual who would be willing to match my donation total, to double the gift. If you would be willing to do this, please leave a comment below.
Posted in reflection | Tagged blessings, love one another, Mercy Corps, peacemaking | Leave a Comment »
The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
During these past weeks of Advent, I have been taking quiet time, preparing myself inwardly for a new year. I have been reading the Bible passages related to the coming birth of Jesus, and asking God to show me what these stories might mean for my life. Always, I come back to Mary.
When the angel came with a message from God, Mary responded with deep trust and profound courage. I long to be able to say, “Here I am, God, your servant,” without holding back. I don’t want to respond with I can’t…or what if… My prayer is for willingness to serve and to expect that God’s vision is much greater than ours. Mary had a glimpse of this, and she declares her faith in God’s justice with the magnificat.
In this new year, may God work in all of us so that we might declare, with Mary, “my soul magnifies the Lord.” If we each listen for God’s voice, and help lift up those who have a rockier path than our own, we can be instruments of God’s love. As I feel this longing building in my heart, I have been reflecting on an Advent prayer written by Priyanka Bagh. May it be a blessing to you, and may you be a blessing to others.
By Priyanka Bagh, India
that our desire and passion
will be to serve God,
to give our best—
the core of our being
and our potential—
to be used by God,
that we may be fully equipped and trained
to work hard and excel as
the finest instruments of God.
My heart yearns
for us to be
what God called us to be—
to reach out and be
a source of blessing to others;
for women to rise up
and make a difference,
supporting one another,
so that we can grow
towards the fulfillment
of the calling
that God has for us. Amen.
prayer © Priyanka Bagh. The author wrote this prayer as a thank you to the women who provide scholarships through Mennonite Women USA. You can read about the work of Mennonite Women USA, including their international Women’s Fund, on their website.
Posted in reflection | Tagged Advent, Christianity, Christmas, Mary of Nazareth, Mennonite women, prayer | 2 Comments »
Reading prayers composed by women who lived long ago can create a sense of connection across time, space, and cultural divides. Differences fall away, replaced by the common desires of women calling upon God. Through the scholarship of Dr. Aliza Lavie, a beautiful prayer resource now is available. Published in 2008, A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book the book includes Hebrew text alongside the English. This book would make an ideal gift. Not only are the prayers uplifting and the commentaries insightful, but the physical book also is beautiful, meant to be treasured and shared with future generations.
This beautiful volume of prayers will be inspirational to women of all faiths, and exciting for readers who appreciate women’s history. There are prayers from several different countries, written from the middle ages to the present. Prayers are included for every stage of life
Hanukkah will take place from Saturday, December 8 to Sunday, December 16 this year. For all who are celebrating, may the holiday be filled with joy.
I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library. No fee was received in exchange for this review.
Posted in book review | Tagged Hebrew, Judaism, prayer, religious studies, spirituality, women's history | 1 Comment »