Where has Fr. John Burns been hiding? I realize we are blessed with thousands of priests in the United States so it’s okay that we don’t know them all — but trust me, this is one you’re going to want to follow. I’ve read some really pleasant and inspirational books lately but none hold a candle to the masterful way that Fr. Burns crafts each sentence in his book Lift Up Your Heart: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Francis De Sales.
Really, you’ll be hearing lots of quotes from this book in my upcoming talks. It’s fantastic and it really tore my heart open and poured so much goodness inside!
Many of you have heard of the spiritual classic Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and while this book is also deeply inspirational, it can be a bit challenging to get through. It’s old. academic, and might feel dry and unrelatable to some. I believe this is why Fr. John wanted to make a version that feels more accessible for today’s readers.
This is meant to be a 10-day retreat that you can do at home. Each day focuses on a specific meditations (i.e. sin, death, judgment, paradise, etc.) with writings from Fr. John as well as quotes from St. Francis. Each day has a nice blend of modern-day challenges with issues Christians have struggled with for centuries.
I think this book would work really well for a group study too! You could could assign 2 or 3 meditations each week and then meet to discuss them. There is so much in each chapter to discuss that I’m confident your group would closer to each other and to God as you made this retreat together.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
Ignorance and denial of our own limitations will, without fail, act like a chain on our forward progress.
Ask God to help you mingle that joy with a resolution to overcome apathy and complacency.
The omnipotence and omnipresence of God is stunning. It should make us feel spoiled, really, that he is so gentle and present as to be involved in our details.
A healthy detachment from created or material realities] aids us in contemplating our death and in stirring a longing for eternal blessedness.
Much like I found that reading 33 Days to Morning Glory inspired me to read the original True Devotion, I believe Lift Up Your Heart will inspire you to crack open Introduction to the Devout Life when you’re ready.
I have found that reading about the lives of the saints, especially the ones who have left spiritual travel guides for us is one of the best ways that I can stay connected to my faith and to continue to grow in love for Jesus.
I’ll leave you with the invitation Fr. John makes at the beginning of his book:
“As you being, remember the goal: You are setting out to embrace the love of God more fully and therefore come to a greater place of peace and joy than you had previously known possible. It is the journey undertaken previously by all saints.”
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Copyright 2017 Sterling Jaquith
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