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In the Secret of My Heart: Moments of stillness …

18 December, 2011

Through the lens of scripture the author, Anna Burke RSM, shows Jesus as the way to experience God and as the source of the meaning of life.

THE BOOK:
heart

Through the lens of scripture, the author shows Jesus as the way to experience God and as the source of the meaning of life. Inspired by Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus caritas est, the author brings the reader into prayerful with Jesus and with the Father.

 

 THE AUTHOR: Anna Burke RSM taught for ten years in Palm Bay, Florida, and for seven years in Lundazi, Zambia. She was also school chaplain for six years in Carrick-on-Shannon. She is currently involved in Adult Faith Development with a specific interest in liturgy and scripture. She has had thre previous books published by Veritas.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
1. The Heart Encounters
2. The Heart Remembers
3. The Heart Forgives
4. The Heart Serves
5. The Heart Triumphs
6. The Heart Sets Free
7. The Heart Trusts
8. The Heart Listens
9. The Heart Survives Death
10. The Heart Acts Justly
11. The Heart Is Neighbour
12. The Heart Welcomes
13. The Heart Sees
14. The Heart Crosses Boundaries
15. The Heart Knows God

128 pp. Veritas Publications. to purchase this book online, go to www.veritas.ie

INTRODUCTION

On 27 January 2006, Pope Benedict XVI issued his first Encyclical Letter, Deus caritas est – God is love. The letter was awaited with great interest and welcomed with great joy. Pope Benedict had reached into the heart of the matter, reminding us that love is the basic tenet of Christianity and the message most urgently needed today. The Pope’s moving reflection on love has helped the Catholic Church to retrieve its dignity and restore its splendour.

In the Secret of My Heart is a prayer book inspired by the beauty of Deus caritas est. The title reflects the Pope’s teaching that love is indeed ‘the heart’ of Christian faith. This prayer book is structured according to scriptural themes, offering prayers for reflective times together with intercessory and communal prayers. The founding symbol for these reflections is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a timeless image of divine love in a human heart.

THE HEART ENCOUNTERS

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
(Deus caritas est, Introduction)

AT THE WELL:
Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink of water’. (John 4:7)

O woman of the well, you know about walking for water. You know about walking in the rising sun as you repeat the daily observance of drawing from the well. With your breath you are faithful to filling and to emptying, every day, for all of your life.

Jesus saw her that day with her empty bucket. She had formed an intimate connection: the woman, the bucket and the well, and so she had become the carrier of water. It was her timeless ritual to search for water. He counted the trips that the woman had made, a million in one lifetime just to find water to ease the thirst and to keep hope in the village. Her feet were worn with walking, their skin baked dry and split open. He saw her that day as she prepared again to raise the bucket skyward, its water spilling out onto the parched earth. She was numbed with ritual, numbed with walking and carrying, with bending and lifting, with returning and starting again. Her love had gone unnoticed and she was dry with longing.

She did not face him but she could feel his presence in the morning sunshine. He was a Jew and apart from the fatigue of weary travellers, the law decreed that they had nothing else in common. Her heart welcomed the distance that tradition provided and she lowered her bucket another time. But the man from Galilee had seen the woman from Samaria. She had continued the journey for the sake of the water. She was like him, being full of hunger, full of thirst, full of searching and of emptying. On her head she carried a bucket full of service. He recognised the story and he moved closer to the well.

As she turned to leave the well that day the man called out to the woman, ‘Give me a drink’.

We Pray:
Lord, give us the water of life,
Lead us to living springs.
Lord, quench the thirst of our hearts,
Lead us to living springs.
Lord, fill our empty buckets with healing and with hope, ~
Lead us to living springs.

O love of God in the heart of Jesus, meet us at the well of our longings and ease our thirst in the spring of living water. We place all our trust, O God, in your love. Amen.

AT THE FUNERAL:
Jesus said, ‘Young man! Get up, I tell you!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (Luke 7:14-15)

I had watched you struggle with his sickness and death, and then you faced the day when you had to let him go. I could feel the slowing down of your heart and the closing down of your feelings. You had told yourself that it couldn’t happen and that it wouldn’t happen, but death moved steadily into his body, ignoring your pleas, forgetting the devastation. I remember the day as you remember the day. A strange and dark silence settled on the hillside; the wind cried in the trees and the birds refused to fly. The words of comfort from your closest friend were distant and fatiguing. You didn’t cry on that last breath; you just stopped thinking. I remember crying for you on that day and holding your heart safely in my own heart.

The funeral procession was long and arduous, the warm dust clung to our lips and smarted our eyes. I saw your heavy step, your bowed head and veiled face. You were alone and yet your faith whispered, ‘Not my will’. The words took my breath away. I knew what it asked: to dig down, so deeply into the last reserves of holding on. I hastened my step and soon I was walking beside you, shoulder to shoulder. You took my hand and placed it in yours and together we touched the bier. In this encounter I felt your faith stirring in my veins and your love tugging at my heart. The heavens began to open and a soft breeze carried a stream of light across the valley. The dead hand moved and then it opened. I raised him up and returned him to you.

We Pray:
For faith to break through barriers and come to you,
Lord, touch us and let us go free.
For hope in the beginning time and in the end time,
Lord, touch us and let us go free.
For health and strength to live life fully,
Lord, touch us and let us go free.

O love of God in the heart of Jesus, you found me in my lowest place and you walked beside me into the night. I held on to you and the morning broke with splendour. I place all my trust in your love. Amen.

AT THE LAKE:
They left their nets on the shore and followed him. (Luke 5:11)

Jesus believed in invitations and he drew people from their market places to follow the dream of shared bread and gentle hearts. His invitation was given to women and men, to shepherds and kings. It was an invitation to love magnanimously, to give and to forgive. In this moment when hearts came face to face, the question for many became irresistible. The fishermen left their nets and the women left their water buckets. The tax collectors left their earnings and the dead left their graves. Centurions and Samaritans, Pharisees and Levites were also on the guest list and the fig tree and the growing seeds heard the call rumbling in the soil, urging them to fruitfulness. People still abandon their nets for the freedom of the ocean, to journey into the heart of God.

When Peter and Andrew met the stranger on the shore the men had no way of knowing where this encounter would take them. He would lead them to a new experience of life, to dreams beyond all telling, to be partners in the reshaping of history. Fishermen were an unlikely choice in the fulfilment of a divine plan, but Jesus came with a purpose of universal salvation, to raise humankind to become a new creation. The men in the boats were drawn into the encounter. Some people do that – they ask a different question and invite us to cross the frontier. Encounters of the Galilee kind have life-altering possibility, moments of personal emotion and of world vision. The men in the boats had left their nets.

Love is like that; it calls us beyond ourselves and reveals the expanse of a human response. It awakens the greatness of our generosity and our capacity for life on the front. The history of the universe is an epic charged with love’s response and Peter and Andrew are characters in the story of that call.

We Pray:
For ears to hear the invitation to live fully,
Give us hearts O God, to hear your invitation.
For courage to respond to the invitation to leave our nets,
Give us hearts O God, to hear your invitation.
For faith to follow the invitation to journey’s end, we pray,
Give us hearts O God, to hear your invitation.

O love of God in the heart of Jesus, you called us in our Baptism to be the hands and heart of Jesus Christ. May we never fail to answer the invitation to love as Jesus loved and may we sail our boats to the heart of the universe.

AN INVITATION PRAYER:

May you hear the voice of God whispered in the wind, crashing to the shore, and may you follow that voice to the place of discovery.

May you see the mind of God in the seasons of beginnings and endings, in the darkness and light of each day, and may you follow that mind into enlightenment.

May you find the hand of God in the rainbow, sketching the moods of heaven and earth, holding the circle of life, and may you follow that hand in the direction of your destiny.

May you ponder the beauty of God in still waters and in desert spaces, in the meeting of friends and in the question of a child, and may you follow that beauty to its source.

May you feel the presence of God on the strong shoulder that supports your sorrow, in the human teardrop that shares your joy, and may you follow that presence to the mountain top.

May you experience the blessing of God on the journey across the distance, in the walking and climbing, in the ascending and descending, and may that blessing lead you safely home.

May you touch the heart of God in the stone that rolls back, in the robin that flies in winter, in the gift of a rose, and may the heart of God fill your decisions with love.

May you learn the secret of God’s love in the heart of Jesus Christ, in his emptying and in his filling, in his receiving and in his giving, and may the Sacred Heart of Jesus teach you how to love.

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