Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend 30 days with a saint? Authors Anthony Lilles and Dan Burke set out to do just that with their latest book Living the Mystery of Merciful Love, which offers readers a rare opportunity to spend a month-long retreat with one of the greatest saints in modern times, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
There are numerous spiritual books out there that pledge to offer you a month-long journey that prepares your heart for a deeper relationship with Christ. The difference with Living the Mystery of Merciful Love is that the daily readings come straight from the writings of the saint, with a short commentary afterwards by Burke and Lilles.
Each day of the retreat starts out with a passage from Saint Thérèse's letters to her relatives. This creates an opportunity for readers who are well versed in Story of a Soul to gain new spiritual insights from a saint they already know very well. The letters are generally short and the commentary that follows adds context and depth to what Saint Thérèse wrote. The beauty of each chapter is that it can easily be read in about 10 minutes, allowing the reader ample time to pause and reflect on the spiritual truths revealed.
The goal of the 30 day retreat is to prepare for the "Oblation to Merciful Love" that Saint Thérèse composed. It is an opportunity to offer oneself "as a victim of holocaust to [God's] Merciful Love" so that a person can "live in an act of perfect Love."
One of the reasons why Saint Thérèse made this Oblation was to "console [God's] Sacred Heart, and to save souls who will love [God] forever."
It is hard not to imagine that Saint Thérèse received a little inspiration for her Oblation from the daily offering she made every day as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer:
"Oh my God! I offer You all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them in the furnace of His merciful love.
Oh my God! I ask of You for myself and for those dear to me the grace to fulfill perfectly Your holy will, to accept for love of You the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all eternity. Amen."
Overall, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love is a perfect book for those who want to spend 30 days with Saint Thérèse and gain new spiritual insights. It is a great book for those who lead busy lives and do not have much time each day to read. Last of all, it is a perfect book for members of the Apostleship of Prayer (Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network), to gain a new perspective on the daily offering and to learn more about the spirituality of our patron saint.