Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Catholic Book Club: Sacred Fire

Happy book club day everyone! And happy feast of Pope St. John Paul II! *beams* He's just one of my very favorites.

Today I have a book to review that pushes all of my joyful buttons as a reader: it's a Catholic book, which fits into the majority of what I read. It's non-fiction, but written in a clear, easy-to-read and relate-to style that doesn't make one feel as though they are reading a textbook. A *very* important quality in a non-fiction title, in my opinion. :) It includes personal stories of relevant saints, giving the book a warm, familiar feeling. And yet it's a book that one doesn't necessarily have to read in chapter order, cover to cover. It's more of what I would consider a reference book, in which you read sections as inspiration strikes. And reference books, my friends, make the Catholic librarian very, very happy to have on her bookshelf. So, let's get into the details of our book, which is Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, by Philip Michael Bulman. Settle in with tea...

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is based heavily upon the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque during the 17th century. Specifics of the devotion involve a Holy Hour of Adoration, reception of the Eucharist on the First Friday of each month, and celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart, which is a movable feast falling 19 days after Pentecost each year. It is, however, a much more general devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and in Scripture. This books takes that broad look at the devotion, which was very informative for me. There is so much that I didn't know about this devotion's rich history. The book begins with a very personal message from the author about how he became interested in this subject - he had begun attending a parish named after St. Margaret Mary and grew curious about her. I always relate to such personal interjections, and as such was eager to go along on a journey with the author, learning about this devotion.

The book is divided into two main sections: the first is called "A Heart Open to All of Humanity," and includes a chapter discussing scriptural foundations, as well as a multitude of saints and popes who have been devoted to the Sacred Heart throughout the ages. Then, there are chapters featuring several saints of key importance to the devotion, which are St. Gertrude the Great, St. Margaret Mary, St. Teresa of the Andes, and one wonderful chapter entitled "The Splendor of Carmel" highlighting a number of Carmelite saints. There is also a chapter discussing the relationship between the Divine Mercy devotion, St. Faustina, and the Sacred Heart.

The second section, "Elements of the Devotion," addresses the Eucharist, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, reparation to the Sacred Heart, additional scriptural foundations, and the Promises of the Sacred Heart. There is a significantly sized bibliography included for those who would like to research this devotion further.

As I mentioned above, this book appeals to me as a reference source. It is perfect to pull off the shelf and look up a particular aspect of the devotion, point in history, or associated saint. The saint features were my favorite part. All of you know that I adore stories of the saints, and the ones included here are absolutely wonderful. It also seems to me that this book is a perfect accompaniment for a spell at Eucharistic Adoration. Keep this in your car, and when you stop off for a Holy Hour, part of your time can be spent reading one of the chapters. Ideal fodder for contemplation on Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, and on saints as our examples in faith.

This book is available on Amazon as a $9.99 Kindle download, or in paperback for just over $13, certainly a very reasonable price. It is a new book, published just this summer, and it is more than worthy of your consideration. Do check it out!

Has anyone else already read this book? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Next month we're moving back to fiction with The Cana Mystery, by David Beckett, which I have been dying to read. Join me!

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