- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Franciscan Media (August 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616368802
- ISBN-13: 978-1616368807
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith Paperback – August 28, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
In Blessed Are You; Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith, Melanie points out that Jesus saw a bigger picture: spiritual poverty – and that includes ours. On the cross he experienced surrendering everything from his mother, career and dignity to his life.
Melanie writes that we find spiritual poverty “in humbling ourselves and working and living simply; in stripping ourselves of all the titles and possessions that give us pride; in finding the faith to set aside all the fears and paranoia that give us anxiety.” Why? So we can empty ourselves of all that stands between God and us. To accept spiritual poverty is to understand that all we need is God and thus begin to see the kingdom of heaven.” Then she introduces us to four women who experienced spiritual poverty in different ways.
Chiara Badano gives us an example of courage for the time we prepare to abandon the things and the people we love to join Christ in that final earthly farewell. This beautiful 16-year-old tennis player developed bone cancer in the1980s. Her special relationship with the Lord blossomed in the Focolare Movement (founded by Chiara Lubich), which emphasized Christ forsaken on the cross. Chiara Badano spent her illness offering her suffering to the forsaken Christ by gently helping others and preparing for heaven by planning every detail of her funeral. She was beautified in 2010. Chiara on spiritual poverty: ”If you want it, Jesus, so do I.”
Maria Faustina Kowalska teaches us single-mindedness. God desires us to continue down the path he lights, whether or not others think that is where we belong.
She experienced spiritual poverty through obedience. Her parents didn’t support her desire to be a nun. When she was nineteen, while at a dance with her sister, Jesus appeared to her. He told her to join a convent 85 miles away in Warsaw. She said good-bye to her sister and left on a train without seeing her parents or knowing anyone in Warsaw. Her spiritual poverty increased as many convents rejected her, then she had to work for a year to pay for her habit. From her visions of Jesus and dialog with him came the Divine Mercy image of Jesus, chaplet and Feast of Mercy – but not without physical and emotional suffering, rejection and persecution. Her writings were banned until Pope John Paul II reversed the ban. The fruit of her spiritual poverty is seen today as more than 100 million Catholics worldwide follow the Divine Mercy devotion.
Grace in ignominy
Jeanne Jugan, known as Mary of the Cross, teaches us to have the grace not to rise to the bait when others, especially those with power over us, angle to take credit for what we’ve done.
She worked as a kitchen maid, hospital nurse, servant and spinner. In her late forties, she took in a disabled elderly woman who was destitute. By fifty she bought a building to house forty people. Thus began the Little Sisters of the Poor, whose rule called for the sisters to beg door to door to restore dignity to the lives of those they served.
After she won an humanitarian award, a priest overrode her reelection as superior and put Jeanne to begging. When the rule was approved he ordered her back to the motherhouse, stripping her of her service to the poor, which she loved. She died without members of her congregation knowing about her.
It was 23 years before she was recognized as the founder. She was canonized in 2009. In more than thirty countries on six continents her sisters continue what her heroic humility began and endures through injustice. Jeanne on spiritual poverty: “It is so good to be poor, to have nothing, to depend on God for everything.”
Patience in unfair treatment
Germaine Cousin helps us learn not to obsess about slights and injustices. A disabled child whose mother died when she was an infant, Germaine suffered under her stepmother who treated her worse than a servant. All she had was her love for God and she shared it with whomever she could.
The miraculous incident that put Germaine into her rightful place in the family came with threat of punishment. The stepmother accused Germaine of stealing bread and hiding it in her apron. Germaine opened the apron on that winter day and revealed summer flowers, radiant and beautiful. But she preferred to stay in the barn. There she was found dead at 22, leaving a vivid legacy as an example of humble acceptance and embrace of spiritual poverty.
Germaine on spiritual poverty: “Dear God, please don’t let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help met to please you.”
Melanie takes us deeper with reflections putting us in circumstances similar to those of the saints but relevant to our lives. She adds abundant resources for us to get to know other sisters in the faith with the gift of spiritual poverty.
Saints are ordinary people, like you and I, choosing to follow Christ and His way - no matter how impossible or difficult that may seem. We are all called to be saints, maybe that phrase is overused in Catholic circles, but I think it bears repeating! YOU and I ... ordinary, everyday people of the 21st Century - are called to be saints, and for some of us, that will mean enduring persecution. Additionally, while we suffer or watch others endure these trials, we may long for justice over our persecutors - be it family, friend or foe - but it is written:
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD. ~ Romans 12:19
Perhaps those are difficult words if you are in the midst of the situation or have a heart to see things settled from an earthly/human perspective - but this is where that whole saint thing comes in!! God never asks us to do the impossible - if He says, we are to leave it to Him, and trust it will not go unnoticed or unpunished according to HIS will and way, we are to believe it. So, where does that leave us??
It leads us to look at the lives of those who have successfully accomplished the task of allowing God's grace to strengthen them for the cross they were called to bear. In Melanie Rigney's new book, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from our Sisters in Faith, she shares so many incredibly, heroically virtuous women with us - models of steadfast hope and faith. Those featured in Chapter Eight (the one if you hadn't guessed yet I am honored to discuss during this fabulous blog tour), beautifully epitomize Jesus' words recorded by St. Matthew, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..."
Sara Salkahazi, began the morning of December 27, 1944, giving a meditation on martyrdom and ended the day by being one. Trust me Melanie tells the story way better than I, so I will leave the details to her - but what struck me first and foremost about St. Sara's story was that she lived not LONG before I was born, a contemporary with my great grandparents - she was not a long ago saint but one of a more modern time. This reminded me - AGAIN - that I too, in this time, am still called to be a saint.
Melanie Rigney next features the life of Mary of the Cross MacKillop. St. Mary's story illustrates, as Melanie writes that "persecution sometimes enters our lives indirectly. We may not be the actual target, but it's convenient to punish or disparage us to get to the real target." So sure, she was a nun but... her life and struggle does still resonate with us who are not! Who of us can not relate to a "friendship that [has] not ended well." In addition, Melanie shares stories of a mother making desperate decisions to provide for her children and the consequences of that choice adversely effects one of the very children she was trying to protect! The Blessing comes in God's promise made in Romans 8:28 - to bring good in all situation for those who love Him and led to the world now having, St. Laura Vicuna, but of course at the time little Laura may not have felt that way - but she held onto faith and hope, and saw her situation as an opportunity to bring good. And boy did she!! Or maybe you will connect with Lucy of Narni (yeah I THOUGHT of Narnia too - quite honestly the minute I first read the name - and was happy Melanie did too!!
HOPE I have your interest piqued to want to pick up your own copy of Melanie Rigney's new amazing book ~ Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith ... because these Saintly Sisters in Christ I have shared with you today are just the TIP of the iceberg of who you will discover in these pages!!
The Beatitudes come literally to life (and then death but... that is also a part of the whole Saint making process) - and if the stories Melanie details don't give you enough to ponder, her closing Reflections for You at the end of each chapter- surely will!!
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