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Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux Paperback – October 1, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Refreshingly and brutally honest, the author describes a spiritual path full of poverty, loneliness, and suffering as she struggles to come to terms with her divorce, the death of loved ones, and unrequited love. She reminds the reader that "the scandal of Christ is that to have a relationship with him means to share in his suffering," and that to live a life of radical social consciousness in the 21st century is often an alienating endeavor. King offers a genuinely moving account of her quest to follow Therese's little way, become a "victim of love" and, indeed, to redefine what love means in the modern world. Recommended for anyone who is experiencing a "dark night of the soul" or interested in contemporary spirituality."

Publishers Weekly, October 2011


"If you are struggling with faith, with brokenness in your life, with an obsession, with an addiction, with a gnawing sense that your life is not what it should be, with the sense of being the outsider, an orphan at all the banquets of life, and, most of all, with the sense you don't love Jesus and he doesn't love you either, that you are nothing, then let this book find you. It's a book for those who think they might be too sick to be helped by a doctor." -Ronald Rolheiser


“This book brings out the grit of sanctity, how it is a continuous, no-holds barred full-on contact engagement with reality. The episodes from St. Therese’s life and Ms. King’s reflections concerning her own path show how both the French Carmelite and her L.A.-based follower simplify their lives, not as an escape, but precisely in order to face without distraction the gargantuan challenge and adventure of love, surrender, living out, to the last drop their embrace of the Savior of the world.”—Fr. Vincent T. Nagle, Holy Family Parish, Ramallah, West Bank,
The Palestinian Territories


“A moving book written with so much humility, confidence, and love. The true meaning of the Little Way shines through Heather King’s grace-filled witness. The author’s original prayers are some of the most beautiful I have ever read.” —Fr. Peter John Cameron, op, editor-in-chief, Magnificat


“Heather King’s walk with St. Therese is a profound account of turning one’s life toward the light—a journey to which, as she makes clear, we are all invited.” —Bethany Saltman, essayist and poet


“What do Heather King and St. Thérèse de Lisieux have in common? Their lives of faith have been propelled by a revolutionary refusal to reduce their desire for happiness. Read this book and you will want to join them in their defense of the desires that make us human.” 
—Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, theologian, physicist, and author of God at the Ritz

Shirt of Flame is a profound meditation on the spiritual depths that can be ours if we are not afraid to start with ourselves, with our seemingly little lives, little concerns, and limitless longings.” —James Stephen Behrens, ocso, Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Georgia)

From the Inside Flap

What do heather King and St. Thérèse of Lisieux have in common? Their lives of faith have been propelled by a revolutionary refusal to reduce their desire for happiness. Read this book and you will want to join them in their defense of the desires that make us human.

--Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, author of God at the Ritz
 
"Heather King's sojourn with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is a magnificent testimony not only to the Catholic conviction that the Saints endure in the life of the Church as real friends and lively companions, but also the uncanny ability of the "Little Flower" to graciously insinuate herself into the lives of the most unexpected people in the most surprising of circumstances.  One of the year's best reads in Catholic spirituality!" 

--Father Robert Barron, Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture
Founder and Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
 
"Heather King's incisive honesty draws me in, makes me feel her agonies and joys, and sends me away enriched. St. Thérèse must be very pleased."
--Robert J. Edmonson, C.J., translator and editor, The Story of a Soul: A New Translation
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press; 10/31/11 edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557258082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557258083
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a 63 year old recovered male alcoholic, retired naval officer, and Catholic priest I have recently encountered an angel on my road to happy destiny. St. Therese de Lisieux. I don't know why this has happened, but the saint continues to haunt me like the "hound of heaven".

This volume was given to me by a fellow alcoholic in recovery. Again, I know not why. But, it touched me as much as any book I've ever read.

King reminds me of a 21 century Dorothy Day. Unashamed of the gritty past that brought her to her great surrender to the god of her understanding, King shows us the way to dialog with a community of fellow pirgirms who have gone before us...marked with the sign of faith.

She demonstrates that the Communion of Saints is not some fresco on a Vatican wall, but rather a community of wisdom figures alive and well in in her life, her neighborhood, her circle of friends.

Pivotal is how the urbane, sophistocated, "been twice around the block" King is able to identify with a 19th century 24 year old French virgin who entered a cloister at age 15 without ever knowing life as King has known it.

The book is consumately readable. It's thought provoking, amusing, and deeply spiritual.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book. I read Heather King's memoir Redeemed and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to diving into Shirt of Flame(I also have a personal interest in the life and writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, so this book appealed on that level as well). Even if you've never heard of St. Therese, though, you can get a great deal from this memoir. King weaves insightful explanations of Therese's spirituality with her own frank reflections on what it's like to try to live the saint's spirituality in today's world. King doesn't hold back, either; she is very open about her personal struggles (a failed romance, a writing career that is not progressing as she'd hoped, the challenges of being a single woman of a certain age and wondering what her legacy will be). I love how she shows the ways that Therese's writings and insights correspond to her own hungers, her own struggles, her own joys.

It is not easy to write a book that is part explanation of someone else's spirituality and part memoir, but King pulls it off deftly. Some of her passages are achingly beautiful; I've dog-eared many pages to go back and re-read. This is great food for the mind, and the soul.

Required full disclosure: I was sent a review copy by the publisher. I'll be buying this book to give as gifts, though, because it's too beautiful not to share.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How I wish I could conjure words as eloquent as Heather King's to describe this "little" masterpiece. Inspirational, painfully authentic, and riveting: I read it too fast and will have to read it again. After I pick up her other books and read them, first.

One of my favorite quotes:
All around me, people were saying, "I'm spiritual, but I'm not religious. Oh no, I'm definitely not religious." I wanted to reply, "Does blood not beat in your veins? Have you never ached with sorrow at the suffering of the world? Have you never cried at the flight of a bird? Have you never fallen in love?"

Like another reviewer, "I dog-eared many pages to go back and re-read" and I highlighted and used tag flag post-it notes, too.

I fully intend to take this walk with Ms. King and Saint Therese of Lisieux again. Soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Shirt of Flame (A Year with Saint Tersese of Lisieux)
By Heather King

I would never have read this book had I not heard an interview with Ms. King on Writers On Writing. At the time, I was recovering from my own book tour and was beginning to feel the wear travel puts on a homebody like me. I was in need of some soul nurturing. This book intrigued me. I've always been interested in Saint Tersese, but I was reluctant to dive into an out and out biography.

"Shirt of Flame" pulled me in from the first page. The title comes from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. Ms. King takes the reader through a year long journey as she reveals snapshots of her own story while exploring Saint Tersese's huge but short-lived life. Even having heard the interview, I was not prepared for the impact Shirt of Flame would have on my internal and external life.

Each chapter or section of the book is titled for a month of the year. Sections of Saint Tersese's book, "Story of a Soul", is quoted throughout Shirt of Flame. And while I found these sections revealing and encouraging, the memoir parts belonging to the author touched me most. Through the author's experiences, I was able to draw parallels between my struggles and internal life. Heather King gave voice to many of my longings and desires.

"That I had come to God, then to Christ, through alcoholism was no accident, for in spiritual terms my craving for drink had been a thirst for the infinite, gone badly awry. That the obsessions to drink had been removed one long-ago month at a Minnesota rehab was the central fact of my existence. That after being lost for so long I'd found my way as well to writing and the Church was the miracle around which constellated, on my better days, boundless gratitude, astonishment, and joy."

What beautiful courage abounds in this book. I strongly recommend this book to everyone. As for me, I was changed from the inside out.
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