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In the Secret of my Heart

Moments of Stillness in the Heart of Christ

Author(s): Anna Burke

ISBN13: 9781847302434

ISBN10: 1847302432

Publisher: Veritas

Extent: 128 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.3 cm

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  • In the Secret of My Heart honours the Sacred Heart of Jesus, not only as a traditional icon, but as a timeless inspiration for all who seek God. Through the lens of scripture, Sr Anna Burke remembers how Jesus revealed knowledge of God as ultimately a heart experience.


    Encouraged by the encyclical Deus caritas est and Pope Benedict’s exploration of love as that which most surely reveals God, the book revisits a timeless symbol of the divine identity, revealing that it is ultimately to a loving God that we turn for light in darkness, for meaning in life.


    Sr Anna Burke shows us that Jesus is the experience of God, and the gift of Jesus in human history is most deeply understood in the secret of the heart.

  • Anna Burke

    Anna Burke is a Sister of Mercy who works in Adult Faith Development in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. She has worked in education and faith development in Florida, Zambia, South Africa and Ireland. Her particular interest is in praying with Scripture. Previous publications include Sacred the Hour: The Rosary Story in Mystery (2007), Where Blessings Flow: Words of Glory and Thanks (2008), When Silence Falls: The Stations of the Cross (2008) and In the Secret of My Heart: Moments of  Stillness in the Heart of Christ (2010), all published by Veritas.

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    Despite the many changes in the devotional practice of Catholics since the Second Vatican Council, devotion to the Sacred Heart continues to inspire and console countless numbers of devotees within and even outside the Church. It may happen in fact that the devotion to the divine identity revealed in the Sacred Heart in a time  of aggressive atheism may prove as subversive as it did during the era of Jansenism in which it initially flowered.

    In the Secret of My Heart by Anna Burke RSM continues her series of powerful and prayerful publications on traditional church devotions such as the Rosary (2007) and the Stations of the Cross (2008). Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est – God is Love which also provides brief introductions for each short chapter of scripture-based reflections and prayers as well as moments from the author’s own experience in Zambia and elsewhere.


    Throughout its 128 pages there are many Gospel passages illuminated through an insightful retelling as well as carefully crafted prayers which can lead the reader further to a profound meditation or state of prayerful stillness. For those seeking a first prayer book this would make a good choice and for others who hold a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart this new resource should prove to be a valuable addition to their spiritual library.

     - Intercom, April 2011


    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 empt y 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 empt ying. 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 couldnt happen and that it wouldnt 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 didnt 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 loves 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 journeys 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 tearthat 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 Gods 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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