The first time I saw the book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus — A Do-It-Yourself Retreat, I thought, “How could I, a mere mortal console the heart of God?” I wasn’t sure how anyone could console our Lord and Savior’s heart at the cross. It didn’t make sense to me, so I deemed the book unbelievable; that was early last year, 2010.
Then the opportunity to attend the annual Catholic Media Network/Catholic Writer’s Guild conference last August brought me back in contact with this book. The author gave a presentation at the conference’s breakfast one morning and was captivating. Later that evening at the book signing event I had the chance to meet the author and there the book reappeared under my nose, but this time with Michael Gaitley’s, beaming smile behind it.
The book came home with me and sat on the bookshelf until finally one night, searching for something new to read, I gave Consoling the Heart of Jesus its turn. The beauty of this book, I discovered, is Fr. Gaitley’s love and desire to help us in our spiritual journey and it shows throughout the pages of this retreat.
Consoling the Heart of Jesus is based on St. Ignatius’ 30-day spiritual retreat — that has brought many to a closer relationship with Christ and deepened their own spirituality — along with Sr. Faustina’s Diary of Christ’s Divine Mercy messages. Fr. Michael Gaitley gives the reader a gift of over 150 pages of St. Faustina’s diary covering some of her life with Christ encouraging her, as well as including the prayers of the Divine Mercy. There is a section of extensive references and notes and the book is endorsed by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR.
Who can make a 30-day retreat in these modern times? Fr. Gaitley knows that this may sound impossible, but he also knows that we need one, and he figured out just how to offer one through his book. He starts with an introduction to the 30-day retreat and how he transformed this retreat into one of his “do-it-yourself” weekend retreats. Then he goes on to divide the book into sections that are easy to negotiate. The first section is “Laying the foundations”. Here Fr. discusses the desire it takes to want holiness, keeping your eyes on Christ, First things first, and the First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises:
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord and by this means to save his soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition.
Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.
Fr. Gaitley discusses “The First Principle” and meeting Jesus in the Sacrament clearly in a very down-to-earth style. He also explains how we can console Jesus knowing that He is now happy in Heaven by what is called “retroactive consolation” for Jesus then on the cross in the now and present time.
Part Two of the book is “Overcoming Obstacles to Living the Foundation.” Five obstacles are covered in this section that deals with our fears, our sinfulness, and our weakness. There is a discussion of our sensitivity or insensitivity to our Lord’s heart. He quotes from Sr. Faustina’s diary that Our Lord said to her: “My daughter, your compassion for Me refreshes Me. By meditating on My Passion, your soul acquires a distinct beauty.” Obstacles are difficult to overcome, I know, but Fr. Gaitley addresses each one separately and gives sound and real proven advice on how to hurdle them with success. Providing St. Faustina’s diary conveniently in the back of the book helps a great deal as well.
After meeting Fr.Gaitley, I promised him a book review posted on my blog and anywhere else that would bring more people to the knowledge of his work. In saying this, I had no idea how amazing this book would prove to be in my life, I wish everyone would read and consider consoling the heart of Jesus. Experiencing this book and spending time in contemplation on consoling Jesus during His crucifixion has changed me forever! This is truly a “How-to” retreat book with all the helps and resources that one would need to conduct their very own condensed 30-day retreat.
Also available is the Consoling the Heart of Jesus — Prayer Companion to make the Consoling the Heart of Jesus — A Do-It-Yourself Retreat even more accessible.
(© 2011 Ebeth Weidner)