by Bob Burnham
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
In the book Little Lessons from the Saints, Burnham skips the typical biographies of saints and offers instead brief but powerful spiritual lessons from 52 different saints, each followed by a short meditation. Chapters are grouped under 5 main themes: Surrender, Freedom, Pilgrimage, Hospitality, and Loving Knowledge. The author succeeds in offering simple ways to apply each saint’s particular charism to our own lives. Inspiring and practical, Little Lessons from the Saints helps us realize that we, too, are called to be saints.
The saints are presented in a specific order and organized into chapters as follows:
Surrender: The spiritual journey begins when we surrender our will to God’s will, when we can say, as Mary said, “Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) The saints presented in this chapter provide instruction on how to do that, and the meditations provide practice in surrendering to God.
Freedom: Once we have surrendered everything to God, then we can be “poor in spirit.” We are free to begin the pilgrimage of love without carrying anything of our own, except an open heart and an open hand. The saints presented in this chapter offer lessons on developing this sense of freedom to love God, others, and yourself. Following this theme, the meditations are essentially acts of liberation.
Pilgrimage: We are all on a journey home toward our Father in heaven. Yet we can get lost along the way – after all, journeying with God can be like walking in a fog at night. The saints are with us on this journey, and they give us useful advice on how to walk the walk. These meditations lead us to our true selves, that is, the person whom God imagines us to be.
Hospitality: Because we are wanderers, we know the value of welcoming others. The saints in this chapter tell us about the importance of welcoming the stranger into our hearts. These meditations are designed to help you develop a sense of hospitality.
Loving Knowledge: The saints in this chapter instruct us on our ultimate goal: to rest in the loving knowledge of God—that is, knowledge of God that does not come from learning, but through the experience of loving. The meditations in this chapter will lead you to experience God’s love in your life.
Epilogue: Our journey is never complete. The two meditations presented here will help you keep learning from the saints until Christ comes in his glory.
This book is so practical and useful as it is mapped out in a way that is helpful for all. It is great for teachers to use each day and to establish a pattern in which the students get to know the saints.