In Arise to Blessedness: A Journal Retreat with Eight Modern Saints Who Lived the Beatitudes, Jen Norton invites us to reflect on the Beatitudes through both word and image. “In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, he lays out the way to eternal happiness, or ‘blessedness.’ It is a countercultural call, often asking us to embrace what the rest of the world shuns” (ix). In this work, Norton focuses on eight saints, each of whom embodies one of the Beatitudes in a meaningful way, inviting readers to also live out those Beatitudes.
The eight saints with the accompanying Beatitude featured are:
St. André Bessette—Blessed are the poor in spirit
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton—Blessed are those who mourn
St. Maximilian Kolbe—Blessed are the meek
St. Mark Tianxiang—Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness
St. Maria Goretti—Blessed are the merciful
St. Charbel Makhlouf—Blessed are the clean of heart
St. Óscar Romero—Blessed are the peacemakers
St. José Luis Sánchez del Río—Blessed are they who are persecuted
Each chapter features an illustration of the Beatitude, an illuminated scripture verse, a brief scripture reading, a painting of the saint, a reflection on the saint which includes the lessons we can learn from him or her, a prompt to examine and reflect on the artwork, an opportunity for journaling, and an action item to help cultivate that Beatitude in your life more closely. There are pages provided in the book for journaling, but one can also use a separate journal.
Norton’s art is modern and colorful while still being reverent. (View examples of Norton’s paintings at JenNortonArtStudio.com.) Her illustrations are full of symbolism and provide much opportunity for reflection. Arise to Blessedness is a lovely book for contemplating the Beatitudes, learning about eight modern saints, and working on practicing the Beatitudes in your own life. It makes a perfect at-home retreat and could also be used in a small group setting.