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A Mysterious Encounter with Fr Jacques Philippe

March 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Prayer, Radio and Podcast, Resources, Videos

God often provides me with surprise blessings. A recent encounter with His unexpected grace involved one of my favorite authors Fr. Jacques Philippe. The prior year I found out that he was coming to the United States (from France), and knowing the demand that would ensue, I scheduled him early to be a guest on Register Radio. Before the show he provided retreats at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama and then at the Sister Servants at Casa Maria in Irondale. He was then scheduled to appear on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

We first met for a few minutes in Hanceville to prep for the radio show. The segment was to be brief so there was no time for warmup – it required energy and clarity from the start. Knowing that English is still a challenge for him, I wanted to meet to run the questions by him and Searching for and Maintaining Peace v2determine what was on his heart. I also had a curiosity about him as I had seen him speak before in person and had the sense that he was a very holy priest. We agreed that our focus would be on finding peace in the midst of our challenging times and the content of his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace.

The meeting with him regarding radio went well but he was reserved in our conversation and we limited our discussion to the “business” at hand. The subsequent Radio show also went well but he was still a bit quiet and distant. He was pleasant mind Fr Jacques Philippe and Dan Burkeyou, but I didn’t get any indication from him that he had any desire to connect beyond the tasks before us. We took a few photos together and I assumed I wouldn’t see him again for a few years.

The following week I was looking for a professor to teach a course at the Avila Institute and I called Sister Louise Marie at the Sister Servants because I knew that she knew the professor. I said, “Sister, I am looking for Fr. Fred Miller’s phone number, do you have it?” She said, “Oh, he is still here. You should come to Mass and then lunch with us tomorrow and you two can talk then.” I agreed.

When I showed up for Mass, Fr. Jacques Philippe was there but Fr. Fred Miller was not. When I exited Mass I asked Sister who she heard me ask about the night prior and she indicated “Fr. Jacques.” I just smiled. Though I was happy to be there, based on my inability to connect with Fr. Jacques in previous meetings, I simply assumed that it wasn’t meant to be. For that reason, if she would have told me it was Fr. Philippe, I would have allowed my workload to keep me at EWTN for lunch. Regardless, I assumed the confusion was providential and determined to see what God had in mind. After all “Jacques Philippe” and “Fred Miller” couldn’t have been further apart. God had to have something interesting in store.

father jacques philippe v2We had a great lunch and time together with Fr. Jacques and all the sisters. They sang to him in French and there was joy in the air. Eventually I needed to go back to work and as I stood up to say my goodbye’s, to my surprise, Fr. Jacques motioned that he wanted to speak with me. We crossed the courtyard to a quiet place and began to talk. I didn’t know what he had in mind so I followed his lead. In our talk we meandered in and through the topic of prayer for about an hour. It was delightful to speak to a master of the spiritual life but I was a bit perplexed as he didn’t seem to be leading anywhere.

The clock began to nag at me regarding work at EWTN so I gently indicated I needed to go. I asked him for his priestly blessing and that he pray for me. This, my friends, was the reason for our providential meeting. He not only prayed for me, he prophesied over me. He said, “God wants you to know…” I can’t share what he revealed but I can tell you that I will never forget what the Lord spoke through Fr. Jacques and the way He had so clearly orchestrated our very strange meetings and time together. I believe He had done all of this to help me believe and trust in the message He had given to Fr. Jacques for me.

Another irony about this entire episode is that Fr. Jacques didn’t know that I was reading an advance copy of his new book, Thirsting for Thirsting for PrayerPrayer, in order to provide an endorsement for his publisher (I never told him about the effort). So, here’s a story to nowhere but a little window into God’s sense of humor.

Please read the book, Thirsting for Prayer and you will be blessed. Fr. Philippe has a unique ability to provide simple, clear, and deep insights. His writings have sold in the hundreds of thousands because of this gift, and I believe, because he is a modern day mystic and thereby a man of deep prayer and holiness. God is truly blessing Fr. Philippe's work and I have no doubt that he will bless you through Fr. Philippe as well.

PS: Our book club is also reading through one of Fr. Philippe's works, Interior Freedom. You can learn more here. It is never too late to join in.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • BeckitaMaria

    What a beautiful and holy story of faith, Dan!!! Thanks for sharing. Blessed be God forever!

  • Suzi

    Wow I just finished reading page 54, put the book down and picked up my iPad to read my emails and here is your email Dan about the very book I am reading, searching for and maintaining peace. This little gem is a book I pick up regularly and has and is helping me tremendously in growing in the spiritual life. I am on my 2nd copy and cannot recommend this book enough to everyone. What a blessing and a gift for you Dan to meet this Holy Priest. Happy Sunday to all.

  • I love it when God does these kinds of things! (One in my own life was meeting you, Dan, at the IRL Conference last year.)

    Fr. Philippe recently gave our parish women’s retreat based on his book, Interior Freedom, and changed the lives of the hundreds of women attending. (If any of you would like to hear the recorded talks, you can google: fr jacques philippe christ the king women’s retreat 2013 and that will give you the link.) Yes, yes, his books on prayer are among the best. Easily readable and absolutely life-changing: the first I recommend to those I direct. You’ll read them more than once.

    • Suzi

      Thanks for sharing Sr I will definitely watch that later today.

    • BeckitaMaria

      Amen. Thanks for the link, Sister!!!

    • debby_d_NJ

      dear sr.,
      i know this is a late post to your comment.
      i wanted to share with you that the link you gave has tremendously blessed me in a deeply personal way. i have already been graced in the midst of a very busy schedule (home schooling an 8th grade son and working full time from home as well as LIFE!) to listen to this retreat all the way through once and individual talks several times. Fr. and the lovely translator bring rays of the Son’s sun into the dark and grey places, but it is a Spring Sun! Not TOO intense so as to require shielding! i have already passed the link on to around 40 or more people – i wanted you to know how this little thing you have done is a Grace-pebble in the pond of Mercy…..many rings and ripples washing Truth over souls. i tried to buy cds of the retreat but for copy-write reasons they are not available. i pray these podcasts are left online for a long, long time.
      thank you, again!

      • I’m so glad you were able to access them, Debby. They are definitely life-changing talks. You should be able to download them to your computer if you right-click on the podcast icon and then click on “save link as . . .”. I’m sure they’ll be up on the website for a long time. God bless!

        • debby_d_NJ

          Thank you, Sr.! i was successful in downloading the podcasts! yea!!!!!!!

  • judeen

    wish He could go much deeper… his knowledge on spiritual life in this interview , didnt even scratch the surface of what this mans knowledge is… it is just the start to spiritual life… one many seek.. but others seek a deepness.. no one seems to share… to much… the longing of depth into the spiritual life.. yet it is so simple.. is there any answers…

  • nosidam

    How absolutely beautiful Dan. We are so very blessed to notice how the Holy Spirit moves among us like that. Please know that you are a gift to me and others.
    You, a prominent Catholic person cares enough and is kind and humble enough to actually share your personal experiences with us, the everyday people out here. It humbles me and I thank you. This is affirming and enriches our faith.
    You make me (us) feel connected to other devoted Catholics and then I (we) do not feel alone.
    I went to see and hear Fr. Jacques at a church nearby when he was here. He signed the books I bought. I was so blessed to be close by him.
    He did seem a little distant.
    I believe that he is in constant interior conversation with the Holy Spirit and listens to Him even when he is talking to us people in the world. He obviously heard the voice just for you, this time.
    How blessed you are and thank you for sharing yourself with us. We need that and your openness and humility.
    May God keep blessing you and us through you! <

  • Mary Ann Jepsen

    What a blessing, Dan! I had planned to attend Fr. Philippe’s retreat at Casa Maria, but had a conflict that prevented it. Sr. Louise Marie has always spoken so highly of him, and has often encouraged me to purchase his books when I am on retreat there. I now have TWO copies each of Searching for and Maintaining Peace and Interior Freedom, at her suggestion. I just buy whatever she tells me, sometimes forgetting what I already have! After reading your post, I will do my best to get there the next time Fr. Philippe is in town. I’ll be attending Fr. Landry’s retreat in a couple weeks. Hope to see you then!

  • Connie

    Dan what a blessing! I love when God has messages for us. May His will be done!
    What an inspiration of Gods messengers among us. Thank you for sharing!
    I look forward to reading Fr. Philippe’s books.

  • Connie

    I so much enjoyed this EWTN video, I saw another link to a retreat by Fr. Philippe on the Holy Spirit, three videos he is speaking in French and very well translated.
    God Bless!

  • AWESOME story, Dan! It gives me chills and TOTALLY makes me want to add this book to my library! THANK YOU!

  • jmeyer3131

    Thank you for sharing this. Your story gives me chills, just thinking about a God who is THAT personal.

  • LizEst

    Wonderful, Dan! Thanks for sharing this edifying experiencing. God bless you!

  • DianeVa

    Loved your post Dan! I so love stories like this of how God places such holy and special people in our path as an affirmation we are on the right path. 2 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking personally with Dr Scott Hahn at the Rome airport and just last month introduced myself to Fr Andrew Apostoli who was waiting for his flight at NY airport. Meeting and talking with such spirit filled people helps support me in my journey for I know the Holy Spirit is always ready to show up out of no where! Divine meetings in more ways than one!

  • Camila

    I just love Divine Providence! It’s all so, perfect. God bless you Dan.

  • claudiavolkman

    Dan! That is so cool!

  • That’s beautiful! Its wonderful how God blesses and surprises us! Sometimes in ways we’d never expect of imagine! 🙂

  • Lisa

    Thank you so much for sharing, your surprise blessing has in turn provided me with a confirmation and direction on my journey. I am overjoyed. Our Lord is simply amazing. Bless you and your mission.

  • LSLinda

    This was a real blessing, Dan. I thoroughly enjoyed your story as well as the interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. Father Phillipe is my favorite contemporary author. I look forward to adding his newest book to my collection of his books.

  • CLudwick

    I haven’t listened to the video posted here yet but am looking forward to doing so! I have “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” and am thinking of using it during Lent (I have so many choices not sure where God is leading me yet!) His new book you have referenced here is also intriguing.

    But, I want to share that I was blessed to be able to attend a parish retreat that Fr. Philipe gavein Wichita, Kansas . He is SO engaging when he speaks – even through an interpreter. I was so impressed, not only by his words, but by his peace and inner joy! Even though I was toward the back of a packed church I could feel it. I left with an increasing desire to know, love and find/live my life in Christ.

    I would have liked to personally meet with him but that was not possible so I am excited for you, Dan, that you were able to connect.

  • Patti Day

    Dan, I was so taken by the picture of you and Fr. Philippe. Perhaps it is the lighting in the studio, but it seems as if a radiance emminates from father, drawing the eye to him immediately.

  • Jeanette

    I listened to the video and Fr. Jacques seemed to have a calmness and serenity about him and also a humbleness. Thanks for sharing your story Dan. God works in mysterious ways!

  • Diane

    I have to say that Fr. Philippe writings are so easy to understand. They’re words that I don’t have to look up in the dictionary. His book IN THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT was the guide in my spiritual direction. I brought it to my spiritual director to ask him what he thought about this book. I never got the book back. He loved the truth about it and the way Fr. Philippe expressed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. I finally did go out and get another book for myself. I recently purchased CALLED TO LIFE AND SEARCHING FOR MAINTAINING PEACE. I cannot express in words how these books have made an impact in my life. My journey has gotten deeper because of Fr. Philippe writings. These books do not dance around anything. It is right to the point. And most important to me easy to understand and to put these practices and truths to my own life. Many a tear has fallen due to Fr. Philippe truth and love. My journey continues to explode. Thank you Dan for your story and sharing and knowing Fr. Philippe

  • Diane

    Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed the interview. One of Fr. Philippe’s comments about prayer- “it’s not a technique it’s a conversation.” really hit home for me. Amazing how God used Fr.Philippe to give you His message. Love it!

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