CW4 Our Lady of the Rosary – Praying with the Blessed Virgin Mary – The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Guides for Prayer w/ Fr. Mark Cyza



Fr. Mark Cyza discusses praying with Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  He speaks of the history of the devotion., as well as,  the importance of spending time in contemplation of the saving mysteries of our salvation.  Fr. Cyza explains why should welcome the opportunity to pray with Blessed Virgin Mary and how she walks with us in her great garden of prayer.

ourladyoftherosaryResources:  Visit the Discerning Hearts Holy Rosary Page here

St. Teresa of Avila Novena Day 2 – Discerning Hearts


The Novena to St. Teresa of Avila, Day 2,
composed by  by St. Alphonsus of Liguori.


O most merciful Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of hope which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy holy spouse, to give us a great confidence in Thy goodness, by reason of Thy Precious Blood, which Thou hast shed to its last drop for our salvation.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Visit the Discerning Hearts “Teresa of Avila” page for the complete novena and text of the prayers

MIL#6 – “Signs of Love and Fidelity” – Marriage in the Lord w/ Deacon James Keating, Ph.D.

Catholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

Catholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

Episode 6 -Marriage in the Lord with Deacon James Keating –

In this episode, Deacon Keating continues to reflect on the Sacrament of Marriage and the liturgy of the Church in which it is celebrated.  The blessings of rings as signs of love and fidelity.  The importance of having the mass celebrated in the celebration of marriage is also discussed.

Deacon James Keating, PhD, explores the theological and spiritual meaning of the Sacrament of Marriage. Using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a touchstone, Deacon Keating challenges listeners to go to the depths of what it means to be married in the Lord.

Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha, is making available to ”Discerning Hearts” and all who listen, his series of programs entitled “Marriage in the Lord”

For other episodes in this series visit hereIPF logo small WOM#1 Deacon James Keating – Way of Mystery episode 1 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

For more information on the “Institute of Priestly Formation” and for other material available by Deacon Keating, just click here


Don’t forget to pickup a copy of “Spousal Prayer: A Way to Marital HappinessSpousal-Prayer

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

St. Teresa of Avila Day 1

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila - Mp3 audio download 2

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila - Mp3 audio download 2

O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

This Novena was written by St. Alphonsus of Liguori.

Visit the Discerning Hearts “Teresa of Avila” page for the complete novena and text of the prayers

BTP-LR11 The “Last Retreat” Day 9 pt. 1 – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 5

Beginning to Pray: “The Last Retreat – Day 9 pt 1 ” – “Adoration, ah! That is a word from Heaven!”Catholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

From “Last Retreat Day 9 pt 1” found in The Complete Works vol 1:

22. “Be holy for I am holy.” 126 Who then is this who can give such a command? . . . He Himself has revealed His name, the name proper to Him, which He alone can bear: “I am Who Am,” 127 He said to Moses, the only living One, the principle of all the other beings. “In Him,” the Apostle says, “we live and move and have our being.” 128 “Be holy for I am holy!” It seems to me that this is the very same wish expressed on the day of creation when God said: “Let us make man in Our image and likeness.” 129 It is always the desire of the Creator to identify and to associate His creature with Himself! St. Peter says “that we have been made sharers in the divine nature”; 130 St. Paul recommends that we hold on to “this beginning of His existence” 131 which He has given us; and the disciple of love tells us: “Now we are the children of God, and we have not yet seen what we shall be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him makes himself holy, just as He Himself is holy.” 132 To be holy as God is holy, such is, it seems, the measure of the children of His love! Did not the Master say: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”? 133

Elizabeth of the Trinity (2014-07-24). Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Works, Volume I: I Have Found God, General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings (Kindle Locations 3339-3353). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.



This the text we are using to discuss “Heaven in Faith” you can find it here and order from the Carmelite Sisters

We would like to offer heartfelt thanks to
Miriam Gutierrez for providing for us “the voice” of Blessed Elizabeth for this series

 For other episodes in the series visit the Discerning Hearts page for Dr. Anthony Lilles

Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity. After graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville, he completed licentiate and doctoral studies in spiritual theology at the Angelicum in Rome. In 2012, he published Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: a theological contemplation of prayer by Discerning Hearts. Married with two young adult children pursuing their careers and a teenager still at home, he has settled in family in Oxnard, California.Hidden-Mountain-cover-195x300

HM-4 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker


Adrian-WalkerEpisode 4 – “A Handmaid of the Lord – Mary/Joseph, Mary/John” – “A Handmaid of the Lord”: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we reflect on various aspects of Adrienne’s insight on the Mother of God as described in her book “A Handmaid of the Lord”. In part two of our conversation on the work, Dr. Walker reflects on the meaning of the “Mary and Joseph”and “Mary and Joseph” relationships.  We explore Adrienne’s meditations and how she presents vocation and the “religious state” through the lens of Mary.

Mary and Joseph’s life together was wholly bound to the earthly way of life—the form human existence has had ever since man was driven out of Paradise. Their life was mutual service in housekeeping, breadwinning and everything involved in the toilsome and harsh scraping out of a life. But even this common labor had its focus in the divine Child, who threw open everything earthly and drew it into the eddy of his mission. Out of this breaking open there arose much later the new form of community between Mary and John, in which everything previous is translated into the supernatural and the spiritual. Now the whole fruitfulness of the community lies in the spirit; the fruit is therefore no longer visible and measurable. The material element certainly continues to exist in some way even in this community, but so secondarily that it is now only a prerequisite of the new community, not an essential HML-Pcomponent. Thus John, in his care for the Mother, is not to be regarded as Joseph’s successor. Mary has, of course, remained the same; she walks a straight path along which her assent develops. But community with John does not mean for her the continuation of the same task. The first time her assent had been used to fulfill a call to marriage; the second time it is shaped to the fulfillment of a call to the “religious life”.

Joseph and John, as well, are bound to Mary in different ways. In her assent Mary was led by the angel immediately to the Lord, without the intervention of her husband’s consent. Joseph, who is warned by the angel that he should not divorce Mary because she has conceived of the Holy Spirit, is bound directly to the human person, Mary, in order to become through this bond a servant of the incarnate Lord. John, however, is first claimed by the Lord for himself and only then brought together with Mary and given over to her. If Joseph attains to God and to holiness only through Mary, God draws John immediately into his friendship and binds him as the Lord’s friend to the Mother of the Lord. The man, the male, possesses autonomy in the natural realm and is opened to God primarily by the Christian woman in marriage. In this lies the woman’s reciprocating gift to her spouse, who has initiated her into the mystery of the natural community. Conversely, the Son gives his Mother to the priest, John, whom the Son already possesses as a saint, and Mary now submits to the priestly mission of the Apostle. In the family Mary was the focal point since she carried the Child in her womb. Joseph could not be the focal point; he could only serve, even when, as foster father, he commanded. But in John the word of the Lord lives on; as a priest he bears the office, gives shape to the solid, supernatural framework into which the Mother is now incorporated, with her living fruitfulness of grace. Once she had brought the Son physically into the world. Now the Son dies and disappears, but he lives on in the Spirit and in the office of John, whom he makes a bearer of the developing Church. And because the Mother is entrusted to the Apostle John, the certainty exists that the official Church remains fruitful and that the Mother’s fruitfulness is not exhausted in earthly temporality. Her life knows no limited time period of fruitfulness; her fruitfulness has no end; rather, it returns in the end to her mission, which no longer has the form of the Child she bore but of John, who is himself the fruit of the Lord’s redemption and represents, by virtue of his office, the love and continuing life of the Son in his work, the Church. Once the Lord had chosen his Mother, but he had to adapt himself to the earthly framework of the family and Joseph’s authority. Now Mary must adapt herself to the new framework of the Church, embodied in John. John does not go into Mary’s house but takes the Mother with him to his own home. She will have to adjust herself to the law that rules there. The woman forms the worldly home of the family; in the “cloister”, however, she conceals her personality under the veil, in order to let herself be formed by the objective Rule.

von Speyr, Adrienne (2012-03-09). Handmaid of the Lord (Kindle Locations 1706-1730). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.


For more episodes in this series visit Dr. Adrian Walker’s Discerning Hearts page

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth”, as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar“, a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa, was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press



The Holy Angels… In Conversation with Fr. Titus Kieninger



Bruce and I, thanks to Fr. Damien Cook, had the opportunity to speak to Fr. Titus Kieninger of Opus Sanctorum Angelorum about the role of Holy Angels.

Angel of God,
My Guardian Dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and to guard,
to rule and guide.

For they are ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14)

O holy Guardian Angel, my dear friend and solicitous guide on the dangerous way of life, to thee be heartfelt thanks for the numberless benefits which have been granted me through thy love and goodness and for the powerful help by which thou hast preserved me from so many dangers and temptations. I beg of thee, let me further experience thy love and thy care. Avert from me all danger, increase in me horror for sin and love for all that is good. Be a counselor and consoler to me in all the affairs of my life, and when my life draws to a close, conduct my soul through the valley of death into the kingdom of eternal peace, so that in eternity we may together praise God and rejoice in His glory. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
O Angel of God, make me worthy of thy tender love, thy celestial companionship and thy never-failing protection!

For He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.  (Ps 91)

The Holy Angels, and in particular our Guardian Angels, are such a wonderful gift to us from the Father!  Let us give thanks to Him for his generosity and to our Guardian Angel for their presence in our lives!

It’s really important to understand  the difference in the angels beyond all the New Age silliness.  There are the Holy Angels (we love them and they love us) and the fallen angels (bad, bad, bad)…it’s what discernment and spiritual warfare, on many levels, are all about.

Be sure to visit Opus Sanctorum Angelorum

Let us affectionately love His angels as counselors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide. ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“In the heart of the church I will be love” – Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus from the Office of Readings

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From the autobiography of St Theresa of the Child Jesus, virgin

(Manuscrits autobiographiques, Lisieux 1957, 227-229)

In the heart of the church I will be love

Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.

I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: “Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.” For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.

When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.

Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

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CW1 St. Therese, Suffering, and Prayer – The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Guides for Prayer with Fr. Mark Cyza – Discerning Hearts

Catholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

CW1 – St. Therese, Suffering, and Prayer  – The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Guides for Prayer with Fr. Mark CyzaCatholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the witness of St. Therese, especially in the light of the suffering she endured during the later years of her short 24 year old life.  He talks about not only her physical challenge, but also that suffering  her “dark night” and how it can actually be transformed into an experience of joy when united to the Cross of Christ with the aid of Our Lady.

From Story of a Soul (l’Histoire d’une Ame): The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
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What attracts me towards our Heavenly Home is the Master’s call—the hope of loving Him at last to the fulfilling of all my desire—the thought that I shall be able to win Him the love of a multitude of souls, who will bless Him through all eternity.

I have never asked God that I might die young—that to me were a cowardly prayer; but from my childhood He has deigned to inspire me with a strong conviction that my life would be a short one.

I feel we must tread the same road to Heaven—the road of suffering and love. When I myself have reached the port, I will teach you how best to sail the world’s tempestuous sea—with the self-abandonment of a child well aware of a father’s love, and of his vigilance in the hour of danger.

I long so much to make you understand the expectant love of the Heart of Jesus. Your last letter has made my own heart thrill sweetly. I learnt how closely your soul is sister to mine, since God calls that soul to mount to Himself by the lift of love, without climbing the steep stairway of fear. I am not surprised you find it hard to be familiar with Jesus—one cannot become so in a day; but this I do know, I shall aid you much more to tread this beautiful path when I lay aside the burden of this perishable body. Ere long you will exclaim with St. Augustine: “Love is my lodestone!”

IP#264 – Elizabeth Ficocelli – “Therese, Faustina, and Bernadette” on Inside the Pages


Elizabeth-F“Therese, Faustina and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged My Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How to Love” ties beautifully together the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) and shows us how they are particularly lived out in the lives of three of the most beloved saints of our modern era.  Author Elizabeth Ficocelli shares her personal relationship with these beautiful saints and how they helped her to grow in her understanding and trust in Christ.  More than just a biography of each saint, this work is a road map for the spiritual life based on the lives of women who are joyfully showing us the way.

Ttherese-Faustina-Bernade-195x300You can find the book here

“With openness and candor, Elizabeth Ficocelli reveals her personal experiences of living the challenges of her Catholic faith. Her peace and joy come in meeting these challenges by embracing the cross though the grace of prayer and the sacraments, as well as following the example of newfound friends, her favorite saints. This book will help anyone who also experiences challenges in life through the assistance of some wonderful friends!”–Mother Mary Assumpta Long, Prioress General, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

“Tender, honest, introspective, and deeply personal, this book provides beautiful witness to the loveliness and wonder of the feminine genius! Elizabeth Ficocelli, writing from the insightful perspective of a convert to Catholicism who seeks to understand and unpack the mysteries of her own spiritual journey, reminds us in this gem of a book that we should all seek to acquire friendship with the saints and grow in the theological virtues. I highly recommend this book!”–Rev. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., Author of Under the Mantle