Access The Discerning Hearts Spiritual Formation Series by clicking on the image
Here are more resources on Prayer
Michael Novak is a shining witness of what occurs in the soul when the head makes the journey to the heart. What a gift he is to all of us and what a profound sage of wisdom…when he so-gently speaks, I listen….we all should! In “Living the Call: An Introduction to the Lay Vocation”, Michael, along with his co-author William E. Simon, Jr, establishes, in Part 1, of the book, the need for the lay vocation in the Church today. They chronicle that need with a national and global perspective. They also present how “living the call” looks in the lives of nine committed lay faithful working in parish life today
Part 2 is worth it’s weight in gold! It outlines the absolute necessity of growth in the interior life of the laity. How essential it is to deepen the spiritual life . They give voice to the need to appreciate the desert experiences of our lives as an opportunities for greater unity with Christ; such periods provide the fonts of grace which nurtures the work in ministry. For anyone who severs in ministry of any kind, either as an employee or as a volunteer, if you pass this indispensable book by, you do so at your own peril!
Once again a spiritual classic has been given to us from the prolific Catholic philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft!. “How to be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint” derives it’s direction from the incredible “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J. and it’s simple message that God reveals himself through the daily events of our lives. How we respond is the key to faith and our opportunity to grow in holiness. Do you place your trust the Father’s will? Can you respond in love? Do you truly believe Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (RSV)? To be holy, we must take the first step…Dr. Kreeft shows us the way. Outstanding!
“Surrender! The Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will” is another outstanding offering from Fr. LarryRichards! From start to finish Fr. Larry challenges us to place Jesus Christ first in our lives and in our relationships with others and the world. Once we can do that, things begin to fall in place. Then he helps us to recognize the difference between God’s will and our will, and to trust that His will be better for us if we trust, love and….SURRENDER!
I love the book! “Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Problems” by Anthony DeStephano is filled with a bazillion “ah-ha” moments…you knew that, but you didn’t know you knew that. Anthony has a wonderful way of breaking down daunting theological questions to easily understood basics in order to nurture … Read more…
It was great to talk with Sr. Ann Shields, of “Food for the Journey”, about her new book “To Be Like Jesus – Inspiration From the Gospel of Luke” . In her maternal nurturing way she encourages us to “feed” on the great gift of God’s Holy Word. You can find the book here. From … Read more…
“Three Moments of the Day: Praying with the Heart of Jesus” by Fr. Christopher Collins S.J. is outstanding!
Our conversation with Fr. Collins may leave you feeling that you’ve received a wonderful spiritual “booster shot”! What seemed old is beautifully new again. What we may have taken for granted is revealed to have delightfully renewing facets for us to explore. Highly, highly recommended!
From the book description:
On the strength of the Apostleship of Prayer’s worldwide reach, retreat master Christopher Collins introduces a powerful approach to both the Sacred Heart devotion and classic Ignatian spirituality.
In the tradition of Michael Gaitley’s bestselling 33 Days to Morning Glory, Three Moments of the Day presents a classic Catholic tradition in a way that is fresh and compelling. Jesuit retreat master Christopher Collins introduces three simple, yet powerful prayer habits that are at the foundation of both the Sacred Heart devotion and Ignatian spirituality and that assist the reader in turning intentionally toward the Sacred Heart of Christ. Readers are guided through morning offering, evening reflection, and how to ponder the gift of the Eucharist throughout the day.
What a glorious opportunity to discuss “Truth” with the one and only Dr. Peter Kreeft. I have to admit, one must be on their toes when discussing any topic with the good doctor, he is one of the great intellects and authors of our time, period. He is always patient, kind and just downright fascinating in this conversation; Dr. Kreeft engages the imagination and guides us deeper into the reality of Divine Revelation. “Jacob’s Ladder: 10 Steps to Truth” is an absolutely splendid voyage to undertake; put on your thinking caps, dive in to the ocean of your heart, and be prepared to be awed and delighted. A must have book for anyone who is seeking Truth.
It’s always a delight to talk with Fr. Donald Calloway, particularly when it’s about Our Lady! In “Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon”, Fr. Calloway proves once again to be one of the Blessed Mother’s great knights in our modern-day spiritual battle. His humble, joy-filled witness is inspiring! Along with the Sacraments of the Church and Sacred Scripture, Fr. Calloway knows exactly what we need to enhance and deepen our experience of grace in these crazy challenging times which we now live in – The Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary! For the restless contemplative heart, there is no place better to ponder the presence and mysteries of God than in Our Lady’s “garden of prayer.” In that prayer, she will bring us to encounter Christ, and through Him, with Him, and in Him, the world will be transformed. This fantastic book is like a multi-faceted diamond. In its pages, Fr. Calloway shares the rich history of the Holy Rosary, beautifully pious devotional reflections (with stunning artwork as well), and the stories of those whose lives encourage us to become champions of this devotion as well! This is a must have in every Catholic home and parish!
What a delight to talk and to LEARN from Fr. Ed Broom, of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary! His book “From Humdrum to HOLY: A Step-by-Step Guide to Living Like a Saint” is great! In our conversation, we discuss the value of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the great legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri and of having a spiritual program in our lives. He offers in this work, among other things, “10 Ways to Start (or Continue) Becoming a Saint” . Through the “10 M’s” he presents practical entryways to help souls who desire to establish spiritual practices in their everyday life. Fr. Ed speaks of the importance of self-knowledge and the practice of the Daily Examen Prayer as well as, the need to form a healthy conscience. We are only able to touch the tip of the iceberg in this episode, but that’s the beauty of having the “From Humdrum to HOLY” your hands! Fr. Ed Broom’s writing is so engaging and filled with clarity. Take an important first step in growing in holiness and get this book!
The Second Way of Prayer
St. Dominic used to pray by throwing himself outstretched upon the ground, lying on his face. He would feel great remorse in his heart and call to mind those words of the Gospel, saying sometimes in a voice loud enough to be heard: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” [Luke 18:13] With devotion and reverence he repeated that verse of David: “I am he that has sinned, I have done wickedly.” [II Kings 24:17]. Then he would weep and groan vehemently and say: “I am not worthy to see the heights of heaven because of the greatness of my iniquity, for I have aroused thy anger and done what is evil in thy sight”(28). From the psalm: “Deus auribus nostris audivimus” he said fervently and devoutly: “For our soul is cast down to the dust, our belly is flat on the earth!” [Ps. 43:25]. To this he would add: “My soul is prostrate in the dust; quicken thou me according to thy word” [Ps. 118:25].
Wishing to teach the brethren to pray reverently, he would sometimes say to them: When those devout Magi entered the dwelling they found the child with Mary, his mother, and falling down they worshipped him. There is no doubt that we too have found the God-Man with Mary, his handmaid. “Come, let us adore and fall down in prostration before God, and let us weep before God, and let us weep before the Lord that made us” [Ps. 94:61. He would also exhort the young men, and say to them: If you cannot weep for your own sins because you have none, remember that there are many sinners who can be disposed for mercy and charity. It was for these that the prophets lamented; and when Jesus saw them, he wept bitterly. The holy David also wept as he said: “I beheld the transgressors and began to grieve” [Ps. 118:158].
“Teach Us How To Pray” – Lent and the Importance of Fasting and Almsgiving in our Prayer – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 4
Msgr. Esseff teaches the importance of the Liturgical year and in particular the season Lent. He also shares his experience of fasting in a desert found in Peru. From this he learned the importance of FASTING and PRAYER. Msgr. Esseff challenges us to discern what the Father in Heaven is asking us to do this Lent through fasting, so we can purely and perfectly follow His Holy Will. And he describes ALMSGIVING, and story from an experience he had with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Sisters.
The Church prepares a spiritual retreat for all of us during Lent. The Holy Spirit is transforming you in a radical way so that you become more like Jesus Christ…the day by day exercise of Morning Prayer, the Eucharist and Evening Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, and the other moments of contemplative prayer aids in the transformation…our ego decreases and Jesus increases in our minds and in our hearts.
“The Will of God: Finding and Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life” is a great book which uses the great Psalm 119 to help us in the area of discernment. Taking a lifetime of steeped in prayer and sound theology, Fr. Baker gives us a unique and penetrating resource to aid in our growth in the areas of contemplation and discernment. Father Baker was the editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review for more than 40 years, and currently serves as Editor Emeritus of the online edition. He was a joy to talk with and to learn from….not to be missed for the discerning heart!
“The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home” by David Clayton and Leila M. Lawler is absolutely wonderful. More than just a “prayer-how-to”, this book is about the beauty of God and embracing the relationship in all areas of our lives. Clayton and Lawler help us to reverence the sacred found in our homes, in the rhythm of the day, the blessings we have been given, and the gift of the present moment. This is for every home, whether one filled with children or a sanctuary for the single life, this is a must have for those who wish to be surrounded in prayer.
What a delight to once again talk with Fr. Robert Spitzer! This time we discuss “Finding True Happiness: Satisifying Our Restless Hearts” Fr. Spitzer generously shares the four levels of happiness and shows how many of us have become lost while seeking the hearts deepest longing. A fantastic book that is more than just an … Read more…
SP#2 “To Live Our Prayer in Union with Love” – The School of Prayer: Foundations for the New Evangelization Fr. Scott Traynor talks about how we have to do more than just talk about prayer. He discusses how we must “live” our prayer in the union of love within the heart of the Holy Trinity. … Read more…
Msgr. Esseff asks the question, “Is your prayer centered in the Holy Trinity?” He challenges us to take a good look at our prayer lives and do we pray as Jesus taught us…to the Father. Reading 2 Rom 8:14-17 Brothers and sisters: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of … Read more…
Fr. Scott Traynor begins this series on prayer by describing how Jesus Christ desires a deep personal relationship of the heart with each of us and how this is the true foundation for the New Evangelization. He discusses the adventure of the life of faith and the gifts the Father wishes to shower upon us in union with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He breaks open the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the great teacher of prayer. Fr. Traynor encourages us to grow in union with Trinity through opening our hearts in prayer.
The subject is PRAYER. From Luke Chap 11 v 1-13, Msgr. Esseff discusses how little we know how to pray and how to receive. He reflects on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s teaching to St. Catherine Laboure about prayer. Then he offers the proper movement of prayer:
1. “Be there with Him and for Him”
2. “You have to want Him” Intensify the desire of relationship with God.
3. “Listen to Him”
A – Acknowledge (What’s going on in your heart)
R – Relay that to God
(Tell God – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit
and the Blessed Virgin Mary – about that experience)
R – Receive (What is God going to tell me about what I told Him)
R – Respond
4. “Let Him” (Surrender to God)
What happens when we encounter the Holy Eucharist
What happens when we encounter the Living Word of God
The Prinicipal and Foundation of Prayer and Discernment: a teaching from Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts
I had the opportunity to speak with Msgr. Esseff, who is conducting a spiritual retreat for the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity in Sydney, Australia. He shares with us the teachings from the first day, which is on the principal and foundation of prayer as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Msgr. Esseff begins by reflecting on the Awe of God and the difference between “being” and “becoming”. He shares a special memory of an experience that helped him to understand this which occurred when he was a young boy on his grandfather’s farm. Many years later, he would learn this was a basic teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on the nature of God and creation. God is being and creation (including man) is becoming.
With that foundation, Msgr. Esseff proceeds to teach us that all of our are becoming therefore because mankind has a soul and has the capacity for reflection, we have the power to glorify God. That is the first call we have, to glorify God. To often we focus on our selves and what serves our needs. St. Ignatius would say, that instead when faced with a decision or direction, each human being is called to discern, to ask whether if this is what God wants or is this is what I want. The key is to take ask the Father “What do you want us to do?” This is discernment at its basic level.
The hymn of praise learned with the Suffering Servant on the Mount of Olives is shrouded in a mystery. It is against this mystery that therapeutic approaches to prayer should be discerned. Psychological or physical tantrums are silenced before the authentic cry of heart offered by the Son of Man. His love for his disciples and devotion to the Father challenges any consumerist attitude toward the things of God. His sorrow and spiritual poverty helps us feel the appropriate shame we ought to have over any gluttonous expectation for mental relief or euphoric experience. Against the dark terror Jesus confronts in prayer, spiritual consumerism can only be seen as limiting the freedom that our conversation with the Lord requires.
The Word made flesh baptized every moment of his earthly life in this kind of prayer. Every heart beat and every breath was so filled with zeal for the Father and those the Father gave Him, divine love ever exploded in His sacred humanity with resounding silence, astonishing signs, heart-aching wonders and words of wisdom which even after two thousand years still give the world pause. Each verse of the Gospels attempts to show us His self-emptying divinity boldly hurling His prayerful humanity with the invincible force of love to the Cross.
In Gethsemane we glimpse how the Son of Man availed Himself to these mysterious promptings of the Father’s love, an unfathomable love that is not comfortable to our limited humanity. Unaided human reason cannot penetrate the divine passion that compelled Him into the solitude hidden mountains and secret gardens. His vigil on the Mount of Olives can only be understood as the culmination of the ongoing conversation to which He eagerly made His humanity vulnerable.