SOP3 – The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI w/ Deacon James Keating

Episode 3- The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI –  Abraham the great Patriarch who prays in intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah.  The mystery of intercessory prayer and God’s great mercy.  When we persist in prayer, like Abraham, the more we come to know God and trust in His love for us.  How sin corrupts our capacity to receive God’s movement of protection and love.  How the sacrifice of Christ opens the door to the mystery.  If we can learn how to pray, then we learn how to be loved.  How do we pray for others?

Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha.

From  Pope Benedict’s 3 audience on prayer:

This is the power of prayer. For through intercession, the prayer to God for the salvation of others, the desire for salvation which God nourishes for sinful man is demonstrated and expressed. Evil, in fact, cannot be accepted, it must be identified and destroyed through punishment: The destruction of Sodom had exactly this function.

IPF logo small ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 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

Communion with Christ ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

Don’t forget to pickup a copy of “Communion with Christ” , it is one of the best audio sets on prayer…ever!

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

IP#135 Christopher West – The Heart of the Gospel on Inside the Pages

Christopher West is a pioneer in the area known as “The Theology of the Body”, a teaching found in the Wednesday audiences of Bl. John Paul II over the course of many years.  In “The Heart of the Gospel:  Reclaiming the body of the New Evangelization”, Christopher shares his insights and deeper understandings found in over 20 years of experience with this work and it’s relevance for our faith lives today.  In the course of the book, he also answers those objections to his approach in the past.  He dives deeply into the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, the teachings of the Saints, and above all, Sacred Scripture to find a richer expression of this important work and its message for our world today.   Below is the complete interview I had with Christopher which lasted close to an hour.  His humble, candid, honest approach to our discussion reveals  his care and concern for the subject and great love for the work given to us by our late great Holy Father, Bl. John Paul II.


You can find Christopher’s book here

“The light of the Gospel, which is a clear but at times painful light, can illumine human sexuality to its very depth in order to transform it and bring it to its full beauty. Here lies the great strength of Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. In this peaceful and positive response to critics, Christopher West proves once again that he is a faithful and inspiring interpreter and communicator of this great pope’s teaching, a teaching so urgently needed for an effective proclamation of the Gospel.” —Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, cardinal archbishop of Vienna; general editor, Catechism of the Catholic Church; and grand chancellor, International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family

“Christopher West has gone to the desert … and come back stronger than ever.  Those who may previously have thought his work was one-sided in its celebration of the body and sexuality will find here, brought out more clearly than ever, the deep balance and integration that has always been the foundation of his work.” – Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of Saint Louis,  Chairman, USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations


IP#134 Dr. Thomas Kidd – Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots on Inside the Pages

During this time when we are asked to remember the value of our religious liberty, our conversation with Dr. Thomas Kidd is an important one.  Dr. Kidd gives us the life and  passionate thought of “Patrick Henry:  First Among Patriots”.  Patrick Henry gave us the great rallying cry “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”, and yet many of us may not realize that he had huge reservations about the scope of the Constitution, because he feared it could one day seize that liberty and destroy it  if allowed to go unchecked….very interesting.  I found this to be a fascinating book.  Would Patrick Henry’s concern turn out to be a prophetic one?  Dr. Thomas Kidd handles his subject well, and presents the time, place and overall personality of Henry with clarity and insight in a very compelling read.

Dr. Thomas Kidd teaches history at Baylor University and is Senior Fellow at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution was published in 2010, also by Basic Books. Additional recent books include American Christians and Islam, published in 2008 by Princeton University Press, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, published by Yale University Press in 2007, and The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents, with Bedford Books in 2007.  He is a contributor to and has written op-eds for USA Today and the Washington Post.

You can find the book here


Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“His (Patrick Henry’a) historical reputation has suffered somewhat because of his opposition to the Constitution, but as Thomas Kidd shows in this vivid and lucid new biography, that judgment fails to do him justice. Indeed, his fears of the Constitution’s tendency toward consolidation and empire turned out to be well-founded, and the principal themes of his life, including his emphasis upon the cultivation of virtue and the protection of limited government, have never been more relevant. May this fine book lead to a long-overdue reconsideration of a great but neglected figure.”

Pope Benedict on Prayer 20 – Christian Unity Requires Individual Conversion: The priestly prayer of Jesus


Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning’s general audience to Christ’s priestly prayer during the Last Supper, as narrated in chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John. In order to understand this prayer “in all its immense richness”, said the Pope, it is important to see it in the context of the Jewish feast of atonement, Yom Kippur, in which the high priest seeks atonement first for himself, then for the order of priests and finally for the community as a whole. Likewise, “that night Jesus addressed the Father at the moment in which He offered Himself. He, priest and victim, prayed for Himself, for the Apostles and for all those who would believe in Him”.

The prayer which Jesus prays for Himself is the request for His own glorification. “It is in fact more than a request”, the Holy Father said, “it is a declaration of willingness to enter freely and generously into the Father’s plan, which is accomplished through death and resurrection. …

Jesus begins His priestly prayer by saying: ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you’. The glorification Jesus seeks for Himself, as High Priest, is to be fully obedient to the Father, an obedience which leads Him to fulfil His filial status: ‘So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed'”.

The second part of Jesus’ prayer is His intercession for the disciples who have followed Him, and His request that they may be sanctified. Jesus says: ‘They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth’. Benedict XVI explained how “To sanctify means to transfer something – a person or an object – to God. This involves two complementary aspects: on the one hand, the idea of ‘segregation’ … from man’s personal life in order to be completely given over to God; on the other hand there is the idea of ‘being sent out’, of mission. Having been given to God, the consecrated thing or person exists for others. … A person is sanctified when, like Jesus, he is segregated from the world, set aside for God in view of a task and, for this reason, available for everyone. For disciples this means continuing Jesus’ mission”.

In the third phase of the priestly prayer, “Jesus asks the Father to intervene in favour of all those who will be brought to the faith by the mission inaugurated by the Apostles. … ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word’. … Jesus prays for the Church in all times, He also prays for us. … The main element in Jesus’ priestly prayer for His disciples is His request for the future unity of those who will believe in Him. This unity is not a worldly achievement. It derives exclusively from divine unity and comes down to us from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit”.

By this priestly prayer Jesus establishes the Church, “which is nothing other than the community of disciples who, through their faith in Christ as the One sent by the Father, receive His unity and are involved in Jesus’ mission to save the world by leading it to a knowledge of God”.

Benedict XVI invited the faithful to read and meditate upon Jesus priestly prayer, and to pray to God themselves, asking Him “to help us enter fully into the plan He has for each of us. Let us ask Him to consecrate us to Himself, that we may belong to Him and show increasing love for others, both near and far. Let us ask Him to help us open our prayers to the world, not limiting them to requests for help in our own problems, but remembering our fellow man before the Lord and learning the beauty of interceding for others. Let us ask Him for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in Christ, … that we may be ready to respond to anyone who asks us about the reasons for our hope”.

At the end of his audience, Benedict XVI delivered greetings in various languages to the pilgrims and faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, reminding them that today’s Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Addressing Polish faithful he said: “The conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles near Damascus is proof that, in the final analysis, it is God Himself Who decides the destiny of His Church. Let us ask Him for the grace of unity, which also requires our individual conversion, while remaining faithful to the truth and love of God”.
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Faith Check 32 – Organized Religion?

Organized Religion?

It’s something we’ve all heard before: I believe in God, but not organized religion.
But as Catholics we believe that Jesus started a Church—yes an organized religion, if you will.

The Church is a gift to the world, which God has ordained as the vehicle in which we are sanctified and grow on the way to our heavenly destination.

Above all, the Catholic Church is a family.  Man is not an island, as it was once famously said, and we need the community found in our brothers and sisters in the Faith.
A visible Church is necessary for the dispensing of the seven sacraments, which Jesus instituted for the forgiveness of sins and growth in grace.

And God has always desired that His people gather to give Him glory by corporate, liturgical worship and sacrifice, which is fulfilled in the New Covenant by the Holy Mass.

Yes, the organized institution of the Church has often had its share of scandals and sins.  The human face of the Church can be messy and imperfect.  But God does not desire for us to escape to a spiritual island or alternative religion, but to serve Him and His people in the Church He founded and has promised to be with until He returns in glory.



The Conversion of St. Paul

From the choral works of Z Randall Stroope
“The Conversion of Saul”

“Paul’s conversion matured in his encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his life. What happened to him on the road to Damascus is what Jesus asks in today’s Gospel: Saul is converted because, thanks to the divine light, “he has believed in the Gospel”. In this consists his and our conversion: in believing in Jesus dead and risen and in opening to the illumination of his divine grace. In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good works fulfilled according to the law, but on the fact that Jesus died also for him the persecutor and has risen. This truth by which every Christian life is enlightened thanks to Baptism completely overturns our way of life. To be converted means, also for each one of us, to believe that Jesus “has given himself for me”, dying on the Cross (cf. Galatians 2: 20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of hisforgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of the quicksands of pride and sin, of deceit and sadness, of selfishness and of every false security, to know and live the richness of his love.”( Pope Benedict XVI from address given on January 25, 2009)

Conversion of St. Paul Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

St. Francis de Sales, restoring the “universal call to holiness”

Denver, Colo., Jan 23, 2011 / 07:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Jan. 24, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that runs from Jan. 18-25, Catholics will celebrate the life of St. Francis de Sales. A bishop and Doctor of the Church, his preaching brought thousands of Protestants back to the Catholic fold, and his writings on the spiritual life have proved highly influential.

The paradoxical circumstances of Francis’ birth, in the Savoy region (now part of France) during 1567,  sum up several contradictory tendencies of the Church during his lifetime. The reforms of the Council of Trent had purified the Church in important ways, yet Catholics and Protestants still struggled against one another – and against the temptations of wealth and worldly power.

Francis de Sales, a diplomat’s son, was born into aristocratic wealth and privilege. Yet he was born in a room that his family named the “St. Francis room” – where there hung a painting of that saint, renowned for his poverty, preaching in the wilderness. In later years, Francis de Sales would embrace poverty also; but early in his ministry, the faithful chided him for having an aristocratic manner.

In many ways, Francis’ greatest achievements – such as the “Introduction to the Devout Life,” an innovative spiritual guidebook for laypersons, or his strong emphasis on the role of human love in Christian devotion – represent successful attempts to re-integrate seemingly disparate “worldly” and “spiritual” realities into one coherent vision of life.

Few people, however, would have predicted these achievements for Francis during his earlier years. As a young man, he studied rhetoric, the humanities, and law. He had his law degree by age 25, and was headed for a political career. All the while, he was keeping the depths of his spiritual life – such as his profound devotion to the Virgin Mary, and his resolution of religious celibacy – a secret from the world.

Eventually, however, the truth came out, and Francis clashed with his father, who had arranged a marriage for him. The Bishop of Geneva intervened on Francis’ behalf, finding him a position in the administration of the Swiss Church that led to his priestly ordination in 1593. He volunteered to lead a mission to bring Switzerland, dominated by Calvinist Protestantism, back to the Catholic faith.

Taking on a seemingly impossible task, with only one companion – his cousin – the new priest adopted a harsh but hopeful motto: “Apostles battle by their sufferings, and triumph only in death.” It would serve him well as he traveled through Switzerland, facing many Protestants’ indifference or hostility, and being attacked by wild animals and even would-be assassins.

Some of Francis’ hearers –even, for a time, John Calvin’s protege Theodore Beza– found themselves captivated by the thoughtful, eloquent and joyful manner of the priest who implored their reunion with the Church. But he had more success when he began writing out these sermons and exhortations, slipping them beneath the doors that had been closed against him.

This pioneering use of religious tracts proved surprisingly effective at breaking down the resistance of the Swiss Calvinists, and it is estimated that between 40,000 and 70,000 of them returned to the Church through his efforts. He also served as a spiritual director, both in person and through written correspondence, with the latter format inspiring the “Introduction to the Devout Life.”

In 1602, Francis was chosen to become the Bishop of Geneva, a position he did not seek or desire. Accepting the position, however, he gave the last twenty years of his life in ongoing sacrifice, for the restoration of Geneva’s churches and religious orders. He also helped one of his spiritual directees, the widow and future saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to found an order with a group of women.

Worn out by nearly thirty years of arduous travel and other burdens of Church leadership, Francis fell ill in 1622 while visiting one of a convent he had helped to found in Lyons. He died there, three days after Christmas that year. St. Francis de Sales was canonized in 1665, and honored as a Doctor of the Church in 1877.

Because of the crucial role of writing in his apostolate, St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers and journalists. He is also widely credited with restoring, during his own day, a sense of what the Second Vatican Council would later call the “universal call to holiness” – that is, the notion that all people, not only those in formal religious life, are called to the heights of Christian sanctification. – CNA/EWTN News

A Prayer of St. Frances de Sales

Founders statue at St. Peter’s in Rome

Lord, I am yours,
and I must belong to no one but you.
My soul is yours,
and must live only by you.
My will is yours,
and must love only for you.
I must love you as my first cause,
since I am from you.
I must love you as my end and rest,
since I am for you.
I must love you more than my own being,
since my being subsists by you.
I must love you more than myself,
since I am all yours and all in you.


Meditations from the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales


IP#133 Greg and Julie Alexander – Marriage 911 on Inside the Pages

In “Marriage 911: How God Saved Our Marriage (and can save yours, too!)”, we meet Greg and Julie Alexander, a great and courageous couple.  They candidly share the trials of what they felt was a lifeless, loveless marriage on the verge of divorce.  Married in the Church,  they began the process of seeking a way out of their union. Unexpectedly they encountered a faithful caring priest, who shared with them the Church’s understanding of marriage, and through incoporating those truths, revived and revitalized their sacramental relationship and their family as well.  Now married over 20 years, they offer emergency hope and guidance to couples struggling in a similar conditions through their “Alexander House” non-profit marriage and family life  enrichment apostolate.  Visit their outstanding website

Their breakthrough work in marriage has been featured on EWTN and talk radio, as well as in many publications, including Patrick Madrid s Surprised by Truth 3EnvoyCatholic HeraldDenver Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor.





You can find the book here

IP#132 Kevin Lowry – Faith at Work on Inside the Pages

Faith at Work:  Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck is fantastic…a remedy for  spirituality seekers  in the workplace (and in the home as well)!  You have to love a work that begins with conversion as a goal.   Kevin Lowry offers concrete helps which assist all of us deepen our relationship with Christ and His Church, and live authentic lives as Catholics in the world.  Great for individuals and for group study as well.

“Too many Christians treat ambition and success as if they’re four-letter words…. For a Catholic in business, they can be touchstones of sanctification.”— Scott Hahn, Ph.D., professor of biblical theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville


 Be sure to visit Kevin Lowry’s website at Grateful Convert



Check it out here



SOP2 – The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI w/ Deacon James Keating

Episode 2 – The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI –  Faith and reason in the life of prayer.  Allowing God to effect our minds, as well as our hearts.  If you let God close you will be free…to let him in so close that God prays in you.  Letting God’s love be the norm of our culture…in the other and in the poor.  The role of silence in prayer and posture of kneeling.

Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha.

From  Pope Benedict’s 2nd audience on prayer:

A look at recent history reveals the failure of the predictions of those who, in the age of the Enlightenment, foretold the disappearance of religions and who exalted absolute reason, detached from faith, a reason that was to dispel the shadows of religious dogmatism and was to dissolve the “world of the sacred”, restoring to the human being freedom, dignity and autonomy from God. The experience of the past century, with the tragedy of the two World Wars, disrupted the progress that autonomous reason, man without God, seemed to have been able to guarantee.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence…. Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to man’s essential search for God” (n. 2566). We could say — as I explained in my last Catecheses — that there has been no great civilization, from the most distant epoch to our day, which has not been religious.

IPF logo small ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 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

Communion with Christ ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

Don’t forget to pickup a copy of “Communion with Christ” , it is one of the best audio sets on prayer…ever!

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page