On Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 1 – Discerning Hearts

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of  the Diocese of Fargo.

On the evening of the start of the retreat, Msgr. Esseff gave a talk to prepare the hearts and minds of the participants. He explains the importance and value of SILENCE and listening to God. We may be doing too much talking to God and not enough listening. He provides the structure of the hours of prepare and scripture to reflect on and how to pray for the reception of a particular grace.

Msgr. Esseff offers Ephesians 3:14-20, in particular, for reflection. He will later in the talk, give specific scripture for reflection for the hours of prayer.  He discusses our specific calling…from baptism to marriage, the diaconate…what is our identity as Christian.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love”

On Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 2 Talk 1 on “PRAYER” – Discerning Hearts

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of the Diocese of Fargo.

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

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of Love


On Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 2 Talk 2 on “GRACE and the Life of Jesus We Receive in Baptism” – Discerning Hearts

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of the Diocese of Fargo.

The subject is GRACE and the life of Jesus we receive in Baptism.  From Ephesians Chap 4 v 7 -16, Msgr. Esseff discusses what he calls “that most magnificent passage” which transforms us.   What made the transformation occur?  What is Original Sin? He reflects on the fall of our first parents and the broken relationship with God, and God’s gift of the Son.  The importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary…the first person to receive the revelation of the Trinity.  The tremendous moment of PENTECOST.  What is Sanctifying Grace?  What does it mean to have Jesus within us and what are we called to do?  How can we forgive, especially the deepest wounds?  Being like Jesus, we depend completely on the Father.  The lie of the “I can do anything” attitude.  The beauty of Galatians 2:20.  Ask God to help you discover your true self in Him.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of Love


On Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 2 Talk 3 on “On Sinfulness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation” – Discerning Hearts

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of the Diocese of Fargo.

The subject is SINFULNESS and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The crucifixion and death of Jesus and what Jesus “sees” from the Cross. We will not grow in the Divine life given to us in Baptism if we do not become fully aware of our sinfulness in direct relation to our blessedness.  The Devil is aware of  Christ in us; he hates the beauty of that union. The Enemy’s purpose is to destroy that relationship.  Why would we sin and endanger our union with Christ?  Sin is not just breaking a commandment, it is the destruction of the Divine life in us.  Sin is a mystery; it is a darkness.  Our souls are a battleground…between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, the forces of love and the forces of hatred…a complete head on crash in every soul.

Msgr. Esseff then instructs on the importance of enlisting the aid of the Holy Spirit to truly prepare us for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It’s only through the aid of the Holy Spirit can God reveal to us what truly separates us from the  Father.  He reveals to us our “core wound”…the tendency in our behavior that causes us to sin.  Often we only pay attention to the symptoms of the wound, we need the Holy Spirit to show us the cause.  The deeper we go into our sinfulness the deeper the experience of the Divine Mercy.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of Love


On Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 3 Talk 4 on “The Wounds of Unforgiveness” – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff reflects on Matthew chap 18 v 21-35.  He shares the stories of a woman named Immaculee from Rwanda and young girl named Maria from Lebanon and the damage done by the hatred which is manifested in the world.  We have a capacity for communion…24 hours every day, 7 days a week.  How does that look in the relationship found in marriage?  From childhood, there are deep wounds we carry from our parents…from siblings…or from others. What can cause those wounds?  The bitterness and resentment that we carry…the damage it does to us.  What is the remedy?  The joy of forgiveness…and forgetting.  Msgr. Esseff shares a poignant story of a man named John, and how he came to forgive what many would find “unforgivable”.

This is the prayer mentioned by Msgr. Esseff in the talk...click here


Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website….”Building A Kingdom of Love”

“He has disposed all things pleasantly” – Saint Angela Merici from the Office of Readings

From the Spiritual Testament by Saint Angela Merici, virgin

“He has disposed all things pleasantly”

Mothers and sisters most dear to me in Christ: in the first place strive with all your power and zeal to be open. With the help of God, try to receive such good counsel that, led solely by the love of God and an eagerness to save souls, you may fulfil your charge.

Only if the responsibilities committed to you are rooted firmly in this twofold charity will they bear beneficial and saving fruit. As our Saviour says: A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit.

He says: A good tree, that is, a good heart as well as a soul inflamed with charity, can do nothing but good and holy works. For this reason Saint Augustine said: Love, and do what you will, namely, possess love and charity and then do what you will. It is as if he had said: Charity is not able to sin.

I also beg you to be concerned about every one of your daughters. Bear them, so to speak, engraved upon your heart – not merely their names, but their conditions and states, whatever they may be. This will not be difficult for you if you embrace them with a living love.

Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased. Surely those who are mothers in spirit can and must act all the more in the same way, because spiritual love is more powerful than the love that comes from a blood relationship.

Therefore, mothers most dear to me, if you love these your daughters with a living and unaffected charity, it will be impossible for you not to have each and every one of them engraved upon your memory and in your mind. I beg you again, strive to draw them by love, modesty, charity, and not by pride and harshness. Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Thus you are imitating God, of whom it is said: He has disposed all things pleasantly. And again Jesus said: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

You also ought to exercise pleasantness toward all, taking great care especially that what you have commanded may never be done by reason of force. For God has given free will to everyone, and therefore he forces no one but only indicates, calls, persuades. Sometimes, however, something will have to be done with a stronger command, yet in a suitable manner and according to the state and necessities of individuals; but then also we should be impelled only by charity and zeal for souls.

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.


Exorcism and Deliverance – What is the difference? – Discerning Hearts

Part 1: Msgr. Esseff describes the difference between Exorcism and Deliverance:

The role of the Bishop and the priest.  The power we have by virtue of our baptism. What is possession?  What is a curse?  The rite of Exorcism and the need for inner healing of the individual.  The ministry of Deliverance and how it differs from the need for Exorcism.  Addictions that effect the person and how . Priests and gifted individuals work in harmony to free the person from the evil spirit.  The wounds that contribute to the affliction experienced by the individual.  The need to distinguish between spiritual pain and psychological pain, and the need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation….”one good confession is worth 100 exorcisms.”  The role of the laity today in deliverance ministry.

Download (right click & choose “Save Link As”)

In part 2, after the intial recording, Msgr. Esseff  answers various questions posed on various topics:

The priesthood and the role of spiritual healing.  Do we give the devil too much credit?  The role of Mary. The power of the Cross.  How do slip back into oppression or sin?  How can we prevent that?  The power of prayer in temptation.

visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love”

A Prayer to Take Authority – a prayer and teaching from Msgr. Esseff – Discerning Hearts

A Prayer to Take Authority

A Prayer to Take AuthorityMsgr. Esseff teaches about the need for healing, protection and deliverance. Msgr. Esseff discusses the importance of the “Our Father”. He then leads the following prayer:

In the name of Jesus, I take authority and I bind all the powers and forces in the air, in the ground, in the water, in the underground, in the netherworld, in nature and in fire.  You are the Lord over the entire universe and I give you the glory for your creation.  In your name, I bind all demonic forces that have come against us and our families and I seal all of us in the protection of your precious blood that was shed for us on the cross.

Mary Our Mother, we seek your protection and intercession, with the Sacred heart of Jesus, for us and our families and surround us with your mantle of love to discourage the enemy.

St. Michael and our Guardian Angels, come and defend us and our families in battle against all the evil ones that roam the earth.

In the name of Jesus, I bind and command all the powers and forces of evil to depart right now away from us, our families, our homes, and our lands and I cast you at the foot of the cross to remain there forever. And I thank you Lord Jesus for you are a faithful and compassionate God, Amen.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now
and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love”

St. Padre Pio and bilocation – Msgr. Esseff describes his first encounter – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff describes his first encounter with Padre Pio at Mary Pyle’s house in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1959 and bearing witness to the saint’s charism of bilocation. He talks of becoming one of Padre Pio’s spiritual children and directee. Msgr. then discusses the experience of being present at one of St. Pio’s masses.

visit Msgr. Esseff’s website:   “Building a Kingdom of Love”

“Have Faith in Christ, and Love” – St. Ignatius of Antioch from the Office of Readings

From a letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr
(Nn. 13-18,1: Funk 1, 183-187)

Have Faith in Christ, and love

Try to gather together more frequently to give thanks to God and to praise him. For when you come together frequently, Satan’s powers are undermined, and the destruction that he threatens is done away with in the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end.

None of this will escape you if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end. When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them. No one professing faith sins: no one possessing love hates. A tree is known by its fruit. So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do. For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.

It is better to remain silent and to be than talk and not be. Teaching is good if the speaker also acts. Now there was one teacher who spoke, and it was made, and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are close to him. Let us then do everything in the knowledge that he is dwelling within us that we may be his temples, and he God within us. He is, and will reveal himself, in our sight, according to the love we bear him in holiness.

Make no mistake, my brothers: those who corrupt families will not inherit the kingdom of God. If those who do these things in accordance with the flesh have died, how much worse will it be if one corrupts through evil doctrine the faith of God for which Jesus Christ was crucified? Such a person, because he is defiled, will depart into the unquenchable fire, as will anyone who listens to him.

For the Lord received anointing on his head in order that he might breathe incorruptibility on the Church. Do not be anointed with the evil odor of the teachings of the prince of this world, that he may not lead you captive away from the life that is set before you. But why is it that we are not all wise when we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we perish in our stupidity, not knowing the gift the Lord has truly sent us?

My spirit is given over to the humble service of the cross which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but to us salvation and eternal life.

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.