Do we truly know how to pray? A prayer premier with Msgr. John Esseff Discerning Hearts Podcast

A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR LIFE!!!  Have a relationship with God and know your identity! Msgr. Esseff asks the question, “Do you truly know how to pray?” in this Discerning Hearts Podcast.  We need to learn to listen.  How can we learn to listen?  Why is a journal important?

 

He then brings forward a basic of prayer, R.I.M.:

Relationship, Identity, and Mission.

He breaks this open for us in a concrete, practical way using, among other things, the “Our Father.”

Matthew 6:9-13 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;[a]
12 And forgive us our debts,
    As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil.[b]

 

POA4 – “Extraordinary Activity” – Put On The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. – Discerning Hears Catholic Podcasts

Put On The Armor - A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. 2

Episode 4 – “Extraordinary Activity” – Put on The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare with Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D

Dr. Thigpen offers insights on the Manual for Spiritual Warfare Chapter 2:

Beyond the ordinary activity of demons through temptation is their extraordinary activity. This destructive work is more powerful and manifests itself, not only in thoughts, but also in the physical realm. Most observers of demonic tactics agree that the following activities occur, but they sometimes differ in how they categorize the various phenomena.

Here’s one common way of classifying them:  Infestation…Oppression…Obsession…Possession

Visit here for other episodes in this series:

Put On The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D.

POA6 - "Know your Weapons" pt. 1 - Put On The Armor - A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. The “Manual for Spiritual Warfare” can be found here

Paul Thigpen, Ph.D., is the Editor of TAN Books in Charlotte, North Carolina. An internationally known speaker, best-selling author, and award-winning journalist, Paul has published forty-three books in a wide variety of genres and subjects: history and biography, spirituality and apologetics, anthologies and devotionals, family life and children’s books, study guides and reference works, fiction and collections of poetry and prayers.

Paul graduated from Yale University in 1977 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with Distinction in the Major of Religious Studies. He was later awarded the George W. Woodruff Fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, where he earned an M.A. (1993) and a Ph.D. (1995) in Historical Theology. In 1993 he was named as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow by the U.S. Department of Education. He has served on the faculty of several universities and colleges.

In 2008 Paul was appointed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to their National Advisory Council for a four-year term. He has served the Church as a theologian, historian, apologist, evangelist, and catechist in a number of settings, speaking frequently in Catholic and secular media broadcasts and at conferences, seminars, parish missions, and scholarly gatherings.

 

DC27 St. Bernard of Clairvaux pt 2 – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom w/ Dr. Matthew Bunson

Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses the life, times and teachings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux pt 2

For more on St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his teachings

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings oPope Benedict XVI General Audience 2009

I would now like to reflect on only two of the main aspects of Bernard’s rich doctrine: they concern Jesus Christ and Mary Most Holy, his Mother. His concern for the Christian’s intimate and vital participation in God’s love in Jesus Christ brings no new guidelines to the scientific status of theology. However, in a more decisive manner than ever, the Abbot of Clairvaux embodies the theologian, the contemplative and the mystic. Jesus alone Bernard insists in the face of the complex dialectical reasoning of his time Jesus alone is “honey in the mouth, song to the ear, jubilation in the heart (mel in ore, in aure melos, in corde iubilum)”. The title Doctor Mellifluus, attributed to Bernard by tradition, stems precisely from this; indeed, his praise of Jesus Christ “flowed like honey”. In the extenuating battles between Nominalists and Realists two philosophical currents of the time the Abbot of Clairvaux never tired of repeating that only one name counts, that of Jesus of Nazareth. “All food of the soul is dry”, he professed, “unless it is moistened with this oil; insipid, unless it is seasoned with this salt. What you write has no savour for me unless I have read Jesus in it” (In Canticum Sermones XV, 6: PL 183, 847). For Bernard, in fact, true knowledge of God consisted in a personal, profound experience of Jesus Christ and of his love. And, dear brothers and sisters, this is true for every Christian: faith is first and foremost a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, it is having an experience of his closeness, his friendship and his love. It is in this way that we learn to know him ever better, to love him and to follow him more and more. May this happen to each one of us!

In another famous Sermon on the Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption the Holy Abbot described with passionate words Mary’s intimate participation in the redeeming sacrifice of her Son. “O Blessed Mother”, he exclaimed, “a sword has truly pierced your soul!… So deeply has the violence of pain pierced your soul, that we may rightly call you more than a martyr for in you participation in the passion of the Son by far surpasses in intensity the physical sufferings of martyrdom” (14: PL 183, 437-438). Bernard had no doubts: “per Mariam ad Iesum”, through Mary we are led to Jesus. He testifies clearly to Mary’s subordination to Jesus, in accordance with the foundation of traditional Mariology. Yet the text of the Sermone also documents the Virgin’s privileged place in the economy of salvation, subsequent to the Mother’s most particular participation (compassio) in the sacrifice of the Son. It is not for nothing that a century and a half after Bernard’s death, Dante Alighieri, in the last canticle of the Divine Comedy, was to put on the lips of the Doctor Mellifluus the sublime prayer to Mary: “Virgin Mother, daughter of your own Son, / humble and exalted more than any creature, / fixed term of the eternal counsel” (Paradise XXXIII, vv. 1 ff.).

These reflections, characteristic of a person in love with Jesus and Mary as was Bernard, are still a salutary stimulus not only to theologians but to all believers. Some claim to have solved the fundamental questions on God, on man and on the world with the power of reason alone. St Bernard, on the other hand, solidly founded on the Bible and on the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, by an intimate relationship with the Lord, our reflections on the divine mysteries risk becoming an empty intellectual exercise and losing their credibility. Theology refers us back to the “knowledge of the Saints”, to their intuition of the mysteries of the living God and to their wisdom, a gift of the Holy Spirit, which become a reference point for theological thought. Together with Bernard of Clairvaux, we too must recognize that man seeks God better and finds him more easily “in prayer than in discussion”. In the end, the truest figure of a theologian and of every evangelizer remains the Apostle John who laid his head on the Teacher’s breast.

I would like to conclude these reflections on St Bernard with the invocations to Mary that we read in one of his beautiful homilies. “In danger, in distress, in uncertainty”, he says, “think of Mary, call upon Mary. She never leaves your lips, she never departs from your heart; and so that you may obtain the help of her prayers, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot falter; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot err. If she sustains you, you will not stumble; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, you will never flag; if she is favourable to you, you will attain your goal…” (Hom. II super Missus est, 17: PL 183, 70-71).

For more visit Vatican.va

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and a senior contributor to EWTN News. For the past 20 years, he has been active in the area of Catholic social communications and education, including writing, editing, and teaching on a variety of topics related to Church history, the papacy, the saints, and Catholic culture. He is faculty chair at Catholic Distance University, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and the author or co-author of over 50 books including The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, The Pope Encyclopedia, We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, The Saints Encyclopedia and best-selling biographies of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

ST-John Ep 11 – John 5: Do You Want To Be Healed? part 1 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Episode 11 – John 5:  Do You Want To Be Healed pt.1  

Before an in-depth look at John 5, Sharon reminds us of some of the themes of John’s Gospel, including “the hour” and “the seven signs”.  Also, we recall Photina, the Samaritan woman at the well, who underwent a metanoia as she turned away from sin and back toward the Lord.  In addition, we learn an interesting detail about the royal official, who begs Jesus to heal his son.  While there is a parallel with the Synoptic Gospels’ story of the healing of the centurion’s son, the royal official is a different person.  Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was the ruling king over Galilee at the time of Jesus and this royal official would have served in the palace of Herod Antipas, who was an Edomite.  The clear message is that Christ offers salvation to all:  Jesus came for the common Jews at Cana, for the Jewish aristocracy with Nicodemus, for the Samaritans with Photina, and now for the Edomites with the royal official’s son.  Sharon raises a small but important detail.  Often when Jesus is addressing the Jews, he is referring to the Jewish leaders who opposed him, as distinguished from the common Jewish people, many of whom were among his followers.  Moving on to John 5, we hear the story of the man who lay paralyzed for 38 years at the pool of Bethzatha.  This number reminds us of the Israelites who needed 38 years to break free of the bondage of the Moses generation and into the Joshua generation that could enter the Promised Land (Deut 2:14).  Sharon then combines archaeology, mythology, scripture and theology to reveal the deeper meaning of this passage.  As Sharon beautifully teaches us, the pool of Bethzatha was actually a healing pool dedicated to the Greek mythological deity Asclepius, the god of medicine, health and healing.   Jesus does not use the pagan waters when he heals the lame man.  Rather, he simply commands him to get up, pick up his mat, leave, and abandon his misguided faith in the mythological god Asclepius.  Jesus is the true source of healing.   The paralyzed man had put his trust in a false god and Jesus warns him not to fall back into the sin of idolatry lest something worse happen to him.  Sharon concludes with the same question Jesus asked the man:  Do you want to be healed?  This is the question posed to us each time we receive the Eucharist.  Do you really want to be healed?  And if the answer is yes, then we just have to avail ourselves to the healing power of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the true source of healing.

 

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

Are You Being Called To Be A Martyr? The Feast of St. Stephen and the witness of Fr. Nicolas Kluiters, S.J. w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Are you being called to be a “martyr”?

Msgr. Esseff, on the feast of St. Stephen the Martyr, shares the story of his friend Fr. Nicolas Kluiters S.J., who served the Church in Lebanon.  He discusses what it means to be a martyr in the past and what it looks like today.

 

From JESUIT MARTYRS, In the Service of the Arab Orient (1975-1989)
By Father Camille Hechaïmé, Dar el-Machreq

After studying business then plastic arts, Father Nicolas Kluiters painted until he felt the call of religion. He joined the Society of Jesus in his country, Holland, when he was 25. He soon asked to be sent to Lebanon and his wish was granted in 1966. He completed his novitiate and studied Arabic (1966-1968) and social sciences (1968-1969) in Beirut, then he studied philosophy and theology in Lebanon and France . He was ordained a priest in Amsterdam in 1973.

Soon after his return to Lebanon in 1974 and his nomination in the Taanayel monastery in the Bekaa valley to serve the poor Maronite isolated villages in an area that is non Christian in its majority, the war started and soon took a sectarian characteristic. However, these bloody events did not discourage the young zealous priest. With the approval of his superiors, he would leave his monastery in Taanayel, go to villages near Dayr al-Ahmar village and return to the monastery once a week. One of these villages was Bechwat, in which lies the Church of our Miraculous Lady where Nicolas made his last solemn vows in 1977 to express his belonging to this poor land and to serve the underprivileged. He made the village Barqa the second base of his journeys and increased his activities there for it to become a model village.

After gaining the villagers’ trust, he cooperated with them to renovate the church and build a house for the priest, a school, a monastery where a group of nuns from the Sacred Hearts settled at the end of 1984, as well as a dispensary soon after. He would receive from his native country, Holland, financial aids that enabled him to improve the land and develop agriculture. His main worry was to boost the morale of these good but poor, marginalized and isolated people, to consolidate their faith and, despite the dangers, to implant them in their land, the land of common living for all communities. Perhaps Nicolas’ successful mission aroused the disapproval of ill wishers and people bothered by the vitality he gave back to the villages they wanted to keep submissive.

On the night of March 13, 1985, after celebrating mass with the nuns of the hospital in Hermel, he returned to Barqa where the villagers were waiting for him the following morning. However, he never reached the village and there was no news about him. His fellow priests in Taanayel, the nuns, and the security forces looked for him in the area. One of the shepherds noticed a suspicious horde of crows over a deep ditch and notified the people in charge. After many efforts, they were able to reach the bottom and removed the body that had been missing for 17 days. Nicolas was dreadfully killed; he was shot twice, hanged and impaled, which indicated his murderers’ strong hatred. Afterward, it appeared that he courageously resisted his kidnappers because he was strong and was trained in self-defense with the paratroops in the military service in Holland. His car was found after a few days with the following inscription, “The forces of revenge”.

He was buried in the Taanayel monastery on Wednesday April 3, during the Holy Week, in a very emotional and devotional atmosphere. The bells did not ring for sadness, but for joy because all those who knew Nicolas understood that they were biding farewell to a martyr who gave his life for his faith; until this day, they are still convinced of that.

He had increased his prayers during his last days and had trustingly put his life in the hands of God, prepared to accept all difficulties, even martyrdom. Two weeks prior to his kidnapping, he wrote, “He (Christ) brought me back to Barqa… as if He were telling me: the fruit will soon ripen… Don’t worry about extraordinary and difficult events that could happen, such as a kidnapping or anything similar. He who follows Me has a special blessing so that he can suffer for me and with me. I shall be with him”

“Walk Humbly Before Your God” The Spiritual Journey – In Conversation with Fr. Andrew Apostoli – Discerning Hearts Podcast

“Walk Humbly Before Your God:  Simple Steps to a Virtuous Life” is an all-time favorite.  Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and a frequent host on the Eternal Word Television Network, had a beautiful way of shining new light on fundamental truths.  He graciously took time to teach us about the nature of prayer,  how it develops in our lives and how we can nurture it.  He spoke of Jesus and several aspects of his prayer: praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and how it aids in our suffering.  Our traditional vocal prayers, as well as the depths of contemplation, were also discussed including how do we deal with distractions,   Fr. Apostoli, a humble, holy priest, was a master spiritual catechist! He died on December 13, 2017, the morning after the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.  Contained in this 50-minute discussion, you’ll find guidance that can last a lifetime.

You can find Fr. Apostoli’s book here

From the book description:

Christians, if they are to have any impact in today s world, have something of the same code: we fight the good fight, side by side, ready to lay down our lives for one another. Such heroism doesn t come naturally. As Walk Humbly With Your God points out, it is in the day-to-day training, in taking the simple steps to holiness, that heroism becomes second nature.

Fr. Apostoli provides an inspirational guide to conquering our faults, growing in prayer and acquiring the virtues that enable us to walk with God and live for others.

“Christian, remember your dignity” – Pope St. Leo the Great from the Office of Readings

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 1-3: PI, 54, 190-193)

Christian, remember your dignity

Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.

And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.

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.

ROHC-3 What is Redemptive Suffering– The Heart of Hope w/ Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – Discerning Hearts podcast

Heart of Hope Part 3 – What is Redemptive Suffering?  Why using love and the energy of love to redirect pain as an intercessory prayer for another.  How suffering and intercessory prayer makes sense and is no longer meaningless

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

This extraordinarily popular series explores the work of suffering in the Christian life and how God can use it to transform the heart of the individual and the world.

The “Heart of Hope”  tackles a very tough subject…the gift of suffering in the Christian life.  Deacon Keating guides us well.

You can find other episodes in the Heart of Hope – Discerning Hearts series page

 

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, Msgr. Esseff will remind us that we are called to realize who we are through Him, with Him, and in Him!  Now is the time!

Reading 1 Is 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Gospel Mt 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine;

 

 

POA3 – “Temptation” – Put On The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. – Discerning Hears Catholic Podcasts

Put On The Armor - A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. 2

Episode 3 – “Temptation” – Put on The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare with Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D

Dr. Thigpen offers insights on the Manual for Spiritual Warfare Chapter 2:

he ordinary activity of demons is subtle and occurs within our thought life. They plant ideas within our minds seeking to influence our reason, memory, and imagination — and ultimately, our will. They can suggest such ideas indirectly through our senses, especially through what we see and hear. The ideas may come through conversations, reading, or various social and communications media. Demons may also have a role in arranging circumstances around us in a way that leads to certain thoughts.

Meanwhile, thoughts may come into our mind directly from the Enemy as well. How is that possible? As we’ve noted, when words come to us from outside ourselves, they normally come through our senses, which help us to discern the physical medium that is their source.

But the demons have no physical bodies. So when they communicate thoughts to us without using a physical medium, we may not discern that the thoughts come from outside us. Instead, we may mistake the thoughts as our own — and that misperception is obviously to the Enemy’s advantage.

What kinds of thoughts do evil spirits suggest to us? Most often, they influence us through temptation. They entice us to commit sin. But how exactly do they provide us occasions of sin?

Visit here for other episodes in this series:

Put On The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D.

POA6 - "Know your Weapons" pt. 1 - Put On The Armor - A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. The “Manual for Spiritual Warfare” can be found here
Paul Thigpen, Ph.D, is the Editor of TAN Books in Charlotte, North Carolina. An internationally known speaker, best-selling author, and award-winning journalist, Paul has published forty-three books in a wide variety of genres and subjects: history and biography, spirituality and apologetics, anthologies and devotionals, family life and children’s books, study guides and reference works, fiction and collections of poetry and prayers.
Paul graduated from Yale University in 1977 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with Distinction in the Major of Religious Studies. He was later awarded the George W. Woodruff Fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, where he earned an M.A. (1993) and a Ph.D. (1995) in Historical Theology. In 1993 he was named as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow by the U.S. Department of Education. He has served on the faculty of several universities and colleges.
In 2008 Paul was appointed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to their National Advisory Council for a four-year term. He has served the Church as a theologian, historian, apologist, evangelist, and catechist in a number of settings,speaking frequently in Catholic and secular media broadcasts and at conferences, seminars, parish missions, and scholarly gatherings.