In Conversation with Fr. Benedict Groeschel – The Virtue Driven Life – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcast

Bruce and I were deeply blessed to have a conversation with the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel on “The Virtue Driven Life“. Engaging, humble, funny, and saintly, Fr. Groeschel has left us such a tremendous legacy of teaching on the spiritual life! In this conversation, we discuss the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity; as well as the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.  Fr. Groeschel, always practical, shares the wisdom of a spiritual father which illuminates more clearly the travails of the spiritual journey.  How blessed were we to have such a spiritual master in our midst!

May eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Fr. Benedict Groeschel, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!



You can find the book here

From the book description:

Since when is being called “virtuous” an insult?

It’s a word that has gotten a bad rap, misused and misunderstood even by great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians, and mocked in the cynical sound bites of the media.

Rediscover virtue as it should be understood in our lives. With wit, warmth, and wisdom, Father Groeschel reintroduces the seven virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and charity. One by one he makes them meaningful for modern men and women, shaking off the dusty mantle of pretentiousness and demonstrating how each has a real role in a whole and holy life.

Father Groeschel’s charming conversational style entertains even as he educates and challenges us. History, politics, an advertisement, the neighbor down the street … all are reference points for Father Groeschel as he explores the meaning of each virtue for Christians today. By the end of the book, you will understand that being labeled virtuous is the ultimate compliment!


In Conversation with Fr. Thomas Dubay – Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer – Discerning Hearts Podcast

It was with great joy we had the opportunity to talk with Fr. Thomas Dubay.     His work on “Fire Within” and all the programs he gave us on EWTN was instrumental in my spiritual growth.  In those early days, he was like having a distant spiritual director who guided me, as well as the rest of us, toward a deeper relationship with Christ.

He told me once, “Kris, the best theology books are the lives of the saints; you study them and you won’t be led astray.”  Fr. Thomas Dubay, in a very real way, helped inspire the work of this blog and its mission.

Here is where you can find the book we discuss

From the book description

Fr. Thomas Dubay is one of the most popular and respected retreat masters and spiritual directors in the USA. He is the author of the perennial best-selling book on prayer and contemplation, Fire Within. In this book, he responds to the call to priests by both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI to help believers and all those interested in spirituality to develop a deeper prayer life and union with God.

As in his other popular writings, Dubay’s style is profound and meditative yet clear and readable. He gives an overview of the spiritual life and journey for anyone seeking to grow in the love of God and neighbor. An expert on the teachings and writings of the two great mystical doctors of prayer and the spiritual life, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, Dubay gives solid practical advice for a deepening moral and spiritual conversion, and a radical growth in holiness.

Topics covered in depth in this book include:

  • The Radical Conversion

  • Relevance and Motivation

  • Conversion and Genuine Love

  • Degrees of Depth

  • Remarkable Resistance

  • Called to the Heights

  • Sure-fire Program


Faith Contemplates the Advent Mystery Because He Leads into Captivity All Powers by Dr. Anthony Lilles

Faith Contemplates the Advent Mystery Because He Leads into Captivity All Powers

From Anthony’s “Beginning to Pray” blog.  A reflection from 2014 before the canonization of  St. Elizabeth of the Trinity!

Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity helps us open our hearts to the coming of Christ.  On the twelfth day of her Last Retreat, she offers a reflection on “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus has come to give us peace through opening up access to the Father’s house.

Whoever sees Christ sees the Father, and to see this love is to find that for which our hearts most long.  This seeing, this contemplation, this knowledge is by faith.   Here, faith is no mere assent to a body of information but a contemplative reality that seeks the saving truth and savors it.  Faith is an encounter with the One whom the truths of our faith bear to us, and we believe what the Church proposes to us because we want to know Him.  Whoever has surrendered his personal existence in response to the surpassing totality of love revealed by Christ crucified, this soul has gained access to the Father’s house, the freedom to go to our real spiritual home, the liberty that leads to our true peace.

Blessed Elisabeth sees the peace of Christ through the eyes of Saint Paul.  Through the Blood of the Cross, the Lord leads all oppressive “Principalities and Powers” away “as captives, triumphing over them in Himself” (Col 2:15).  Without the knowledge of Christ’s love, our dignity is vulnerable to all kinds of dehumanizing forces.  But with the surpassing love we know in Christ Jesus, we are free from every form of irrational oppression — indeed, rather than rob of us dignity, the Lord permits all kinds of spiritual hardships only so that we might know the full extent of the greatness He calls us to and makes possible in our lives.

What the Apostle beheld in terms of oppressive cosmic forces, the Mystic of Dijon applies to our psychological powers.  Our interior battle with ambiguity and darkness in terms of our own patterns of thought and behavior is part of a cosmic struggle where evil powers attempt to overcome the light.  Just as Christ has taken diabolical powers captive, He also takes our psychological powers captive so that the ambiguity and confusion the emerges from them no longer robs us of our dignity as long as we persevere in believing in His love.  Her application  sees beyond the darkness of our interior frustrations to see the limitlessness of His mercy.

Beholding the unsurpassable love of the Lord, she understood how our limited powers of imagination, emotion, intuition, cognition and volition often hold us back.  Without the Word of the Father, these powers subject us to a labyrinth of fears, anxieties, false judgments because they are subject, not to the truth, but to sin and disintegration.  Left to their own, the powers of our soul frustrate that peace for which our hearts truly long.

Blessed Elisabeth also knew that Christ has the power to captivate, to hold even our own psychological powers captive.  He does not lead our psychological powers by oppression and He is never violent.  He attracts.  He fascinates.  He captivates – because in Him is the fullness of God, in Him all that is good, holy and true about humanity is revealed.  His love is that beautiful and she knew this and longed for her friends to see it too.  To see this love is to be freed from sin, to be raised up, to be capable of true praise.Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 8

Techniques and methods rooted primarily in our own powers lack the freedom to achieve moral rectitude and cannot access the peace of the Father’s house.  Instead, Blessed Elisabeth invites us this Advent to allow our hearts to be drawn into a greater silence and solitude.  The surpassing love of Christ is known in our weakness, poverty, and thirst.  By humbling accepting this poverty of heart, the beatitude of His presence is ours.

Our faith truly accesses God.   Instead of attempting spiritual feats of devotion, Blessed Elisabeth invites us to simply surrender to His presence breaking in all around us.  To turn our thoughts to His great love is already to lift up our hearts.  To waste time thinking on what He has done for us by humbly entering our human poverty, this is already to begin to taste eternity.

He is the light in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome Him.  So in the inconvenience and difficult of our poverty and lack of love, He remains, waiting for us so that we, each of us, is awaited by an uncommon love.  She invites us to allow ourselves to be captivated: this Word, the Word made flesh, does not disdain humble humanity but cherishes his own birth in its frail freedom.

RN36 – “The International Community” in the Compendium of Social Doctrine Chap 9 with Deacon Omar Gutierrez podcast

gutierrez-headEpisode 36- Regnum Novum: Bringing forth the New Evangelization through Catholic Social Teaching with Omar Gutierrez – We continue the study of the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”  Chapter 9 “The International Community”


Unity of the human family
Jesus Christ, prototype and foundation of the new humanity
The universal vocation of Christianity

The international community and values b. Relations based on harmony between the juridical and moral orders

The value of international organizations
The juridical personality of the Holy See

Cooperation to guarantee the right to development
The fight against poverty
Foreign debt


Also, visit Omar’s “Discerning Hearts” page Catholic Social Teaching 101  urging-of-christs-love

ROHC-2 The Agony of Emotional Suffering – The Heart of Hope w/ Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – Discerning Hearts podcast

Heart of Hope Part 2 – The agony of emotional suffering and opportunities for deeper union with Jesus; the reason for pastoral ministry

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


VEC5 – Nero – Villains of the Early Church with Mike Aquilina – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 5 – Nero – “Villains of the Early Church: And How They Made Us Better Christians

In this episode, Mike Aquilina and Kris McGregor discuss Nero and the hallmarks and dangers of an “antichrist.”

An excerpt from Villains of the Early Church:

Pilate was a waffling dupe. Judas was a tortured soul who didn’t have the courage to repent. But perhaps no villain in Christian legend comes out as completely and utterly villainous as Nero. He isn’t just a sinner who made the wrong choice: in much of Christian legend, and even theology, he is literally the Antichrist.

Aquilina, Mike. Villains of the Early Church: And How They Made Us Better Christians. Emmaus Road Publishing. Kindle Edition.

For more episodes in the Villians of the Early Church podcast visit here – Villains of the Early Church – Discerning Hearts Podcast

You can find the book on which this series is based here

Mike Aquilina is a popular author working in the area of Church history, especially patristics, the study of the early Church Fathers.[1] He is the executive vice-president and trustee of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a Roman Catholic research center based in Steubenville, Ohio. He is a contributing editor of Angelus (magazine) and general editor of the Reclaiming Catholic History Series from Ave Maria Press. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Fathers of the Church (2006); The Mass of the Early Christians (2007); Living the Mysteries (2003); and What Catholics Believe(1999). He has hosted eleven television series on the Eternal Word Television Network and is a frequent guest commentator on Catholic radio.


Mike Aquilina’s website is found at



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

Msgr. Esseff asks us to enter into a joyfully approach Christmas this advent by reflecting on the many ways Jesus has come into our lives throughout years.  He guides us through the Stations of the Cross to help us enter more deeply the mystery of his presence.

Reading 1 Is 35:1-6a, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Gospel Mt 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

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;

Visit the Discerning Hearts Stations of the Cross Pages:

Stations of the Cross according to the method of St. Francis text and mp3 audio download

Scriptural Stations of the Cross; Mp3 audio and Text podcast

POA2 – “Why does God allow evil?” – Put On The Armor – A Manual for Spiritual Warfare w/Dr. Paul Thigpen Ph.D. – Discerning Hearts Podcast

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

Episode 2 – “Why does God allow evil?” – 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 1:

God is infinitely more powerful than the Devil and his hosts. So why doesn’t God prevent them from their evildoing on planet earth? We could ask a similar question about why God doesn’t stop human beings from committing wicked deeds. Evil’s continuing presence among us is a mystery we can’t fully figure out in this life.
Nevertheless, we can say this much: God allows evil because He’s powerful enough to bring out of even the greatest evil a much greater good.

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.


ST-John Ep 10 – John 4: The Samaritan Woman part 2 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 10 – John 4:  The Samaritan Woman pt.2  

As we continue our journey through the Gospel of John, Sharon looks back at John 3, showing how the bridegroom imagery flows into chapter 4.  With the fall of mankind, marital discourse entered the world and has persisted ever since, as demonstrated in the stories of Adam and Eve and of Abraham and Sarah.  Living by the flesh, Abraham and Sarah conspire to preserve his heritage by having her servant Hagar bear a son, Ishmael.  As punishment, God is silent for 13 years until in an act of obedience, Abraham lives by the Spirit, trusting the Lord to bless his aged wife with a son, Isaac.  Sharon then teaches us about the Samaritans, whom the Jews consider to be apostates.  Believing they preserve the authentic faith, the Samaritans practice the ritual of circumcision and observe the Sabbath, but they only follow the five books of the Torah.  Contrary to the Jews who worship at the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans believe that Mt. Gerizim is the original holy place and center of worship.  The Samaritan faith traces its origins to the Assyrian exile of 722 BC.  After conquering the northern 10 tribes of Israel, the Assyrian king imported people from five different countries to live and intermarry with the people of the northern kingdom, which effectively diluted their culture and religious practices.  In 120 BC, the Maccabees from the southern kingdom destroyed the Samaritan temple at Gerizim.  In 9 BC, the Samaritans retaliate by desecrating the temple in Jerusalem at the required Passover time.  Clearly, there was bad blood between the Jews and the Samaritans.  This background sets the stage for the dramatic interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Her story is an intimate encounter with the person of Christ, yet it can also be seen as symbolic of the story of the northern tribes.  She represents northern Israel, the unfaithful bride that intermarried with five different countries (husbands).   Later in John 8, we will hear the story of the adulterous woman in Jerusalem who represents the unfaithful southern tribes of Israel.  Jesus fully reveals himself as Messiah to this Samaritan woman, offering to her the living water that she thirsts for.   Through her spiritual betrothal to Jesus, her final, seventh, perfect, bridegroom, the Samaritan woman undergoes a radical transformation and brings Christ to her own people.  We learn more about this woman, who is identified by the Church as St. Photina:  she became a bold witness to Christ throughout the region, ultimately suffering a martyr’s death at the hand of Nero when she dies at the bottom of a well.


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

RN35 – “The Political Community” in the Compendium of Social Doctrine Chap 8 part 2 with Deacon Omar Gutierrez podcast

gutierrez-headEpisode 35- Regnum Novum: Bringing forth the New Evangelization through Catholic Social Teaching with Omar Gutierrez -We continue the study of the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”  Chapter 8 – part 2 The Political Community.  What influences the “political community”?  What is “religious freedom”


Values and democracy
Institutions and democracy
Moral components of political representation
Instruments for political participation
Information and democracy

Value of civil society
Priority of civil society
Application of the principle of subsidiarity

A. Religious freedom, a fundamental human right
B. The Catholic Church and the political community

a. Autonomy and independence



Also, visit Omar’s “Discerning Hearts” page Catholic Social Teaching 101  urging-of-christs-love