SH2 – Introduction to the Sacred Heart, Continued – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Introduction to the Enthronement, Continued – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. John Esseff discusses preparing for Jesus’ presence in the home, the importance of confession, and heart examination, symbolized by the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

He advises creating a dedicated space in the home for these images to foster spiritual unity and devotion within the family. The enthronement ceremony involves professing faith, consecrating the home, and establishing a continuous spiritual connection with Jesus, leading to a transformative and sanctified family life.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Reflect on the importance of preparation: What steps do you take to prepare your heart for Jesus’ presence in your life?
  2. Confession and spiritual inventory: How can a thorough examination and confession help in receiving Jesus more fully?
  3. External and internal preparation: How do you balance the physical preparation of your home with the spiritual readiness of your heart?
  4. The significance of sacred images: What does the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolize for you and your family?
  5. Family unity in faith: How can your family come together to embrace and live out your faith daily?
  6. The role of the Holy Spirit: How do you invite the Holy Spirit into your heart and home to reveal and cleanse what separates you from God?
  7. Consecration and commitment: What does it mean to consecrate your home and family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
  8. Living out faith publicly: How can you publicly profess and live out your faith within your community?
  9. The impact of spiritual devotion: How does having a dedicated space for prayer and reflection impact your family’s spiritual life?
  10. Understanding enthronement: How do you understand and explain the significance of the enthronement ceremony to others?

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton. He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA. Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta. He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity around the world. Msgr. Esseff encountered St. Padre Pio, who would become a spiritual father to him. He has lived in areas around the world, serving in the Pontifical Missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor. Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and serves as a spiritual director for the Institute. He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.

Thursday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Thursday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

As you begin, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  For at least the next few moments, surrender all the cares and concerns of this day to the Lord.

Say slowly from your heart “Jesus, I Trust In You…You Take Over”

Become aware that He is with you, looking upon you with love, wanting to be heard deep within in your heart…

From the Holy Gospel According to Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

What word made this passage come alive for you?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more give the Lord an opportunity to speak to you:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

What did your heart feel as you listened?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more, through Him, with Him and in Him listen to the Word:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

What touched your heart in this time of prayer?

What did your heart feel as you prayed?

What do you hope to carry with you from this time with the Lord?


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

 but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Excerpt from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.

BTP-L5 – Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor look into a letter from Elizabeth of the Trinity that reflects her profound reflections on the Eucharist and its spiritual significance. Elizabeth sees the Eucharist as the ultimate expression of God’s love, a foretaste of the beatific vision, and a source of heavenly communion on earth: The union with God through the Eucharist, where believers experience a deep, personal love and presence of God, which transforms them.

They also touch on the historical context of Elizabeth’s time, particularly the closing of the Carmel chapel due to anti-church sentiments in France. Despite external turmoil, Elizabeth focuses on the internal, spiritual reality, urging believers to find solace and transformation in the Eucharist.

Elizabeth’s insights are relevant today, especially for those struggling with self-worth and life’s hardships. She encourages turning inward to God’s immense love in the Eucharist, withdrawing from external distractions, and embracing the presence of Christ in faith, even amidst darkness and trials; as well as renunciation, humility, and accepting God’s trials to make space for His presence in our hearts. The role of Mary, the Mother of God, in guiding believers towards a simple, fruitful surrender to God’s will.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Elizabeth’s View of the Eucharist How does Elizabeth of the Trinity describe the Eucharist as a consummation of God’s love and a foretaste of the beatific vision?
  2. Historical Context and Spiritual Focus What does Elizabeth’s focus on spiritual realities instead of external turmoil teach us about handling modern-day challenges?
  3. Dealing with Self-Loathing and Hardships How can Elizabeth’s perspective on God’s immense love help individuals struggling with self-loathing and feelings of failure?
  4. Renunciation and Creating Space for God What are practical ways we can practice renunciation in our daily lives to make space for God’s peace and presence?
  5. Embracing Trials for Spiritual Growth How can accepting and surrendering to God during times of trial open our hearts to a deeper relationship with Him?
  6. Role of Mary in Spiritual Life How can we look to Mary, the Mother of God, for guidance and support in our spiritual journey towards a simple, fruitful surrender?
  7. Eucharist as Bread for the Journey In what ways can receiving the Eucharist strengthen and heal us, especially in times of spiritual sickness or challenge?
  8. Silence and Peace in a Noisy World How can we cultivate a soul that is wholly at peace amid the noise and distractions of modern life?
  9. Faith in Darkness What does it mean to have “faith in darkness,” and how can this deepen our bond with Jesus?
  10. Support of the Saints and Angels How can the knowledge that we are supported by the saints, angels, and the Blessed Mother give us courage and strength in our faith journey?

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 165

[ June 14, 1903]
Dijon Carmel, June 14
J. M. + J. T.

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”2

Monsieur l’Abbé, It seems to me that nothing better expresses the love in God’s Heart than the Eucharist: it is union, consummation, He in us, we in Him, and isn’t that Heaven on earth? Heaven in faith while awaiting the face-to-face vision we so desire. Then “we will be satisfied when His glory appears,”3 when we see Him in His light. Don’t you find that the thought of this meeting refreshes the soul, this talk with Him whom it loves solely? Then everything disappears and it seems that one is already entering into the mystery of God! . . .

This whole mystery is so much “ours,” as you said to me in your letter. Oh! pray, won’t you, that I may live fully my bridal dowry. That I may be wholly available, wholly vigilant in faith, so the Master can bear me wherever He wishes. I wish to stay always close to Him who knows the whole mystery, to hear everything from Him. “The language of the Word is the infusion of the gift,”4 oh yes, it is really so, isn’t it, that He speaks to our soul in silence. I find this dear silence a blessing. From Ascension to Pentecost, we were in retreat in the Cenacle, waiting for the Holy Spirit, and it was so good.5 During that whole Octave6 we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the oratory; those are divine hours spent in this little corner of Heaven where we possess the vision in substance under the humble Host. Yes, He whom the blessed contemplate in light and we adore in faith is really the same One. The other day someone wrote me such a beautiful thought, I send it on to you: “Faith is the face-to-face in darkness.”7 Why wouldn’t it be so for us, since God is in us and since He asks only to take possession of us as He took possession of the saints? Only, they were always attentive, as Père Vallée says: “They are silent, recollected, and their only activity is to be the being who receives.”8 Let us unite ourselves, therefore, Father, in making happy Him who “has loved us exceedingly,”9 as Saint Paul says. Let us make a dwelling for Him in our soul that is wholly at peace,10 in which the canticle of love, of thanksgiving, is always being sung; and then that great silence, the echo of the silence that is in God! . . . Then, as you said, let us approach the all-pure, all-luminous Virgin, that she may present us to Him whom she has penetrated so profoundly, and may our life be a continual communion, a wholly simple movement toward God. Pray to the Queen of Carmel for me; I, for my part, pray fervently for you, I assure you, and I remain with you in adoration and love! . . .

Sister Marie Elizabeth of the Trinity, r.c.i.

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 105-106). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


We would like to thank Miriam Gutierrez for providing “the voice” of St. Elizabeth for this series

For other episodes in the series visit the Discerning Hearts page for Dr. Anthony Lilles


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D., has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy and seminarians since 1994. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, he served at seminaries and houses of formation in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, holds a B.A. in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville with both the ecclesiastical licentiate and doctorate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum). An expert in the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church, he co-founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the High Calling Program for priestly vocations. He also founded the John Paul II Center for Contemplative Culture, which hosts symposiums, retreats, and conferences. In addition to his publications, he blogs at www.beginningtopray.com .

Wednesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Wednesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

As you begin, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  For at least the next few moments, surrender all the cares and concerns of this day to the Lord.

Say slowly from your heart “Jesus, I Trust In You…You Take Over”

Become aware that He is with you, looking upon you with love, wanting to be heard deep within in your heart…

From the Holy Gospel According to Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

What word made this passage come alive for you?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more give the Lord an opportunity to speak to you:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

What did your heart feel as you listened?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more, through Him, with Him and in Him listen to the Word:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

What touched your heart in this time of prayer?

What did your heart feel as you prayed?

What do you hope to carry with you from this time with the Lord?


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

 but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Excerpt from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.

PSM1 – The River of Liturgy – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Dr. David Fagerberg

Episode 1 – The River of the Liturgy – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg Ph.D.

Dr. David Fagerberg and host Kris McGregor discuss the interconnectedness of liturgy and mysticism in Christian life, exploring how these elements, often perceived as separate, are integral to fulfilling one’s baptismal calling.

Dr. Fagerberg explains that baptism is not a one-time event but the beginning of a lifelong spiritual journey involving liturgical responsibilities and mystical enjoyment of God. He emphasizes that liturgy should not be seen merely as ritualistic or formal actions but as a profound expression of one’s faith that should influence daily life.

The concept of “liturgical mysticism,” where personal mystical experiences and the public sacramental life, are intertwined. Dr. Fagerberg uses metaphors such as a river flowing from the throne of God to describe how liturgy impacts both the church and the individual believer. He tells listeners of the importance of recognizing and embracing mysticism in everyday life, suggesting that everyone, not just extraordinary mystics, is called to this deeper spiritual engagement.

Liturgy is the work of God (opus Dei) enacted through human activity, and it aims to glorify God and sanctify humanity. He also touches on the holistic nature of liturgy, which should permeate all aspects of life, and the ultimate goal of uniting with God.


Here are some of the topics explored in this episode:

  • What is “liturgy”?
  • What is “mysticism”?
  • The significance of baptism.
  • Understanding “teleology”. What’s the telos of a human being?
  • Understanding the connection between the interior heart personal liturgy and the exterior sacramental public liturgy

From the discussion with Dr. Fagerberg:

“… everything was directed towards a certain end, there was a telos, teleology. The telos of our watches is to tell time, the telos of a knife is to cut. What’s the telos of a human being?  Deification, adoption, being taken up into the circulation of the life of the Trinity. How do you make that journey? That’s liturgical. That’s the ascetical struggle. That’s the discipline of spiritual warfare. That’s mysticism. That’s the allure theological in the way the Eastern fathers defined telógia, a union with God. The objective here is union with God. Well, if that’s the telos, the teleological end is our union with God, then everything, not just Sunday morning for 55 minutes, everything in our life and all aspects of our life, liturgical, theological, ascetical, and mystical.”

More taken from the discussion:

“There’s a book on liturgy by an Eastern Rite. Catholic named John Carbone, who takes the imagery from the book of revelation of liturgy as a river flowing from the throne of God. Oh, it’s not like, something that I’m trying to produce. Liturgy isn’t my production. Liturgy is the river of life flowing from the throne of God. And I imagined it landing first in the church in order to make this Mystical Body of Christ. It lands first in the baptismal font, but the font fills up and the river of liturgy overflows the lip of the baptismal font and it hits us.

And now it becomes our personal liturgy. Besides the public Church liturgy, there’s an interior heart personal liturgy. And I thought that’s liturgical mysticism. That’s liturgy happening at an interior mystical spiritual level. That’s an attempt to connect liturgical mysticism with the work of the Church. I surely am not suggesting that there are two tracks and some people like Church and priests and a lot of incense, and other people like to go in their room and pray by themselves. No, no, no. The interior heart personal liturgy must be connected to the exterior sacramental public liturgy.”


dasdas

  1. Understanding Liturgy and Mysticism How can we deepen our understanding of liturgy and mysticism to fulfill our baptismal calling?
  2. The Importance of Baptism What aspects of our baptismal identity are we called to live out daily?
  3. Integrating Liturgy into Daily Life How can we make our daily lives reflect the liturgical practices and spiritual disciplines we observe in church?
  4. Personal and Public Liturgy In what ways can we connect our personal spiritual practices with the public liturgy of the church?
  5. Role of Asceticism How can we incorporate ascetical practices into our lives to support our spiritual growth and mystical experiences?
  6. Embracing Mystical Experiences What steps can we take to become more aware of and open to mystical encounters with God in our daily lives?
  7. Liturgical Foundation and Mysticism How can understanding the liturgical foundation of the church help us embrace our role as mystics?
  8. Liturgical Actions as Identity Formation In what ways do our liturgical actions shape our identity as Christians and how can we be more intentional about this process?
  9. Understanding God’s Work in Liturgy How can we better recognize and participate in the work of God through our liturgical practices?
  10. Holistic Christian Life How can we integrate the various aspects of our Christian life—liturgical, theological, ascetical, and mystical—toward the ultimate goal of union with God?

For more podcast episodes of this series visit the Pathways to Sacred Mysteries w/Dr. David Fagerberg page


David W. Fagerberg is Professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He holds masters degrees from Luther Northwestern Seminary, St. John’s University (Collegeville), Yale Divinity School, and Yale University. His Ph.D. is from Yale University in liturgical theology.

Fagerberg’s work has explored how the Church’s lex credendi (law of belief) is founded upon the Church’s lex orandi (law of prayer). This was expressed in Theologia Prima (Hillenbrand Books, 2003). He has integrated into this the Eastern Orthodox understanding of asceticism by considering its role in preparing the liturgical person. This was treated in On Liturgical Asceticism (Catholic University Press, 2013). And these two themes come together in Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology (Angelico Press, 2016).

He also has an avocation in G. K. Chesterton, having published Chesterton is Everywhere (Emmaus Press, 2013) and The Size of Chesterton’s Catholicism (University of Notre Dame, 1998).


Here are a few of Dr. Fagerberg’s books:
Liturgical Theology Liturgical Mysticism Liturgical Theology Theological Theology

Tuesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Tuesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

As you begin, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  For at least the next few moments, surrender all the cares and concerns of this day to the Lord.

Say slowly from your heart “Jesus, I Trust In You…You Take Over”

Become aware that He is with you, looking upon you with love, wanting to be heard deep within in your heart…

From the Holy Gospel According to Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

What word made this passage come alive for you?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more give the Lord an opportunity to speak to you:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

What did your heart feel as you listened?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more, through Him, with Him and in Him listen to the Word:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

What touched your heart in this time of prayer?

What did your heart feel as you prayed?

What do you hope to carry with you from this time with the Lord?


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

 but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Excerpt from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.

DPD1 – Living the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Living the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the Ignatian practice of the Examen prayer. Fr. Gallagher explains that the Examen is a method of prayer designed to help individuals reflect on their daily spiritual experiences. It involves a brief period of introspection, typically 10-15 minutes, during which one reviews the events of the day to discern where God was present, how one responded to His presence, and how to improve future responses to both consolations and desolations.

The Examen is deeply rooted in Ignatian spirituality and serves as a practical way to apply the teachings on discernment of spirits to everyday life. He illustrates this with examples from the lives of saints such as St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Brother Lawrence, and Blessed Pierre Favre, highlighting how ordinary moments can be transformed into profound spiritual encounters through attentive reflection and openness to God’s grace.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding the Examen Prayer: How can the Examen prayer help me recognize God’s presence in my daily life?
  2. Application of Discernment: In what ways can I apply the teachings on discernment of spirits to my everyday experiences?
  3. Daily Reflection: How can I incorporate a 10-15 minute period of reflection to review my day and my spiritual responses?
  4. Recognizing Consolation and Desolation: What moments of consolation or desolation have I experienced today, and how did I respond to them?
  5. Openness to Grace: How can I be more open to recognizing and responding to God’s grace in the small, ordinary moments of my day?
  6. Spiritual Growth: How does regularly practicing the Examen prayer contribute to my spiritual growth and awareness?
  7. Relationship with Jesus: In what ways does the Examen prayer deepen my personal relationship with Jesus?
  8. Contemplation in Action: How can I become more of a contemplative in action, finding God in the midst of my busy life?
  9. Learning from Saints: What can I learn from the experiences of saints like St. Thérèse, Brother Lawrence, and Blessed Pierre Favre regarding attentiveness to God’s presence?
  10. Commitment to Practice: How committed am I to making the Examen prayer a regular part of my spiritual routine, and what steps can I take to ensure consistency?

St.-Ignatius-4

As outlined from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

(translated from the autograph by Fr. E. Mullan, S.J.  1909 in the public domain)

METHOD FOR MAKING THE GENERAL EXAMEN
It contains in it five Points.

First Point. The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.
Second Point. The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.
Third Point. The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order as was mentioned in the Particular Examen.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
Fifth Point. The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace.

OUR FATHER.


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

As you begin, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  For at least the next few moments, surrender all the cares and concerns of this day to the Lord.

Say slowly from your heart “Jesus, I Trust In You…You Take Over”

Become aware that He is with you, looking upon you with love, wanting to be heard deep within in your heart…

From the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven: this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’

What word made this passage come alive for you?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more give the Lord an opportunity to speak to you:

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven: this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’

What did your heart feel as you listened?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more, through Him, with Him and in Him listen to the Word:

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven: this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’

What touched your heart in this time of prayer?

What did your heart feel as you prayed?

What do you hope to carry with you from this time with the Lord?


Our Father, who art in heaven,

  hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

 Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

 and forgive us our trespasses,

 as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

 but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Excerpt from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.

St. Ephrem of Syria – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson – Discerning Hearts Podcast


St. Ephrem of Syria – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: 306 AD, Nisibis, Turkey
  • Died: June 9, 373 AD, Edessa, Turkey

Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor discuss the life and contributions of St. Ephraim, who was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. This recognition was part of an effort to appreciate the Eastern churches and celebrate their spiritual and ecclesiastical heritage. St. Ephraim, known as the “Harp of the Holy Spirit,” is notable for his hymns and poetry, which served both as theological teaching tools and defenses against heresies such as Arianism.

St. Ephraim was born around 306 in what is now modern Turkey and died in 373. He was a prolific writer, composing up to 3 million lines of poetry and 400 hymns. His hymns focused on themes like creation, the Eucharist, and Mary, and were used to counter heretical teachings through memorable and orthodox lyrics. His work established a tradition of integrating hymns and poetry into Christian liturgy, deeply influencing subsequent church practices.

Despite not being ordained a priest, Ephraim had a significant impact as a deacon, poet, and teacher. His practical life included serving his community during famines and plagues, and his hymns and writings provided deep theological insights. Pope Benedict XVI highlighted Ephraim’s ability to combine poetry and theology, making his teachings a part of the Christian prayer life.

The importance of liturgical music that is both beautiful and theologically rich, following Ephraim’s model. It suggests that modern hymn composers should strive to create music that is not only pleasant but also profound in its theological content. St. Ephraim’s life and work serve as a powerful example for today’s Christians to use their gifts in service to God and the church.

For more on St. Ephrem and his teachings


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. St. Ephraim’s Influence: How does St. Ephraim’s integration of poetry and theology inspire you to use your unique talents in service to God and the Church?
  2. Liturgical Importance: Why is it essential for hymns and liturgical music to be both beautiful and theologically rich?
  3. Serving with Humility: In what ways can you follow St. Ephraim’s example of humility and service in your own community?
  4. Facing Heresies: How can we use creative arts today to defend and teach the faith, as St. Ephraim did against Arianism?
  5. Legacy of Faith: What can we learn from St. Ephraim’s dedication to catechizing and deepening the faith of his community, and how can we apply this in contemporary settings?
  6. Multifaceted Contributions: Reflect on the significance of St. Ephraim’s contributions as a poet, teacher, and deacon. How can you utilize all your gifts to serve God?
  7. The Role of Hymns: Consider the role of hymns in your personal spiritual life. How do they help you deepen your faith and understanding of God?
  8. Evangelization through Music: How can we better integrate the theological depth of hymns in our efforts towards the new evangelization?
  9. Historical Context: Reflect on the historical context of St. Ephraim’s life. How did the challenges he faced shape his ministry, and what lessons can we draw from this for our own times?
  10. Living the Faith: How does St. Ephraim’s commitment to living out his faith through service and hymnody challenge you to embody your beliefs in everyday actions?

St.-Ephrem

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI  General Audience 2007:

“The figure of Ephrem is still absolutely timely for the life of the various Christian Churches. We discover him in the first place as a theologian who reflects poetically, on the basis of Holy Scripture, on the mystery of man’s redemption brought about by Christ, the Word of God incarnate. His is a theological reflection expressed in images and symbols taken from nature, daily life and the Bible. Ephrem gives his poetry and liturgical hymns a didactic and catechetical character: they are theological hymns yet at the same time suitable for recitation or liturgical song. On the occasion of liturgical feasts, Ephrem made use of these hymns to spread Church doctrine. Time has proven them to be an extremely effective catechetical instrument for the Christian community.

Ephrem’s reflection on the theme of God the Creator is important: nothing in creation is isolated and the world, next to Sacred Scripture, is a Bible of God. By using his freedom wrongly, man upsets the cosmic order. The role of women was important to Ephrem. The way he spoke of them was always inspired with sensitivity and respect: the dwelling place of Jesus in Mary’s womb greatly increased women’s dignity. Ephrem held that just as there is no Redemption without Jesus, there is no Incarnation without Mary. The divine and human dimensions of the mystery of our redemption can already be found in Ephrem’s texts; poetically and with fundamentally scriptural images, he anticipated the theological background and in some way the very language of the great Christological definitions of the fifth-century Councils.

Ephrem, honoured by Christian tradition with the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit”, remained a deacon of the Church throughout his life. It was a crucial and emblematic decision: he was a deacon, a servant, in his liturgical ministry, and more radically, in his love for Christ, whose praises he sang in an unparalleled way, and also in his love for his brethren, whom he introduced with rare skill to the knowledge of divine Revelation.”

For more visit Vatican.va


For more from Dr. Matthew Bunson, check out his Discerning Hearts page.

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.

Sunday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

Sunday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

As you begin, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  For at least the next few moments, surrender all the cares and concerns of this day to the Lord.

Say slowly from your heart “Jesus, I Trust In You…You Take Over”

Become aware that He is with you, looking upon you with love, wanting to be heard deep within in your heart…

From the Holy Gospel of St. Mark 3:20-35

Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

What word made this passage come alive for you?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more give the Lord an opportunity to speak to you:

Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

What did your heart feel as you listened?

What did you sense the Lord saying to you?

Once more, through Him, with Him and in Him listen to the Word:

Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

What touched your heart in this time of prayer?

What did your heart feel as you prayed?

What do you hope to carry with you from this time with the Lord?


Our Father, who art in heaven,

  hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

 Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

 and forgive us our trespasses,

 as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

 but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Excerpt from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.