In this conversation, we discuss the significance of St. John of the Cross and his relationship with St. Teresa of Avila.
In this conversation, we discuss the significance of St. John of the Cross and his relationship with St. Teresa of Avila.
A fascinating conversation with Dr. David Pinault Ph.D. about his book “The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch: A Christian’s Companion for the Study of Islam.” One of the best books on the subject of Islam, particularly for those who are seeking to understand the religion within the context of the Christian faith. An outstanding resource and excellent read.
You can find the book here
From the book description:
This book on Islam has an unusual perspective. It argues that a critically minded examination of Islam can help Christians achieve a deeper appreciation of the unique truths of their own faith. It draws on the author’s personal experiences living in Islamic countries and his fieldwork with persecuted Christian-minority communities, especially in Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Indonesia. It includes the author’s own original translations of Islamic texts in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, as well as primary-source materials in Latin that were written by Christian participants in the Crusades.
The author focuses on Muslim interactions with the Christian tradition. He examines and takes issue with the misguided approach of Christians like Hans Küng and Muslims like Mustafa Akyol, who in the interests of Christian-Muslim rapprochement, minimize theological differences between the two faiths, especially in the area of Christology. Such attempts at rapprochement, he writes, do a profound disservice to both religions.
Illustrating the Muslim view of Christ with Islamic polemical texts from the eleventh to the twenty-first centuries, the author draws on Hans Urs von Balthasar, and other theologians of kenotic Christology, to show how Islamic condemnations of divine “weakness” and “neediness” can deepen our appreciation of what is most uniquely Christian in our vision of Jesus, as God-made-man, who voluntarily experiences weakness, suffering, and death in solidarity with all human beings.
A book that’s both timely and urgently needed, The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch invites readers to reflect on the stark differences between Christianity and Islam and come to a fresh appreciation of the Christian faith.
Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.
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.
The Living Flame Of Love
Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.
Thank you to Deacon Omar Guiterrez for giving voice to this poem of St. John of the Cross
Are you being caught up in the swirl and chaos of fear, violence, and anger assaulting our world today? Father Mauritius Wilde invites us to contemplate the Benedictine understanding of sobriety. He does not advocate for the renunciation of enjoyment, but rather to accept what God has in store for us. This series will shed light on the facets of this ancient and yet up-to-date concept and shows the spiritual and practical significance it can have for us in the current social situation.
From the Gospel of St. Mark 6:
The Death of John the Baptist
14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’[b] name had become known. Some[c] said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli′jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero′di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero′di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero′di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome.
From the Office of Readings:
From a report by Don Antonio Valeriano, a Native American author of the sixteenth century
(Nicon Mopohua, 12th ed., 3-9, 21)
The Voice of the Turtledove has been heard in our land
At daybreak one Saturday morning in 1531, on the very first days of the month of December, an Indian named Juan Diego was going from the village where he lived to Tlatelolco in order to take part in divine worship and listen to God’s commandments. When he came near the hill called Tepeyac, dawn had already come, and Juan Diego heard someone calling him from the very top of the hill: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.”
He went up the hill and caught sight of a lady of unearthly grandeur whose clothing was as radiant as the sun. She said to him in words both gentle and courteous: “Juanito, the humblest of my children, know and understand that I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live. It is my ardent desire that a church be erected here so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection to all who inhabit this land and to those others who love me, that they might call upon and confide in me. Go to the Bishop of Mexico to make known to him what I greatly desire. Go and put all your efforts into this.”
When Juan Diego arrived in the presence of the Bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, a Franciscan, the latter did not seem to believe Juan Diego and answered: “Come another time, and I will listen at leisure.”
Juan Diego returned to the hilltop where the Heavenly Lady was waiting, and he said to her: “My Lady, my maiden, I presented your message to the Bishop, but it seemed that he did not think it was the truth. For this reason I beg you to entrust your message to someone more illustrious who might convey it in order that they may believe it, for I am only an insignificant man.”
She answered him: “Humblest of my sons, I ask that tomorrow you again go to see the Bishop and tell him that I, the ever virgin holy Mary, Mother of God, am the one who personally sent you.”
But on the following day, Sunday, the Bishop again did not believe Juan Diego and told him that some sign was necessary so that he could believe that it was the Heavenly Lady herself who sent him. And then he dismissed Juan Diego.
On Monday Juan Diego did not return. His uncle, Juan Bernardino, became very ill, and at night asked Juan to go to Tlatelolco at daybreak to call a priest to hear his confession.
Juan Diego set out on Tuesday, but he went around the hill and passed on the other side, toward the east, so as to arrive quickly in Mexico City and to avoid being detained by the Heavenly Lady. But she came out to meet him on that side of the hill and said to him: “Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you. Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care? Do not let your uncle’s illness distress you. It is certain that he has already been cured. Go up to the hilltop, my son, where you will find flowers of various kinds. Cut them, and bring them into my presence.”
When Juan Diego reached the peak, he was astonished that so many Castilian roses had burst forth at a time when the frost was severe. He carried the roses in the folds of his tilma (mantle) to the Heavenly Lady. She said to him: “My son, this is the proof and the sign which you will bring to the Bishop so that he will see my will in it. You are my ambassador, very worthy of trust.”
Juan Diego set out on his way, now content and sure of succeeding. On arriving in the Bishop’s presence, he told him: “My lord, I did what you asked. The Heavenly Lady complied with your request and fulfilled it. She sent me to the hilltop to cut some Castilian roses and told me to bring them to you in person. And this I am doing, so that you can see in them the sign you seek in order to carry out her will. Here they are; receive them.”
He immediately opened up his white mantle, and as all the different Castilian roses scattered to the ground, there was drawn on the cloak and suddenly appeared the precious image of the ever virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the same manner as it is today and is kept in her shrine of Tepeyac.
The whole city was stirred and came to see and admire her venerable image and to offer prayers to her; and following the command which the same Heavenly Lady gave to Juan Bernardino when she restored him to health, they called her by the name that she herself had used: “the ever virgin holy Mary of Guadalupe.”
Dr. Lilles continues the spiritual explorations of the Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. In this episode we discuss letter 224, with a special focus on Elizabeth’s insights on fear, death, hope and renunciation:
To Madame Angels
[a little before March 8, 1905]
J. M. + J. T.
“Abandonment is the delicious fruit of love”
Very dear Madame,
Before entering the great silence of Lent, our Reverend Mother is allowing me to tell you how much my dear community and I are praying for you. I can understand what apprehensions you must feel in facing an operation; I am asking God to ease them, to calm them Himself. The holy Apostle Paul says that “He works all things according to the counsel of His will,” thus we must receive everything as coming directly from that divine hand of our Father who loves us and who, through all trials, pursues His goal, “to unite us more closely to Himself.” Dear Madame, launch your soul on the waves of confidence and abandonment, and remember that anything that troubles it or throws it into fear does not come from God, for He is the Prince of Peace and He promises that peace “to those of good will.” When you are afraid you have abused His graces, as you say, that is the time to redouble your confidence, for, as the Apostle says, “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more,” and farther on, “I boast of my weaknesses, for then the power of Jesus Christ dwells in me.” “Our God is rich in mercy because of His immense love.” So do not fear the hour we must all pass through. Death, dear Madame, is the sleep of the child resting on the heart of its mother. At last the night of exile will have fled forever, and we will enter into possession of the inheritance of the saints in light. Saint John of the Cross says we will be judged in love. That corresponds well with the thinking of Our Lord, who said to Mary Magdalene: “Many sins have been forgiven her because she has loved much.” I often think I will have a very long purgatory, for much will be asked of the one who has received much and He has been so overwhelmingly generous to His little bride, but she abandons herself to His love and sings the hymn of His mercies while still on earth! Dear Madame, if we made God increase in our soul every day, think what confidence that would give us to appear one day before His infinite holiness! I think you have found the secret and that it is indeed that we arrive at this divine goal through renunciation: by that means we die to self in order to leave all the room to God. Do you remember that beautiful passage from the Gospel according to Saint John where Our Lord says to Nicodemus: “Truly I say to you, if one is not born anew, one cannot see the kingdom of God”? Let us therefore renew ourselves in the interior of our soul, “let us strip off the old and clothe ourselves anew, in the image of Him who created him” (Saint Paul). That is done gently and simply, by separating ourselves from all that is not God. Then the soul no longer has any fears or desires, its will is entirely lost in the will of God, and since this is what creates union, it can cry out: “I live no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Let us pray much for each other during this holy time of Lent; let us retire to the desert with our Master and ask Him to teach us to live by His life.
I saw Mama, Marguerite, and her dear little Sabeth; it was the last parlor visit until Easter, they find that very long. I know Marie-Louise is also expecting a little angel and I recommend her particularly to God. Remember me to your dear ones. I am writing a little note in reply to Monsieur le Chanoine2 and, as a poor Carmelite, I am being so bold as to entrust it to you to deliver to him whenever you have a chance; I hope that is not being indiscreet. A Dieu, dear Madame, courage and confidence, I kiss you as I love you.
Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 192-194). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.
Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.
A fascinating conversation with the “Miracle Hunter” himself, Michael O’Neill. As the author of “Exploring the Miraculous,” Michael approaches each area of interest with a healthy mix of critical analysis and grace-filled prudence. We discuss everything from apparitions and locutions, incorruptible bodies, and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Shroud of Turin and how the Church discerns authenticity. A highly recommended work.
You can find the book here
From the book description:
Are miracles all that important?
What do miracles have to do with me?
How does the Church determine if a miracle is valid?
What do miracle cures have to do with canonization?
Do saints perform miracles?
What are apparitions and why do they appear?
What’s a “Eucharistic miracle”?
Can statues, icons, or effigies really be miraculous?
What about incorruptibles and stigmata?
Please visit the Discerning Hearts Our Lady of Guadalupe page for the text and audio for the remaining days.
Mother of our Savior, the conversion of your Aztec children brought an end to infant sacrifice in Mexico. Holy Mary, we implore your help to end the infant sacrifice by abortion throughout the Americas.
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory be …
Episode 7 – Fr. Gallagher helps us to understand the different aspects of dryness in prayer. Is it a sign of Spiritual Desolation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes maybe. We continue with part 2 of this discussion in this episode.
Dryness may again result when persons need to share with God a burden, fear, shame, or anxiety that fills their hearts— and have as yet been unable to do so. They experience dry- ness: nothing seems to help in prayer, the time passes slowly and with distractions, and the prayer they attempt appears to lack life.
A husband and wife sit across the table from each other at dinner. He knows that she holds a burden in her heart that she has not been able to express and share with him. Until the burden is expressed and shared, they will struggle to speak together with their habitual ease and communion. Their conversation will remain on a superficial level—it will feel dry—while both know that something deeper needs to be communicated. A man once told me that for eleven years his prayer had been dry. A few questions revealed that his young son had died eleven years earlier. When, after some hesitancy and with some courage, he shared with the Lord the stored- up pain and anger in his heart, the dryness ceased, and prayer flowed again.
Other forms of dryness may result from nonspiritual fac- tors. When persons are physically exhausted, they may find their prayer dry: they simply do not have the physical energy to pray in their usual way. Adequate rest will resolve this “dryness.” Something similar may result from depletion of emotional energy. Persons who have expended great emotional energy in difficult situations and who try to pray may also find that their prayer is dry: they are affectively spent and struggle to be emotionally present to their prayer. Healthy ways of replenishing emotional energy will resolve this “dry- ness” as well.
None of these forms of dryness are experiences of spiritual desolation.23 Each has its individual cause and so its indi- vidual remedy. Good spiritual direction will be sensitive to the cause of such persons’ individual experiences of dryness and so assist them to respond appropriately, helping them to eliminate its cause or—should such “dryness” indicate growth toward simplified prayer—assisting them to negotiate it well.
If, however, the dryness bears the mark of spiritual des- olation—affective aridity coupled with discouragement, a sense of distance from God, a weakening of hope, various temptations, and the like—then such persons will recognize the enemy at work and hear the call to active and energetic resistance.
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