BTP-LOT16 – The Nature of Spiritual Direction – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Nature of Spiritual Direction – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor delve into the topic of spiritual direction, using insights from the experiences of St. Teresa of Avila. The significance of spiritual guidance and the challenges that can arise when seeking direction for one’s spiritual life, the importance of deep listening and discernment in spiritual direction, all highlighting the need for directors to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in individuals’ lives.

Through the example of St. Teresa of Avila, they illustrate how effective spiritual direction can lead to greater spiritual freedom and growth, and provide practical advice for those seeking spiritual guidance.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Understanding Spiritual Direction: How does this episode deepen your understanding of the role of spiritual direction in the Catholic faith?
  2. Importance of Deep Listening: Reflect on the significance of deep listening in the context of spiritual direction. How can deep listening enhance the effectiveness of spiritual guidance?
  3. Recognizing the Work of the Holy Spirit: Discuss the importance of recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in individuals’ lives during spiritual direction. How can spiritual directors cultivate the ability to discern the movements of the Holy Spirit?
  4. Learning from Saint Teresa of Avila: What insights can we glean from the experiences of Saint Teresa of Avila regarding spiritual direction? How does her journey exemplify the principles discussed in the podcast?
  5. Seeking Spiritual Guidance: Reflect on the practical advice provided in the episode for those seeking spiritual guidance. How can individuals discern the right spiritual director or resources for their spiritual journey?
  6. Fostering Spiritual Freedom and Growth: Explore how effective spiritual direction can lead to greater spiritual freedom and growth. How does this align with your own experiences or aspirations in your spiritual life?
  7. Utilizing Online Resources: Consider the role of online resources like Discerning Hearts in providing spiritual guidance. How can these resources complement traditional forms of spiritual direction in today’s digital age?
  8. Application in Personal Spiritual Life: Reflect on how the insights shared in the podcast can be applied to your own spiritual life. What steps can you take to deepen your spiritual journey and seek guidance in your relationship with God?

An excerpt from Chapter 23, discussed in this episode:

“But if I was a little distracted, I began to be afraid, and to imagine that perhaps it was Satan that suspended my understanding, making me think it to be good, in order to withdraw me from mental prayer, hinder my meditation on the Passion, and debar me the use of my understanding: this seemed to me, who did not comprehend the matter, to be a grievous loss but, as His Majesty was pleased to give me light to offend Him no more, and to understand how much I owed Him, this fear so grew upon me, that it made me seek diligently for spiritual persons with whom I might treat of my state. I had already heard of some; for the Fathers of the Society of Jesus had come hither; and I, though I knew none of them, was greatly attracted by them, merely because I had heard of their way of life and of prayer; but I did not think myself fit to speak to them, or strong enough to obey them; and this made me still more afraid; for to converse with them, and remain what I was, seemed to me somewhat rude.

I spent some time in this state, till, after much inward contention and fear, I determined to confer with some spiritual person, to ask him to tell me what that method of prayer was which I was using, and to show me whether I was in error. I was also resolved to do everything I could not to offend God; for the want of courage of which I was conscious, as I said before, made me so timid. Was there ever delusion so great as mine, O my God, when I withdrew from good in order to become good! The devil must lay much stress on this in the beginning of a course of virtue; for I could not overcome my repugnance. He knows that the whole relief of the soul consists in conferring with the friends of God. Hence it was that no time was fixed in which I should resolve to do this. I waited to grow better first, as I did before when I ceased to pray,—and perhaps I never should have become better; for I had now sunk so deeply into the petty ways of an evil habit,—I could not convince myself that they were wrong,—that I needed the help of others, who should hold out a hand to raise me up. Blessed be Thou, O Lord!—for the first hand outstretched to me was Thine.

When I saw that my fear was going so far, it struck me—because I was making progress in prayer—that this must be a great blessing, or a very great evil; for I understood perfectly that what had happened was something supernatural, because at times I was unable to withstand it; to have it when I would was also impossible. I thought to myself that there was no help for it, but in keeping my conscience pure, avoiding every occasion even of venial sins; for if it was the work of the Spirit of God, the gain was clear; and if the work of Satan, so long as I strove to please, and did not offend, our Lord, Satan could do me little harm; on the contrary, he must lose in the struggle. Determined on this course, and always praying God to help me, striving also after purity of conscience for some days, I saw that my soul had not strength to go forth alone to a perfection so great. I had certain attachments to trifles, which, though not very wrong in themselves, were yet enough to ruin all.”


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.

Friday of the Second Week of Eastertide – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Friday of the Second Week of Eastertide – 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 St. John 6:1-15

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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 off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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 off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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.

Ep. 6 – A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Fr. Timothy Gallagher OMVA Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 6

In this episode, Zélie’s battle with cancer ends with her death.  Now a great time of transition begins for the entire Martin family, especially for Léonie.  The family moves from Alcon to Lisieux to be closer to Zélie’s brother, Isidore, and his wife, Celine.  Per one of Zélie’s dying wishes, Celine lovingly becomes like a second mother to the girls.

Something remarkable is beginning to occur at this time.  Léonie, over the course of several years, successfully attends a Benedictine boarding school located in Lisieux.  She begins to express herself with loving affection to others and expresses hope for the future.  Her family shares their belief that this “change” is due to Zélie’s heavenly intercession for her daughter.  However, this is also a time of uncertainty and some sadness for Léonie.  While her sister’s lives are moving forward, her life remains unclear.  What will become of poor Léonie as she begins adulthood.


Fr. Gallagher says, “Léonie’s life holds a very important story because she was the forgotten one; she was the one who was in the last place; she was the one who was less gifted than the others. Today we would call her a ‘problem child,’ and we’ll see that she certainly was the source of great anxiety to her parents, especially to her mother, Zélie, who loved her dearly.”

As a child, Léonie suffered from severe illnesses and physical maladies that would plague her entire life. She also struggled with understanding social clues and interactions and with behaving appropriately. Conventional educational models of the day failed to meet her particular needs, and she was labeled “developmentally delayed.” Yet those who knew her well described her as having a “heart of gold”.

Who was Léonie and what were her struggles? Why has her cause of canonization begun?  Father Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor,  answers these questions and explains why Léonie is “a bearer of hope” in this landmark series.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Transformation Through Struggle: How does Léonie Martin’s life exemplify the concept of spiritual transformation through personal struggles and challenges?
  2. The Role of Family: Reflect on the influence of Léonie’s family, particularly her mother Zélie Martin, in shaping her spiritual development and journey towards holiness.
  3. The Power of Prayer: Discuss the significance of prayer in Léonie’s life, especially during times of difficulty and uncertainty. How does her commitment to prayer serve as a source of strength and guidance?
  4. Expressions of Love and Affection: Explore the themes of love and affection in Léonie’s letters to her family members, particularly her aunt Celine Guerin. How do these expressions of love reflect Léonie’s character and spirituality?
  5. Hope and Perseverance: How does Léonie’s story offer hope and encouragement to listeners, especially in moments of struggle and doubt? Reflect on the message of perseverance and faith found in her journey.
  6. Lessons for Personal Growth: What lessons can we draw from Léonie’s life and spiritual journey? How can her story inspire us to deepen our own faith and relationships with God and others?
  7. Family Dynamics and Support: Consider the dynamics within Léonie’s family and the support she received from her relatives, particularly her aunt Celine Guerin. How does familial love and support contribute to Léonie’s spiritual growth and resilience?
  8. Embracing Humility: Reflect on Léonie’s humility and self-awareness, especially in acknowledging her limitations and struggles. How can we cultivate humility in our own lives and embrace our vulnerabilities as opportunities for growth?
  9. Trusting in Divine Providence: Discuss the theme of trusting in God’s providence as depicted in Léonie’s life. How does her story illustrate the importance of surrendering to God’s will and trusting in His plans, even in the midst of uncertainty?
  10. Finding Meaning in Adversity: Reflect on the notion of finding meaning and purpose in adversity, as seen in Léonie’s journey towards holiness despite facing numerous challenges. How can we find hope and meaning in our own struggles and difficulties?

Leonie's parents - Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin

Marie

Pauline

Céline

St. Thérèse

Léonie's Uncle Isidore Guérin

Léonie's Aunt Celine Guérin

Léonie's Cousin Jeanne Guérin

Léonie's Cousin Marie Guérin

A resource used for this series

Images in this post of the Martin/Guerin family are used with permission from the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux website for strictly non-commercial use.  We encourage you to visit the website for more information on this remarkable family.


For more series Fr. Timothy Gallagher podcasts visit here

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

SCS2 – The Fundamental Maxim and The Dark Night of Self-Knowldege – St. Catherine of Siena with Fr. Thomas McDermott O.P. – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Fundamental Maxim and The Dark Night of Self-Knowldege – St. Catherine of Siena with Fr. Thomas McDermott O.P.
Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 1

Fr. Thomas McDermott and Kris McGregor discuss the life of St. Catherine of Sienna, focusing on pivotal moments in her spiritual development. They explore St. Catherine’s experiences in prayer, her periods of solitude, and her relationship with her family. St. Catherine’s choice to join the Dominican third order is highlighted, as well as her struggle with temptation and the “dark night of the soul.” Fr. McDermott dispels misconceptions about her attitude towards the papacy by way of her deep love for God and the Church.

St. Catherine’s teachings, particularly her fundamental maxim on self-knowledge and humility tell listeners of the relevance of her spiritual journey for contemporary believers and the importance of maintaining a personal “cell” of self-knowledge and recollection amidst the chaos of the world.


Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 2

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Exploring Solitude and Isolation: How can we distinguish between solitude, as experienced by St. Catherine of Sienna, and isolation? Reflect on the significance of solitude in nurturing one’s spiritual life.
  2. Family Dynamics and Vocation: Consider St. Catherine’s family’s reaction to her desire for solitude and her chosen vocation. How can we reconcile familial concerns with personal vocations and aspirations?
  3. Understanding Third Orders: Reflect on the concept of third orders in religious life, such as the Dominican third order to which St. Catherine belonged. How might third orders provide avenues for laypeople to deepen their spiritual lives while living in the world?
  4. Discerning Religious Experiences: St. Catherine’s experiences of visions and dreams played a significant role in her spiritual journey. How can individuals discern whether their religious experiences are genuine messages from God or products of their own psyche?
  5. The Dark Night of the Soul: Reflect on St. Catherine’s “dark night” experience and her perseverance through spiritual struggles. How can we maintain faith and love for God during times of spiritual dryness or perceived abandonment?
  6. The Cell of Self-Knowledge: Explore the concept of the “cell of self-knowledge” as discussed by St. Catherine. How might we cultivate inner recollection and self-awareness amidst the distractions of daily life?
  7. Love for God and Others: St. Catherine emphasized the connection between one’s love for God and the quality of relationships with others. Reflect on how our interactions with others reflect our love for God, and vice versa.
  8. Misconceptions and Authentic Spirituality: Consider misconceptions about St. Catherine’s relationship with the Church, particularly regarding her interactions with the papacy. How can we discern authentic spirituality within the context of the Church’s teachings and authority?

St.-Catherine-of-Siena-book-200x300
This series is based on ‘Catherine of Siena’ by Fr. Thomas McDermott

For the entire Discerning Hearts series “The Life and Teachings of St. Catherine of Siena” visit here

Fr. Thomas McDermott, OP is Regent of Studies for the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great and is the author of “Catherine of Siena: Spiritual Development in Her Life and Teaching” (Paulist, 2008) and “Filled with all the Fullness of God: An Introduction to Catholic Spirituality”. He obtained a doctorate in spiritual theology from the Angelicum and taught for several years at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He crrently serves as pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer, in Chicago, IL.

Thursday of the Second Week of Eastertide – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Thursday of the Second Week of Eastertide – 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 St. John 3:31-36

John the Baptist said to his disciples:
‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’

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:

John the Baptist said to his disciples:
‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’

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:

John the Baptist said to his disciples:
‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’

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.

Wednesday of the Second Week of Eastertide – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


Wednesday of the Second Week of Eastertide – 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 St. John 3:16-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

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 Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

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 Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

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.

SCS1 – Introduction & Childhood – St. Catherine of Siena with Fr. Thomas McDermott O.P. – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Introduction & Childhood – St. Catherine of Siena with Fr. Thomas McDermott O.P.
Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 1

In this introductory episode, Fr. Thomas McDermott and Kris McGregor discuss the life and teachings of St. Catherine of Siena. Fr. McDermott shares his personal journey of discovering and studying St. Catherine, highlighting her significant impact despite initial challenges in understanding her work, particularly her major work, “The Dialogue” and how St. Catherine’s reputation spread through Raymond of Capua’s biography of her, despite some differences due to historical context.

Delving into St. Catherine’s mystical encounters, particularly a vision of Christ at a young age, which ignited her lifelong thirst for a personal relationship with Jesus; Fr. McDermott reminds us of the importance of desire in spirituality and reflects on how families and communities can foster an environment for spiritual growth, using the example of St. Catherine’s influence on others and her voluntary community of followers known as the “Caterinati“, providing insights into St. Catherine’s life, spirituality, and enduring impact.


Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 2

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Discovering St. Catherine: How does Fr. McDermott describe his initial encounter with St. Catherine’s writings? What were the challenges he faced, and how did he eventually come to appreciate her teachings?
  2. Influence of Raymond of Capua: Discuss the significance of Raymond of Capua’s biography of St. Catherine. How did this biography contribute to her reputation, despite potential differences due to historical context?
  3. Mystical Encounters: Reflect on St. Catherine’s mystical encounters, particularly her vision of Christ as a young child. How did this experience shape her spiritual journey and ignite her thirst for a deeper relationship with Jesus?
  4. The Importance of Desire: Fr. McDermott emphasizes the theme of desire in spirituality. How does he explain the concept of desire in the context of St. Catherine’s life and teachings? How can modern Catholics cultivate a similar desire for God?
  5. Influence on Others: Explore St. Catherine’s influence on others, particularly her voluntary community of followers known as the “Caterinati.” How did she impact the lives of those around her, and what lessons can Catholics today draw from her example of spiritual leadership?
  6. Fostering Spiritual Growth: Reflect on the role of families and communities in fostering environments conducive to spiritual growth, as discussed in the episode. How can Catholic families and communities today create spaces where individuals can deepen their relationship with God?

St.-Catherine-of-Siena-book-200x300
This series is based on ‘Catherine of Siena’ by Fr. Thomas McDermott

For the entire Discerning Hearts series “The Life and Teachings of St. Catherine of Siena” visit here

Fr. Thomas McDermott, OP is Regent of Studies for the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great and is the author of “Catherine of Siena: Spiritual Development in Her Life and Teaching” (Paulist, 2008) and “Filled with all the Fullness of God: An Introduction to Catholic Spirituality”. He obtained a doctorate in spiritual theology from the Angelicum and taught for several years at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He crrently serves as pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer, in Chicago, IL.

Tuesday of the Second Week of Eastertide – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast

Tuesday of the Second Week of Eastertide – 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 St. John 3:7-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
‘How can that be possible?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things!’ replied Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
we speak only about what we know
and witness only to what we have seen
and yet you people reject our evidence.
If you do not believe me when I speak about things in this world,
how are you going to believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’

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 Nicodemus:
‘Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
‘How can that be possible?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things!’ replied Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
we speak only about what we know
and witness only to what we have seen
and yet you people reject our evidence.
If you do not believe me when I speak about things in this world,
how are you going to believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’

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 Nicodemus:
‘Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
‘How can that be possible?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things!’ replied Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
we speak only about what we know
and witness only to what we have seen
and yet you people reject our evidence.
If you do not believe me when I speak about things in this world,
how are you going to believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’

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.

DWG4 – Deepening Spiritual Foundations – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Deepening Spiritual Foundations – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor, they discuss the importance of laying a good foundation in one’s relationship with God for effective discernment and the significance of developing a disposition of complete availability to God’s will, likening it to Mary’s fiat: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

He highlights the role of grace in cultivating this disposition and how it lightens the burden of discernment. It’s never too late to discern God’s will, emphasizing God’s boundless mercy and the Church’s role in providing support through pastors, spiritual directors, and spiritual friends.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Foundational Relationship with God: How can I deepen my foundational relationship with God, recognizing His eternal and profound love for me?
  2. Disposition of Heart: Am I cultivating a disposition of complete availability to God’s will, like Mary’s fiat, in my life?
  3. Overcoming Obstacles in Discernment: What obstacles, whether spiritual or emotional, hinder my ability to discern God’s will effectively?
  4. Mercy of God: Do I believe in the limitless mercy of God, even in the face of past mistakes and failures?
  5. Importance of Spiritual Community: Do I actively seek support from pastors, spiritual directors, and spiritual friends in my discernment process?
  6. Role of the Holy Eucharist: How central is the Holy Eucharist in my spiritual life and discernment process?
  7. Future Spiritual Practices: How can I incorporate sacred scripture, silence, spiritual direction, and reviewing spiritual experiences into my discernment practice?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


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

The Annunciation of the Lord – A Time of Lectio Divina for the Discerning Heart Podcast


The Annunciation of the Lord – 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 Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

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:

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

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:

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

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.