BTP#33 St. Bernard and “On Loving God” – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP#33 St. Bernard and “On Loving God”  – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.  In this episode Dr. Lilles continues the discussion on St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his teachings found in “On Loving God”.

Dr. Lilles offers 4 key points we should keep in mind as we move forward in this series

1.    The Search for God
2.    Listening to God – Lectio Divina
3.    Conversion to God – Conversatio Morum
4.    Living with oneself and letting God fashion one into His image

Dr. Lilles’ continues his discussion on St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “On Loving God”:


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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.

 

Here is the bibliography that Dr. Lilles spoke of in this episode:

The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

Saints, other figures, dates and bibliographic information

 

St. Benedict of Nursia  – b. 480 –  d. 547.

St. Benedict.  The Rule.  Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.  New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1981, 1998

St. Bernard of Clairvaux – b. 1090 – d. 1153

St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Selected Works. Trans. G.R. Evans. Classics of Western Spirituality.  Mahwah, NY: Paulist Press, 1987.

Read moreBTP#33 St. Bernard and “On Loving God” – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP-Special St. John of the Cross with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Beginning to Pray Special

In this conversation, we discuss the significance of St. John of the Cross and his relationship with St. Teresa of Avila.

 

St. Hildegard and “Conversatio Morum – the Conversion of Life and the Iron Mountain” – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints with Dr. Anthony Lilles

 

St. Hildegard and  “Conversatio Morum – the Conversion of Life” – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

St. Hildegard of Bingen

Benedictine Spirituality and Lectio Divina…a “way of being”.  In part one of this particular teaching, Dr. Lilles discusses the life St. Hildegard of Bingen and her expression of Benedictine teaching, in particular her vision of the “Iron Mountain.”

 

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.

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

 

 

BTP-SP2-St. Hildegard and “The Creation and The Fall” and the Battle of Prayer – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints – Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Lilles’ teaches that prayer is a battle between the Truth and the lie, and how our understanding affects how we are going to live.  We need to be aware that there is a liar who is trying to drag us down. We need to understand creation and fall, which is brought forward by a particular vision given to, doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen.  She helps us appreciate the “stench” of evil. Evil is the absence of something good in us, it is darkness.  Christ is the Light which illuminates our hearts and the world.

Museum – Hildegard von Bingen

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.

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

 

Only the Love of God the Father Can Restore Us by Anthony Lilles – A Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcast

 

Dr. Anthony Lilles reads for us an article he originally published on his Beginning to Pray blog.

Only the Love of God the Father Can Restore Us

The moral and spiritual crisis of our time is a crisis in fatherhood – a refusal to allow the Father to love us and the lack of courage to reveal the Father’s love and concern for the most vulnerable.  We see this reflected in the mentality that Church problems are fixed by money and programs – rather than conversion of heart and prayer. Just as no program can heal the heart of a child as much as the love of father and mother, no committee or policy can heal the Church apart from the love of God the Father. Yet, because so many have been abused or neglected by their fathers, we are afraid to draw attention to God the Father.

We see the Father as neither comfortable or convenient politically, socially or culturally.  We pretend that we do not come from Him and that we are not in His image and likeness. We presume that we have a right to take the blessings that belong to the Father, and to use them for our own social agendas and projects. To live on our own terms rather than His, we distance ourselves from His Love.

Since we will not draw close to our heavenly Father, we ourselves have forgotten how to be fathers.   Afraid to offend against dehumanizing ideologies, we do not speak of the Father’s goodness or wisdom, or offer His blessing to those who most need it. Shamed into silence and afraid to sound unsophisticated, we have allowed heartless jargon to replace what we can only find if we go to the heart of the Father. And fatherless societies beget walking wounded, children whose gaping emptiness torments them … even to the point that to relieve the pain, they abuse themselves and others. These fatherless children become adults — and now we live with generations suffering this nihilistic vacuum in which all that is innocent, good, holy, and true is sucked away. Even those who we trust have become like pigs — and have we not been drawn to their sty?

The love of the Father is so much more, so far beyond, so much more beautiful and tender than the limits of our feeble hearts allow us to feel or know. We are afraid of his paternal affection because we will not allow ourselves to become familiar with it — we are ignorant of just how much we are loved to our own downfall.  If only we would calm the internal rancor of our own thoughts and allow ourselves to listen to the deep movements of tender concern and gentle understanding that live in His Word!

To be kissed by the Father, to be taken into HIs embrace, this is no less than to surrender into a love that at once heals, purifies, reconstitutes, and transforms. This is the Gift of the Holy Spirit – its intensity and power cannot be overestimated. Such loves moves us against presumption to penance; against callousness to make restitution; against arrogance to humbly atone for what unaided human effort can never atone. The sheer immensity of the Father’s love raises us above ourselves — not only in our giftedness and excellences, but in our weaknesses and inadequacies — especially in the painful voids. Yes, there where love seems most absent, the Father is there with us — aching over our humiliation and shame, with life giving tears.

The Father’s heart is pierced by the plight of his children — He is never indifferent or aloof. This is what we read in the story of the Prodigal Son… Luke 15:11-32. The Father is deeply moved when He sees His son coming from a long way off.  The verb in Greek for “to pity, to have compassion” (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη) means that the deepest parts of one’s very being are moved, implicated, in the plight of another. This is the same word used in the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is also used when Jesus sees the crowds who have come to follow him.

When applied to God the Father, this means that the mysterious depths of God are implicated in our plight … that like of Father of the Prodigal Son, God the Father has taken our side. He is already running to us, ready to embrace, to kiss us with the affections of His love for us. Anyone who allows himself or herself to become the object of the Father’s love, such a person becomes like the Father, capable of being moved by the plight of those in distress. Such a movement of heart never sees strangers or enemies to be feared or used … only family to be cherished.

We live at a time when all of us need to come to our senses and consider how generous and good the Father is to everyone who serves Him.  Betrayal, denial, abandonment are not more patient than this healing love that both awaits and evokes our contrition. Avoiding responsibility has baptized us in desperate plight – it is time for the courage to face who we are, what we have done and to whom we have done it. No program or policy can  replace humility. No optics or media spin can heal the shame or cure the wounds we have caused. We may not feel that we are worthy to be his sons or daughters — but the One who begets, who loves life, wants us to live life to the full.

To approach the Father, we must follow the way of His Son – empty ourselves of our projects and ambitions, humble ourselves about our need for salvation, die to ourselves and our hubris. We approach Him in penance, fasting and prayer, realizing that in the immensity of His generous love, we are not worthy to be his slaves for His Son took the form of a slave… and, on this very cross road that His Son trod, the Father runs to meet us with the same love that He bears “the One in whom I am well pleased”. And in a silent fullness, we feel at once the comfort of His embrace; and the overwhelming goodness of His kiss. Healing and restoration await in the tender touch of those wetted cheeks and in those tears, divine and human, mingled through that hoped for, but surpassing, joy.

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.

BTP#22 St. Catherine of Siena – Passion for Truth: Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

Episode 22 Beginning to Pray:  St. Catherine of Siena

From Dr. Lilles’ “Beginning to Pray”  blog site:

Catherine of Siena – passion for truth

She is an important figure for those who see a rediscovery of prayer as the force of renewal in the Church. Because she put her devotion to Christ first, she found herself with a spiritual mission to help restore the life and unity of Christ’s body. Some of her efforts met with a little success. But as she approached her death at the age of 33, her lifetime of effort in building up the Church seemed to be in vain. Corruption, scandal, cowardice – and most of all indifference – seemed to infect the Church even more. (For more on her life, go tohttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03447a.htm.) Yet she never lost hope and she persevered in prayer. This is because she understood the love and mercy of God.

She was uneducated, but in 1377, by a miracle, she learned to write. Even so she retained secretaries to whom she dictated most of her thoughts. Her master work on the spiritual life is known as the Dialogues. These are conversations between her soul and God the Father. God the Father reveals his deep love for his Son and his plan to build up the Church. One of the beautiful aspects of this conversation is the Father’s explanation for how each soul can come to know Jesus.

Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 2Christ is the bridge to the Father and we cross this bridge by allowing our hearts to be pierced by what the Lord has done for us. The passion of Christ reveals at once the truth about who God is and who we are in his sight. For her, among the greatest blocks to the spiritual life is ignorance. Knowledge of God and knowledge of self go hand in hand in progressing toward spiritual maturity. But the knowing is not simply an intellectual trip. It as the kind of knowing informed by the loving affection of a real friendship. The friendship she describes in tender terms evokes the deepest joys and sorrows all at once.

The gift of tears, so central to early Dominican spirituality, is a beautiful part of this description. She presents those holy affections as the only proper response to the great love revealed in Christ crucified. These tears move us away from sin and into the very heart of God. She describes this as a journey that begins with kissing the feet of Jesus and entering into his wounded side. For her, intimacy with the Lord is always through the Cross and informed by a profound gratitude and humility.

One other beautiful feature of her spirituality is her understanding of virtue. This understanding is not quite classical in that she goes beyond the generic definition of a virtue as a good habit. Instead, she addresses a problem that is related to life in the Church. She notices that different Christians excel at different virtues. One might have a special aptitude for the art of getting on with others and is a special source of justice in the community. Another may be especially able to enter into the heart of someone enduring great difficulty and brings to the Church a particular awareness of mercy. Still another might have a profound gift of prayer. The question she takes up is why has the Father given different gifts to different members of the Body of Christ.

In the Dialogues, the Father explains to her that He has distributed his bountiful gifts in this way so that each member of the Body of Christ must rely on all the other members and at the same time each member bears a particular responsibility to support the Body of Christ commensurate to the gifts he has been given. In other words, his has distributed his gifts in a manner that disposes us to love one another. And the Father is counting on this mutual love, this genuine fellowship. It is part of His plan that as we cross Christ the Bridge we enter into communion with Him not merely individually, but together as a family.

The family of God requires a new kind of love, a love which only God can give us. A beautiful foundation is laid for what will later be understood as a “call within a call,” that particular mission each one is entrusted with in the eternal loving plan of God. On one hand, answering this call involves some suffering – just as Mother Theresa in our own time discovered. But those who endure this would not have it any other way. There is a certain joy and fullness of life that one discovers when one generously embraces the loving plan of the Father. The possibility of this joyful fulness makes Catherine’s message to the Church dynamically attractive.

For those beginning to pray, Catherine sheds light on the importance of truth, devotion to Christ and the life of the Church. These things organically hang together in her vision of the spiritual life so that growing in prayer goes beyond the merely therapeutic: it opens up the possibility of fully thriving, of living life to the full.

Dr. Anthony Lilles is a Catholic husband and father of three teaching Spiritual Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. He teaches spiritual theology and spiritual direction to transitional deacons, and the spiritual classics to the men who enter the Spirituality Year, a year of prayer in preparation for seminary formation.  He is the author of the “Beginning to Pray”  Catholic blog spot.

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



BTP#36 – The Prayer of St. John Paul II – Special Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

In this episode, Dr. Lilles discusses The Prayer of St. John Paul II. He reflects on “Sign of Contradiction” The Lenten Retreat preached in 1976 by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla to Pope Paul VI and the papal household.

St. John Paul II

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

The Mysterious Prayer of Gethsemane – a reflection with Dr. Anthony Lilles

 

From Dr. Anthony Lilles’ blog “Beginning to Pray

There are stories about great saints who struggled to pray in the face of great difficulty.   This can be baffling until we try to enter into the Passion of Christ and consider the movements of His Heart before the merciful love of the Father.  Until we contemplate the prayer of the Word of the Father, this struggle to pray is often deemed to be merely a stage through which we pass.   Yet, in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Luke 22:35ff), the bloody sweat of the Son of God reveals this struggle as a supreme moment of Christian contemplation, a terrifying standard against which the truth of all our other prayers can be discerned.The hymn of praise learned with the Suffering Servant on the Mount of Olives is shrouded in a mystery.  It is against this mystery that therapeutic approaches to prayer should be discerned.  Psychological or physical tantrums are silenced before the authentic cry of heart offered by the Son of Man.  His love for his disciples and devotion to the Father challenges any consumerist attitude toward the things of God.   His sorrow and spiritual poverty helps us feel the appropriate shame we ought to have over any gluttonous expectation for mental relief or euphoric experience.  Against the dark terror Jesus confronts in prayer, spiritual consumerism can only be seen as limiting the freedom that our conversation with the Lord requires.

The Word made flesh baptized every moment of his earthly life in this kind of prayer.   Every heart beat and every breath was so filled with zeal for the Father and those the Father gave Him, divine love ever exploded in His sacred humanity with resounding silence, astonishing signs, heart-aching wonders and words of wisdom which even after two thousand years still give the world pause.  Each verse of the Gospels attempts to show us His self-emptying divinity boldly hurling His prayerful humanity with the invincible force of love to the Cross.In Gethsemane we glimpse how the Son of Man availed Himself to these mysterious promptings of the Father’s love, an unfathomable love that is not comfortable to our limited humanity.   Unaided human reason cannot penetrate the divine passion that compelled Him into the solitude hidden mountains and secret gardens.   His vigil on the Mount of Olives can only be understood as the culmination of the ongoing conversation to which He eagerly made His humanity vulnerable.

If, in this culminating movement of heart, Christ sweat blood, we who have decided to follow in the footsteps of our Crucified Master should not be surprised by moments of great anguish in our own conversation with God.  In the face of this mystery, we must allow the Risen Lord to give us His courage.   What is revealed on the Mount of Olives helps us see why Christian prayer can mature into a beautiful surrender, a movement of love which gives glory to the Father and extends the redemptive work of the Redeemer in the world.   What Christian contemplation sees with the Son of God can involve very difficult struggle, through the strength that comes from the Savior even the terrifying moments of such prayer can resolve themselves in trustful surrender: “Not my will… Yours be done.”

Dr. Anthony Lilles is the author of “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden”

Available at Amazon.com as an ebook (click here), a paperback edition (click here).  You may also order a paperback edition at createspace.com.

BTP#26 “The Face of Christ: Radiance of Mercy and Sign of Hope” Beginning to Pray Special w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Lilles’ continues his  Day of Recollection offered in April 2013.

In an age of great confusion and rejection of God, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Elisabeth of the Trinity and St. John Paul II find in Christ the reason for our hope.   Starting with St. Therese’s devotion to the Holy Face expressed in living her life as an offering to merciful love, we will see how the pathway she pioneered was followed and further developed in the spiritual missions of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity and St. John Paul II.   In particular, we will contemplate the relationship of mercy and hope that the Face of Christ helps us to see when hope and mercy are most needed so that we too can follow the path of mercy.

Jesus-shroud

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 10Anthony 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. After graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville, he completed licentiate and doctoral studies in spiritual theology at the Angelicum in Rome. In 2012, he published Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: a theological contemplation of prayer by Discerning Hearts. He is the author of the “Beginning to Pray”

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

BTP#25 “The Face of the Bridegroom: Source of Mystical Prayer” Beginning to Pray Special w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Lilles’ continues his  Day of Recollection offered in April 2013.

The renewal of mental prayer in 16th Century Spain is characterized by a rediscovery of the face of Christ in contemplation.   Using passages from her life, we will consider how St. Teresa’s contemplation of the face of Christ developed during her conversion.  We will compare this with the way St. John of the Cross pondered the face of Christ in the Spiritual Canticle.  These saints help us see the mysterious Face of Christ, hidden in suffering and reflected in the secret of our faith, as the threshold and source for mystical prayer.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 10Anthony 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. After graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville, he completed licentiate and doctoral studies in spiritual theology at the Angelicum in Rome. In 2012, he published Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: a theological contemplation of prayer by Discerning Hearts. He is the author of the “Beginning to Pray”

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

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