The Prayer of St. John Paul II – Special Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

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

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

St. Hildegard von Bingen and “The Iron Mountain”: Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

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

September 17 is the feast of St. Hiildegard of Bingen. She lived from 1098-1179. A Benedictine Nun, at the age of 42, she was given visions and commanded rise up and cry out what she saw. She obeyed and produced a set of writings known today as Scivias.

Her first vision is of a hidden mountain, the mountain of God’s throne, an iron mountain of immutable justice hidden in divine glory. A purifying Fear of the Lord contemplates this splendor. Not the kind of fear that pulls away to protect itself. Rather the kind of fear that is vigilant and sees the truth. Eyes which gaze with this holy fear can never be satisfied with the merely mediocre. They guard against every form of compromise. The glory they behold demands absolute allegiance, complete surrender, and total humility.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 4In this description, is St. Hildegard suggesting a way by which we might enjoy the same vision she has shared in? This is no exercise in esoteric navel gazing. Her vision demands a journey beyond our own self-pre-occupation and into real friendship with God, a friendship protected by the strength of divine justice. She sees the truth in a way that demands an ongoing conversion of life.

She is well-formed in St. Benedict’s conversatio morum. The mountain she sees is not a truth we scrutinize so much as the truth that scrutinizes us: a scrutinizing of all our thoughts and actions in light of the Gospel. The truth she beholds demands repentance from the lack of justice we allow ourselves to slip into. The iron mountain she contemplates renders futile every effort to conform the Gospel to our own ways and invites us to be transformed by its just demands.

Today, where all kinds of cruelty are so easily excused and any form of self-indulgence so readily lifted up to the level of a fundamental human right, we need to rediscover the shadow of the iron mountain from which St. Hildegard cries out to us. Only under the glory of this mountain can we find the peace that the Lord has come to give. Only in the blinding light into which Holy Fear gazes can we find the humility to love one another the way Christ has loved us.

Through the years, clergy, seminarians, eligious and lay faithful have benefited from Dr. Anthony Lilles’ lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.  He is the author/editor of the “Beginning to Pray”  catholic blog spot.

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

The music that is used comes from

BTP#30 St. Benedict, Listening, and Discernment – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

BTP30 St. Benedict, Listening and Discernment  – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.  In this episode, Dr. Lilles offers a general introduction to this series, the mystical key to discernment, and teaching of St. Benedict.

 

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

All four points can be found in the “Holy Rule of St. Benedict”  paragraph #58:

CHAPTER LVIII
Of the Manner of Admitting Brethren

Let easy admission not be given to one who newly cometh to change his life; but, as the Apostle saith, “Try the spirits, whether they be of God” (1 Jn 4:1). If, therefore, the newcomer keepeth on knocking, and after four or five days it is seen that he patiently beareth the harsh treatment offered him and the difficulty of admission, and that he persevereth in his request, let admission be granted him, and let him live for a few days in the apartment of the guests.

But afterward let him live in the apartment of novices, and there let him meditate, eat, and sleep. Let a senior also be appointed for him, who is qualified to win souls, who will observe him with great care and see whether he really seeketh God, whether he is eager for the Work of God, obedience and humiliations. Let him be shown all the hard and rugged things through which we pass on to God.

If he promiseth to remain steadfast, let this Rule be read to him in order after the lapse of two months, and let it be said to him: Behold the law under which thou desirest to combat. If thou canst keep it, enter; if, however, thou canst not, depart freely. If he still persevereth, then let him be taken back to the aforesaid apartment of the novices, and let him be tried again in all patience. And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read over to him, that he may know for what purpose he entereth. And if he still remaineth firm, let the same Rule be read to him again after four months. And if, after having weighed the matter with himself he promiseth to keep everything, and to do everything that is commanded him, then let him be received into the community, knowing that he is now placed under the law of the Rule, and that from that day forward it is no longer permitted to him to wrest his neck from under the yoke of the Rule, which after so long a deliberation he was at liberty either to refuse or to accept.

Let him who is received promise in the oratory, in the presence of all, before God and His saints, stability, the conversion of morals, and obedience, in order that, if he should ever do otherwise, he may know that he will be condemned by God “Whom he mocketh.” Let him make a written statement of his promise in the name of the saints whose relics are there, and of the Abbot there present. Let him write this document with his own hand; or at least, if he doth not know how to write, let another write it at his request, and let the novice make his mark, and with his own hand place it on the altar. When he hath placed it there, let the novice next begin the verse: “Uphold me, O Lord, according to Thy word and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my expectations” (Ps 118[119]:116). Then let all the brotherhood repeat this verse three times, adding the Gloria Patri.

The let that novice brother cast himself down at the feet of all, that they may pray for him; and from that day let him be counted in the brotherhood. If he hath any property, let him first either dispose of it to the poor or bestow it on the monastery by a formal donation, reserving nothing for himself as indeed he should know that from that day onward he will no longer have power even over his own body.

Let him, therefore, be divested at once in the oratory of the garments with which he is clothed, and be vested in the garb of the monastery. But let the clothes of which he was divested by laid by in the wardrobe to be preserved, that, if on the devil’s suasion he should ever consent to leave the monastery (which God forbid) he be then stripped of his monastic habit and cast out. But let him not receive the document of his profession which the Abbot took from the altar, but let it be preserved in the monastery.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 10Dr.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

 

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.

Read more

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. Anthony 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 to http://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.

 

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



Lent – You Have Stood By Me with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

From Dr. Anthony Lilles’ blog “Beginning to Pray”

You have stood by me in my trials and I am giving you a Kingdom.”  This solemn declaration was made by the Lord even as He faced betrayal, denial, and abandonment – suffering these unto death. To enter into His Kingdom, we must follow Him down this same pathway.  This means that we will face what He has faced. To enable us to follow Him, He must purify us and strengthen us to remain standing with Him even after our sin. To the degree that we are afraid of death, suffering, and sin, we are afraid also of His mercy. But His merciful love overcomes our fear.  Accepting His mercy, we learn to see in our own life experience that sin, suffering and death ultimately do not stand between us and the love of God. Indeed, He has made of them a pathway.

“You have stood by me.” We hear these words knowing full well how often we have failed Him. Yet, He does not focus on that. He sees what is good. He chooses to be conscious of what we have done in our devotion and so He directs us to also acknowledge what He sees.  It is not that He is not aware of our sins. It is only that He chooses not to allow them to define our relationship with Him.  Thus, He said this in the presence of the Twelve: the betrayer, the nine would abandon Him and the most trusted who would deny Him. He says it also to us now.

“You have stood by me” unveils his decision to see past our failures to a deeper mystery about us that we cannot know on our own. He gazes with hope on the possibilities of the human heart. This is because we are not in his eyes friends who fall short of His expectations. Instead, we are each a gift of the Father to Him – and so He treasures our faithfulness no matter how weak or fleeting it might be.  Thus, He confirms all that is good, noble and true. The the gaze in which he holds us never breaks – He suffers this regard of the deepest truth of our existence unto death and will search hell to rescue it.  Here, the basis of hope no matter how often we have fallen, a truth He repeats today in our presence too: “You have stood by me.”

“I have prayed that your faith will not fail and once you have turned back, you must strengthen the faith of your brethren.”  Love requires many difficult purifications and painful healings before we can stand before the face of the One who loved us to the end. No unaided human effort can endure these trials of love. Yet, we never face these alone, but always in the Church with Christ’s gentle presence and His mighty prayer. His prayer that our faith should not fail does not mean we will not fall.  It means that if we fall, no matter how far or hard or for how long, we can turn back – convinced that the power of His love is greater than the power of our sin.

What we do not see but what Christ sees is the splendor of His Bride – a splendor in which we have already been implicated from before the foundation of the world. Despite the sinfulness of her members and even the failures of her shepherds, she knows from the vantage point of eternity the way to the Bridegroom in both life and death. She knows this path to love even as it leads through the difficult ambiguities of our lives. She knows it by love and She knows it for love even when we have long stumbled away from it. She knows even as it disappears from our sight at the last moments of this life. And so, if we listen to the voice of the Bride, she teaches us to find it even when we feel farthest from it. Indeed, the Good Shepherd Himself will pick us up and place us there – for He has abandoned everything to find us.  Though we cannot see it, the Body of Christ knows the passage that crosses from the gates of hell to the very threshold of heaven. Christ Himself bridges this abyss – and He suffers it in His mystical body so that we might become immaculate and holy in His presence.

Dr. Anthony Lilles is the author of “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden”, which can be found here

Lent – Praying from the Heart with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

From Dr. Anthony Lilles’ blog “Beginning to Pray”

During Lent, we dedicate ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.   These practices are simple ways of expressing our gratitude to Jesus for what He has done for us.  This in fact is the very nature of penance.  Penance is love which responds to mercy – and this love is not content with words, thoughts and feelings.  This love needs to express itself in a prayer the cries from the heart, in sacrifice that really costs, and in little hidden acts of kindness which comfort those who most need it.

Why do we allow God to implicate us in the plights of others, especially during Lent?  God’s love suffers the personal plight each of us.  He does this because He does not want us to suffer alone.  So He seeks us out in our suffering – the suffering that we have brought on ourselves and the suffering that others have brought on us.   He is concerned about our dignity and He is ready to do whatever it takes that we might be rectified and stand with Him who is Love Himself.  The extent to which He enters into our misery for this purpose is revealed on the Cross.  If we are to be His disciples, we must pick up our cross and follow Him.  This is how the Lord extends His saving mystery through space and time – He loves us so much He implicates us in this great work of His Love.

No matter how many times we fail, no matter how great our weaknesses, no matter how inadequate we are to the demands of love — He is there with us, loving us, providing exactly what we need in the moment, and this because He really loves us that much.   How can we not respond by offering Him food and drink when we recognize Him in the disguise of those who hunger and thirst?  How can we not respond by forgoing a little comfort and convenience when He has already suffered so much discomfort and inconvenience for us?  How can we not respond by praying for those who need the love of God when He has never forgotten us in His love for the Father?

When prayer, sacrifice and generosity come together in thanksgiving to God for His goodness to us, deep places of the heart are purified and we rediscover the joy humanity was meant to know from the beginning.  Lent is all about this joy – a joy God’s love allows us to know, the joy of being sons and daughters of God, the joy of heart so beautiful it would be wrong not to share it with those who need a little joy as well.

Dr. Anthony Lilles is the author of “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden”, which can be found here

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.  Dr. Lilles will also shed some light on the relationship between the Carmelites and the Jesuits, as well as with St. John of Avila.

St. John of the Cross

 

For The Ascent of Mt. Carmel Audio Book visit this Discerning Hearts page

For commentary on various sections of The Ascent of Mt. Carmel by Dr. Lilles’ visit this Discerning Hearts page

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”:

[gview file="https://www.discerninghearts.com/catholic-podcasts/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/onlovinggod.pdf"]

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 more

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