In the Footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila – Announcing our Discerning Hearts Pilgrimage w/ Fr. Giles Dimock OP & Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

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Five hundred years ago, on March 28, a great mystic, founder, reformer, and doctor of the Church was born.  From March 27 to April 6, 2015 you are invited to join Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts on a spiritual journey through Holy Week and Easter in the footsteps of Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain.  Fr. Giles Dimock O.P. will serve as Chaplain and Dr. Anthony Lilles will be our spiritual guide for this pilgrimage.

We will have more on this pilgrimage in the days ahead.  We begin with this conversation with Dr. Lilles.  For more information visit our page dedicated to pilgrimage at:  www.pilgrimage.discerninghearts.com 

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Click the picture to download the Brochure

 

BTP-SP1-St. Hildegard and “The Creation and The Fall” and the Battle of Prayer – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

Anthony-LillesSt. Hildegard and   “The Creation and The Fall” and the Battle of Prayer  – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

 

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.Hildegard-1

 

 

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To obtain a copy of Dr. Lilles’ book click here

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#35 Identifying and Battling the “Irrational Spirits” – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP#35 – Identifying and Battling the “Irrational Spirits” – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.

In this episode Dr. Lilles discusses the nature of prayer.  The use of “methods” or “techniques” is cautioned by Dr. Lilles.  The relationship with the person of Jesus Christ is paramount.  He discusses the struggles in prayer and the real “enemies” which assault us in prayer.  He points to the experience and teachings of St. Anthony of the Desert, who battled the irrational spirits opposed to our relationship with God.  Dr. Lilles then relates that teaching to the places of “death” which confront our lives today, the importance of naming the  irrational “spirit” and using the “Word of Truth” to fight the battle.

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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#34 “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden” pt 1 – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP#34 – “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden” – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.  In this episode Dr. Lilles discusses the writing of his book.

 In this episode Dr. Lilles discusses the writing of his book, “Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden:  A Theological Contemplation of Prayer”.  What is a “mystic” and what is the particular calling of Carmelite spirituality is also addressed.  St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity are highlighted.

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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

 

 

 

As if Already in Eternity: The Wisdom of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity by Anthony Lilles

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As if Already in Eternity: The Wisdom of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity (as found on Anthony’s “Beginning to Pray” blog site)

 

Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity is a witness to the primacy of contemplation in the life of the Church and the mystical wisdom contemplation releases into human history.  This is the wisdom that understands how God is present in both the public square as well as in the intimacy of our hearts.   Today, when the whole world needs this wisdom renewed, the Church celebrates her feast day and invites us to consider her powerful spiritual doctrine.

She wrote a famous prayer to the Holy Trinity that has helped many contemplatives recover devotion to the Divine Persons in their life of prayer.  This work is cited to support the  Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Divine Works and the Trinitarian Missions.  The teaching itself is that God calls every individual to a great and beautiful purpose, to become a dwelling place for His presence in the world:

The ultimate end of the divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity.  But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity, ‘If a man loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him’ (CCC 260).

This is a rich teaching because it says that our ultimate fulfillment is not simply something waiting for us in a remote future, in a distant afterlife.  Instead, the Catechism proposes that heaven can begin now in faith.   This means that our faith offers us a fullness of life.  We do not have to be content with managing through life’s ambiguities and uncertainties with the hope that someday it might get better.  Instead, our faith gives us a real foretaste of the fullness that awaits us — so that the excessiveness of God’s love can pour into our lives here and now, if we will believe in Him.

To encourage this decision to believe in the love that God has for us in the here and now of our lives, the Catechism cites the beginning of Blessed Elisabeth’s prayer to the Trinity, “O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.”

Blessed Elisabeth’s prayer helps us consider what it means to have faith, to believe in God and what He calls us to become.  This kind of faith is a matter of a love that takes us out of ourselves. It is, in this sense, an ecstatic movement of heart, a decision to lay aside everything so that there is space for God to dwell in us.  Faith helps us see that our own bloated egos need to make way for God.  To love Christ to the point of welcoming His word in our hearts means He can begin to help us forget our very self.  He is the One who frees us so that the fullness of life that awaits us in heaven begins here on earth.

Her words suggest that the biggest obstacle to prayer is not anything outside ourselves, but proclivities within.   The ego has its own specific gravity.  Its force, if left unchecked, its deadly.  Anxieties over our own plans and for security, our lust for control and to put others in their place, our need to be right and esteemed, our obsession with being liked or affirmed, our gluttony for comfort and entertainment; all of this fails to provide any firm ground for rectifying our existence.  Unchecked, these tendencies suffocate the heart, and as long as one’s heart is pulled by these forces, it can find no peace.

Only when we can get out of ourselves are we able to breath the fresh air of friendship with God and true solidarity with one Blessed-Elizabeth-4another.   At the same time, even after we see how imprisoned we are, left to our own resources, we cannot entirely free ourselves.  The answer is not to be found in our own cleverness or in some Titanic effort to surmount oneself through techniques.  Only Christ can help us leave our old way of life behind.  This is why Blessed Elisabeth’s prayer begins with a cry for help.

Clinging to what Christ has revealed about the Father and about humanity, this is the essential movement of faith.  This is His word to us – for He is the saving Word that reveals this inexhaustible mystery.  Those whose hearts are vulnerable to this radiant beauty find true inner freedom.

Souls whom Christ helps to be free of themselves stand firm in love even as everything in life falls apart around them.  This is only because through Christ they have found the ground of their very being in the excessive love flowing from the Holy Trinity into their nights, their voids, their inadequacies and even their failures.  In short, come what come may they know they are loved and that love awaits them.

It by standing on this ground that a soul opens itself to God’s presence in ever new and surprising ways.  On this ground, He dwells in them.  With the inflow of His truth and love, it is easy to let go and to trust, and anyone who has discovered this freedom wants to be established there in an unmovable way.

Today is the feast of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity.  She lived out this truth to her last anguished heartbeat, bedridden with an incurable disease even as the political powers of her day threatened those she loved the most and the Church was rocked by all kinds of scandal.  This Carmelite Mystic, the Mystic of Dijon, believed her mission was to help souls enter to a transforming encounter with Christ, one that requires a journey out of ourselves where we are vulnerable enough to be touched by Him. Her words encourage us to call out to the Word, and to let His great Canticle of love resound in our hearts with all its fulness — for to know this saving truth is to live as if already in eternity.

BTP#32 St. Bernard, the 12 Steps to Humility and Pride, On Loving God – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP#32 St. Bernard and the 12 Steps to Humility and Pride  – 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 “The 12 Steps to Humility and Pride” and “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 Divnia
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, “The 12 Steps of Humility and Pride” and “On Loving God”:

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Download (PDF, 267KB)

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To obtain a copy of Dr. Lilles’ book click here

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

 

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 moreBTP#32 St. Bernard, the 12 Steps to Humility and Pride, On Loving God – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

“O humdrum days, filled with darkness…” a reflection w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

AnthonyDr. Anthony Lilles offers us a tremendous reflection based on a particular passage found in St. Faustina’s diary, #1373.  He shares what it meant when she wrote it in the context of the world in 1937, and what it now means in the  world in 2013.  But more than that, he helps us to see how we can live this out in our everyday lives.

From the Diary of St. Faustina:

1373 O humdrum days, filled with darkness, I look upon you with a solemn and festive eye. 

This is the scene Dr. Lilles refers to in is talk.

1377 November 5. This morning, five unemployed men came to the gate and insisted on being let in. When Sister N. had argued with them for quite a while and could not make them go away, she then came to the chapel to find Mother [Irene], who told me to go. When I was still a good way from the gate I could hear them banging loudly. At first, I was overcome with doubt and fear, and I did not know whether to open the gate or, like Sister N., to answer them through the little window. But suddenly I heard a voice in my soul saying, Go and open the gate and talk to them as sweetly as you talk to Me.   I opened the gate at once and approached the most menacing of them and began to speak to them with such sweetness and calm that they did not know what to do with themselves. And they too began to speak gently and said, “Well, it’s too bad that the convent can’t give us work.” And they went away peacefully. I felt clearly that Jesus, whom I had received in Holy Communion just an hour before, had worked in their hearts through me. Oh, how good it is to act under God’s inspiration!

faustina_02The opening prayer from St. Faustina’s diary #1411 offered by Dr. Lilles:

O Divine Spirit, Spirit of truth and of light,
Dwell ever in my soul by Your divine grace.
May Your breath dissipate the darkness,
And in this light may good deeds be multiplied.
O Divine Spirit, Spirit of love and of mercy,
Who pour the balm of trust into my heart,
Your grace confirms my soul in good,
Giving it the invincible power of constancy.
O Divine Spirit, Spirit of peace and of joy,
You invigorate my thirsting heart
And pour into it the living fountain of God’s love,
Making it intrepid for battle.
O Divine Spirit, my soul’s most welcome guest,
For my part, I want to remain faithful to You;
Both in days of joy and in the agony of suffering,
I want always, O Spirit of God, to live in Your presence.
O Divine Spirit, who pervade my whole being
And give me to know Your Divine Threefold Life,
Initiating me into Your Divine Essence,
Thus united to You, I will live a life without end.

When Prayer Feels Wasted – a reflection with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

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From Dr. Anthony Lilles’ blog “Beginning to Pray

There are times when prayer feels wasted.  We cry out from the very depths of our being begging to be heard, sometimes in tears, sometimes in desperate plight, sometimes with an overwhelming sense of personal unworthiness.   Sometimes, when some sign of Divine Providence is most sought, our voices echo in lifeless silence.

In these moments, those who doubted our faith or considered us hypocrites, they feel themselves vindicated – sometimes with glee, sometimes with hidden sorrow.   Here, the seemingly unanswered prayer mysteriously resounds in their hearts too.  Behind the derision one faces for having dared to believe, there is also a painful solidarity with the whole of humanity.   For every prayer that seems unanswered reaffirms a sense of alienation, of rejection, of unbearable misery in the heart of every man and woman since Eden.

In the story of salvation, the most contemporary doubt in the Father’s love is just another manifestation of this primordial reality.   Christian prayer does not avoid this common human condition – it boldly enters this poverty to fill it with something new.  If it humbly accepts all forms of mockery before the mystery of unanswered prayer, it is to offer this too as a living sacrifice to the Living God.

For the Christian, the tired sorrow of unanswered prayer has been made open to an explosive beatitude.  The Word of the Father made this painful cry His own when He implicated Himself in our sin.  In this, the Suffering Servant found a way so that we would not have to suffer our plight alone – our wounds are healed by His.

His last wordless cry of abandonment revealed His life’s project: He dared to offer with love to the Father His every breathe and heartbeat from first to last so that every human hardship might be completely enveloped in divine mercy.   Now, by faith, His project can become our project.  Because His offering to the Father was perfect in love, the Savior of the world fills our dying weakness with the secret freshness of new life whenever we offer it to Him with even the tiniest effort of solidarity.  When prayer seems unanswered, the One who cried to the Father for love of us from crib to Cross is allowing us an opportunity to share in the salvific work of His own prayer.

Like the myrrh, the tears and the kisses that once anointed the feet of Jesus, prayer wasted on God for our brothers and sisters, for spouse and children, and even for ourselves, always takes on cruciform proportions – dimensions that extend from one horizon to the other, from height to depth, from what is visible to what cannot be seen.   If such prayer weeps over abandonment, disappointment, frustration, injustice, inadequacy, failure, voids and weakness – such prayer also boldly cleaves with gratitude to the invincible hope that none of this can separate us from that astounding love revealed by the Risen Lord.

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