One of the best interviews Bruce and I ever had discussing the many aspects of the Holy Saturday experience. Dr. Regis Martin is a professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and the author of several books on spirituality and theology.
Making sense of human suffering is a challenge in every age, and many a person confronted with man’s inhumanity to his fellow man has lost his faith in a good God. The Holocaust, in particular, because of the scope of its ruthlessness, has raised the question for modern man: “What kind of God allows the horrible and systematic murder of so many innocent people?”
Quoting widely from Christian, Jewish and secular sources, Regis Martin makes an unflinching examination of this universal question on the meaning of suffering. By meditating on Christ’s passion, death and descent into Hell, he asks us to consider anew the God who overcomes evil by plunging himself into the depths of human misery.
“Walk Humbly Before Your God: Simple Steps to a Virtuous Life” is an all-time favorite. Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and a frequent host on the Eternal Word Television Network, had a beautiful way of shining new light on fundamental truths. He graciously took time to teach us about the nature of prayer, how it develops in our lives and how we can nurture it. He spoke of Jesus and several aspects of his prayer: praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and how it aids in our suffering. Our traditional vocal prayers, as well as the depths of contemplation, were also discussed including how do we deal with distractions, Fr. Apostoli, a humble, holy priest, was a master spiritual catechist! He died on December 13, 2017, the morning after the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Contained in this 50-minute discussion, you’ll find guidance that can last a lifetime.
Christians, if they are to have any impact in today s world, have something of the same code: we fight the good fight, side by side, ready to lay down our lives for one another. Such heroism doesn t come naturally. As Walk Humbly With Your God points out, it is in the day-to-day training, in taking the simple steps to holiness, that heroism becomes second nature.
Fr. Apostoli provides an inspirational guide to conquering our faults, growing in prayer and acquiring the virtues that enable us to walk with God and live for others.
Bruce and I were deeply blessed to have a conversation with the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel on “The Virtue Driven Life“. Engaging, humble, funny, and saintly, Fr. Groeschel has left us such a tremendous legacy of teaching on the spiritual life! In this conversation, we discuss the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity; as well as the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Fr. Groeschel, always practical, shares the wisdom of a spiritual father which illuminates more clearly the travails of the spiritual journey. How blessed were we to have such a spiritual master in our midst!
May eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Fr. Benedict Groeschel, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!
It’s a word that has gotten a bad rap, misused and misunderstood even by great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians, and mocked in the cynical sound bites of the media.
Rediscover virtue as it should be understood in our lives. With wit, warmth, and wisdom, Father Groeschel reintroduces the seven virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and charity. One by one he makes them meaningful for modern men and women, shaking off the dusty mantle of pretentiousness and demonstrating how each has a real role in a whole and holy life.
Father Groeschel’s charming conversational style entertains even as he educates and challenges us. History, politics, an advertisement, the neighbor down the street … all are reference points for Father Groeschel as he explores the meaning of each virtue for Christians today. By the end of the book, you will understand that being labeled virtuous is the ultimate compliment!
It was with great joy we had the opportunity to talk with Fr. Thomas Dubay. His work on “Fire Within” and all the programs he gave us on EWTN was instrumental in my spiritual growth. In those early days, he was like having a distant spiritual director who guided me, as well as the rest of us, toward a deeper relationship with Christ.
He told me once, “Kris, the best theology books are the lives of the saints; you study them and you won’t be led astray.” Fr. Thomas Dubay, in a very real way, helped inspire the work of this blog and its mission.
Fr. Thomas Dubay is one of the most popular and respected retreat masters and spiritual directors in the USA. He is the author of the perennial best-selling book on prayer and contemplation, Fire Within. In this book, he responds to the call to priests by both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI to help believers and all those interested in spirituality to develop a deeper prayer life and union with God.
As in his other popular writings, Dubay’s style is profound and meditative yet clear and readable. He gives an overview of the spiritual life and journey for anyone seeking to grow in the love of God and neighbor. An expert on the teachings and writings of the two great mystical doctors of prayer and the spiritual life, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, Dubay gives solid practical advice for a deepening moral and spiritual conversion, and a radical growth in holiness.
Mother Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Schio (Vicenza) in 1947.
This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God’s grace, with the Daughters of Charity.
In Schio (Vicenza), where she spent many years of her life, everyone still calls her “our Black Mother”. The process for the cause of Canonization began 12 years after her death and on December 1st, 1978 the Church proclaimed the Decree of the heroic practice of all virtues.
Divine Providence which “cares for the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air”, guided the Sudanese slave through innumerable and unspeakable sufferings to human freedom and to the freedom of faith and finally to the consecration of her whole life to God for the coming of his Kingdom.
Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experiences she went through made her forget the name she was given by her parents. Bakhita, which means “fortunate”, was the name given to her by her kidnappers.
Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and of Khartoum, she experienced the humiliations and sufferings of slavery, both physical and moral.
In the Capital of Sudan, Bakhita was bought by an Italian Consul, Callisto Legnani . For the first time since the day she was kidnapped, she realized with pleasant surprise, that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated in a loving and cordial way. In the Consul’s residence, Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, even though veiled by nostalgia for her own family, whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.
Political situations forced the Consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and with a friend of his, a certain Mr. Augusto Michieli.
On arrival in Genoa, Mr. Legnani, pressured by the request of Mr. Michieli’s wife, consented to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new “family”, which settled in Zianigo (near Mirano Veneto). When their daughter Mimmina was born, Bakhita became her babysitter and friend.
The acquisition and management of a big hotel in Suakin, on the Red Sea, forced Mrs. Michieli to move to Suakin to help her husband. Meanwhile, on the advice of their administrator, Illuminato Checchini, Mimmina and Bakhita were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God whom “she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was” ever since she was a child. “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know Him and to pay Him homage…”
Daughter of God
After several months in the catechumenate, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian initiation and was given the new name, Josephine. It was January 9, 1890. She did not know how to express her joy that day. Her big and expressive eyes sparkled, revealing deep emotions. From then on, she was often seen kissing the baptismal font and saying: “Here, I became a daughter of God!”
With each new day, she became more aware of who this God was, whom she now knew and loved, who had led her to Him through mysterious ways, holding her by the hand.When Mrs. Michieli returned from Africa to take back her daughter and Bakhita, the latter, with unusual firmness and courage, expressed her desire to remain with the Canossian Sisters and to serve that God who had shown her so many proofs of His love.
The young African, who by then had come of age, enjoyed the freedom of choice which the Italian law ensured.
Daughter of St. Magdalene
Bakhita remained in the catechumenate where she experienced the call to be a religious, and to give herself to the Lord in the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa.
On December 8, 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God whom she called with the sweet expression “the Master!”
For another 50 years, this humble Daughter of Charity, a true witness of the love of God, lived in the community in Schio, engaged in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door.
When she was on duty at the door, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who daily attended the Canossian schools and caress them. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection and rhythm of the music of her country, was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering and encouraging for those who knocked at the door of the Institute.
Witness of love
Her humility, her simplicity and her constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her inalterable sweet nature, her exquisite goodness and her deep desire to make the Lord known.
“Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness.
Mother Bakhita continued to witness to faith, goodness and Christian hope. To those who visited her and asked how she was, she would respond with a smile: “As the Master desires.”
During her agony, she re-lived the terrible days of her slavery and more then once she begged the nurse who assisted her: “Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!”
It was Mary Most Holy who freed her from all pain. Her last words were: “Our Lady! Our Lady!”, and her final smile testified to her encounter with the Mother of the Lord.
Mother Bakhita breathed her last on February 8, 1947 at the Canossian Convent, Schio, surrounded by the Sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the Convent to have a last look at their «Mother Moretta» and to ask for her protection from heaven. The fame of her sanctity has spread to all the continents and many are those who receive graces through her intercession.
Every line of the Collect for Saint Bakhita merits attention; every phrase needs to be repeated in meditation.
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita
from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and the bride of Christ,
give us, we beseech you, by her example,
to follow after Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love
and, in charity, to persevere in a ready mercy.
A personal reflection reflection on St. Clare by Kris McGregor:
In 2007, I had a chance to visit Assisi…I just wanted to be near St. Clare. I didn’t plan it, but my hotel ended up being right across the street from St. Clare’s Basilica (it seems wrong to call it a street, it’s width is so small). Really early one morning, I just couldn’t sleep so I got up and began walking around outside of the Basilica. No one was out, all the shops closed, the sun was just coming up. On a whim I thought I would see if the doors of the church were open (thinking to myself of course they wouldn’t be), but to my surprise they opened. So I entered. No one was around. I saw steps leading down to a lower level. I stepped over the rope blocking the entrance (boorish American that I am) and walked down. The path led down to an area that had a display of relics, like clothing and other items (I assumed they were Clare’s) and then I turned around and saw something incredible…the crypt of St. Clare. It stopped me in my tracks, so much so that I had to remind myself to breath again. I quietly walked over to the enclosure grates that blocked off getting any closer. I knelt down, and I just started to weep…I just couldn’t help it. It was so quiet, it was such a gift. I began to pray. I brought to St. Clare all the petitions I held so deeply in my heart. And when that was done, silence filled the space. After about 10 minutes, out of nowhere, I could here the sound of the Poor Clare Sisters in the distance chanting their morning prayers. I knelt at that spot, for a good 30 minutes or so, all alone with St. Clare. I then got up, praised God for this special moment and left the basilica. She’s been with me, in a special way, ever since. St. Clare, pray for us.
Bruce and I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Fr. Thomas Acklin, a Benedictine priest, who is a professor of theology and psychology at St. Vincent College and Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He is the author of a tremendous work entitled “The Passion of the Lamb”. In this book, he challenges us to become lambs like Christ, the little children He calls us to be so that we may be able to follow him in Word and Deed. Fr. Acklin is a master spiritual director, who helps us to hear the voice of the Lord in our hearts and encourages us to respond, in trust, to the will of the Father. An important not to be missed gift.
Many today fear that we hover on the brink of global collapse. War, terrorism, and disease provoke a sense of despair. Yet in our midst stands Jesus Christ, undaunted by the brutal realities of a world that rejects him. And as he looks at each of us, he asks directly and personally, Will you have faith in me?
In this powerful book Fr. Acklin reveals the passionate love of God for every person, love that will not be denied or defeated. God is for us in spite of our indifference. God has not been eclipsed by the world s agenda. God willnever abandon us. God will always seek out the wounded and lost. We have his guarantee that this is so because the suffering and death the passion of Jesus clinched the deal confirming God s commitment to his creation.
The Passion of the Lamb helps us answer the only question that ultimately matters: Will we have faith in Jesus?
Join Bruce and I as we discuss with Dr. Philip Freeman, PhD, author of “St. Patrick of Ireland”, the life of this great saint.
A reading from the Confession of St Patrick (Conf 34,36,37,38,39)
“I give thanks to my God tirelessly who kept me faithful in the day of trial, so that today I offer sacrifice to him confidently, the living sacrifice of my life to Christ, my Lord, who preserved me in all my troubles. I can say therefore: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling that you should cooperate with me with such divine power? Today, among heathen peoples, I praise and proclaim your name in all places, not only when things go well but also in times of stress. Whether I receive good or ill, I return thanks equally to God, who taught me always to trust him unreservedly. His answer to my prayer inspired me in these latter days to undertake this holy and wonderful work in spite of my ignorance, and to imitate in some way those who, as the Lord foretold, would preach his Good News as a witness to all nations before the end of the world.
How did I come by this wisdom which was not my own, I who neither knew what was in store for me, nor what it was to relish God? What was the source of the gift I got later, the great and beneficial gift of knowing and loving God, even if it meant leaving my homeland and my relatives?
I came to the Irish heathens to preach the Good News and to put up with insults from unbelievers. I heard my mission abused, I endured many persecutions even to the extent of chains; I gave up my free-born status for the good of others. Should I be worthy I am ready to give even my life, promptly and gladly, for his name; and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord should graciously allow me.
I am very much in debt to God; who gave me so much grace that through me many people were born again in God and afterwards confirmed, and that clergy were ordained for them everywhere. All this was for a people newly come to belief whom the Lord took from the very ends of the earth as he promised long ago, through his prophets: ‘To you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and will say, “How false are the idols our fathers made for themselves, how useless they are.” ‘And again: ‘I have made you a light for the nations so that you may be a means of salvation to the ends of the earth.’
I wish to wait there for the promise of one who never breaks his word, as he promises in the gospel: ‘They will come from the east and the west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob,’ just as we believe the faithful will come from every part of the world.”
We give you thanks, almighty God, for sending Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. Grant that we who are proud to call ourselves Christians may never cease to proclaim to the world the good news of salvation.
(We make our prayer) through our Lord.
Through Christ our Lord .
We bring to you what might seem like a surprising conversation from 2007 with Robert Novak, who died of cancer in 2009. In his poignantly honest memoir, “Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington,” he deftly chronicles the political and cultural shifts of the last half of the 20th century. Our discussion, however, focuses on his conversion to the Roman Catholic faith and his devotion to his patron saint, St. Thomas More which he shares in the book. We discuss how his Catholic faith gave him the strength to follow his conscience and the teachings of the Catholic Church in the latter years of his life. The stances he took in regards to immigration and the war in Iraqi, to name a few, put him at surprising odds with many of his “conservative” colleagues; he was even painfully rejected by some he regarded as close friends. A gracious man, this interview is one of our all-time favorites. His witness is a profound and compelling conversion story. We hope you enjoy it. – KM
Bruce and I, thanks to Fr. Damien Cook, had the opportunity to speak to Fr. Titus Kieninger of Opus Sanctorum Angelorum about the role of Holy Angels.
Angel of God,
My Guardian Dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and to guard,
to rule and guide.
For they are ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14)
O holy Guardian Angel, my dear friend and solicitous guide on the dangerous way of life, to thee be heartfelt thanks for the numberless benefits which have been granted me through thy love and goodness and for the powerful help by which thou hast preserved me from so many dangers and temptations. I beg of thee, let me further experience thy love and thy care. Avert from me all danger, increase in me horror for sin and love for all that is good. Be a counselor and consoler to me in all the affairs of my life, and when my life draws to a close, conduct my soul through the valley of death into the kingdom of eternal peace, so that in eternity we may together praise God and rejoice in His glory. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
O Angel of God, make me worthy of thy tender love, thy celestial companionship and thy never-failing protection!
For He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Ps 91)
The Holy Angels, and in particular our Guardian Angels, are such a wonderful gift to us from the Father! Let us give thanks to Him for his generosity and to our Guardian Angel for their presence in our lives!
It’s really important to understand the difference in the angels beyond all the New Age silliness. There are the Holy Angels (we love them and they love us) and the fallen angels (bad, bad, bad)…it’s what discernment and spiritual warfare, on many levels, are all about.
Let us affectionately love His angels as counselors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide. ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux