St. Bernadette, A Holy Life- In Conversation with Patricia McEachern – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

St. Bernadette, A Holy Life- In Conversation with Patricia McEachern

Patricia McEachern, an associate professor of French at Drew University in Missouri, discusses her book “A Holy Life: The Writings of St. Bernadette of Lourdes” with Bruce and Kris McGregor. Patricia shares her fascination with St. Bernadette and her journey from being introduced to St. Bernadette through a movie to translating her letters and spiritual notebook. She shares personal experiences, including her visit to Lourdes, which ultimately led to her conversion to Catholicism.

“St. Bernadette, A Holy Life” shows readers St. Bernadette’s remarkable character beyond her portrayal in films, highlighting her humility, courage, and devotion to her vocation. Patricia also sheds light on Bernadette’s suffering, her family relationships, and her unwavering faith, revealing a deeper understanding of St. Bernadette’s life beyond the famous apparitions and her enduring impact as a role model for holiness.

You can find the book here.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Bernadette’s Humanity: How does Patricia McEachern’s discussion of St. Bernadette’s life reveal her humanity beyond her portrayal in films and popular culture?
  2. Bernadette’s Devotion: What aspects of St. Bernadette’s devotion to her vocation and faith stand out to you?
  3. Bernadette’s Suffering: In what ways did St. Bernadette endure suffering, both physically and emotionally, and how did she find meaning in it?
  4. Bernadette’s Spiritual Growth: How did St. Bernadette’s spiritual journey evolve throughout her life, especially beyond the famous apparitions at Lourdes?
  5. Bernadette’s Impact: Reflect on the impact of St. Bernadette’s life and writings as discussed by Patricia McEachern, particularly in terms of her role as a model for holiness.
  6. Personal Conversion: Patricia mentions her own conversion to Catholicism after visiting Lourdes. How do personal experiences, like hers, shape our understanding and connection to saints like St. Bernadette?
  7. Spiritual Lessons: Consider the spiritual lessons and insights gained from Bernadette’s writings, as highlighted by Patricia. How might these lessons apply to your own spiritual journey?

From the book’s description:

“While the story of the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1858 are well known, relatively few people are familiar with the saint’s own spiritual insights and profound holiness. For the first time in English, this book presents a wide selection of St. Bernadette’s thoughts, advice, sayings, and prayers through the touching words of her spiritual diary, notes, and letters to friends and family.
After receiving the visions of Our Lady at the grotto in Lourdes, Bernadette eventually became a religious sister as a member of the Sisters of Charity. She lived a life of simplicity, charity, suffering and deep holiness, dying at the age of 35. When she was canonized a saint, her body was found to be incorrupt.

In these beautiful writings of St. Bernadette, we learn the secrets of her holiness and happiness. Though she suffered greatly throughout her life, the heroic response of this humble, self-effacing nun transformed excruciating suffering into spiritual fruitfulness. Her letters and writings serve as a model for others passing through their own trials. Her writings reveal and intimate and profound love for God and neighbor. Anyone pursuing a deeper spiritual life will appreciate knowing Bernadette as she truly was, and the inspiring spiritual works of wisdom she offers to us all.”

St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland… In Conversation with Dr. Philip Freeman

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 .

In Conversation with Fr. Joseph Fessio – He Gave Us So Much by Robert Cardinal Sarah – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

In Conversation with Fr. Joseph Fessio – He Gave Us So Much: A Tribute to Benedict XVI by Robert Cardinal Sarah

Fr. Joseph Fessio

In this episode, Evan Collins interviews Fr. Joseph Fessio about a new book paying tribute to Pope Benedict XVI written by Cardinal Robert Sarah.  The book is celebrated for its deep spiritual insights and reflections on the lives of saints, particularly focusing on Pope Benedict XVI’s rich theological legacy and potential for canonization.

Fr. Fessio shares his personal connection to Pope Benedict XVI, describing him as a mentor and friend, and highlights Cardinal Sarah’s relationship with the late pope, drawing parallels between their spiritual and theological journeys. The book is described as a heartfelt tribute, offering a unique perspective on Pope Benedict XVI’s spiritual and theological contributions through Cardinal Sarah’s lens, including previously unpublished writings that showcase the depth of Benedict XVI’s thoughts on faith, spirituality, and the church.

The discussion also delves into the broader impact of Pope Benedict XVI’s work, emphasizing his humility, profound theological insight, and dedication to guiding the faithful toward a deeper understanding of their faith and the Church’s teachings. Fr. Fessio and Collins discuss the significance of the catechism, the importance of tradition, and the legacy of theological scholarship represented by figures like Ratzinger, de Lubac, and von Balthasar.

Throughout the conversation, both Collins and Fr. Fessio highlight the enduring relevance of Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings, his approach to theology as a means of encountering the divine, and the transformative power of his writings on individuals’ spiritual lives. The episode paints a picture of Pope Benedict XVI not just as a theologian but as a spiritual master whose life and work continue to inspire and guide the faithful toward a deeper relationship with God.

Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcast

  1. Spiritual Mentorship and Legacy: Reflect on the role of spiritual mentorship in your own faith journey. How has the guidance of spiritual leaders like Pope Benedict XVI or other mentors in your life influenced your understanding and practice of the Catholic faith?
  2. The Theology of Relation and Self-Giving: Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of going beyond oneself in self-giving and forming relationships to truly find oneself in the image of the Triune God. How can you apply this theology of relation and self-giving in your daily life to grow closer to God and to others?
  3. The Richness of Catholic Tradition: The conversation highlights the depth and breadth of Catholic tradition, including the works of theologians like Ratzinger, de Lubac, and von Balthasar. How does engaging with the Church’s intellectual and spiritual heritage enrich your personal faith and understanding of Catholicism?
  4. The Liturgy as the Center of Spiritual Life: Pope Benedict XVI is described as a “homo liturgicus,” with the liturgy at the center of his life. Reflect on your own experience of the liturgy. How does active participation in the liturgy enhance your spiritual life and relationship with the divine?
  5. Encountering Christ in the Marginalized: The episode recounts Pope Benedict XVI’s profound encounter with a disfigured child, where he saw and affirmed her beauty and dignity. How does this story inspire you to see and serve Christ in the marginalized and suffering in your own community?


In Conversation with Dr. Anthony Lilles – The Spiritual Impact of Pope Benedict XVI – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

In Conversation with Dr. Anthony Lilles – The Spiritual Impact of Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

In this special In Conversation podcast, Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss the life of Joseph Ratzinger and the impact he has had on the spiritual life and growth of the church, especially in some of its darkest moments. Anthony also shares a personal anecdote about a time he met then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Rome.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

Here a the books that were referenced in the conversation with Dr. Lilles:



In Conversation with Fr. Vincent Twomey – The Heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s Spiritual Legacy – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

In Conversation with Fr. Vincent Twomey – The Heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s Spiritual Legacy (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

In this special In Conversation podcast, Fr. Vincent Twomey and Kris McGregor discuss the life of Joseph Ratzinger as priest and professor before becoming a bishop, cardinal, and eventually Pope.   Fr. Twomey, a one-time student of Pope Benedict and life-long friend, reflects on his spirituality and contribution to theology.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

During the conversation, Fr. Twomey mentions several books that he feels are important for those seeking a greater experience of Pope Benedict’s writings.

Here a the books that were referenced in the conversation with Fr. Twomey:



In Conversation with Fr. Joseph Fessio – The Spiritual Legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

In Conversation with Fr. Joseph Fessio – The Spiritual Legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

Fr. Joseph Fessio

In this special In Conversation podcast, Fr. Joseph Fessio and Kris McGregor discuss the profound spiritual legacy of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) and the long-lasting impact he will have upon the Church and the world.  Fr. Fessio also shares several stories from their time together over the years.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

During the conversation, Fr. Fessio mentions several books that he feels are important for those seeking a greater experience of Pope Benedict’s writings.

Here a the books that were referenced in the conversation with Fr. Fessio:



In Conversation with Dr. Larry Chapp – The Life and Legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

In Conversation with Dr. Larry Chapp – The Life and Legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

Dr. Larry Chapp

In this special In Conversation podcast, Dr. Larry Chapp and Kris McGregor have an in-depth conversation about the life and legacy of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) and the long-lasting spiritual impact he will have upon the world.

Remember the encouragement of Pope Benedict when he said, “Do not be afraid to cast out into the digital sea” Kris and Dr. Chapp reflect on how Benedict’s words have inspired and influenced their respective ministries within the digital landscape and the challenges now faced by Christians within it.

Click here for Dr. Chapp’s blog site: Gaudium et Spes 22

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

St. Clare, pray for us – a model for the discerning heart…In Conversation with Sr. Joan Mueller

Enter into the life story of St. Clare’s life by listening to one of the best storytellers we know…Sr. Joan Mueller.  Both women are enthralling!!!Sr.-Joan-Mueller

St. Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the Order of Poor Ladies, or Clares, was the first Abbess of San Damiano; born at Assisi, on 16 July 1194; died there on 11 August 1253.


One of the best DVDs we have seen on the life of Clare and Francis is distributed by Ignatius Press. 

If you’d like to see her life summed up in a quick read, try here.

A personal 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, its width is so small).  Early one morning, I got up and began walking outside of the Basilica.  No one else was out; all the shops closed, and the sun was just coming up.  On a whim, I thought I would see if the church’s doors were open (thinking to myself, of course, they wouldn’t be), but to my surprise, they were, 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 with a display of relics, clothing, and other items (I assumed they were Clare’s), and then I turned and saw something incredible…the crypt of St. Clare.  I quietly walked over to the enclosure grates.  I knelt and unexpectedly started to weep…I just couldn’t help it.  It was so quiet and peaceful; it was such a gift.  I brought to St. Clare all the petitions I held deeply in my heart.  And when that was done, silence once more filled the space. After about 10 minutes, I could hear the sound of the Poor Clare Sisters in the distance chanting their morning office.  I knelt at that spot and listened with St. Clare. After about 30 minutes, I praised God for this special moment and left the basilica.  St. Clare has been with me in a special way ever since a friendship I continue to cherish.  Dear St. Clare, pray for us.


Dr. Larry Chapp – Gaudium et Spes – Part 1 – In Conversation w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Dr. Larry Chapp

With Dr. Larry Chapp, we take a closer look at the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, more commonly known as Gaudium et Spes (“Joy and Hope”) one of the four constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council in 1964.

An excerpt from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World – specifically Gaudium et Spes #22:

22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

He Who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice(23) and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.(24)

As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us(25) to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God “loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation,(26) He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.

The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers,(27) received “the first-fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love.(28) Through this Spirit, who is “the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of “the redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23): “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the death dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11).(29) Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope.(30)

All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.(31) For, since Christ died for all men,(32) and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.

Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us(33) so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father(34)

Click here for Dr. Chapp’s blog site: Gaudium et Spes 22

The Good Shepherd & The New Evangelization….In Conversation w/ Fr. Nicholas Cachia – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Fr. Nicholas Cachia is a truly insightful and gifted spiritual director and theologian.  From the beautiful island of Malta, Fr. Cachia spends a portion of his summer as a faculty member with the Institute for Priestly Formation located at Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska.  This discussion occurred in the summer of 2015.

In this particular conversation we discuss various topics:

    • God’s infinite and unique love for each of us
    • The need for authentic discernment in our daily life
    • One of the  biggest blocks to God’s great love for us…the fear of losing control and surrendering
    • Why the prayer at the end of the day is so important.
    • The risk of loving God and others
    • The need for being open to the Word of God receiving the Word
    • What is  “Lectio Continua”

Then he leads us in a meditation on

The Good Shepherd  –  The great image of Compassion.


This statue of “The Good Shepherd” was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2012 to represent the image for the New Evangelization

Rev. Dr Nicholas Cachia is Lecturer in Spiritual Theology at the Faculty of Theology since 1996. His areas of interest include the spirituality of the various stages of life as well as the spirituality of the different states in life, particularly that of the diocesan priesthood. After receiving his undergraduate degree (S.Th.B.) and a Licentiate in Pastoral Theology from the Faculty of Theology at Tal-Virtù (1980-1988), he continued his tertiary studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. There he read a Licentiate in Biblical Theology and a Doctorate in Spiritual Theology (1988-1995). His doctoral thesis was published in 1997 in the series Tesi Gregoriana with the title: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10, 11). The Image of the Good Shepherd as a source for the Spirituality of the Ministerial Priesthood.

He is also Spiritual Director at the Major Seminary in Malta (1994-2000; 2003-present). Since 2003, he is president of the Spiritual Formation Commission within the Secretariat for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Malta.

Previously he presided over the Commission for the Permanent Formation of the Clergy within the same Secretariat (1994-2000). He was also Deputy Chairman (2000-2001) and then Executive Chairman (2001-2003) of the Media Centre and of RTK Radio. During this time he was also member of the Executive Board of the European Catholic Radio Conference (CERC).

Fr Cachia is a member of the Centro di Studi di Mistica Cristiana, Italy and of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (USA). Since 2004 he teaches at the Summer Session of the Seminarians’ programme of the Institute for Priestly Formation, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska USA.