The Good Shepherd & The New Evangelization….In Conversation w/ Fr. Nicholas Cachia


Fr. Nicholas Cachia is a truly insighful 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. 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 the 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.


Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady … In Conversation with the late Fr. Joseph Langford


There are endless collections of reflections on the life, teachings, and works of  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta…all wonderful and worth exploration.  One however stands out for me, and that is the writings of the late Fr. Joseph Langford, co-founder with Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.  In particular, “Mother Teresa:  In the Shadow of Our Lady”

Join Bruce and I as we talk with Fr. Langford about Mother Teresa and Our Lady

“Stay very close to Our Lady. If you do this, you can do great things for God and the good of people.” –Mother Teresa of Calcutta

As it was for Mother Teresa, so it can be for the rest of us. By standing close to Our Lady we can find the grace and courage to overcome our own personal trials and crosses. Summon the same powerful presence and aid of Our Lady by following the example of Mother Teresa. From dawn to dusk, decade to decade, Mother Teresa’s life had been spent, in every sense of the word, in the shadow of Our Lady. Our Lady helps us, as Mother Teresa found in her vision, to become contemplatives at the foot of the cross–to discover God’s presence and love, even in the midst of our trials and dark nights. Nothing was impossible for Mother Teresa while she clung to Our Lady, and as Mother Teresa tells us, “nothing is impossible for all who call Mary mother.”

imagesCA75WI0K“Sitting with Mother Teresa, watching her tend to the sick and the dying, feeling the aura of holiness around her person, seeing her bent in prayer, lost in God–how often I asked myself if I was not seeing something of Our Lady, experiencing a glimpse of the Virgin of Nazareth” –-Author and co-founder of Mother Teresa’s priests’ community, Joseph Langford, MCIn-The-Shado-Of-Our-Lady


This is a very special book, check it out!

St. Mary Magdalene – the Apostle to the Apostles..In Conversation with Amy Welborn


Who is she? Men and women throughout the centuries have tried to define her…all we know for sure is that she was freed and healed from 7 demons, stayed with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, and was chosen by Christ to be the first witness to the Resurrection…she would become the Apostle to the Apostles.


One of the best conversations we’ve had about St. Mary Magdalene was with the wonderful Amy Welborn, author of “Decoding Mary Magdalene”

Artists and musicians have tried to capture Mary Magdalene; here’s a beautiful tribute to their efforts:

A Travel Guide to Heaven – In conversation with Anthony DeStefano


One of our all-time favorite conversations, one of our all-time favorite books…Anthony DeStefano’s “A Travel Guide to Heaven”! (Has it really been 10 years since this was published?) Filled with “Of course, that makes sense…” moments, this is a gem for the ages.  A timeless read that I revisited recently that brought such encouragement and joy to my heart, that I wanted to share it, along with this classic discussion with Anthony, with all those who come to Discerning Hearts.   Anthony  is as much fun to talk to as he is to read!  Enjoy!

Travel-Guide-to-HeavenYou can find it here

From the description of the book:

Using the Bible as his guide, the author notes that heaven is not only a spiritual place, but also a physical place, a fabulous “luxury resort” more sumptuous than any on Earth. The residents are real, their bodies transformed into their most perfect selves—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By making a spiritual subject immensely physical, the book provides a picture of amazing places to visit, things to do, luxuries for pampering—not to mention deep, abiding joy.

Combining the clarity and logic of C. S. Lewis with a terrific sense of fun and adventure, DeStefano creates a brilliant, reassuring portrait of heaven, a place that has intrigued and puzzled humankind throughout history.

St. Agnes of Bohemia, the princess saint…In Conversation with Sr. Joan Mueller

St. Agnes of Bohemia is one of my favorite saints and it has a lot to do with Sr. Joan Mueller, the master storyteller. St. Agnes was the great admirer and then great friend of St. Clare.  Her tale is as dramatic and compelling as any novel written.   The text below is a brief overview of her life, but do yourself a favor and listen to the great tale as told by Sr. Joan.

Agnes of Bohemia (1211-1282)
nun of the Order of St. Clare

from Wikipedia

Agnes, daughter of Premysl Otakar I, king of Bohemia and Queen Constance, the sister of King Andrew II of Hungary, was born in Prague in 1211. Since childhood she was involved in projects of engagement treated independently of his will, for convenience dynastic and political speculations.

Agnes was the youngest daughter of Bohemian king Premysl Otakar I, making her a descendant of Saint Ludmila, another Bohemian patron saint. Agnes’s mother was Constance of Hungary, who was the sister of King Andrew II of Hungary, so Agnes was an elder cousin of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

When she was three years old, Agnes was entrusted to the Cistercian order at Trzebnica to be educated. The monastery had been founded by Hedwig, the wife of Duke Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. Agnes was engaged to Hedwig and Henry’s son Boleslav. After Boleslav died, Agnes returned to Prague at the age of six.

Arranged marriages

At the age of eight, she was engaged to Henry, son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry was ten years old and had just been crowned Henry VII of Germany, King of the Romans. According to custom, Agnes should have spent her childhood at her future husband’s court, so they could develop a friendship, as well as learn the language and culture of her new country. Emperor Frederick II, King of Sicily, had his court in Palermo, while his son Henry, now the German king, was being brought up in Germany at the archbishop Engelbert’s residence in Cologne.

It was decided to send Agnes to the court of Leopold VI of Babenberg. But Leopold wanted Henry to marry his own daughter Margaret. The wedding of Agnes and Henry was cancelled after six years of engagement. Like other noble women of her time, Agnes was a valuable pawn in the marriage game. In 1226 her father Otakar went to war against the Babenbergs as a result of the broken engagement. Otakar then planned for her to marry Henry III of England, but this was vetoed by the Emperor, who himself was interested in marrying Agnes.

Religious works

Agnes refused to play any more part in a politically arranged marriage. She decided to devote her life to religious works, with the help of Pope Gregory IX. She became a member of the Franciscan Poor Clares, a religious order founded by Saint Clare of Assisi (with whom she corresponded for over two decades but never met in person). On land donated by her brother, Wenceslaus I, she founded the Hospital of St. Francis (ca. 1232-33) and two convents where the Franciscan friars and Clare nuns who worked at the hospital resided. This religious complex was one of the first Gothic buildings in Prague. Taking the vow of poverty, she cooked for and took care of the lepers and paupers personally, even after becoming the Mother Superior of the Prague Clares in 1234.

The Franciscan brotherhood working at the hospital was promoted as an individual order, the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star by Pope Gregory IX in 1252. The Convent of St. Agnes (Klášter sv. Anežky) fell into decline after the Hussite Wars and was abolished in 1782. Restored in the 1960s, the convent is now a branch of the National Gallery in Prague, featuring 19th-century Czech paintings.

Pope John Paul II formally canonized Blessed Agnes few days before the Velvet Revolution, a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the authoritarian government. . – wikipedia

Here is Sr. Joan Mueller, with her wonderful way, of offering us more on the life of St. Agnes of Bohemia



St. Nicholas, who are you? The Saint and the origin of Santa Claus…In Conversation with Thomas Craughwell

Who is St. Nicholas…it’s a beautiful story of a life that transcends time, becoming a full blown witness to total giving in Charity. St. Nicholas, pray for us who desire and need the authentic understanding and practice of self-giving love.

Here’s the wonderful Thomas Craughwell talking about St. Nicholas and other Saints who are great witnesses to the child in each of us.

Here is a fantastic site as well on St. Nicholas 


Mary of Nazareth – “The Visitation” – Special

MON_DVDDiscerning Hearts is a part of the  MARY of NAZARETH Blog Tour/Rosary Crawl, of which we are delighted to be a part of, along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

Here is a clip from the movie which features the “mystery” surrounding the events of the “VISITATION” –

How extraordinary this moment is, especially as seen in this film!  So often in movie depictions of the “Visitation”, we see only the two women coming together in a private encounter.  But in “Mary of Nazareth”, not only does Mary and Elizabeth share a heavenly revelation with each other, but they joyfully share this “good news” with everyone around them.    Elizabeth freely “expresses” what the Holy Spirit has revealed, Mary joyfully “proclaims” the glory of the Lord to the seeking hearts caught witnessing the moment!  This is “Evangelization” at its finest!  This “communication” really becomes a time of “communion” for those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see.   Hope, Faith, and Love, all are captured so beautifully in this scene.   Mary’s “Magnificat” becomes a glorious expression of faith which touches the hearts that surround her.  Oh, and that lovely touch  which gives us Elizabeth and her unborn child as the first in that “communion” line to embrace Christ in the womb of the Mother is truly priceless.

Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”‘ (Lk 1:39-42).

“Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people” (CCC, 717).

Our Father, 10 Hail Marys (contemplating the mystery), Glory be to the Father.


  Alissa Jung shared with us her experience of portraying the Blessed Virgin Mary in this film:

Download (right click & choose “Save Link As”)





Andreas Pietschmann, who portrays Jesus in the film, took time to share with us he experience filming “Mary of Nazareth”:



  MON_DVDStunning in it’s beauty, breathtaking in it’s scope!  “Mary of Nazareth” is simply a joy for the heart. This is the film Catholics in particular have been waiting for.  This is the Blessed Mother we have come to know in our hearts and the depiction that we want not only our families and friends to see, but all the whole world as well.  A joy-filled expression of faith, hope and love.  The Mary of this film is no “pouty teenager” or “hapless victim of circumstance” as she is too often portrayed in film and television today. No, this is our Mary, who says with trust a glorious  “Fiat” to the will of the Father.  This work, with it’s gorgeous cinematic qualities and touching performances, is worthy to honor the one who would say “I am the Handmaid of the Lord”.

Kris McGregor, of Discerning Hearts

We at Discerning Hearts encourage you to check out tomorrow’s clip at “Stuart’s Study”   Stuart Dunn will bring us the “Presentation”.


St. Dominic – still setting “the earth on fire” 800 years later…In conversation with Bert Ghezzi

Our conversation about St. Dominic with Bert Ghezzi.

Spain gives us yet another incredible saint…St. Dominic.  He is the founder of the Order of Preachers (so when you see an  “O.P.” behind the name, that’s what’s going on).  Most of us call them the Dominicans.   Born in 1170, he died on this date in 1221.  A lot of traveling took place between those years.  There is an interesting story that is told that before his birth his mother dreamed that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth, and “seemed to set the earth on fire.”  His name in latin is Dominicanus, which is essentially the “Lord’s Hound”….fascinating.  (Parents out there, take note:  names matter.)  St. Dominic and his order have been responsible for setting the earth ablaze with the Gospel for over 800 years.

Also, St. Dominic and the Order have contributed considerably to the spread of the devotion to Our Lady, and inparticular, to the Holy Rosary.  Another good reason to celebrate his life and legacy today!

Also check out the
Discerning Hearts St. Dominic Page


“Bernadette” and “The Passion of Bernadette”…In Conversation with Sydney Penny

Bernadette Sydney PennyBernadette Sydney PennyThe best movie on the life of St. Bernadette is actually a pair of films starring Sydney Penny and distributed by Ignatius Press: “Bernadette” and “The Passion of Bernadette”. Sydney does an extraordinary job capturing the feverent love, joy and enthusiasm that encapsulates the heart of St. Bernadette. They are a joy to watch…our little saint is no sad victim, but instead a tremendous witness to the virtuous life and the grace of God.

St. Bernadette, “A Holy Life”…In Conversation with Patricia McEachern

Patricia-McEachernOne of the finest translations of St. Bernadette’s writings (her diary, etc) has been done by Patricia McEachern. The book is  called “A Holy Life:  The Writings of St. Bernadette of Lourdes”.  It’s just beautiful.  It reveals so much about this holy soul, St. Bernadette!  Her “little way” was much like another holy soul, St. Therese…who knew these daughters of France would have so much in common.  But then again, should we really be surprised?

You can find the book here