IP#501 Adam Blai – The History of Exorcism, Part 1 on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Adam Blai on “The History of Exorcism,” Part One – Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

In Part 1 of this conversation, Adam Blai discusses with Kris McGregor the history and practice of exorcism. Adam Blai emphasizes the importance of understanding the context and history of exorcism to demystify misconceptions often perpetuated by media. He explains that exorcism has been a part of human history since ancient times and that it involves a range of prayers, with solemn exorcism being qualitatively different from deliverance prayers.

He shares his journey into this ministry, highlighting his background in psychology and how his curiosity about spiritual phenomena led him to work with exorcists. He clarifies that as a layperson, his role is to train and coach priests, not to perform exorcisms himself. The conversation covers the development of institutes like the Pope Leo XIII Institute, which train exorcists and their teams, emphasizing the need for proper order and protection in this ministry.

He touches on the use of Psalms in exorcism rituals, the distinction between possession and other forms of spiritual oppression, and the rigorous process required to determine if a solemn exorcism is necessary and of relying on documented signs of possession rather than subjective discernment to ensure the appropriate response and the crucial role of the bishop in granting permission for solemn exorcisms.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding the Historical Context of Exorcism How does knowing the history and context of exorcism help demystify common misconceptions about the practice?
  2. The Role of Exorcism in the Church In what ways does exorcism contribute to the spiritual life and mission of the Church, both historically and in contemporary practice?
  3. The Importance of Proper Training and Authority Why is it essential for exorcists to be properly trained and authorized by the Church? How does this safeguard the integrity of the ministry?
  4. The Distinction Between Solemn Exorcism and Deliverance Prayers What are the key differences between solemn exorcism and deliverance prayers, and why is it important to understand these distinctions?
  5. The Role of Scripture in Spiritual Warfare How does the use of Psalms and other Scripture passages in exorcism highlight the power of God’s word in combating evil?
  6. Personal and Community Protection in Spiritual Ministry What steps can laypeople and clergy take to ensure they are protected when involved in spiritual ministry, especially in deliverance and exorcism work?
  7. The Discernment Process in Identifying Possession How does the objective process of documenting signs of possession before requesting a solemn exorcism from the bishop reflect the Church’s careful approach to spiritual matters?
  8. The Balance Between Charismatic and Institutional Responses How can the Church maintain a balance between the charismatic expressions of faith and the structured, institutional responses to spiritual phenomena?
  9. Trusting in God’s Sovereignty Over Evil In what ways does recognizing Jesus’ ultimate authority over evil influence the approach to exorcism and deliverance ministry?
  10. Personal Reflection on Spiritual Readiness Reflect on your own spiritual practices and readiness. How can you ensure you are spiritually prepared to face challenges and assist others in spiritual battles?

From the book description:

“Due to the advancement of observable evil in our society, the topic of exorcism has increasingly come to the forefront in the West in this century. In Hollywood movies, exorcism has often been sensationalized and misconstrued. Although volumes have been written about demons and exorcism, little has been explained about what solemn exorcism really is within the larger context of deliverance ministry. But now, Church-decreed expert on demonology and exorcism Adam Blai thoroughly explores the roots of exorcism and breaks open its significance for you.

You will find answers to wide-ranging questions such as: Is possession an exclusively Christian phenomenon, or is it a universal problem? Did exorcism exist before Jesus, or did He introduce it? If it predated Christianity, how did other cultures see it and deal with it? How do other world religions view the phenomenon of possession and exorcism? Are there other methods of confronting it besides the Catholic rite?

Blai lays out how exorcisms were performed in the earliest days of the Church. Over time, a liturgical rite was developed and teachings were provided to safeguard the faithful in the practice of exorcisms.
In these pages, Blai reveals:

    • Twenty-one guidelines for exorcists, produced under St. Charles Borromeo
    • Fascinating examples of actual exorcisms (some made famous in movies!)
    • Astounding examples of how saints helped drive out demons (even from the great beyond!)
    • Which psalm is known for offering protection and deliverance from evil spirits (Can you guess?)
    • The revolutionary way in which Jesus performed exorcisms

You will learn about how a harpist helped deliver King Saul of an evil spirit and how the spirits of giants tormented people. As you read about the evolution of exorcism, you will observe how strange practices sometimes occurred through the use of magic and superstition. You will also find five exorcism guidelines from the Middle Ages and four signs of genuine possession today.

Additionally, you will see how the 1614 rite of exorcism differs from the 1998 rite. You will also find a helpful appendix about how to determine whether a disturbance is spiritual, mental, or medical. Extensive references are included throughout the book.”

For Part 2 of this conversation visit: IP#502 Adam Blai – The History of Exorcism, Part 2 on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts podcasts


About the Author: Adam Blai (pronounced “Bly”) is a Church-decreed expert on religious demonology and exorcism in the Pittsburgh diocese. He is an auxiliary member of the International Association of Exorcists based in Rome. Over the past decade, he has helped educate priests regarding exorcism at national conferences, seminars, and through consultation on many cases in several dioceses.

IP#488 Joseph Pearce – Faith of Our Fathers on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Joseph Pearce – Faith of Our Fathers on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Joseph Pearce discusses his book “Faith of Our Fathers,” exploring the history of Catholic England. Viewing history through God’s omnipresence, he makes historical figures like Alfred the Great feel present. Detailing the early Christian influence in England, with figures like St. Joseph of Arimathea and sites like Glastonbury, Pearce praises the poetic heritage of England, highlighting writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare, and the deep Catholic roots reflected in their works.

He touches on the resilience of English Catholics through centuries of persecution, viewing it as a period of glory despite its brutality. Pearce also notes the blend of languages and cultures in English history, influencing modern English and the enduring spiritual and cultural legacy of Catholic England.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. God’s Omnipresence in History How does viewing history through God’s omnipresence change our perception of historical events and figures?
  2. Early Christian Influences In what ways can we see early Christian influences in England’s history and culture?
  3. Catholic Roots in Literature How do the works of poets like Chaucer and Shakespeare reflect the Catholic roots of England?
  4. Resilience of English Catholics What lessons can we learn from the resilience of English Catholics during periods of persecution?
  5. Language and Culture Blend How has the blend of languages and cultures in English history shaped modern English?
  6. Spiritual Heritage Sites What is the significance of sites like Glastonbury in understanding the spiritual heritage of England?
  7. Inspiration from Historical Faith How can the historical examples of faith and perseverance inspire our own spiritual journey?
  8. Legacy of Catholic England In what ways does the cultural legacy of Catholic England continue to impact the world today?

From the book description:

“The Catholic Church has been a part of English history since the arrival of Christian missionaries to Roman Britain in the first century after Christ. England was evangelized in these early centuries to such an extent that, by the time the Romans withdrew in the fifth century, the Celtic population was largely Catholic.

Anglo-Saxon England, prior to the Norman Conquest, was a land of saints. From St. Bede, with his history of the early Church, to the holy king St. Edward the Confessor, Saxon England was ablaze with the light of Christ. During the reign of St. Edward, a vision of the Virgin at Walsingham placed the Mother of God on the throne as England’s queen, the land being considered her dowry. Even following the Norman Conquest, the Faith continued to flourish and prosper, making its joyful presence felt in what would become known as Merrie England.

Then in the sixteenth century, this Catholic heart was ripped from the people of England, against their will and in spite of their spirited and heroic resistance, by the reign of the Tudors. This made England once again a land of saints—that is, of martyrs, with Catholic priests and laity being put to death for practicing the Faith. The martyrdoms would continue for 150 years, followed by a further 150 years of legal and political persecution.

In the nineteenth century, against all the odds, there was a great Catholic revival, heralded by the conversion of St. John Henry Newman, which would continue into the twentieth century. Much of the greatest literature of the past century has been written by literary converts to the Church, such as G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and J. R. R. Tolkien.

This whole exciting, faith-filled story is told by Joseph Pearce within a single-volume history of “true England”, the England that remained true to the faith through thick and thin, in times both “merrie” and perilous. It is a story not only worth telling but worth celebrating.”

 

IP#478 Sr. Mary Ann Fatula, O.P. – Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Sr. Mary Ann Fatula, O.P. – Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Sr. Mary Ann Fatula discusses her book Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit: Keys to a Transformed Life and a Joyful Heart with host Kris McGregor. They explore the central theme of the book: the profound impact of developing a close relationship with the Holy Spirit on leading a joyful and transformed life. Sr. Mary Ann emphasizes that true joy and the foretaste of heaven on earth are impossible without the Holy Spirit, who is the giver of joy and love.

They discuss how various saints, including St. John Henry Newman and St. Angela of Foligno, have spoken about their experiences with the Holy Spirit. Sr. Mary Ann shares insights from her book about how the Holy Spirit acts in our lives, citing examples from the saints and church teachings to illustrate the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Sr. Mary Ann highlights the importance of understanding the Holy Spirit as a person and using personal and intimate language in prayer to foster this relationship. The role of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, explains how these sacraments deeply connect us with the Holy Spirit and the entire Holy Trinity.

Sr. Mary Ann encourages listeners to invite the Holy Spirit into their lives, asking for His joy, peace, and love, and trusting in His guidance and strength.

You can find this book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Personal Relationship with the Holy Spirit: How can you deepen your personal relationship with the Holy Spirit in your daily life?
  2. Joy and Transformation: In what ways has your relationship with the Holy Spirit brought joy and transformation to your life?
  3. Influence of the Saints: Which saints’ experiences with the Holy Spirit resonate most with you and why?
  4. Prayer and Intimacy: What intimate and personal language can you use in your prayers to the Holy Spirit?
  5. Sacramental Understanding: How does understanding your baptism and confirmation deepen your connection with the Holy Spirit?
  6. Love as the Foundation: How can you prioritize asking for the gift of love from the Holy Spirit before seeking other gifts?
  7. Daily Surrender: How can you incorporate a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit in your routine?
  8. Overcoming Anxiety: How can a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit help you manage anxiety and troubles?
  9. Inspiration from Our Lady: How does the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary inspire your relationship with the Holy Spirit?
  10. Sharing the Holy Spirit’s Love: How can you spread the kindness and love of the Holy Spirit to others in your life?

From the book description

“Regardless of our past, or the trials afflicting us now or those we may face in the future, when we draw near to the Holy Spirit, our lives change for the better. Closeness with the Holy Spirit is the “secret” of holiness and happiness.

In this short yet penetrating work, Sr. Mary Ann Fatula reflects on how tenderly and powerfully the Holy Spirit offers us the precious gift of intimacy with Himself. Through the graces of our Baptism and Confirmation, the Holy Spirit― the Third Divine Person who is the Father’s and Son’s sublime Love for Each other ― gives Himself to us to be our “Beloved,” our mighty Healer, our intimate Friend and Consoler, our constant Companion and Strength, our gentle Teacher and Guide.

Every page of this exquisite book will speak to your heart. Using the Church’s hymns and prayers, you will learn to pray to the Holy Spirit with love and tenderness, entrusting Him with your every concern, and inviting Him to possess you and anoint your every breath and moment of your life.

The saints show us how the Holy Spirit truly is our fierce “Protector” who loves us and “fights” powerfully for us. When we are weighed down with problems and worries, when we long for more joy and serenity, the Holy Spirit invites us to draw close to Him and let Him do for us what we cannot do ourselves.

It is the Holy Spirit who lifts us up when we are discouraged and fills us with His comfort and peace when we are sad and lonely. The Holy Spirit is the One who deepens our intimacy with the Father and the Son, and who gives us a heart full of empathy for others.

Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit invites you to taste the sweetness of the Holy Spirit and savor in your own life the wonders He accomplishes in those who draw close to Him.”


Also listen to Sr. Mary Ann Fatula discuss Heaven Splendor on this Inside the Pages Podcast with Kris McGregor

IP#504 Dan LeRoy – Why We Think What We Think on Inside the Pages w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Why We Think What We Think by Dan LeRoy on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

In this episode of Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor, guest Dan LeRoy discusses his book, which explores the decline of philosophical thinking in the Western world. They discuss the importance of philosophy for fostering critical thinking and understanding cultural shifts. LeRoy critiques modern philosophy for becoming disconnected from practical realities, arguing that it has contributed to societal confusion and dissatisfaction.

They explore historical and philosophical influences, highlighting how figures like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and later, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, have shaped Western thought. The discussion emphasizes the enduring relevance of classical philosophers and the consequences of abandoning their teachings in modern times. LeRoy argues that reconnecting with these foundational ideas is essential for addressing contemporary issues and achieving true happiness, which aligns with the pursuit of virtue and truth.

LeRoy also critiques modern philosophical trends that prioritize individual happiness over communal responsibility, linking these trends to broader societal unhappiness. The conversation underscores the need for a philosophical renaissance that embraces ancient and medieval thinkers’ rigorous, virtue-oriented approach to remedying modern existential and ethical dilemmas.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Personal Reflection on Philosophy: How does your understanding of philosophy align with the perspectives shared by Dan Leroy? In what ways can you incorporate philosophical thinking into your daily life to make more informed, virtuous decisions?
  2. Role of Virtue: How do you define virtue in your own life? Reflect on how the pursuit of virtue can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment, as discussed by LeRoy. Are there areas in your life where you could strive more actively for virtue?
  3. Influence of Historical Philosophers: Consider the impact of philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas on your own understanding of the world. How do their teachings on truth and virtue resonate with your personal beliefs and practices?
  4. Modern Philosophy’s Disconnect: LeRoy discusses the disconnect of modern philosophy from practical and ethical concerns. Reflect on any modern philosophical ideas or movements you are aware of. Do you agree that they are disconnected from “real-world” applications? Why or why not?
  5. Critical Thinking in Culture: In what ways do you think critical thinking is lacking in today’s culture? How can the revival of classical philosophical principles contribute to solving contemporary problems?
  6. Philosophy and the Catholic Faith: Reflect on how philosophy can complement your Catholic faith. How can embracing philosophical inquiry enhance your spiritual life and your understanding of Catholic teachings?
  7. Community and Individualism: Reflect on the tension between individualism and community responsibilities as discussed in the episode. How do you balance personal freedom with communal obligations in your own life?
  8. Pursuit of Truth and Happiness: How does your pursuit of truth impact your happiness? Do you agree with the assertion that true happiness comes from fulfilling our purpose and seeking virtue? Why or why not?
  9. Engagement with Philosophical Texts: Are there philosophical texts or thinkers you have been meaning to explore? What might be holding you back, and how could engaging with these materials enrich your intellectual and spiritual life?
  10. Action Steps: Based on the discussion in the podcast, what are some practical steps you can take to deepen your philosophical understanding and apply it to your life challenges?

From the book’s description:

We’re all starting to hear people ask how the world has gotten to be the way it is. Grafted onto the usual complaints about why people are so greedy, self-absorbed, and callous toward one another are new expressions of frustration about even more fundamental concerns. Why can’t we agree on concepts that used to be basic common sense? Why does our very language now seem to be a minefield that only the most wily and tactical (or cynical) among us can navigate?

The only way to understand fully how we have arrived at this state — and what, if anything, we might be able to do about it — is to embark on a journey back in time to see where we went off the rails. With candor and occasional humor, Dan LeRoy tells the sweeping story of Western thought from its beginnings to the present, revealing the souls and idiosyncrasies of its greatest thinkers. Through stirring vignettes, he tells the real story of how our customs and thought patterns developed and then relates it to our current moment of rupture.

In pages that sometimes read like an Indiana Jones adventure, LeRoy explains the detour that philosophy took nearly a thousand years ago that has led Western society to its current, dire situation. With sharp pen and clear eye, he reveals:

  • The roots of classical philosophy, including empiricism (Ready to wade into the water?)
  • How views on ethics and morality began to take shape even before Christ
  • The three ways to attain happiness, according to the Big Three philosophers
  • Four splinter groups and how their philosophies impact us today
  • The enduring teachings of Sts. Augustine and Aquinas, among many others

About the Author

Dan LeRoy is an author, journalist and teacher who has been the director of the Writing and Publishing Department at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Pennsylvania, since 2006. His writing about music and politics has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, the Village Voice, Alternative Press, Esquire, and National Review Online.

IP#503 Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes – Spiritual Masters on Inside the Pages w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Spiritual Masters: Living and Praying in the Catholic Tradition by Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Kris McGregor discusses with Archbishop Hughes his recently published book, “Spiritual Masters: Living and Praying in the Catholic Tradition.” Archbishop Hughes explains that the book was inspired by a widespread desire for deeper spiritual engagement and a lack of knowledge on how to pursue it more meaningfully, in addition to the importance of moving beyond mere factual knowledge to gaining wisdom through reflection and divine guidance, advocating for an intellectual and spiritual conversion to deepen one’s faith and understanding.

They touch on the challenges posed by the digital age, which tends to keep people engaged only on a superficial level, and the necessity of creating reflective spaces to cultivate a deeper spiritual life. They also go into the significance of entering into solitude, as exemplified by St. Anthony of the Desert, and the role of spiritual direction in Christian life, a practice notably advanced by St. Anthony’s life and work.

Reflecting on the importance of not skipping the introductory sections of spiritual texts, as these often contain essential wisdom and guidance for reading the rest of the work; shifting from a student’s mindset to that of a disciple, seeking to learn and live out the teachings and wisdom found in spiritual writings.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Spiritual Exercises vs. Spiritual Understanding: Discuss how Archbishop Hughes’ book shifts from a typical biographical approach to a format that engages the reader in spiritual exercises. How does this approach challenge your understanding of spiritual reading?
  2. Consequences of the Digital Age: Reflect on the Archbishop’s view that the digital age keeps us at the surface of life. How has technology affected your personal prayer life or your ability to engage deeply with your faith?
  3. Knowledge versus Wisdom: The Archbishop differentiates between gathering knowledge and cultivating wisdom. Can you share an instance where you felt your spiritual knowledge transitioned into deeper wisdom? How did this impact your faith practices?
  4. The Importance of Solitude: Why do you think solitude is emphasized as the starting point for spiritual growth in the podcast? Share your thoughts on how solitude can lead to a deeper spiritual life.
  5. Spiritual Direction and Guidance: How important is spiritual direction in your life? Discuss the benefits and challenges of seeking and maintaining a relationship with a spiritual director.
  6. Reflective Time and Intellectual Conversion: Archbishop Hughes stresses the need for reflective time as essential for wisdom and spiritual conversion. How can you implement or improve reflective practices in your daily routine?
  7. Learning from Saints and Spiritual Masters: Which saint or spiritual master do you feel most connected to, and what have they taught you about living a faithful Christian life? Discuss how their example can be applied in today’s world.
  8. The Role of Desire in Spiritual Life: Reflect on the role of desire in your spiritual journey. How does understanding and nurturing your spiritual desires influence your relationship with God?
  9. Scripture as a Living Word: Discuss the concept of Scripture as a ‘love letter from God’. How does this perspective change the way you read and interact with the Bible?
  10. The Impact of Spiritual Writings on Modern Life: Considering the diverse teachings and lives of the spiritual masters mentioned, how can their wisdom be effectively applied to address the challenges of modern Christian living?

From the book’s description:

“This book introduces the reader to thirteen Christian spiritual classics that illustrate the ordinary steps we can take toward living the Gospel life more fully.

Drawing on the rich teaching of a particular saint or mystic, each chapter helps us grow in a different aspect of holiness, of intimacy with God. Archbishop Hughes offers an itinerary for becoming a good disciple of the Lord, giving the reader access to an impressive spiritual library that can support and strengthen progress in discipleship throughout one’s life.

Among the great saints and spiritual writers whose writings are included in this book are Augustine, Anthony of the Desert, Aelred, Teresa of Avila, Benedict, Guigo, Catherine of Siena, Walter Hilton, Francis de Sales, Ignatius of Loyola, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Thomas à Kempis, and John of the Cross.”


About the Author

Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes, a native of Boston, was ordained a priest in 1957. Having secured a doctorate in Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University, he served in parish, seminary and administrative roles in Boston. Pope St. John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Baton Rouge in 1993 and Archbishop of New Orleans in 2002. As Emeritus, he now serves at Notre Dame Seminary.

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

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.”

Dr. Kevin Vost – Three Irish Saints on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

IP#160 Dr. Kevin Vost - Three Irish Saints on Inside the Pages

It was a delight to talk once again to Dr. Kevin Vost.  In his new book Three Irish Saints: A Guide to Finding Your Spiritual Style, he brings forward of 3 incredible saints who can help us bring about a greater awareness of ourselves, as well as bringing us closer to our relationship with God.  Dr. Vost is a psychologist, and physical fitness expert who examines the lives of these three great saints reveals their gifts and virtues.  He then explores the question:  Are you a thinker, a doer, or a lover? Included is a simple self-test to find out which spiritual master you are most like.   I was well aware of St. Patrick, knew much about St. Brigid, but was knew nothing about St. Kevin, but the list doesn’t stop there, Dr. Vost brings the lives of other Irish saints as well.  A fun and fascinating read.

You can find the book here

Be sure to check out Dr. Vost’s other “Inside the Pages” discussion:

IP#33 Dr. Kevin Vost – From Atheism to Catholicism on Inside the Pages

 

IP#347 Joel Stepanek – Chasing Humility on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Joel Stepanek – Chasing Humility on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

I cannot recommend this book and the work of Joel Stepanek more highly!  Based on the great Litany of Humility, “Chasing Humility: 8 Ways to Shape a Christian Heart” is a game-changer in the formation of the Christian heart.  It’s no wonder St. Teresa of Calcutta had her Missionaries of Charity pray this prayer every morning (and they still do)!  It’s a challenging prayer when you first contemplate exactly what it is you are asking of the Lord.  But if you trust in the fruits which it brings into your life, your spiritual journey will never be the same.  Run, don’t walk, to get this book!  A modern-day spiritual classic!

You can find this book here


“In Chasing Humility, Joel Stepanek does a masterful job giving the reader practical steps for cultivating authentic humility. Drawing on scripture, engaging stories, and good old common sense, this book is funny and wise, raw and relatable. Stepanek’s insights offer a soul-stirring read to any soul looking to improve. The question isn’t whether we need to be humble, but who can be humble enough to do something about it. This book is the perfect way to grow in holiness and ultimately, happiness, one achievable step at a time.” —Mark Hart, Executive Vice President, Life Teen International

“This book was like a punch to the gut—a much needed, very welcome, life-changing gut punch. It is bold, honest, and raw. Joel has given us an absolutely delightful read that is also really challenging, and it was just what we (and so many others) need to be reminded of the necessity to both seek humility and live and walk humbly with the Lord. Read this book. Absorb this book. Let Joel and his words on humility sucker-punch you and you’ll be so grateful.” —Katie Prejean McGrady and Tommy McGrady, Catholic speakers and cohosts of The Electric Waffle

“Joel Stepanek highlights for us the proper and sacred space of humility in the Christian life. Exploring the Litany of Humility, he provides a delightful roadmap for embracing the virtue not as a weakness but as a strength in our personal prayer lives and leadership outreach. There could not be a better time for leaders to be reintroduced to the virtue of humility in a world that very often values self-centeredness over seeing and supporting others.” —Rev. Dan Felton, Vicar General, Diocese of Green Bay

CHGD2 – Gertrud von Le Fort’s The Eternal Woman – The Importance of Symbolic Language – Climbing Higher, Going Deeper w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Kris McGregor and Vivian Dudro

Episode 2 – The Importance of Symbolic Language – Gertrude von Le Fort’s The Eternal Woman –  Climbing Higher, Going Deeper w/Kris McGregor and Vivian Dudro

Kris McGregor, along with Vivian Dudro, continues their discussion of The Eternal Woman by highlighting the importance of the introduction, urging listeners to approach it slowly and prayerfully to grasp von Le Fort’s dense but insightful writing. The discussion emphasizes von Le Fort’s critique of simplifying theology for a broader understanding, advocating instead for elevating communication to convey truth more effectively, akin to Christ’s teachings.

Von Le Fort is praised for her precise but accessible language, despite her deep philosophical background. The episode explores her focus on the symbolic aspect of male and female, particularly the female, in relation to God’s creation and communication. It discusses how von Le Fort views the physical world and its symbols as mediums through which God communicates metaphysical realities, using symbolic language intrinsic to human expression and understanding.

The conversation also touches on modern philosophical shifts that have obscured the intrinsic meanings of symbols, contributing to a cultural disconnect from these deeper truths. Von Le Fort’s work is positioned as a call to rediscover the symbolic language lost over time, particularly concerning the essence of womanhood and its spiritual significance. The hosts discuss how von Le Fort uses Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the epitome of the feminine symbol, embodying both reception and nurturing, which are crucial for understanding human’s relationship with the divine.

This episode underscores von Le Fort’s aim to reorient readers towards a more profound comprehension of the symbolic meanings embedded in the creation, particularly the distinctions and roles of men and women, without reducing them to mere biological or psychological terms. It calls for a re-engagement with symbolic language to foster a deeper connection with God and a more authentic understanding of one’s identity and purpose.


Key Points to Ponder

    1. Symbolic Language as a Medium of Divine Communication: The episode highlights von Le Fort’s exploration of symbolic language as a crucial tool through which God communicates with humanity. This symbolic language is not only a feature of religious texts and rituals but is also embedded in the creation itself, particularly in the symbolic aspects of male and female.
    2. Rediscovering the Lost Language of Symbolism: There’s a call to rediscover the language of symbolism that modern philosophical shifts have obscured. This rediscovery is essential for understanding the deeper truths about God, creation, and the roles of men and women.
    3. Mary as the Ideal Symbol of the Feminine: Mary, the mother of Jesus, is discussed as the epitome of the feminine, embodying reception and nurturing. Her role transcends biological and social functions, symbolizing a deeper spiritual truth about humanity’s relationship with the divine.
    4. The Significance of Sexual Differentiation: The discussion touches on the importance of recognizing and understanding the symbolic significance of sexual differentiation. This differentiation is not merely biological but carries deep metaphysical meanings related to God’s creation and communication.
    5. The Role of Women and Men in Symbolizing Divine Truths: Both hosts delve into how women and men symbolize different aspects of divine truths. While discussing the unique contributions of women through their receptivity and nurturing capabilities, they also explore how men embody bravery and protection, reflecting different facets of God’s nature.
    6. The Danger of Ideological Confusion over Gender and Symbolism: The conversation warns against the modern ideological confusion that blurs the distinctions between genders and undermines the symbolic meanings embedded in our created nature. It stresses the importance of embracing our God-given identities to fully understand and live out our relationship with God.
Gertrud von Le Fort

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

Individual Reflection Questions:

    1. Reflecting on Symbolic Language: How does the symbolic language found in Scripture, Liturgy, and the natural world deepen your understanding of God’s communication with humanity? Consider examples from your own experience where symbolic language has illuminated aspects of your faith.
    2. The Role of Mary as a Symbol: Reflect on Mary’s role as the epitome of the feminine and the ideal disciple. How does her example of receptivity, nurturing, and obedience to God challenge and inspire your own journey of faith?
    3. Understanding Theological Complexity: Gertrude von Le Fort critiques the oversimplification of theology for broader understanding. Reflect on a time when a deeper exploration of a complex theological concept led to a significant growth in your faith. How does this encourage you to approach theological studies in the future?
    4. Sexual Differentiation and Symbolic Significance: How do you understand the symbolic significance of sexual differentiation in the light of Catholic teaching? Reflect on how this understanding influences your views on sexual differences, identity, and the complementarity of men and women in God’s plan.
    5. Combatting Ideological Confusion with Faith: In a world where ideological confusion often blurs the distinctions between genders and undermines symbolic meanings, how can your faith guide you in affirming the truth about God’s design for humanity? Consider ways in which you can bear witness to these truths in your own life and community.

Group Study Discussion Questions:

    1. Exploring Symbolic Language in Faith: As a group, discuss examples of symbolic language in the Catholic faith that resonate with you personally. How do these symbols enrich your understanding of divine truths and your relationship with God?
    2. Mary’s Symbolic Role: Reflect on Mary’s role as not only the mother of Jesus but also as a symbol of the Church and the epitome of the feminine. How does this dual role of Mary inspire your group’s understanding of discipleship and the unique contributions of women in the Church?
    3. Challenges of Theological Simplification: Share thoughts on the balance between making theology accessible and oversimplifying complex doctrines. Can you think of instances where a deeper understanding of a challenging theological concept significantly impacted your faith or the faith of someone you know?
    4. Sexual Differentiation and Spiritual Symbolism: Discuss the significance of sexual differentiation as presented in the podcast. How can recognizing the spiritual symbolism of masculinity and femininity enhance the Church’s mission and the Christian community’s unity?
    5. Addressing Ideological Confusion with Faithful Witness: In light of the podcast’s discussion on the modern ideological confusion surrounding gender and symbolism, how can your group actively promote a faithful understanding of human dignity and God’s design within your parish or community? What practical steps can be taken to support individuals struggling with these issues in a compassionate and truthful manner?

Suggested References for Further Study:

The Symbolic Significance of Femininity and Masculinity:

Podcast Mention: Discussion of Gertrude von Le Fort’s exploration of the symbolic aspects of femininity and masculinity, as well as their spiritual and metaphysical implications.

Reference to Theology of the Body:

  • Pope St. John Paul II’s Insight: In “Theology of the Body,” Pope St. John Paul II offers profound theological and philosophical reflections on human sexuality, complementarity, and the symbolism of the body as a divine mystery, echoing von Le Fort’s thematic discussions.
  • Reference: Pope St. John Paul II. “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.” Pauline Books & Media, translation by Michael Waldstein, 2006.

Ethical Dimensions of Human Relationships:

Podcast Mention: Touches on the importance of understanding the ethical and moral dimensions underpinning human relationships, hinting at a deeper, symbolic understanding of our interactions.

Karol Wojtyła’s (Pope St. John Paul II) Philosophical Foundation:

  • Insight from “Love and Responsibility”: Wojtyła addresses the ethical and moral considerations of human relationships, offering foundational insights that support the podcast’s discussion on the symbolic aspects of relationships.
  • Reference: Wojtyła, Karol (Pope St. John Paul II). “Love and Responsibility.” Ignatius Press, 1993.

Unique Gifts and Vocation of Women:

Podcast Mention: Emphasizes the unique contributions and vocation of women, as discussed by Gertrude von Le Fort and echoed by the podcast hosts.

Alice von Hildebrand’s Perspective:

  • Complementary Insights in “The Privilege of Being a Woman”: Von Hildebrand champions the beauty and strength of femininity, challenging contemporary misunderstandings, in parallel to von Le Fort’s discussions.
  • Reference: Von Hildebrand, Alice. “The Privilege of Being a Woman.” Veritas Press, 2002.

Dr. Peter Kreeft – Practical Theology on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dr. Peter Kreeft – Practical Theology on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Peter Kreeft

“Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas” by Dr. Peter Kreeft is outstanding! An incredible work that transforms the potentially intimidating Summa Theologiae into a vital life-giving, soul-nurturing work for the pilgrim soul.   Dr. Kreeft offers us the religious wisdom of Aquinas in 359 bite-size pieces that can aid our growth in holiness.  He has framed these readings as answers to questions that people actually ask their spiritual directors. Each answer is taken word for word from Aquinas.  So many topics are covered.  You’ll be returning to this book over and over again throughout your spiritual journey.  An excellent gift to give yourself and those you love!  Highly Recommended!!!

 

practical-theology

You can find the book here

“Its notoriously difficult to synopsize Aquinas on anything. However, if I were to choose someone to do the job well, it would be Peter Kreeft. Many will find this presentation helpful to develop their own replies to the questions that bother the minds of today’s searchers.”
– Romanus Cessario, O.P., Saint John’s Seminary, Brighton, Mass.

“How can we know the living God and attain to everlasting union with God? This is really the only question of life. Kreeft’s dialogue with Aquinas shows us what it means–existentially, not solely academically–to learn from a saint.” —Matthew Levering, Professor of Theology, Mundelein Seminary