We all recognize that we are sinners. We constantly strive to do God’s will, and when we fall short, we go to the confessional to experience God’s healing mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yet for all too many of us, when our sins are washed away, the shame of sin may linger on our hearts and plague us even as we resolve anew to follow Christ. This shame is one of Satan’s most insidious means of separating us from God’s love and forgiveness.
With gentleness and wisdom, Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy shows you how to overcome your shame of sin and surrender to God’s mercy. Far from ignoring the reality of sin, Fr. Menezes illustrates the consequences of evil and vice, while reminding you that however great your sin may be, God’s goodness is greater. At every moment, He is calling you to Himself. He seeks your love and desires you, with all your sins and all your shame.
Join Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor as they offer a type of “online retreat” based on the spiritual work Heart of the World written by Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar.
In fourth “conference” talk, Dr. Lilles reflects upon “Love – A Wilderness”
Here is the excerpt that is read in the conference:
We fall down and adore you. In the end, only you remain, O Heart at the Center! We are not. Whatever is good in us is you. What we ourselves are is negligible. We pass by before you and aspire to be nothing more than mirrors and windows for our brothers. Our setting before you is your rising over us: our merging into you and your entry into us. For still does our decline before you bear the figure of your own decline, and still does our guilty distance from you belong not to ourselves, since you have made it into a distance of your own, Sin has the form of redemption.
And so in the end you remain alone, all in all. You are one with yourself, and without losing yourself you pour yourself out into the many. By remaining in the multiplicity of the members, you bring them all home into the unity of the Body. your self-emptying, even unto uttermost weakness and the renouncing of love, is your deed of uttermost strength and immutable love , and when you are weakest and they all trample you like a worm, it is then you are the Hero and have trampled the serpent. For what is emptiness? What fullness? Which of them is real privation? When you are empty and thirst for fullness, the we, the Church, are your fulfillment. But you are always the fullness and we are the void, always, even when you are fatigued and spent with exhaustion, even then do we all receive from your fullness grace upon grace. Your Church is but a vessel, she is only your organ. You are the leaping fountain. And even if out of us also there springs up a stream into life everlasting, this is a draft which you gave, for only from you do streams of living water flow. And when you go through the world poor and gray, cloaked in the garments of the lowly and the disinherited, concealing yourself behind sinners and tax-collectors, and we absent-mindedly perform on you the eight works of mercy, even then you alone are the giver who has made love possible for us from both within and without.
You alone remain. You are all in all. Even if your love desires us in order to delight in twoness and in order to celebrate with us the mystery of begetting and conceiving, nevertheless it is always YOUR love in both instances, your love which both gives and is given, at once seed and womb, and, again, the child begotten is none other than you. If love needs two feet in order to walk, still the walker is but one person, and that one is you. And if love needs two lovers, a lover and a beloved, still the love is only one, and that one is you.
Everything hearkens back to your throbbing Heart. Time and the seasons still hammer away and create, and your Heart drives the world and all its happenings forward with great painful blows. It is the unrest of the clock, and your Heart is restless until it rests in me. Your Heart is restless until we rest in you, once time and eternity have become interfused. But: Be at peace! I have overcome the world. The torment of sin has already been submerged in the stillness of love. The experience of what the world is has made love darker, more fiery, more ardent. The shallower abyss of rebellion has been swallowed up in unfathomable mercy, and throbbing majestically reigns serene the Heart of God.
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heart of the World (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979), 217-219.
A great Catholic theologian speaks from the heart about the Heart of Christ, in a profound and lyrical meditation on Our Lord’s love for his Bride the Church.
Avid readers of Hans Urs von Balthasar often describe Heart of the World as a “surprise”. The “pure serenity of a volcano under snow” readers usually find in Balthasar, as translator Erasmo Leiva puts it, gives way to “the poet-theologian” who dares to “bare his own heart”. The sult is what can only be described as lyrical, even intimate spiritual reflections.
“Heart of the World”, the translator continues, “deserves a place next to
the Imitation of Christ. Especially in the passages where Christ speaks to the soul, Father von Balthasar shows himself a worthy successor of
Thomas a Kempis. Both works combine an intense personal piety with
a precise awareness of the believer’s position as child and servant of Christ’s Church…. For Balthasar, as for Kempis and all genuine Chris tians, the saint is first and foremost the one who renders constant thanks for having been loved.”
Heart of the World is a profound and theologically rich reflection on the
Heart of God.
Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is the St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, CA. He has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy since 1994, and now previously served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as Academic Dean of St. John’s Seminary, associate professor of theology and Academic Advisor of Juan Diego House. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, he holds a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville with both the ecclesiastical licentiate and doctorate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum). He was a founding faculty member of Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver where he also served as academic dean, department chair, director of liturgy and coordinator of spiritual formation for the permanent deacon program. He has recently published Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, Omaha: Discerning Hearts (2012)
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.
During this podcast, Deacon Keating will offer his insights on “the mystery of this present moment.”
Here a few of his comments:
So, the wisdom of the Saints comes back to us again and again. Of course, in good times we never listened to the saints because we got this. And in bad times, we’re suffering so much, that a lot of times they can’t get their wisdom through to us because of our pain. So, it’s quite paradoxical. But the wisdom of the Saints is this, that throughout our life, no matter what we’re experiencing in suffering or enjoying, we should always be sloughing off the excess of our days, any idols that we are drawing artificial consolation from. We should be seeking Holy communion, no matter whether we’re in good times or bad times.
So, when bad times come or when good times come, everything is calculated toward reality and peace because we have been suffering the coming of Holy communion throughout our entire life. So, when people don’t have this Holy communion during bad times like we’re in right now, we can panic and we can start grasping at straws, and thinking that everything is over and ending. Anxiety then becomes our normal state. So, again, the saints would counsel us when this horrible virus passes, if we could just remember not to go back to being normal Americans, but to go back to Him and get our equilibrium set, and the substance of our interior life set. So that when the next reminder that everything on this planet is not forever, when that next reminder comes, we’ll have less panic and more peace because we will have been living for a while then in Holy communion.
Further in the conversation:
The reason there’s so much fear is that we are acknowledging that death is real. Again, most of our popular culture is a mask keeping us from ever thinking about death. Now there are all these masks that have dropped, death comes to the fore and it’s not something we want to rebel in or say, “Let’s look at this and some type of McCobb way.” But we’ve known as believers, that death has always been the enemy. Now we see it. We see the enemy, we’ve been afraid of the enemy.
Again, we’ve been afraid of the enemy because our Holy communion isn’t stronger enough, with our Holy friend, Jesus Christ. The deeper that friendship grows with him, the more we can confront death in peace. Without panic, without fear. Of course, there’ll be sadness, it will be mourning. But the sadness in the mourning is over the good things of life, the panic and the fear is over that which we have created in ourselves. Which is a habitual stance of isolation from God. That’s what he’s gently trying to say to us. This death has always been here. Your limit and your finitude have always been part of your life. Stop masking it and let’s look at real life. It’s okay to look at it, with me. That’s why I came so that you would not be alone when you look at it, that’s what we call salvation.
You’re looking at it from the stance of communion with him. That’s how the Saints die in joy and in peace. So push against the fear and choose a career. That would be the theme of this imposed retreat, I would say.
Deacon James Keating, Ph.D., the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha.
Join Deacon Omar F. A. Gutierrez and Kris McGregor as they discuss the events of the global Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. They discuss how this affects the family, the value of life, and the lessons it brings. We discuss the liturgical life of the Church during Holy Week and how we might be able to enter into this sacred period in these challenging days.
Deacon Omar Gutiérrez is the President and co-Founder of the Evangelium Institute as well as the Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the Archdiocese of Omaha. An alumnus of Franciscan University, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and the University of Dallas, he has an MA in Theology and has been published in a number of print and online magazines and newspapers including the National Catholic Register and The Catholic Voice. His book, The Urging of Christ’s Love: The Saints and the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church was published in 2013, and he has a program on Catholic Social Teaching through DiscerningHearts.com which is aired on the Spirit Catholic Radio Network.
Once again a spiritual classic has been given to us from the prolific Catholic philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft!. “How to be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint” derives it’s direction from the incredible “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J. and it’s simple message that God reveals himself through the daily events of our lives. How we respond is the key to faith and our opportunity to grow in holiness. Do you place your trust the Father’s will? Can you respond in love? Do you truly believe Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (RSV)? To be holy, we must take the first step…Dr. Kreeft shows us the way. Outstanding!
The ever-popular and prolific Peter Kreeft says that the most important question he has written about is how one becomes holy; or to put it another way, how one becomes a saint. This question is central to all the great religions, Kreeft demonstrates, for striving toward holiness, moving toward perfect love, is the whole purpose of life.
Kreeft admits that he is only a beginner on the climb to holiness, and it is to novices like him that he has written this engaging and encouraging book. Using the insights and experiences of saints and great spiritual writers throughout history, Kreeft shows what holiness is and how it can be achieved.
1. This trial is a spiritual opportunity. Many holy men and women found God more deeply
in time of loss, pain, and struggle. Live this time as a special opportunity for spiritual
2. These days teach us that we are not in control, and that God is, a powerful and healing
lesson for all of life (Mt 5:3).
3. This time, with busyness reduced, offers a priceless opportunity to reflect on our lives,
why we are here, what matters most, the people in our lives. Reflect in this way: it will
pay rich dividends.
4. These weeks offer increased time to be with each other, our spouses, children, parents,
and all the important people in our lives. Spend more time with them, and the
relationships that matter most in your life will be blessed.
5. These anxious days are a time for small, daily, warm, concrete gestures of caring for
others: a helping hand, a phone call, a text, an email, an errand done for another, a
listening ear. Look for such opportunities and respond.
6. “Consolation must now be everyone’s commitment” (Pope Francis). Be a presence that
brings consolation to the worried, the ill, the lonely, the afraid.
7. Follow online the daily words of Pope Francis. He speaks with wisdom, warmth, and
faith about this situation. In this way, you will live these days with the universal Church.
8. In God’s timing, this struggle coincides with Lent. You have more time, and there is
greater need now to live it well. Make this a special Lent. Choose how you will live it.
9. Pray, pray, pray. Spend 15 minutes each day in some form of meditation—you have the
time. It might be lectio divina, Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the
Hours, the Rosary, Ignatian meditation or contemplation of Scripture . . . whatever way
best helps you to pray. Pope Benedict writes: “Prayer is the school of hope.”
10. Turn to our Blessed Mother in a new and deeper way. In time of struggle, the Church
always turns to her because “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your
protection, implored your intercession, or sought your help, was left unaided” (the
Just the right book and just the right time. I am delighted to be joined by Dr. Joseph White Ph.D. to discuss “Listening for God in Everyday Life.” At a time when so many are anxious and afraid, this timely new book shines a bright light in all the areas where God is seeking to console and guide us. At a time when we may be asking “Where are you, God?”, Dr. White helps us to see the many unexpected ways in which God is present and waiting to touch our lives. If we can begin to hear and see God in all things our relationship deepens with one who knows us better than ourselves. We realize we are not alone, especially in our fears and struggles. Dr. White is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist and a deep man of prayer. He offers practical insights and questions for us to reflect on to aid our ability to listen with the ears of our hearts.
In Listening for God in Everyday Life, author, speaker, and psychologist Joseph White shows us how to listen for God in this noisy, chaotic world. God is speaking to us all the time, but we have to learn to hear his voice. Drawing on his personal experience, Joseph reveals the means God uses to speak directly to our hearts. Some of these may even surprise you! They include
Gifts and Talents
People in Need
When we learn to hear it, God’s voice opens our hearts to his love, deepening our relationship with the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.
Simply one of the finest works ever compiled on the mystery of suffering. Fr. Robert Spitzer’s “The Light Shines On In The Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence)” could be considered a “catechism of suffering,” but not one rooted in misery, but rather anchored in the experience of God’s great mercy and redemptive sacrifice. This is a book of hope and one that should be experienced by all Christians, and in particular, those who minister in any way, shape, or form in the New Evangelization. Why would a loving God allow suffering? Is there any good that can be brought forth from our trials? So much more is addressed in this opus. I could not put this book down. Pick it up, you won’t regret it!
“Suffering has the power to break or elevate the human spirit. Lived in the spirit of the Gospel and borne for the sake of others, it’s the most redemptive, transfiguring force in creation. Fr. Spitzer has written a magisterial work on the meaning of suffering, a work remarkable both for its depth and beauty.” — Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
“In this trenchant and searching book, Fr. Spitzer responds to the most powerful objection to the proposition that God exists, namely, the problem of suffering. And he dares to do what very few are willing to do today: to articulate how evil and pain are ingredients in the providential design of a loving God.”
—Bishop Robert Barron, Host, Catholicism film series
I have already given several copies of this book to friends, that is how much I love this book! REMEMBER the airplane rule! You must put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help others. This principle is an essential guidepost for all of us. “It’s OK To Start With You” is steeped in Catholic wisdom. You are in good hands with Julia Marie Hogan as your guide through the process of entering into “authentic self-care.” No matter what your season in life, I HIGHLY recommend this book because it’s never too late to start. It will not disappoint!
Self-care is often misunderstood in our society. Far too many of us dismiss it as selfish pampering, and the results can be devastating for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Real self-care is anything but self-indulgent. It’s an essential discipline, rooted in the reality of who we are as God’s beloved children.
In It’s OK to Start with You, therapist Julia Marie Hogan, LCPC, makes the case for making self-care a priority beginning with reclaiming your own worth. Based on her practice as a therapist, she offers deep insights into the reasons why we neglect to take care of ourselves and provides needed tools to change our habits of thinking and acting so we can show up fully in our lives and relationships. With step-by-step instructions for building a tailored self-care plan, reflection questions, and note-taking space, this book is the ultimate guide to becoming the most authentic version of yourself.