BTP#31 St. Bernard and the 12 Steps to Humility and Pride – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

BTP#31 St. Bernard and the 12 Steps to Humility and Pride  – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.  In this episode, Dr. Lilles begins the discussion on St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his teachings found in “The 12 Steps to Humility and Pride.”

Dr. Lilles offers 4 key points we should keep in mind as we move forward in this series

1.    The Search for God
2.    Listening to God – Lectio Divina
3.    Conversion to God – Conversatio Morum
4.    Living with oneself and letting God fashion one into His image



XII. A permanent attitude of bodily; and spiritual prostration.
XI. The speech of a monk should be short, sensible and in a subdued tone.
X. Abstinence from frequent and light laughter.
IX. Reticence, until asked for his opinion.
VIII. Observance of the general rule of the monastery.
VII. Belief in and declaration of one’s inferiority to others.
VI. Admission and acknowledgment of one’s own unworthiness and uselessness.
V. Confession of sins.
IV. Patient endurance of hardship and severity in a spirit of obedience.
III. Obedient submission to superiors.
II. Forbearance to press personal desire.
I. Constant abstinence from sin for fear of God.


I. Curiosity, when a man allows His sight and other senses to stray after things which do not concern him.
II. An unbalanced state of mind, showing itself in talk unseasonably joyous and sad.
III. Silly merriment exhibited in too frequent laughter.
IV. Conceit expressed in much talking.
V. Eccentricity attaching exaggerated importance to one’s own conduct.
VI. Self-assertion holding oneself to be more pious than others.
VII. Presumption readiness to undertake anything.
VIII. Defense of wrong-doing.
IX. Unreal confession detected when severe penance is imposed.
X. Rebellion against the rules and the brethren.
XI. Liberty to sin.
XII. Habitual transgression.

For other episodes in the series visit the Discerning Hearts page for Dr. Anthony Lilles


Here is the bibliography that Dr. Lilles spoke of in this episode:

The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

Saints, other figures, dates and bibliographic information


St. Benedict of Nursia  – b. 480 –  d. 547.

St. Benedict.  The Rule.  Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.  New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1981, 1998.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux – b. 1090 – d. 1153

St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Selected Works. Trans. G.R. Evans. Classics of Western Spirituality.  Mahwah, NY: Paulist Press, 1987.

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The Annunciation – Our Blessed Mother’s Assent to the Will of God – “I am the Handmaid of the Lord”

“As a sheaf of grain is tied together in the middle and spreads out at either end, so Mary’s life is bound together by her assent” – from the beginning of “The Handmaid of the Lord” by the great 20th century wife, mother, physician and mystic Adrienne von Spyer.  It has become my absolute favorite book on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It has transformed my understanding and deepened my love and appreciation for Mary, the Mother of God…Our Blessed Mother.

Mary’s assent to the Lord binds the whole of her life such that “From this assent her life receives its meaning and form and unfolds toward past and future”.  This assent, the great “Yes” to the will of God is the moment.

“This single, all-encompassing act accompanies her at every moment of her existence, illuminates every turning point of her life, bestows upon every situation its own particular meaning and in all situations gives May herself the grace of renewed understanding.  Her assent gives full meaning to every breath, every movement, every prayer of the Mother of God

Everything that we understand Mary to be, do, and say finds her assent at its source.  But, the assent must be understood as one of freedom, “This is the nature of an assent: it binds the one who gives it, yet it allows him complete freedom in shaping its expression”.  Her assent binds her to the Lord, yet it frees her to express herself dramatically much like the sheaf is bound by the cord around its middle but the sheaf bursts freely outward from the binding cord.

“Mary’s meeting with the angel is like the summation of her entire preceding life of contemplation. It is the first thing we learn about her.  We do not know who she is, we do not know her past.  But when we learn that she saw the angel, the whole composition of her soul becomes visible.  The angel which appears is the fulfillment of her prayer – not in the sense that she had prayed for the appearance or prepared herself for it, but rather in the sense that she has held herself in readiness for a mission still unknown to her.  She has lived in an attitude of prayer, and in virtue of this life she is capable in the crucial moment of seeing and obeying the angel who comes to her.  Both vision and obedience flow from the same source in her; from the openness toward the mission which God may give her, when and in whatever way he likes.  Her obedience is the prototype of every future instance of Christian obedience, which draws its whole meaning from the life of prayer and the perception of God’s will.” [Adrienne von Speyr: Handmaid of the Lord. From the Chapter, “Mary and the Angel“, pg. 27]

Take a look at an excerpt from “Handmaid of the Lord”  you can purchase it from Ignatius Press as a book or you may like to download the mp3 reading.  Check it out….

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” read by Flannery O’Connor

Here is an absolute GEM!!!!! The “Happy Catholic” Julie Davis told me that an audio was available of Flannery O’Connor actually reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find” …and indeed there was (is…whatever). This was recorded shortly before her death of lupus at a talk given at Vanderbilt University. Take a listen to the “Master” in her own voice…priceless!

An Examination of Conscience…this just about covers it all…(is that possible?)

OK, this just about covers it all (if that’s possible).  From the ExaminationBaltimore Catechism to the Catholic Catechism, from the Ten Commandments to the 7 Deadly Sins, through in Archbishop Fulton Sheen and you have the help that can get through Lent and beyond…but first and foremost, start with PRAYER…come back now and then to check out different sections .  Now let’s dive into the great well of grace and mercy found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation!