A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 7 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 7: SURRENDER

St. Teresa you have said0a5daad23948453cc1c0c069d1f321e1

Myself surrendered and given,
The exchange is this:
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.
When the gentle Hunter
Wounded and subdued me,
In love’s arms,
My soul fallen;
New life receiving,
Thus did I exchange
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.
The arrow he drew
Full of love,
My soul was made one
With her Creator.
Other love I want not,
Surrendered now to my God,
That my Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.

—On Those Words “Dilectus Meus Mihi”

This beautiful poem is the result of Teresa’s reflection on Songs 2:16: “My Beloved belongs to me and I to him.” In her verse, she expresses a fundamental truth of the interior journey: God himself initiates and sustains the relationship, and invites us to surrender to Him in faith.  Our efforts of self-renunciation, sacrifice, and humility about which Teresa constantly discusses in her writings are our personal response to this love.  In renouncing ourselves, we allow the Lord to unite us to Himself.

Let us not tire of making our sacrifices of love, but instead take courage, sure in the knowledge that we are already loved.

St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 6 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 6: THE REALITY OF HELL

St. Teresa you have saida67031f06448ccc5804fffbdfa4a517b

“A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell…The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains.  I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.”

—Autobiography XXXII.1,2

Teresa experiences the vision described above within the context of God’s salvific action, both universal and personal, in order that she might understand the torments from which she was freed because of His mercy, and also to motivate her to realize her personal vocation of reform.

The theme of hell appears often in her writings, and underlines humanity’s gift of free will and its natural consequences.  The redemption wrought by Christ is intended for all, and the Divine plan is that all should be saved, but this does not preclude one’s possibility to choose.  Hell is the result of a lifetime of choices made of separating oneself from God through sin, resulting in the suffocating experience of being completely bound in the darkness of God’s absence, without freedom and without hope.

 Not wanting to see others end like this, Teresa exercised her own free will, dedicating her life to participating in Christ’s own saving action via her life of prayer.  May we, like Teresa, give thanks to God for the truths revealed to us about eternal life, for our redemption through Christ’s blood, and for the gift of free will that allows us to choose and love him freely.  Let us also pray for all those who most need our prayers for conversion of heart today.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 5 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 5: HUMILITY 

St. Teresa you have said2c773951f5a3c1f26f639842d3d9c49e

“O Eternal Father!  How much this humility deserves.  What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son?  The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver.  But to buy Him, no price is sufficient.  Since by sharing in our nature He has become one with us here below—and as Lord of His own will—He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him the Father in turn can give Him to us.  And so He says, “our bread.”  He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.”

—Way of Perfection XXXIII.5

Teresa composed these words as she reflected on the words of the Our Father: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Her meditation on this phrase brought her immediately to Christ’s experience of the passion and its significance for her and her contemporaries.  For her, Jesus is the foundation and model of humility in the spiritual life.

Humility plays an important role in interior progress, because through it we come to appreciate and understand the beauty of our souls and our limitations, to gradually cede control of our lives to God in faith and trust and develop a sensibility for perceiving and carrying out His will, to love others properly, and to accept and cherish the depth of the love God has for us.  

So let us ask for the grace of humility, that we may grow in truthful relationship with God, ourselves, and others.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection was written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 4 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 4: THE SOUL 

St. Teresa you have saidsaint_teresa_-avila_639

“It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places.  For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight…I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity.  Indeed, our intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God’ but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness.”

—Interior Castle I:1.1

Teresa uses a variety of images to describe the soul, likening it to a beehive, a garden, and in this case, a castle.  In doing so, she attempts to explain its innate fecund richness brought about through its creation.  

Made in the image and likeness of God, our souls mirror the Divine in our natural interior profundity and in our capacity to do His loving and saving will.  Moreover, our souls are where Christ resides and interacts with us, and desires to permeate with his light.  The experience of God, therefore, is not something beyond the human experience, but intimately connected to it.  Indeed, the work of personal transformation takes place in this interior environment

May we learn from Teresa how to appreciate and care for our souls, that we may radiate Christ to others and give thanks to God for making us his home.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 3 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 3:  THE CENTRALITY OF THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST

 

St. Teresa you have saidteresa_davila-740x493

“The thought comes to me now that our good Jesus showed us the weakness of His humanity previous to the trials, and when He was in the abyss of His sufferings showed such great fortitude that He not only did not complain but did nothing that would make it appear He was suffering with weakness. When He went to the garden, He said: My soul is sorrowful even to death. Yet, while on the cross, for He was already suffering death, He did not complain.”
—Meditations on the Song of Songs III.11.

Teresa desired to share her reflections on the Song of Songs, a rather daring act for her time.  Her ponderings on Songs 1:2, led her to describe the peace and union granted the soul, opening the person to the possibility of accepting trials in the service of God, opportunities that also bring one’s weaknesses and limitations to the fore.  Desiring to encourage her sisters, she looks to Christ’s own experience during his Passion.

Indeed, the humanity of Christ plays a crucial role in her doctrine on prayer.  In his Incarnation, he expresses the profundity of God’s love for humanity, and is the perfect mediator between the two.  Moreover, his earthly life serves as the example and guide for our spiritual growth.  In this way, he leads us to discover our true selves as we

Thus, as we continue to pray through the intercession of the saint, let us recognize that she invites us to be in love with Jesus Christ, Emanuel, “God-with-us.”

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 2 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Day 2  INTIMATE AND TRANSFORMATIVE PRAYER

 

St. Teresa you have said28-s-teresa-avila

 “Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good.  There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire…And if one perseveres, I trust then in the mercy of God, who never fails to repay anyone who has taken him for a friend.  For mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.  In order that the love be true and the friendship endure, the wills of the friends must be in accord.”

Autobiography VIII.5

On September 27, 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Teresa a doctor of the Church. In his address, the Pope celebrated Teresa’s gift of spiritual doctrine, a fact underlined by the title written on her statue in the basilica in Ávila: Mater Spiritualium (the Mother of Spirituality). She certainly merits this title.

Her writings are not theoretical abstracts, but concrete lessons drawn from her own experience and interaction with the Divine. In entering the struggle of spiritual growth, she came to discover some very important truths about the process of prayer, the truth of God and the realization of self in this context. She realized in a very real and personal way Jesus’ words: “I call you friends.”

Learning from Teresa, let us make ample space for prayer, taking time and having the courage to open ourselves to all of the possibilities that lie open to us when we enter this deep and profound relationship, including our own transformation in God and His love.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 1 – Discerning Hearts Podcast

DAY 1: QUALITY SPIRITUAL READINGst-teresa

St. Teresa you have said:

 “The prioress should see to it that good books are available, especially The Life of Christ by the Carthusian, the Flos Sanctorum, The Imitation of Christ, The Oratory of Religious, and those books written by Fray Luis de Granada and by Father Fray Pedro de Alcantara.  This sustenance for the soul is in some way as necessary as is food for the body.”

—Constitutions 8

In chapter 4 of her autobiography, Teresa recounts the story of a particular visit to her uncle, Pedro Sánchez de Cepeda, wherein he gave her a copy of Francisco de Osuna’s book, the Third Spiritual Alphabet.  It provided the foundations for her spiritual life and remained an important reference for many years.  In time, Teresa added other works to her list of spiritual influences, including those listed in her Constitutions.  It was essential to her spiritual growth and to that of her sisters to be educated by knowledgeable people in the realm of the interior life.

 Through her example and counsel, we are also invited to enrich our faith and our interior lives by reading and studying the writings of the many holy authors whom the Church recommends to us.  Of course, among these, Teresa is one who is especially recommended. Perhaps one way of preparing for the feast during these nine days of novena would be to prayerful read and reflect on one of her writings.

 May she and all of the saintly authors continue to inspire us through their teachings and experience. 

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

BKL226 – St. Padre Pio and the Healing of the Church – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff podcast

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the life and teachings of St. Padre Pio.  He shares personal stories from his relationship with St. Pio.St.-Pio-10

St. Padre Pio Communion Prayer:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much and alway be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close and life passes, death, judgment and eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strenth, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen.

IP#305 Dr. Peter Kreeft – I Burned for Your Peace on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Peter Kreeft
These are indeed good days for book lovers because we are so blessed to have yet another Christian spiritual classic broken open for us by Dr. Peter Kreeft!  In “I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked“, Dr. Kreeft gives us a  guided tour through one of the finest works in all Western literature.  In our conversation, we discuss how St. Augustine, in many ways, is the everyman and why is life is so important for us today. Written in a personal dialogue with God, the saint’s “Confessions” is more than an autobiography or a book of theology, it is, in the end, a living prayer.   It is one man’s compelling witness that is, as  Dr. Kreeft will say, astonishingly contemporary.  St. Augustine looks at himself, so honestly, we can’t help but see ourselves in the reflection.  “I Burned for Your Peace” is the must have book to accompany you on this spiritual journey, especially if your heart is a restless one.  So plan your pilgrimage now!  Get the Frank Sheed translation of the “Confessions” as mentioned by Dr. Kreeft in our conversation and grab this book today

I_Burned_for_Your_Peace.inddYou can find the book here

“Two teachers we all know and trust enter into a dialogue to bring forth a Confessions for our day.”
— Fr. David Meconi, S.J., Editor, The Confessions of St. Augustine

“Kreeft is always brilliant, and in this book he is even more astonishing than ever. If I were allowed only one book on the Confessions, this would be it.”
Joseph Pearce, Author, Catholic Literary Giants

“Kreeft illustrates the truth of Augustine’s comment that God is more intimate to us than we are even to ourselves. Only when we realize that we are loved into being by the Triune God, will we experience the profound peace that sustains the pilgrimage to eternal life.”
Fr. Matthew Lamb, Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University

 

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Msgr. Esseff reflects so beautifully about the Queenship of Mary, Queen of Heaven. He talks about the joys and peace of the heavenly encounter with our Blessed Mother and with the Holy Trinity. It is a very special reflection…not to be missed!


Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to Blessed Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world, serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor. He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.