A Christmas Novena Day 6 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Day 6 – Peace

O Lord, infant Jesus, give us Your peace! You are the Prince of Peace and the ultimate fulfillment of your incarnation brings us to you in heaven where peace will come to perfection. We pray for peace this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

A Christmas Novena Day 5 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Day 5 – Love

O Lord, infant Jesus, inspire in us Your selfless love! You humbled yourself to become like us in all things but sin, and even humbled yourself to die on a cross. We pray that you will help us to love as You love this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

A Christmas Novena Day 4 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Day 4 – Hope

O Lord, infant Jesus, bring us the Hope that saves! Your birth to the Virgin Mary brought a Hope to the world that continues to sustain us. We pray for a saving Hope this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

LOTR4 – The Hidden Heroism of Hobbits – A Lord of the Rings Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Hidden Heroism of Hobbits – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher In this episode, Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor explore themes from “The Lord of the Rings,” focusing on Frodo Baggins and his transformative journey. They highlight Tolkien’s inspiration from World War I, depicting the hidden heroism in ordinary people, particularly hobbits.

The discussion emphasizes Frodo’s courageous “yes” to God’s call, drawing parallels to moments in our lives when we face overwhelming challenges. Tolkien intentionally centered the story on hobbits, portraying the sanctification of the humble and the belief that ordinary individuals can grow in holiness.

Fr. Gallagher brings up Fatty Bolger’s choice not to join the journey symbolizes those who fear the unknown, yet he contributes to resisting evil forces in the Shire; connecting Fatty’s reluctance to our own fears when confronted with God’s call.

The pivotal moment at the Council of Elrond, where Frodo volunteers to carry the One Ring, underscores the interplay of freedom and grace. Elrond’s recognition of Frodo’s unique task reflects the dignity in every person’s life, emphasizing the “scandal of particularity.”


“Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. ‘If I understand aright all that I have heard,’ he said, ‘I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great. Who of all the Wise could have foreseen it? Or, if they are wise, why should they expect to know it, until the hour has struck?

‘But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty Elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them.’”

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2012-02-15). The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (p. 270-271). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life: The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.

For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit his website: frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode

Reflecting on the themes discussed in the podcast episode “The Hidden Heroism of Hobbits” with Fr. Timothy Gallagher, here are some study questions for reflection:

  1. Frodo’s Courageous ‘Yes’: Consider a moment in your life when you felt called to say “yes” to a challenging or overwhelming task. How did you respond, and what did you learn from that experience?
  2. The Sanctification of the Humble: Tolkien highlights the heroism in ordinary characters like hobbits. How does this perspective influence your understanding of holiness and heroism in everyday life?
  3. Fatty Bolger’s Reluctance and Contribution: Fatty Bolger’s choice not to join the main journey but still contributing in his own way is symbolic. Can you identify moments in your life where you or someone you know contributed in a less obvious but still significant way?
  4. Freedom and Grace at the Council of Elrond: Frodo’s decision to carry the One Ring illustrates the balance of freedom and grace. How do you see this balance playing out in your own life decisions and commitments?
  5. The ‘Scandal of Particularity’: Elrond’s acknowledgment of Frodo’s unique role underlines the dignity and importance of each individual’s life. How does this concept resonate with your understanding of your own life’s purpose?
  6. Responding to God’s Call in the Face of Fear: Frodo’s journey can be seen as a metaphor for responding to God’s call. How can Frodo’s example help you face your own fears and uncertainties in life?
  7. The Role of the Unlikely Hero: Tolkien’s emphasis on hobbits as unlikely heroes challenges conventional views of strength and power. How does this change your view of what it means to be a hero or a leader?
  8. The Importance of Community Support: Frodo did not undertake his journey alone; he had the support of a diverse community. How important is your community in supporting your spiritual journey and life’s challenges?

These questions aim to foster deeper reflection on the spiritual and personal growth themes explored in the podcast, drawing insights from Frodo’s journey in “The Lord of the Rings.”

A Christmas Novena Day 3 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Day 3 – Faith

O Lord, infant Jesus, give us the gift of Faith! You, Lord, deserve our complete faith. We pray for deeper and more perfect faith in you this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

A Christmas Novena Day 2 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Day 2 – Humility

O Lord, infant Jesus, grant us great humility! You gave us the model of perfect humility in your incarnation, life, and death. We pray for a greater Humility this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

A Christmas Novena Day 1 – Mp3 audio and Text – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Day 1 – Joy
O Lord, infant Jesus, fill us with Joy! The birth of any child is a cause for joy and so much more is the birth of You our Savior. We pray in union with Mary, Your mother, for a greater joy this Christmas.

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
We implore You again to help us
with the intentions we hold in the depths of our hearts.

Divine Child, great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant us the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.
Amen.

St. John of the Cross with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Beginning to Pray Special – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. John of the Cross with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Beginning to Pray Special – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss the relationship between St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. St. John initially considered joining the Carthusians due to his inclination toward the contemplative life. However, after encountering St. Teresa and her vision for the reform of the Carmelite order, he changed his vocation. St. Teresa convinced him that the renewal of the Church’s mental prayer and contemplation would be achieved through the reform of the Carmelites.

St. John of the Cross’ insights on the diversity of gifts within the Church are also mentioned, emphasizing the complementarity of different religious orders.

St. John of the Cross

For The Ascent of Mt. Carmel Audio Book visit this Discerning Hearts page

For commentary on various sections of The Ascent of Mt. Carmel by Dr. Lilles’ visit this Discerning Hearts page


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.

“The knowledge of the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus” – St. John of the Cross from the Office of Readings

From a Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross, priestSaintly Masters of Prayer - writings, teachings, biographies 3

The knowledge of the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus

Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.

We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.

For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.

All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.

Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.

The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

Our Lady of Guadalupe – From the Office of Readings – Discerning Hearts Podcast


From the Office of Readings:

From a report by Don Antonio Valeriano, a Native American author of the sixteenth century
(Nicon Mopohua, 12th ed., 3-9, 21)

The Voice of the Turtledove has been heard in our land

At daybreak one Saturday morning in 1531, on the very first days of the month of December, an Indian named Juan Diego was going from the village where he lived to Tlatelolco in order to take part in divine worship and listen to God’s commandments. When he came near the hill called Tepeyac, dawn had already come, and Juan Diego heard someone calling him from the very top of the hill: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.”

He went up the hill and caught sight of a lady of unearthly grandeur whose clothing was as radiant as the sun. She said to him in words both gentle and courteous: “Juanito, the humblest of my children, know and understand that I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live. It is my ardent desire that a church be erected here so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection to all who inhabit this land and to those others who love me, that they might call upon and confide in me. Go to the Bishop of Mexico to make known to him what I greatly desire. Go and put all your efforts into this.”

When Juan Diego arrived in the presence of the Bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, a Franciscan, the latter did not seem to believe Juan Diego and answered: “Come another time, and I will listen at leisure.”

Juan Diego returned to the hilltop where the Heavenly Lady was waiting, and he said to her: “My Lady, my maiden, I presented your message to the Bishop, but it seemed that he did not think it was the truth. For this reason I beg you to entrust your message to someone more illustrious who might convey it in order that they may believe it, for I am only an insignificant man.”

She answered him: “Humblest of my sons, I ask that tomorrow you again go to see the Bishop and tell him that I, the ever virgin holy Mary, Mother of God, am the one who personally sent you.”

But on the following day, Sunday, the Bishop again did not believe Juan Diego and told him that some sign was necessary so that he could believe that it was the Heavenly Lady herself who sent him. And then he dismissed Juan Diego.

On Monday Juan Diego did not return. His uncle, Juan Bernardino, became very ill, and at night asked Juan to go to Tlatelolco at daybreak to call a priest to hear his confession.

Juan Diego set out on Tuesday, but he went around the hill and passed on the other side, toward the east, so as to arrive quickly in Mexico City and to avoid being detained by the Heavenly Lady. But she came out to meet him on that side of the hill and said to him: “Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you. Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care? Do not let your uncle’s illness distress you. It is certain that he has already been cured. Go up to the hilltop, my son, where you will find flowers of various kinds. Cut them, and bring them into my presence.”

When Juan Diego reached the peak, he was astonished that so many Castilian roses had burst forth at a time when the frost was severe. He carried the roses in the folds of his tilma (mantle) to the Heavenly Lady. She said to him: “My son, this is the proof and the sign which you will bring to the Bishop so that he will see my will in it. You are my ambassador, very worthy of trust.”

Juan Diego set out on his way, now content and sure of succeeding. On arriving in the Bishop’s presence, he told him: “My lord, I did what you asked. The Heavenly Lady complied with your request and fulfilled it. She sent me to the hilltop to cut some Castilian roses and told me to bring them to you in person. And this I am doing, so that you can see in them the sign you seek in order to carry out her will. Here they are; receive them.”

He immediately opened up his white mantle, and as all the different Castilian roses scattered to the ground, there was drawn on the cloak and suddenly appeared the precious image of the ever virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the same manner as it is today and is kept in her shrine of Tepeyac.

The whole city was stirred and came to see and admire her venerable image and to offer prayers to her; and following the command which the same Heavenly Lady gave to Juan Bernardino when she restored him to health, they called her by the name that she herself had used: “the ever virgin holy Mary of Guadalupe.”

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.