BTP-L7 – Letter 169 pt. 2 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 169, Part Two – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor continue the discussion on a letter by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity dated July 15, 1903. The letter reflects Elizabeth’s deep spiritual joy and sense of fulfillment in her vocation as a Carmelite nun. She expresses her profound connection with God, the joy of living by the Carmelite rule, and the intimacy of her prayer life. Elizabeth writes about her desire to love God intensely and her understanding that her heaven has begun on earth through her faith and suffering for Christ. She conveys how prayer and a heart-to-heart relationship with God bring her immense happiness and fulfillment.

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor highlight key themes from Elizabeth’s letter,: the importance of trusting God’s plan for one’s vocation, whether it be religious life, marriage, or another path. Elizabeth’s life and writings can inspire individuals to embrace their own vocations with faith and love, trusting that God has a purpose for every experience and hardship; and the universal call to holiness and the joy that comes from a deep, prayerful relationship with God, which Elizabeth exemplifies.

The true fulfillment of one’s vocation involves a continuous act of trust and self-gift to God. No matter the state of life, each person can become a “prey of love” and find deep satisfaction in living out their unique call from God. Elizabeth’s joy, born out of her contemplative prayer and love for God, serves as a powerful witness to the transformative power of a life devoted to God.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Trusting in God’s Plan for Your Vocation How can you deepen your trust in God’s plan for your vocation, especially during times of doubt or difficulty?
  2. Embracing Your Unique Call In what ways can you fully embrace and live out your unique call from God, whether it be in religious life, marriage, or another vocation?
  3. Finding Joy in Prayer How can you cultivate a heart-to-heart prayer life with God that brings you deep joy and fulfillment?
  4. Surrendering to God’s Will What steps can you take to surrender more fully to God’s will in your daily life, following the example of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity?
  5. Supporting Others in Their Vocations How can you support and encourage others in discerning and living out their vocations?
  6. Overcoming Spiritual Dryness What practices can help you persevere in prayer during times of spiritual dryness and aridity?
  7. Recognizing the Presence of God How can you become more aware of God’s loving presence in your daily life and let this awareness guide your actions and decisions?
  8. Joyful Witness to Christ In what ways can you share the joy of your relationship with Christ with others, becoming a source of living water for those around you?
  9. Understanding the Church’s Heart How can you better appreciate and contribute to the Church as a mystery of love, beyond its organizational aspects?
  10. Developing a Simple Relationship with God What can you do to simplify your relationship with God and approach Him with the trust and simplicity of a child?

Letter 169

To Canon Angles
[ July 15, 1903]
Dijon Carmel,

J. M. + J. T.

“Monsieur le Chanoine,

My dear Mama, whom I saw last week, brought me your good letter, and I assure you that I can indeed sympathize with the suffering your eyes are causing you, and I am praying fervently for you. I was wondering a little what had become of you, but you find your little Carmelite close to God, don’t you? And that is where she finds you too; then no more distance, no more separation, but already, as in Heaven, the fusion of hearts and souls! . . . How many things have happened since my last letter! I heard the Church say “Veni sponsa Christi” [Come, bride of Christ]; she consecrated me, and now all is “consummated.” Rather, everything is beginning, for profession is only a dawn; and each day my “life as a bride”3 seems to me more beautiful, more luminous, more enveloped in peace and love. During the night that preceded the great day, while I was in choir awaiting the Bridegroom, I understood that my Heaven was beginning on earth; Heaven in faith, with suffering and immolation for Him whom I love! . . . I so wish to love Him, to love Him as my seraphic Mother did, even to dying of it. We sing “O charitatis Victima” on her feast day, and that is my whole ambition: to be the prey of love! I think that in Carmel it is so simple to live by love; from morning to evening the Rule is there to express the will of God, moment by moment. If you knew how I love this Rule, which is the way He wants me to become holy. I do not know if I will have the happiness of giving my Bridegroom the witness of my blood [by martyrdom], but at least, if I fully live my Carmelite life, I have the consolation of wearing myself out for Him, for Him alone. Then what difference does the work He wills for me make? Since He is always with me, prayer, the heart-to-heart, must never end! I feel Him so alive in my soul. I have only to recollect myself to find Him within me, and that is my whole happiness. He has placed in my heart a thirst for the infinite and such a great need for love that He alone can satisfy it. I go to Him like a little child to its mother so He may fill, invade, everything, and then take me and carry me away in His arms. I think we must be so simple with God!

I am longing to send you my good Mama; you will see how God is working in this beloved soul. Sometimes I cry for happiness and gratitude; it is so good to be devoted to your mother, to feel that she, too, is completely His, to be able to tell her about your soul and to be completely understood! . . . You really are the great attraction of the trip, I assure you; I love to remember those vacations at Saint-Hilaire, then at Carcassonne and Labastide, they were the best ones I had. With what fatherly goodness you received the confidences I so loved to make to you; I would be happy if one day they could be made once again through my dear grilles. Won’t you come to bless your little Carmelite and, quite close to her, thank Him who “has loved her exceedingly,” for, you see, my happiness can no longer be expressed. Listen to what is being sung in my soul and all that is rising from the heart of the bride to the Heart of the Bridegroom for you whose little child she will always be. Send her your best blessing; at Holy Mass, bathe her in the Blood of the Bridegroom; it is the purity of the bride, and she is so thirsting for it! A Dieu, monsieur le Chanoine, affectionately and respectfully yours,

Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity r.c.i.”

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 110-111). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


We would like to thank Miriam Gutierrez for providing “the voice” of St. Elizabeth for this series

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


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D., has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy and seminarians since 1994. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, he served at seminaries and houses of formation in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, holds a B.A. 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). An expert in the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church, he co-founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the High Calling Program for priestly vocations. He also founded the John Paul II Center for Contemplative Culture, which hosts symposiums, retreats, and conferences. In addition to his publications, he blogs at www.beginningtopray.com .

PSM3 – Living Mystery in the Mundane – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Dr. David Fagerberg

Episode 3 – Living Mystery in the Mundane  – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg Ph.D.

Dr. David Fagerberg and Kris McGregor discuss the universal call to holiness as articulated by Vatican II, emphasizing that every Christian is a mystic, evangelist, and apostle in their own right. They explore the lay apostolate’s role in manifesting the mystery of Christ through daily life, even in seemingly mundane tasks. Dr. Fagerberg highlights the concept of “Consecrating the World,” which involves integrating liturgy, theology, asceticism, and mysticism into everyday experiences, suggesting that mundane activities are opportunities for liturgical acts and Eucharistic sacrifices.

The importance of seeing the divine in the ordinary, using examples like standing near the altar during Mass as Mary stood near the cross, and how daily interactions and struggles, can be acts of spiritual warfare and service. The Eucharist and the sacramental life nourish and capacitate Christians for this mission, drawing on the mystical participation in the Paschal mystery and the continuous cycle of receiving and giving in spiritual life.

Dr. Fagerberg also reflects on the deeper meaning of liturgy and its connection to salvation history, suggesting that liturgy is not just ceremonial but is deeply rooted in God’s cosmic plan for redemption and sanctification. He emphasizes that true spirituality has a disciplined, ascetic dimension, contrasting it with the often shapeless notion of spirituality in contemporary culture.


Here are some of the topics explored in this episode:

  • What is a “mundane” liturgical theology?
  • The call to holiness is here and now.
  • How the Church serves a Mother.
  • Why liturgy? Why worship? Why are we called?

From the discussion with Dr. Fagerberg:

“So where are you going to practice your asceticism, not sitting in your office, reading a book and thinking lofty thoughts about the human race, but when that colleague bugs me in this office meeting, when one more time I have to admit that Elizabeth is right, but I’m too stubborn to do so overcoming those passions of pride and vainglory and ego and avarice and gluttony and, and envy and backbiting… tiny little actions, day by day, movement by movement.  St. John Chrysostom has a terrific homily on Ephesians which he says that the poor that you meet in the city, in the public square, the poor are another altar on which you can make your Eucharistic sacrifice. You’re so happy to have been in the church where there’s this stone altar that was, honored and revered because it bore upon it, the body and blood of Christ. Well, here is Christ in the person of the poor.  Look, how generous God is to you. He’s given you a thousand chances a day to make another liturgical act, another Eucharistic sacrifice. And just when I think I’ve satisfied my quarter, he sends another one to me, what a good and generous God we have.”

More taken from the discussion:

“Chesterton was asked why he became a Catholic. And his answer was because we’re sinners. And because we have a God who loves us passionately. And so this is what God has done in order to rectify the problem. I think God always had intended to bring us home to him, to let us join the life of God, to enter the perichoresis of the Trinity. It’s not like that was plan A and then after the fall in the garden of Eden, he moved on to plan B redemption is a completion of creation. Creation was the beginning of redemption. So his goal is for our sanctification, our adoption, our deification, and God gets the ball rolling with the salvation history.”

David W. Fagerberg is Professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He holds masters degrees from Luther Northwestern Seminary, St. John’s University (Collegeville), Yale Divinity School, and Yale University. His Ph.D. is from Yale University in liturgical theology.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Universal Call to Holiness: How do you understand your role as a mystic, evangelist, and apostle in your daily life?
  2. Consecrating the Mundane: In what ways can you integrate liturgy, theology, asceticism, and mysticism into your everyday tasks?
  3. Manifesting Christ in Daily Life: How can you see Christ in the ordinary aspects of your life and in the people you encounter daily?
  4. Standing by the Cross: How do you assist at Mass and relate it to standing near the cross with Mary?
  5. Eucharistic Participation: How does your participation in the Eucharist nourish and capacitate you for spiritual warfare and service?
  6. Liturgical and Cosmic Connection: How do you perceive the connection between liturgical practices and God’s cosmic plan for redemption?
  7. Spiritual Discipline: How can you cultivate a disciplined, ascetic spirituality in your life?
  8. Sanctifying the Secular: In what specific ways can you sanctify the secular world through your actions and relationships?
  9. Living the Paschal Mystery: How do you live out the Paschal mystery in both your internal spiritual life and external actions?
  10. Recognizing Divine Nourishment: How do you recognize and respond to the ways Christ and the Church nourish you spiritually in your daily journey?

For more podcast episodes of this series visit the Pathways to Sacred Mysteries w/Dr. David Fagerberg page


David W. Fagerberg is Professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He holds masters degrees from Luther Northwestern Seminary, St. John’s University (Collegeville), Yale Divinity School, and Yale University. His Ph.D. is from Yale University in liturgical theology.

Fagerberg’s work has explored how the Church’s lex credendi (law of belief) is founded upon the Church’s lex orandi (law of prayer). This was expressed in Theologia Prima (Hillenbrand Books, 2003). He has integrated into this the Eastern Orthodox understanding of asceticism by considering its role in preparing the liturgical person. This was treated in On Liturgical Asceticism (Catholic University Press, 2013). And these two themes come together in Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology (Angelico Press, 2016).

He also has an avocation in G. K. Chesterton, having published Chesterton is Everywhere (Emmaus Press, 2013) and The Size of Chesterton’s Catholicism (University of Notre Dame, 1998).


Here are a few of Dr. Fagerberg’s books:
Liturgical Theology Liturgical Mysticism Liturgical Theology Theological Theology

DPD3 – Steps to a Deeper Prayer Life – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Steps to a Deeper Prayer Life – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss how the Examen opens our spiritual eyes, helping us see God’s concrete ways of loving us, which deepens our relationship with Him.

The Examen begins with gratitude, reflecting on specific moments where God has shown His love. Fr. Gallagher provides a detailed example through Jean, who reflects on various events of her day, recognizing God’s presence and expressing gratitude for each moment, whether it be a supportive conversation with her husband, a reassuring Mass reading, or a productive workday.

The second step is petition, where one asks for God’s help to see and understand the spiritual realities of the day. Fr. Gallagher underscores the importance of recognizing prayer as a gift from God, requiring His grace to perceive spiritual truths and guidance.

The importance of not rushing through the Examen, allowing ample time to recognize and be grateful for God’s specific gifts, and maintaining an awareness of the relational aspect of prayer, contrasting it with self-reliant efforts of moral improvement. This approach fosters a deeper spiritual growth and a closer relationship with God.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Awareness of God’s Love How have you experienced God’s concrete love in your life today?
  2. Gratitude in Daily Moments What specific moments from today are you grateful for, and how did they reveal God’s presence?
  3. Recognition of Gifts Can you identify particular gifts or blessings from God in today’s events or interactions?
  4. Spiritual Insights from Reflection What spiritual insights did you gain as you reflected on today’s experiences with God?
  5. Prayer of Petition How can you ask God for greater clarity and understanding of His presence in your daily life?
  6. Growth in Relationship with God In what ways can the Examen prayer deepen your relationship with God?
  7. Responding to God’s Love How do you feel called to respond to the love and blessings you have recognized in your day?
  8. Patience in Prayer Are you allowing yourself enough time to fully engage with each step of the Examen prayer?
  9. Dependence on God’s Grace How can you cultivate a greater dependence on God’s grace in your prayer life?
  10. Relational Aspect of Prayer How does recognizing prayer as a relational act with God change your approach to it?

St.-Ignatius-4

As outlined from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

(translated from the autograph by Fr. E. Mullan, S.J.  1909 in the public domain)

METHOD FOR MAKING THE GENERAL EXAMEN
It contains in it five Points.

First Point. The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.
Second Point. The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.
Third Point. The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order as was mentioned in the Particular Examen.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
Fifth Point. The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace.

OUR FATHER.


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

SH3 – The Gifts of the Sacred Heart – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast


The Gifts of the Sacred Heart – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. John Esseff discusses the concept of enthronement and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He emphasizes that the initiation of this devotion is God’s work, not ours. God calls individuals and families by name to belong to Him, initiating a relationship and union through prayer and consecration. This act of consecration involves giving back to God all that He has given us, including our very being, desires, and actions.

Msgr. Esseff explains that consecration is a powerful gift and a reciprocal promise: as we consecrate ourselves to God, He promises to bestow peace upon our families and homes. He recounts personal and observed experiences where the enthronement of the Sacred Heart brought inner peace, even amidst external turmoil and conflict.

Msgr. Esseff shares examples from various contexts, including religious life, marriage, and even a prison, to illustrate the transformative power of enthronement. He underscores that while conflicts and disagreements may still arise, the promise of peace and fulfillment in one’s state of life remains steadfast through devotion to the Sacred Heart.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. God’s Call and Our Response Reflect on how you have sensed God’s call in your life and how you have responded to it.
  2. The Gift of Consecration What areas of your life do you need to consecrate more fully to God?
  3. Experiencing God’s Peace How have you experienced God’s peace during times of conflict or turmoil?
  4. Living Your Vocation In what ways do you see God’s grace supporting you in your current vocation?
  5. Communicating in Relationships How can you improve communication with your loved ones to foster peace and understanding?
  6. Trusting God’s Promises Do you trust in God’s promises, and how can you strengthen that trust?
  7. Transformative Power of Devotion How can the examples of the transformative power of enthronement inspire you to invite the Sacred Heart into your life?

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 a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta. 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. Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and serves as a spiritual director for the Institute. He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.

BTP-L6 – Letter 169, pt. 1 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 169 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor delve into the life and spirituality of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. Dr. Lilles brings up her significance as a prophet for our times, offering a grounding in the Holy Trinity amid the frenzy of modern life. He explains how Elizabeth’s deep faith and prayer life provide a sense of heaven on earth, which resonates with many people today.

They explore Elizabeth’s relationships, especially her correspondence with Father Les, an old family friend and priest. Recounting how Elizabeth confided her vocation to Father Les as a child and how he supported her throughout her religious journey, we see Elizabeth’s profound spiritual insights, even during her “dark night,” illustrate her unwavering faith and eventual spiritual renewal.

Elizabeth’s letters, particularly one written in July 1903, reveal her spiritual depth and commitment. She writes about her intense desire to love God, seeing her profession as a dawn and her life as a bride of Christ as enveloped in peace and love. Her prayer life and silent communion with God allowed her to feel deeply connected to others, even when physically separated.

The broader implications of Elizabeth’s spirituality, emphasizing the importance of silent prayer and the mystical union with Christ. This union transcends physical separation, offering a profound sense of communion with others through Christ. This deep prayer life is not just a private endeavor but integral to the mystical body of Christ, fostering connections that surpass physical proximity.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding St. Elizabeth of the Trinity What qualities of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity make her a special prophet for our time according to Dr. Anthony Lilles?
  2. Spiritual Grounding  How does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity offer a sense of grounding through the Holy Trinity in today’s frenzied world?
  3. Personal Relationships  In what ways did St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s letters reflect her deep love and spiritual connection with her friends and family?
  4. Overcoming Darkness How did St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s experience of the dark night of the soul impact her spiritual journey and writings?
  5. The Role of Silent Prayer  Why does Dr. Anthony Lilles emphasize silent prayer as essential for deepening our communion with Christ and others?
  6. Mystical Body of Christ  How does the concept of the mystical body of Christ relate to our spiritual unity and personal relationships according to the discussion?
  7. Sacraments and Communion What is the significance of the sacraments of initiation in fostering our union with Christ and each other?
  8. Prayer and Mission  How does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s understanding of her mission on earth relate to her identity and prayer life?
  9. Embracing Suffering  What does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s life teach us about embracing suffering and its role in our spiritual growth?
  10. Surrender and Trust  How does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity exemplify joyful surrender to God’s will, and what can we learn from her example?

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 169

L 169
To Canon Angles
[ July 15, 1903]
Dijon Carmel,

J. M. + J. T.

Monsieur le Chanoine,

My dear Mama, whom I saw last week, brought me your good letter, and I assure you that I can indeed sympathize with the suffering your eyes are causing you, and I am praying fervently for you. I was wondering a little what had become of you, but you find your little Carmelite close to God, don’t you? And that is where she finds you too; then no more distance, no more separation, but already, as in Heaven, the fusion of hearts and souls! . . . How many things have happened since my last letter! I heard the Church say “Veni sponsa Christi” [Come, bride of Christ]; she consecrated me, and now all is “consummated.” Rather, everything is beginning, for profession is only a dawn; and each day my “life as a bride”3 seems to me more beautiful, more luminous, more enveloped in peace and love. During the night that preceded the great day, while I was in choir awaiting the Bridegroom, I understood that my Heaven was beginning on earth; Heaven in faith, with suffering and immolation for Him whom I love! . . . I so wish to love Him, to love Him as my seraphic Mother did, even to dying of it. We sing “O charitatis Victima” on her feast day, and that is my whole ambition: to be the prey of love! I think that in Carmel it is so simple to live by love; from morning to evening the Rule is there to express the will of God, moment by moment. If you knew how I love this Rule, which is the way He wants me to become holy. I do not know if I will have the happiness of giving my Bridegroom the witness of my blood [by martyrdom], but at least, if I fully live my Carmelite life, I have the consolation of wearing myself out for Him, for Him alone. Then what difference does the work He wills for me make? Since He is always with me, prayer, the heart-to-heart, must never end! I feel Him so alive in my soul. I have only to recollect myself to find Him within me, and that is my whole happiness. He has placed in my heart a thirst for the infinite and such a great need for love that He alone can satisfy it. I go to Him like a little child to its mother so He may fill, invade, everything, and then take me and carry me away in His arms. I think we must be so simple with God!

I am longing to send you my good Mama; you will see how God is working in this beloved soul. Sometimes I cry for happiness and gratitude; it is so good to be devoted to your mother, to feel that she, too, is completely His, to be able to tell her about your soul and to be completely understood! . . . You really are the great attraction of the trip, I assure you; I love to remember those vacations at Saint-Hilaire, then at Carcassonne and Labastide, they were the best ones I had. With what fatherly goodness you received the confidences I so loved to make to you; I would be happy if one day they could be made once again through my dear grilles. Won’t you come to bless your little Carmelite and, quite close to her, thank Him who “has loved her exceedingly,” for, you see, my happiness can no longer be expressed. Listen to what is being sung in my soul and all that is rising from the heart of the bride to the Heart of the Bridegroom for you whose little child she will always be. Send her your best blessing; at Holy Mass, bathe her in the Blood of the Bridegroom; it is the purity of the bride, and she is so thirsting for it! A Dieu, monsieur le Chanoine, affectionately and respectfully yours,

Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity r.c.i.

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 110-111). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


We would like to thank Miriam Gutierrez for providing “the voice” of St. Elizabeth for this series

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


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D., has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy and seminarians since 1994. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, he served at seminaries and houses of formation in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, holds a B.A. 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). An expert in the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church, he co-founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the High Calling Program for priestly vocations. He also founded the John Paul II Center for Contemplative Culture, which hosts symposiums, retreats, and conferences. In addition to his publications, he blogs at www.beginningtopray.com .

PSM2 – Liturgy as the Mystical Encounter – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Dr. David Fagerberg

Episode 2 – Liturgy as the Mystical Encounter  – Pathway to Sacred Mysteries with Dr. David Fagerberg Ph.D.

Dr. David Fagerberg and Kris McGregor discuss the deeper meaning of liturgy, emphasizing that it’s more than just a set of rules and structures. Liturgy is portrayed as a mystical encounter with Christ, where the structural elements serve to facilitate this deeper experience.

Dr. Fagerberg introduces the concept of a “grammar” to life and liturgy, where the rules and order create a foundation for meaningful expression and understanding. He draws parallels between liturgical discipline and other forms of structured training, such as athletics, where discipline and practice lead to greater freedom and mastery.

The discussion shifts to asceticism, described as a necessary discipline to clear the heart and soul, allowing for a deeper connection with the divine. Ascetic practices are likened to the preparatory steps of a bird taking flight, with the effort of asceticism enabling the mystical experience. Asceticism is about properly orienting one’s life towards God, not rejecting the world but engaging with it in a way that glorifies God and aligns with His will.


Here are some of the topics explored in this episode:

  • What melody is this liturgy supposed to be creating?
  • What is Liturgical Asceticism?
  • The influence of the Desert Fathers and St. Benedict of Nursia.
  • Who’s liturgy should we be doing on Sunday morning?
  • Whose liturgy should we be doing in our lives?

From the discussion with Dr. Fagerberg:

“There’s an ascetical effort and the mystical takes flight. I’ve seen pictures of birds that take lots and lots of steps. Oh, I’ve seen them take off from water. We might as well go back to baptismal imagery. Here’s the bird running along the surface of the waterfall. He’s flapping his wings and then takes off. the feet are the asceticism and the wings are mysticism.”

More taken from the discussion:

“The mystery of Christ, it sounds like the faithful are enabled to be mystics. So the definition finally arrives in 10 69. The word liturgy originally meant a public work, a service in the name of, or on behalf of the people. This was a Schmiemann phrase. The liturgy is the work of a few on behalf of the many. In ancient Rome, paying your taxes was called the liturgy. This was what you did for the sake of the public polis space. When the rich, sponsored a civic improvement project and made new roads, or when they sponsored a series of games in the Coliseum, not killing Christians, I presume, but chariot races, this was called their liturgy. It’s their contribution for the good of the city. Someone is doing a work to benefit others.

That’s the definition of the word liturgy. According to Catechism 10.69, which continues in Christian tradition, it means participation of the people of God in the work of God, the work of a few on behalf of the many, in this case, the work of three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on behalf of the human race, which stands cut off from God, alienated in death. The Father’s will is to destroy death and raise us to return a life through the Son and the Holy Spirit. And the work of salvation has unfolded from the bossom of the Father. So through liturgy Christ, our Redeemer and high priest continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his liturgy. Through the liturgy, Christ continues his work of redemption. So who’s liturgy should we be doing on Sunday morning? Not mine, not yours. Christ’s work of redemption should be continued.  Christ. When I meet my neighbor, I must be via Christ to him. She must be a Christ to me. This expands beyond the 50 minutes and the mystery, which Christ enacted by his passion, this pasta is a mystery that takes us up into it. And that’s why we’re mystics.”


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Liturgy Beyond Structure: How can we see liturgy as a mystical encounter with Christ rather than just a set of rules and rituals?
  2. The Role of Grammar in Liturgy: How does understanding the “grammar” of liturgy enhance our participation in it?
  3. The Connection Between Asceticism and Liturgy: In what ways can ascetic practices help us to participate more fully and consciously in the liturgy?
  4. Embracing Asceticism in Daily Life: What are practical ways we can incorporate ascetic discipline into our daily routines to deepen our spiritual lives?
  5. Learning from Monastic Traditions: How can the practices and insights of the Benedictines and other monastic traditions inform and enrich our own liturgical and spiritual practices?
  6. Living as a Liturgical Person: What does it mean to be a “liturgical person” in everyday life, and how can we strive to embody this in our actions and attitudes?
  7. Integrating Mysticism into Liturgy: How can we cultivate a mystical approach to liturgy that allows us to experience the mystery of Christ more profoundly?
  8. The Role of the Heart in Liturgy: What steps can we take to ensure that our participation in the liturgy comes from a place of full, active, and conscious engagement of the heart?
  9. The Impact of Liturgy on Daily Witness: How can our participation in the liturgy empower us to live out and witness the mystery of Christ in the world?
  10. Understanding the Economy of Salvation: How does reflecting on the concept of liturgy as the “work of a few on behalf of the many” deepen our appreciation for the communal and salvific aspects of liturgical worship?

For more podcast episodes of this series visit the Pathways to Sacred Mysteries w/Dr. David Fagerberg page


David W. Fagerberg is Professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He holds masters degrees from Luther Northwestern Seminary, St. John’s University (Collegeville), Yale Divinity School, and Yale University. His Ph.D. is from Yale University in liturgical theology.

Fagerberg’s work has explored how the Church’s lex credendi (law of belief) is founded upon the Church’s lex orandi (law of prayer). This was expressed in Theologia Prima (Hillenbrand Books, 2003). He has integrated into this the Eastern Orthodox understanding of asceticism by considering its role in preparing the liturgical person. This was treated in On Liturgical Asceticism (Catholic University Press, 2013). And these two themes come together in Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology (Angelico Press, 2016).

He also has an avocation in G. K. Chesterton, having published Chesterton is Everywhere (Emmaus Press, 2013) and The Size of Chesterton’s Catholicism (University of Notre Dame, 1998).


Here are a few of Dr. Fagerberg’s books:
Liturgical Theology Liturgical Mysticism Liturgical Theology Theological Theology

DPD2 – Ignatian Wisdom of the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Ignatian Wisdom of the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the Examen Prayer, a significant practice in Ignatian spirituality introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It’s  role in enhancing one’s spiritual life by fostering a clear-sighted faith and increasing awareness of God’s presence and actions in daily life. Fr. Gallagher explains that the Examen Prayer is not just introspection or examination but a relational dialogue between the person and God.

The first step in the Examen is gratitude, where one reflects on the day to recognize and appreciate the gifts and love received from God. This step sets a positive foundation for the rest of the prayer, encouraging individuals to focus on God’s actions before considering their responses. Gallagher shares personal anecdotes to illustrate how recognizing these daily gifts can transform one’s perspective and deepen the relationship with God.

Gratitude, he argues, is the most effective way to grow in love for God, as it opens the heart to the endless outpouring of God’s gifts. This practice, even when initially challenging, gradually reshapes one’s spiritual awareness and relationship with the divine.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. The Essence of the Examen Prayer How does the Examen Prayer foster a deeper relationship with God rather than being just an act of introspection or examination?
  2. Importance of Gratitude Why does St. Ignatius prioritize gratitude as the first step in the Examen Prayer, and how can this practice transform our daily spiritual lives?
  3. Recognition of God’s Gifts Reflect on a specific instance in your life where recognizing God’s gifts changed your perspective. How can daily acknowledgment of these gifts impact your overall spiritual growth?
  4. Overcoming Initial Challenges What challenges might you face when starting the Examen Prayer, especially in the step of gratitude, and how can persistence help in overcoming these challenges?
  5. Daily Application and Benefits How can setting aside a few minutes each day to practice the Examen Prayer, specifically focusing on gratitude, lead to a richer and more fulfilling spiritual life?
  6. Relationship Dynamics In what ways can recognizing and appreciating the gifts from God change your relationship with Him and others in your life?
  7. Practical Implementation Considering Fr. Gallagher’s examples, how can you practically implement the Examen Prayer in your daily routine to enhance your spiritual awareness and relationship with God?

St.-Ignatius-4

As outlined from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

(translated from the autograph by Fr. E. Mullan, S.J.  1909 in the public domain)

METHOD FOR MAKING THE GENERAL EXAMEN
It contains in it five Points.

First Point. The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.
Second Point. The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.
Third Point. The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order as was mentioned in the Particular Examen.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
Fifth Point. The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace.

OUR FATHER.


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

St. Anthony of Padua – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Anthony of Padua Doctor of Church Matthew Bunson PodcastSt. Anthony of Padua – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: August 15, 1195, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Died: June 13, 1231, Padua, Italy
  • Buried: Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Padua, Italy
  • Parents: Vicente Martins , Teresa Pais Taveira

Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses with Kris McGregor the life and legacy of St. Anthony of Padua. They explore his widespread veneration and many patronages, emphasizing that although many know him for his aid in finding lost items, his theological contributions are equally significant. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, not Italy, and his birth name was Fernando Martins. Initially an Augustinian, he later joined the Franciscans, inspired by the martyrdom of five Franciscan friars in Morocco.

His theological brilliance and dedication to a life of prayer led to his significant role within the Franciscan order. Known for his powerful preaching and conversion of heretics, Anthony was also a spiritual director and confessor. His sermons, deeply rooted in scripture and theological interpretation, earned him the title of Doctor of the Church. Despite his early death at 35, Anthony’s legacy endures through his teachings and miracles, including the famous story of preaching to the fish.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Anthony’s Legacy: How does learning about St. Anthony’s theological contributions and not just his popular image deepen your appreciation of his role in the Church?
  2. Recognizing True Patronage: What does St. Anthony’s extensive list of patronages tell us about his impact on various aspects of life and faith?
  3. The Call to Religious Life: How did St. Anthony’s journey from an Augustinian to a Franciscan inspire you to consider the different paths one might take in following God’s call?
  4. Impact of Martyrdom: How does the martyrdom of the five Franciscan friars in Morocco reflect on the sacrifice and commitment required in religious life?
  5. The Power of Preaching: In what ways can St. Anthony’s dedication to preaching and his ability to convert heretics inspire you in your own faith journey and evangelization efforts?
  6. Encounter with St. Francis: What can we learn from St. Anthony’s transformative encounter with St. Francis about the importance of mentorship and guidance in spiritual growth?
  7. Balancing Knowledge and Humility: How did St. Anthony’s ability to balance profound theological knowledge with humility and simplicity serve as a model for contemporary faith practice?
  8. Theological Legacy: How does understanding the theological traditions established by St. Anthony within the Franciscan Order influence your view of the Order’s teachings and practices?
  9. Spiritual Teachings: How can St. Anthony’s method of interpreting scripture using the four senses (literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical) enhance your personal scripture study and reflection?
  10. Miracles and Holiness: What lessons can be drawn from the stories of St. Anthony’s miracles, such as preaching to the fish and his incorrupt tongue, about the nature of sanctity and divine approval?
  11. Enduring Influence: How does reflecting on St. Anthony’s enduring influence, despite his early death, inspire you to consider the lasting impact of a life devoted to faith and service?

For more on St. Anthony of Padua and his teachings

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI :

From the General Audience on St. Anthony of Padua

“With his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and, primarily, mystic fervour, Anthony contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality.

In St Anthony’s teaching on prayer we perceive one of the specific traits of the Franciscan theology that he founded: namely the role assigned to divine love which enters into the sphere of the affections, of the will and of the heart, and which is also the source from which flows a spiritual knowledge that surpasses all other knowledge. In fact, it is in loving that we come to know.

Anthony writes further: “Charity is the soul of faith, it gives it life; without love, faith dies” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi II, Messagero, Padua 1979, p. 37).

It is only the prayerful soul that can progress in spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St Anthony’s preaching. He is thoroughly familiar with the shortcomings of human nature, with our tendency to lapse into sin, which is why he continuously urges us to fight the inclination to avidity, pride and impurity; instead of practising the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and of purity. At the beginning of the 13th century, in the context of the rebirth of the city and the flourishing of trade, the number of people who were insensitive to the needs of the poor increased. This is why on various occasions Anthony invites the faithful to think of the true riches, those of the heart, which make people good and merciful and permit them to lay up treasure in Heaven. “O rich people”, he urged them, “befriend… the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquillity of eternal satiety” (ibid., p. 29).

Anthony, in the school of Francis, always put Christ at the centre of his life and thinking, of his action and of his preaching. This is another characteristic feature of Franciscan theology: Christocentrism. Franciscan theology willingly contemplates and invites others to contemplate the mysteries of the Lord’s humanity, the man Jesus, and in a special way the mystery of the Nativity: God who made himself a Child and gave himself into our hands, a mystery that gives rise to sentiments of love and gratitude for divine goodness.

For more visit Vatican.va


For more from Dr. Matthew Bunson, check out his Discerning Hearts page.

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and a senior contributor to EWTN News. For the past 20 years, he has been active in the area of Catholic social communications and education, including writing, editing, and teaching on a variety of topics related to Church history, the papacy, the saints and Catholic culture. He is faculty chair at Catholic Distance University, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and the author or co-author of over 50 books including The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, The Pope Encyclopedia, We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, The Saints Encyclopedia and best-selling biographies of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

SH2 – Introduction to the Sacred Heart, Continued – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Introduction to the Enthronement, Continued – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. John Esseff discusses preparing for Jesus’ presence in the home, the importance of confession, and heart examination, symbolized by the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

He advises creating a dedicated space in the home for these images to foster spiritual unity and devotion within the family. The enthronement ceremony involves professing faith, consecrating the home, and establishing a continuous spiritual connection with Jesus, leading to a transformative and sanctified family life.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Reflect on the importance of preparation: What steps do you take to prepare your heart for Jesus’ presence in your life?
  2. Confession and spiritual inventory: How can a thorough examination and confession help in receiving Jesus more fully?
  3. External and internal preparation: How do you balance the physical preparation of your home with the spiritual readiness of your heart?
  4. The significance of sacred images: What does the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolize for you and your family?
  5. Family unity in faith: How can your family come together to embrace and live out your faith daily?
  6. The role of the Holy Spirit: How do you invite the Holy Spirit into your heart and home to reveal and cleanse what separates you from God?
  7. Consecration and commitment: What does it mean to consecrate your home and family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
  8. Living out faith publicly: How can you publicly profess and live out your faith within your community?
  9. The impact of spiritual devotion: How does having a dedicated space for prayer and reflection impact your family’s spiritual life?
  10. Understanding enthronement: How do you understand and explain the significance of the enthronement ceremony to others?

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 a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta. 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. Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and serves as a spiritual director for the Institute. He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.

BTP-L5 – Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor look into a letter from Elizabeth of the Trinity that reflects her profound reflections on the Eucharist and its spiritual significance. Elizabeth sees the Eucharist as the ultimate expression of God’s love, a foretaste of the beatific vision, and a source of heavenly communion on earth: The union with God through the Eucharist, where believers experience a deep, personal love and presence of God, which transforms them.

They also touch on the historical context of Elizabeth’s time, particularly the closing of the Carmel chapel due to anti-church sentiments in France. Despite external turmoil, Elizabeth focuses on the internal, spiritual reality, urging believers to find solace and transformation in the Eucharist.

Elizabeth’s insights are relevant today, especially for those struggling with self-worth and life’s hardships. She encourages turning inward to God’s immense love in the Eucharist, withdrawing from external distractions, and embracing the presence of Christ in faith, even amidst darkness and trials; as well as renunciation, humility, and accepting God’s trials to make space for His presence in our hearts. The role of Mary, the Mother of God, in guiding believers towards a simple, fruitful surrender to God’s will.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Elizabeth’s View of the Eucharist How does Elizabeth of the Trinity describe the Eucharist as a consummation of God’s love and a foretaste of the beatific vision?
  2. Historical Context and Spiritual Focus What does Elizabeth’s focus on spiritual realities instead of external turmoil teach us about handling modern-day challenges?
  3. Dealing with Self-Loathing and Hardships How can Elizabeth’s perspective on God’s immense love help individuals struggling with self-loathing and feelings of failure?
  4. Renunciation and Creating Space for God What are practical ways we can practice renunciation in our daily lives to make space for God’s peace and presence?
  5. Embracing Trials for Spiritual Growth How can accepting and surrendering to God during times of trial open our hearts to a deeper relationship with Him?
  6. Role of Mary in Spiritual Life How can we look to Mary, the Mother of God, for guidance and support in our spiritual journey towards a simple, fruitful surrender?
  7. Eucharist as Bread for the Journey In what ways can receiving the Eucharist strengthen and heal us, especially in times of spiritual sickness or challenge?
  8. Silence and Peace in a Noisy World How can we cultivate a soul that is wholly at peace amid the noise and distractions of modern life?
  9. Faith in Darkness What does it mean to have “faith in darkness,” and how can this deepen our bond with Jesus?
  10. Support of the Saints and Angels How can the knowledge that we are supported by the saints, angels, and the Blessed Mother give us courage and strength in our faith journey?

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 165

[ June 14, 1903]
Dijon Carmel, June 14
J. M. + J. T.

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”2

Monsieur l’Abbé, It seems to me that nothing better expresses the love in God’s Heart than the Eucharist: it is union, consummation, He in us, we in Him, and isn’t that Heaven on earth? Heaven in faith while awaiting the face-to-face vision we so desire. Then “we will be satisfied when His glory appears,”3 when we see Him in His light. Don’t you find that the thought of this meeting refreshes the soul, this talk with Him whom it loves solely? Then everything disappears and it seems that one is already entering into the mystery of God! . . .

This whole mystery is so much “ours,” as you said to me in your letter. Oh! pray, won’t you, that I may live fully my bridal dowry. That I may be wholly available, wholly vigilant in faith, so the Master can bear me wherever He wishes. I wish to stay always close to Him who knows the whole mystery, to hear everything from Him. “The language of the Word is the infusion of the gift,”4 oh yes, it is really so, isn’t it, that He speaks to our soul in silence. I find this dear silence a blessing. From Ascension to Pentecost, we were in retreat in the Cenacle, waiting for the Holy Spirit, and it was so good.5 During that whole Octave6 we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the oratory; those are divine hours spent in this little corner of Heaven where we possess the vision in substance under the humble Host. Yes, He whom the blessed contemplate in light and we adore in faith is really the same One. The other day someone wrote me such a beautiful thought, I send it on to you: “Faith is the face-to-face in darkness.”7 Why wouldn’t it be so for us, since God is in us and since He asks only to take possession of us as He took possession of the saints? Only, they were always attentive, as Père Vallée says: “They are silent, recollected, and their only activity is to be the being who receives.”8 Let us unite ourselves, therefore, Father, in making happy Him who “has loved us exceedingly,”9 as Saint Paul says. Let us make a dwelling for Him in our soul that is wholly at peace,10 in which the canticle of love, of thanksgiving, is always being sung; and then that great silence, the echo of the silence that is in God! . . . Then, as you said, let us approach the all-pure, all-luminous Virgin, that she may present us to Him whom she has penetrated so profoundly, and may our life be a continual communion, a wholly simple movement toward God. Pray to the Queen of Carmel for me; I, for my part, pray fervently for you, I assure you, and I remain with you in adoration and love! . . .

Sister Marie Elizabeth of the Trinity, r.c.i.

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 105-106). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


We would like to thank Miriam Gutierrez for providing “the voice” of St. Elizabeth for this series

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


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D., has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy and seminarians since 1994. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, he served at seminaries and houses of formation in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, holds a B.A. 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). An expert in the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church, he co-founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the High Calling Program for priestly vocations. He also founded the John Paul II Center for Contemplative Culture, which hosts symposiums, retreats, and conferences. In addition to his publications, he blogs at www.beginningtopray.com .