BTP-LOT11 – St. Teresa’s Transformative Moment – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Teresa’s Transformative Moment – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor explore Chapter 9 of St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography in part one of a two-part episode, starting with her transformative encounter with a statue of the wounded Christ. This pivotal moment leads to deep conversion as Teresa, tired of a dual life, experiences tears of compunction, realizing Christ’s sacrificial love.

Dr. Lilles highlights the method of prayer Teresa adopts, particularly the importance of using one’s imagination to picture Christ during prayer and using that as a connection to the remembrance of Christ and the transformative power of returning to moments of grace through prayer.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. How do external objects of devotion, like statues, aid your prayer life?
  2. In what ways can spiritual exhaustion manifest in your own journey, hindering genuine peace in prayer?
  3. Reflect on a moment when you felt spiritually vulnerable and encountered God’s love.
  4. Consider Teresa’s commitment not to backslide. How can you maintain spiritual progress amidst life’s challenges?
  5. Explore the role of tears in contrition and conversion. How has compunction (the gift of tears) played a part in your spiritual growth?
  6. Reflect on your prayer methods. How does your imagination contribute to your encounters with Christ?
  7. In what ways can you incorporate the remembrance of Christ into your daily prayer life for transformative effects?

An excerpt from Chapter 9, discussed in this episode:

“My soul was now grown weary; and the miserable habits it had contracted would not suffer it to rest, though it was desirous of doing so. It came to pass one day, when I went into the oratory, that I saw a picture which they had put by there, and which had been procured for a certain feast observed in the house. It was a representation of Christ most grievously wounded; and so devotional, that the very sight of it, when I saw it, moved me—so well did it show forth that which He suffered for us. So keenly did I feel the evil return I had made for those wounds, that I thought my heart was breaking. I threw myself on the ground beside it, my tears flowing plenteously, and implored Him to strengthen me once for all, so that I might never offend Him any more.

I had a very great devotion to the glorious Magdalene, and very frequently used to think of her conversion—especially when I went to Communion. As I knew for certain that our Lord was then within me, I used to place myself at His feet, thinking that my tears would not be despised. I did not know what I was saying; only He did great things for me, in that He was pleased I should shed those tears, seeing that I so soon forgot that impression. I used to recommend myself to that glorious Saint, that she might obtain my pardon.

But this last time, before that picture of which I am speaking, I seem to have made greater progress; for I was now very distrustful of myself, placing all my confidence in God. It seems to me that I said to Him then that I would not rise up till He granted my petition. I do certainly believe that this was of great service to me, because I have grown better ever since.”


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.

SD1 – Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss spiritual desolation in the context of Ignatian spirituality, focusing on three important actions: Being aware, understanding, and taking action. They highlight the confusion between desolation and depression, emphasizing the need for clarity.

Fr. Gallagher shares insights from St. Ignatius’ conversion experience, highlighting his awareness, understanding, and how he took action during that time. Fr. Gallagher also explores practical steps to reject desolation and move towards the goal of spiritual consolation. The saints’ relatable struggles underscore the universal nature of the spiritual journey, providing hope and guidance for discernment.


From the Prologue of Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

Five hundred years ago, Ignatius entered the realm of the heart and crafted a set of guidelines for responding to interior experience, both joyful (spiritual consolation) and discouraging (spiritual desolation), on the spiritual level. These guidelines, when well explained, equip hearers to be aware of, understand the significance of, and take action in response to their spiritual experience. Said differently, they take Christian anthropology—the fact that only in Christ can the human person be understood fully—seriously, and render it operative. When one applies these guidelines, the full Christian understanding of the human person ceases to remain a theological construct and is rendered concretely applicable in daily living. For over three decades, I have seen many apply these guidelines with much fruit.


You can find this book here

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you distinguish between spiritual desolation and depression in your own life, and why is this distinction important in the context of Ignatian spirituality?
  2. Reflect on a moment in your life when you experienced spiritual consolation. How did that experience impact your relationship with God and your spiritual journey?
  3. In your understanding, how does the concept of being aware, understanding, and taking action apply to discernment in the spiritual life? Share a personal example if possible.
  4. Consider the role of hope in facing spiritual desolation. How can the teachings of Ignatius and the experiences of saints inspire hope in times of discouragement?
  5. How has the universal nature of the spiritual struggle, as discussed in the podcast, resonated with your own experiences? In what ways does knowing that saints faced similar challenges provide encouragement for your spiritual journey?
  6. Discuss the importance of sharing personal stories and experiences in the context of Catholic spirituality. How can your own journey serve as a mirror for others, fostering a sense of community and mutual understanding in faith?

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

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

How Can You Be the Light of Christ? -The Epiphany – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff

Do people see Christ in you?

Epiphany Msgr. John Esseff Light of Christ

In this podcast episode, Monsignor John Esseff reflects on the significance of the Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. He begins by reflecting on the beauty of the stars and their symbolism as a guide. Monsignor explains that the Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the three kings who followed a star to find Jesus and offer gifts, fulfilling ancient prophecies.

He emphasizes that Jesus’ birth was not only for the Jews but for all nations. This universal aspect of Jesus’ mission is highlighted by the fact that the Magi were from different nations. Msgr. Esseff relates this story to the present, asking listeners to consider how Jesus is manifested in today’s world. He suggests that each individual has the potential to reveal Christ to others through their actions and words.

The podcast includes personal anecdotes and reflections on how various individuals, including saints and ordinary people, have radiated the light of Christ in their lives. Msgr. Esseff encourages listeners to be a “star” in their community, radiating the light and love of Jesus through their actions and interactions. He concludes with a call for all Christians to manifest Christ in their daily lives, shining as lights to the nations and continuing the work of the Epiphany in the modern world.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Reflection on Embodying Christ’s Teachings: How can you actively demonstrate Christ’s teachings and love through your actions and interactions with others? Consider how your behavior, speech, and overall demeanor can serve as a reflection of Jesus’s message in your community and daily life.
  2. Understanding of Epiphany: How does the story of the Epiphany, with the three kings and the star, deepen your understanding of God’s universal love and plan for salvation? Reflect on the significance of Jesus being revealed not just to the Jews, but to all nations.
  3. Role Models of Faith: Msgr. Esseff mentioned various individuals who radiated Christ’s light in their lives. Who in your life has been a “radiant star,” guiding you closer to Jesus? Reflect on how their example has influenced your faith journey.
  4. Call to Action: Msgr. Esseff emphasizes being a light to the nations. What specific actions can you take in your community or circle of influence to be a source of Christ’s light and love to others?
  5. Personal Epiphanies: Have you experienced any moments of epiphany in your own spiritual journey where Christ was particularly revealed to you? Reflect on these moments and consider how they have shaped your relationship with God and your understanding of your Christian mission.

Reading 1 IS 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as 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 Pope St. 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, sisters, seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.    

 

 

FJ7 – The Complexity of Brain Death – The Final Journey with Dr. Stephen Doran M.D. – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

Episode 7 – The Complexity of Brain Death – The Final Journey with Dr. Stephen Doran, M.D.

In this episode, Dr. Stephen Doran and Kris McGregor explore brain death, its historical evolution, and challenges in determining death for organ transplantation. Highlighting the ontological nature of death, Dr. Doran cautions against dehumanizing language, and encourage trust in God for guidance in end-of-life decisions. He also mentions the significance of precise criteria and highlights the impact of a third party in organ donation decisions.

Dr. Doran advises against succumbing to perceived urgency, urging reflection and prayer. For those with regrets, he advocates assuming good intent, learning from the experience, and moving forward with newfound strength.

For more episodes in the series, visit The Final Journey: Insights from a Catholic Doctor and Neurosurgeon w/ Dr. Stephen Doran M.D.  – Discerning Hearts Podcasts.

Stephen Doran, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon with over twenty-five years of experience, is an ordained permanent deacon and serves as the bioethicist for the Archdiocese of Omaha. His writings in bioethics, neurosurgery, and gene therapy for brain disorders have been widely published in national media outlets, academic journals, and neurosurgery textbooks. He is married with five sons. He co-founded Seeking Truth Catholic Bible Study with his wife, Sharon.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Ontological Reflection: How does Dr. Doran’s discussion deepen your understanding of death as an ontological event, separating the soul from the body?
  2. Evolution of Criteria: In what ways has the historical evolution of criteria for determining death influenced your perception of end-of-life decisions?
  3. Dehumanizing Language: Reflect on the caution against dehumanizing language, such as “harvest.” How can language impact attitudes towards organ donation and end-of-life decisions?
  4. Impact of External Interests: Consider the role of a third party in organ donation decisions. How does this introduction of external interests impact the decision-making process?
  5. Avoiding Perceived Urgency: Dr. Doran advises against succumbing to perceived urgency in end-of-life decisions. How can this perspective change your approach to such decisions?
  6. Prayerful Guidance: Reflect on the advice to trust in God for guidance in end-of-life decisions. How does prayer play a role in your decision-making process, especially in difficult situations?


You can find the book here

From the book description:

Dr. Stephen Doran draws from his vast experience as a neurosurgeon, a bioethicist, and a permanent deacon to present the Catholic perspective on the art of dying well. The spiritual and moral issues related to death and the process of dying can be challenging and complicated. To Die Well provides a detailed yet readily understandable guide to these topics.

Each chapter begins with a story from Dr. Doran’s personal or professional life that not only provides context for the topic at hand but also gently draws the reader toward the personal realities of dying. The first part focuses on the moral issues that surround death and dying, including end-of-life medical decisions. The second part is devoted to the Catholic spiritual understanding of dying and the rites that accompany the death of a Catholic.

To Die Well will help readers contemplate, pray about, and prepare for the end of their earthly lives.

LORT11 – Echoes of Eucatastrophe: Unveiling Spiritual Truths – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy GallagherEchoes of Eucatastrophe: Unveiling Spiritual Truths – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

In the final episode of “A Lord of the Rings Spiritual Retreat,” Father Timothy Gallagher concludes his profound exploration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories.” Here, he emphasizes how fairy tales transcend age, captivating both children and adults with their enchanting narratives that delve into universal themes of joy, sorrow, and the perennial battle between good and evil.

Father Gallagher meticulously dissects Tolkien’s notion of ‘eucatastrophe,’ a term coined to describe a sudden, redemptive turn of events in a story, effectively tying it to the Christian ethos of salvation and redemption. He presents Tolkien’s fantasy world as a reflective mirror of our reality – a world where hope and joy triumph in the face of despair, underscored by God’s redemptive grace.

This final episode also highlights other literary giants like George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis, who, akin to Tolkien, utilize fantasy as a medium to convey profound spiritual truths. Gallagher encourages listeners to delve into these narratives, offering insights into the workings of grace in both our personal spiritual journeys and the wider world.

As the retreat draws to a close, Father Gallagher invites listeners to perceive Tolkien’s work as a metaphor for our spiritual journey. The experiences of the characters in “The Lord of the Rings,” particularly their encounters with eucatastrophe, mirror our own life experiences where hope and redemption are possible amidst tribulation and adversity.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Eucatastrophe and Personal Faith: Reflect on a moment in your life that felt like a ‘eucatastrophe’ – a sudden turn from despair to hope. How did this experience strengthen or challenge your faith?
  2. Fairy Stories and Spiritual Truths: How do fairy stories or fantasy literature, like Tolkien’s works, help you understand or relate to spiritual truths in your own life? Can you identify any specific instances where such a story mirrored your spiritual journey?
  3. The Battle Between Good and Evil: In what ways do you experience the battle between good and evil in your daily life? How do you find strength and guidance in your Catholic faith to navigate this battle?
  4. Grace in Trials and Tribulations: Consider a difficult period in your life. How did you experience God’s grace during this time? Did this period bring any insights or deepened understanding of God’s plan for you?
  5. Joy and Sorrow in Faith: Reflect on how joy and sorrow coexist in your spiritual life. How do these emotions bring depth to your understanding and experience of faith?
  6. Christian Redemption and Personal Salvation: How do you relate the Christian concept of redemption and salvation to your personal life? Are there aspects of your life where you’ve felt particularly redeemed or called to a deeper understanding of salvation?
  7. Hope in a Fallen World: In the face of global or personal challenges, how does your faith sustain your hope? What role does prayer, the sacraments, and community play in maintaining this hope?
  8. Spiritual Growth Through Literature: How has engaging with spiritually-themed literature, like Tolkien’s works, contributed to your spiritual growth or understanding of your faith?
  9. Tolkien’s Vision and Christian Living: How can J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of a world filled with hope, courage, and redemption inspire your everyday Christian living?
  10. The Call to Spiritual Adventure: In what ways are you being called to a ‘spiritual adventure’ in your life right now? How does this call align with your understanding of God’s purpose for you?

I PROPOSE to speak about fairy-stories, though I am aware that this is a rash adventure.  Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. And overbold I may be accounted, for though I have been a lover of fairy-stories since I learned to read, and have at times thought about them, I have not studied them professionally. I have been hardly more than a wandering explorer (or trespasser) in the land, full of wonder but not of information.

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. On Fairy Stories http://brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2004/fairystories-tolkien.pdf

For more episodes in this series:  A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

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

LORT10 – The Experience of Eucatastrophe – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher In this episode, Fr. Gallagher  discusses “eucatastrophe.”  J. R. R. Tolkien defined this term in his lecture “On Fairy-Stories,” as a “good catastrophe, the sudden joyous ‘turn’…it is a sudden and miraculous grace…a fleeting glimpse of Joy” (On Fairy-Stories 153) Going further, it is a moment experienced in the Gospel, referencing the greatest moment of eucatastrophe in human history: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (On Fairy-Stories 156). When understood through the mechanism of eucatastrophe “The Lord of the Rings” becomes a “fundamentally religious and Catholic work” (Letter 142).

Father Gallagher’s reflections extend to the joy of heaven as imagined in literature, drawing parallels between Tolkien’s fictional world and Christian eschatology. He concludes with a focus on the joys of home and family, as seen in Tolkien’s works, emphasizing their importance in both the spiritual and earthly realms.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Experiencing ‘Eucatastrophe’: Reflect on an instance in your life that mirrored a ‘eucatastrophe’ – a sudden shift from hardship to joy. How did this experience impact your faith and understanding of God’s plan?
  2. Joy from Sorrow: How do you comprehend the Christian concept of finding joy in sorrow, as seen from Good Friday to Easter Sunday? Have you experienced such a transformation in your life?
  3. Nature’s Divine Connection: Reflect on moments when you’ve felt God’s presence in nature. How do these experiences enhance your spiritual life?
  4. Stories Shaping Faith: Think of a story, biblical or literary, that profoundly influenced your spiritual journey. What lesson did you take from it?
  5. Heavenly Joy in Daily Life: Can you identify moments in your life that seemed like a glimpse of heavenly joy? How do these moments influence your perspective on spirituality?
  6. Home and Family as Spiritual Foundations: How do your family and home life reflect Christian virtues like love and sacrifice? What steps can you take to strengthen these virtues?
  7. Learning from Fictional Characters: Which character in “The Lord of the Rings” resonates with you spiritually, and what lessons can you draw from their journey?

Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: ‘It wasn’t a dream! Then where are we?’ And a voice spoke softly behind him: ‘In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.’ With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. ‘Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?’ he said. But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped:

‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’ ‘

A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed. ‘How do I feel?’ he cried. ‘Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’ – he waved his arms in the air – ‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!’

 

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Kindle Locations 4133-4140). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

 

Frodo ran to meet him, and Sam followed close behind. ‘Well, if this isn’t the crown of all!’ he said. ‘Strider, or I’m still asleep!’

‘Yes, Sam, Strider,’ said Aragorn. ‘It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me? A long way for us all, but yours has been the darkest road.’

And then to Sam’s surprise and utter confusion he bowed his knee before them; and taking them by the hand, Frodo upon his right and Sam upon his left, he led them to the throne, and setting them upon it, he turned to the men and captains who stood by and spoke, so that his voice rang over all the host, crying:

‘Praise them with great praise!’

And when the glad shout had swelled up and died away again, to Sam’s final and complete satisfaction and pure joy, a minstrel of Gondor stood forth, and knelt, and begged leave to sing. And behold! he said:

‘Lo! lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and Dúnedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and greathearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.’ And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he wept.

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Kindle Locations 4178-4193). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

For more episodes in this series:  A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

 

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. Basil the Great – The Doctors of the Church with Dr. Matthew Bunson – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Basil the Great – The Doctors of the Church with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: 330 AD, Kayseri, Turkey
  • Died: January 1, 379 AD, Kayseri, Turkey
  • Siblings: Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina the Younger, Theosebia

Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor discuss the life of St. Basil the Great. St. Basil defended Christ’s divinity during the Arian controversy, contributed significantly to understanding the Holy Trinity and pneumatology. Pope St. Pius V declared him a doctor of the Church in 1568 amid the Council of Trent. St. Basil’s commitment to social teachings, exemplified as bishop of Caesarea, reflects his deep concern for the dignity of every person.

The significance of his family, including siblings like St. Gregory of Nyssa, is acknowledged. St. Basil’s emphasis on eternal life and indifference to worldly achievements serves as a key aspect of his legacy.

Dr. Bunson provides insights into the multifaceted contributions of St. Basil as a defender of faith, social advocate, and influential figure in the development of monastic traditions.


St. Basil the Great

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How does St. Basil’s defense of Christ’s divinity during the Arian controversy inspire your understanding of the importance of precise theological language in discussions about faith?
  2. In what ways can we, like St. Basil, actively engage in social teachings and demonstrate a deep concern for the dignity of every person in our communities?
  3. Reflect on St. Basil’s contributions to monasticism, particularly his emphasis on communal living, care for the poor, and humility. How can these principles be applied to your own spiritual journey?
  4. Consider the significance of St. Basil’s family, including St. Gregory of Nyssa. How does the family dynamic contribute to their collective impact on the Church, and how might our own families reflect and support our faith?
  5. St. Basil placed great importance on eternal life over earthly achievements. How can we adopt a similar perspective in our daily lives, focusing on spiritual growth and the pursuit of the divine rather than worldly success?

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

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and 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.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus – The Doctors of the Church with Dr. Matthew Bunson – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Gregory of Nazianzus – The Doctors of the Church with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: 329 AD
  • Died: January 1, 390 AD

Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor explore St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Nazianzen), a doctor of the Church. St. Gregory faced the Arian heresy and a tension between solitude and serving as a priest. His theological contributions include emphasizing “consubstantial” and defending the Trinity. Dr. Bunson highlights his views on Christ’s full humanity, theosis, and the connection between theology and prayer, making special note of Pope Benedict XVI’s insights on St. Gregory as well.

St. Gregory’s teachings provide timeless prescriptions for addressing heresy, offering valuable lessons for today’s challenges in defending the faith.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How does St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ struggle between solitude and active service resonate with your own spiritual journey and the challenges of balancing personal prayer with engagement in the world?
  2. In what ways can St. Gregory’s response to the Arian heresy inspire you to actively defend and uphold the Church’s teachings in your community or personal life?
  3. Reflect on the significance of the term “consubstantial” in describing the relationship within the Trinity. How does this theological concept deepen your understanding of God?
  4. Consider St. Gregory’s emphasis on theosis. How can you strive to become more like Christ in your daily life?
  5. How can you integrate prayer into your study of theology to enhance your relationship with God and the Church?

For more on St. Gregory of Nazianzus and his teachings:

 

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


Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and 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.

LORT9 – Spiritual Joy and Hope – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Spiritual Joy and Hope – A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher In this episode, Fr. Gallagher continues to discuss the virtue of joy in the “Lord of the Rings,” even in the face of challenges and suffering. He emphasizes the persistent joy found amidst the characters’ struggles, pointing out the deep friendships, like those between Sam and Frodo, as metaphors for spiritual companionship and support.

Father Gallagher also sheds light on Tolkien’s profound love for nature, evident in his detailed descriptions and personal letters. He suggests that Tolkien’s connection to the natural world goes beyond aesthetic appreciation, touching on a contemplative, spiritual relationship with creation. The episode poignantly touches on the bittersweetness of deep friendships through the lens of Gimli’s parting with Lady Galadriel, highlighting the joy and sorrow inherent in true connections.

A significant focus is placed on the theme of hope, particularly through King Theoden’s revival by Gandalf. This revival symbolizes the Christian belief in redemption and the power of hope to illuminate even the darkest times. Gandalf’s character is discussed as a beacon of unshakeable joy, a reflection of the Christian understanding of God’s eternal love and grace.

Father Gallagher concludes with a powerful reminder that the core message of both “The Lord of the Rings” and the Gospel is one of good news and hope, despite life’s sorrows and challenges.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

1. Friendship and Faith: How do the friendships in “The Lord of the Rings” mirror the Christian concept of communal support in our spiritual lives?

2. Nature and Contemplation: In what ways does Tolkien’s portrayal of nature in “The Lord of the Rings” deepen your appreciation for God’s creation?

3. Joy and Sorrow in Spirituality: Reflect on Gimli’s mixed feelings of joy and sorrow with Lady Galadriel. How does this relate to your own spiritual desires and experiences?

4. Themes of Redemption and Resurrection: How does the revival of King Theoden by Gandalf symbolize Christian themes of redemption and resurrection in your life?

5. Finding Joy in Trials: Gandalf exhibits joy amidst sorrow. How can this perspective help you face challenges in your faith journey?

6. Hope in the Midst of Darkness: The episode highlights finding hope in dark times. Share a personal experience where you found hope in a difficult situation.

7. Life and Fictional Spiritual Journeys: How do the spiritual themes in “The Lord of the Rings” reflect in your own life, reinforcing the Christian message of hope and joy?

8. The Lord of the Rings as a Spiritual Allegory: Reflect on “The Lord of the Rings” as a spiritual allegory. How does this change your view of the story and its characters?

9. Seeking Deeper Spiritual Truths: How does Tolkien’s narrative inspire you to seek deeper spiritual meanings in everyday stories and experiences?

10. Embracing Spiritual Lessons: How does this episode inspire you to embrace both the joys and challenges of your spiritual journey, similar to the characters in “The Lord of the Rings”?


‘Are you angry with me, Gandalf?’ he said, as their guide went out and closed the door. ‘I did the best I could.’

‘You did indeed!’ said Gandalf, laughing suddenly; and he came and stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the hobbit’s shoulders, and gazing out of the window. Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard’s face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Kindle Locations 346-351). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

For more episodes in this series:  A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

 

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

Do you truly know how to pray? A prayer primer with Msgr. John Esseff Discerning Hearts Podcast

Do you truly know how to pray? A prayer primer with Msgr. John Esseff Discerning Hearts Podcast

In a profound episode of Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts, Msgr. John Esseff and Kris McGregor delve into the essence of prayer and its central role in the Christian life. Msgr. Esseff, with decades of experience in spiritual guidance, emphasizes that prayer is foundational, akin to kindergarten, where one learns the basic, yet crucial aspects of communicating with God. He insists that prayer is not just a ritual but a conversation that necessitates the presence of God. Without this presence, prayer risks becoming an empty gesture.

Drawing on Jesus’ example, Msgr. Esseff encourages finding solitude and silence for prayer, underlining the importance of establishing a relationship with God. He uses the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew’s Gospel to illustrate the difference between merely performing religious acts and cultivating a personal connection with God. This relationship is rooted in understanding one’s identity as God’s child, which then shapes the way one prays.

Kris McGregor broaches the common challenge of discerning God’s voice in prayer. Msgr. Esseff acknowledges this difficulty and suggests that spiritual direction can be invaluable in learning to distinguish and understand the divine communication.

In conclusion, Msgr. Esseff stresses that prayer is not just about asking or saying things to God but also about listening and being open to His will. He urges listeners to approach prayer with a focus on forming a deep relationship with God, which, in turn, empowers them to be channels of God’s peace in the world. The podcast is a reminder of the transformative power of prayer in the Christian journey.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Prayer as Relationship:
    • How do you currently perceive prayer in your life? Is it more of a routine or a relational conversation with God?
    • Reflect on the idea that prayer is like kindergarten. In what ways are you learning the basics of prayer, and how can you grow in this area?
  2. Presence of God in Prayer:
    • Recall a time when you felt God’s presence strongly during prayer. What was different about that experience compared to other times?
    • How can you create a conducive environment for recognizing God’s presence in your daily prayer life?
  3. The Role of Solitude and Silence:
    • What are the distractions that most commonly interfere with your prayer life? How can you minimize these distractions?
    • How can you incorporate solitude and silence into your daily routine to enhance your prayer experience?
  4. Personal Relationship with God:
    • Reflect on the parable of the ten virgins. In what ways are you like the wise virgins, and in what ways are you like the foolish ones in your spiritual life?
    • What practical steps can you take to strengthen your personal relationship with God?
  5. Identity as a Child of God:
    • How does understanding your identity as a child of God change the way you approach prayer?
    • In moments of prayer, how can you remind yourself of this identity and its significance?
  6. Listening to God:
    • What are some of the challenges you face in listening to God during prayer?
    • How can you develop a more discerning heart to recognize and understand God’s voice?
  7. The Importance of Spiritual Direction:
    • Have you ever considered seeking spiritual direction? If not, what might be holding you back?
    • How can a spiritual director assist you in deepening your prayer life and relationship with God?
  8. Applying the ‘Our Father’ Prayer:
    • Reflect on how you usually pray the ‘Our Father’. How can you pray it more thoughtfully and intentionally, considering Msgr. Esseff’s insights?
    • How does the ‘Our Father’ encapsulate your relationship with God and your daily spiritual needs?

Msgr. Esseff offers a basic of prayer, R.I.M. – Relationship, Identity, and Mission.

Matthew 6:9-13 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;[a]
12 And forgive us our debts,
    As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil.[b]