ROF#8 – Roots of the Faith with Mike Aquilina – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Mike Aquilina - Fathers of the Church  and so much more... 5

Episode 8 – The Papacy:  The Apostolic Throne

Roots of the Faith – From the Church Fathers to You with Mike Aquilina, makes clear that just as an acorn grows into a tree and yet remains the same plant, so the Catholic Church is a living organism that has grown from the faith of the earliest Christians into the body of  Christ we know today. Hosted by Kris McGregor



Pick up a copy of Mke’s book.  You’ll find so much more and invaluable references and resources as well

Also visit Mike’s “Discerning Hearts” page for more audio downloads and information!

The Holy Rosary for Discerning Hearts – Our Lady’s Garden of Prayer – Mp3 Audio downloadable

ourladyoftherosaryOutside of the Sacramental prayers of the Church, there is no other prayer more important than the prayerful recitation of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our late great Holy Father, St. John Paul II put it beautifully in His Apostolic Letter On the Rosary of the Virgin Mary:

“A path of contemplation”

“But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery which I have proposed in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte as a genuine “training in holiness”: “What is needed is a Christian life distinguished above all in the heart of The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the “prayer of the heart” or “Jesus prayer” which took root in the soil of the Christian East.”–  His Apostolic Letter On the Rosary of the Virgin Mary

Please take some time to check out the Discerning Hearts “Holy Rosary Page”

Audio mp3 download/podcasts of the Holy Rosary

Joyful Mysteries

Sorrowful Mysteries

Download (right click & choose “Save Link As”)

Luminous Mysteries

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Glorious Mysteries

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IP#53 Sir Gilbert Levine – The Pope’s Maestro on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Sir-Gilbert-Levine A very special “Inside the Pages” with Sir Gilbert Levine, who shares from his heart, this compelling tale of faith, friendship, and the healing power of music to bring people together. “The Pope’s Maestro” is an extraordinary and inspirational story of the unlikely friendship of  Sir Gilbert Levine and Pope John Paul II, who collaborated on symbolic acts of reconciliation: a series of internationally broadcast concerts designed to bring together people from all religious backgrounds under the auspices of the Vatican. Sir Gilbert  invites us all in to share in the special relationship bonded in music, prayer, and…love. Pope's Maestro

You can find more about this wonderful book here

Faith Check 17 – Apostolic Succession of Bishops

Apostolic Succession of Bishops

There are many forms of church governance among Christians today.  In some churches congregations vote to make decisions; in others the church is run by a group of elders; and in still others, authority resides with bishops.

While all Christians point to Scripture to support their church structure, it is very difficult to determine the precise way the early Church was governed from the Bible alone.

But in the year 110 A.D., only about 50 years after most of the New Testament was written, St. Ignatius of Antioch described the early church leadership in his letters:  Each area was led by a single bishop who was accompanied by priests and deacons in ministry.

Ignatius wrote, “let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop.  Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he appoints. … [T]his … is pleasing to God, so that whatever is done will be secure and valid.”1

Ignatius himself was with the apostle John, so we have every reason to trust that this basic church structure which the Catholic Church has to this day comes from the apostles themselves.

1 – Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8:1

St. Clement of Rome, first of the Apostolic Fathers of the Church with Mike Aquilina – Discerning Hearts


The story and history of Saint Clement.

Mike Aquilina First, start with the podcast above featuring the son of the Fathers, Mike Aquilina  talking about St. Clement, then…

Clemens Romanus was born in Rome in Italy during the time that the Christian faith was being spread and Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Emperors. He is believed to be of Jewish descent and a freeman of Rome. He worked as a tanner Scs-Clemens-pope-of-Romeduring the early part of his life. He was then converted to Christianity and became a disciple of St. Peter and of St. Paul. Following the death of Saint Peter he took over his position and became the fourth Pope and Bishop of Rome continuing to convert Romans from the religion of the old Roman gods to Christianity.

Saint Clement was banished from Rome during the reign of the Emperor Trajan (September 18, 53 – August 9, 117) due to his beliefs and unpopularity with the Roman rabble. He was banished to Chersonesus, which was an ancient Greek colony under Roman rule, in the south western part of Crimea (part of the Ukraine). In Chersonesus he was sentenced to work with other prisoners in a stone quarry where he continued to convert people. The number and success of his conversions attracted the attention of the Roman prefect who sentenced him to death. Clement was he was bound to an anchor and cast into the sea. He died in A.D.100.

How blessed and amazing are God’s gifts, dear friends Life with immortality, splendor with righteousness, truth with confidence, faith with assurance, self-control with holiness And all these things are within our comprehension. Clement of Rome


Basilica of Saint Clement

The Basilica di San Clemente is an early Christian basilica in Rome dedicated to Pope St. Clement. Its beautiful interior is especially notable for its three historical layers.

The main upper church is one of the most richly decorated churches in Rome. The vast majority of its architecture and art dates from its construction in the early 12th century. The entrance is on the left aisle.

The most striking sight is the 12th-century apse mosaic, in a golden-bronze color and featuring a large cross in the center. In the center of the apse is a throne, whose back is part of a martyr’s tomb.

The high altar contains the relics of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch. Faded frescoes decorate many of the walls, and date from the 6th to 11th centuries. They depict New Testament scenes and lives of several saints.

IP#234 Mike Aquilina – Good Pope, Bad Pope on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

“Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lesson” is another terrific book by the prolific Mike Aquilina.  This is a much needed mikeaquilinaresource for all Catholics.  Those of us who love and appreciate the gift of the Papacy in the life of the Church, if we are honest with ourselves, cringe a bit inside when the facts of history uncover those Popes who were…well…bad.  Leave it to Mike Aquilina to guide us through those notorious lives and times, while helping  us to see the lesson we can learn from those particular experiences.  Mike also lifts up those outstanding men who were more than just “good” Popes (which the overwhelming majority were), but reminds of  popes like Bl. John Paul II,  who could be called “great”.  Be not afraid of history, especially when its in the hands of Mike Aquilina.

Good-Pope-Bad-PopeYou can find the book here


From the description:

Every pope is by definition a remarkable man. But the popes whose stories you’ll read here were chosen because they reveal how the papacy developed. They show us how Christ kept his promise to his bride, the Church, not only in her health but also in her sickness. The great popes advanced our understanding of Christian doctrine. But even more remarkable, the worst popes could do nothing to damage the teaching of the Church.

That’s why, even in its darkest moments, the story of the papacy is a story of triumph. And that’s why it’s worth knowing these twelve popes.

St. Gregory the Great…with Mike Aquilina – Discerning Hearts

We talk with Mike Aquilina  about St. Gregor the Great, a father of the Church.

St. Gregory the Great…the tradition of the Church considers him one of the four great doctors of the Latin Church.  Born in Rome, Italy, in AD 540, St. Gregory was the son of Gordianus, a wealthy senator, and Silvia, who later became a saint.  (Saints make saints after all…).

His youth was a troubled one.  In his writings he chronicles the perpetual seiges that Rome endured at the hands of the barbarians.  Those nasty Lombards! Pillaging, raping, massacring, they would plague the Church and the people of the land for 200 years, you name any standard, they were bad!

Saint Gregory became the Prefect of Rome at the age of thirty, and the people loved him because he was able to keep them safe.  A few years later, like his parents, he gave his wealth away.  He became a Benedictine monk. But the pope of the time, recalled him to Rome to serve as a deacon and to help the city, which was again attacked by the Lombards.

On the third day of September in 590, after he had first been ordained a priest, Saint Gregory was consecrated Pope and Bishop of Rome, in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He was the first monk to become Pope.   The Holy Spirit didn’t waste anytime moving him to service!

Through Saint Leander and his brother, Saint Isidore of Seville, as well as the martyr Saint Hermenegild, Saint Gregory recovered Spain from the Arians. Through Queen Theodelinda, the wife of the Lombard King Agilulf, he was able to begin the conversion of the Lombard nation and the tempering of their ferocious and cruel natures. He won France back and began conversions in England. Saint Gregory was, above all else, a vigilant guardian of the Church’s doctrine, always the mark of a holy Pope. He ordained, early in his pontificate that the first four Ecumenical Councils of the Church should be treated with the respect given to the four Gospels. He worked unceasingly to stamp out heresy. He ordered that at the beginning of Lent the blessed ashes should be placed on the foreheads of the faithful, instead of only the head of the Pope — as had been the custom up to that time — and that the priest should repeat to each one, “Remember man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return”. excerpted in part from an article by Sister Catherine Goddard Clark, M.I.C.M.

He is known for his magnificent contributions to the Liturgy of the Mass and Office. The “Gregorian Chant” is named in honor of Saint Gregory’s patient labor in restoring the ancient chant of the Church and in setting down the rules to be followed so that Church music might more perfectly fulfill its function.

Saint Gregory the Great died on the twelfth of March, 604, at the age of sixty-four. He was canonized immediately after his death. Later, because of the volume, the extraordinary insight and the profundity of his writings, the depth and extent of his learning, and the heroic holiness of his life, the Church gratefully placed him beside Jerome and Ambrose and Augustine. Saint Gregory the Great became the fourth of the Church’s four great Doctors of the West.  –

What would today be like without  a little Gregorian Chant in honor of our St. Gregory?



 Spiritual Writings:

– Pastoral Rule
– Register of Letters

The altar of St. Gregory the Great at St. Peter’s in Rome. One of my favorite places to pray at the Vatican. 

The Biblical Basis for the Papacy … In Conversation with John Salza

This is such an interesting conversation Bruce and I had with author John Salza!  We discussed this time around, “The Biblical Basis for the Papacy”.  Fascinating.John-Salza

Biblical-Basis-for-the-PapcYou can purchase the book here

From the book description:

The Roman Catholic Papacy is the longest-living institution in the Western World – and at times one of the most controversial due to the basic doctrines of: Papal Authority, Papal Infallibility and Apostolic Succession. Drawing upon Old and New Testament Scripture, Tradition, and the words of the Early Church Fathers, author and noted Catholic apologist John Salza presents a comprehensive and compelling story of the office of the papacy from a biblical perspective. Arguments against the papacy are weighed and refuted in a charitable but convincing manner, making this a valuable resource for everyone intrigued or confused by the nearly 2,000 year old papal office – regardless of your faith background. Whether you are defending, questioning or exploring the Catholic Faith, this book provides the most concise and clear examination of the Catholic Church’s supreme teaching office as instituted by Christ, Our Lord and Savior.

St. John of the Cross – Purify the heart in order to meet Christ

VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2011 (VIS) – In his general audience today, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope focused his attention on St. John of the Cross, “spiritual friend to St. Teresa and, with her, reformer of the Carmelite religious family. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1926, he is traditionally known as the ‘Doctor mysticus’, the Mystical Doctor”, the Holy Father said.

John was born to a poor family at Fontiveros near the Spanish town of Avila in 1542 and entered the Carmelite order at Medina del Campo. Ordained a priest in 1567, it was on the occasion of his first Mass that he met Teresa, “who explained to him her plan for the reform of the Carmelites”. In his renewal of his religious profession John took the name “of the Cross” and collaborated enthusiastically in the process of reform, something “which brought him great suffering”, and even led to his imprisonment following an unjust accusation. While preparing a journey to Mexico he fell seriously ill and died in December 1591. He was beatified by Clement X inSt. John of the Cross 1675 and canonised by Benedict XIII in 1726.

St. John of the Cross, said Benedict XVI, “is considered one of most important lyric poets of Spanish literature. He wrote four major works: ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel’, ‘Dark Night of the Soul‘, ‘Spiritual Canticle’ and ‘Living Flame of Love‘.

In his ‘Spiritual Canticle’ St. John outlines the soul’s journey of purification”, the Holy Father added. “The ‘Living Flame of Love’ continues in the same line, describing in greater detail the condition of union with God. … ‘Ascent of Mount Carmel’ outlines the spiritual itinerary from the point of view of a progressive purification of the soul, which is necessary in order to scale the heights of Christian perfection, symbolised by the summit of Mount Carmel”.

The Pope continued his catechesis by explaining how “the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ describes the ‘passive’ aspect; in other words, God’s contribution to the process of purifying the soul. Human effort alone, in fact, is incapable of reaching the deepest roots of a person’s bad inclinations and habits. It can halt them but not eradicate them completely. To do this, we need a special action by God which radically purifies the spirit and disposes it to the union of love with Him“.

St. John of the Cross“The rate of increase of faith, hope and charity goes hand in hand with the work of purification and with progressive union with God, until attaining transformation into Him. When this goal is reached, the soul is immersed in Trinitarian life itself. … This is why the Mystical Doctor held that there is no true union of love with God that does not culminate in Trinitarian union”.

The Pope completed his remarks by asking whether the life of St. John of the Cross has anything to say to everyday Christians, or whether it is an example only for the few select souls who can follow the path of purification and mystical ascesis. “The journey with Christ, travelling with Christ … is not an additional weight to the already sufficiently-heavy burden of our lives”, he said. “It is something totally different. … It is a light, a power which helps us carry our everyday burden. … Allowing ourselves to be loved by Christ is the light which helps us to carry the daily burden, and sanctity is not a task we must accomplish on our own, a very difficult task. … Let us ask God to help us become saints, to allow ourselves to be loved by God, which is the vocation and true redemption of us all”.

Published by VIS – Holy See Press Office – Wednesday, February 16, 2011