BTP7 Heaven In Faith Day 4 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 7 “Heaven in Faith” Day 4 Prayer 1  – “Our God, wrote St. Paul, is a consuming Fire”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discusses Elizabeth’s emphasis on the universal call to contemplative prayer and her belief that living in love, as she describes, should be an immediate and constant reality for Christians. Dr. Lillis elaborates on the retreat’s core message: that individuals are called to dwell in the love of the Trinity, experiencing this love in the present moment, and allowing it to inform and transform all aspects of their lives.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth’s reflections suggest that contemplative prayer deepens one’s relationship with God and facilitates a transformation into divine love, influencing not only personal spirituality but also familial and communal relationships. Dr. Lilles connects this transformative process with the broader Christian tradition, including references to other saints and scriptural teachings. He also addresses potential misunderstandings about Christian mysticism, clarifying that becoming like God does not mean losing one’s personhood but fully realizing one’s humanity in the divine image.

Overall, the discussion underscores the profound impact of contemplative prayer on personal growth, familial bonds, and the ability to love authentically and selflessly, reflecting the heart of Christian life and vocation.


Day 4 First Prayer

13. “Deus ignus consumens.” Our God, wrote St. Paul, is a consuming Fire, that is “a fire of love” which destroys, which “transforms into itself everything that it touches.” “The delights of the divine enkindling51 are renewed in our depths by an unremitting activity: the enkindling of love in a mutual and eternal satisfaction. It is a renewal that takes place at every moment in the bond of love.” Certain souls “have chosen this refuge to rest there eternally, and this is the silence in which, somehow, they have lost themselves.” “Freed from their prison, they sail on the Ocean of Divinity without any creature being an obstacle or hindrance to them.”

14. For these souls, the mystical death of which St. Paul spoke yesterday becomes so simple and sweet! They think much less of the work of destruction and detachment that remains for them to do than of plunging into the Furnace of love burning within them which is none other than the Holy Spirit, the same Love which in the Trinity is the bond between the Father and His Word. They “enter into Him by living faith, and there, in simplicity and peace” they are “carried away by Him” beyond all things, beyond sensible pleasures, “into the sacred darkness” and are “transformed into the divine image.” They live, in St. John’s expression, in “communion” with the Three adorable Persons, “sharing” their life, and this is “the contemplative life”; this contemplation “leads to possession.” “Now this simple possession is eternal life savored in the unfathomable abode. It is there, beyond reason, that the profound tranquillity of the divine immutability awaits us.”

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 98-99). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Contemplative Prayer and Daily Life: How can I integrate contemplative prayer into my daily routine to remain in constant communion with God? What practical steps can I take to cultivate a more prayerful attitude throughout my day?
  2. Dwelling in Love: Saint Elizabeth emphasizes the call to dwell in the love of the Trinity. Reflect on what it means to “dwell in love” in your own life. How can you open your heart more fully to this divine presence?
  3. Transformation through Love: Consider how the experience of God’s love has transformed or can transform your life. In what ways do you see yourself being called to change, to die to self, and to live more fully in God’s love?
  4. The Role of Suffering: Reflect on how encountering Jesus in the painful parts of your life has or can bring about spiritual growth. How can you invite God into these areas of struggle or suffering?
  5. Family and Community: Dr. Lilles connects Elizabeth’s teachings to the concept of the family as a “school of love.” How does your faith influence your relationships with family and community? In what ways can you foster a more loving, Christ-centered environment in your home or community?
  6. Christian Joy: Consider the distinction between happiness and joy in the Christian sense. How have you experienced the joy of the Lord even during challenging times? What does it mean to find joy in God’s presence regardless of external circumstances?
  7. Spiritual Maturity: Reflect on the process of becoming fully human and fully alive in God’s image, as discussed by Dr. Lilles. What does spiritual maturity look like for you? How can you cooperate more fully with God’s transformative grace in your life?
  8. Love in Action: Saint Elizabeth wanted her spirituality to apply to the real world. Reflect on the statement, “my only occupation is loving.” How can you apply this ideal in your interactions, decisions, and service to others?

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 .

BTP6 Heaven In Faith Day 3 Prayer 2 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 6 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 3 Prayer 2  – “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discusses the concept of spiritual death, where the soul, aspiring to be close to God, must detach and surrender itself entirely to divine will, transcending earthly attachments. This process is likened to St. Paul’s teaching about dying to oneself daily, allowing Christ to increase within. The discussion touches upon the dark night of the soul, as described by St. John of the Cross, emphasizing that such experiences, though challenging, are avenues for profound encounters with God, beyond mere understanding or feeling.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

The episode delves into the necessity of trusting God amidst sufferings and renunciations, illustrating this through personal anecdotes and the experiences of saints like Teresa of Avila. It addresses the human struggle with attachments, guilt, and the reality of death, urging listeners to embrace these realities not as ends in themselves but as means to deeper union with God.

In summary, the episode underscores the transformative power of divine love and the call to surrender fully to God, highlighting the paradox that true life in Christ requires a willingness to undergo spiritual death and detachment.


Day 3 Second Prayer

11. “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” St. Paul comes to bring us a light to guide us on the pathway of the abyss. “You have died!” What does that mean but that the soul that aspires to live close to God “in the invincible fortress of holy recollection” must be “set apart, stripped, and withdrawn from all things” (in spirit). This soul “finds within itself a simple ascending movement of love to God, whatever creatures may do; it is invincible to things which” pass away, “for it transcends them, seeking God alone.”

12. “Quotidie morior.” “I die daily.” I decrease, I renounce self more each day so that Christ may increase in me and be exalted; I “remain” very little “in the depths of my poverty.” I see “my nothingness, my misery, my weakness; I perceive that I am incapable of progress, of perseverance; I see the multitude of my shortcomings, my defects; I appear in my indigence.” “I fall down in my misery, confessing my distress, and I display it before the mercy” of my Master. “Quotidie morior.” I place the joy of my soul (as to the will, not sensible feelings) in everything that can immolate, destroy, or humble me, for I want to make room for my Master. I live no longer I, but He lives in me: I no longer want “to live my own life, but to be transformed in Jesus Christ so that my life may be more divine than human,” so that the Father in bending attentively over me can recognize the image of His beloved Son in whom He has placed all His delight.

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 97-98). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Self-Reflection and Renunciation: How do you understand the concept of “dying daily” in your spiritual life, and are there specific attachments or desires you feel called to renounce to grow closer to God?
  2. Trust in God Amidst Suffering: Reflect on a time you experienced suffering or desolation. How did you respond to God during this time, and how can you cultivate a deeper trust in God despite difficulties?
  3. Encountering God in Darkness: How do you relate to the idea of the “dark night of the soul” as described by St. John of the Cross? Can you identify any periods in your life that might reflect this experience, and what did they teach you about your relationship with God?
  4. Spiritual Growth through Renunciation: Consider the areas in your life where God might be asking you to make space for Him through renunciation. What steps can you take to respond to this call?
  5. The Role of Prayer in Surrender: Reflect on your prayer life. How does prayer help you to surrender more fully to God, and how might you deepen your prayer life to facilitate this surrender?
  6. Learning from the Saints: How do the experiences and teachings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and St. Teresa of Avila inspire you in your spiritual journey? What specific aspect of their spiritual lives resonates with you the most?
  7. Love and Sacrifice: The podcast mentions that to love is to do so at one’s own expense. How do you understand this statement in the context of your faith and daily life? How does it challenge you to live out your Christian vocation?

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 .

LSB7 – God’s Dwelling Within – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B – Discerning Hearts Podcast

God’s Dwelling Within – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde, O.S.B.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Kris McGregor discuss St. Benedict’s journey, emphasizing letting go of ego to dwell with God. TFr. Mauritius warns against the trap of false humility and the belief that techniques alone can lead to spiritual growth, stressing the role of grace in allowing God to enter our lives. The goal is to dwell with God in this life and in eternity, akin to the peaceful state imagined in heaven.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Journey Reflection: Reflect on the struggles and temptations faced by St. Benedict on his spiritual journey. How do these challenges parallel with your own spiritual journey?
  2. Dwelling with God: Consider the concept of dwelling with oneself in the presence of God. How can you cultivate this sense of peaceful dwelling with God in your own life?
  3. Letting Go of Ego: Fr. Mauritius speaks about the importance of letting go of ego to allow God to enter our hearts. How can you actively let go of ego and open yourself more fully to God’s presence?
  4. Role of Grace: Discuss the role of grace in spiritual growth. How can you cultivate a greater awareness of God’s grace in your life?
  5. False Humility: Reflect on the concept of false humility. How can you ensure that your humility is genuine and not merely a facade?
  6. Techniques vs. Grace: Consider the balance between spiritual techniques and reliance on God’s grace. How can you integrate both in your spiritual practice?
  7. Goal of Dwelling with God: Reflect on the ultimate goal of dwelling with God both in this life and in eternity. How does this perspective shape your spiritual aspirations and priorities?

St.-Benedict-9

From the Life of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict by St. Gregory the Great:

CHAPTER III.

“This said, he forthwith returned to the solitude he loved so well, and lived there with himself, in the sight of Him who seeth all things.”


Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. For more information about the ministry of the Missionary Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE

BTP5 Heaven In Faith Day 3 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 5 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 3 Prayer 1  – “We will come to him and make our home in him

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor unpacks the nuances of Saint Elizabeth’s call to deep, transformative prayer and how it aims to bring individuals closer to God. They explore Elizabeth’s profound connection with scripture, despite her limited access to full texts, showcasing her deep spiritual insight and understanding, particularly of Saint Paul’s writings and the Gospel of John. It highlights her emphasis on mature, sacrificial love as the essence of a deep relationship with God, contrasting this with more superficial, emotional attachments.Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 8

Dr. Lilles further illustrates Elizabeth’s theology of love, explaining how true love for God transcends mere feelings, drawing on examples of self-giving and sacrifice that lead to a deeper divine intimacy. The narrative is enriched by the story of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whose experience in prison exemplifies how love can transform even the most dire circumstances into profound encounters with God.

Throughout the conversation, the focus remains on the transformative power of love and prayer, urging listeners to deepen their own spiritual lives by embracing these principles. The podcast serves as a guide for those seeking to cultivate a more profound prayer life and relationship with God, inspired by Saint Elizabeth’s enduring spiritual legacy.


Day 3 First Prayer

9. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home in him.” The Master once more expresses His desire to dwell in us. “If anyone loves Me”! It is love that attracts, that draws God to His creatures: not a sensible love but that love “strong as death that deep waters cannot quench.”

10. “Because I love My Father, I do always the things that are pleasing to Him.” Thus spoke our holy Master, and every soul who wants to live close to Him must also live this maxim. The divine good pleasure33 must be its food, its daily bread; it must let itself be immolated by all the Father’s wishes in the likeness of His adored Christ. Each incident, each event, each suffering, as well as each joy, is a sacrament which gives God to it; so it no longer makes a distinction between these things; it surmounts them, goes beyond them to rest in its Master, above all things. It “exalts” Him high on the “mountain of its heart,” yes, “higher than His gifts, His consolation, higher than the sweetness that descends from Him.” “The property of love is never to seek self, to keep back nothing, but to give everything to the one it loves.” “Blessed the soul that loves” in truth; “the Lord has become its captive through love”!

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 96-97). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Sacrificial Love: How do you understand the difference between “sensible love” and “sacrificial love” in your own spiritual journey? Reflect on instances where you may have experienced each type of love.
  2. Scriptural Engagement: Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity had a profound connection with Scripture despite limited access. Reflect on your own approach to the Bible. How can you deepen your engagement with God’s word, and what role does the Holy Spirit play in this process for you?
  3. Love Attracting God: The podcast discusses the idea that our love attracts God to dwell within us. Reflect on your personal prayer life. How do you cultivate a love that draws God closer, and how do you perceive His presence in response?
  4. Transformative Suffering: Considering the story of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, reflect on how suffering or hardship has transformed your relationship with God. Can you identify any “sacraments” in your sufferings that have brought you closer to God?
  5. Prayer and Relationship with God: Saint Elizabeth emphasizes deep prayer as a means to foster a profound relationship with God. Reflect on your prayer life: Is it more about speaking to God, or do you also cultivate silence to listen to Him? How can you incorporate elements of Saint Elizabeth’s approach to deepen your relationship with God?
  6. Love and Truth: The concept of loving in truth is highlighted as crucial for genuine spiritual growth. Reflect on your relationships and your love for God. Are there areas where you need to be more honest or authentic, both with God and with others?
  7. Living Love in Daily Life: Reflect on how you can live out the call to love sacrificially in everyday life. Are there specific actions or changes you can make to better embody this kind of love in your family, community, or workplace?

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 .

CTD2 – The Desert of Ordinary Life – Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion with Deacon James Keating – Discerning Hearts Podcasts


The Desert of Ordinary Life – Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion with Deacon James Keating

In this episode, Deacon James Keating and Kris McGregor discuss integrating faith into daily life, warning against separating religion from ordinary activities. They stress the need for vulnerability in worship to avoid routine and self-centeredness.

Lent offers opportunities for spiritual growth, including reconciliation and stations of the cross. They lament the decline of shame and public judgment in society, emphasizing the community’s role in upholding moral truth. The Eucharist brings peace and transforms individuals, impacting society through witness.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Integration of Faith: How can we ensure that our faith is not compartmentalized but integrated into every aspect of our daily lives?
  2. Vulnerability in Worship: Reflect on times when worship has felt routine or self-centered. How can we cultivate vulnerability and openness to God during worship?
  3. Lenten Practices: In what ways can Lenten practices such as reconciliation and stations of the cross deepen our relationship with God?
  4. Decline of Shame: What are the implications of the decline of shame and public judgment in contemporary society for moral behavior and community life?
  5. Role of Community: How can communities uphold moral truth while respecting individual conscience and freedom?
  6. Transformative Power of the Eucharist: Reflect on the transformative power of the Eucharist in bringing peace and impacting society through witness.

An excerpt from “Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion”:

“The only location for God to interact with us is deep within the ordinariness of our days. We are called to cherish the ordinary day, not because of its routine or common features, but because within this daily forum God reaches us through others, through worship, charity, and our relational commitments. Our daily lives carry an invitation from God to become morally good and holy; it is the only medium through which this invitation can come. Cherish the days.”
– Keating, James  (2012-07-20).  Liguori Publications. Kindle Edition.


Deacon James Keating, Ph.D., is a professor of Spiritual Theology and serves as a spiritual director at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, MO.

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

BTP4 Heaven In Faith Day 2 Prayer 2 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 4 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 2 Prayer 2  – “Hurry and Come Down”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discussing the second prayer of the second day from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s retreat, “Heaven in Faith.” Dr. Lillis, an expert on Carmelite spirituality, emphasizes the importance of silence and contemplative prayer, drawing insights from St. Elizabeth’s reflections to guide listeners into a deeper spiritual journey.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Dr. Lillis explains that the retreat encourages participants to find a phrase or sentence in the reflections that resonates with them, suggesting that this is a way God communicates personally. He emphasizes the need for solitude and interior reflection, moving away from external distractions to focus on God’s presence within the soul.

The discussion delves into the concept of humility and self-acceptance in the context of spiritual growth, highlighting the need to confront and surrender one’s inner brokenness and resistance to God. Dr. Lillis underscores the transformative power of God’s love, which purifies and refines the soul, likening this process to fire that burns away all impurities.

Moreover, Dr. Lillis connects this inner transformation with the sacramental life of the Church, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation, which provide grace and strength to overcome spiritual obstacles. He also highlights the importance of encountering Christ in various aspects of life, including the marginalized and the poor, as a means of deepening one’s relationship with God.

Overall, the episode offers a profound exploration of Carmelite spirituality, emphasizing the journey toward deeper union with God through prayer, self-examination, and the embrace of divine love.


Day 2 Second Prayer

7. “Hurry and come down, for I must stay in your house today.”  The Master unceasingly repeats this word to our soul which He once addressed to Zacchaeus. “Hurry and come down.” But what is this descent that He demands of us except an entering more deeply into our interior abyss?  This act is not “an external separation from external things,” but a “solitude of spirit,” a detachment from all that is not God.

8. “As long as our will has fancies that are foreign to divine union, whims that are now yes, now no, we are like children; we do not advance with giant steps in love for fire has not yet burnt up all the alloy; the gold is not pure; we are still seeking ourselves; God has not consumed” all our hostility to Him. But when the boiling cauldron has consumed “every imperfect love, every imperfect sorrow, every imperfect fear,” “then love is perfect and the golden ring of our alliance is larger than Heaven and earth. This is the secret cellar in which love places his elect,” this “love leads us by ways and paths known to him alone; and he leads us with no turning back, for we will not retrace our steps.”

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 96). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Personal Encounter with God: In what ways do I consciously make space to encounter God in my daily life? How can I cultivate a deeper awareness of God’s presence within me?
  2. Silence and Solitude: How do I integrate silence and solitude into my spiritual practice? What challenges do I face in doing so, and how can I overcome them?
  3. Contemplative Prayer: Reflect on your experience with contemplative prayer. How does it differ from your other prayer experiences? What fruits have you noticed from engaging in contemplative prayer?
  4. Self-acceptance and Humility: How do I deal with my own brokenness and limitations in my spiritual journey? In what ways can I practice true humility, acknowledging my dependence on God’s grace?
  5. Divine Love: Reflect on the concept of God’s purifying love as fire. How have you experienced this transformative love in your life? Are there areas in your life that you are hesitant to surrender to this purifying love?
  6. Sacramental Life: How do the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, influence my spiritual life? What graces have I received from regular participation in these sacraments?
  7. Scriptural Engagement: How does Scripture inform and nourish my spiritual life? Can I identify a passage or story that has particularly moved me or challenged me recently?
  8. Love in Action: How am I called to see Christ in others, especially the marginalized or those in need? What concrete actions can I take to respond to this call?
  9. Interior Examination: In the context of an ‘examine’ of consciousness, what interior movements or inclinations have I noticed in myself? How do they align or conflict with my desire to grow closer to God?
  10. Spiritual Companionship: Who are my spiritual companions on this journey, and how do they support my growth? How can I be a better companion to others in their spiritual journey?

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 .

BTP3 Heaven In Faith Day 2 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 3 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 2 Prayer 1  – “The Kingdom of God is Within You”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor delves into the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, focusing on Retreat 2, Prayer 1 of her “Heaven in Faith” retreat. Dr. Lillis, an expert in Carmelite spirituality and theological contemplation, emphasizes the central theme that our hearts are meant to be a heaven where God resides, a reality made possible by grace and baptism. This retreat, initially penned for St. Elizabeth’s sister, invites believers to recognize and nurture God’s dwelling presence within, transforming it into the guiding force of their lives through faith renewal and the sacraments.

Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 8St. Elizabeth’s writings illuminate the concept that the Kingdom of God is internal, a profound insight shared with St. John of the Cross, who believed that in the soul’s substance, where worldly and evil influences cannot reach, God imparts Himself, making every movement divine. This inner sanctuary, untouched by external forces, becomes the focal point for spiritual growth and intimacy with God, achievable through love, which binds the soul to its Creator. The more intense this love, the deeper the soul’s entry into God, culminating in a unity that transforms the individual into a reflection of the divine.

Dr. Lillis further explores the barriers modern individuals face in accessing this inner realm, notably the distractions and superficialities fueled by technology and material pursuits. He argues that neglecting the soul’s deeper needs can lead to spiritual emptiness or the pursuit of harmful or superficial remedies. Drawing parallels with the experiences of Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, he stresses the primacy of grace and the transformative power of prayer in attaining spiritual fulfillment. Christian contemplation, unlike other forms of mysticism, is characterized by its interpersonal nature, focusing on a relationship with Jesus Christ rather than seeking emotional or intellectual experiences.

This episode not only revisits the timeless wisdom of Carmelite saints but also addresses contemporary spiritual challenges, advocating for a deeper, love-filled pursuit of God within the soul’s sanctuary.


Day 3 First Prayer

5. “The kingdom of God is within you.” Awhile ago God invited us to “remain in Him,” to live spiritually in His glorious heritage, and now He reveals to us that we do not have to go out of ourselves to find Him: “The kingdom of God is within”! . . . St. John of the Cross says that “it is in the substance of the soul where neither the devil nor the world can reach” that God gives Himself to it; then “all its movements are divine, and although they are from God they also belong to the soul, because God works them in it and with it.”

6. The same saint also says that “God is the center of the soul. So when the soul with all” its “strength will know God perfectly, love and enjoy Him fully, then it will have reached the deepest center that can be attained in Him.” Before attaining this, the soul is already “in God who is its center,” “but it is not yet in its deepest center, for it can still go further. Since love is what unites us to God, the more intense this love is, the more deeply the soul enters into God and the more it is centered in Him. When it “possesses even one degree of love it is already in its center”; but when this love has attained its perfection, the soul will have penetrated into its deepest center. There it will be transformed to the point of becoming very like God.” To this soul living within can be addressed the words of Père Lacordaire to St. Mary Magdalene: “No longer ask for the Master among those on earth or in Heaven, for He is your soul and your soul is He.”

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 95-96). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding the Presence of God Within: How do you perceive the idea that our hearts are meant to be a heaven where God dwells? Reflect on your personal experiences of recognizing God’s presence within you.
  2. The Role of Grace in Spiritual Growth: Dr. Lillis emphasizes the primacy of grace over personal effort in growing closer to God. How have you experienced the role of grace in your spiritual journey? Can you identify moments when grace, rather than your own efforts, led to spiritual growth or transformation?
  3. Barriers to Interiority: The modern world presents numerous distractions that can lead us away from exploring our interior life. What are some barriers you face in seeking interiority and a deeper relationship with God? How can you address these barriers in your daily life?
  4. The Impact of Love on Spiritual Depth: St. Elizabeth and St. John of the Cross highlight love as the force that unites us with God, deepening our entry into Him. Reflect on how love has been a pathway to encountering God more deeply within your soul. What practices help you to grow in love for God and others?
  5. Contemplative Prayer vs. New Age Mysticism: The episode makes a distinction between Christian contemplation, which is interpersonal and focused on Jesus, and other forms of mysticism that seek emotional or intellectual experiences. How does this distinction influence your understanding of prayer and spiritual life?
  6. The Call to Interior Prayer: Reflect on the statement that the kingdom of God is within you. How does this truth affect your approach to prayer and daily living? Do you find it challenging to turn inward to meet Jesus in prayer? Why or why not?
  7. Overcoming Spiritual Distractions: In an age of technology and constant activity, how can you cultivate silence and stillness to listen to God’s voice within? What practical steps can you take to minimize distractions in your prayer life?
  8. Encountering Jesus in the Depths of the Soul: Dr. Lillis discusses encountering Jesus even in the absence of emotional or intellectual consolations. Have you ever experienced a sense of God’s presence that transcended feelings or thoughts? How does this experience influence your faith and prayer life?
  9. The Journey to the Deepest Center: St. Elizabeth speaks of penetrating into the deepest center of the soul through perfect love. What do you think this journey entails for you personally? How can you more fully open your heart to God’s love?
  10. Faith and the Interior Life: Finally, consider the role of faith in accessing the realities of God’s love and presence within us, as mentioned by Dr. Lillis. How does faith guide you to seek and find Jesus in the depths of your soul, beyond what is felt or seen?

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 .

LSB6 – Dealing with Serious Temptation – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dealing with Serious Temptation – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde, O.S.B.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Kris McGregor discuss St. Benedict’s struggle with sexual temptation, where he chose to endure pain rather than indulge in harmful behaviors. It contrasts this with modern society’s tendency to avoid pain through self-medication.

Fr. Mauritius also stresses the importance of facing suffering for spiritual growth, emphasizing detachment’s role in achieving true fulfillment and fruitfulness in life.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Engaging with Temptation: How does St. Benedict’s encounter with temptation challenge us to confront our own temptations in life?
  2. Detachment and Self-Medication: How does the podcast critique modern society’s tendency to self-medicate instead of confronting pain and reality?
  3. Embracing Suffering: What insights can we gain from St. Benedict’s willingness to endure suffering as a means of spiritual growth and detachment?
  4. Fruitfulness Through Detachment: Reflect on how St. Benedict’s detachment ultimately led to fruitfulness in his life. How can we apply this principle to our own lives?
  5. Value of Longing: Consider the hosts’ discussion on embracing longing and desire. How might viewing these yearnings positively impact our spiritual journey?

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From the Life of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict by St. Gregory the Great:

 CHAPTER I.

“The holy man being on a certain day alone, the tempter was at hand; for a little black bird, commonly called an ousel, began to fly about his face, and that so near as the holy man, if he would. might have taken it with his hand; but no sooner had he made the sign of the cross than the bird vanished. When presently so great a carnal temptation assailed him, that before the holy man had never felt the like. For the remembrance of a woman which some time he had seen, was so lively represented to his fancy by the wicked spirit, and so vehemently did her image inflame his breast with lustful desires, that almost overcome by pleasure, he was determining to leave the wilderness. But suddenly assisted with divine
grace he came to himself, and, seeing near him a thicket full of nettles and briars, he threw off his garments and cast himself naked into the midst of those sharp thorns and nettles, where he rolled himself so long, that, when he rose up, all his body was pitifully rent; thus by the wounds of his flesh he cured those of his soul, by turning pleasure into pain; and by the vehemence of outward torments he extinguished the unlawful flame which burnt within overcoming sin by changing the fire. After which time, as he himself related to his disciples, he was so free from the like temptation, that he never felt any such motion.”


Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. For more information about the ministry of the Missionary Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE

CTD1 – The Desert of Consumerism – Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion with Deacon James Keating – Discerning Hearts Podcasts


The Desert of Consumerism – Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion with Deacon James Keating

In this episode, Deacon James Keating and Kris McGregor discuss Lent as a spiritual oasis in life’s desert, where distractions of consumerism often obscure our deeper needs. Deacon Keating reminds us of Lent’s call to surrender to God’s providence, confront loneliness, and find simplicity.

He highlights how modern culture fosters busyness to avoid facing inner realities. Lent offers a chance to deepen relationships, encounter God, and break free from the cycle of distraction and emptiness.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Lent’s Purpose: How does Deacon Keating describe Lent’s intended purpose as an oasis in life’s desert of consumerism and routine?
  2. Reflection on Cultural Distractions: What insight does Deacon Keating provide regarding the distractions of modern culture and their impact on spiritual awareness during Lent?
  3. The Paradox of Surrender: Explain Deacon Keating’s perspective on the fear of surrendering to God’s providence and the discomfort it may bring.
  4. Embracing Simplicity: How does Deacon Keating propose embracing simplicity during Lent can lead to a deeper encounter with God and transformation?
  5. Confronting Loneliness and Pain: Discuss Deacon Keating’s view on the avoidance of loneliness and pain in modern society, and how Lent offers an opportunity to confront these realities.
  6. The Invitation to Deepen Relationships: According to Deacon Keating, how does Lent invite individuals to deepen relationships within the Catholic community and experience God’s healing presence?
  7. Breaking Free from Distraction: Summarize Deacon Keating’s message regarding Lent’s role in breaking free from the cycle of distraction and emptiness perpetuated by consumer culture.

An excerpt from “Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion”:

“Lent wants to remind us of our real identity. At first appearance a seeming “obligation,” Lent is actually a great gift. Are we brave enough to enter this desert, and then let it affect us so deeply as to turn us away from sin and false identities, turn us toward communion with the living God? The Church presents this season to us every year because it is hoped that this year will be our year to say “Yes” to Lent’s call to repentance. Lent should not be something we go through alone, but together. As the Hebrews wandered the desert for forty years, so we should enter Lent through the ecclesial community and share its challenges with brothers and sisters in Christ. Lent should not be what the elderly man in the barbershop characterized as “life as usual.” With our goal being moral conversion, let us now turn to see how God can facilitate that conversion when we take on a “lenten mind.”

Keating, James (2012-07-20). Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion (Kindle Locations 200-207). Liguori Publications. Kindle Edition.


Deacon James Keating, Ph.D., is a professor of Spiritual Theology and serves as a spiritual director at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, MO.

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

LSB5 – Holiness Beyond Appearance – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Holiness Beyond Appearance – The Life of St. Benedict – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Mauritius Wilde, O.S.B.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Kris McGregor continue their discussion of the life of St. Benedict. In this episode, they highlight his journey of detachment from cultural norms and societal expectations to deepen his relationship with God.

They explore how Benedict’s appearance in the wilderness led shepherds to mistake him for a wild animal initially, symbolizing his detachment from cultural conventions. Despite his unconventional appearance, Benedict’s holiness was recognized by the shepherds, highlighting the idea that true holiness transcends outward appearances.

Fr. Mauritius extends to the broader theme of detachment from cultural biases in spiritual growth, drawing parallels with missionaries and the need to embrace others. He notes the importance of being vulnerable before God, shedding societal masks to reveal our true selves. Fr. Mauritius encourages listeners to examine their cultural biases, appreciate different perspectives, and embrace vulnerability in their spiritual journeys.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Recognition of Holiness: How does St. Benedict’s story challenge our perceptions of holiness, particularly in recognizing it beyond outward appearances?
  2. Detachment from Cultural Norms: What lessons can we learn from Benedict’s detachment from societal expectations, and how might this apply to our own cultural biases?
  3. Embracing Perspectives: In what ways can we emulate Benedict’s openness to different perspectives and cultures in our interactions with others?
  4. Authenticity in Prayer: How does Benedict’s journey encourage us to be authentic and vulnerable before God, especially in moments of prayer and reflection?
  5. Cultural Critique and Improvement: Reflecting on our own culture, what aspects do we appreciate, and what areas do we see as needing improvement or correction?
  6. Embracing Otherness: How do we view immigrants or unfamiliar cultures, and are we open to learning from them as God-inspired expressions of diversity?

St.-Benedict-9

From the Life of Our Most Holy Father St. Benedict by St. Gregory the Great:

 CHAPTER I.

“About the same time certain shepherds found him hid in a cave; who, at the first, spying him among the bushes, clothed in the skins of beasts, took him for some wild beast, but afterwards knowing him to be a servant of God, many of them were converted from their savage life to virtue. By this means his name began to be famous in the country, and many did resort unto him, bringing with them necessaries for his body, while they received from his lips the food of life.”


Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. For more information about the ministry of the Missionary Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE