The Gift of Holiness – Advent Retreat Reflection by Deacon James Keating Ph.D.

This reflection was given during a special Discerning Hearts Advent evening of prayer and meditation at St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Omaha, NE

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. 

 

 

 

AR-SP2- THE GIFT OF HOLINESS AT CHRISTMAS w/ Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B., PhD.

AR-SP2- THE GIFT OF HOLINESS AT CHRISTMAS w/ Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B., Ph.D.

This reflection was given during a special advent evening of prayer and meditation service at St. Margaret Mary’s Church, in Omaha, NE.

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.

The World Will End…What Will Your Response Be?- Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff

The World Will End…What Will Your Response Be?

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures on “the end times”:

Gospel    Lk 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

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 and sisters and seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.

 

The Eucharist and the Hope of Conversion with Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – Discerning Hearts Podcast


The Eucharist and the Hope of Conversion

with Deacon James Keating Ph.D.

An excerpt from the talk by Deacon Keating…

We know that self-involvement is boring because we know all the remedies that Americans try to unleash themselves from that boredom, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. We all know that we are bored because we are constantly anesthetizing ourselves. We are constantly escaping. We are constantly distracted as a culture because the one thing that is weighing us down is what the commercial market, governments, popular culture, everyone tells us that we should be involved in, the self. And the only one who doesn’t say we should be involved in the self is the one we crucified and killed.

That’s how powerful the movement to stay self-involved is, even under anesthesia, the anesthesia of the current culture, because God help anyone who tries to free us or release us from this powerful self-involvement, they will be killed. They will be ignored. They will be, in some way, tortured, relegated to the margins, attacked. That’s how much we love the self.

The remedy to that is Sunday mass. And of course, the reason Sunday mass is dwindling in attention, in a de-attention, and we are closing parish after parish across diocese after diocese is because the mass is the only hour not about the self. There is nothing to attract an American to the mass because its objectivity does not pander to immediate gratification. And the whole culture panderers to immediate gratification. And the one holy and sacred place that refuses to play into our wound is the mass. The one place that refuses to profit off of our wound is the mass. Can we jazz it up a bit? Can you make it more like entertainment? Can you please change the prayers every Sunday so it’s not all predictable? And the mass stands its ground of objective revelation of the one act of God, which is our only way into the freedom from the self.

This is my body given for you. Two thousand years, we are not budging on that objective reality. If you want to be relieved of the burden of the self, you must suffer the mass. It is not entertainment. It is reconfiguration of your first interest. And that is a spiritual chiropractic that hurts like hell. It is a reorientation of your first interest. And to be with God, it cannot be you. It has to be the mystery of God’s own self that fascinates us.

So He gives us baptism and He gives us all the other sacraments to assist in this reorientation. And the drama of our lives is very clear. In the end, will he or will he not become sick of himself? Let’s watch and see. And if he becomes sick of himself in the face of the revealing beauty of God and he participates in what has been revealed, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we call that salvation, and we’ll call that man saved, holy. But it is a wrenching drama.

If you look at the next series of notes there, the Eucharist is the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In other words, the Eucharist is God pouring out his love. That’s the gift. The Eucharist is God, the Trinitarian God pouring out the gift, which is his love in order to invite us to receive it. See that passive language? In order to invite to receive. There is no coercion in love. We must trust, surrender, and respond to the grace.

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

The Poor/Holy Souls and Purgatory – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff


Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and on how we pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory:

Reading 1 Wis 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

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

 

The Prayer of St. John Paul II – Special Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

In this episode, Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss The Prayer of St. John Paul II. Dr. Lilles reflects on “Sign of Contradiction,” the Lenten Retreat preached in 1976 by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla to Pope Paul VI and the papal household.

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

On Prayer – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

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Building a Kingdom of Love –  On Prayer

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and on how we pray:

Gospel       LK 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as 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 brought the Good News to the world, especially to the poor.   He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.   

 

 

BKL227 – St. Therese, the Little Flower – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the life and prayer of St. Therese, the Little Flower.  He speaks of her simplicity of heart and great humility in her “little way”.  He shares his experience of his own mother’s prayer and that of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who both loved and prayed with the “Little Flower”.   The key is her “hiddenness”  and the beauty of a child.  She has a special message for women the world over, especially for our culture in the United States.

He shares the story of his cousin Jimmy, his accident, and a stranger who came to his aid, and why the angels and the saints and the power of prayer have such an influence on our lives.

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 and seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.   

St. Hildegard von Bingen and “The Iron Mountain”: Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

From Dr. Lilles’ “Beginning to Pray” blog site:

September 17 is the feast of St. Hiildegard of Bingen. She lived from 1098-1179. A Benedictine Nun, at the age of 42, she was given visions and commanded rise up and cry out what she saw. She obeyed and produced a set of writings known today as Scivias.

Her first vision is of a hidden mountain, the mountain of God’s throne, an iron mountain of immutable justice hidden in divine glory. A purifying Fear of the Lord contemplates this splendor. Not the kind of fear that pulls away to protect itself. Rather the kind of fear that is vigilant and sees the truth. Eyes which gaze with this holy fear can never be satisfied with the merely mediocre. They guard against every form of compromise. The glory they behold demands absolute allegiance, complete surrender, and total humility.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 4In this description, is St. Hildegard suggesting a way by which we might enjoy the same vision she has shared in? This is no exercise in esoteric navel gazing. Her vision demands a journey beyond our own self-pre-occupation and into real friendship with God, a friendship protected by the strength of divine justice. She sees the truth in a way that demands an ongoing conversion of life.

She is well-formed in St. Benedict’s conversatio morum. The mountain she sees is not a truth we scrutinize so much as the truth that scrutinizes us: a scrutinizing of all our thoughts and actions in light of the Gospel. The truth she beholds demands repentance from the lack of justice we allow ourselves to slip into. The iron mountain she contemplates renders futile every effort to conform the Gospel to our own ways and invites us to be transformed by its just demands.

Today, where all kinds of cruelty are so easily excused and any form of self-indulgence so readily lifted up to the level of a fundamental human right, we need to rediscover the shadow of the iron mountain from which St. Hildegard cries out to us. Only under the glory of this mountain can we find the peace that the Lord has come to give. Only in the blinding light into which Holy Fear gazes can we find the humility to love one another the way Christ has loved us.

Through the years, clergy, seminarians, eligious and lay faithful have benefited from Dr. Anthony Lilles’ lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.  He is the author/editor of the “Beginning to Pray”  catholic blog spot.

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

The music that is used comes from

Special Encore – The Canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff

SPECIAL ENCORE

Join Msgr. John Esseff as he reflects on his experiences with Mother Teresa on the eve of her canonization!  Several of the stories he has not shared on any of his previous programs.

Rather than be “admirers” of Mother Teresa,  Msgr. Esseff asks all of us to pray to become “imitators” of this little one of God’s children who has now become one of His great saints!

Carrier of God’s Tender Love and Mercy

Lord Jesus, merciful Face of the Father, you came to give us the Good News of the Father’s mercy and tenderness.

We thank you for the gift of our dearest Mother, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonized in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. You chose her to be your presence, your love and compassion to the brokenhearted, the unwanted, the abandoned and the dying. She responded wholeheartedly to your cry, ‘I Thirst,’ by the holiness of her life and humble works of love to the poorest of the poor.

We pray, through her intercession, for the grace to experience your merciful love and share it in our own families, communities and with all our suffering brothers and sisters. Help us to give our “hearts to love and hands to serve” after the example of Mother Teresa. Lord Jesus, bless every member of our family, our parish, our diocese, our country, especially those most in need, that we all may be transformed by your merciful love. Amen.

Text © Mother Teresa Center of the Missionaries of Charity

 

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.  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 and sisters and seminarians, and other religious leaders.