BTP-L4 – Letter 162 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 162 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss a 1903 letter from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity to her aunts. The letter reflects on her deep connection with her family despite geographic distances, and their bond through Christ.

Elizabeth, having emerged from a spiritual “dark night,” expresses profound peace and joy in her Carmel life. She touches on the looming persecution of French religious orders and the potential exile of her convent, yet remains focused on her spiritual journey and relationship with her aunts.

The letter also highlights her rich liturgical experiences, especially during Easter, and her unwavering faith amidst trials. Her descriptions of prayer, memories, and shared spiritual practices with her family shows how Elizabeth’s faith strengthens her resilience and deepens her connections, offering an inspiring model of spiritual devotion and holy indifference.


Letter 162

[April 28–30, 1903]
Dijon Carmel, April

J. M. + J. T.

“My good little Aunts,
It seems to me that Carlipa and Dijon are very close, for my heart has quickly jumped the distance to go find yours! And my Divine Bridegroom gives me wings like this so I can fly off to you: these wings are prayer, and then this unity in faith and love creates the communion of saints! . . . I have many things to tell you, my little Aunts, but where to begin? Oh! if you knew how beautiful Holy Week is in Carmel! I wish you could have attended our beautiful Offices, and especially on our beautiful feast of Easter. On that day, we chant Matins at 3 o’clock in the morning, we enter the choir in procession, wearing our white mantles, each holding a candle and singing the Regina Coeli. At 5 o’clock, we have the Mass of the Resurrection, followed by a magnificent procession in our beautiful garden. Everything was so still, so mysterious, that it seemed our Master was going to appear to us along the solitary paths as He once did to Mary Magdalene, and if our eyes did not see Him, at least our souls met Him in faith. Faith is so good; it is Heaven in darkness, but one day the veil will be lifted and we will contemplate in His light Him whom we love; while awaiting the Bridegroom’s “Veni” we must spend ourselves, suffer for Him, and, above all, love Him greatly. Thank Him for having called your little Elizabeth to Carmel for the persecution;2 I do not know what awaits us, and this perspective of having to suffer because I am His delights my soul. I love my dear cloister so much, and sometimes I have wondered if I don’t love this dear little cell too much,3 where it is so good to be “alone with the Alone.”4 Perhaps one day He will ask me to sacrifice it. I am ready to follow Him everywhere, and my soul will say with Saint Paul: “Who will separate me from the love of Christ?”5 I have within me a solitude where He dwells, and nothing can take that away from me! . . .

Guite had the good idea of passing your dear photographs on to me. I introduced you to our Reverend Mother, since she has heard her little lamb,6 who loves you so much, speak about you for so long. I was also delighted to show her your dear house; what sweet memories it brings back to me. I spent so many wonderful vacations, certainly the best, there among you. And the Serre, is it still so beautiful? What fine prayers must be offered there! Would you tell Monsieur le Curé that I send him my soul to say the Office with him in that dear little valley, pay him my respects and ask him to pray much for me. He is so good, I am sure he would really want to remember me at his Mass. My little Aunts, if you knew how I love your beautiful breviaries! I can’t say it enough, and each time I use them, I take your souls with mine to enter into communion with all Heaven. I assure you that you have made me very happy; they follow me everywhere, and day and night my prayer for you is my “thank you”!

I am leaving you to go to Matins “with you.” I still have many things to tell you, but there’s the bell, so I only have time to kiss you, as well as my good Aunt, from the best of my heart.

Your little Elizabeth of the Trinity r.c.i.

Pray for my dear Mama. Events have really saddened her, but her courage edifies me and I thank Him who has given me such a good one. Hello to Anna.”

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 101-102). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Connection through Christ: How can we maintain and strengthen our bonds with loved ones through our faith in Christ?
  2. Emerging from Spiritual Trials: Reflect on a time when you felt spiritually lost. How did you regain your peace and joy in your faith?
  3. Facing Persecution: How can we stay focused on our spiritual journey and trust in God’s plan when facing external challenges or threats?
  4. Liturgical Richness: How do liturgical practices, such as participating in Easter celebrations, enrich your spiritual life?
  5. Faith and Resilience: How does your faith help you remain resilient and steadfast during difficult times?
  6. Sanctifying Places: Consider the places where you pray regularly. How have these places become sanctified through your prayers?
  7. Holy Indifference: What aspects of your life can you practice holy indifference towards, accepting God’s will over personal preferences?
  8. Cherishing Memories: How can recalling and cherishing past spiritual experiences help strengthen your present faith?
  9. Community in Prayer: How does praying for and with others, even from a distance, impact your sense of community and connection?
  10. Faith’s Transformative Power: How has your faith transformed your relationships and interactions with 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 .

LP4 – Lessons from The Little Prince – Encountering Foreign Worlds with The Little Prince with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B. – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Lessons from The Little Prince – Encountering Foreign Worlds with The Little Prince with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Kris McGregor explore the metaphor of isolated figures on different planets, relating it to human loneliness and the struggle to connect with others. They highlight the importance of friendship, emphasizing how true friendship arises from brokenness and vulnerability, as exemplified by the Little Prince leaving his planet.

Fr. Wilde reflects on the story’s spiritual principles, including the need to let go of attachments and embrace detachment, citing biblical references and the journey of the Little Prince as he meets various characters, such as the fox who teaches him about taming and creating ties. They discuss the significance of the desert in monastic spirituality, representing a place of solitude where one can truly encounter God, and draw parallels to life’s deserts, like personal crises, that open us to deeper relationships.

The conversation delves into the nature of true friendship, which requires time, presence, and selflessness. They discuss how authentic relationships are developed through patience, shared experiences, and mutual openness. Fr. Wilde concludes by relating these themes to Jesus’ example of friendship in the Gospels, and how Jesus’ presence and time spent with others transformed relationships and demonstrated divine friendship.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Friendship: How do you define true friendship in the context of your faith?
  2. Embracing Brokenness: How has experiencing personal brokenness affected your relationships?
  3. The Role of Detachment: How can detachment from worldly things help us form deeper connections with others?
  4. Lessons from the Desert: Have you experienced a “desert” moment in your life that led to spiritual growth?
  5. Creating and Respecting Rituals: What rituals or practices do you have that strengthen your friendships?
  6. Being Present: How does being present with someone differ from just spending time together?
  7. Reflecting on Jesus’ Friendship: How did Jesus model true friendship during His time on earth?
  8. The Fox’s Wisdom: What does the process of “taming” mean to you in the context of relationships?
  9. Encountering God in Others: How do you recognize the presence of Christ in your friends and family?

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. 

The story of a stranded pilot, an extraordinary little boy, and their remarkable friendship, The Little Prince has become a cherished fable for generations of readers. As enchanting as it is wise, this beloved classic captures the mysteries of the heart and opens us to the meaning of life and the magic of love.

taken from the back an edition of the book no longer in print

 


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

DWG12 – The Peace of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Peace of Discernment – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor delve into the third mode of discernment proposed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. They explore how to prayerfully discern between significant life choices when clarity isn’t achieved through the first or second modes of discernment. Fr. Gallagher explains the method of evaluating options based on their advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of God’s greater glory.

He discusses a second approach within the third mode involving three simple tests: advising another in the same situation, reflecting from the perspective of life’s end, and considering the decision in light of eternity. Fr. Gallagher shares a personal example of using this method during his tenure as provincial to decide whether to continue or step down, illustrating the process and its efficacy, as well as the importance of not rushing the discernment process, maintaining a peaceful heart, and seeking guidance from a spiritual director.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Researching Options: Have I researched well the different options before making a decision?
  2. Tranquil Time: Am I in a tranquil time where my heart is at peace and free from emotional pressure?
  3. God’s Greater Glory: Is my primary consideration which option will promote God’s greater glory?
  4. Spiritual Freedom: Am I spiritually free to choose either option, with no other motivations at play?
  5. Seeking God’s Help: Have I sought God’s help in prayer before considering the advantages and disadvantages?
  6. Listing Reasons: Have I listed the advantages and disadvantages in a clear and organized manner?
  7. Faith-Based Reasons: Are the reasons I listed based on faith and God’s greater glory?
  8. Preponderance of Reasons: Do I see clearly towards which option the preponderance of reasons leans?
  9. Second Way of Third Mode: If I lack clarity, have I employed the second way of third mode discernment with the three simple tests?
  10. Spiritual Guide Consultation: Have I discussed my discernment process with a spiritual guide?
  11. Seeking Confirmation: Once I feel clarity, have I brought my discerned decision to God in prayer for His confirmation?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


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

Corpus Christi Sunday – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Corpus Christi Sunday- Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. John Esseff and Kris McGregor discuss the significance of the Feast of Corpus Christi, emphasizing the profound importance of the Eucharist in the Catholic faith. Msgr. Esseff reflects on a beautiful morning where nature itself seemed to glorify the Trinity. He explains how the celebration of the Eucharist is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and that every Mass around the world continues this unbroken lineage from the Last Supper.

He highlights that the Eucharist is not just bread and wine but the actual body and blood of Christ. He urges Catholics to recognize the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, encouraging them to deepen their faith and relationship with Him. Msgr. Esseff shares personal experiences and anecdotes to illustrate the transformative power of the Eucharist and how it brings believers into an intimate union with Christ.

The discussion touches on the common neglect of the Eucharist, even among Catholics, and the importance of Eucharistic adoration and frequent reception of Communion. Msgr. Esseff calls for a renewed devotion to the Eucharist and the realization of its significance as a source of eternal life and divine love.


From the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6

“The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:

‘They shall all be taught by God.’

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

The Words of Eternal Life. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Personal Encounter with the Eucharist: How do I personally experience the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during Mass?
  2. Understanding the Real Presence: Do I truly believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ?
  3. Frequency of Reception: How often do I receive Communion, and do I prepare myself adequately for it?
  4. Eucharistic Adoration: How frequently do I spend time in Eucharistic adoration, and what is my attitude towards this practice?
  5. Communion for the Homebound: Do I ensure that the sick and homebound in my community receive the Eucharist regularly?
  6. Indifference vs. Reverence: Do I approach the Eucharist with reverence, or have I become indifferent to its significance?
  7. Transformation through the Eucharist: In what ways has the Eucharist transformed my life and deepened my relationship with Jesus?
  8. Teaching and Evangelization: How can I better educate others about the significance of the Eucharist and encourage them to receive it with faith and reverence?
  9. Historical Continuity: How does understanding the historical continuity of the Eucharist from the Last Supper to today strengthen my faith?
  10. Eucharistic Sacrifice: How do I contemplate and appreciate the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist during Mass?

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton. He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA. Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta. He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity around the world. Msgr. Esseff encountered St. Padre Pio, who would become a spiritual father to him. He has lived in areas around the world, serving in the Pontifical Missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor. Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and 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.

IJCY7- What Now? Nurturing the Relationship – Is Jesus Calling You with Fr. Paul Hoesing – Discerning Hearts Podcast


What Now? Nurturing the Relationship – Is Jesus Calling You with Fr. Paul Hoesing

Fr. Paul Hoesing and Kris McGregor review key lessons on discerning a call to Catholic priesthood: Encounter Jesus in prayer, desire God’s will, trust God like Peter on water, understand discernment takes time, find peace in Christ, reject fear as it is not from God, align your will with God’s, resist non-godly thoughts, stand firm in faith, and listen to the Church’s guidance.

With a relationship with Jesus, Fr. Hoesing reminds listeners of the importance of Mass, confession, daily prayer, consulting a priest, reading the Gospels, and a relationship with the Virgin Mary. He clarifies that  celibacy is an embrace of divine love, a chosen vocation, and leads to spiritual fatherhood; encouraging those discerning their vocation to seek guidance, assuring them they are not alone.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Encountering Jesus in Prayer: How do you encounter Jesus in your daily prayer life?
  2. Desiring God’s Will: Do you genuinely desire what God desires for you?
  3. Trust in God: How can you increase your trust in God, especially during difficult times?
  4. Time in Discernment: Are you patient with the time it takes for discernment?
  5. Finding Peace in Christ: Do you find peace in Jesus Christ during your discernment?
  6. Rejecting Fear: How do you identify and reject fears that are not from God?
  7. Aligning Your Will with God’s: Is your will aligned with God’s will?
  8. Resisting Non-Godly Thoughts: How do you resist thoughts and desires that are not from God?
  9. Standing Firm in Faith: Do you stand firm in your faith during times of desolation and fear?
  10. Listening to the Church: Are you attentive to the guidance of the Church and its authorities in your discernment process?

Based on “Is Jesus Calling You To Be A Catholic  Priest: A helpful guide”, published by National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Director.

Fr. Paul Hoesing serves at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary as President Rector

Ep. 13 – A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Fr. Timothy Gallagher OMVA Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 13

 

We encounter the American Carmelite priest, Fr. Albert Dolan, who is on a quest to seek out the Martin Sisters and to learn more about them and their experiences with their canonized sister, now St. Thérèse.

Later on, Léonie falls ill with influenza and is visited by then-Bishop Suhard, the Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux. She then relates her other chronic health issues to her sisters, and of how well she is being tended to at the Visitation monastery.

This episode is lovely, for we get to see Léonie through the eyes of others, who are non-family members.


Fr. Gallagher says, “Léonie’s life holds a very important story because she was the forgotten one; she was the one who was in the last place; she was the one who was less gifted than the others. Today we would call her a ‘problem child,’ and we’ll see that she certainly was the source of great anxiety to her parents, especially to her mother, Zélie, who loved her dearly.”

As a child, Léonie suffered from severe illnesses and physical maladies that would plague her entire life. She also struggled with understanding social clues and interactions and with behaving appropriately. Conventional educational models of the day failed to meet her particular needs, and she was labeled “developmentally delayed.” Yet those who knew her well described her as having a “heart of gold.”

Who was Léonie and what were her struggles? Why has her cause of canonization begun?  Father Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor,  answers these questions and explains why Léonie is “a bearer of hope” in this landmark series.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Role Models in Faith: How can we be inspired by Fr. Albert Dolan’s devotion and persistence in spreading the message of St. Therese of Lisieux?
  2. Overcoming Challenges: What can Léonie’s transformation from a troubled youth to a devout nun teach us about perseverance and growth in our own spiritual lives?
  3. Humility and Kindness: How does Léonie’s humble and kind demeanor, despite her plain appearance, challenge our perceptions of true beauty and holiness?
  4. Gratitude in Vocation: What can we learn from Léonie’s unwavering gratitude for her vocation, even amid difficulties and suffering?
  5. Spiritual Growth: How does Léonie’s continuous effort to grow spiritually, even in her later years, inspire us to never stop seeking holiness?
  6. Handling Sensitivity: How can Léonie’s struggle with sensitivity and meticulousness guide us in managing our own personal quirks and challenges with grace?
  7. Devotion and Sacrifice: How can Léonie’sacceptance of suffering and offering it up for the intentions of the Church deepen our understanding of redemptive suffering?
  8. Expressions of Love: What does Léonie’s affectionate and positive language in her letters teach us about expressing love and gratitude in our daily interactions?
  9. Faith in Adversity: How can Léonie’s steadfast faith and joy, even in the face of illness and suffering, inspire us to trust in God’s plan during our own trials?
  10. Role of Community: How does the support and care Léonie received from her community reflect the importance of communal love and support in our faith journey?

The 4 Sisters - Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine

St. Thérèse

Fr. Albert Dolan, O.Carm.

Bishop Suhard

A resource used for this series

Images in this post of the Martin/Guerin family are used with permission from the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux website for strictly non-commercial use.  We encourage you to visit the website for more information on this remarkable family.


For more series Fr. Timothy Gallagher podcasts, visit here

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

LP3 – Embracing Our Unique Characters – Encountering Foreign Worlds with The Little Prince with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B. – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Embracing Our Unique Characters – Encountering Foreign Worlds with The Little Prince with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Kris McGregor discuss Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” exploring the encounters and lessons of the titular character as he travels from one planet to another. Each planet’s inhabitants, including the monarch, lamplighter, and businessman, represent various human oddities and flaws, highlighting the peculiar nature of adults from the Little Prince’s perspective.

Fr. Wilde draws parallels between the novella and spiritual themes: everyone is a “character” with unique flaws and quirks. He discusses how the strange behaviors of the Little Prince’s encounters can be seen as reflective of human conditions and societal norms, suggesting that Saint-Exupéry is pointing out the absurdities and “sicknesses” of our times.

The conversation then shifts to Christian themes, with Fr. Wilde likening the Little Prince’s journey to Jesus’ approach to the marginalized and broken in society. He stresses the importance of compassion and understanding rather than judgment, echoing Jesus’ teachings to love and serve those who are struggling. This comparison is extended to the concept of shame and the vicious cycles of negative behaviors, using the example of the drunkard from the novella to illustrate how people can become trapped in self-destructive patterns.

The Christian belief in redemption and the possibility of breaking free from these cycles at any point, with external help and faith play crucial roles; and the importance of embracing one’s unique characteristics and not succumbing to societal pressures to conform, as true beauty and individuality lie in our differences.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Unique Characters: How can we embrace and appreciate the unique “characters” in our lives as reflections of God’s creation?
  2. Compassion Over Judgment: In what ways can we show compassion rather than judgment towards those who are struggling?
  3. Breaking Vicious Cycles: What are some negative behaviors or habits in our lives that we need to break free from, and how can faith help us in this process?
  4. Embracing Limitations: How can we accept and work within our limitations while still striving to live a fulfilling and purposeful life?
  5. Dangers of Conformity: How can we resist societal pressures to conform and instead celebrate our unique identities and differences?
  6. Role of Shame: How does shame affect our relationship with ourselves and with God, and how can we overcome it through faith?
  7. Jesus as the Good Shepherd: How can we allow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to guide us and heal our wounds, especially when we are resistant to change?
  8. Responsibility for Ourselves: In what ways can we take responsibility for our own spiritual and personal growth, following Jesus’ example?

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. 

The story of a stranded pilot, an extraordinary little boy, and their remarkable friendship, The Little Prince has become a cherished fable for generations of readers. As enchanting as it is wise, this beloved classic captures the mysteries of the heart and opens us to the meaning of life and the magic of love.

taken from the back an edition of the book no longer in print

 


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

DWG11 – Three Modes of Discernment – The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Three Modes of Discernment – “What am I to do?” The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor continue the discussion on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s three modes of discernment. The first mode is “clarity beyond doubting,” where a person has an unmistakable sense of certainty about God’s will. The second mode involves “attraction of the heart,” where spiritual consolation consistently attracts one to a specific option over time.

The third mode, “preponderance of reasons,” is used when the first two modes don’t provide clarity. This involves:

  1. Clearly identifying options.
  2. Gathering relevant data.
  3. Maintaining an open heart to both options.
  4. Evaluating advantages and disadvantages of each option in light of God’s greater glory.
  5. Reviewing reasons prayerfully to see which option has a greater preponderance of reasons.

Fr. Gallagher illustrates this with Patrick, who discerned whether to accept a full-time position in prison ministry. Through prayer, reflection, and spiritual guidance, Patrick used this method and gained clarity, which was confirmed by scripture and peace in his decision. This structured approach helps many people discern God’s will.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding Modes of Discernment: What are the three modes of discernment according to St. Ignatius of Loyola?
  2. Clarity Beyond Doubting: Have you ever experienced clarity beyond doubting in your discernment process?
  3. Attraction of the Heart: How do spiritual consolations guide you in discerning God’s will?
  4. Preponderance of Reasons: How can you apply the method of preponderance of reasons to your current decisions?
  5. Identifying Options: Are you clear about the options you are discerning between?
  6. Gathering Relevant Data: Do you have all the necessary information about each option?
  7. Maintaining Open Heart: Is your heart truly open to whichever option God may call you to choose?
  8. Evaluating Options: How do you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each option concerning God’s greater glory?
  9. Seeking Confirmation: How do you seek confirmation from God once you believe you’ve discerned His will?
  10. Role of Spiritual Guidance: How important is spiritual guidance in your discernment process?

From The Discernment of God’s Will in Everyday Decisions:

Three Times in which a Sound and Good Choice May Be Made

The first time is when God Our Lord so moves and attracts the will that, without doubting or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown to it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.

The second time is when sufficient clarity and understanding is received through experience of consolations and desolations, and through experience of discernment of different spirits.

The third time is one of tranquility, when one considers first for what purpose man is born, that is, to praise God our Lord and save his soul, and, desiring this, chooses as a means to this end some life or state within the bounds of the Church, so that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul. I said a tranquil time, that is, when the soul is not agitated by different spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.

If the choice is not made in the first or second time, two ways of making it in this third time are given below.”


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

The Holy Trinity and Prayer – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

In this episode, which coincides with Trinity Sunday, Msgr. Esseff delves into the Christian belief in the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He emphasizes the significance of this doctrine, referencing the Old Testament’s monotheism and the New Testament’s revelation of the triune God. He explains the historical and theological development of the doctrine, particularly through the Nicene Creed and the early Church councils.

Msgr. Esseff highlights the personal relationship believers have with each person of the Trinity, especially the importance of addressing the Father in prayer, as taught by Jesus. He also discusses the transformative power of the sacraments, particularly baptism and the Eucharist, in uniting Christians with the Trinity. The podcast concludes with a reflection on the role of saints as radiations of Trinitarian life and a call to deepen one’s personal relationship with God.

Reading 2 Rom 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Understanding the Trinity: How does the concept of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—shape your personal understanding of God and your daily prayer life?
  2. Personal Relationship with God: Reflect on your prayer practices. Do you primarily address one Person of the Trinity in your prayers? How can you deepen your relationship with each Person of the Trinity?
  3. Sacramental Life: Consider the importance of baptism and the Eucharist as described by Msgr. Esseff. How do these sacraments influence your sense of identity and belonging in the Church?
  4. Role of the Saints: Msgr. Esseff mentions that saints radiate the Trinitarian life within them. Reflect on a saint who inspires you. How does this saint’s life exemplify a deep relationship with the Trinity?
  5. Faith in Practice: How can you incorporate the teachings of the Holy Trinity into your daily actions and interactions with others? What steps can you take to live out your faith more fully in light of this understanding?

 

 

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

 

St. Bede the Venerable – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: 672 AD, Jarrow, United Kingdom
  • Died: May 26, 735 AD, Jarrow, United Kingdom
  • Nationality: English
  • Feast: 25 May (Western Churches); 27 May (Orthodox Church and the General Roman Calendar from 1899–1969)

Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor discuss the life and legacy of the Venerable Bede, the only Doctor of the Church from England. Dr. Bunson highlights Bede’s contributions to theology, history, and learning during a time often mischaracterized as the Dark Ages. Bede is celebrated for his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People,” his biblical commentaries, and his role in developing the AD/BC dating system.

Elevated as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899, Bede’s work symbolized the endurance and intellectual richness of the Catholic faith in the British Isles, even during periods of suppression. His life in the monastic communities of Northumbria was marked by relentless scholarship, teaching, and prayer, embodying the quiet dedication and intellectual vibrancy of monastic life.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. The Legacy of Venerable Bede: How does Bede’s dedication to learning and teaching inspire your own approach to faith and education?
  2. Historical Context and Faith: What can we learn from Bede’s ability to find faith and meaning in the historical events of his time?
  3. Role of Monastic Life: How does Bede’s monastic lifestyle of prayer, study, and teaching reflect the values we should strive for in our own lives?
  4. Contribution to Theology and History: In what ways do Bede’s theological and historical works enhance our understanding of the Catholic faith?
  5. Endurance of Faith: How does Bede’s life demonstrate the endurance and resilience of the Catholic faith through times of adversity?
  6. Integration of Faith and Reason: How does Bede’s integration of faith with scientific and historical knowledge challenge the modern perception of the relationship between faith and reason?
  7. Significance of the Church in History: Why is it important to study the ecclesiastical history of the Church, as Bede did, to understand the development of Christian faith?
  8. Quiet Dedication: How can Bede’s model of quiet, tireless dedication to the Church serve as a guide for our personal spiritual practices?

From Vatican.va, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI General Audience 2009

“By his way of creating theology, interweaving the Bible, liturgy and history, Bede has a timely message for the different “states of life”: a) for scholars (doctores ac doctrices) he recalls two essential tasks: to examine the marvels of the word of God in order to present them in an attractive form to the faithful; to explain the dogmatic truths, avoiding heretical complications and keeping to “Catholic simplicity”, with the attitude of the lowly and humble to whom God is pleased to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom; b) pastors, for their part, must give priority to preaching, not only through verbal or hagiographic language but also by giving importance to icons, processions and pilgrimages. Bede recommends that they use the vulgate as he himself does, explaining the “Our Father” and the “Creed” in Northumbrian and continuing, until the last day of his life, his commentary on the Gospel of John in the vulgate; c) Bede recommends to consecrated people who devote themselves to the Divine Office, living in the joy of fraternal communion and progressing in the spiritual life by means of ascesis and contemplation that they attend to the apostolate no one possesses the Gospel for himself alone but must perceive it as a gift for others too both by collaborating with Bishops in pastoral activities of various kinds for the young Christian communities and by offering themselves for the evangelizing mission among the pagans, outside their own country, as “peregrini pro amore Dei”.

Making this viewpoint his own, in his commentary on the Song of Songs Bede presents the Synagogue and the Church as collaborators in the dissemination of God’s word. Christ the Bridegroom wants a hard-working Church, “weathered by the efforts of evangelization” there is a clear reference to the word in the Song of Songs (1: 5), where the bride says “Nigra sum sed formosa” (“I am very dark, but comely”) intent on tilling other fields or vineyards and in establishing among the new peoples “not a temporary hut but a permanent dwelling place”, in other words, intent on integrating the Gospel into their social fabric and cultural institutions. In this perspective the holy Doctor urges lay faithful to be diligent in religious instruction, imitating those “insatiable crowds of the Gospel who did not even allow the Apostles time to take a mouthful”. He teaches them how to pray ceaselessly, “reproducing in life what they celebrate in the liturgy”, offering all their actions as a spiritual sacrifice in union with Christ. He explains to parents that in their small domestic circle too they can exercise “the priestly office as pastors and guides”, giving their children a Christian upbringing. He also affirms that he knows many of the faithful (men and women, married and single) “capable of irreproachable conduct who, if appropriately guided, will be able every day to receive Eucharistic communion” (Epist. ad Ecgberctum, ed. Plummer, p. 419).

The fame of holiness and wisdom that Bede already enjoyed in his lifetime, earned him the title of “Venerable”. Pope Sergius I called him this when he wrote to his Abbot in 701 asking him to allow him to come to Rome temporarily to give advice on matters of universal interest. After his death, Bede’s writings were widely disseminated in his homeland and on the European continent. Bishop St Boniface, the great missionary of Germany, (d. 754), asked the Archbishop of York and the Abbot of Wearmouth several times to have some of his works transcribed and sent to him so that he and his companions might also enjoy the spiritual light that shone from them. A century later, Notker Balbulus, Abbot of Sankt Gallen (d. 912), noting the extraordinary influence of Bede, compared him to a new sun that God had caused to rise, not in the East but in the West, to illuminate the world. Apart from the rhetorical emphasis, it is a fact that with his works Bede made an effective contribution to building a Christian Europe in which the various peoples and cultures amalgamated with one another, thereby giving them a single physiognomy, inspired by the Christian faith. Let us pray that today too there may be figures of Bede’s stature, to keep the whole continent united; let us pray that we may all be willing to rediscover our common roots, in order to be builders of a profoundly human and authentically Christian Europe.”

For more visit Vatican.va


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

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