St. Clare, pray for us – a model for the discerning heart…In Conversation with Sr. Joan Mueller

Enter into the life story of St. Clare’s life by listening to one of the best storytellers we know…Sr. Joan Mueller.  Both women are enthralling!!!Sr.-Joan-Mueller

St. Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the Order of Poor Ladies, or Clares, was the first Abbess of San Damiano; born at Assisi, on 16 July 1194; died there on 11 August 1253.


One of the best DVDs we have seen on the life of Clare and Francis is distributed by Ignatius Press. 

If you’d like to see her life summed up in a quick read, try here.

A personal reflection on St. Clare by Kris McGregor:

In 2007, I had a chance to visit Assisi…I just wanted to be near St. Clare.  I didn’t plan it, but my hotel ended up being right across the street from St. Clare’s Basilica (it seems wrong to call it a street, its width is so small).  Early one morning, I got up and began walking outside of the Basilica.  No one else was out; all the shops closed, and the sun was just coming up.  On a whim, I thought I would see if the church’s doors were open (thinking to myself, of course, they wouldn’t be), but to my surprise, they were, so I entered.  No one was around.  I saw steps leading down to a lower level.  I stepped over the rope blocking the entrance (boorish American that I am) and walked down.  The path led down to an area with a display of relics, clothing, and other items (I assumed they were Clare’s), and then I turned and saw something incredible…the crypt of St. Clare.  I quietly walked over to the enclosure grates.  I knelt and unexpectedly started to weep…I just couldn’t help it.  It was so quiet and peaceful; it was such a gift.  I brought to St. Clare all the petitions I held deeply in my heart.  And when that was done, silence once more filled the space. After about 10 minutes, I could hear the sound of the Poor Clare Sisters in the distance chanting their morning office.  I knelt at that spot and listened with St. Clare. After about 30 minutes, I praised God for this special moment and left the basilica.  St. Clare has been with me in a special way ever since a friendship I continue to cherish.  Dear St. Clare, pray for us.


The Suffering of Love: Christ’s Descent into the Hell of Human Hopelessness … In Conversation with Regis Martin

One of the best interviews Bruce and I ever had discussing the many aspects of the Holy Saturday experience. Dr. Regis Martin is a professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and the author of several books on spirituality and theology.

Be sure to check out Dr. Martin’s book here

Making sense of human suffering is a challenge in every age, and many a person confronted with man’s inhumanity to his fellow man has lost his faith in a good God. The Holocaust, in particular, because of the scope of its ruthlessness, has raised the question for modern man: “What kind of God allows the horrible and systematic murder of so many innocent people?”

Quoting widely from Christian, Jewish and secular sources, Regis Martin makes an unflinching examination of this universal question on the meaning of suffering. By meditating on Christ’s passion, death and descent into Hell, he asks us to consider anew the God who overcomes evil by plunging himself into the depths of human misery.

St. Bakhita, to follow after Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love… In Conversation with Sr. Joan Mueller


One of my very favorite storytellers is Sr. Joan Mueller…give yourself the gift of hearing her share the story of St. Bakhita during this podcast…

St.-JosephineJOSEPHINE BAKHITA (1869-1947)


Mother Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Schio (Vicenza)  in 1947.

This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God’s grace, with the Daughters of Charity.

Mother “Moretta”

In Schio (Vicenza), where she spent many years of her life, everyone still calls her “our Black Mother”. The process for the cause of Canonization began 12 years after her death and on December 1st, 1978 the Church proclaimed the Decree of the heroic practice of all virtues.
Divine Providence which “cares for the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air”, guided the Sudanese slave through innumerable and unspeakable sufferings to human freedom and to the freedom of faith and finally to the consecration of her whole life to God for the coming of his Kingdom.

In Slavery

Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experiences she went through made her forget the name she was given by her parents. Bakhita, which means “fortunate”, was the name given to her by her kidnappers.
Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and of Khartoum, she experienced the humiliations and sufferings of slavery, both physical and moral.

Towards freedom

In the Capital of Sudan, Bakhita was bought by an Italian Consul, Callisto Legnani . For the first time since the day she was kidnappeSt.-Josepnine-2d, she realized with pleasant surprise, that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated in a loving and cordial way. In the Consul’s residence, Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, even though veiled by nostalgia for her own family, whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.
Political situations forced the Consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and with a friend of his, a certain Mr. Augusto Michieli.

In Italy

On arrival in Genoa, Mr. Legnani, pressured by the request of Mr. Michieli’s wife, consented to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new “family”, which settled in Zianigo (near Mirano Veneto). When their daughter Mimmina was born, Bakhita became her babysitter and friend.
The acquisition and management of a big hotel in Suakin, on the Red Sea, forced Mrs. Michieli to move to Suakin to help her husband. Meanwhile, on the advice of their administrator, Illuminato Checchini, Mimmina and Bakhita were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God whom “she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was” ever since she was a child. “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know Him and to pay Him homage…”

Daughter of God

After several months in the catechumenate, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian initiation and was given the new name, Josephine. It was January 9, 1890. She did not know how to express her joy that day. Her big and expressive eyes sparkled, revealing deep emotions. From then on, she was often seen kissing the baptismal font and saying: “Here, I became a daughter of God!”
With each new day, she became more aware of who this God was, whom she now knew and loved, who had led her to Him through mysterious ways, holding her by the hand.When Mrs. Michieli returned from Africa to take back her daughter and Bakhita, the latter, with unusual firmness and courage, expressed her desire to remain with the Canossian Sisters and to serve that God who had shown her so many proofs of His love.
The young African, who by then had come of age, enjoyed the freedom of choice which the Italian law ensured.

St.-Josepnine-PrayingDaughter of St. Magdalene

Bakhita remained in the catechumenate where she experienced the call to be a religious, and to give herself to the Lord in the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa.
On December 8, 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God whom she called with the sweet expression “the Master!”
For another 50 years, this humble Daughter of Charity, a true witness of the love of God, lived in the community in Schio, engaged in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door.
When she was on duty at the door, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who daily attended the Canossian schools and caress them. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection and rhythm of the music of her country, was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering and encouraging for those who knocked at the door of the Institute.

Witness of love

Her humility, her simplicity and her constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her inalterable sweet nature, her exquisite goodness and her deep desire to make the Lord known.
“Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness.
Mother Bakhita continued to witness to faith, goodness and Christian hope. To those who visited her and asked how she was, she would respond with a smile: “As the Master desires.”

Final test

During her agony, she re-lived the terrible days of her slavery and more then once she begged the nurse who assisted her: “Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!”
It was Mary Most Holy who freed her from all pain. Her last words were: “Our Lady! Our Lady!”, and her final smile testified to her encounter with the Mother of the Lord.
Mother Bakhita breathed her last on February 8, 1947 at the Canossian Convent, Schio, surrounded by the Sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the Convent to have a last look at their «Mother Moretta» and to ask for her protection from heaven.  The fame of her sanctity has spread to all the continents and many are those who receive graces through her intercession.St.-Josephine-Bakhita-3


Every line of the Collect for Saint Bakhita merits attention; every phrase needs to be repeated in meditation.

O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita
from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and the bride of Christ,
give us, we beseech you, by her example,
to follow after Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love
and, in charity, to persevere in a ready mercy.

St. Clement of Alexandria, early, early father of the Church…” “The Lord has turned all our sunsets into sunrise.” with Mike Aquilina

What is old is new again. That’s why the Fathers are so important, they’ve done battle with the heresies that continue to plaque our Church even today.  Also in his writings you can see the “Theology of the Body”…1800 years or so before we hear from Pope John Paul II.  Faith and Reason can live in harmony…then knew it then and we can be confident about that now.

Take a listen to Mike Aquilna, who does a great job giving us the life of this early, early father of the Church, Clement of Alexandria.

Here in a very small nutshell is an overview of  St. Clement of Alexandria –
from wikipedia –

Titus Flavius Clemens (c.150 – c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria (to distinguish him from Clement of Rome), was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen. He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and valued gnosis that with communion for all people could be held by common Christians specially chosen by God.Though he constantly opposes the concept of gnosis as defined by the Gnostics, he used the term “gnostic” for Christians who had attained the deeper teaching of the Logos.He developed a Christian Platonism.  He presented the goal of Christian life as deification, identified both as Platonism’s assimilation into God and the biblical imitation of God.

Like Origen, he arose from Alexandria’s Catechetical School and was well versed in pagan literature.Origen succeeded Clement as head of the school.Alexandria had a major Christian community in early Christianity, noted for its scholarship and its high-quality copies of Scripture.

Clement is counted as one of the early Church Fathers. He advocated a vegetarian diet and claimed that the apostles Peter, Matthew, and James the Just were vegetarians. – wikipedia

Great trilogy of St. Clement of Alexandria

The trilogy into which Clement’s principal remains are connected by their purpose and mode of treatment is composed of:

The first book deals with the religious basis of Christian morality, the second and third with the individual cases of conduct.

St. Jerome, father of the Church (and “the great name-caller”) with Mike Aquilina – Discerning Hearts

Learn more about St. Jerome in our fascinating discussion with Mike Aquilinamikeaquilina

Spiritual Writings:

  – Letters
– The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary
– To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem
– The Dialogue Against the Luciferians
– The Life of Malchus, the Captive Monk
– The Life of S. Hilarion
– The Life of Paulus the First Hermit
– Against Jovinianus
– Against Vigilantius
– Against the Pelagians
– Prefaces
– De Viris Illustribus (Illustrious Men)
– Apology for himself against the Books of Rufinus

Prayer to St. Jerome

 For Insight

Through your anger and confrontations you remind us that we all have a duty to confront others from time to time. You also remind us that we have a duty to examine ourselves and confront our own weaknesses and harmful behaviours. Your life teaches that I must accept others for who they are. You taught of the danger of self-righteousness; of the importance of reflecting upon one of Jesus’ most insightful teachings: “Let the man who has no sin on his conscience throw the first stone.” In the light of your teachings, Saint Jerome, help me to see my own self clearly. Help me to confront my own biases and to act to change others only out of love. If I see that I have the duty to confront another, I ask you to be with me during those necessary but unpleasant moments of confrontation. Help me to remember that love alone can make changes for the good.

The Thunderer

God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome, 

The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.


A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven

by Phyllis McGinley, from “Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades with Seventy New Poems”, (Pulitzer Prize Winner).

St. Dominic – still setting “the earth on fire” 800 years later…In conversation with Bert Ghezzi

Our conversation about St. Dominic with Bert Ghezzi.

Spain gives us yet another incredible saint…St. Dominic.  He is the founder of the Order of Preachers (so when you see an  “O.P.” behind the name, that’s what’s going on).  Most of us call them the Dominicans.   Born in 1170, he died on this date in 1221.  A lot of traveling took place between those years.  There is an interesting story that is told that before his birth his mother dreamed that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth, and “seemed to set the earth on fire.”  His name in latin is Dominicanus, which is essentially the “Lord’s Hound”….fascinating.  (Parents out there, take note:  names matter.)  St. Dominic and his order have been responsible for setting the earth ablaze with the Gospel for over 800 years.

Also, St. Dominic and the Order have contributed considerably to the spread of the devotion to Our Lady, and inparticular, to the Holy Rosary.  Another good reason to celebrate his life and legacy today!

Also check out the
Discerning Hearts St. Dominic Page


Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace – Opus Dei, St Josemaria Escriva, and Scott Hahn

Our conversations with Dr. Scott Hahn are always fascinating and enlivening, but this one in particular soared higher than others. Dr. Hahn shared a very special aspect of his life – his love for the spirituality of Opus Dei.  He shares with us how this charism, based on the insights and teachings of the movements founder St. Josemaria Escriva, changed his life.

Reviews of the book:

“If you want the real story about Opus Dei, Scott Hahn will give you the shocking truth—the shock of a Gospel life lived effectively in the midst of the world. Like all his other books, this one will challenge your view of the Christian life.”

—Father Benedict J. Groeshcel, C.F.R., author of Arise From Darkness

Scott Hahn’s abilities as a scholar, teacher, and writer are already well known. But the story of his journey to Opus Dei that emerges here, and his portrait of The Work remind us that each of us, no matter what our vocation or state of life, is called to holiness. This is compelling reading.”
—Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver

BG1 Mark Hart the Bible Geek “Answers from the Word” – Advent

Mark answers

1. Why do we celebrate Advent? What does it mean and what’s it all about?
2. What is the significance of the Advent Wreath, the nativity set, the different colors, etc. we see in Church?

Mark Hart is an author, speaker, director and teacher, Mark’s work both written and spoken, is known across the country and world. While he serves as the Vice President of LIFE TEEN, he is known to tens of thousands simply as the “Bible Geek ®” Mark passionately echoes the gospel to all he encounters. He is as deep as he is funny, and his love for his wife and daughters is second only to his immense love for Jesus Christ.

Visit Mark at

BG2 Mark Hart the Bible Geek “Answers from the Word” – Plan for Reading the Bible

Mark answers

1. Five tangible things people can to do to start reading the Bible.  Which translation is best for you?  Best times to study and how long?  Journaling?  Other resources?
2. What is a “good” teen bible?

Mark Hart is an author, speaker, director and teacher, Mark’s work both written and spoken, is known across the country and world. While he serves as the Vice President of LIFE TEEN, he is known to tens of thousands simply as the “Bible Geek ®” Mark passionately echoes the gospel to all he encounters. He is as deep as he is funny, and his love for his wife and daughters is second only to his immense love for Jesus Christ.

Visit Mark at

BG13 Mark Hart the Bible Geek “Answers from the Word” – The Study of St. Paul – introduction

Mark begins our study of the works of St. Paul by answering 

Who was St. Paul?  What was his background, his beliefs and why was his conversion so important? What did he write?  Where did he travel?  How did he witness to the “Truth”?

Mark Hart is an author, speaker, director and teacher, Mark’s work both written and spoken, is known across the country and world. While he serves as the Vice President of LIFE TEEN, he is known to tens of thousands simply as the “Bible Geek ®” Mark passionately echoes the gospel to all he encounters. He is as deep as he is funny, and his love for his wife and daughters is second only to his immense love for Jesus Christ.

Visit Mark at