IP#504 Dan LeRoy – Why We Think What We Think on Inside the Pages w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast


Why We Think What We Think by Dan LeRoy on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

In this episode of Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor, guest Dan LeRoy discusses his book, which explores the decline of philosophical thinking in the Western world. They discuss the importance of philosophy for fostering critical thinking and understanding cultural shifts. LeRoy critiques modern philosophy for becoming disconnected from practical realities, arguing that it has contributed to societal confusion and dissatisfaction.

They explore historical and philosophical influences, highlighting how figures like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and later, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, have shaped Western thought. The discussion emphasizes the enduring relevance of classical philosophers and the consequences of abandoning their teachings in modern times. LeRoy argues that reconnecting with these foundational ideas is essential for addressing contemporary issues and achieving true happiness, which aligns with the pursuit of virtue and truth.

LeRoy also critiques modern philosophical trends that prioritize individual happiness over communal responsibility, linking these trends to broader societal unhappiness. The conversation underscores the need for a philosophical renaissance that embraces ancient and medieval thinkers’ rigorous, virtue-oriented approach to remedying modern existential and ethical dilemmas.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Personal Reflection on Philosophy: How does your understanding of philosophy align with the perspectives shared by Dan Leroy? In what ways can you incorporate philosophical thinking into your daily life to make more informed, virtuous decisions?
  2. Role of Virtue: How do you define virtue in your own life? Reflect on how the pursuit of virtue can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment, as discussed by LeRoy. Are there areas in your life where you could strive more actively for virtue?
  3. Influence of Historical Philosophers: Consider the impact of philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas on your own understanding of the world. How do their teachings on truth and virtue resonate with your personal beliefs and practices?
  4. Modern Philosophy’s Disconnect: LeRoy discusses the disconnect of modern philosophy from practical and ethical concerns. Reflect on any modern philosophical ideas or movements you are aware of. Do you agree that they are disconnected from “real-world” applications? Why or why not?
  5. Critical Thinking in Culture: In what ways do you think critical thinking is lacking in today’s culture? How can the revival of classical philosophical principles contribute to solving contemporary problems?
  6. Philosophy and the Catholic Faith: Reflect on how philosophy can complement your Catholic faith. How can embracing philosophical inquiry enhance your spiritual life and your understanding of Catholic teachings?
  7. Community and Individualism: Reflect on the tension between individualism and community responsibilities as discussed in the episode. How do you balance personal freedom with communal obligations in your own life?
  8. Pursuit of Truth and Happiness: How does your pursuit of truth impact your happiness? Do you agree with the assertion that true happiness comes from fulfilling our purpose and seeking virtue? Why or why not?
  9. Engagement with Philosophical Texts: Are there philosophical texts or thinkers you have been meaning to explore? What might be holding you back, and how could engaging with these materials enrich your intellectual and spiritual life?
  10. Action Steps: Based on the discussion in the podcast, what are some practical steps you can take to deepen your philosophical understanding and apply it to your life challenges?

From the book’s description:

We’re all starting to hear people ask how the world has gotten to be the way it is. Grafted onto the usual complaints about why people are so greedy, self-absorbed, and callous toward one another are new expressions of frustration about even more fundamental concerns. Why can’t we agree on concepts that used to be basic common sense? Why does our very language now seem to be a minefield that only the most wily and tactical (or cynical) among us can navigate?

The only way to understand fully how we have arrived at this state — and what, if anything, we might be able to do about it — is to embark on a journey back in time to see where we went off the rails. With candor and occasional humor, Dan LeRoy tells the sweeping story of Western thought from its beginnings to the present, revealing the souls and idiosyncrasies of its greatest thinkers. Through stirring vignettes, he tells the real story of how our customs and thought patterns developed and then relates it to our current moment of rupture.

In pages that sometimes read like an Indiana Jones adventure, LeRoy explains the detour that philosophy took nearly a thousand years ago that has led Western society to its current, dire situation. With sharp pen and clear eye, he reveals:

  • The roots of classical philosophy, including empiricism (Ready to wade into the water?)
  • How views on ethics and morality began to take shape even before Christ
  • The three ways to attain happiness, according to the Big Three philosophers
  • Four splinter groups and how their philosophies impact us today
  • The enduring teachings of Sts. Augustine and Aquinas, among many others

About the Author

Dan LeRoy is an author, journalist and teacher who has been the director of the Writing and Publishing Department at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Pennsylvania, since 2006. His writing about music and politics has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, the Village Voice, Alternative Press, Esquire, and National Review Online.

IP#503 Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes – Spiritual Masters on Inside the Pages w/ Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast



Spiritual Masters: Living and Praying in the Catholic Tradition by Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Kris McGregor discusses with Archbishop Hughes his recently published book, “Spiritual Masters: Living and Praying in the Catholic Tradition.” Archbishop Hughes explains that the book was inspired by a widespread desire for deeper spiritual engagement and a lack of knowledge on how to pursue it more meaningfully, in addition to the importance of moving beyond mere factual knowledge to gaining wisdom through reflection and divine guidance, advocating for an intellectual and spiritual conversion to deepen one’s faith and understanding.

They touch on the challenges posed by the digital age, which tends to keep people engaged only on a superficial level, and the necessity of creating reflective spaces to cultivate a deeper spiritual life. They also go into the significance of entering into solitude, as exemplified by St. Anthony of the Desert, and the role of spiritual direction in Christian life, a practice notably advanced by St. Anthony’s life and work.

Reflecting on the importance of not skipping the introductory sections of spiritual texts, as these often contain essential wisdom and guidance for reading the rest of the work; shifting from a student’s mindset to that of a disciple, seeking to learn and live out the teachings and wisdom found in spiritual writings.

You can find the book here.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Spiritual Exercises vs. Spiritual Understanding: Discuss how Archbishop Hughes’ book shifts from a typical biographical approach to a format that engages the reader in spiritual exercises. How does this approach challenge your understanding of spiritual reading?
  2. Consequences of the Digital Age: Reflect on the Archbishop’s view that the digital age keeps us at the surface of life. How has technology affected your personal prayer life or your ability to engage deeply with your faith?
  3. Knowledge versus Wisdom: The Archbishop differentiates between gathering knowledge and cultivating wisdom. Can you share an instance where you felt your spiritual knowledge transitioned into deeper wisdom? How did this impact your faith practices?
  4. The Importance of Solitude: Why do you think solitude is emphasized as the starting point for spiritual growth in the podcast? Share your thoughts on how solitude can lead to a deeper spiritual life.
  5. Spiritual Direction and Guidance: How important is spiritual direction in your life? Discuss the benefits and challenges of seeking and maintaining a relationship with a spiritual director.
  6. Reflective Time and Intellectual Conversion: Archbishop Hughes stresses the need for reflective time as essential for wisdom and spiritual conversion. How can you implement or improve reflective practices in your daily routine?
  7. Learning from Saints and Spiritual Masters: Which saint or spiritual master do you feel most connected to, and what have they taught you about living a faithful Christian life? Discuss how their example can be applied in today’s world.
  8. The Role of Desire in Spiritual Life: Reflect on the role of desire in your spiritual journey. How does understanding and nurturing your spiritual desires influence your relationship with God?
  9. Scripture as a Living Word: Discuss the concept of Scripture as a ‘love letter from God’. How does this perspective change the way you read and interact with the Bible?
  10. The Impact of Spiritual Writings on Modern Life: Considering the diverse teachings and lives of the spiritual masters mentioned, how can their wisdom be effectively applied to address the challenges of modern Christian living?

From the book’s description:

“This book introduces the reader to thirteen Christian spiritual classics that illustrate the ordinary steps we can take toward living the Gospel life more fully.

Drawing on the rich teaching of a particular saint or mystic, each chapter helps us grow in a different aspect of holiness, of intimacy with God. Archbishop Hughes offers an itinerary for becoming a good disciple of the Lord, giving the reader access to an impressive spiritual library that can support and strengthen progress in discipleship throughout one’s life.

Among the great saints and spiritual writers whose writings are included in this book are Augustine, Anthony of the Desert, Aelred, Teresa of Avila, Benedict, Guigo, Catherine of Siena, Walter Hilton, Francis de Sales, Ignatius of Loyola, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Thomas à Kempis, and John of the Cross.”


About the Author

Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes, a native of Boston, was ordained a priest in 1957. Having secured a doctorate in Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University, he served in parish, seminary and administrative roles in Boston. Pope St. John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Baton Rouge in 1993 and Archbishop of New Orleans in 2002. As Emeritus, he now serves at Notre Dame Seminary.

SD9 – Overcoming Pre-Event Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Overcoming Pre-Event Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss “pre-event desolation,” a form of spiritual discouragement before significant spiritual activities. They highlight its tactics by the enemy to deter individuals from growth opportunities. Drawing from C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra,” he tells us of the importance of recognizing and countering this desolation with prayer and trust.

Fr. Gallagher reminds us to have compassion and understanding in supporting those experiencing such struggles, affirming that perseverance leads to spiritual growth.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Recognizing Pre-Event Desolation: How can we identify and acknowledge pre-event desolation in our spiritual journey, especially before significant events like retreats or ministry activities?
  2. Responding with Awareness: What are healthy ways to respond to pre-event desolation, and how can we cultivate spiritual awareness to distinguish it from genuine concerns or discernment?
  3. Trusting God’s Guidance: In times of pre-event desolation, how can we deepen our trust in God’s guidance and discern His will amidst feelings of discouragement or disinterest?
  4. Supporting Others: How can we compassionately support others experiencing pre-event desolation, particularly in familial or pastoral contexts, without judgment or resentment?
  5. Perseverance and Growth: Reflecting on our experiences of overcoming pre-event desolation, how can we encourage one another to persevere and trust in God’s plan for spiritual growth and blessings?

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“It is liberating to know that spiritual desolation is an ordinary experience in the spiritual life, that every disciple of the Lord for two thousand years—including the canonized saints—has undergone this experience, that there is no shame in experiencing spiritual desolation, that times of spiritual desolation are normal in a well-lived spiritual life (SpirEx 6), and that, therefore, we are not the only ones. Experiencing spiritual desolation is simply part of what it means to live the spiritual life in a fallen, redeemed, and loved world. What does matter is to live the discerning life: to be aware of spiritual desolation when it is present, to name it for the lie of the enemy that it is, and to reject it. The principle focus of these fourteen rules is to help us do precisely that.”


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

IP#347 Joel Stepanek – Chasing Humility on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Joel Stepanek – Chasing Humility on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

I cannot recommend this book and the work of Joel Stepanek more highly!  Based on the great Litany of Humility, “Chasing Humility: 8 Ways to Shape a Christian Heart” is a game-changer in the formation of the Christian heart.  It’s no wonder St. Teresa of Calcutta had her Missionaries of Charity pray this prayer every morning (and they still do)!  It’s a challenging prayer when you first contemplate exactly what it is you are asking of the Lord.  But if you trust in the fruits which it brings into your life, your spiritual journey will never be the same.  Run, don’t walk, to get this book!  A modern-day spiritual classic!

You can find this book here


“In Chasing Humility, Joel Stepanek does a masterful job giving the reader practical steps for cultivating authentic humility. Drawing on scripture, engaging stories, and good old common sense, this book is funny and wise, raw and relatable. Stepanek’s insights offer a soul-stirring read to any soul looking to improve. The question isn’t whether we need to be humble, but who can be humble enough to do something about it. This book is the perfect way to grow in holiness and ultimately, happiness, one achievable step at a time.” —Mark Hart, Executive Vice President, Life Teen International

“This book was like a punch to the gut—a much needed, very welcome, life-changing gut punch. It is bold, honest, and raw. Joel has given us an absolutely delightful read that is also really challenging, and it was just what we (and so many others) need to be reminded of the necessity to both seek humility and live and walk humbly with the Lord. Read this book. Absorb this book. Let Joel and his words on humility sucker-punch you and you’ll be so grateful.” —Katie Prejean McGrady and Tommy McGrady, Catholic speakers and cohosts of The Electric Waffle

“Joel Stepanek highlights for us the proper and sacred space of humility in the Christian life. Exploring the Litany of Humility, he provides a delightful roadmap for embracing the virtue not as a weakness but as a strength in our personal prayer lives and leadership outreach. There could not be a better time for leaders to be reintroduced to the virtue of humility in a world that very often values self-centeredness over seeing and supporting others.” —Rev. Dan Felton, Vicar General, Diocese of Green Bay

Preparing for Lent – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff Discerning Hearts Podcast


Msgr. Esseff teaches the importance of fasting, almsgiving and the Liturgy of the Hours during the season of Lent.  He shares his experience of fasting in a desert found in Peru. From this he learned the importance of FASTING and PRAYER.  Msgr. Esseff challenges us to discern what the Father in Heaven is asking us to do this Lent through fasting, so we can purely and perfectly follow His Holy Will.  And he describes ALMSGIVING, and story from an experience he had with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Sisters.

The Church prepares a spiritual retreat for all of us during Lent.  The Holy Spirit is transforming you in a radical way so that you become more like Jesus Christ…the day by day exercise of Morning Prayer, the Eucharist and Evening Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, and the other moments of contemplative prayer aids in the transformation…our ego decreases and Jesus increases in our minds and in our hearts.

Pray the Liturgy of Hours

Morning Prayer
Mid-morningPrayer
Mid-dayPrayer
Afternoon Prayer
Evening Prayer
Night Prayer
Office of Readings

The Sacrament of Healing – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the Anointing of the Sick, known as one of the Sacraments of Healing.  He speaks of his personal experience with the sacrament and the importance of having it readily available for the faithful.  Msgr. Esseff also addresses particular issues related to laying on of hands.

 From the USSCB:

Jesus came to heal the whole person, body and soul.

In the Church’s Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.

The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.

When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God’s will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.

~from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults en español

Pray

Learn

Act

Scripture: Mark 1:40-45

40 And a leper came to him begging him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Dr. Peter Kreeft – Practical Theology on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dr. Peter Kreeft – Practical Theology on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Peter Kreeft

“Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas” by Dr. Peter Kreeft is outstanding! An incredible work that transforms the potentially intimidating Summa Theologiae into a vital life-giving, soul-nurturing work for the pilgrim soul.   Dr. Kreeft offers us the religious wisdom of Aquinas in 359 bite-size pieces that can aid our growth in holiness.  He has framed these readings as answers to questions that people actually ask their spiritual directors. Each answer is taken word for word from Aquinas.  So many topics are covered.  You’ll be returning to this book over and over again throughout your spiritual journey.  An excellent gift to give yourself and those you love!  Highly Recommended!!!

 

practical-theology

You can find the book here

“Its notoriously difficult to synopsize Aquinas on anything. However, if I were to choose someone to do the job well, it would be Peter Kreeft. Many will find this presentation helpful to develop their own replies to the questions that bother the minds of today’s searchers.”
– Romanus Cessario, O.P., Saint John’s Seminary, Brighton, Mass.

“How can we know the living God and attain to everlasting union with God? This is really the only question of life. Kreeft’s dialogue with Aquinas shows us what it means–existentially, not solely academically–to learn from a saint.” —Matthew Levering, Professor of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

SD3 – Insights into Rules 10 through 14 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Insights into Rules 10 through 14 – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor, delves further into St. Ignatius’ spiritual rules, specifically rules 10 to 14, which focus on handling spiritual desolation and temptation.

Rule 10 advocates preparing for future desolation during times of spiritual consolation. Rule 11 underscores maintaining humility in consolation and trust in desolation. Rule 12 emphasizes resisting temptation from the outset, while Rule 13 recommends confiding spiritual struggles to a wise guide. Lastly, Rule 14 highlights the importance of self-knowledge and recognizing spiritual vulnerabilities.

Throughout these particular rules, Fr. Gallagher stresses the importance of companionship in the spiritual journey, whether through formal guidance, confession, retreats, or sharing experiences with others.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Anticipating Desolation: How does Rule 10 advise individuals experiencing spiritual consolation to prepare for future desolation?
  2. Attitude in Consolation and Desolation: According to Rule 11, what is the recommended attitude for individuals in times of consolation and desolation?
  3. Early Resistance to Temptation: In Rule 12, what does Ignatius counsel regarding the onset of temptation, and why is it significant in spiritual discernment?
  4. Revealing Spiritual Struggles: According to Rule 13, why does Ignatius suggest sharing one’s spiritual struggles with a wise and competent spiritual guide?
  5. Understanding and Acknowledging Vulnerabilities: What is the essence of Rule 14, and how does it encourage self-knowledge and recognition of spiritual vulnerabilities?
  6. Importance of Spiritual Companionship: How does Fr. Timothy Gallagher emphasize the role of companionship in the spiritual journey, and what forms can this companionship take?

You can find this book here

From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits

Tenth Rule. The tenth: Let the one who is in consolation think how he will conduct himself in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for that time.

Eleventh Rule. The eleventh: Let one who is consoled seek to humble himself and lower himself as much as he can, think- ing of how little he is capable in the time of desolation with- out such grace or consolation. On the contrary, let one who is in desolation think that he can do much with God’s sufficient grace to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

Twelfth Rule. The twelfth: The enemy acts like a woman in being weak when faced with strength and strong when faced with weakness. For, as it is proper to a woman, when she is fighting with some man, to lose heart and to flee when the man confronts her firmly, and, on the contrary, if the man begins to flee, losing heart, the anger, vengeance and ferocity of the woman grow greatly and know no bounds, in the same way, it is proper to the enemy to weaken and lose heart, flee- ing and ceasing his temptations when the person who is exer- cising himself in spiritual things confronts the temptations of the enemy firmly, doing what is diametrically opposed to them; and, on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself begins to be afraid and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so fierce on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with such growing malice.

Thirteenth Rule. The thirteenth: Likewise he conducts him- self as a false lover in wishing to remain secret and not berevealed. For a dissolute man who, speaking with evil inten- tion, makes dishonorable advances to a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wishes his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him very much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his false words and depraved intention, because he easily perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun. In the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wishes and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to one’s good confessor or to another spiritual person, who knows his deceits and malicious designs, it weighs on him very much, because he perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the mali- cious undertaking he has begun, since his manifest deceits have been revealed.

Fourteenth Rule. The fourteenth: Likewise he conducts him- self as a leader, intent upon conquering and robbing what he desires. For, just as a captain and leader of an army in the field, pitching his camp and exploring the fortifications and defenses of a stronghold, attacks it at the weakest point, in the same way the enemy of human nature, roving about, looks in turn at all our theological, cardinal and moral vir- tues; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and attempts to take us.”


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

SD1 – Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Journey Through Desolation – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss spiritual desolation in the context of Ignatian spirituality, focusing on three important actions: Being aware, understanding, and taking action. They highlight the confusion between desolation and depression, emphasizing the need for clarity.

Fr. Gallagher shares insights from St. Ignatius’ conversion experience, highlighting his awareness, understanding, and how he took action during that time. Fr. Gallagher also explores practical steps to reject desolation and move towards the goal of spiritual consolation. The saints’ relatable struggles underscore the universal nature of the spiritual journey, providing hope and guidance for discernment.


From the Prologue of Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

Five hundred years ago, Ignatius entered the realm of the heart and crafted a set of guidelines for responding to interior experience, both joyful (spiritual consolation) and discouraging (spiritual desolation), on the spiritual level. These guidelines, when well explained, equip hearers to be aware of, understand the significance of, and take action in response to their spiritual experience. Said differently, they take Christian anthropology—the fact that only in Christ can the human person be understood fully—seriously, and render it operative. When one applies these guidelines, the full Christian understanding of the human person ceases to remain a theological construct and is rendered concretely applicable in daily living. For over three decades, I have seen many apply these guidelines with much fruit.


You can find this book here

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you distinguish between spiritual desolation and depression in your own life, and why is this distinction important in the context of Ignatian spirituality?
  2. Reflect on a moment in your life when you experienced spiritual consolation. How did that experience impact your relationship with God and your spiritual journey?
  3. In your understanding, how does the concept of being aware, understanding, and taking action apply to discernment in the spiritual life? Share a personal example if possible.
  4. Consider the role of hope in facing spiritual desolation. How can the teachings of Ignatius and the experiences of saints inspire hope in times of discouragement?
  5. How has the universal nature of the spiritual struggle, as discussed in the podcast, resonated with your own experiences? In what ways does knowing that saints faced similar challenges provide encouragement for your spiritual journey?
  6. Discuss the importance of sharing personal stories and experiences in the context of Catholic spirituality. How can your own journey serve as a mirror for others, fostering a sense of community and mutual understanding in faith?

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

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

IP#484 – Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – Abiding in Christ on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor Discerning Hearts Podcast

Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – Abiding in Christ on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

In this compelling conversation with Deacon James Keating, a spiritual master of the highest order, we discuss those things that block us from having a closer relationship with God. We also discuss the importance of making time for Lectio Divina, living in the liturgy of the Church, and the danger of letting prayer become too complex.

Abiding in Christ: Staying with God in a Busy World is a wonderful how-to-pray resource. This book helps readers to find a quiet space wherein they can be present to God and offers suggestions of how they can be more open to God’s movement within them. We highly recommend this book to those souls seeking a deeper relationship with God.

Deacon James KeatingYou can find the book here


Here are excerpts from our conversation in the podcast –

“Sin, to some extent, possesses us, usually at the level of pleasure. Even if you think about the sin of anger, it always seems like it’s mayhem, but it’s actually pleasurable. People get a rush out of being angry. They get a rush out of being greedy. There’s a pleasure in sloth, in daydreaming, in fantasizing, in not doing the duty or the work we’re supposed to do right in front of us. There’s a pleasure in sloth.

And so that pleasure is the glue, the adhesive that keeps us in love with our sins. And that’s what God is alwaying fighting. He’s trying to displace that false love that we have set up by the way of pleasure.  God knows that pleasure is not the deepest reality of existence. And so he’s not going to play the game back and like trump the pleasure of sin. He is going to attract us away from the pleasure of sin, by the beauty of truth.

As Joseph Ratizinger used to say, “The face of God, is the beauty of God’s face.” What’s that mean? That means that the truth, the radiance of truth will eventually win us over even against the strong undertow of sin’s pleasure. If we give him a chance, spend time with him, open our hearts to be affected by him, then over time, this beauty of his own face, the truth of who God is will move us away from the immediacy, the gratification of the pleasure that’s hiding within all of our sins. And that’s what salvation is. Salvation is finally surrendering to truth and its beauty over and against the fleeting pleasure of self-involvement.”

also

“The liturgy is your participation in being loved and loving back. Catechesisis not learning in a classroom style. It’s learning how to pray. If we don’t learn how to pray, we won’t even be interested in the catechism. Why would you be interested in the catechism if you don’t know the person whose voluminous beauty fills the catechism? Why would you want to open that book?

The Catechism at its heart is learning how to be with Him, to receive Him. And then your intellect is a flame to want to know Him. We do it backwards. We’ve always done it backwards. I don’t know for how long, but since my birth, we’ve done it backwards. Reducing the mystery to academics. And that’s inherently boring because to study anybody you don’t know, to study anyone that you have no motivation to learn about, is boredom. So we have to let them be burned by the fire first. This is why to some extent, parishes have to be remodeled. Maybe God is doing this by making our parishes so much smaller.

People are leaving. They’re not saying this. They’re leaving because they’re bored. They’re leaving because they haven’t encountered. They’re leaving because they don’t know God. And they’re looking for God, but maybe we have to make our parishes more like retreat centers than some type of bureaucratic paperwork center where you go through and get certified to receive this sacrament or that sacrament. It has to be more of a retreat encounter so that people will want to know God because they’ve met to God.”


For more Deacon James Keating on Discerning Hearts visit his podcasts here