A Special Holy Thursday Reflection with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the meanings within the Holy Thursday liturgy of the Church.  He discusses the action of Jesus when He washes the feet of the apostles and what that means for us today.  Can we be Jesus to others and wash the feet of even our enemies?  He also discusses the institution of the Eucharist and what it truly means to have devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

Gospel JN 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’  and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

IP#352 Dr. Peter Kreeft – Probes on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor Podcast

“Probes: Deep Sea Diving into St. John’s Gospel” is a beautiful union of Scripture Study and the prayer experience of Lectio Divina.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it (and I hope I see more). What the reader will find is that diving deeper is actually climbing higher.  Under Dr. Kreeft’s guidance, we learn to ask penetrating questions of Sacred Scripture, but more importantly, we learn to listen to the Word for the answers. Designed for community study or individual reflection, this is the “John” book I have been waiting for!  Thank you once again Dr. Kreeft!

You can find the book here

From the book description:

This is no ordinary book. It is a set of probing questions (1,450 in fact) designed to help individuals or groups, especially groups, to dive deeply into Saint John’s Gospel. No answers are provided, but the questions are phrased in such a way as to set a person in a reliable direction for finding the answers.

The questions correspond to the verses of the Gospel and require active and personal interaction. Some of the questions are easy, some difficult, and they are marked accordingly. Some questions include background information or hints that help the reader along. Some were written with a fair bit of humor. Any person or group using these questions to explore John will find themselves entertained as well as informed and inspired.

IP#315 Fr. Robert Spitzer – The Light Shines On In The Darkness on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor podcast

Simply one of the finest works ever compiled on the mystery of suffering.  Fr. Robert Spitzer’s “The Light Shines On In The Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence)” could be considered a “catechism of suffering,” but not one rooted in misery, but rather anchored in the experience of God’s great mercy and redemptive sacrifice.  This is a book of hope and one that should be experienced by all Christians, and in particular, those who minister in any way, shape, or form in the New Evangelization.  Why would a loving God allow suffering?  Is there any good that can be brought forth from our trials?   So much more is addressed in this opus. I could not put this book down.  Pick it up, you won’t regret it!

You can find the book here

“Suffering has the power to break or elevate the human spirit.  Lived in the spirit of the Gospel and borne for the sake of others, it’s the most redemptive, transfiguring force in creation.  Fr. Spitzer has written a magisterial work on the meaning of suffering, a work remarkable both for its depth and beauty.”
— Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

“In this trenchant and searching book, Fr. Spitzer responds to the most powerful objection to the proposition that God exists, namely, the problem of suffering.  And he dares to do what very few are willing to do today:  to articulate how evil and pain are ingredients in the providential design of a loving God.”
Bishop Robert Barron, Host, Catholicism film series

 

SPECIAL EDITION – The Contemplation to Attain the Love of God – complete/without interruption w/ Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. Podcast

This is a special edition of the reflection offered by Fr. Timothy Gallagher on the “Contemplation to Attain the love of God” by St. Ignatius of Loyola as found in the “Spiritual Exercises.” What we original provided to you as two separate episodes, we now combine into a single extended episode without interruption. We hope this will enhance your experience of this Ignatian exercise.BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

CONTEMPLATION TO ATTAIN THE LOVE OF GOD

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, [1914], at sacred-texts.com

Note. First, it is well to remark two things: the first is that love ought to be put more in deeds than in words.

The second, love consists in the interchange between the two parties; that is to say in the lover’s giving and communicating to the beloved what he has or out of what he has or can; and so contrary, the beloved to the lover. So that if the one has the knowledge, he gives to the one who has it not. The same of honors, of riches; and so the one to the other.

CONTEMPLATION TO GAIN LOVE

Prayer. The usual Prayer.

First Prelude. The first Prelude is a composition, which is here to see how I am standing before God our Lord, and of the Angels and of the Saints interceding for me.

Second Prelude. The second, to ask for what I want. It will be here to ask for interior knowledge of so great good received, in order that being entirely grateful, I may be able in all to love and serve His Divine Majesty.


First Point. The First Point is, to bring to memory the benefits received, of Creation, Redemption and particular gifts, pondering with much feeling how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He has, and then the same Lord desires to give me Himself as much as He can, according to His Divine ordination.

And with this to reflect on myself, considering with much reason and justice, what I ought on my side to offer and give to His Divine Majesty, that is to say, everything that is mine, and myself with it, as one who makes an offering with much feeling:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect, and all my will — all that I have and possess. Thou gavest it to me: to Thee, Lord, I return it! All is Thine, dispose of it according to all Thy will. Give me Thy love and grace, for this is enough for me.


Second Point. The second, to look how God dwells in creatures, in the elements, giving them being, in the plants vegetating, in the animals feeling in them, in men giving them to understand: and so in me, giving me being, animating me, giving me sensation and making me to understand; likewise making a temple of me, being created to the likeness and image of His Divine Majesty; reflecting as much on myself in the way which is said in the first Point, or in another which I feel to be better. In the same manner, will be done on each Point which follows.


Third Point. The third, to consider how God works and labors for me in all things created on the face of the earth — that is, behaves like one who labors — as in the heavens, elements, plants, fruits, cattle, etc., giving them being, preserving them, giving them vegetation and sensation, etc.

Then to reflect on me.

 

Fourth Point. The fourth, to look how all the good things and gifts descend from above, as my poor power from the supreme and infinite power from above; and so justice, goodness, pity, mercy, etc.; as from the sun descend the rays, from the fountain the waters, etc.

Then to finish reflecting on myself, as has been said.


I will end with a Colloquy and an OUR FATHER.

Be sure to check out Fr. Timothy Gallaghers latest book

You can find this book 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

For other Discerning Hearts Fr. Timothy Gallagher Podcasts visit here

An Honest Self-Examination – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff Podcast

Msgr-Esseff-2

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent.  He guides us through an honest self-examination of conscience and the need to confess our brokenness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

From the NAB

Gospel. JN 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St. Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world, serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world, especially to the poor.   He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.

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

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

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

IP#346 Gary Jansen – MicroShifts on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor podcast

Gary Jansen is one of my favorite authors; I love our conversations.  He has a spiritual tenderness that appreciates the practical need to help the everyman find a way to deepen his relationship with God.  “MicroShifts: Transforming Your Life One Step at a Time” is a beautiful response to that need!  In its pages, Gary offers an effective way to navigate the travails of the spiritual journey. We highly recommend this and all of Gary’s books.

 

You can find the book here

From the book description:

Is it really possible to change my life—in ways that will last?

Author Gary Jansen knows how difficult it can be to create significant, sustainable change in our lives. Sometimes we feel too overwhelmed to even start, and in other cases this self-work seems like one more burden. In his new book he offers an answer that he calls “microshifting”—small, incremental adjustments that gradually reshape our deeply rooted patterns.

With a blend of masterful storytelling and dozens of practical tips, MicroShifts suggests simple, small changes across many aspects of our lives—everything from how we greet others to how we try to talk to God—to generate big results physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you are looking for steps to improve your life that are achievable, sustainable, and potentially life-changing, MicroShifts is a powerful place to begin.

The Angelic Realm and the Celebration of the Holy Mass – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr-Esseff-2-e1442263119679-497x526-283x300Msgr. Esseff reflects on the Angelic Realm, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the magnificence of the Throne of God

Isaiah Chap 6:1-4

1 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,a with the train of his garment filling the temple.

2 Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered.b

3 One cried out to the other:

“Holy, holy, holy* is the LORD of hosts!

All the earth is filled with his glory!”

4 At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke.

5 Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

 

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by Pope St. John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters, seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.  

 

The Daily Need for the Discernment of Spirits – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff


Msgr. Esseff reflects on how we are to daily discern the movement of Christ in us and the movement of the self, the world, and the activity of the enemy.

Transition:
Become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin this examen.

Gratitude
Note the gifts that God’s love has given you this day and give thanks to God for them.

Petition
Ask God for an insight and a strength that will make this examen a work of grace, fruitful beyond your human capacity alone.

Review
With God, review the day. Look for the stirrings in your heart and the thoughts which God has given you this day.
Look also for those which have not been of God.
Review your choices in response to both, and throughout the day in general.

Forgiveness.
Ask for the healing touch of the forgiving God who, with love and respect for you, removes your heart’s burdens.

Renewal.
Look to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for your life.

Transition:
Aware of God’s presence with you, prayerfully conclude the examen

*The above text was adapted from a pdf online entitled “The Examen” found here

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by Pope St. John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.