Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – “The Light Shines in the Darkness” Advent Reflection

Deacon James Keating Ph.D. – “The Light Shines in the Darkness” Advent Reflection from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

This reflection was given by Deacon James Keating during the “The Light Shines in the Darkness” Insititute for Priestly Formation 2016 Advent Retreat  at Christ the King Church, in Omaha, NE on December 2016. Deacon Keating was joined by Fr. Mauritius Wilde OSB. This if the first of two talks.

Deacon James Keating, Ph.D., is the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha.

Here is the audio podcast, if you prefer:

For more information on the “Institute for Priestly Formation” and for other material available by Deacon Keating, just click here

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

IP#219 Fr. Kenneth Baker S.J. – The Will of God on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

The Will of God: Finding and Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life” is a great book which uses the great Psalm 119 to help us in the Fr.-Kenneth-Bakerarea of discernment.  Taking a lifetime of steeped  in prayer and sound theology, Fr. Baker gives us a unique and penetrating resource to aid in our growth in the areas of contemplation and discernment. Father Baker was the editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review for more than 40 years, and currently serves as Editor Emeritus of the online edition.  He was a joy to talk with and to learn from….not to be missed for the discerning heart!

51NA4FEfn2L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_You can find the book here

“Father Baker helps us to discover God’s will and, what is even more, important how to live God’s will! He uses the Holy Scriptures,the teaching of the Church and the saints to help us become holy and transformed into the saints that God created us to be. Read this book and discover what God wants you to do!” —Fr. Larry Richards, Author, Be a Man!

BTP-LR1 The “Last Retreat” Day 1 – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Beginning to Pray: “The Last Retreat – Day 1 “Nescivi.  I no longer knew anything.”Anthony-Lilles

From “Last Retreat Day 1” found in The Complete Works vol 1:

1. “Nescivi.” 1 “I no longer knew anything.” This is what the “bride of the Canticles ” sings after having been brought into the “inner cellar.” 2 It seems to me that this must also be the refrain of a praise of glory on this first day of retreat in which the Master makes her penetrate the depths of the bottomless abyss so that He may teach her to fulfill the work which will be hers for eternity and which she must already perform in time, which is eternity begun and still in progress. 3 “Nescivi”! I no longer know anything, I do not want to know anything except “to

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

know Him, to share in His sufferings, to become like Him in His death.” 4 “Those whom God has foreknown He has also predestined to become confirmed to the image of His divine Son,” 5 the One crucified by love. When I am wholly identified with this divine Exemplar, 6 when I have wholly passed into Him and He into me, then I will fulfill my eternal vocation: the one for which God has “chosen me in Him ” 7 “in principio,” the one I will continue “in aeternum” when, immersed in the bosom of my Trinity, I will be the unceasing praise of His glory, Laudem gloriae ejus.

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

This the text we are using to discuss “Heaven in Faith” you can find it here and order from the Carmelite Sisters


We would like to offer heartfelt thanks to
Miriam Gutierrez for providing for us “the voice” of Blessed Elizabeth for this series


Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefitted from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity. After graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville, he completed licentiate and doctoral studies in spiritual theology at the Angelicum in Rome. In 2012, he published Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: a theological contemplation of prayer by Discerning Hearts. Married with two young adult children pursuing their careers and a teenager still at home, he has settled in family in Oxnard, California. For other episodes in the series visit the Discerning Hearts page for Dr. Anthony LillesAnthony-cover1

“BE NOT AFRAID” – Msgr. John Esseff on the role of fear in suffering…and the remedy…faith

Msgr. Esseff discusses the crippling effects of fear and it’s remedy.  Fear, in a very real way, is the opposite of faith.  There’s an adage in spirituality that says that if we can name the demon we can tame it.  Jesus wants us not to be afraid.  He may challenge us in some ways, so that we can name it and bring it out of the darkness into peace.  The Light dispels the fear!  Fear fuels sin.  Ultimately, it’s a fear of not being loved and losing relationship in some way.  Luke 15 ( the parable of the Prodigal Son) shows us how much the Father loves us…no matter what!  He’s waiting with open arms to relieve the pain and suffering.  Look at the One who wants to pick you up!  Some suffer in silence, especially when falsely accused…stand with Jesus at the first station of the cross.  Do not take your eyes off the face of Jesus…we are meant for eternal life.  Learn from the examples of the saints… BELIEVE.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff”s website:  “Building A Kingdom of Love

IP#253 Fr. Robert Cormier – Better Than We Believed on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

It was rich blessing to have the opportunity to talk Fr. Robert Cormier about his book “Better Than We Believed:  How to Apply the Fr.-Bob-CormierVision That Is Faith to the Struggle That Is Life”.  With an incredible witness in ministry Fr. Bob, as he prefers to be called, has served a parish priest for many years, as well as  prison chaplain and a rehab counselor. For the last eighteen years he has been president of Project Live—a leading institution for the care of the mentally ill.  He also spent summers in mission work in  Guatemala and other areas of Central America.  This varied background serves him well as he addresses many of the the areas which challenge many people when it comes to “faith”.  What is faith?  And how do I live it out?  Especially when afraid or challenged, how can I draw on faith for strength to live the life that we were meant for? This books is an excellent resource and wonderful source of inspiration.

(Special note:; On May 13, Fr. Bob died in a climbing accident on Mount Hood in Oregon, after reaching the summit. He was 57 years old. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of Fr. Bob, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.)



You can find the book here

Here is a link to Faith Kit, the website Fr. Bob mentions during our conversation

From the book description:
Presuming nothing that both traditional believers and critical-thinking searchers will not find in their hearts, Better Than We Believed presents a strikingly clear concept of faith that answers the unhappiness of people you will recognize:
MARK, who struggles with anger
IRENE, who battles stress
HENRY, who is consumed by hatred
GLORIA, who has been betrayed
BRIAN, who suffers depression
MARY, who feels trapped by her duty to a loved one
JOY, who can’t get over a loved one’s death, and
JAMES, who knows that he is dying
As we witness this faith applied to these and other serious struggles, we will see how it can transform our own experience, and offer us peace, purpose, and joy.

“Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit” with Fr. James Rafferty and Deacon James Keating – Discerning Hearts


Fr. James Rafferty and Deacon James Keating offered a Lenten Morning of Reflection on behalf of the Institute for Priestly Formation entitled “Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit”.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s “Pieta” was used as the vocal point for reflection, as well as the following passages:

From  John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.k17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn* the world, but that the world might be saved through him.l

Excerpts from Pope Francis’ encyclical “Light of Faith“:

Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

Yet it is precisely in contemplating Jesus’ death that faith grows stronger and receives a dazzling light; then it is revealed as faith in Christ’s steadfast love for us, a love capable of embracing death to bring us salvation. This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely.

BKL#59 – Why Do You Worry? – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr.-John-EsseffShow 59 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” – Why Do You Worry?

*Note: This is a special reflection given by Msgr. Esseff on the morning of his departure for his mission to Peru.

Gospel MT 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, Jesus-follow
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine;

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton. He was ordained on May 30th 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 Blessed Mother Teresa. 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 Bl. 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.


To obtain a copy of Msgr. Esseff’s book by visiting here


Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of Love


IP#207 Sr. Janice McGrane – Saints for Healing On on Inside the Pages

Sr.-Janice-McGraneIt was a delight to once again talk with Sr. Janice McGrane S. S. J., this time about her book “Saints for Healing:  Stories of Courage and Hope”.  In this, her second book, she  offers  a short biography of the lives of 11 saints,  their background on relevant cultural issues, and a reflection.  Each saint has a special connection to “healing”…some are expected, some are a wonderful surprise.  Sr. Janice has introduced us to special companions who can walk with us on the journey to our ultimate destination….an encounter with the Divine Physician.  Marvelous, simply marvelous.

Saints-for-HealingFor a copy of the book

From the book description:

With grace and insight, McGrane tells us also about healing that occurs on a larger scale: Joan of Arc healed the morale of France in its most dire hour, Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe offered comfort and consolation in the midst of the horror of Auschwitz, Henriette DeLille transceneded the racism of her time to minister with slaves, Hildegard of Bingen shared her knowledge of herbs to heal others, Catherine of Siena helped repair a divided and corrupt church, Damien ministered to the lepers of Molokai. These stories and those about Teresa of Avila, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Romero, and Fr. Mychal Judge lead us to these healing saints for compaionship and inspiration when we, too, hurt.

IP#184 Fr. Joe Kempf – No One Cries the Wrong Way on Inside the Pages

Fr. Joe Kempf has given us two excellent resources for both adults and kids to help us deal with loss.   Fr. Joe really understands the grieving process and offers excellent advice for those at any stage of that journey.

You can find this book here

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York says this about Fr. Kempf’s books: “Fr. Kempf, with grace and sensitivity, helps us learn what to say – and do – in moments when people long for a word of hope and consolation.”


You can find this book here

From the description:

When the heartaches come, these reflections, prayers, and activities will help every child find their way forward with God. In the back of the book, parents, grandparents, and teachers will find the coaching they need to love their children through the difficult times.

This wonderfully illustrated book meets the child (and the child in each of us) right where we are with just what we need. No one connects faith and real life like Fr. Joe and Big Al. Sometimes Life is Just Not Fair is the perfect book for when the difficult times come…and they visit us all.

IP#171 Fr. Michael Gaitley – Consoling the Heart of Jesus on Inside the Pages

What a joy to have the opportunity to talk once again with Fr. Michael Gaitley at the 2012 CMN Trade Show in Dallas, TX.  We discuss the Year of Faith, “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” and his new book coming soon…”The One Thing is Three”.  We talk about how the New Evangelization and the role model that Bl. John Paul II was to all of us.  We all discuss “All Hearts a Fire” the new parish based program which is absolutely FANTASTIC!  Be sure to check it out and pass it on!

You can find the book here

Michael Gaitley, MIC’s book is a form of a weekend retreat accessible to those at the beginning stages of a simple way to holiness. While reading this book, I wished I could have had it in conversing with people of little or practically no faith who yet had a longing for the faith that lies at the core of human existence. These hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, Lord and this book guides them on a journey to resting in God. –Fr. Mitch Pacwa