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.

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