Carmelite Conversations
The Grace of Contemplative Prayer, Part One of Three

The Grace of Contemplative Prayer, Part One of Three

June 27, 2016

Join Mark and Frances on an introduction and discussion on contemplative prayer. We start by defining the words: prayer, grace, and contemplation. The word “contemplation” means many different things depending on the context and culture it is used. There is much misinformation regarding different aspects of this word. Mark and Frances talk about what contemplation is NOT as well as how it is compared to New Age practices. We then go into both the natural and supernatural modes of contemplative prayer. St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, is the expert we turn to in order to define the term.

Resources:

Scripture:
Jeremiah 29:11-14
Psalm 46:11

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
CCC #2559
CCC #2558
CCC #2709
CCC #1997
CCC #2003
CCC #2005
CCC #2724

Books:
“Spiritual Canticle” by John of the Cross, from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.

“The Dark Night” by John of the Cross, from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.

Silence and Poetry

Silence and Poetry

June 20, 2016

In this second of a two part series, Mark and Frances continue a discussion of the important role of silence in our contemplative prayer life, and in our daily life. Building on the more objective list of the twelve degrees of silence they discussed in the previous program, this week they introduce the writings of Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Carmelite Saint who was Canonized in 2015, where Jesus Himself instructs the Saint on how to practice silence. The Lord uses very powerful poetic imagery to try and provide a picture of just what He wants Miriam (Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified), and for that matter all of us, to try and practice this deep interior silence. The Lord well understands that it is not the external noise of the world that often interrupts our efforts to find this silence, but rather it is the reverberating echo of our own thoughts and internal conversation that disrupts our prayer life. External events and circumstances will always pose a threat to our interior silence, but it is more how we respond to them and what permission we give them to enter into our hearts that has the potentially most negative consequences for our prayer. This program is very helpful for anyone looking to find more effective ways to practice silence, both in prayer and in their daily life.

The Role of Silence in Prayer

The Role of Silence in Prayer

June 13, 2016

Here Mark and Frances reintroduce a topic they believe does not get enough attention in our discussion of contemplative prayer or even in conversations about the spiritual journey. The topic is the important role of silence in our daily prayer and in our daily lives. Mark and Frances begin by explaining that the spiritual definition of silence goes well beyond the simple absence of noise, and they readily admit that our human language always falls short when trying to adequately explain what is meant by true silence. Indeed, they contend it is something that can only be experienced by the individual soul; it is really a gift of the Holy Spirit and really the most we can hope to do it dispose ourselves to receive this gift. None the less, in this two part series, Mark and Frances do attempt to provide some explanation of what is meant by this gift if silence, and more importantly they hope that by offering what descriptions they can, the listener will be in a better position to seek after this intimate encounter of silence in prayer. In this conversation they begin by explaining the twelve degrees of silence that are offered from the writings of the Desert Fathers. These include some of the more obvious elements of quieting our imagination, our feelings or emotions and our self love. But the list also includes the less obvious elements of needing to quiet our intelligence, judgement and will. This program is a very good introduction to the critically important role of silence in our prayer life and in the daily circumstances of our spiritual journey.

An interview with Fr. and Carmelite Friar Don Brink OCD

An interview with Fr. and Carmelite Friar Don Brink OCD

June 6, 2016

In this conversation Mark and Frances invite Fr. Don Brink into the studio for a lively conversation on a range of topics, all things Carmel. Fr. Don reflects on the different stages of Contemplative prayer and how we might identify some of the elements of our progression through these stages. He also discusses the sometimes difficult balance individual souls must attempt to find between our lives of prayer and our call to active ministry in the world. Fr. Don makes very clear, consistent with sound Carmelite teaching, that our more active ministry in the Church, whether teaching, assisting the poor or anyone of a number of works of charity we may engage in, must always be grounded in and preceded by our life of prayer. Additionally, Fr. Don goes to some length to emphasize the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual journey. He strongly advocates that we must continually seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and allow this great gift of God to direct our path through all the circumstances of our life. This is a very good program for those who may be looking for a broad introduction to all the key elements of Carmelite life.