Carmelite Conversations
For the Return of the Prodigal Catholic

For the Return of the Prodigal Catholic

June 28, 2019

Do you have a loved one who was raised Catholic and is no longer practicing their faith? Do you wish there was something you could do to help bring them “home?” Carmelite Conversations host, Frances Harry, interviews Teresa Gooding, a Secular Order Discalced Carmelite, on the “St. Monica Ministry” that she was inspired to introduce to her parish, in Beavercreek, OH. What is the St. Monica Ministry? Here is the answer as quoted from the book, St. Monica Ministry, by Dr. Jack Buchner: “The St. Monica Ministry is a pastoral outreach to all those adults who have friends and relatives who are not active in their practice of the Catholic faith at this time. Through the virtues of faith and persistent prayer, we hope to become more like St. Monica in our conviction that the grace of Christ will change hearts and lives. We hope to draw closer to God, thereby placing our trust and faith in God and His timing as it relates to our loved ones.” We continue the conversation discussing the basis of the formation of this ministry (in the life of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine), what happens at a St. Monica Ministry meeting, and what are the guiding principles governing this ministry. What sources are used? What are the fruits of this ministry? For anyone who has fallen to their knees in prayer regarding a prodigal Catholic, this podcast will be helpful. “St. Monica, intercede for us!”

St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and making our lives a Sacrifice to the Lord (PART 3)

St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and making our lives a Sacrifice to the Lord (PART 3)

June 26, 2019
At some point in our individual spiritual journey, most of us will decide to make a more formal, firm and specific commitment to the Lord. It may be, like many Saints, that we will choose to write out our commitment, or our oblation. This is exactly what St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus chose to do. She even went so far, with the approval of her spiritual director, to write out her oblation in her own blood. In looking at Teresa Margaret's own words, and more importantly, the details of her life, we can come to discover very practical ways for forming our own commitment to the Lord. Her own commitment included three critical elements that we would expect to find in any genuine act of oblation in the spiritual journey. They included her total commitment to Jesus, a decision to forgo any consideration of the cost associated with her decision, and an acknowledgement that there would be difficult even repugnant (in her own words) things she would have to suffer, but that she would be willing to endure them all for the Lord. In this conversation, Mark and Frances discuss the principle elements of Teresa Margaret's personal sacrifice to Jesus. They also continue the discussion on Teresa Margaret's remarkable commitment to living a life of humility, her difficult struggle with the ongoing process of self-knowledge, and her unflinching efforts to overcome her own will, in favor of God's will for her life. All of this progress in Teresa Margaret's spiritual journey was based on her commitment and the practice of becoming utterly forgetful of self. In addition to her practice of remaining silent to whatever circumstances the Lord saw fit to bring her into in her life. No matter where you might be on the spiritual journey, this particular broadcast will help to provide insight and perhaps a good deal of consolation for those who may also find themselves in a difficult phase in the midst of their own spiritual journey.

 

Preparing to Receive Jesus in the Eucharist

Preparing to Receive Jesus in the Eucharist

June 22, 2019

n honor of the upcoming feast day of Corpus Christi Sunday, Frances pulls together thoughts and teachings on how to improve one’s preparation for the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist. Many approach Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in a routine way. This is so sad! Let’s get fired up and ignite the fire of divine love by considering what some of our Carmelites and others say in their own love of Jesus in the Eucharist. We need to refine our thoughts, feelings, affections and attitudes as we approach our Lord in Communion. What are some of the ways that even those souls closest to Jesus wound His Heart when receiving Him in the Eucharist? What are the teachings of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi on receiving Jesus in communion? How might we become more intimate with Jesus in the reception of His Most Holy Body and Blood? What were some of the experiences of Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila? Let us find ways to eagerly approach Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us prepare well NOW!

Sources (books):

“Bread of Heaven: A Treasury of Carmelite Prayers and Devotions on the Eucharist” compiled by Penny Hickey, OCDS.

“Eucharistic Colloquies” by Mother [now Blessed] Maria Candida of the Eucharist, OCD (1884-1949).

“Hidden Riches: the Eucharist in the Carmelite Tradition” edited by Eltin Griffin, OCarm..

St. Teresa Margaret’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 2)

St. Teresa Margaret’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 2)

June 19, 2019

Following her entry into Carmel, at the young age of 17, the future St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, committed herself unflinchingly to two great Carmelite practices for those who aspire to holiness. In this program, Mark and Frances discuss how these ascetical (which in the Greek means exercise) contributed to Teresa Margaret being raised to such a high degree of union with the Lord in such a brief period of time - only five years in her case. These practices, or exercises were detachment and recollection. Consistent with the teachings of her great patron, St. Teresa of Avila, Teresa Margaret would later add the practice of humility to her program of discipline. She of course practiced many of the better known means of detachment, including fasting, praying at night, sleeping on a hard surface and always attempting to deny her own desires. But she would soon come to understand that the greatest challenge is in detaching ourselves from our own will. As for recollection, Teresa Margaret was already well schooled in this art of prayer, one which requires us to re-collect our faculties and enter within ourselves to commune with the Lord who never leaves us. Indeed, the Lord is constantly waiting in the little Bethany of our Heart for us to come and spend time with Him. Teresa Margaret perfected this practice to such a degree that she was known to lose herself, like St. Teresa of Avila before her, even in the midst of her busy chore. The prayer of recollection is absolutely essential for anyone who wishes to make progress in the spiritual journey, and Mark and Frances provide a perfect model for this practice in their discussion of the life of St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Finally, this conversation explores St. Teresa Margaret's deep understanding and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In many ways, her insights and practice of this devotion preceded and even informed Popes who would later write about and institute the formal celebrations dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This devotion, and St. Teresa's motto to "Return Love for Love," represent the very center of her great progress in the spiritual journey, and is the main reason she is so important for us to study today.

St. Teresa Margaret: The forgotten Saint of Carmel’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 1)

St. Teresa Margaret: The forgotten Saint of Carmel’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 1)

June 19, 2019
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart is known as the forgotten Saint of Carmel. This is unfortunate as she has much to offer all of us in our spiritual journey. As sometimes happens when we read the lives of the saints, we can be put off by what we perceive to have been special graces or benefits they were granted by God. And we can become discouraged that we could never hope to attain to their degree of holiness. St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart will not leave us with this impression. Her spirituality was based on simplicity, a constant state of recollection and a desire to remain hidden in her perpetual loving gaze of the Lord. Her life was not filled with numerous mystical experiences, she did not seek her understanding of spiritual matters in academic pursuits and her life does not present us with a challenge of great and heroic acts as a requirement for sanctity. She simply took what little is required to become holy: simplicity, prayer, abandoning her own will and seeking to please and love the Lord in all her actions, and then she did her best to fulfill these requirements in every single element of her life. Hers is a spirituality for the common person, something we can all replicate in our own lives. And if we learn from her and apply her simple approach, if we dispose ourselves, as she did, to the work the Holy Spirit desires to do in each of us, then we too can become saints.
 
References:

God is Love, Saint Teresa Margaret: Her Life, by Margaret Rowe ICS Publications.

From the Sacred Heart to the Trinity: The Spiritual Itinerary of Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene ICS Publications

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 7, 2019

June is the month the Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a very rich and powerful devotion, and one all Catholics should take the time to learn more about. In this conversation, Mark and Frances discuss the importance of devotion to the Sacred Heart and how it can serve as an avenue into deeper union with God. The discussion begins by discussing the image of the narrow door, found in Luke 13:24 (also in Matthew 7 where it is referred to as a gate). Then Mark and Frances explore the image of Christ as this door into the state of union with Lord. Jesus refers to Himself as the door through which the sheep must enter (John 10:7). The analogy to Christ's heart then is discussed from the perspective of our invitation to conform ourselves to the image of Christ, specifically, that our hearts are to love in exactly the same way as Christ loves us. For it is through our transformation in love that we will fulfill the entire purpose of our human existence. We were created in love, by love, that we might become love itself. The most necessary practice for us to dispose ourselves to this work of transformation, is to be before the Lord in prayer. It is in refusing to "conform ourselves to this world" (Romans 12:32), placing our greatest desire on the treasure that resides within our hearts, and focusing less and less on self, so that Christ might "increase in us" (John 3:30), that we will allow the Holy Spirit the room to work this transformation of our hearts into the Sacred Heart of our Savior. If you desire to draw rich spiritual fruit out of this devotion to the Sacred Heart, this conversation is a good place to start."

Two references:

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. John Crosiet S.J., Tan Publishers

Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. Peter J. Arnoudt S.J., Tan Publishers