Carmelite Conversations
A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 2)

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 2)

April 18, 2019

Building upon last week’s conversation and using the spiritual navigational tools of 1) rest on the bosom of Jesus/in His Heart/in adoration; 2) embrace Jesus in the night via night vigils; 3) silence the faculties of the soul and listen interiorly to the Lord, Mark and Frances share a perspective on the actions of St. Peter during Holy Week and how that applies to the purification of the memory and the advancement of the soul in receiving God’s love. Mark also brings up a movie, called The Mission, which exemplifies the points we are trying to make. When seen through the eyes of both a Hermit and Crusader spirit, we see how important prayer is before action, which is also the call of Secular Discalced Carmelite.

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 1)

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 1)

April 12, 2019

The life of contemplation is itself a lifetime journey. Just as with any significant journey, and there is no more important journey then the journey to the interior of our soul, we must make preparations. We must understand the mode of transportation we will use for different parts of the journey, and we have a few means of navigation to ensure we stay on course, or that we are able to find our way back on course if we should become lost. Finally, we must be able to anticipate the obstacles that we may encounter along the way. In this first of a series of conversations, Mark and Frances discuss the work we must do in our prayer life to allow us to advance, and to make sure we can stay on the right path. Beginning with the very foundation of the Order of Carmel, they offer a series of practical tips and a narrative explanation of how the journey of faith, guided by contemplation, might play out in someone's life. This particular program is an excellent introduction to an understanding of how the memory can serve as an impediment to our progress in the life of prayer. More importantly, through the introduction of various means of navigation, they present solid advice on how on anyone can learn to avoid the obstacles along the journey.

How to Introduce Contemplative Prayer to Children With Guest: Colleen Sollinger, OCDS

How to Introduce Contemplative Prayer to Children With Guest: Colleen Sollinger, OCDS

August 22, 2016

Parents have a very important obligation to teach their children how to pray. Secular Discalced Carmelite, Colleen Sollinger, has much to share with us on this topic. She is a mother of 6 and has homeschooled all of them. 2 of the 6 are in college now. She is also a formatter for the OCDS Community in Dayton. She shares tips on how to set the stage for prayer, providing opportunities for children to pray, and ways to make it personal and relative to their lives. She also gives ideas on how to appeal to your child’s own personality. Many resources are given to help in this most important journey to God through prayer.

RESOURCES:

BOOKS:
“A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child” by Connie Rossini; Four Waters Press.
“Loyola Kids Book of Saints” by Amy Welborn; Loyola Press.
“A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations,” by Joanna Bogle; Gracewing Press.
“Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types,” by Chester P. Michael and Marie C. Norrisey; The Open Door, Inc.
“Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” translated by John Clarke OCD; ICS Publications.

WEBSITES:
In the Heart of My Home
elizabethfoss.com

Catholic All Year
catholicallyear.com

The Grace of Contemplative Prayer, Part Two of Three

The Grace of Contemplative Prayer, Part Two of Three

July 11, 2016

In this segment, Mark and Frances delve into more of the particulars of the transition from active mental prayer to passive contemplative prayer. We start with a discussion of how to prepare for the gift of infused contemplation. St. Teresa of Avila recommended the practice of the prayer of recollection. What do we need to do to get recollected? What does the transition from the active prayer degrees to the passive contemplative prayer degrees look like? What signs does St. John of the Cross give us to help us know when we are being called to leave discursive prayer and mental reasoning and practice more simplicity in prayer? What signs does he give to indicate we have entered the “Passive Night of the Sense”? What should the soul do when we are in this transition period? What should the soul be cautious about?

Resources:

Brochure:
“St. Teresa’s Prayer of Recollection” by St. Teresa of Avila, brochure; ICS Publications.

Scripture:
Ps. 46:11

Books:
“Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD; Tan Books.
“The Ascent of Mt. Carmel” ( Book 2, Ch. 13) by St. 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” (Book I, Ch. 9) by St. 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 Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross” by James W. Kinn; ICS Publications.

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.

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.

Provoking Contemplation—Who are these Contemplatives Anyway?

Provoking Contemplation—Who are these Contemplatives Anyway?

February 23, 2016
In this last in a series of five conversations on a book entitled 'Contemplative Provocations," by Fr. Donald Haggerty, Mark and Frances conclude their earlier discussion on how Christ hides Himself in and among the Poor. This is an important discussion to reflect on as we continue through this Extraordinary Year of Mercy. Indeed, we are all called to not only to receive Mercy, but also to share it with others, even those who may have offended us. Mark and Frances then go on to discuss the very nature of the contemplative personality. What does it mean to live the Contemplative life? What are the characteristics of a true call to contemplation? What unique stages of development does the contemplative soul go through that might give evidence to a genuine call to contemplation? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the goal of the contemplative encounter with the living God? Finally, this conversation concludes with solid counsel from St. John of the Cross, one of the masters of the mystical or contemplative life. The reflection from St. John seems to sum up very succinctly what this entire series has been about.
 
RESOURCES
Books:
“Contemplative Provocations: Brief, concentrated observations on aspects of a life with God” by Fr. Donald Haggerty; Ignatius Press.
 
“The Way of the Cross with the Carmelite Saints” Compiled and Illustrated by Sister Joseph Marie, Carmelite Hermit of the Trinity; ICS Publications.
Provoking Contemplation—Suffering Trials, the Poor and Contemplation

Provoking Contemplation—Suffering Trials, the Poor and Contemplation

February 16, 2016
The single most difficult aspect of the journey of prayer are the times of suffering and trial. Just when we believe we have launched on the correct path to holiness and are responding to God in the way that He desires, we seem to be met with no end of trials and setbacks. In this open but difficult conversation on this topic, Mark and Frances reveal the hard truth of the journey of the soul that desires to arrive at union with God. To be sure, there are many graces and blessings along the way, but in this fourth in a series of conversations from a book by Fr. Donald Haggerty called “Contemplative Provocations,” Mark and Frances present the reality of our individual need for purification and self denial. Our greatest consolation during this journey is found in the suffering and trial of our Lord’s own passion and poverty. And for those looking for the model of that poverty in our world today, one need look no further than the very poor in our midst. Fr. Haggerty draws on his own experiences with Mother Teresa of Calcutta to explain how we must seek the hidden Christ in the very eyes of the most impoverished in our society’ indeed it is among them where Christ continues to express His own plea from the Cross “I Thirst.” This is ultimately a very encouraging conversation for those seeking a deeper meaning in the midst of trials and suffering. 

RESOURCES

Books:
Contemplative Provocationsby Fr. Donald Haggerty; Ignatius Press.
 
“Worshipping a Hidden God: Unlocking the Secrets of the Interior Life” by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez; Sophia Institute Press.
 
Scripture Passages:
Mt 25:40, Mk 14:7, Mt. 25:35, Jn 19:28.
Provoking Contemplation—Poverty, Self Denial and Trial

Provoking Contemplation—Poverty, Self Denial and Trial

February 8, 2016
This is the third in a series of conversations reflection on the work by Fr. Donald Haggerty entitled "Contemplative Provocations." During this conversation Mark and Frances begin by cautioning against what Fr. Haggerty refers to as 'Aberrations.'' By this he means the pursuit of a spirituality without a firm foundation in the Dogmatic Teaching of the Church. Such pursuits can lead the soul to pursue experiences in prayer, which can lead a person astray an seeking their own desires in the spiritual life. Mark and Frances then go on to deal with the very difficult subjects of poverty, sacrifice and trial, so often found in God's purifying work of sanctification. Our poverty of Spirit is so necessary in the work of purification because there will always be something deep within ourselves that even we are not aware. In order to allow God's work to be done in us we must remain small, humble and poor. Likewise, we are called to make sacrifices and practice the spiritual asceticism, an asceticism that must go beyond simply fasting and detachment, and move to abandoning our will and learning to put others before ourselves. Finally, Mark and Frances remind us, as all the Saints would, that the only place we will find the strength for this phase of the journey is in love, and most especially before our Eucharistic Lord. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of some of the more challenging elements of the faith journey and some context for what we must go through to become Saints, this is a good listen.
 
RESOURCES
Books:
“Contemplative Provocations” by Fr. Donald Haggerty; Ignatius Press.
 
“The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, 13:2-4” from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross,” Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
 
“The Dark Night, Book I, 9:2-8” from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross,” Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
 
“The Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross” by James W. Kinn; ICS Publications.
 
“Union with the Lord in Prayer” by Rev. Venard Poslusney, O.Carm; 101 Foundation.
 
“My Only Friend is Darkness: Living the Night of Faith with St. John of the Cross” by Barbara Dent; ICS Publications.
Provoking Contemplation au Deux

Provoking Contemplation au Deux

February 2, 2016
This particular program aired on the eve of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast recalls not only the Lord's arrival at the temple, but also the preparation of the two individuals who were able to recognize the Lord, Anna and Simeon. It is written that both these contemplative souls had prepared themselves well through prayer and fasting, and that they waited with heroic patience and perseverance for the arrival of the Lord. In a very real way they serve as models of the persons of prayer we are all called to be. In this program Mark and Frances pick up the conversation on the book by Fr. Donald Haggerty entitled "Contemplative Provocations." Here they discuss the clear signs that a person has begun to enter into contemplative prayer, and they provide recognizable affirmations that the can assure the soul they are not actually regressing or losing time in prayer. They also discuss the importance of not being led by our emotions in prayer, and how we must seek to go beyond a felt experience. Finally, Mark and Frances discuss the role of the mind in contemplative prayer, and most especially what we can do about the wild thoughts that so often try to distract us away from our loving focus on the Lord.
 
RESOURCES
Books:
“Contemplative Provocations” by Fr. Donald Haggerty, Ignatius Press.
 
“The Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross” by James W. Kinn, ICS Publications.
 
“Union with the Lord in Prayer” by Rev. Venard Poslusney, O.Carm, 101 Foundation.
 
“My Only Friend is Darkness: Living the Night of Faith with St. John of the Cross” by Barbara Dent, ICS Publications.
 
“The Dark Night” from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross,” Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, ICS Publications.