Carmelite Conversations
The Signs, Saints, and Silences of Advent—to Help Us Grow Spiritually Guest:  Colleen Sollinger, OCDS

The Signs, Saints, and Silences of Advent—to Help Us Grow Spiritually Guest: Colleen Sollinger, OCDS

December 12, 2016

Have you ever had the experience of arriving at Christmas and suddenly get this sinking feeling that you have hardly done anything to grow spiritually during the Advent season? Colleen Sollinger, our guest on Carmelite Conversation, helps us with some ideas on various ways we may prepare our hearts and souls for the Incarnation of Christ. What do the signs used in Advent mean and how might they help us? Have you ever considered asking a Saint or Advent figure to accompany you thru the season…to prepare in imitation of them…or gain insights from them? How beneficial is it to practice silence …and silent prayer during this time? It’s never too late to begin…just begin!



Scripture: Jn 1:29, Mt. 3:2, Mt. 3:8, Lk 1:38, Lk 1:45, Lk 17:21

Website Articles: “Degrees of Perfection” by St. John of the Cross;

“This Is Your Brain on Silence” by Daniel A. Gross;

“Good Feet, Courage and Tenacity of Spirit” by a solitary bird;

“By the Manger in the Morning Prayer Journal” by Elizabeth Foss;

Books: “The Little Way of Advent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. Gary Caster; Servant Books.

“St. John of the Cross Advent Saint” by Rev. John Saward; publ. by Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia, PA.

“The Music of Silence: Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity for Everyone” by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard; New City.

“Divine Intimacy” from Second Week of Advent, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen; Tan Books.

True Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a Message for Christmas 2016

True Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a Message for Christmas 2016

December 6, 2016

It is always important for each of us to take deliberate steps to make the most of our preparation for the Advent Season. In this particular conversation, Mark and Frances present an interesting idea of one way we can begin and continue that preparation. Drawing from previous conversations on the prayer of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, they reemphasize the request of Elizabeth to have the Holy Spirit bring about within her another incarnation of the Word. This very prayer of course evokes the scene of Mary and the Nativity, which we can all reflect on at this time of year. For Elizabeth, Mary's silence and courageous acceptance of her mission, from the Annunciation to the Nativity, is the very model for interior souls, those souls who wish to be the resting place for God within them. With this as a backdrop, Frances and Mark then go on to explain each of our roles as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, Christ who is born within us, but of whom we are also members. They provide supporting scripture verses and other sources, including the Catechism and Papal documents, to explain this important teaching on our participation as members of Christ's mystical body. Finally, as it is clear that the heart is the very center and support of the physical body, Christ's Sacred Heart is the very center of our spiritual lives. If then, we are to 'incarnate' the word in our very person, we must also understand the importance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its role in our spiritual lives. This program provides a very good means of building on the theme of incarnation and leading to devotion to the Sacred Heart, as an Advent preparation for the arrival of Christ.

Scripture: Lk 1:35; Eph 4:15-16; Rom 6:4-5 1; Cor 12:3; Rom 8:26; Eph 1:9-10; Col 1:24

Encyclical: Mystici Corporis Christi: Pope Pius XEE on the Mystical Body of Christ

Cathechism of the Catholic Church: #790-791

Books: “The Complete Works: Elizabeth of the Trinity, Vol. One” Trans. by Sister Aletheia Kane, OCD; ICS Publications.

“God is Love: Saint Teresa Margaret: Her Life” by Margaret Rowe; ICS Publications.


Interview of Co-Host Mark Danis on a Week with the Friars…in Preparation for Advent

Interview of Co-Host Mark Danis on a Week with the Friars…in Preparation for Advent

November 28, 2016

Taking time off from our regular routine and getting away to specifically ponder and pray features prominently in growing in the interior life of the spiritual journey. The Advent season is a perfect time for all to detach from the world and focus on the life of Christ in our soul. Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen said “The Spirit of the Advent liturgy, commemorating the age-long expectation of the Redeemer, will prepare us to celebrate the mystery of the Word made flesh by arousing in each of us an intimate, personal expectation of the renewed coming of Christ to our soul. This coming is accomplished by grace; to the degree in which grace develops and matures in us, it becomes more copious, more penetrating, until it transforms the soul into an alter Christus.” Co-host Mark Danis is interviewed in this program regarding his recent visit for a week with our Discalced Carmelite Friars. He shares some of his thoughts and experiences. We can profit from his sharing and get more inspired to dedicate this Advent season to a deeper preparation for the coming of Christ into our souls in a more intimate way than ever before. Will we make room in the “inn” of our souls for Christ to come in?


Book:“Divine Intimacy” by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD, Advent Week One; Tan Books.

Praying the Rosary

Praying the Rosary

November 21, 2016

Many Catholics, even very faithful Catholics, have simply fallen away from the practice of praying the Rosary. This is indeed an unfortunate set of circumstances. Many of the Church's greatest Saints have consistently reminded us of the importance of the Rosary especially its use as a strong defense and even a spiritual weapon against the demons and their assaults. In this conversation Mark and Frances reexamine the importance of the Rosary as they look at it through the eyes and the words of some of its Greatest Champions. The list of individuals includes such notable figures as Saint Pope John Paul II, St Padre Pio and St Teresa of Calcutta. More than just advocating the recitation of the Rosary, however, Mark and Frances discuss how these Champions encouragement can be seen as a means of using to Rosary to confront the most difficult challenges facing our society, such challenges as Divorce, Abortion, Suicide and even Terrorism. In the second half of the conversation, Mark and Frances offer helpful hints for getting out of our Rosary rut, whether someone might have just become a bit bored with praying the Rosary, or whether someone may have stopped praying it altogether. If you have lost that loving feeling for the Rosary, this might be a good program to re-inspire you and get you back to praying this powerful prayer.

Introduction to Pere Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD

Introduction to Pere Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD

November 14, 2016

Coming up Nov. 19, 2016, Pere Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD (born Henri Grialou), will be beatified. Many Carmelites and those interested in Prayer and Carmelite Spirituality, will recognize his name from some of the prominent books he authored. Who is this Friar? What is he know for? How can he help us today on our spiritual journey? What was his testament? What is our responsibility? How can he help us grow in our bond with God? What did he say about the Holy Spirit? He challenges us to be resolved “to live with the Holy Spirit and seek Him out frequently.” What is his mission? Tune in to learn more.


Scripture:Jn. 7:38; Heb 11:27

Books: “I Want to See God; I Am a Daughter of the Church--a practical synthesis of Carmelite Spirituality, 2. Vols.” by Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, Trans. by Sister M. Verda Clare, CSC; Christian Classics.

“Under the Torrent of His Love: Therese of Lisieux, a Spiritual Genius” by Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, Trans. by Sister Mary Thomas Nobel, OP; Alba House.

“Where the Spirit Breathes: Prayer and Action” by Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, Trans. by Sister Mary Thomas Noble, OP; Alba House.


Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity and our Incarnation in Christ

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity and our Incarnation in Christ

November 8, 2016

One of the most profound and important teachings of the New Testament is our need to, as St. Paul says, "Put On Christ." We must actually allow Christ to both continue to live His life through us, and renew His mystery of salvation for those come in contact with throughout our lives. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, The Order of Carmel's newest Saint, was particularly taken by this teaching and made it one of the central themes of her famous "Prayer to the Trinity." Of course she drew much of her understanding of this deep Theological principle from the New Testament Letters of St. Paul. This particular program uses both the writings of St. Paul, and key phrases from St. Elizabeth's prayer to help explain, and make practical for our daily lives, the application of this teaching. Of course, in order to come to a true understanding, a soul must be prepared to expose themselves, in a state of docility, to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Mark and Frances also address these issues as they relate to our contemplative prayer and our response to the circumstances of our individual lives. This is a wonderful program for those who are looking for solid principles on how to deepen our awareness and adoption of the person of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.


Scripture:Phil. 3:10, Gal. 3:27, Heb. 12:29, Heb. 10:5, Rom. 12:1, Gal. 2:20, 1 Cor 2:2, Jn 15:5, Pa. 141:2

Books: “The Doctrine of the Divine Indwelling: A Commentary on the Prayer of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity” by Rev. Mere M. Amabel du Coeur de Jesus, Translated into English by a Discalced Carmelite; The Newman Press.

“Teresa of Avila--The Way of Perfection: A Study Edition,” Trans. by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; Study prepared by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Conversation with Christ” by Peter Thomas Rohrbach, Tan Books. “Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD; Tan Books.

Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux on Death and Dying

Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux on Death and Dying

November 1, 2016

As we approach All Saints Day and All Souls Day, our thoughts turn to the topic of “Death & Dying.” Many people try to avoid thinking about that topic, as it brings on feelings of anxiety…or gloom…or fear. The fact of the matter is, we gain much wisdom by pondering death during our life. As the old saying goes: “The art of living well is in knowing how to die well.” What is death? How does one prepare for death? How do we confront our fear of death? St. Therese of Lisieux was confronted with death early in her life, from hearing about and seeing death all around her and especially in the death of her own mother when she was only 4 ½ years old. These occasions, rather than causing her to flee from the subject, enticed her throughout her life to ponder them deeply and seek the treasures of wisdom hidden therein. Yes, St. Therese had her own fears to confront. She confronted the meaning of death. She grasped the seed of faith in her belief in Heaven, beyond even her feelings. God allowed her to be purified especially in the last 18 months of her life. Her faith and embrace of God’s will and plan for her life surged forward in an ever- deeper surrender and abandonment to God. St. Therese shares her wisdom with us on this all-important topic which will help us today to prepare for that final day of this exile.


Scripture:  1 Thes. 5:2; 1 Cor 2:9; Ps. 23:4;

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  #1016

“The Most Insightful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Death” by Catherine Birri,

Books:“Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Study Edition, Trans. by John Clarke, OCD; Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Living on Love!...” and “What I’ll Soon See for the First Time!...” found in “The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Trans. by Donald Kenney, OCD; ICS Publications.

“The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux and Those Who Knew Her: General Correspondence, Vol. 2,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

“St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity:  Beginning the Journey of Sainthood

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Beginning the Journey of Sainthood

October 17, 2016

It is not everyday that we get a new Carmelite Saint, but it happened again on 16 October of 2016 when the Church Canonized Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. In this conversation Mark and Frances discuss the importance of St. Elizabeth's Canonization, her primary message of Silence, Solitude and Prayer, and what this message might mean for the Church and the world at this time in history. It is always helpful to place a Saint in the context of both their individual experiences in life, and also the time in which they lived. This conversation then begins by identifying some of the earliest stories of young Elizabeth's life, and also by looking at the political and social forces which were influencing her native France during the later part of the 19th and early part of the 20th Century. One of the most important theme's in Elizabeth's spirituality is her own understanding of her role as Co-Redemptrix, one who would willingly participate in the Redemptive work of her Spouse Jesus Christ. Indeed, one of Elizabeth's favorite descriptions of herself was as the Bride of Christ. Her explanation of this title, and its impact on her understanding of her mission serve as important lenses into our understanding of her pursuit of sanctity and her path toward Union with Christ. Finally, as with all Saints, we want to view their lives so that we can gain some deeper understanding for ourselves how we might be guided and directed along our own spiritual journey. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity's life then provides us with some very practical and valuable lessons. She is a wonderful example especially for those of us who are trying to live out our call to holiness in the midst of the world, as that was precisely what she did even before she entered Carmel.


Books:“Elizabeth of the Trinity: A Life of Praise to God” by Sr. Giovanna Della Croce, OCD; Translated by Julie Enzler; Sophia Institute Press.

“The Complete Works: Elizabeth of the Trinity, Vol. One,” by Elizabeth of the Trinity; Translated by Sister Aletheia Kane, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Your Presence is My Joy: Life and Message of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity” by Conrad De Meester, OCD; Translated and Printed at Darlington Carmel.

Scripture:  Romans 12:1

Articles:“The Life and Ministry of Carmelite Mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity” by Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction;

“Who is Elisabeth of the Trinity – Our Newest Saints?” by Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction;

Intimate Friendship with Jesus Christ—from the Perspective of St. Teresa of Avila

Intimate Friendship with Jesus Christ—from the Perspective of St. Teresa of Avila

October 10, 2016

It was through the lens of intimate friendship with Jesus Christ that the many foundations of St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) were begun. In her book, “The Way of Perfection,” she wrote: “All my longing was and still is that since He {Jesus} has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones. As a result, I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same.” Her life was a witness and testimony to this intimate friendship with Jesus. We must be diligent in seeking the Lord and answering “His Call.” St. Teresa counsels us on how to develop this relationship: “Represent the Lord Himself as close to you and behold how lovingly and humbly He is teaching you. Believe me, you should remain with so good a friend as long as you can. If you grow accustomed to having Him present at your side, and He sees that you do so with love and that you go about striving to please Him, He will never fail you. He will help you in all your trials; you will find Him everywhere.” (“The Way of Perfection 23.2; 26.1). It is through a frequent, intimate conversation in prayer and in the sacraments, that we can more easily grown in our union with Jesus. In this program, Mark and Frances discuss the importance of developing this friendship with Christ through the life and counsel of our Mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila).

Scripture:  1 Jn 4:17-19; Jn 15:13; Jn 14-15

Articles:“Springtime of Faith Conference: The Toolbox of Pope Benedict,” Nashville.

“Christ in the Mysticism of St. Teresa” by Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD.

“Teresa of Avila and Friendship” by Susan B. Cordsen;

Books:“Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. 1,2 and 3, ‘ The Book of Her Life,’ ‘The Way of Perfection,’ and ‘Interior Castle’” trans. by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.

“15 Days of Prayer with Saint Teresa of Aivla” by Jean Abiven; Liguori.

“Let Nothing Trouble You: 60 Reflections from the Writings of St. Teresa of Avila,” Compiled by Heidi S. Hess; Servant Publications.

“Friendship with Christ: Love and Service” by Sister Mary of Jesus and St. Joseph, OCD; Carmel, Schenectady, New York, 1972.

Joy in Suffering

Joy in Suffering

October 4, 2016

There is perhaps no greater challenge for those of us who are pursuing the spiritual life then that apparent dichotomy of pain and joy. St. Paul tells us that we must, like him, be a person of joy, and in fact, we should expect to experience joy even in our most difficult times. In this compelling conversation on the top of suffering and joy, Mark and Frances share some insights from one of the most well known and popular Saints of the 20th Century, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In her journals, which were only published after her death, the Church was provided a very unique view into the inner life of a future Saint. What was both remarkable and perhaps surprising for many people, was how Mother Teresa's life was a challenging combination of both suffering and joy. Through her wisdom and also the wisdom and insight of our Carmelite Saints, Frances and Mark share important insights on how all of us can deal with this apparent contradictory experiences of suffering and joy along the spiritual journey. In addition, they support these insights with very specific verses from sacred scripture, which point out that these two opposites are in fact very much a part of the Christian process of growing in the likeness of Christ.


“Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” Edited and with Commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC; Doubleday.
“I Thirst: Saint Theres of Lisieux and Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” by Jacques Gauthier; St. Pauls.
“Love of the Cross: A Meditation” from the book, “The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts” from the Collected Works of Edith Stein, Ed.ted by Dr. L. Gelber and Michael Linssen, OCD and Translated by Waltraut Stein, PhD; ICS Publications.
“Science of the Cross” by Edith Stein; ICS Publications.

“Joy in Suffering According to St. Therese of the Child Jesus: A Novena,” by Bishop A. A. Noser, S.V.D., D.D.; Tan Books and Publishers.

Apostolic Letter:
“Salvifici Doloris” (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”) by Pope John Paul II; Pauline Books and Media.
Scripture: Col. 1:24, Jn 15: 10-11; Mt. 22:37, 39-40; 1 Pt 1:8; 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18.