August 7, 2019
In this conversation, the battle of scrupulosity and aridity in the Dark Night of St. Teresa Margaret are examined. What is it like to be in the midst of these battles? What is the cause of scrupulosity and aridity? What are some good counsels and strategies we can use to overcome these trials? How does God uses these battles to purify and perfect us? What virtues are most needed?
August 7, 2019
After the great grace of “Deus Caritas Est/God is Love,” the Discalced Carmelite St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus enters a stage of marked passivity in which God is purifying her soul. This stage is referred to as the Dark Night of the Spirit and falls in the 6thMansion of the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. How does this purification through the dark rays of contemplation occur? Why is it so painful? St. John of the Cross uses the analogy of the log of wood and the fire to describe the process of purification of this more interior, darker night. He also portrays the journey in this Dark Night of Spirit as going up a Secret Mystical Ladder of Love made up of 10 steps. What are those steps? How do they differ from each other? How is a soul in this darkest of nights described? What kind of language does St. Teresa Margaret use to describe her interior sufferings? What can we learn from all of this?
July 27, 2019
An important Marian celebration associated with the Order of Discalced Carmelites is the Memorial of ”Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace,” celebrated on July 23. What connection does this title have to “Our Lady of Mt. Carmel?” What other connections are present? How is it important for all of us? What is “grace” and what kinds of grace are available to us? How do we obtain more grace? What unique role does the Blessed Mother play? What application does that have to the beginning words of the Angelic Salutation: “Hail, full of grace,” directed to Mary? How can knowing that help us to pray more fervently?
July 20, 2019
What exactly is required of us in the spiritual journey? How do we make progress? What disposition of heart is necessary for us to be drawn into the heart of the Lord? These are important questions. If we are truly seeking the Lord and we genuinely desire to be transformed into the persons we were created to be, then these are questions we need to explore for ourselves. It is always nice, however, to have a picture, to learn from the experience of someone else who may have already traveled down a similar path. In this conversation, Mark and Frances delve into the secrets of sainthood. While looking through the lens of the life of someone who, for many, is a hidden Saint. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' own writings, and the reflections of her personal spiritual director, provide us remarkable insight into what is required of that soul who would be raised to the very heights of divine union or spiritual marriage. This exploration into the life of this Saint will look at both her total abandonment to the Lord, what she herself describes as her complete detachment from all things worldly, but it also examines her complete devotion to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Perhaps most importantly, especially for those of us who live in the world day to day, this Saint will reveal to us her secret for the practice of Recollection, and how it is that she is able to enter into herself and communicate with the Lord, even in the midst of her busy daily activities. This is an important conversation for anyone who struggles in understanding exactly what it is the Lord desires from us, if we truly desire to enter into a deeper relationship with Him.
July 14, 2019
After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph was the greatest Saint ever! In pondering the “glories” of St. Joseph, we are made aware of how God prepared him and used him for the lofty mission of being the Spouse of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. In this “live” presentation given to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Dayton, OH at their general meeting, Frances pinpoints a few of the “glories” of St. Joseph from the beginning to the end of his life. These will surely help the listener to appreciate St. Joseph ever more deeply and to imitate him in loving Jesus and Mary.
July 14, 2019
We are beginning a new monthly series of talks by Deacon Rusty Baldwin, a Secular Discalced Carmelite who gives a presentation to our Community in Dayton each month. These are recorded live during our Holy Hours. In this program, Deacon Baldwin compares the God-given gifts we have to flowers in a spiritual bouquet. How are we using our gifts? What does St. Therese, the little flower, say about our gifts?
July 11, 2019
It is often convenient for us to imagine that the Saints all had a continuing series of mystical experiences throughout their lives. It is believed then, that these experiences are what drew them to holiness, complete transformation and ultimately union with Christ. It is simply easier for many of us to imagine that the Saints were just special people, and by consequence, we could not really be expected to be raised to their degree of holiness. However, in the case of the young Saint from Florence, Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this is simply not the case. It is true that she heard an interior voice early in her life that she later believed to have been St. Teresa of Avila, and that voice communicated to her that she would one day join a Carmelite convent. But it is also true that Teresa Margaret had been preparing herself for some years to listen to the spiritual voices who may wish to speak with her. We can all do the same. The final, if we want to use the word mystical, experience Teresa Margaret had, was to experience deep within her spirit the reality of the words: Deus Caritas est, which in Latin means, God is Love. Again, Teresa Margaret had been preparing and dedicating her life in the convent to be prepared for just such an experience of the internal communication from God. Her heart was well tilled to receive the seed of God's flowering love within her soul. This preparation on her part included prayer, silence, simplicity, humility, practicing the presence of God and yes, even accepting suffering, most especially the mortification of her own will. None of these practices are extraordinary, and indeed, they may all be practiced, to some degree, by all of us. And it is to that degree that we will have prepared our hearts to receive whatever it is that God, in His wisdom, wishes to communicate to us, individually.
July 3, 2019
One of the single most important disciplines we can adopt is the continual practice of the presence of God in our lives. This practice is not achieved by simply thinking about God be everywhere, though certainly He is all around us as well as in us, and we should take great comfort in this reality. Beyond this, however, we should recognize that the real challenge of the practice of the presence of God, is for us to make ourselves present to Him. It is for us to be continually aware that He is looking at us with His loving gaze, and that we should constantly be desiring to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. In this program, France Harry takes us through the very practical means St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart used to keep herself continually aware of and present to God. The central focus of Teresa Margaret's practice was her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In this regard, she not only fulfilled all of the communities requirements for adoration, but she also remained constantly disposed to a state of adoration whenever she was anywhere near where the Blessed Sacrament was retained. She would literally genuflect towards the room where the tabernacle was kept, whenever she entered the hallway outside that room. She was known to rest her head on the wall, while sitting on a bench, just outside the same room. Just as important as these physical gestures directed toward the Blessed Sacrament, were Teresa Margaret's charitable commitment to her sisters in the convent. She realized that because she herself could not actually serve Christ in a physical way, she would have to find Christ in all the individuals she came in contact with in her life in Carmel. Regardless of whether these individuals responded to her with equal charity, Teresa Margaret always labored to be as kind and patient towards everyone as she could. Indeed, if there were some who may have treated her with disdain, and some did, then Teresa Margaret sought to serve these women all the more. She always maintained the guidance provide to her by our Lord:
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,] you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40-45)
If you are seeking a little guidance, some encouragement, and a model for how to advance in the practice of the presence of God, then this is a very valuable program to help provide you all three.
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!”
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.