The following is a reflection from The Cenacle, a collection of fifty meditations on the Holy Spirit written by Fr. John Mary of St. Joseph, OCD circa 1696 and traditionally used by Discalced Carmelites as a preparatory retreat for Pentecost.
Today is the feast day of Saint Simon Stock, a figure whose history is shrouded in mystery and legend. The late Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh helps us to sift through all the uncertainty to find the rich spiritual significance of Saint Simon Stock's reception of the scapular promise from the Our Lady.
Our lives are often clouded with anxiety, frustration, and shame. Despite these difficulties, the saints were able to surrender to God's will and abandon themselves into His loving arms. Like them, we must accept the words of Jesus, "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27). But how? In this episode, we [...]
Asceticism is a necessary part of the spiritual life. Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila espouse an absolute asceticism of complete detachment and relentless mortification. This zealous ideal can seem daunting if removed from the ultimate goal of their ascetical practices: love of God and neighbor. In this episode, we discuss the practice of asceticism and its important place in the Carmelite tradition.
Anyone committed to a life of prayer will face the difficulties of distractions and aridity at different times. These experiences can be extremely frustrating and disheartening. However, even the greatest saints faced these same trails in prayer, and they show us that they are actually opportunities for great growth in our relationship with God. In this episode, we examine the experiences of distraction and aridity in our times of prayer based on the teachings of the Carmelite masters.
As we grow in the spiritual life, we may find that our prayer becomes less focused on what we are doing and more about what God is doing in us. Saint John of the Cross defines this type of prayer as "an inpouring of God into the soul" and offers three signs to help discern if God is inviting a soul to receive His grace in this way. In this episode, we explore the teachings of Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila on passive prayer within the Carmelite tradition.
Saint Teresa of Avila proposes one particular method of prayer that she found to be most helpful in her own life: the prayer of recollection. In this episode we discuss this practice of prayer as it is understood in the Carmelite Tradition. We also look briefly at Saint Teresa's famous analogy of prayer: the Four Waters.
Most of us are familiar with various ways of praying, some of these methods taught to us from our youth. These types of prayer are not only for beginners but continue to be helpful aids as we grow in our relationship with God. In this episode we will look more closely at four different methods, or modes, of prayer which are highly revered in the Carmelite tradition: vocal prayer, liturgical prayer, meditative reading, and discursive meditation.
Whether you’ve been praying for many years, or if you are just beginning, we all have one thing in common: the need for conversion. Lent is a season specifically set aside by the Church to focus on repentance and conversion. In this episode we explore what the Carmelite tradition has to teach us about living lives of continual conversion from the teachings of Saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.