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Carmelite Conversations

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The Carmelite Conversations podcast discusses Carmelite Spirituality and its application to our busy, modern lives. The podcast provides counsel on how to live the Carmelite call to combine contemplative prayer with service to the Church, while at the same time providing guidance on how to make progress in holiness. Carmelite Conversations is of particular interest to Secular Carmelites as it is produced by the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites Community of Our Mother of Good Counsel in Dayton, Ohio.
251 Episodes
In reference to the third dwelling place/mansion, St. Teresa of Avila tells us that she believes “that through the goodness of God there are many of these souls in the world.” Of course, that was in the late 1500s. The souls here are good practicing Catholics. Mistakenly, many of these souls think they are at the heights of their spiritual growth, when, in reality, they are at the adolescent stage. With the gift of St. Teresa’s “Interior Castle,” one can learn from her, a master of prayer and Doctor of the Church, that there is much more room to grow. This episode highlights some of the big issues and what's needed to move forward into the higher mansions, and features Theresa Rittenhouse, OCDS and Frances Harry, OCDS.   Book: The Interior Castle: Study Edition (ICS Publications)  
In the month of March, the Church celebrates the feast of the great St. Joseph, Patron Saint of the Universal Church.  He is also the Protector of the Discalced Carmelite Order. So often, one might think our Saints are so far above us in holiness that it’s incomprehensible how we could imitate them.  In this Carmelite Conversation, Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS, talks to us about the Extraordinary but Ordinary Life of St. Joseph.  We are also reminded of the great love that St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) had for St. Joseph, who never failed her in any of her needs.  St. Joseph, pray for us!
The Second Dwelling Place or Mansion pertains to souls who have already begun to practice prayer and have heard the calls of the Lord.  Hence, the seed planted in the first mansion is now starting to germinate and sprout roots.  The temptations are greater because their awareness has grown through the calls of God.  What are these temptations?  How do we combat them?  What are the remedies?  What if we mess up and fall? How can we benefit from falls?  What is prayer like for a 2nd mansion soul?  We give some good guidance for the time of prayer.  What do we do to progress to the 3rd mansion? 
When a Carmelite hears the word, “Nada,” they automatically think of the great Discalced Carmelite Doctor of Love, St. John of the Cross.  What does that word mean?  Why is this word so deeply associated with St. John of the Cross?  Is this a harsh concept to live?  How can we apply this concept to our own lives and our families?  This conversation will answer those questions and give some background that sheds light on this concept…and will hopefully warm you up to what St. John of the Cross is teaching us. Host Frances Harry, OCDS, discusses the topic with guests Deacon Mark Danis, OCDS, and Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS.   Source:  The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Trans. by Kierab Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
What is this journey of faith?  What are some of the misconceptions people have about this journey of faith? What will inspire us on this journey? Deacon Mark Danis details for us what is of immense value to us beyond the purification and healing of our souls and what we must do regarding our eternal destiny.
This reflection is focused on the “why” of Lent. Why fast? Why pray? Why give alms?  Why does the Church tell us to do these 3 things?  Where does this come from?  How do these 3 tactics form a strategic battle plan to conquer sin in our lives?  How does this relate to the Theological Virtues, the Evangelical Counsels, the Superior Faculties of the Soul, Virtues, and the Harmony of Life?  This is briefly covered to help us gain a better understanding of the “why”. Resources 58 Ideas for What to Do for Lent This Year
Guest, Theresa Rittenhouse, OCDS, joins host Frances Harry in a Carmelite Converstion on the first dwelling place/mansion of St. Teresa of Avila’s classic masterpiece, “The Interior Castle.” We cover some of her wonderful images of the soul and also images of God.  But, what is the soul?  We take time to define the soul and describe the anatomy of the soul in addition to giving a brief break down of the soul and its relationship to the theological virtues and evangelical counsels. The castle is an image of the soul.  Prayer is the door to enter the castle.  What is prayer like for a person in the first dwelling place?  What might it consist of?  How may it be improved?  St. Teresa wants us to understand not only the beauty and dignity of the soul made in the image and likeness of God, but to also comprehend the ugliness of a soul in mortal sin.  The devil uses lots of tactics to distract, divide and preoccupy the soul so that it doesn’t progress.  What can be done? What battle plans should we have?  Resources: “The Interior Castle:  Study Edition” by St. Teresa of Avila, Translated and Prepared by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.; ICS Publications. “The Interior Journey Toward God: Reflections from Saint Teresa of Avila” by John Paul Thomas; My Catholic Life! Inc. ( “The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father” by R. Thomas Richard, 3rd Edition; Fidelis Presentations    
What a joy it is to hear how a Saint has particularly influenced someone!  Today’s Carmelite Conversation details how St. Therese of Lisieux helped a priest in his vocation.  Host, Frances Harry, OCDS, interviews Fr. Robert Hale, who was recently ordained.  Listen to his story of how St. Therese became a good friend and intercessor for him.  He has offered to us his personal testimony with lots of sage advice.    Books mentioned: “Story of a Soul:  the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux (Study Edition),” Trans. John Clarke, OCD; prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications. “Maurice and Therese:  The Story of a Love” by Patrick Ahern; Image Publications. “The Prayers of Saint Therese of Lisieux,” Trans. Aletheia Kane, OCD; ICS Publications. “A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. John F. Russell, OCarm; Christus Publishing.  
Deacon Mark Danis, OCDS, shares reflections about the short book, A Soul of Silence: Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. The book, which was published in 1949, was written by a Carmelite nun, Mother Mary Amabel of the Heart of Jesus, and translated  from French into English by a Discalced Carmelite.  Download a PDF file of the book.
St. Teresa of Avila, in her classic masterpiece, The Interior Castle, teaches us how to become more intimate with God by journeying through the seven mansions/dwelling places of this interior castle of our soul.  A great way to identity each of these degrees of intimacy with God is through the “Our Father” prayer.  This provides a new perspective that can be very helpful in understanding this journey as well as in deepening our prayer. Sources: “The Interior Castle:  Study Edition” by St. Teresa of Avila, Translated and Prepared by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.; ICS Publications. “The Interior Journey Toward God: Reflections from Saint Teresa of Avila” by John Paul Thomas; My Catholic Life! Inc. ( “The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father” by R. Thomas Richard, 3rd Edition; Fidelis Presentations.    
This episode is a replay of a popular episode from 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.
This homily by Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS, was given during Evening Prayer for the Dayton Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites on Feast of the Epiphany in Jan 2023. Many interesting aspects of Epiphany are brought to our attention that one may not have considered before.  We know the Magi came to the Infant Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh by following a star; but listen to these questions Deacon Baldwin asks, that will lead us to ponder this feast ever more deeply.  He references some very interesting thoughts from St. John Chrysostom, a Doctor of the Church, from the 4th century.  Deacon Baldwin then challenges each of us to be epiphanies, manifestations of our Lord to all we meet.  What does that involve?  Take this spiritual challenge and be the light of Christ to the world.    
It was during the Advent season when the Dayton OCDS Community gathered together for the Rite of Making the Promise/Vows. The Spiritual Assistant of the community, Fr. John MacQuarrie, delivered a homily touching on many Carmelite themes. Since this also occurred on Gaudete Sunday , rejoicing in the Lord ,as spoken by St. Paul, was clearly on everyone’s mind.  In Romans, he says our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. For those making promises and vows, they take those words to heart. Fr. MacQuarrie then shares the joyful account of the miraculous healing of little Benedicta McCarthy through the intercession of our dear Carmelite, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as Edith Stein. Finally, our attention is drawn to points of the Carmelite rule to apply to our everyday lives as well as our mission in Carmel.  In summary, we are all called to be a beacon of light to all around us, letting the light of Christ shine through us like a stained glass window.  
This episode is a replay of a popular episode from 2017. St. Therese of Lisieux is a Giant Soul among the Saints being one of the Doctors of the Church. On this her birthday (Jan 2), Guest Marika Zimmerman and Host Frances Harry talk about her famous Christmas Conversion. We go into a great deal of in-depth discussion about this moment. What was the conversion all about? When did it occur? How did St. Therese describe this event about the “magic shoes” at Christmas? In what way can we peer into her mindset at this pivotal time? What were some of the results of the graces given? What are some of the lessons learned? How was the one-hour old Jesus magnified in the rest of her life? How may we imitate her trust and abandonment to the Lord?   RESOURCES: Books: “The Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux, Translated by John Clarke, OCD and Study Edition Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications. “Therese, the Little Child of God’s Mercy: Her Spiritual Itinerary in the Light of Her Autobiographical Manuscripts” by Angel de les Gavarres; ICS Publications. “Everything is Grace: the Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux” by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC; The Word Among Us Press.
In this presentation, Frances Harry, OCDS, speculates on what it looks like when God is our sanctity, especially as seen in the life and words of St. Therese of Lisieux.  It follows from part one of the same title which discussed this phrase which was used in St. Therese’s famous prayer, “Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.”  Through the example of St. Therese, we too, can imitate her and pray this prayer with all confidence.   Resources:   “Story of A Soul, Study Edition” by St. Therese of Lisieux, prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.   “Something New with Saint Therese:  Her Eucharistic Miracle” by Suzie Andres, OCDS;  Little Way Books.   “Lessons from Saint Therese:  The Wisdom of God’s Little Flower” by John Paul Thomas;   Excerpt from St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Act of Oblation to Merciful Love” “O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make You Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!”  
Frances Harry, OCDS, discusses, “God, Be Yourself My Sanctity," a phrase used by St. Therese of Lisieux in her famous prayer, “The Act of Oblation to Merciful Love,” found in her book, “Story of a Soul.”  What does St. Therese really mean in this part of her prayer?  Is it possible?  And is it possible for us?  Frances Harry, OCDS, helps us work through these questions and more.  She was particularly delighted when a kindred spirit decided to write a book about this.  It is called:  “Something New with Saint Therese:  Her Eucharistic Miracle” by Suzie Andres, OCDS.  This highly recommended book will really help you understand what St. Therese meant in this part of her prayer.  Dive in!  You’ll be glad you did.  There are spiritual challenges here that will help each of us to grow in prayer and in union with God.   Resources:  “Story of A Soul, Study Edition” by St. Therese of Lisieux, prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.   “Something New with Saint Therese:  Her Eucharistic Miracle” by Suzie Andres, OCDS;  Little Way Books.
Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS, shares a homily about the Beatitudes connection to the Ten Commandments. To help us grow in love of God and neighbor, the Lord has given us the Ten Commandments as well as the Beatitudes.  They are a sure guide to Christian perfection and are of vital importance in the vocation to Carmel, as well as the battle against the world, satan and self.  What is the connection of the Beatitudes to the Ten Commandments?  Deacon Baldwin draws forth much for us to ponder on this topic.  He provides two interpretive keys for us to consider as well as providing insightful reflections on each of the Beatitudes.
Tim Bete, OCDS, interviews Annette Goulden, OCDS, about her book, Rooted in Love: Louis and Zélie Martin: Models of Married Love, Family Life, and Everyday Holiness. From the publisher: When Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin were canonized in 2015, they were the first spouses to be declared saints as a couple. Their lives are proof that God works through ordinary families to draw his future saints―like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Louis and Zélie’s youngest daughter―toward holiness. Even before their first encounter in the small town of Alençon, France, God was preparing Louis and Zélie for marriage. Later, he continued to sustain them powerfully in their married love and family life. Rooted in Love: Louis and Zélie Martin: Models of Married Love, Family Life, and Everyday Holiness explores the stages of Louis and Zélie’s marriage, from the joys of parenthood, through the sorrows of bereavement, and ultimately to the challenges of single parenthood―experiences which many families face today. Author Annette Goulden demonstrates how, amid both the joys and the sorrows of family life, these saints grew in their understanding of God’s love for them. From the initial urge to earn God’s favor with sacrifices and sufferings to a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love even in the minutiae of daily life, God was their guide on the path to holiness, a path that is open to all married couples. This book is for both families and individuals―to offer them light and guidance to live their ordinary everyday life in closeness with God. No matter one’s vocation in life, Louis and Zélie exemplify how everyday experiences, such as being a working parent, running a business, or raising a difficult child, can be sacramental if one is open to a trusting relationship with God, even when he seems to be absent. Whatever the situation a married couple find themselves in, this saintly couple shows how daily actions and choices―however small and ordinary―are highly valued by God and can lead to holiness, to a close relationship with him, and to forming children who are strong in faith, maturity, and joy. You can buy Rooted in Love at these outlets: Amazon (US) Amazon (UK) ICS Publications Blackwell's (England) Carmelite Book Service (England)    
This episode is a repeat  one of our most-popular program from 2017. Who is called to be a Secular Discalced Carmelite? How do you distinguish between those who are called and those who are not called?  What are some principles that you can use to discern the vocation to the OCDS?  Guest, Colleen Sollinger, shares 6 distinct elements that, considered in totality, paint a good picture of a soul who is called to the Order of the Discalced Carmelite Seculars. Having been a formation facilitator for her community, she speaks from experience as well as from the guidance of Fr. Aloysius Deeney, OCD who has served as the General Delegate for the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. RESOURCES:  Books: “Welcome to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites” by P. Aloysius Deeney, OCD; ICS Publications. “Welcome to Carmel” by Michael D. Griffin, OCD, contributor and compiler; Teresian Charism Press.  Encyclical: “Christifidelis Laici” by Pope John Paul II. Document:  “Ratio Institutionis” for the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites at  
Deacon Mark Danis, OCDS,  gives us an analogy of Spiritual Childhood of St. Therese of Lisieux.  He offers us an analogy that we can quickly identify with that will help us go deeper into understanding St. Therese’s great leap of faith into God. This analogy will also give us several insights into prayer.  Deacon Danis also reflects on the rosary as something we enter into rather than something that we just recite. Resource:  “Contemplative Provocations:  Brief Concentrated Observations on Aspects of a Life with God” by Fr. Donald Haggerty, Ignatius Press.
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