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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.
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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. (www.mycatholic.life) “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; www.mycatholic.life   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 http://www.ocds.info/LegislativeDocuments/RatioInstitutionis.pdf  
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.
One aspect of what is needed to experience Divine Intimacy is “detachment.”  This presentation will focus on what detachment is, and what it is not…with the goal of understanding and incorporating detachment into who we are.  To understand detachment, we must also understand attachment as well as right order in relationships.  Detachment is the process by which we set our loves in right order.  What is the active part of detachment?  What is the passive part of detachment?  How does detachment lead us into divine intimacy with God?
Members from several communities of the Order of the Discalced Carmelite Seculars gathered for a yearly retreat at the Maria Stein Spiritual Center in Ohio in August 2022.  The Sunday Mass fell on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year C. Deacon Baldwin presents us with an in-depth parallel of the life of the Prophet Jeremiah with the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He focuses on the purifying fire of love of the Holy Spirit, which also set St. Elijah on fire with zeal for the Lord. We, in Carmel, are taught about this living flame of love through the writings of St. John of the Cross.  It is very important for us as Carmelites to pray for this purification and transformation that comes through this fire of love.  In 2018, a letter from the Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites, Fr. Saverio Cannistra, OCD, warns us not to become like the world, but be transformed by the living flame of love, so that we may truly love God and love our neighbor…so that we may know God so that He may be known. Every Discalced Carmelite Secular will be edified, encouraged and inspired by these words regarding our vocation to Carmel.  For non-Carmelites, it is still a universal call to love…to holiness.  Let us never forget who we are!!
Homily for the feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with Deacon Rusty Baldwin
Deacon Mark Danis, OCDS recently gave a homily on the topic of reparation that we are happy to share with you!
Silence is golden.  We have often heard that phrase.  Silence is really a deep Bible truth.  In this presentation, Deacon Baldwin will address that truth and point out the use of  silence in prayer and particularly in the life of contemplatives and the gift of contemplation in prayer.  He addresses the questions:  “Should I give up all vocal prayer and only strive for silence in prayer?”  “What Scripture passage helps me understand this point?”  “How do I grow in silence in prayer?”  “What book does he recommend to help us?”  Resource:  “The Twelves Degrees of Silence” by Sister Marie-Aimee De Jesus, OCD
Have you  ever thought about your work as a road to holiness?  Discalced Carmelite Secular Tim Bete often struggled to understand the relationship between faith and work.  In this presentation, Tim references the teachings of Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection to explain how we can see our work as a place to encounter God.  He also pulls from Church documents, scripture, and the lives of other Carmelite Saints, to discover the meaning of our work.  We do well to ask ourselves how our work unites us with God.  That is addressed in this presentation.  Tim also provides a real life example that has played out in his own life and work.  Finally, he gives us 4 Keys to help us truly surrender to God and find real success in our work, the work of union with God.   RESOURCES/BOOKS:   The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, translated by Salvatore Sciurba; ICS Publications. The Power of Silence:  Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Nicolas Diat; Ignatius Press. The Surrender Novena by Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo  
St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD (also known as Mariam Baouardy) is one of the most extraordinary Saints in Carmel, following in the footsteps of Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila.  Although uneducated, she was infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a great degree.  Rather than focusing on the charisms and phenomena in her life, this Carmelite Conversation focuses on her childhood and gives an indication on how the Holy Spirit formed her, practices/prayers that we may imitate.  Find out some of the teachings on the Holy Spirit that were given to St. Mary of Jesus Crucified to give to the Church.   Resources Mariam, the Little Arab by Amedee Brunot, SCJ Maryam of Bethlehem, the Little Arab by Sister Emmanuel Maillard Thoughts:  Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified by Rev. D. Buzy, SCJ  
We frequently pray to and invoke the Holy Trinity, yet the Holy Trinity is a mystery and hard to explain.  Although we are quite limited, we can gain some insights into understanding the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as well as pondering “Who” the Holy Trinity is.  Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS, discusses this mystery and introduces us to Catholic Evangelist Frank Sheed’s approach as well.  There is much to ponder here.  
The day this was recorded was the first day of May and fell on a Sunday this year.  It is also the day we would have been celebrating the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Deacon Mark Danis was just recently ordained to the diaconate and this is his first homily given to our Secular Discalced Carmelite community in Dayton, OH. 3 themes are covered: --St. Joseph the Worker --the gift of prayer and contemplation, especially in Carmel --St. Joseph as a model of contemplation Deacon Danis begins by quoting Holy Mother Teresa on her confidence and devotion to St. Joseph. He continues by telling us the origin of the feast day to St. Joseph the Worker and the importance of the worker over work.  What is the work of those in Carmel?  And how is that manifested? What guidance does St. John of the Cross give us? Deacon Danis then relates this to the Gospel passage on the 3 denials of St. Peter.  How is this related to our prayer and our relationship with the Lord?  In what ways does St. Joseph model prayer?  Finally, in what ways do the prayers affect the whole world? So, get to work!  Pray, pray, pray!
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