An Engaging Faith: 11/16-11/20

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of
Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality by Carl McColman (Ave Maria Press), 
Drawing runs 11/16-11/22 Click to enter..

Finding God within, and encountering the world without!

Carl McColman of Befriending Silence:Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality , Teresa of Avila: An Interior CastleTony Agnesi with Finding God’s Grace in the Everyday , Encore of Mark Hart, aka The Bible Geek and  John Zmirak with Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind

Monday:Carl McColman, is the author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call, and his latest Befriending Silence:Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality. Carl also writes for Patheos, Huffington Post, and Contemplative Journal. He also has his own popular website and blog devoted to Christian and world mysticism. McColman is a member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, a contemplative community under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks. A Catholic in full-time ministry as a retreat leader and speaker, McColman frequently leads workshops and retreats on contemplative spirituality at churches, seminaries, monasteries and retreat centers. He was trained in the practice of Christian contemplation through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC. He received training in spiritual direction from the Institute for Pastoral Studies in Atlanta. He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Tuesday: Teresa of Avila: An Interior Castle,  Yearn to take an inner pilgrimage, or encounter God in a life changing way? Then, I invite you to join my friend and companion, saint and mystic Teresa of Avila for a time of intimate discovery. Join me for a walk through Carmelite spirituality and a discussion on how this young 16th c.nun still speaks to us today.

Wednesday: Tony Agnesi, who is Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life is the Senior Vice President of Rubber City Radio Group, WQMX, WONE, and WAKR in Akron and WNWV in Cleveland and member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame. A relentless storyteller, his Sunday blog and Wednesday podcast have an International audience in over 70 counties and has been translated in over 40 languages. Tony and his wife Diane have two adult sons and are members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Thursday:Mark Hart serves as Executive Vice President for Life Teen International. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a twenty-year veteran of youth ministry, Mark Hart is one of the most sought-after speakers serving in the Catholic Church, today. The author (or co-author) of over a dozen books, including best-sellers “Blessed are the Bored in Spirit”, “Behold the Mystery”, “Ask the Bible Geek”, “100 Things Every Catholic Teen Should Know” and “The “R” Father”, Mark’s writing style is humorous yet deep, accessible to and enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Friday: John Zmirak a composition teacher at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, John has written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention and been Press Secretary to Louisiana Governor Mike Foster. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in many publications including ” “USA Today,” “”The Atlantic,” “The Intercollegiate Review,” and “The National Catholic Register”. From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of “Faith & Family Magazine” and a reporter at “The National Catholic Register.” He works now as an editor for several publishing companies. He joins us today to discuss his latest book, Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind

All Roads Lead To Rome: Abby Tre Fontane

Home to three churches, Abby Tre Fontane is a beautiful spot right outside the walls of Rome and is located on the route of the Via Laurentina. Amidst  groves of eucalyptus trees, and tucked away in a time reminiscent of the Middle Ages, is this sacred place of pilgrimage and contemplation. What’s the significance of this place among all the many others in Rome, you ask? Here, in 67 AD, is where tradition holds St. Paul to have been tortured and beheaded and where three fountains sprang forth from the bounce of his head upon the ground. The first spring brought forth hot water, the second warm and the third cold, and in place today, the pilgrim will see three shrines.

A citizen of Rome, Paul was to not be crucified or executed within the walls of Rome, but taken here to await his sentence of death.  Solace awaits the invitation to sit with St. Paul- to pray and consider his time spent here. Love, strength of conviction,and faith- when times are their darkest permeate the entirety of this space. So too is the poignant reminder that the fire lit with St. Paul  did not end there, but is within each of us as followers of Christ today. In this moment, I thought of my own husband, his kinship with St. Paul and how his small constant flame of faith was suddenly set ablaze when he heard God calling him deeper in faith.

Walking back up the path, towards the Church S. Maria Scala Coeli,  one cannot miss the statue of St Benedict calling all to listen and obedience without delay. “Pray and work. Here hastens those who want to see the heavens open; and the difficulty of the route not distracting from the holy plan. Always difficult things are achieved with great effort. The blessed life always passes through a narrow path”  This church constructed in the 12th century derives its name from a vision of a ladder that ascended to heaven from purgatory that St. Bernard of Clairvaux had in 1138 while celebrating Mass.

Last, but certainly not least is the church of  Ss.Vincenzo and Anastasio built in 625 and rebuilt by the Cistercian monks between 1140 and 1221. Enclosed with these walls of brick and columns of marble is a church of alluring austerity.I sat here for some time, at first conversing with God. Feeling a need to fill the seeming simplicity of this space, I spoke at length till my thoughts racing about in my head had come to a standstill. Then like a wave, an overwhelming sense of serene solitude enveloped me and all I longed for was to remain. I was being shaped by the silence- stripped of all my pretenses and  burdens I carried and created anew.This is the joy of contemplation, and life in this Trappist monastery.    

Yet, prayer and reflection are but part of the life of those who feel called to live within these cloistered walls. As an active working community of faith, the Cistercian  monks produce many products of unsurpassed quality and taste. Olive Oil, honey, jelly, chocolate, beer , liquors, and natural skin care products are a few of the many items sold at the Abbey of the Three Fountains. If only my pockets and suitcases were deep enough, I would have supported the monastery for a year or more. Yet, I could not help but recognize that the gift of spiritual solitude I had found there, far outweighed anything that could ever be purchased.

Reflect: Ever think about the attractiveness of monastic life? If so why? If not, can you envision the essentialness of this quiet time of retreat in your own life? Action:Take time today, to sit and allow yourself to be worn and shaped by the sound of silence.