Joy in Suffering

There is perhaps no greater challenge for those of us who are pursuing the spiritual life then that apparent dichotomy of pain and joy. St. Paul tells us that we must, like him, be a person of joy, and in fact, we should expect to experience joy even in our most difficult times. In this compelling conversation on the top of suffering and joy, Mark and Frances share some insights from one of the most well known and popular Saints of the 20th Century, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In her journals, which were only published after her death, the Church was provided a very unique view into the inner life of a future Saint. What was both remarkable and perhaps surprising for many people, was how Mother Teresa’s life was a challenging combination of both suffering and joy. Through her wisdom and also the wisdom and insight of our Carmelite Saints, Frances and Mark share important insights on how all of us can deal with this apparent contradictory experiences of suffering and joy along the spiritual journey. In addition, they support these insights with very specific verses from sacred scripture, which point out that these two opposites are in fact very much a part of the Christian process of growing in the likeness of Christ.

Listen to or download the podcast.


“Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” Edited and with Commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC; Doubleday.
“I Thirst: Saint Theres of Lisieux and Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” by Jacques Gauthier; St. Pauls.
“Love of the Cross: A Meditation” from the book, “The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts” from the Collected Works of Edith Stein, Ed.ted by Dr. L. Gelber and Michael Linssen, OCD and Translated by Waltraut Stein, PhD; ICS Publications.
“Science of the Cross” by Edith Stein; ICS Publications.

“Joy in Suffering According to St. Therese of the Child Jesus: A Novena,” by Bishop A. A. Noser, S.V.D., D.D.; Tan Books and Publishers.

Apostolic Letter:
“Salvifici Doloris” (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”) by Pope John Paul II; Pauline Books and Media.
Scripture: Col. 1:24, Jn 15: 10-11; Mt. 22:37, 39-40; 1 Pt 1:8; 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18.

The Way of the Cross with the Carmelite Saints

The Way of the Cross is a remarkably powerful and grace filled devotion, one we should certainly find time to practice during the Season of Lent. In this particular program Mark and Frances draw from the writings of the great Carmelite Saints to provide a complete reflection on each of the Stations of the Cross. Each reflection includes a brief statement on the significance of a particular Station, a verse from the Bible that enhances and expands our understanding of that Station, and then a reflection from one of the Carmelite Saints, which seeks to further deepen our experience and encounter with the Man of Sorrows and His Passion. This is a particularly moving series of reflections and it is a program best listened to when you have the time to be quiet, reflective and in a situation to meditate on each of the readings offered along the Way of the Cross. This is a program rich in material for our sanctification and will be one that many people will want to listen to more than once.
Listen to or download the podcast

“The Way of the Cross with the Carmelite Saints” Compiled and Illustrated by Sister Joseph Marie, Carmelite Hermit of the Trinity; ICS Publications.
“Meditations on the Way of the Cross of Albert Servaes” by (Blessed) Titus Brandsma, O. Carm; Carmelite Press Publication.
“Calvary and the Mass” by (Archbishop) Fulton J. Sheen; P. J. Kenedy & Sons, Publishers, 1936.
“The School of Jesus Crucified: the Lessons of Calvary in Daily Catholic Life” by Father Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, Passionist; Tan Books.

“How Did the Stations of the Cross Begin?” by Fr. William Saunders, found on

Provoking Contemplation—Suffering Trials, the Poor and Contemplation

The single most difficult aspect of the journey of prayer are the times of suffering and trial. Just when we believe we have launched on the correct path to holiness and are responding to God in the way that He desires, we seem to be met with no end of trials and setbacks. In this open but difficult conversation on this topic, Mark and Frances reveal the hard truth of the journey of the soul that desires to arrive at union with God. To be sure, there are many graces and blessings along the way, but in this fourth in a series of conversations from a book by Fr. Donald Haggerty called “Contemplative Provocations,” Mark and Frances present the reality of our individual need for purification and self denial. Our greatest consolation during this journey is found in the suffering and trial of our Lord’s own passion and poverty. And for those looking for the model of that poverty in our world today, one need look no further than the very poor in our midst. Fr. Haggerty draws on his own experiences with Mother Teresa of Calcutta to explain how we must seek the hidden Christ in the very eyes of the most impoverished in our society’ indeed it is among them where Christ continues to express His own plea from the Cross “I Thirst.” This is ultimately a very encouraging conversation for those seeking a deeper meaning in the midst of trials and suffering.


Contemplative Provocations by Fr. Donald Haggerty; Ignatius Press.
“Worshipping a Hidden God: Unlocking the Secrets of the Interior Life” by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez; Sophia Institute Press.
Scripture Passages:
Mt 25:40, Mk 14:7, Mt. 25:35, Jn 19:28.

Provoking Contemplation — part 3

This is the third in a series of conversations reflection on the work by Fr. Donald Haggerty entitled “Contemplative Provocations.” During this conversation Mark and Frances begin by cautioning against what Fr. Haggerty refers to as ‘Aberrations.” By this he means the pursuit of a spirituality without a firm foundation in the Dogmatic Teaching of the Church. Such pursuits can lead the soul to pursue experiences in prayer, which can lead a person astray an seeking their own desires in the spiritual life. Mark and Frances then go on to deal with the very difficult subjects of poverty, sacrifice and trial, so often found in God’s purifying work of sanctification. Our poverty of Spirit is so necessary in the work of purification because there will always be something deep within ourselves that even we are not aware. In order to allow God’s work to be done in us we must remain small, humble and poor. Likewise, we are called to make sacrifices and practice the spiritual asceticism, an asceticism that must go beyond simply fasting and detachment, and move to abandoning our will and learning to put others before ourselves. Finally, Mark and Frances remind us, as all the Saints would, that the only place we will find the strength for this phase of the journey is in love, and most especially before our Eucharistic Lord. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of some of the more challenging elements of the faith journey and some context for what we must go through to become Saints, this is a good listen.
“Contemplative Provocations” by Fr. Donald Haggerty; Ignatius Press.
“The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, 13:2-4” from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross,” Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Dark Night, Book I, 9:2-8” from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross,” Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross” by James W. Kinn; ICS Publications.
“Union with the Lord in Prayer” by Rev. Venard Poslusney, O.Carm; 101 Foundation.
“My Only Friend is Darkness: Living the Night of Faith with St. John of the Cross” by Barbara Dent; ICS Publications.

The Science of the Cross

In Christian circles we spend a great deal of time talking about the cross, our need to carry the cross, and even Christ Himself tells us that we need to carry our cross daily, implying of course that there is a cross specifically designed for us. So what is this cross, how are we to know what our cross is, and how is it beneficial for us to carry our cross. In this lively conversation about a serious topic, Mark and Frances begin with the statement made by a visiting Carmelite Friar, that we are our own cross. They use a text from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross titled, “The Science of the Cross,” to explore how our crosses are actually individually designed for us, and they are not only the means of our salvation, but also the means of our purification. Furthermore, if we will allow it, they are the means by which the Lord will allow us to participate in His work of redemption for the whole world. This conversation will also explore how the work of the cross is something far deeper within our spirit than the mere worldly perception of the trials in our life, and as such, it is truly an act of love on the part of our Savior.
Book: The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein, trans. by Josephine Koeppel, OCD; ICS Publications.

Diary of a Country Mother

For this conversation, Mark welcomes into the studio Cynthia Montanaro, and member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Cindy is the author of the book, Diary of a Country Mother. In this year-long memoir, she recounts the details of the life of her adopted son Tim. Cindy and her husband Andy chose to adopt a child late in life, and only later discovered that this blessed soul also introduced some unique challenges into their life. With penetrating vulnerability and remarkable spiritual insights, Cindy relates the ups and downs of raising a special needs child, and the strength she and her family drew from their Catholic faith. This is a heartwarming story of both tragedy and triumph, but more than anything, it is a spiritual reaffirmation of the inherent dignity and gift of every single human person.
Diary of a Country Mother by Cynthia Montanaro

“Worshiping a Hidden God” part 3

In this last of a series of programs on the book titled Worshipping a Hidden God, Mark and Frances discuss the all too real challenge of desolation in the spiritual journey. In this wonderful book by the former Archbishop of Mexico City, Luis M. Martinez, we discover what happens when we enter a period of desolation. What are we supposed to do in these difficult times, and perhaps more importantly, what are not supposed to do. Archbishop Martinez also skillfully explains the great benefits available to those who faithfully undergo this difficult spiritual phase, and in doing so, he offers great encouragement to those who may now be in a time of spiritual desolation. If you have begun to deepen your prayer life, or perhaps have already experienced a time of desolation, you will find this a particular useful conversation.

“Worshiping a Hidden God” part 2

In this second in a series on the book titled ‘Worshiping a Hidden God,’ by former Mexico City Archbishop Luis Martinez, Frances and Mark discuss approaches for dealing with desolation and darkness. Archbishop Martinez was a Master at understanding the soul which struggles with the absence of God and the sense of despair that can occasionally overtake us. In this conversation Mark and Frances provide the Archbishops counsel on just how we are to deal with those dark avenues that we so often travel on the spiritual journey. If you are struggling with a trial of what you perceive to be the absence of God, this will be a very helpful program.

“Worshiping the Hidden God” by Archbishop Luis Martinez

Mark and Frances begin a new series on a book titles ‘Worshiping a Hidden God.’ The book is written by the late Archbishop Luis Martinez who lived in the late 1800’s and through the mid 1900’s. He was the Archbishop of Mexico City and is considered to be a true Master of the spiritual like. In this particular conversation, Frances and Mark focus on the inevitable role that suffering plays in our spiritual life. Archbishop Martinez demonstrates how suffering is not something to be avoided along the spiritual walk, but indeed is something that we can greatly benefit from. He teaches how we are to deal with the various phases of suffering and sorrow, and how we can use these to deepen both our Faith and our Hope.

Frances Harry’s return with reflections on her trials

This is a very special broadcast. Mark has the great privledge to welcome Frances back in the studio after her successful surgery from cancer. In this touching conversation Frances shares the incredible insights she gained during this most trying time of her life. She reflects on the sayings of some of the better known Carmelites Saints, and she offers her unique perspective on what these sayings a prayers meant to her as she sought to find solace through her trials. She also shares some wonderful insights on the role of the Blessed Mother and the joy of being covered in her mantle through this struggle. Frances also offers some comfort and guidance for anyone who might also be battling with cancer, and how those individuals can find great consolation at the feet of our great Saints.