How to Avoid Hidden Pitfalls When They're Disguised as Prayer

07/13/2016 Comments (10)

André Jacques Victor Orsel, “The Devil Tempting a Young Woman” (1832)

Do We Really Understand Prayer? If you were to stand up before any parish and ask folks to raise their hands if they understand what prayer is, you would likely see every hand raised. If you then asked for hands to rise if they could articulate the distinction between vocal prayer and meditation, a much smaller group would emerge. Then, if you asked for hands of anyone who would be able to clearly explain mental prayer or contemplative prayer, the raised hands would be very sparse, if any surfaced at all.

As Catholics, we claim that being in a right or authentic relationship with God is the purpose of our existence. How is it then, that so few of us really understand how to converse with...READ MORE

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This Lent, Let St. Teresa of Ávila's Spiritual Guide Teach You How to Meditate

02/01/2016 Comments (1)

As we head towards Lent I have had a number of questions regarding a book I might recommend to those looking to experience a more meaningful Lent.

There is one that comes to mind that I believe will be transformational for anyone who is serious about the growing in prayer and the interior life:

St. Peter of Alcántara’s Finding God Through Meditation: I was deeply blessed to edit and update this translation of this great book. It is far too little  known in the Church and an incredibly powerful work. St. Peter of Alcantara was a mystic and a favorite spiritual director of St. Teresa of Avila. As I was editing this text I received constant consolations and another editor who worked on this...READ MORE

Filed under lent, meditation, prayer

Sublime Chant - Sublime Prayer

11/24/2015 Comment

I was driving home alone from Mass recently and experienced a rare post-Mass time of silence and reflection. Out of habit, I plugged my iPhone to the charger and, as usual, the car radio began to play a random music selection from my phone. Even though this always happens, I wasn’t paying attention or expecting this because my mind was elsewhere.

Then I noticed the music.

It was an extraordinarily beautiful chant piece. Immediately my heart was lifted to prayer, but I was curious as I didn’t recognize the artist even though I knew it came from my selection on my phone. When I came to a stoplight I looked down at the display and was pleasantly surprised to see the face of Kitty Cleveland....READ MORE

Filed under chant, music, prayer

Learning to Be Scrappy in the Spiritual Life

11/17/2015 Comments (5)

My father was the first son of a single mom who had next to nothing. He never graduated from college, but with hard work and tough lessons, he was able to retire well by the age of 45.

I learned a lot from him growing up. One principle that he worked hard to teach me was to be “scrappy.” He taught me to be scrappy in life and this scrappiness has also translated well to developing a healthy prayer life.

I am by no means perfect in the virtues associated with being scrappy, but I have found that to the degree that I rely upon God and pursue the principles my father taught me, I have been able to make progress.

What does a scrappy person look like? Here are a few characteristics translated...READ MORE

Filed under prayer, spiritual life, spiritual progress

Why Don't People Kneel at Mass?

10/27/2015 Comment

Dear Dan,

I have been disturbed in Mass by folks who don’t kneel or who half-kneel (“rear-end” still on the seat).

This might sound petty but I am crippled and wish desperately that I myself could kneel. What a profound privilege it is to kneel before our God and King. He has given everything for me and I can give so little in return. I physically can’t kneel, but I long to. Why don’t those who can appreciate that they should? It is very frustrating to watch.

Sincerely,

Mentally Kneeling

♦ ♦ ♦

Dear Friend,

I am deeply sorry that you desire to kneel but cannot. You should know that your desire to kneel is sufficient for a good disposition to receive the graces that come from this...READ MORE

Filed under behavior at mass, reverence

Confessions of a “Say the Black, Do the Red” Catholic

10/01/2015 Comment

It is hard to extend mercy when one is not intimately familiar with one’s own failures. Most don’t realize that the Pharisees were stalwart orthodox. They were deeply committed to their faith. However, they had strayed interiorly. Their faith was one of external adherence and they thought that this was the entirety of the life in God. Jesus’ rebukes of this problem were not new and were echoed throughout the Old Testament. 

I have no doubt that the Pharisees would have loved the phrase, “Say the black, do the red.” By the way, I always say “Amen!” when I read it myself. Here’s the hard part: external orthodoxy is a distorted orthodoxy when it is not accompanied by a properly oriented...READ MORE

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Sharing in Mary's Sorrow

09/15/2015 Comments (2)

"Let us adore Christ, the Savior of the world, who called his mother to share in his passion." - Liturgy of the Hours

Last year when this solemn memorial emerged I was unprepared. The Liturgy of the Hours helped me to enter into the memorial a bit but I felt like I needed it to permeate my day. I remembered, years before, a moment of profound sorrow in Mass on this day. Tears flowed in abundance with shame as I recalled how I had held the teachings of the Catholic Church about Mary in derision - how I held her memory in derision. Today I wanted to, in some small way, make up for my past failures and better honor her.

As I began my rosary it occurred to me that I could pray the Sorrowful...READ MORE

Filed under mary, our lady of sorrows

What Should You Pray about?

08/27/2015 Comments (3)

St. Peter of Alcantara encourages us to pray using the Creed. Let's look at why. What role does the Creed play in prayer? What purpose does it serve as we turn to meditation?

The Subject Matter of Prayer and Daily Meditations, from Finding God through Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara

Having taken notice of the utility of prayer and meditation, we will now declare the matter about which meditation is to be conversant; for seeing it is ordained to this end that the soul of him that meditates may be excited to the fear and love of God and the keeping of his commandments, the matter of meditation ought to be such as does next dispose to this end, and scope. And, although every creature...READ MORE

Filed under meditation, navigating the interior life, peter of alcantara, prayer, saint peter of alcantara, st. peter of alcantara

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About Dan Burke

Dan Burke
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Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality, sharing a contagious love for Jesus and His Church. Dan serves as the Executive Director and writer for EWTN'S National Catholic Register and is a regular co-host on Register Radio in addition to his appearances on many other EWTN television and radio programs. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and he is the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com. Above all, Dan is a grateful husband and father of four and a student sitting at the feet of His Master.