Carmelite Spiritual Warfare Prayer

Come Holy Spirit with Thy Seven-fold gifts and anoint us with Thy Divine light, wisdom, and power. Come Lord Jesus Christ and anoint us with Thy Precious Blood, freeing us from every snare and stronghold of the principalities and powers of darkness. O Mother of God, glorious and Immaculate ever Virgin Mary, come and crush the head of the ancient serpent. O great father, St. Joseph, terror of demons, come and annihilate the enemies of our souls. St. Michael, great prince and commander of the heavenly army, strike down the insidious foes who seek to destroy us. Come glorious band of the Apostles, come great patriarchs and prophets; come white-robed army of Martyrs, come pure and noble throng of Virgins. Come to our aid Holy Mother St. Teresa, our Holy Father St. John of the Cross, St. Elijah, St. Elisha, St. John the Baptist, St. Therese, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, all you saints of Carmel, our Guardian Angels, Archangels, and all you holy Angels and Saints, come repulse the attacks and deceits of our wicked enemies; render them impotent and helpless. Let God arise; let His enemies be scattered and let all those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so are they driven away; as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked perish at the presence of God.

(From the Apostoli Viae Prayer Book)

If I have in intimacy with God in the Eucharist, why do I need mental prayer?

It is fairly common when speaking about mental prayer on social media that a fellow traditionalist will pop into the thread and proclaim that the Eucharist is the only means of intimacy with God that we need. This reflects a deep misunderstanding of both the sublime encounter with God in the Eucharist and the relationship between the graces received in the Eucharist and mental prayer.

The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith. When we encounter Christ there, we encounter Him in the deepest intimacy possible in this life. However, the Eucharist isn’t magic. If we come with hearts laden with sin and attachments, we create barriers for the grace that the Lord desires to give us. As we see in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we can approach the Eucharist in a way that is profoundly destructive to our souls and even our temporal welfare.

So it is clear that how we approach the Lord in this great encounter determines the grace we receive. A good disposition brings more grace and poor disposition hinders grace. He is always willing to give us all we need to become saints at every encounter. However, the problem is within us – the barriers are within us. This is where mental prayer comes in.

Living the contemplative, a life of prayer and ascesis mitigates these barriers and enables us to approach the Lord in the Eucharist with open and pure hearts and to thus receive all the graces that He desires to give. Mental prayer is as essential to this great encounter as is being healthy before surgery. The great Physician is ready to heal and restore us to health and beyond, but if we are sinful and neglectful of our physical health, the benefits are outweighed or mitigated by our neglect. We nullify the work of the great Physician.

If we allow ourselves to be purified and transformed by the power of the Eucharist, we will naturally be drawn to extend that encounter in mental prayer. It will animate and elevate our ongoing conversation with the Lord and make us desire more time with Him in prayer. An encounter with God in the Eucharist that does not bear fruit – in this case, a deeper life of prayer – is sterile.

There is nothing more powerful to prepare for the Source and Summit than the contemplative life. There is nothing more fruitful and important for the contemplative life than the Eucharist. To pit them against one another, or to ignore one as if it were unnecessary is to squander the fruits of both.

PS: Thanks to Claire Dwyer for edits

Self-Delusion and Godward Self-Awareness

The human person has an infinite capacity for self-delusion and little innate capacity for authentic self-knowledge.

Even so, as we draw near to Him in prayer and reflection, His light pierces our darkness and reveals the path of a liberating Godward self-awareness. This life-giving but stinging clarity reveals our profound need and draws our heart to cry out for forgiveness and healing.

This movement to humility and reliance upon God discovers the outstretched hand of Jesus that not only draws us out of the abyss of sin but then to His gentle embrace.  It is near His compassionate heart that He whispers, “I know you. I love you. I will heal you… if you will allow it.”

Don’t run. Lean into your pain. You will find Him there. “Be not afraid.” He has proven Himself worthy of your trust.

Hail to the Lord who Comes

Hail to the Lord who comes,
comes to his temple gate,
not with his angel host,
not in his kingly state:
no shouts proclaim him nigh,
no crowds his coming wait.

But borne upon the throne
of Mary’s gentle breast,
watched by her duteous love,
in her fond arms at rest;
thus to his Father’s house
he comes, the heavenly guest.

There Joseph at her side
in reverent wonder stands;
and, filled with holy joy,
old Simeon in his hands
takes up the promised child,
the glory of all lands.

Hail to the great First-born,
whose ransom-price they pay,
the Son before all worlds,
the child of man to-day,
that he might ransom us
who still in bondage lay.

O Light of all the earth,
thy children wait for thee:
come to thy temples here,
that we, from sin set free,
before thy Father’s face
may all presented be.

Love Hopes All Things

A Holy Chastening

A few years after I first became a Christian a pastor confronted me with a harsh proclamation, “You don’t love anyone.”

I was devastated. Since my conversion, I had painted the Church, taught bible studies, tithed, and many other things. How could it be that I didn’t love anyone when I was doing all that stuff for others?

Even though these thoughts of self-justification flashed across my mind, I knew he was right. Stunned and wide-eyed, I asked him, “What should I do? I don’t want this to be this way.” He said, “You can start by memorizing first Corinthians thirteen.” I followed his recommendation, and it changed my life.


 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


In the process of memorizing the chapter I realized that, though I had read it often enough, I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of authentic self-sacrificing love. One particular phrase from verse seven drew my attention – “Love… hopes all things.” I thought to myself, what does it mean to “hope all things?”

The Beginning of Change

I looked up the word “hope,” and light began to shine in the darkness. A key line in the definition struck me, “…a joyful anticipation of good.” I thought, “To love someone, is to joyfully anticipate good from them.” It then occurred to me that I needed to dig deeper to really live the kind of love revealed here by the Holy Spirit. So, I decided to create “if-then” statements for each of these manifestations of love in order to derive something concrete that I could act upon.

In the case of hope my statement read, “If I loved ___________, I would joyfully anticipate good from them.” Still deeper. I asked myself, “How would that look to them?” “What would they experience if I demonstrated my joyful anticipation of good to them?” The answer was clear. As they approached me, they would see a noticeable look of joy on my face anticipating the good that I expected to see in them.

I completed these statements for every attribute and found myself drenched in tears at the end. I understood what the pastor was trying to teach me. I was broken and ready to change. If Christ had done so much for me, how could I fail to give that self-sacrificing love to others?

Joy Inside and Out

Joy is both an internal and external reality. It is the fruit of an internal recognition of God’s love and presence even in the midst of our darkest trials. It is a peaceful exuberance when we get a rest from holy purgation. It is an external manifestation of a smile, of eyes and body language that loudly and clearly send messages like:

  • I am grateful to God for you.
  • I am so happy to see you!
  • I am glad you are here.
  • You are important to me.
  • I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
  • I am interested in you.
  • You matter to me.
  • I love you.

If you are like me, you have not had much natural training for this kind of expression. The messages I received in my youth were often the opposite of many of these phrases. To demonstrate my love for others tangibly, I had to mechanically practice this external joy until I became aware that others could see and experience it. Once they did, I knew I was on the right track.

After some time, by God’s mercy and much effort, it became somewhat natural, and more so each time I practiced. In fact, I often purposefully practiced it when I didn’t feel well. In the end, it seems that this outward practice reinforced and strengthened the inward reality. Most importantly, people around me began to experience my love for them, which is just as important, or maybe more important than “knowing” that I loved them in some intellectually abstract way. I am still a long way from where I ought to be but thank God the work is underway.

It is not enough to love with a mere interior sentiment. If love doesn’t make it to our face or our outward affect or actions toward others, it is a weak or false love reflecting a heart in need of conversion.

Finally, some might argue that I was acting out of concert with what I felt and thus I was disingenuous. This is nothing more than modern psychobabble. We are called to act in accordance with God’s will, not our feelings. We are even commanded to “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials…” (James 1) By the grace of God, we act because we love and we come to greater love because we act. Eventually, as with the heart of a child, our love becomes pure and our external actions match our interior sentiments.

Love hopes all things – love looks at others with a joyful anticipation of good. Authentic love reaches beyond mere interior ideas and sentiments, to holy exterior manifestations of tangible grace.

As members of Apostoli Viae, let us strive with all we are to show this kind of love to the world.

“So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It Is Not for Ourselves

It is very important to remember during these few days before Christmas that we never receive any grace for ourselves alone but for the building up of the entire Mystical Body. How wonderful is our vocation as Christians! How glorious is our heritage! In spite of weakness, of all our defects and faults, we are chosen to rekindle charity and set it aflame, to let it shine brighter, that redemption be more effective for the whole Body of Christ.

Since the mysteries of God are always living and active now, a real birth of the Word will occur in our souls. The Author of grace will come to reign within us more profoundly, more fully, and consequently, He will reach others effectively through us. The service God asks of us is simply to exhale the fragrant odor of Christ who lives in us, to radiate the eternal light, and to spread the fire enkindled in our hearts. In other words, to be transparent, to be in the translucent appearance of our Lord who lives in us.

It is not for ourselves that we live but for all, for those who sit in the shadow of death so that they may be converted and live. We also live for those who are already saints so that their sanctity may increase still more.

Mother Marie des Douleurs, O.S.B.

Silence and the Sacred in Mass

One of the most moving moments in my life came while visiting Yad Vashem; the holocaust museum in Israel. As I considered that overwhelming encounter today, what struck me was the memory of the profound silence of the experience – what it was like to be among crowds of people from all different backgrounds, religions, ages, and maturity – all in silence.

People were not talking or bantering about as they ventured through the horrific memories. The silence was as pure and perfect as is humanly possible. Why such perfect silence? There are many reasons. Awe is one. Deep sadness another. The place is sacred to all who visit, and thus the instinct to silence is universal.

The silence of Yad Vashem reveals another important truth – an authentic recognition of the sacred draws the heart to awe and to silence. The greater the experience or understanding of the sacred, the more instinctive the draw to silence and reverence. The overwhelming clarity of Yad Vashem pierces the heart and mind of every participant and speaks the words, “You are in a sacred place. Absorb what you see. Pray. Give your heart and mind to this experience so that you might gain wisdom.”

Tragically, some hearts are so diseased that they can miss the sacred reality before them no matter how profound. This was painfully illustrated by a group of young people who used one of the Yad Vashem displays as a stage for a light-hearted photo shoot. The appropriate outrage expressed words like “sacrilege” and “blasphemous” and reflected the deepest possible offense at the violation of this sacred place.

Unfortunately, the idea of the sacred has almost completely faded in our society. One of the most tragic places this has happened is in our parishes. This is common even among those who would normally be considered the most devout among us – those who attend daily mass or regular adoration. This violation of the sacred or lack of reverence in any worship space is always reflected in one irreverent behavior, the tendency to disrupt the silence of worship with whispers and social interaction.

Why does this happen? There are external and internal reasons for this tragedy. Externally, the more clearly sacred the physical environment is, the more people act in concert with what the architecture and accouterments signify or communicate to the soul. So, architecture and art can play a powerful role in encouraging or discouraging appropriate reverence. Unfortunately, our time has revealed some of the most wretched and even sacrilegious architecture in Church history. This has dealt a crushing blow to the sacred nature of our worship spaces and our instincts to recognize them as sacred and set apart for the most important activity of our lives – the worship of God.

Internally we experience the violation of the sacred when we fail to align our actions with our beliefs. Do we really believe the Lord is present among us in the sanctuary? If so, do our actions clearly reflect that belief? Are we quick to speak about things that have nothing to do with worship, ready to interrupt someone in prayer as if they were not actually speaking to God Himself, or slow to keep silent to avoid any possible disruption of the worship of God?

Do we rob the attention of others from God? This is a grave injustice! This sin is particularly amplified by the fact that, as a norm, we spend relatively little time in life actually paying attention to the One to Whom we owe everything. How is it that we could then profane this time with trivial matters that are easily dealt with in the fellowship hall or other spaces dedicated to social interaction?

Another internal reality is that our belief or faith is often lacking or waning. If we don’t truly believe that God is present our participation in worship will be easily disrupted and we will tend to be very cavalier about disrupting others. Is our participation in our Catholicism just something that makes us feel good? Does our “faith” merely reflect some kind of nebulous notion of God that fails to impact who we are or how we act, especially in a sacred space dedicated solely to the worship of God? Our outward actions can reflect deep spiritual sickness that requires repentance and reparation through reconciliation, study, and a significant change in our actions.

As participants in the charism of Apostoli Viae, what can we do about this situation? First, we should prayerfully examen our consciences to determine the state of our belief and its congruity with our actions. Second, we should purpose to remedy whatever hinders our own embrace of the sacred internally, and then do the same in the way we engage externally. As we do this we should also take care to avoid a common distraction of the devil that seeks to engage us in judging others rather than giving our energy to joyfully bearing witness to the reality and purpose of our worship space through our own expression of reverence.

Practically speaking, all of us can pursue some or all of the following practices proposed as a norm for Apostoli Viae members:

  • Arrive early and prepare for Mass in silent prayer. The prayer of St. Ambrose in the Apostoli Viae prayer book is a beautiful devotion for this time of preparation.
  • Refrain from any conversion before, during, or directly after Mass and while in the nave.
  • Arrive early and prepare our hearts through kneeling in prayer and silence.
  • Receive the Eucharist on the tongue.
  • Receive the Eucharist kneeling (unless impossible due to physical limitations).
  • Spend time in prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. If possible, directly after receiving communion, pray the Litany of the Most Blessed Sacrament in reparation for sins of irreverence against our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Prepare and mentally rehearse respectful and gentle responses to those who might interrupt you or who are used to your availability in the nave by offering to speak to them in a moment after you finish praying (offer to meet them in the narthex or outside).

Above all, and most importantly, draw your heart and mind ever more deeply to the sublime mystery of Christ present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Give him the praise, honor, and reverence due to Him. He loves you and longs to meet you there and impart all the graces you are prepared to receive and more. He also desires that you bear witness to this sublime reality to the world.

Unum est Necessarium – Dan

Novena to St. John of the Cross

Beginning Prayer to be said each day:

O glorious St. John of the Cross, through a pure desire of being like Jesus crucified, you longed for nothing so eagerly as to suffer, to be despised, and to be made little of by all; and your thirst after sufferings was so burning that your noble heart rejoiced in the midst of the cruelest torments and afflictions.

Grant, I beseech you, O dear Saint, by the glory which your many sufferings have gained for you, to intercede for me and obtain from God for me a love of suffering, together with strength and grace to bear with firmness of mind all the trials and adversities which are the sure means to the happy attainment of all that awaits me in heaven.

Dear Saint, from your most happy place in glory, hear, I beseech you, my prayers, so that after your example, full of love for the cross I may deserve to be your companion in glory. Amen.

First Day: Unwavering Faith

My glorious father, Saint John of the Cross; overflowing with love for Mary and for the cross of her divine Son by which you merited to become the protector of afflicted souls, obtain for me from Jesus and Mary, I beseech you, an unwavering faith and a love of the cross so deep and so valiant that no possible misfortune will ever be able to separate me from the love of my God. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Second Day: Spirit of Penitence

Glorious St. John of the Cross, you preserved to death in unspotted
brilliancy the radiant whiteness of your baptismal innocence, while
nevertheless practicing the most cruel and persevering penance. In honor
and imitation of this crucifying love, I entreat you that I may share your
mortified and penitential life so that, even in this world, I may receive
the grace to atone for my many sins, purify my soul, and acquire merit, that
I may also enjoy heaven’s glory with you.

Obtain for me also the special
grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the
glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Third Day: Holy Enlightenment

O my beloved father St. John of the Cross, your continual prayer merited for
you the name of Ecstatic Doctor, favored with special graces in the guidance
and direction of souls.

I humbly beg you to enlighten my soul and to give me a relish for holy meditation that, detached from earthly things, I may love God alone and desire heaven only.

Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Fourth Day: Holy Patience

Great St. John of the Cross, model of patience and generosity, for the glory of God and for the propagation of the holy reform of Carmel, you endured grievous trials and undertook heavy labors, finding, as did St. Paul, joy in opprobrium. Obtain from our Lord for me the grace of unalterable patience in adversity that I may thereby glorify God, have cleansed my souls of every stain, advance in the practice of solid virtue, and obtain at last the crown promised to those who suffer for the love of God. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Fifth Day: Protection from Temptation

Dear St. John of the Cross, you exercised dominion over the powers of hell, often obliging them to relinquish the souls, as well as the bodies of their victims. Have compassion on me; ask God to preserve me from the temptations and deceits of these wicked spirits, not only throughout my life, but above all at the hour of my death, that persevering to the end in the grace and love of God, I may possess Him with you forever. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Sixth Day: Purity of Soul and Body

Great St. John of the Cross, favored by our Lord and the glorious Virgin, His mother, in reward for your angelic life and with the precious gift of chastity, you converted many souls held captive by the most shameful passions. Obtain for me some share in so priceless a gift that, pure and chaste in soul and body, I may reach heaven where nothing stained may enter and where choirs of virgins follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Seventh Day: Humility

Blessed father St. John of the Cross, in you was joined the most profound humility to the most sublime knowledge of the ways of God. Obtain for me real humility of heart, making me love humiliation and contempt that, despairing worldly vanity, I may learn from you to esteem only God and heavenly things. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Eighth Day: Comfort in Affliction

St. John of the Cross, my glorious protector, in your lifetime you were the father of the poor, the consoler of the afflicted and the assured refuge of the suffering; you worked miracles of charity for all, miracles which you repeat even now by means of your holy images and relics. Deign also to be my consoler and my father; comfort me in my sorrows and aid me to see in every cross a pledge of divine mercy that, through the cross, I may gain heaven. Obtain for me, too, the special grace I ask through your intercession during the novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

Ninth Day: Holy Abandonment

O my loving father St. John of the Cross, to imitate more perfectly our Lord, you generously renounced every consolation, even the spiritual; prayed to suffer and to be despised for God’s sake; and finally died suffering, happy to be condemned by men. Obtain for me the grace of abandonment to the Will of God that, placing all my joy and my hope in the passion of my Savior, I may at last rest eternally with you in His glory. Obtain for me also the special grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the glory of God and for my salvation (make request).

Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys

One Thing Adoration in Birmingham – November 2017

Dear Friends on the Way, I am grateful to report that our One Thing Adoration was a beautiful event. One Thing Adoration is an apostolate of Apostoli Via for the purposes of:

  • Worshiping the Lord in the Eucharist
  • Promotion of Eucharistic Adoration
  • Promotion of the Restoration of Reverence in the Mass and Adoration

We were grateful to have a number of our Apostoli Viae Sojourner friends and Disciples helping to make the event happen. This was by far the most peaceful and prayerful event for me because the setup and coordination was so easy and simple.  A number of attendees indicated that it was the most moving for them of the three we have had.

The intention of our prayer during adoration was for two things, first for the Her Choice Women’s Center in Birmingham. They serve abortion-minded women, and their banquet was underway as we worshipped the Lord. Our second intention was for the purposes stated above and particularly the restoration of reverence for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Both prayers were answered in that our event was very reverent and Her Choice raised a record amount of donations during their banquet!

The talks during adoration all related to what it means to worship the Lord in the Eucharist in a way fitting for a king – because the King of Kings is present!

The evening began with Eucharistic Exposition and the beautiful and simple acapella signing of a eucharistic hymn. We continued into silent adoration for twenty minutes.

We gently emerged out of the silence into a chanted psalm and antiphon and then a brief reflection. We repeated this rhythm three times and then ended with Benediction.

I will leave the rest of the description of the evening to those who attended. They will add their thoughts in the comment box below.

A Prayer for the Church

Dear Friends on the Way – These are very challenging times in the Church. Please pray for the Church daily. I invite you to use this prayer from the Apostoli Viae prayer book (given to those who make their first commitment in association).

Mary – Mother of the Church, Guardian Angels of the Church, our parish, and diocese, St. Peter – Father of the Church, St. Joseph – Protector of the Church, we beseech you to join with us in prayer for the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, leaders, and all Apostoli Viae members around the world.

Merciful Father, we beg You by Your boundless love, Jesus’ passion and death, and this meager act of prayer and sacrifice, to penetrate, regenerate, and encourage the hearts of all these leaders and especially bishop __________ our priests __________ religious, deacons, educators, and leaders of our parish and diocese and those whom they serve. Set them continually on fire with a faithful submissive and compelling love for Christ and His Church. Pour out your Holy Spirit of mercy on them.

Bring life, discipline, healing, repentance, and holy passion to those who need to turn their hearts to you. Lift up those who work to serve and submit to You, Your Church, and Your magisterium. Encourage them, strengthen them, bless them, and make their joyful voices heard as they live and proclaim Your marvelous truth and love. We beg you to silence, expose, and make of no effect those who will not repent and who sew sin, rebellion, discord, confusion and untruth in the Body of Christ.

Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, grant us permission and the means to humbly and effectively serve Your glorious church in and through our parish and diocese. Open the doors and hearts necessary to allow us to see and serve those whom You are drawing ever more deeply into Your care. Help us to humbly and energetically love and serve them, as we would You.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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