Episode 123: The Gift of Life

3 April 2023 | Monday of Holy Week | Menlo Park, Calif.

At the outset of this holiest of weeks, we contemplate life as a precious, unmerited gift of God, given freely out of love to be used for His glory. We then continue our reading of the Interior Castle with a discussion of extraordinary phenomena in the sixth dwelling places: locutions, visions, and raptures (oh my!) 

Friends, I hope you have a most blessed Holy Week and a joyful celebration of Easter!

Opening music: “Hosanna filio David,” introit for Palm Sunday, sung by Chœur grégorien de Paris, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Episode 122: Ever Onward

27 March 2023 | Monday of the First Week in Passiontide | Menlo Park, Calif.

This week, I share what I learned recently from Dr. Suzanne Baars about affirmation therapy and one simple way we can help people experience the love of God. Then we continue our journey “ever onward” into the sixth dwelling places with St. Teresa and consider the place of trials in the spiritual life. 

Opening music: “Tantum ergo,” written by St. Thomas Aquinas, composed by Frank La Rocca, sung by the Benedict XVI Schola, St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA, 2021. All rights reserved.

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Episode 121: Conforming Union

20 March 2023 | St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary | Menlo Park, Calif.

Celebrating the solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church (and fresh from our community celebration of St. Patrick, patron of the seminary, last Friday!), I share some thoughts about St. Joseph’s spiritual fatherhood and his role as father for each one of us in the Christian life. Then we continue our journey with St. Teresa into the fifth dwelling places and the state of conforming union. With Teresa, la maestra de amor divina, I share the fruits of this stage of prayer and address a question about the role of loving relationships and evidence-based therapy alongside contemplative prayer in the healing of the soul. 

Opening music: “I Bind unto Myself Today,” written by St. Patrick, composed by C. F. Alexander, sung by the Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne, 2006. All rights reserved.

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Episode 120: Into the Desert

6 March 2023 | Second Monday of Lent | Menlo Park, Calif.

This week on the podcast, I share about the “dark night” which marked the beginning of Lent here, as well as my petition for Holy Orders and plans for ordination. We catch up with the Dickens Chronological Reading Club on Dombey and Son, the first book of Dickens’s “second act,” and then dive into the fourth dwelling places of the soul with St. Teresa, the beginning of the supernatural way of prayer.

Today’s Word: “Keep on praying and never lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Opening music: “Prayer of St. Ephraim,” sung by Presvytera Pat Tsagalakis, Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, Shoreline, WA, 2017. All rights reserved.

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Episode 119: Ten Years Ago

27 February 2023 | First Monday of Lent | Menlo Park, Calif.

On this very special episode of In Your Embrace, in honor of the recent five-year anniversary of the podcast, I’m joined by my friend and fellow seminarian Ramón Camacho to discuss the question: What would you say to yourself ten years ago if you could see him today?

Today’s Word: “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him. (Matthew 9:11).

Opening music: “Do Not Be Afraid,” composed and directed by Philip Stopford, sung by the Ecclesium Choir, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Episode 118: A New Beginning

20 February 2023 | Seventh Monday in Ordinary Time | Menlo Park, Calif.

As winter shades into spring and we stand again on the threshold of Lent, I share some thoughts on this season as a new beginning, as well as two recommendations for spiritual reading (see the links below)! Then we continue our journey into the third dwelling places of the interior castle and consider the dispositions needed to receive the gift of infused prayer.

Today’s Word: “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:5).


Opening music: “Kyrie,” from Missa Presulem ephebeatum, composed by Heinrich Isaac, sung by Cappella Mariana, dir. Vojtěch Semerád, 2019. All rights reserved.

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Episode 117: Sabbath Rest

13 February 2022 | Sixth Monday in Ordinary Time | Menlo Park, Calif.

Where do we go with our weariness? On this night walk under a starlit sky, I share about the need for Sabbath rest and time away with the Lord. Then we revisit the Dickens Chronological Reading Club with friend of the podcast Rachel Murphy, discussing Martin Chuzzlewit as a “problem novel” and the conditions for the possibility of conversion.

Today’s Word: “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Opening music: “Manducaverunt,” communion antiphon for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, sung by Bros. Stefan Ansinger and Andrew-Thomas Kang, O.P., 2023. All rights reserved.

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The Yes of Jesus Christ

This homily was given at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA on the memorial of St. Scholastica, February 10, 2023. The audio is available here.

Father Mark often warns us about the masculine tendency towards disintegration.

“After Eden,” after the Fall, we have to fight against this tendency to live a compartmentalized, disintegrated life. 

And a particular danger for us men “after Eden” is that we might keep our supernatural love for God separate, compartmentalized away, from our “natural, human love” for others: our family, friends, parishioners.

By drawing a sharp line down the middle of our hearts—love for God, love for others—we might think that we’re giving God His rightful priority.

But this disintegration of our hearts gives rise to conflicts and wounds.

We hear in today’s Office of Readings how St. Benedict’s love for God causes a little conflict with his sister, St. Scholastica.

She begs him to stay; he says he can’t.

But St. Scholastica prays to God, and a storm rolls in that’s so intense, St. Benedict has to stay the night!

We hear that St. Scholastica received more from her prayers … because she loved more.

In the words of Pope Benedict, of happy memory, to love is to give an unconditional yes to the beloved: “Yes, it is good that you are here; I am for you; I love you; I am all yours.”

Scholastica loved with a more integrated, whole-hearted love, unconditional, unreserved: yes to God, yes to her brother! And God heard her prayer.

Today, in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives His unconditional yes to us, as He gave it to Adam in the beginning: “Yes, you are very good. I love you. I am yours.”

And this yes of Jesus Christ transforms and integrates us, making our hearts whole.

Having received the yes of Jesus deeply into our hearts, we are made capable of true, integrated love, which is not only natural or supernatural, but the fruit of divinized humanity: transformed from within by the love of God.

Our hearts are no longer divided, but whole.

Our love is one God’s love, His love becomes ours, and we can begin to love God and others with God’s own love, which is ours, now, as well.

Today, at this Holy Mass, ask Jesus to open our hearts, as He opened the ears of the deaf man, to hear His unconditional yes to you.

Ask Jesus for the grace to share in His yes to others, by affirming them through love: “Yes, it is good that you exist. I am for you. This is my Body, my heart, my life, given up for you.”

This is what our people long for.

This is the very heart of spiritual fatherhood in Christ.

And like St. Scholastica, we who have received the yes of Jesus Christ and who share it with others will receive whatever we ask from the Lord, because our hearts are one with His in the communion of love. 

Episode 116: Overflow

6 February 2022 | Ss. Paul Miki and Companions | Menlo Park, Calif.

This week, on a rain-soaked walk to a coffee shop, I share some thoughts from Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard on being reservoirs rather than channels, and what it means to live from the overflow of God’s love. In our ongoing Carmelite conversation, we follow St. Teresa into the second dwelling places, where we learn how the Devil tempts souls to turn back and the necessity of perseverance in the practice of prayer.

Today’s Word: “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1).

You can read The Soul of the Apostolate online here: https://books.google.at/books?id=yyBfk6ROlEkC&printsec=frontcover

Opening music: “Adorna thalamum,” composed by William Byrd, sung by The Cardinall’s Musick, 2021. All rights reserved.

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Episode 115: The Next Good Step

30 January 2022 | Fourth Monday in Ordinary Time | Menlo Park, Calif.

It’s the five year anniversary of In Your Embrace! Half a decade in, it’s amazing we’re still taking morning walks and talking about Jesus. To celebrate this historic occasion, I share with you some exciting news about a new musical project, and we continue our journey with St. Teresa into the very first dwelling places of the Interior Castle, where we learn that all we need to make progress is the determination to take the next good step.

Listen to the first two songs from Cantica Iesu on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLga4ORX1wn3OC1OPwPM4vUNeyxmFy7BYI

Opening music: “Afferte illos mihi huc,” sung by Cantica Iesu, 2022. All rights reserved.

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