Prayer and Discernment


Friday after Ash Wednesday – On Fasting

Reading 1IS 58:1-9A Thus says the Lord GOD: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just and

Prepare Yourself with the Stations of the Cross – The Third Sunday of Advent….The Retreat Continues

Reading 1 Is 35:1-6a, 10 The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor

St. Padre Pio Novena Day 1

Join Msgr. John Esseff, as he offers this novena in honor of St. Pio Day 1 From the writings of St. Pio: Jesus Keeps nothing for Himself of what is done for love of Him, and He will repay us very lavishly, Don’t let us make our happiness depend on enjoying wonderful health, or else

The necessity of contemplation before action

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the dangers of doing “good work” without having the depth of the contemplative prayer that unites us to Christ in doing the will of the Father.  He offers insight primarily from the teachings found in the letter from St. James Chap 1:   Humbly welcome the word that has been planted

True Interior Conversion…What it looks like in the life of St. Augustine and in others

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the interior movement of St. Augustine that led to his conversion and witness.  He also shares a powerful story of a man in a prison and his conversion.  The story takes a poignant twist at the end, one that exemplifies the power of conversion and forgiveness.  When our hearts are united

BKL#50 – On Prayer

Show 50 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” –   On Prayer Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and on how we pray: Gospel       LK 18:1-8 Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in

The Holy Trinity and Prayer

Reading 2 Rom 8:14-17 Brothers and sisters: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our

Call Upon the Holy Spirit for Discernment

Reading 1 ACTS 18:9-18 One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.” He settled there for

What is God’s will for you today? The need for Discernment

Msgr. Esseff addresses the importance of following the will of God and the need for proper discernment.  What is “proper” discernment?  How do we know it is actually God speaking in our hearts and not our own desires or the voice of the enemy?  Do we take the time to truly listen?  Do we seek proper affirmation

BKL#80 – Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?

Msgr. Esseff asks the question, “Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?”  He challenges us to take a good look at our prayer lives and to prepare for the coming of Jesus in your life today. Gospel MK 13:33-37 Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time

The Prayer of Persistence – a reflection by Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. Esseff discusses prayer and the importance of persistance in faith.  What should we be praying for?  How should we pray for it?  What if we don’t receive the answer we expected? Gospel LK 11:5-13 Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says,

“Our Father” – How We Are To Pray

Msgr. Esseff breaks open the teachings on the “Our Father”, as well, reflects on the great prayer of the Eucharist Gospel LK 11:1-4 Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said

Our Lady’s Holy Rosary

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary  

BKL76 – The Need for Spiritual Direction

BKL 76 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” – The Need for Spiritual Direction   Msgr. Esseff reflects on why we need spiritual direction on the spiritual journey. Gospel MT 21:28-32 Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and

An Important Prayer Exercise for You….TODAY!!!!

Msgr. Esseff would like listeners/directees to engage in the prayer he is describing in this podcast…today!   He would also like to encourage you to share any questions and/or graces you have received in the comment section of this post, as an encouragement and help for your brothers and sisters in Christ.  He will respond

The Gift of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom Chapter 3 1-9 The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,a and no torment shall touch them. 2They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction 3and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in

The Gift of Counsel

ACTS 20:17-27 From Miletus Paul had the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus summoned. When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and

The Gift of Courage

Gospel JN 16:29-33 The disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold,

The Gift of Understanding – Mary, Our Model

Gospel LK 1:39-56 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most

The Gift of Knowledge

From the Gosepl of John Chapter 17 3* Now this is eternal life,c that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension of Christ – The first novena of the Church

Reading 2 EPH 1:17-23 Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the

Let Us Prepare Together – Day 4 – Unite with Me

Gospel JN 16:12-15 Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the

Let Us Prepare Together – Day 3 – Joy

John Chap 15:11 11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h

Let Us Prepare Together – Day 2 – Simplicity

Luke Chapter 9 3He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,* neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.b

Let’s Prepare Together – Day 1

Msgr. Esseff would like to invite all who are listening to prepare together for the events leading up to the Ascension of Christ and then on to Pentecost. Today he would like to discuss the importance of this “retreat” and to suggest everyone focus on the following prayer and scripture passage:   Glory be to

“Go!” – Responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit

Reading 1   ACTS 8:26-40 The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the

Happy Easter! Have you met Jesus?

Gospel JN 20:1-9 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken

The Proper Order of Our Prayer

Gospel MT 7:7-12 Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you

“This is how you are to pray…” First Tuesday of Lent

Gospel MT 6:7-15 Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven,

“This kind can only come out through prayer.”

Gospel mk 9:14-29 As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, “What are you

The Kingdom That is In You

Reading 1SIR 47:2-11 Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings, so was David in Israel. He made sport of lions as though they were kids, and of bears, like lambs of the flock. As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people’s disgrace, When his hand let fly the slingstone that

The Gift of Knowledge – The Charism of Wisdom – St. Thomas Aquinas

From the Gospel of Matthew: a Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2* saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not

Discerning the Will of God: Responding to Your Calling

Reading 1 1 sm 15:16-23 Samuel said to Saul: “Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Speak!” Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a

Discerning the Spirits

Reading 11 JN 3:22-4:6 Beloved: We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him,

Widows, Widowers, Singles – Could God be calling you to the Consecrated Life?

Reading 1 1 Jn 2:12-17 I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake.I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the Evil One. I write to you, children, because

Christmas – “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

Gospel Lk 2:15-20 When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in

Pray ALWAYS without becoming weary!

Gospel Lk 18:1-8 Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just

BKL#51 – BEWARE: The Danger of Self-Righteous Prayer

Show 51 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” –   BEWARE:  The Danger of  Self-Righteous Prayer Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and on how we pray: Gospel     LK 18:9-14 Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up

Will you be prepared for the unexpected hour?

Gospel   LK 12:39-48 Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will

The Power of Prayer

GospelLK 10:38-42 Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by

St. Padre Pio Novena Day 9

Join Msgr. John Esseff, as he offers this novena in honor of St. Pio The entire novena can be found on the The St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) Discerning Hearts Page Day 9 From the writings of St. Pio: How fortunate we are to be slaves of this great God who submitted Himself to death

The Power of Prayer – Msgr. Returns from Retreat

  (please note he will not be taking calls until the end of the week) Reading 11 TM 3:1-13 Beloved, this saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not

A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria and Peace in the Middle East

Msgr. Esseff asks all to join with the Church universal in a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the Middle East.  He lifts up the steadfast faith and trust of Blessed Mother Teresa in the power of prayer, particularly when it is done in confident union with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Importance of Reflecting, Remembering, and Responding

Reading 1DT 31:1-8 When Moses had finished speaking to all Israel, he said to them, “I am now one hundred and twenty years old and am no longer able to move about freely; besides, the LORD has told me that I shall not cross this Jordan. It is the LORD, your God, who will cross

Stations of the Cross – A Means for Entering the Christian Life

Each Station of the Cross represents a moment in our own lives.  We have been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  We all have had periods sufferings which can be united to the suffering of Jesus.  

The Many Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Listen to the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 13 1If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.a2And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.b3If I

The Strength of Discernment – What is Spiritual Direction?

Reading 1  IS 49:1-6 Hear me, O islands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.

Our Focus on the Father – Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel  JN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were

BELIEVE!!! Ask, Seek and Knock – Thursday of the First Week in Lent

Reading 1 EST C:12, 14-16, 23-25 Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but

On Prayer – Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Msgr. Esseff reflects about the depths of our prayer. GospelMT 6:7-15 Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you

How do we respond when God answers our prayers? Friday, Second Week in Advent

 Msgr. Esseff reflects on the life and influence of St. John of the Cross.  He then shares some personal experiences which help to break open today’s reading from the Church. Gospel Mt 11:16-19 Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to

Have you lost your first fervor…the fire of Divine love?

 Msgr. Esseff reflects on the readings the Monday of the 33rd week in Ordinary time which asks us “Have you lost your initial fervor”?  What has happened if you have?  He shares the value of the “blessing” and the importance of knowing our true identity.  And then Msgr. Esseff shares the story of a young boy named

Where have we been? Where are we going? The Choices We Make.

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the choices made on Election day 2012.  What are the larger issues and how are we being called to respond?  Msgr. Esseff discusses not only the culture in the United States, but also what is occurring in cultures throughout other areas of the world.  God is doing wondrous deeds through his faithful ones…be not afraid!

St. Mary Seminary in Cleveland, OH Retreat Day 1 – How do we detach and follow Jesus?

Msgr. Esseff begins a retreat for the Seminarians at St. Mary’s Seminsry in Cleveland, OH.  He reflects on the readings of the day which Jesus asks the rich young man to give up what he has and follow him.  Msgr. Esseff asks all what are we afraid to give up in order to follow Jesus?

Recreation = Re “creating”: the importance of our Sabbath moments and trust in God

Msgr. Esseff, while on break between directing retreats, shares his time of respite that he is taking with family members who live in Sydney, Australia.  He feels it’s so important to appreciate the moments of “re-creating” (or it could be called “recreation”), a Sabbath-type of rest, that allows God to take care of our daily

Day 3 Spiritual Retreat for Missionaries of Charity in Australia / How to pray for what we desire

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the nature of prayer.  Whatever we ask of Father in the name of Jesus will be given to you, according to Scripture.  What is it that we want from God?  Riches?  Health? Reputation? Honor?  But what makes the desire that we have a greater gift compared to what God wants to

Day 2 Spiritual Retreat for Missionaries of Charity in Australia /Fortnight of Prayer

 Msgr. Esseff shares with everyone the experience of prayer and sharing that is occurring with the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.  During the second have of the reflection he shares his thoughts on “Fortnight of Prayer” that is being undertaken in the United States by the USCCB.  This is a powerful exhortation to appreciate our freedoms which

The Hellos and Good-byes of Life – Learning to Detach

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the “hellos” and the “good-byes” of life. I can’t really be where I am if I don’t say good-bye to where I’ve been, especially if I leave it jagged. What do you do if you don’t want to leave a place? You are not ready to let go? He shares the

We are called to be “contemplatives”. What is contemplative prayer and how we enter into it.

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the prayer of contemplation.  He insists that we are all called to be contemplatives in our prayer.  Yes, it’s the prayer of the saints, but we are called to be saints and it will lead us on the path.  God desires to be with us 24/7.  He is knocking on the

The 3 Levels of the Heart

Msgr. Esseff offers a teaching on the 3 levels of the heart.  He begins by looking at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, then moves to the examination of the layers of our hearts. In understanding of this is vitally important to appreciate how we make decisions and pray…if we are in our own will or

What is “Eternal Life”? How does this understanding affect our prayer?

What is “Eternal Life” and why is it so important for us to understand and live it’s meaning? Msgr. Esseff breaks open the “magnificent” Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel. He helps us to understand the “eternal” prayer of the heart of Jesus. How does this affect our prayer, especially in our appreciation of “contemplative” prayer

Psalm 51 and Our Father

Psalm 51 Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 5 – A 90 Day Challenge – to grow in union with Jesus Christ.

Msgr. Esseff offers a 90 day challenge!  The object of Lent and the Easter season is to become more and more transformed into Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit we may glorify the Father through our honor and praise and obeying his Divine will, through the intercession of Mary and all the Saints,

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 4 – Lent and the Importance of Fasting and Almsgiving in our Prayer

Msgr. Esseff teaches the importance of the Liturgical year and in particular the season of Lent.  He also shares his experience of fasting in a desert found in Peru. From this he learned the importance of FASTING and PRAYER.  Msgr. Esseff challenges us to discern what the Father in Heaven is asking us to do

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 3 – Morning Prayer

Msgr. Esseff teaches the importance of the Liturgy of Hours. He breaks open each portion of Morning Prayer. The Hymn, the psalm, the canticle, again the psalm … we sing praise to God with this section of Morning Prayer. Then God speaks to us in the reading. Then we respond to with the a short

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 2 – The Psalms and Prayer

Msgr. Esseff offers his second lesson in “Teach Us How To Pray”.  He speaks of the importance of Morning and Evening prayers in our lives.  The Holy Spirit inspires us to pray and the Church teaches prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours.  Msgr. Esseff goes on to teach on the Psalms.  Those who pray the psalms

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 1

Prayer is assumed as something we know how to do, but do we? The Church has been constantly teaching her children throughout the ages. The Mass, of course, is our central act of prayer.  But to truly deepen our prayer, even our worship in the Mass, we must appreciate who God is. God is a

On the Deacon Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 2 Talk 1 on Prayer

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of the Diocese of Fargo. The subject is PRAYER.  From Luke Chap 11 v 1-13, Msgr. Esseff discusses how little we know how to pray and how to receive.  He reflects on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s teaching to

On the Deacon Retreat with Msgr. John Esseff Day 1

In January 2012, Msgr. Esseff conducted a weekend retreat for the Deacons and Deacon-Candidates and their wives of the Diocese of Fargo.  On the evening of the start of the retreat, Msgr. Esseff gave a talk to prepare the hearts and minds of the participants.  He explains the importance and value of SILENCE and listening

Reflections from Msgr. John Esseff – “Allow God to gaze upon you”

Msgr. Esseff shares some of his challenges, and yet, through it all God has been his strength.  Allow God to gaze upon you.  Ask the Father when He has found delight in you.  Rest with that.  He shares a story of when he was a young boy, 10 cents, and the meaning of Christmas.

Reflections from Msgr. John Esseff – “What is God telling you?”

 Msgr. Esseff recalls his first year as a priest and a special message that was revealed to him during the course of his first very busy Christmas Eve.  How the wounds of the past prevents us from fully experiencing the love of God.  Forgiveness vs. Resentment. What is God saying to you?  Can we listen…can

Our relationship with the Father, the role of Mary, and the 3 levels of the heart – talk 2

Msgr. Esseff spoke at a recent conference which was held in PA. in November 2011.  In the 2nd talk he speaks of our true relationship with the Father in Heaven, the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the 3 levels of the heart and the place of Jesus in our lives.  

“Who Am I?” Our Identity and Awakening to the Presence of Jesus in Us

Msgr. Esseff shares the discovery that changed his life! He tells the stories of growning up in a deformed world and the awakening to the power given at his baptism and the realization our true identity. Our baptism conforms us into Christ, we increase in the Divine Life of Jesus Christ. Jesus dwells with us…transforming

A Prayer to Take Authority

Msgr. Esseff teaches about the need for healing, protection and deliverance. Msgr. Esseff discusses the importance of the “Our Father”. He then leads the following prayer: In the name of Jesus, I take authority and I bind all the powers and forces in the air, in the ground, in the water, in the underground, in

A Special Message from Msgr. Esseff about the 1st Sacred Heart Congress

Dear Friends in the Heart of Jesus, I have just returned from a meeting with the global team of the World Congress of the Sacred Heart Apostolate where, among other things, I meditated on my own journey with the Sacred Heart and my response to His invitation to spread His message of love. Now, I

Prayers for Spiritual Healing with Msgr. Esseff – Mp3 audio prayer and text

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE FORGIVENESS PRAYER The following prayer covers most of the significant areas of forgiveness. Often, such a prayer will bring to mind other areas that need forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit move freely and guide your mind to persons or groups that you need to forgive. This is especially useful before confession. Lord


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