Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Join Fr. Innocent, Fr. Angelus, Fr. Pierre Toussaint, and Fr. Mark-Mary, priests of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, each week to discuss authentic faith in today's world as they share stories and wisdom from years of prayer, community life, and work with the poor.
It all comes back to this: finding deep friendship with Jesus. Seeing him work in our lives everyday. Through topics as varied as mental health, the confessional, and NYC neighbors, the Poco A Poco Podcast is here to accompany all pilgrims as they walk step by step, little by little, poco a poco on their pilgrimage to the Father's house.
First Week of Advent The lived experience of most people is: life is hard. We’re still in this valley of tears. We live it, but might not be relating it in a way that’s helpful… we just drag it around. Enter: Advent. A season of hope and of promises fulfilled. Expectant hope, with confidence that the Lord is good and is at work for our good in our lives—the ultimate hope of heaven and of tears being wiped away. Whatever you’re experiencing—God’s coming. God’s response to our struggle is the gift of himself. He doesn’t promise to solve any problem now and make everything okay, but he promises to give us himself. He wants us to experience peace here and now, not only in the future. We’re going through Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press for the next few episodes. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. Monthly donations are particularly helpful for our future planning. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
55 min 47 sec
A series on King David: Part 4 of 4 Are we good at repenting? When someone notices our stuff and points it out… are we open to it? To repenting wholeheartedly? Or do we hold onto it? We need help repenting and finding healing, so God constantly sends prophets to speak into the lives of his chosen people. David’s a really good example of how to be formed; how to be led. Look at Psalm 51 for a model of repentance. The orientation is totally towards God; it’s not about turning in on ourselves. It is God who creates a new heart in you. We can choose to make sure that repentance takes place in relationship with God, who loves us. Even in the repentance of Psalm 51, there’s a hope for restoration and reconciliation, and a recognition that God is still a giver of good gifts. Let us repent well. Coming up: we’re going to prepare for Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. Monthly donations are particularly helpful for our future planning. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
51 min 5 sec
A series on King David: Part 3 of 4 David sinned when he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing; when he had pulled back from God’s calling. We have to be careful of comfort and of being distracted, because it leads to a place of being unfaithful. Instead, we have to keep moving forward in God’s will, which can regularly take us to less comfortable places. We’re called to lay down our lives—to endure the crosses of life and get to heaven. It’s not easy… but God’s faithfulness far outweighs our unfaithfulness. Remember: there are certain things the Lord does that he doesn’t take back, like free will. The same is true with anointings. Keep choosing to do what you’re supposed to be doing, and be faithful to the Father who is always faithful to you. Coming up: we’re going to prepare for Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. Monthly donations are particularly helpful for our future planning. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
56 min 30 sec
A series on King David: Part 2 of 4 David is tender to his sheep, and also willing to fight for them. And he’ll be the same in his future vocation—the way that he was shepherd is the way he will be king. As he fights Goliath, he reveals something to us about the heart of God: God will go to battle against our giants. Though David wasn’t skilled or qualified like everybody else was, he was aggressive in his confidence before the Father. As if to say, “I am anointed, and now this anointing is bearing fruit.” There’s something about David going into battle without the armour. It’s symbolic of his poverty and dependence. His attempt to wear Saul’s armour and sword is our attempt to grasp at an identity that isn’t ours. If I could just be like that person doesn’t work. David goes into it poor, and himself. So should we, in a way that allows the Lord to be powerful. Coming up: we’re going to prepare for Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. Monthly donations are particularly helpful for our future planning. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
40 min 5 sec
A series on King David: Part 1 of 4 There’s always some mystery involved in an anointing. God doesn’t select the person we expect; this happens throughout the Old Testament and with the Apostles. There’s a mystery of who God calls and how God calls. God still calls really talented people, but not because they’re talented. We are not our skills. God sees beyond that, even when we’re really focused on what we can bring. In David’s case, he was the only one who wasn’t caught up in it all; he had the posture and disposition to be king. And while intention is really important, it’s not enough to make a person good. The world idolizes intention, but it’s necessary to actually be obedient and faithful—to put that intention into practice. As for us? Well, we might not become kings of Israel, but we will have some kind of calling. And as we respond to that call, we have access to the same grace that David did, and we can be as confident as he was in the anointing that God has put on our lives. David was not the author of his own destiny and identity, and neither are we. We’re not self-defined. Coming up: we’re going to prepare for Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. Monthly donations are particularly helpful for our future planning. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
46 min 12 sec
“I haven’t believed enough that he is enough.” That’s what Br Angelo says as a guest on this episode, and how true is it for each of us? Even when we experience God’s goodness, repeatedly and in big and small ways, it can be a struggle to keep believing that God is enough. He is LORD. He is enough, and we only have to give him permission to work. It sounds simple, but it can be tough when we’ve faced rejection in other areas of our lives. How do we believe? How do we find the courage and take the risk—to learn he always shows up? Surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. It can be a struggle, but while we might have many struggles, this is the right one. Coming up: we’re going to prepare for Advent with Finding Your Place in the Advent Story from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/collections/rejoice-finding-your-place-in-the-advent-story The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
46 min 12 sec
Week 4 of a series on A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust, by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V., available here: https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ Trust is hard for everybody. The grace to trust—especially for the long haul—is always given to us by the Lord. There’s always human effort in the spiritual life, but it’s all gift; all grace. It can feel like we’re never going to be able to trust; that we’re so “bad” at trusting, particularly in the beginning, that we’re just never going to be able to let go, no matter how badly we long to do exactly that. We think to ourselves, “I’m powerless.” But here’s the thing: he is not. There is someone looking back at us at every moment of the day. And through concrete experiences, sometimes very little ones, he invites us to trust. We’ve got to lean into those little moments of trust. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
52 min 1 sec
Week 3 of a series on A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust, by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V., available here: https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ There are some sins that we just can’t seem to shake—habitual sins that keep us coming back to the confessional over and over (and over) again. But no matter how consistent this sin seems, there’s one who is more consistent: the Lord. His mercy and grace are greater than our sins and failings. Maybe you’re discouraged. Frustrated. Worn down. That experience is real, but it’s not who you are; it’s not your identity. The truest, most real thing about your experience is his mercy. So don’t settle for your sin. Don’t believe that well, this is the way it’s going to be. No! Return to the confessional, where the grace that’s poured out is restorative to that specific wound, and begin again. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
37 min 35 sec
Week 2 of a series on A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust, by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V., available here: https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ Grace is in the present; there is no grace in the past or in the future. The challenge, though, is that we’re all professional escape artists. We can get antsy and we don’t know how to be present, which means we don’t know how to receive God’s grace. We’ve got to give up the hope of a better past—it has happened and there’s nothing we can do about it. We also have to stop living in a fantasy future that doesn’t exist—there’s no grace there, either. Jesus is Lord of our lives; the past, the present, the future. Trust him, and allow yourself to embrace today and all the grace he is waiting to give you here. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
43 min 43 sec
This episode kicks off a four-part series on a new retreat based on the Litany of Trust from the Sisters of Life. You can get yourself a copy of the book at https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ There are some virtues we can work on and grow in—but trust isn’t like that. It’s not your own project. You don’t work on it directly, because it’s the fruit of relationship with the Lord. If you want to develop more trust, focus first on that relationship; on conversion, on healing, on experiencing his goodness alive in you. Because the more you get to know God, the more you find that he is good and worthy of your trust. When you have a chance to trust him (you know the kind of moment), hear him speak gently to you through this line from Sr Faustina: “I don’t want you to give you ‘yes’ to a set of circumstances, but to me.” The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
48 min 49 sec
For 30 years, Jesus lived quietly in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph; his “hidden” years. Through his normal day-to-day living of going to school and having friends and putting in a hard day’s work, Jesus made sacred the hidden space. That hidden space is where most of us live most of our lives—out of the public eye, going about our everyday without much notice by others. Hidden from the world, but absolutely seen by the Father in that uniquely silent space that is set apart. In our busyness, we need to follow Jesus into that place with his Father. It’s different than running away. It’s not hiding from our problems… it’s hiding with the Lord. It’s a holy kind of hiding. What does this mean for mission? During those private decades, Jesus knew his mission and was patient in waiting for it. He didn’t rush. And so for us, Nazareth gives us permission to let the Lord lead; to let the Lord form us. It’s ok that this takes time. Starting next week: a series on the Litany of Trust (from the Sisters of Life). If you want to follow along, you can buy the book here: https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
40 min 47 sec
Affirmation feels different when it’s public, out loud and in front of everyone—as at the Baptism of Christ and the Transfiguration, where God audibly affirmed Jesus as his beloved Son. That affirmation becomes the foundation that allows Jesus to be free; to weep and be compassionate and angry, to be a revelation of the heart of God. The hearts of the sons and daughters of God long to hear the Father speaking a blessing over them—a blessing that allows them to flourish and give of themselves unto death. This authentic flourishing comes from the grace of knowing who they are. The Father is consistent in his message. Are we consistent in our response? The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
39 min 57 sec
You see a different side of someone when you see what makes him or her cry. Seeing a person weep, and knowing why—the thing he or she cares about so deeply as to be moved to tears—is a deep insight. Lazarus. Jerusalem. Sin. Jesus weeps at these. That tells us something important, for a man who weeps in the face of suffering is a man who loves deeply, who is profoundly affected by what is happening. It’s deeply personal. He’s not far away or abstract. He wants to cry with us. He wants to mingle his tears with us. Think of your suffering; the situations that bring tears to your eyes for yourself or your loved ones or even for those you’ve never met. Now, if you need to, pray against any idea of a disinterested or stoic God. Accept permission to grieve. Let the Lord weep with you. Prepare for our next series on the Litany of Trust by the Sisters of Life; check out this retreat book by Sr. Faustina SV: https://stpaulcenter.com/trust10/ The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
42 min 33 sec
VIDEO episode on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-w9uClhd6w&t=828s. “Nobody has ever been for me like this before.” That’s the difference it can make to receive someone as gift. Jesus looked at the disciples and thanked the Father for the gift of them. He looked around at the faces of people he loved and received each of them and all of them as a gift. In their goodness and brokenness, even in times that didn’t feel quite as much like gift. The Son is always receiving from the Father; the Father is always giving. And so for each of us. The Father always wants to bless us. During all the joys and the sorrows of our lives, our constant refrain can be “Father, they’re your gift to me.”
Jesus always chose his words carefully. There was great meaning and intention behind each word, part of which we can only begin to understand by listening carefully. How much more, then, should we pay attention to Jesus’s very last words? The ones he painfully uttered as he was dying on the cross? What do these words reveal about the heart of God? Jesus’s whole life was about the Father’s business, and his last words begin and end with “Father.” Meditate on these words—let them tell you the truth about God, and about your relationship with him. Let Jesus restore you, a son or daughter, to the Father. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
36 min 36 sec
VIDEO episode on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRQJUs3fqnI&feature=youtu.be There’s an intense vulnerability to letting people into your most tender moments. Allowing someone to witness a private, cherished part of life is no small thing, and being a witness to one of these moments is an honour. There’s a particular part of Jesus’s life for which we get to be these witnesses only a few times: his experience of prayer. In these rare instances, we are privileged to see him as he sees the Father look upon him with love and delight. Teach us to pray. When the disciples saw Jesus pray, that’s what they asked him. They were totally captivated by the sight of him rejoicing in the presence of the Father. Scripture invites us to be witnesses to this only a few times, but Jesus constantly experienced the Father looking at him with love and delight. We can, too, if we look to the Father. Let the prayer of Jesus inspire you; let him teach you to pray. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
41 min 15 sec
VIDEO episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9P586wY2HI Sometimes we need someone to fight for us. To respond forcefully to injustice in our lives. Jesus does this, as he did in the temple—He’s not afraid to clean house. The Divine Physician heals us, though the medicine isn’t always tender and gentle. The medicine that’s needed is tougher, and the only way to remove obstacles and create space for him to heal. And doesn’t that teach us a new approach to our sin? We should feel strongly about it, not accept a pattern of sin as “the way it is.” Time to stop compromising or settling with our sin and reject it. Intensely. Some things are worth fighting for. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
47 min 39 sec
Compassion; it means “to suffer with.” Recall those times when you’ve been suffering, alone, and someone has come into that isolation with you. It’s powerful! Now… don’t skip the fact that God became man so he could suffer with us. God is the prodigal son’s father, spending every day looking at the horizon with longing even though his son hurt him in such a concrete and direct way. Want to be a more compassionate person? It’s really hard to love and accept others without first being able to love and accept ourselves. First, get to know God’s compassionate heart for you—then you’ll be able to show true compassion for others and have the grace to respond to a person in need. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
52 min 44 sec
Full video episode on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/IrBkvpCn_MI. This episode starts a new series: The Heart of God. The Sacred Heart. This is a series about the goodness of God—not only the reality that he is, but that he is good, with a human face and a human heart that rejoices. A deeper encounter with his heart; that it may be the remedy that heals the wounds of our hearts. The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
32 min 43 sec
Watch the video episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTdYcXMbcaw We’re called to be prophets. Real, recognizable prophets in our day to day. How does that hit you? What does your life look like? Do people around you see it and think, This guy’s living it. He communicates in the depths of who he is that Jesus is alive and he’s real and he’s risen from the dead and this means something for us. He’s a prophet. We have to live provocative lives—lives that provoke people to ask questions. We can’t be shy about it. At the same time, we have to be the first to ask questions, always quick to be interested in someone, to genuinely listen in a way that makes him or her feel undeniably heard. In this episode, we discuss many aspects of living a prophetic life. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
41 min 6 sec
Watch the full video episode at https://youtu.be/i_yYtqgwdb4 To sacrifice is to make holy. Most of us are given enough suffering in this world that if we were to offer it fully and freely to the Lord, that would be enough. We need only to accept—well—the penances that life gives us. Any additional sacrifices—ones that we choose—should be chosen carefully; intentionally, and after checking in with someone else, and always looking toward freedom. We sacrifice to seek always greater freedom to be totally given again to the Lord. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
53 min 4 sec
Full video episode available at: https://youtu.be/14_MowgxTyQ The fullness of the mission of Christ includes a heart for the poor. This is pretty central, actually, but somehow doesn’t always get a lot of airtime. This isn’t just something we do, but who we are. It’s not just a Christian thing—this is being like Jesus. And even once that heart is developed and the desire is there… the how can be unclear. How do we live the Gospel this way? In this episode: examining our heart for the poor, and how to live this out in everyday life. How to love like Jesus. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
59 min 41 sec
VIDEO: Watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfhPsn_uF30 In our world of wanting more and of endlessly upgrading, we have to get good at saying, “Ok, that’s enough.” There’s a game of constant consumption and if we’re not careful, it’s going to take advantage of us. Don’t get played! Simplicity isn’t about getting rid of everything. It’s saying “no” to things you need to say “no” to—creating a space where you’re not controlled by things. How? A poverty check. A regular practice of examining everything to see what really needs to stay and what can go; a regular challenge to take an honest look at what we’re clinging to and what we can let go of. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
41 min 25 sec
Watch this video episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbtZV0z_is0 Ever try to connect with the person right in front of you… but he or she is staring at a phone, totally preoccupied? You want to jump in and say, “Look up! Look at me.” How often are we those preoccupied people in prayer? We have to be real about attachment. Whether we like it or not, our humanity is into stuff. In our weakness, we can get attached to stuff, which can serve us or not serve us. It’s a burden. Instead: lean into the freedom of simplicity, at the service of intimacy. We only have so much emotional and spiritual energy throughout the day. And after all—the lilies don’t get up in the morning and have to pick out their nicest dresses. Can we give God our full attention by being less cluttered in our thinking or our environments? Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
38 min 28 sec
VIDEO now available! Watch on Spirit Juice’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_wJgfHG1sI As Christians, what does our free time look like? Do we prioritize the same things as the world? Is there any difference in how we spend our time and money and attention? Those who know Jesus live differently. In important things, and in ordinary, everyday things. We’re talking about the kind of mindset that changes the most important thing about Friday from "End of the Work Week!" to "The Day Our Lord Suffered and Died For Us." It can be a struggle to feel like everything is ordinary… but God wants to encounter us in that ordinary and make it extraordinary. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
35 min 50 sec
VIDEO now available! Watch on Spirit Juice’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/dZ78lBznd_s Love your enemies. AND love that one person who embodies every single one of your pet peeves and always seems to find the fastest way to most intensely annoy you. Each person’s personality—our most and least favourite parts—is gift, and it’s all about how we receive the uniqueness of each person in his or her personality. Each trait speaks an aspect of God’s heart. Accepting everyone as they are isn’t always easy… but it’s easier than being surprised and rattled every time they do that one thing over and over and over again. It’s more than that, though; when we accept people, they have the freedom to be themselves. After all, unity is not uniformity. It’s scary to give people permission to be themselves. Maybe the Lord is asking you to expand your heart to fit them in it. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
50 min 58 sec
VIDEO now available! Watch on Spirit Juice’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFruaMSgbdc We have some pretty strong feelings on this topic… and it shows in this week’s episode. The most important thing you’ll bring to your vocation—whether that’s religious life or family life—is your capacity to be a man or woman of communion. Passing through purgatory is the experience that prepares us for heaven. There’s no greater insight into what purgatory is like than family life or community life. This applies directly to mission, too. We can be obsessed with mission at the cost of communion… and that’s when your mission will dry up because it’s no longer connected to the vine. So what does it mean to be a man or woman of communion? What does a life like that look like? We get into all of it in this conversation. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
55 min 39 sec
Now with video! WATCH the podcast on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4Hg26S_bDo Discipleship is a team sport. Family—both through our natural families, and our supernatural family through baptism—and communion with others is an essential ingredient to the Christian life. Not that it will be easy… it won’t be. It is simple, but not easy. An encounter with family lived well is redeeming not because it’s perfect, but because there’s love and sacrifice in the midst of the mess. That’s where healing is, especially if your experience of family has been painful in some way. And truly, if the mention of “family” is painful for you, know this: God wants to break through and redeem that. The bond through baptism is real and deep—this family is not second best; not a consolation prize. Blood is thicker than water, but grace is thicker than blood. “Lord, help me to see today how you’re going to reveal yourself in my family.” Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/supportpoco. Thank you!
59 min 27 sec
Now with VIDEO! Watch this episode on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FteWNKQD8wM It’s key to commit to prayer; to schedule it and keep honor it through intention and discipline. But, then, how do we maintain prayer as an intimate relationship and not let it become a routine? The answer to one question: where’s your heart in it? Going through the motions to get it done is not the point. You know… when you finish your prayer time, look up, and think what just happened? It’s better, even, to do less with a whole heart than to try to do more while totally disconnected. Even if you’re not in a good place to pray—tired, hungry, whatever—be honest about that and bring that to prayer. Because just like you can tell when somebody’s totally checked out of a conversation (nodding, “uh huh, yup”), the Lord knows our hearts. He can tell. Talk to him instead about why you’re distracted or angry or not in it; that’s where he wants to be. Simply be still, and with your whole heart, say “Jesus, look at my heart.”
56 min 42 sec
Now with VIDEO! Watch this episode on Spirit Juice's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbgj8IU-ogg. Do you know anybody who wants to work out *every* time? Unlikely. But nobody who gets in that workout says afterwards, “That was a waste of time. Why’d I bother?” Even more with prayer. When you take the time, it’s always, “I’m so glad I did that.” Eternal perspective changes how you use your time. What are we made for? To live forever. Our decisions now have an effect on that. We’re made to be fully alive starting now. When you grow in prayer, your heart grows in capacity. And you take that capacity—an expansive heart with deep desires—with you to heaven. Let God expand your heart. Get your copy of Habits for Holiness (by Fr Mark-Mary Ames, CFR!) at https://ascensionpress.com/habits The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at https://spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco. Thank you!
41 min 49 sec
You crave conversion and real change; to receive the healing and hope that God wants to give you. How does that lasting, long-term change happen? It happens when we accept some truth or let go of some lie. Each step forms our will, either strengthening it or weakening it. And the stronger our will, the more we’ll be able to choose the good even when it’s hard and resist the evil even when it’s tempting. This change can start in an instant, but the long-term forming of the will happens slowly, over time and over many, many choices — choices that might seem small, but matter. Deeply. Because we’re not kids anymore. Choices have consequences and all those moments make up the battle for our hearts and our minds. Our lives. This is it! The Poco a Poco podcast happens because of generous donors like you. You can give at spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
50 min 29 sec
We’re all really interested in what God can do for us; the healing, the restoration, the gifts of the Father. Are we as interested in committing to the long term relationship that allows us to receive all of that? It’s all too easy to spend the inheritance while overlooking the relationship. As sons and daughters of God, we’re meant to live from the inside of Jesus’ heart. Not as outsiders or coworkers or bystanders, but within, where we can experience being known and seen and loved by the Father. That’s discipleship. Because life is demanding, and the only thing that makes your vocation and your ministry sustainable is through a receiving relationship with the Father. That relationship transforms you into an instrument of God. Without that relationship, it’s just too hard. Be courageous in making time for prayer, for the Word of God — making time for the beloved. We're able to produce the Poco a Poco podcast because of generous donors. If you'd like to join us, go to https://spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
43 min 1 sec
St Francis is the rich young man who didn’t turn away sad. God invited St Francis, and his response was even more than his heart burning for the Lord — he was consumed. There was no going back. He became more like Jesus, but without being less like Francis. He became more like Francis; not losing himself in God, but finding himself in God. The unique man that he is in the eyes of the Father, not just repeating the works of other saints. Our hearts have such a capacity that we want more and more… which means that at some point, you leave behind some lesser goods. You develop a taste for a love that’s greater, and that’s a good thing. Francis didn’t settle for anything less — and neither should you. This podcast is possible because of generous supporters like you. Interested in helping us? Go to https://www.spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco/
47 min 44 sec
We have a God who’s always on the move, always pursuing. In our busyness, we’re distracted — we miss things. We miss people. But God is constantly seeking, constantly encountering what is broken and seeing the wholeness. Christianity is different: it’s about God becoming Man and coming to us. He’s looking for you. Let yourself be found. For the next few episodes, we’re focusing on Habits for Holiness, a new book written by our own Fr Mark-Mary. You can find it at ascensionpress.com/habits We now have video! Watch this full episode on facebook.com/spiritjuice, instagram.com/spiritjuice, youtube.com/c/SpiritJuice. Want to support the Poco a Poco podcast? Become a monthly benefactor at spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
53 min 35 sec
Jesus has a wounded human heart; he allowed himself to be fully wounded this way. If it had only been his hands or feet, he would’ve survived. How do we allow ourselves to be wounded for him? My sacrifices thus far are survivable. I could still be intact on my own. He gave us everything; we can’t turn back. Evangelical chastity is the full, total gift of your heart, which is set on fire with love for God and for one another. Jesus teaches us a new way to love on the cross — one that lines up with our desires. We want to love differently, but we’re tempted to settle. There’s a real fear in getting our hopes up. The Father wants you to get your hopes up. Set your hopes high for intimacy — for the union and the love that is possible. If you can, donations to support the Poco a Poco podcast now gratefully accepted at spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
39 min 31 sec
Obedience isn’t something being snatched from you; it’s about willingly offering the gift of your freedom. It comes from great humility, a bold statement that “I’m not in charge of my life. I’m not God.” It’s recognizing that we don’t have all the answers, and God really knows what is best for us. So wherever Jesus is, wherever he’s leading you: go there. Stay there. Choose to go there... don't get dragged! Don’t back off, don’t fill it with other things. Stay focused on him on the cross. We’re so grateful to be able to connect with you. If you’re able, consider making a donation to this podcast and community at spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
49 min 24 sec
The last few weeks, we’ve been in the wilderness for Lent… but you can only stay in the desert so long. And when the Lord came out of the desert, he was very focused on his mission, with one moment in mind: going to the cross, and ultimately giving his life. As we move towards Holy Week and the Triduum: stay focused. Look at Jesus on the cross. For three episodes, we’re going to ponder the wounds of Christ and relate them to the three evangelical counsels: poverty, obedience and chastity. (People might think these are just for consecrated religious. And yes, we take vows. But the Catechism, St JPII, St Bonaventure—and more—all propose that these are for every disciple to grow in imitation of Jesus.) Today’s episode is all about poverty… but we don’t talk about possessions. Look at Christ’s wounded hands, nailed to the cross; they’re a manifestation of Jesus’ own poverty. He can’t grasp at anything, but can only receive anything from the Father. His hands and wide open arms are all receptivity. At the culmination of his life, he has given everything; let go of everything, for the sake of love. Absolute and total surrender. What about when we grasp? Try to control things? Think we know what will fulfill us, or others? This week, examine where you might be grasping—not receiving—the good gifts that the Lord is offering. Want to share in the work of this podcast a little? Donations gratefully accepted at spiritjuice.org/pocoapoco
57 min 45 sec
Sometimes, in the heart of the wilderness, your step that was a strong march slows down. Then turns into a limp after rolling an ankle, and finally ends up looking more like a crawl by the end of the day. And that’s fine. Because the only rule is we don’t stop. When there’s a choice between struggling and stopping, we always want to err on the side of going for it. That means that at the beginning of each day, the ones who “win”, spiritually, aren’t necessarily the most gifted, the most talented, the capable. It’s not the ones who look most promising on paper. The most faithful are the ones who persevere. So just keep going. Be faithful. Fr Mark-Mary's new book, Habits for Holiness, available now from Ascension Press. Check it out here: https://ascensionpress.com/products/habits-for-holiness-small-steps-for-big
1 hr 4 min
After trying to go it alone day in, day out, you start to realize you can’t do it alone. That’s miserable. In the desert, you’re radically dependent: on the Lord, and on people who surround you. Relationships are not accessory. They’re essential. This breakthrough happens humanly and spiritually. All the physical sufferings start to purify you and you can experience what’s most important. It’s in our weakness that the only comfort, relationship, comes alive. Once you lean into that, you can find joy in struggle because you’re in it together. It’s when all the distractions are taken away that you can focus on the gift of relationship. But being left with nothing except relationship can be a scary moment. You can put off that moment for a long time. You can run from it. So… don’t. Instead, embrace the built-in grace of Lent: to not have another option. To willingly remove all the other comforts in life and to see relationship for what it is: a consolation. Let this consolation be consoling.
49 min 1 sec
The desert isn’t about struggling for the sake of struggle. There’s a wrong kind of struggle; one that’s self-reliant, self-focused, worldly. It’s difficult for the Lord to do anything for us there. In the desert, the reality of the wilderness slams against pride and ego. Against “I know what’s best” and “I’m strong.” You get to the desert and it punches you in the face because everything’s so heightened. You figure out real quick how self-focused you are. And that wake-up call is good, because we all have a temptation to turn in to ourselves. To fix ourselves. To fix the people around us. To control. We’re so stuck in ourselves. Getting after this temptation? Now that’s the right struggle. Don’t get dragged through the desert, kicking and screaming and resisting the whole time. Use your will to choose the desert, whatever that desert looks like for you. It doesn’t matter whether you see what God is doing in the suffering or know where He’s leading you. You don’t have to like it or even understand it. You only have to pray, “Lord, I trust you and I receive this.” Because that safety you’re trying to force with all your self-reliance? That safety is an idol. Let go. God’s got you.
1 hr 4 min
We’re kind of tired of mediocre Lents. You? This Lent, we’re going for it: into the wilderness. Accepting God's invitation into the desert, with all its dangers and hazards and risks. Why does a loving Father, through a loving Church, invite us into a wild unknown? Because it’s not unknown… to him. He’s the one who initiates the invite every time. Jesus’ journey into the desert began immediately after his baptism—after receiving his anointing and identity from the Father. He goes into the desert for us; truly, he doesn’t need reminders of who he is. But he goes, and he’s tempted. He struggles. He’s hungry. And it’s in this experience—as he responds to temptations with the truth of who he is and who the Father is—that Jesus receives his identity in a deeper way. We can have that desert experience, too. In the wilderness, the Father creates a sacred place to more deeply give each person his or her identity; for him or her to receive it over and over again. This journey often means leaving what’s comfortable and not being afraid to suffer. After all, the desert can be dangerous… if you go alone. If you’re standing at the edge of the desert, feeling a nudge to go for it: beg for the courage to go. God is waiting for you there. Want to see some beautiful photos from the wilderness? Check out www.franciscanfriars.com/pocoapoco
59 min 52 sec
If you want to be healthy, happy and holy—and truly, these things are possible!—you have to live intentionally. It’s not going to happen by accident. The small things are the foundation for that kind of life; getting out of bed on time, showing up to that planned workout, cooking the healthy groceries sitting in the fridge instead of firing up that food delivery app (again). Because things fall in order when you’re living in order. This consistency is often hidden… boring, even. It’s often anything but flashy. But there’s grace in these small, simple, hidden acts—they build our hearts and allow us to sacrifice ourselves.
51 min 26 sec
What’s one thing you can do that will move you towards being holier, healthier and happier? Seriously… take a second. Bet something came to mind. Right? Sometimes we overcomplicate the plan. When there’s a lot to change, or the change is going to be rough, it’s tempting to bail on starting. It’s easy to avoid doing the hard things, even the little hard things. Maybe especially the little things—but that’s how holiness happens. Choosing to do the small hard thing, for Jesus, over and over and over again. You got this! With God’s grace, you can totally do hard things. That realization—that we're capable of persevering—gives us the confidence that we have what it takes to gladly do what needs to be done. So stay simple. Keep the main thing the main thing. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” All of all three. Because keeping Christ firmly in the center of your life—the focus of all your energy and the motivation for all your choices—is the only sustainable way to live radically for him for a whole lifetime.
56 min 53 sec
This week, we welcome a special guest for the first in a three-episode series: Jackie Mulligan of Reform Wellness. “It’s ok to not be ok… and it’s also ok to want to be ok.” God loves and accepts us as we are, in all the messiness of our weakness. And his love also draws us to renewal; to real change that leads to real holiness, happiness, and a life that’s abundant. Life-changing renewal is possible and it’s what God wants for us. But it doesn’t happen by accident. It takes intention. It takes risk. It takes very honestly asking yourself, But, really… how am I doing? If the answer demands an overhaul of your life, there will be temptation to put it off—don’t give in! Fight through that resistance. This is God’s initiative. Because if you don’t, well, as a very honest friend of Fr Angelus’ once told him, “If they wrote a book about your life, this would be a really boring chapter.” And a life that’s a little too safe and comfy and boring is an enemy of holiness. So let God change it. Let him change you.
57 min 20 sec
We welcome a pretty special guest this week... Br Kolbe, of "He likes cars" renown! Let's get right to it: interior poverty. Facing our own brokenness, weakness, failings. Not the first place we want to go, right? But here’s the thing… there’s no way around it. The “secret” way to following Jesus is coming to terms with our poverty—with him, as he gives us the grace to be able to see it and not be overwhelmed by it. Getting to that place of emptiness allows him to fill us with peace and trust. There’s a divine efficiency to poverty. The Lord can work more directly when we are depending solely on his grace and not on any false securities that get in his way. It’s the only way. And that might not sound like good news, but that’s because we have worldly ears. Hear it this way: this only way is hard, but it’s with Jesus, he who brings sweetness to difficulty. So go there. Don’t avoid your spiritual poverty—Jesus meets you there.
58 min 47 sec
If you live community life well, if you live family life well, people are going to see your sins and weakness and failures. That can be a hard place. But if you can stay there, and people can stay there with you: that’s the good stuff. That’s the place of abundant fruit. Real fraternity—the love of brothers and sisters—is powerful. There can be a real infection in our hearts today that comes from experiences of rejection. We need spaces where we can rejoice in one another despite our weaknesses: moments of welcome and mercy that redeem our life experiences. This has to start somewhere. Where does this happen? In intentional relationships where we decide to have mercy on each other. People who keep choosing community, keep choosing to be patient with each other and have mercy on each other. To keep saying, “yeah, it’s hard, but I’m here and I’m not going to leave you.”
53 min 16 sec
“There are so many voices telling me I’m not good enough, not worthy of that love. And lots of voices saying that this kind of freedom doesn’t matter or isn’t possible. That I can’t experience true forgiveness or true healing or true conversion. That’s where the battle is fought.” We hear a lot of voices. And the gift of prayer is a space where we can hear the one voice that matters. Blessed are those who root out the distractions in their lives, for they will know God. As baptized Christians, we are made for prayer. Everyone is called to open up Scripture, encounter Jesus, and live the Gospel. We want to follow Jesus—and the way to follow Jesus is prayer. Our lives only make sense in the context of relationship with Him. And it’s only when we get rid of anything that is blocking or distracting or interfering with this relationship that our interior life can be what it’s supposed to be; an interior life that gives life new meaning. This could be your breakthrough in discernment, too. It will transform discernment from a calculation to a chance to give yourself away in love. To embrace sacrifice and boldly say to the Father, “Lord, I give you permission to take what I’m not strong enough to give.” Mentioned in this episode... The Godsplaining Podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/godsplaining A Work of God by Vianney Vocations, now available for pre-order. https://www.vianneyvocations.com/product/a-work-of-god/
56 min 59 sec
Even when we’re actively trying to trust God in all things, there’s a constant temptation to take back control. To just do it ourselves. To bail out of surrendering to Him, and keep things from Him to try and “make sure they get done.” We forget, over and over, that God takes initiative, does things, takes care of us. We overlook the ways He’s doing that right now. What’s opposite that temptation? God’s constant invitation to let go, to trust, to forget about ourselves, to get over ourselves. To find that balance of letting God do everything while our fiat also provokes us to action. SO. If you want to live differently; if you crave renewal, restoration, conversion in your life; it’s possible. It’s real! Most of all: it’s a work of God. This episode kicks off a new series moving through a collection of images and essays of the CFR community called A Work of God by Vianney Vocations, now available for pre-order.
1 hr 11 min
Sometimes we need to stop and take a real look at what’s going on in our hearts and our lives. What has power in my life? Who has influence over me? And if God isn’t the first authority—by a mile—then it’s time to reorder. It’s time to get back to relationship with Him above everything else. Because Jesus isn’t meant to be one priority among many. We can’t balance our pursuit of Him with other things, even good things. The only way to living intensely with the Lord—the only way to become a saint—is to accept sacrifice. It’ll cost you something, perhaps even a good thing that you’d really rather not give up. But it’s worth it. Living this way, with Christ, protects us from being tossed around in whatever storms are raging. (And it’s been a stormy year.) With Christ, the world and its storms no longer dictate our mood or determine whether we feel unsettled or unsafe. God alone is in control of our peace. So if you’re sensing distractions or attachments or clutter in your life that are keeping you from God; if you’re holding on to one thing that’s actually holding you back from Him; if you’ve been thinking about letting go of something that’s keeping you from being all in with God… now’s the time. Drop it and return to God. Return to your first love.
54 min 2 sec
Isaiah 25: “The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” We face suffering in this world; trials and hardships and pain that can leave us feeling so alone. In Advent we wait to celebrate Jesus coming to us in the Incarnation, and for him to come at the end of time, when he will definitively wipe away all tears. But he also comes to us today. Wherever we are, whatever we're feeling; he gently comes near to us and wipes away our tears. When we cry out to God, he hears us. He sees our suffering. He does not pass by or overlook us. Whether we’re publicly begging for him or privately weeping to him, each day can be a mini Advent in our hearts, welcoming the Savior who comes to us. Our hope is sure. The Lord comes to comfort us, and we can experience that breakthrough in prayer, even today.
53 min 55 sec