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The Catholic Teacher And Contemplative Prayer

November 5, 2019

In today’s podcast I want to share with you a message from Charles de Focauld. He reminds us of the great truth that we need withdraw into the desert to encounter the grace of God amidst the craziness and distraction of daily life. As a Catholic teacher it can be so easy to feel that we are too busy to pray but the truth is that God is always waiting for us in the silence. Don’t miss this episode.

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Hey there, everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you once again for the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast. Blessings to you wherever you are in the world. I just have loved the travel the last few years meeting amazing Catholic educators in Europe and so many fantastic teachers in America. The last trip was just wonderful. So if you’re in those audiences, I hope there was a blessing for you in what was shared. And wherever you are in the world, thank you for what you’re doing every day in Catholic education, encouragement, encouragement, encouragement. You know that beautiful word, encouragement comes from the French to encore, to put heart into. And I think that’s what the Holy Spirit really wants to do, to put heart into us because this is a difficult and challenging vocation that you’re in the midst of. It really is. There’s just so much every single day that can be challenging or demanding. So have courage and always remember, you don’t have to rely on yourself. Jesus promised to send us an advocate. He promised to send us the spirit.

You know, he said to the apostles, he said, it’s better that I leave because if I don’t leave, I can’t send you the advocate, the Paraclete, the counselor. So always remember that we’re not doing this alone and if you feel really alone, then you’ve got to reach out every morning. So I’ve just had my morning prayer here, then come into the studio and really pray every day now. It’s very central to my morning prayer that I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my intellect, my reason, my will. And the promptings I get, it’s really interesting since I’ve began to pray that way, these daily promptings, these daily little ideas to ring someone or message someone or to do something or go somewhere. It’s really quite cool. So I really want to encourage you to do that.

I just want to share a quote with you today. If you’re not getting the daily email, would you do me a favor? Would you email me today at Email me and just say, “Hey Jonathan, loved the podcast. Please send me a link to the daily email”, because I do this very simple motivational email for Catholic education once every day. It takes about 10 seconds, but it’s a little bit of encouragement. So want to make sure you get that.

Now today’s message is really beautiful. It’s from Blessed Charles de Foucauld and he says this, listen to these words, “To receive the grace of God, you must go to the desert and stay awhile. To receive the grace of God., You must go to the desert and stay awhile.” Now, if you know anything about Catholic history and contemplative prayer history, you’ll know of course of the desert fathers and the desert mothers who, in the early centuries of Christianity, went out into the deserts of Palestine and often lived these hermetical lives. They would live on their own in solitude and fasting and prayer and the most amazing sort of, I guess, richness came out of that for the whole church and for them and for their communities.

Now why did they do it? We think of all the tech in our lives and the complexity and the interruptions. You think, hang on, these guys were living in Palestine. I mean, how stressful could it have been? Well, relatively because without running water and sanitation, a whole bunch of other things. Let’s remember that we live in a wonderful time in history, but these people even then realized that to encounter God, to experience God, they had to withdraw from all that was happening around them. And if you look at Catholic history, you see the monastic traditions, you see men and women called out of the world, for the world.

It’s really important to understand that about monasticism, that God doesn’t call people into monasteries to get them out of a situation per se. He draws them into that place where they begin to become prayer for the world and pray for intercession of the world. There’s a beautiful line in Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, where he talks about monasteries as kind of these spiritual powerhouses. And he said that the wrath of God would have fallen from heaven long ago if it wasn’t for these monasteries praying for us.

So what’s this got to do with you and Catholic education? So Charles de Foucauld calls us out into the desert to receive the grace of God and stay awhile. What I want to suggest is that you live in the most complex time. Your vocation as a Catholic educator is full of complexity and demands and stress and some of you would go, “But I love it too.” I know that. But the sheer amount of stuff that’s expected of you and coming at you is extraordinary.

So what is the desert? So none of you listening to this are likely to listen to this podcast, jump in the car and disappear for six months into a nearby desert. But we are called into a metaphorical desert, the desert of silence and solitude. And sometimes we might only find that for five minutes a day.

So today I’m going to escape down to a little local church here and I’m going to, I use headphones now because there’s still so much noise often around the church or even in the church, so I use headphones with some white noise and then I just sit and I withdraw into that interior desert. So I believe that, as Catholic educators, if you can begin to withdraw into this desert, then the grace of God will find you. The grace of God will find you in the desert. It could mean sitting in the chapel using some headphones, five, ten minutes at the end of the school day or at the start. But God is just so generous, he is so desperate to pour grace into our lives. But it’s hard for God to do that if we don’t make that time and space. So my prayer for you in this short message is that you will encounter the grace of God by choosing to go into the desert and allowing him to pour his grace into you wherever that desert is for you at the moment.

All right friends, please come and follow me. Twitter, BeingCatholic1, or you can jump onto it and do a search Jonathan Doyle or BeingCatholic1, you’ll find me there. Come and say hi. Just send me a message on Twitter and introduce yourself. It’d be great to connect there. And the Facebook group, really proud of that. It’s called a Passionate Catholic Teachers. So please just jump on Facebook and type in Passionate Catholic Teachers. You’ll find us there. And the only other thing is to go to the website,, and I want you to click the Going Deeper tab. There’s a little menu item called Going Deeper. Click that because we’ve got a free three-week trial of the Going Deeper program, which I think you’ll love. So check that out.

Last thing, please subscribe to the podcast, makes a huge difference. Just wherever you’re listening, Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Play, whatever, just subscribe. And last thing, would you do me a favor today? Grab the link where you’re listening and share it with people. Grab this link and send it to as many people as you can because we all need to support each other and I just love more teachers to be hearing this.

God bless your friends.

Father God, I just pray your blessing upon every teacher listening to this right now. Holy Spirit, sustain them and guide them. Bless them, carry them. Jesus, thank you for supporting them. Thank you for dying for all of us. Thank you for your heart, for young people, and for using us in this great adventure of Catholic education.

God bless you, everybody. My name is Jonathan Doyle. This has been the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast, and I’ll have another message for you tomorrow.

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About Jonathan Doyle

Life offers us so many possibilities. I’ve always been interested in why some people live amazing lives of contribution and success and why so many struggle with lost ambitions, unfulfilling relationships and the status quo.

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