What Does God Want? (Discernment)

In our conclusion of the six-part series that reflects on a book written by Fr. Mike Scanlan, TOR, “What Does God Want?”, Dcn. Mike Welker and I discuss two more “c” words that need to be understood for prayerful discernment: confusion and courage.

Some discernment is straightforward, but at other times it is confusing. One can feel pulled in two different directions at once. Some of the questions are easy to answer, but others… not so much. This is to be expected in the process of discernment (if it was obvious, there wouldn’t need to be much discernment at all!).

And then there are times we know what God wants us to do… and are too afraid to do it. This is where we need courage through prayer and the support of others to do the Father’s will in our lives.

Dcn. Mike and I conclude with some practical applications of these principles in ministry. One of the main reasons we felt drawn to talk about this book is because so many people that we do ministry with often ask, in one way or another, “what does God want me to do?” We pray these episodes have given you some great insight and guidance on how to help others answer that question, or has even helped you answer that question yourself.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back with a new episode of Speaking with Deacons (the earliest would be in the fall, I think). If you have any ideas for upcoming episodes or topics that would help you either discern or be more empowered to live out the ministry of the permanent diaconate, shoot me an email at deaconbobrice@gmail.com. And, if you help me cover some of the costs of doing these podcasts, you can “buy me a coffee” by going HERE.

God bless!


As our regular listeners know, we usually shoot for 35 minutes per podcast. This one was 47! Perhaps it was because we recorded it on Sunday night (which is unusual for us). Or maybe we just had more to talk about? Anyway, the time flew by for us, and I hope you have the same experience as you listen.

We talked about a lot of great things, from the US Alpine Skier who just broke the record for most wins, the “Journalism in a Post-Truth World” conference that Franciscan University co-sponsored with EWTN, and the upcoming readings for the Third Sunday of Lent.

We didn’t know the Oscar winners when we recorded the podcast, but I was right about all my predictions!

Enjoy 🙂

Oscar Preview

“We should talk about the Oscars,” Fr. Dave said, a few minutes before the recording began.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes, I have a list of the nominees,” he replied.

“Do you know any of them?”

“Not really.”

And then we wasted both our time and yours talking about something we didn’t know about. Well, that has never stopped us before 🙂

Fr. Dave and I got to spend the day together on Saturday. It began at Amber Van Vickle’s funeral outside of Pittsburgh, and finished that evening up in Cleveland for an alumni event where we went to the Cavs game. We talk about both of those events, other sports, the Oscars, and the Gospel reading for this upcoming Sunday, which is the story of the “Woman at the Well” from John chapter 4. This is a favorite story for both Fr. Dave and I, and I loved his insights on it.

So, other than the Oscar stuff, I hope you are blessed by this episode!

What Does God Want? (Confirmation and Conviction)

Because the last two questions were brief, Mike and I decided to combine them into one episode.

The fourth question is, “How has this been confirmed?” God will allow our good decisions to bear fruit in our lives, the best fruit being that of the Holy Spirit: peace, faithfulness, self-control, etc.

The final question is, “Does my heart say, ‘yes’?” Do we have a conviction to do this?

Mike and I talk about examples from the book, and also examples from our own lives.

But wait… we’re not done yet! We have one more episode about the book, where we put into practice the questions and talk about how we can use them to help other discern God’s will. That will be up in two weeks!

PS. I’m sorry I didn’t post any of the Speaking with Deacon’s podcasts the past few weeks. I was crazy busy doing the Kickstarter fundraiser for a new album (praise God, we made it!) and I just wasn’t able to find the time to make the edits, post content, etc.

PPS. One of the ways I am applying this book to my own life is asking what projects I should or shouldn’t do. “Speaking with Deacons” is one of those projects. When I think about the “confirmation” test, is it bearing the fruit God wants? Does all the time I spend on doing it bear fruit in other people’s lives? If you’ve been blessed by these episodes, please give me a shout out at deaconbobrice@gmail.com. And, if you can, please support this podcast by going here.

What Does God Want? (Discernment) Speaking with Deacons

In this final episode of "What Does God Want?", Dcn. Bob and Dcn. Mike discuss two more "c" words, "Confusion" and "Courage," and wrap up the series by offering practical advice on how to apply these principles in prayerful discernment.
  1. What Does God Want? (Discernment)
  2. What Does God Want? (Confirmation and Conviction)
  3. What Does God Want? (Consistent)
  4. What Does God Want? (Conversion)
  5. What Does God Want? (Conformity)

Darth Vader (with a Lisp)

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all who supported the fundraising efforts for “The Hours.” WE DID IT! Actually, we more than did it. 64 backers pledged $6,661, exceeding our goal of $5,500 and giving us to chance to record more songs than we originally planned! Seriously, that was a huge relief. Very excited to finish up that recording and share it with you all.

In the first minute of the podcast, Fr. Dave starts poking around the soundboard and questioning my ability to record these correctly. Turns out, that was prophetic. Not only did I forget to hit the back up audio recording until a couple of minutes into it, but my iPhone shut down in the last five minutes of the recording. Of course, I didn’t realize that until after we finished the episode. Thankfully, most of the video and all of the audio is here, so I hope you don’t find that too distracting. Shout out to http://willmacmotion.com for making a cartoon (way back in ep. 39!) that I recycled for the end of this episode.

Other than those technical glitches, Fr. Dave and I had a really fun conversation. He just got back from a men’s conference in Oklahoma where someone got him an autographed picture of the pitcher from the Savanna Bananas (a “Banana Ball” team, which Fr. Dave despises). Here is the closeup:

Classy, no?

We also talk about hockey, travel, Lent, beautiful places we’d like to visit, and the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent.

Also, if you want to check out the rosaries we talked about on the show, go to https://paraprayers.com


The Hours: Queen of My Heart

IT ALL ENDS TUESDAY! Well, not the world or other important stuff like that, but our fundraising for our album. At the time of posting this video, we are just $655 short of our goal, so please help us at http://kck.st/3jfv9SZ

I’m surprised to realize this, but even though I’ve been writing Catholic music for over 25 years, I’ve never written a song solely about Mary. I mention her in “I Shall Be Healed” and on my first album I did a musical arrangement to the “Hail Mary,” but in terms of an original work directly about her, this is my first. I feel kind of guilty it took me this long!

The main focus of the lyrics come from Scripture: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27). “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

For the video, I’m thrilled that Blair Barlow gave me permission to use some of her beautiful artwork! If you don’t know her, she is an alumna of Franciscan University and created a beautiful mosaic that is visible when you first arrive on campus (it is the first image in the song). She has lots of wonderful stuff and has prints for sale available on her webpage, http://blairbarlowart.com.

This is the last video of our fundraising campaign. Once it is over, I’m going to take them offline and eventually bring them back with the final versions of the song. So I hope you enjoy this for the next few days. God bless!

The Hours: Heart of Jesus

We are less than a week from the end of our Kickstarter campaign, and less than a thousand dollars from our goal. If we don’t reach our goal, we lose all of it! So please, if you are blessed by the music we’ve been sharing over the past three weeks, support the creation of it by going to http://kck.st/3jfv9SZ.

I wrote “Heart of Jesus” many years ago, and it is one of my favorite songs to play, especially during Adoration. Though I enjoy singing the song, I knew Anna Brewer would do an even better job singing the lead. And she does!

It is really fun to sing harmony on a song I wrote. I love the simple arrangement of this song: Anna on lead, Mary and I on backup vocals, Mary on piano and me on classical guitar. I’m thrilled with how this video turned out.

I’ve been doing the edits on all the videos so far, and I pray you have been blessed by them. Please like and share this video! And thanks for all the great feedback so far on the music that Anna, Mary, and I have been sharing with you. May Jesus be praised, adored, and loved!

All-Star Wars

This is probably the most serious disagreement Fr. Dave and I have ever had on the show. I love the NBA All-Star Game. He hates it. He thinks the only worthwhile all-star game is… wait for it… baseball. Eventually we had to agree to disagree.

Our conversation about the new Ant-Man movie was similar but not as heated. I liked it; he didn’t. Are you noticing a pattern here? 🙂

However, we do agree on what counts: Jesus as Lord! I get to share some of my experiences at the Steubenville Parish Mission at Holy Family Parish in Orange, CA (hello to all who were there!), and we both discuss what it means for God to be faithful, even in the midst of tragedy.

We conclude by reflecting on the readings for this upcoming coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent.

I pray you all have a beautiful Ash Wednesday and the Lord will draw you closer to His heart over the next 40 days.

PS. We close with a song I wrote, “Heart of Jesus,” sung by Anna Brewer. Just one more week to fundraise for our album! We are a thousand dollars short, and if we don’t make the full amount we lose it all. So, if you’ve been waiting for the last minute to support us… it is just about that time! 🙂 Go to http://kck.st/3jfv9SZ

The Hours: Listening

Less than a thousand away from our goal! Please support our project by going to http://kck.st/3jfv9SZ

Again, another wonderful song written by Mary! Here is her explanation of it:

There’s something about songs that are 100% grounded in Scripture. That’s part of the reason why it’s so exciting to release an album based on the Liturgy of the Hours, which is one of the ways that the Church prays the scriptures throughout the day.  

Last summer, I was invited to lead worship during the holy hours for the School for Spiritual Direction’s summer intensive here in Steubenville (learn more about the School for Spiritual Direction here: https://institutes.franciscan.edu/copy-of-school-of-spiritual-direction). It was a beautiful opportunity to pray with people whose sole reason for being there was to learn how to listen better to the Lord.  

One evening, during the holy hour, I was silently praying with the scripture from 1 Samuel 3:9, “If He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.’” I started to play a melody that prayed those words, and then I sang:   Speak, my Lord, your servant is listening. Speak, my Lord, your servant [waits]. You have the words of everlasting life. Speak, my Lord, I am listening.  

Something amazing happened, because after I sang the first line, everyone else started singing with me, even though the song was new. I honestly hope that I never get over the wide-eyed wonder that I feel at the gift of praying together through music as a community.  

Since then, I’ve loved praying with this song and letting the Scripture teach my heart how to be quiet so that I can listen to Him better.  

I hope that it blesses you too and helps you to hear His voice in a new way!  


The Hours: Like a Child at Rest

Please support this project by going to http://kck.st/3jfv9SZ

This song is drawn from Psalm 131, that can be found in Evening Prayer of Tuesday, Week 3 (as well as some other places in the Liturgy of the Hours).

O Lord, my heart is not proud nor haughty my eyes,

I have not gone after things too great nor marvels beyond me.

Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace.

As a child has rest in its mother’s arms, even so my soul.

O Israel, hope in the Lord both now and for ever.

Because it is a short psalm, I made it a short song! Barely two and a half minutes. It was nice to not feel “pressure” to extend it more than it needed to be, either with a dramatic bridge or a lot of repetition. I tried to keep the music as simple as the psalm itself.

That being said, there is some complexity to the music, though hopefully it adds more “texture” than something that draws attention away from the message. As usual, the Brewer sisters add killer harmonies, and Mary does a great job on piano complimenting my classical guitar. This is one of my favorite songs on the new album… .

..which I hope we get to make! We are a little over a thousand dollars short with a little under two weeks to go. Please contribute if you can, and thanks to all who have already gotten us so close to the finish line!