Clare is secular Carmelite and evangelist with over 25 years’ experience in writing and speaking about authentic Catholic spirituality, as well as the dangers of its New Age counterfeits. A cradle Catholic seduced into pursuing New Age spirituality and practices, Clare has given her testimony about her dramatic reversion to the faith in 1994 on Marcus Grodi's The Journey Home, and appeared multiple times on Johnnette Bencovic's The Abundant Life to discuss New Age ideas and practices.
She has also been a guest on Catholic Radio and Catholic Answers Radio, speaking on topics pertaining to the New Age. Clare hosted the English-language coverage on EWTN for the 2016 beatification of Blessed Eugene-Marie, OCD, and has spoken twice on spiritual topics at the John Paul II Shrine in Washington, DC.
From serving as an evangelist since 1999 to then entering the world of academia in 2016, Clare now serves as an adjunct instructor with Benedictine College, and has taught courses on spiritual theology, women saints, and Teresa of Avila. She also also taught courses online in various capacities on divine union, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, and Sacramental Spirituality vs. New Age Spirituality. She also serves as a moderator for the Great Books Academy.
Clare's articles have appeared in the New Oxford Review, Defend Life News, The Catholic Review of Baltimore, The Journal of Religion and Health, Simply Catholic, Catholic Exchange, as well as her own blog of Our Lady of Holy Protection Society, established to promote devotion to Mary under that title, and to promote the spirituality of communion of St. Pope John Paul II as a remedy against the incursions of the New Age movement its culture of death. In her efforts to support the reform of the spiritual theology of priesthood in the current crisis, Clare authored the book, Berulle’s Spiritual Theology of Priesthood.
Some articles include:
What is The Devotion to the Holy Face of Christ, and How Can It Help Us Amid Our Current Crises?
Gregory the Great's Pastoral Advice Amid Crisis
On Our Lady of Holy Protection Society website, you will find her articles on: Discerning a Vocation within a Vocation to the Priesthood, Forgotten Mercy, Deliver Us From Evil, And The Word Was Made Flesh.
Some topics on which Clare has given talks, seminars, and workshops include:
1. Living Catholic Teachings in the New Age: Resources for Discernment and Evangelization
This talk explores New Age ideals in the light of Catholic doctrine and magisterial teachings in order to expose New Age links to the culture of death in order to counter them. Topics covered in the talk include The Christ of Faith vs. the Many Christs of the New Age; True Healing and Deliverance vs. False Modalities; Authentic Contemplation and Its Counterfeits, and; Sacramental Spirituality vs. New Age Spiritualities.
2. Devotion to the Face of Christ in Today's Time of Crisis: The Teachings of St. Therese, Marie of St. Peter, and St. John Paul II
This talk explores the prophetic teachings of these three great souls who saw in the Face of Christ the answer to the threat of atheism, Communism, and secular humanism. Devotion to the Holy Face of Christ was the foundation of both St. Therese’s spiritual theology and that of St. John Paul II. We will explore its roots in the prophetic life of a little-know Carmelite nun of Tours, Sr. Marie of St. Peter, its later prominence in the life of St. Therese, and its full explication in the writing of the sainted pope. Lastly, we will apply their teachings in exploring how to live a contemplative life of action during these times of crisis.
3. An Introduction to St. John of the Cross: Big Medicine for Big Problems
This talk explores the spiritual doctrines of John of the Cross who wrote his books for those who have no spiritual directors. Topics explored will include the challenges and opportunities of both beginners and the more advanced on the path to holiness. This talk is helpful not only for the laity but for priests, religious, and spiritual directors interested in deepening their own faith.
4. Communion Spirituality: Teresa of Avila and Other Carmelite Saints in Conversation with Pope St. John Paul II
John Paul’s communion spirituality is a contemplative Eucharistic spirituality, calling us to lead “completely Eucharistic” lives, to see others in the light of the Trinity as “part of me,” and with Christ, to transform history until its fulfillment in the eschaton. Teresa of Avila’s eucharistic spirituality reflects the hope for the restoration of unity through the witness of Eucharistic contemplative communion with the suffering Christ and with each other. Her Spirit-filled witness and vision, as well as that of other Carmelite saints, prophetically anticipated and can continue to inform the conversation surrounding the importance of sacramental union to ecclesial union, as highlighted in the sainted pope's apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte.
Clare has a master’s degree in theological studies and a graduate certificate in Carmelite studies from the Washington Theological Union, an MA in liberal studies (The Great Books Program) from St. John’s College, Annapolis, ABD status in spirituality studies from The Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies, and a doctorate in philosophy (DPhil) from the University of Augsburg, Germany, specializing in speculative mysticism and metaphysics.
SAMPLE STUDENT COMMENTS
"Dr. Merkle, Thank you so much for this class! It was an incredible experience and I learned much more than I could have expected. I enjoyed every aspect of your class, especially your stories and encouragement for us to bring our faith into the world. The class was an inspiration for me to grow in love of Christ and has provided me with so many resources..."