Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feast of Bl Maria of Jesus

"Blessed Maria of Jesus was born on August 18th, 1560. (...) When Maria was only four, her father died, and the young mother, being desirous of re-marrying, brought the child to live and be educated in the home of her paternal grandparents at Molina de Aragón, at that time the capital of the Spanish commercial world.

Here Maria lived until she was seventeen. Lively, intelligent, cheerful, she received an excellent upbringing from her exemplary grandparents and uncles. (...) Between the age of twelve and fourteen, she experienced a great struggle, both interior and exterior, with regard to her religious vocation. Finally convinced of the Divine call, she left her family and her wealth in order to give herself to God. In the summer of 1577, she paid a last visit to the beloved Shrine [Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Ravine], to say goodbye to Our Lady before leaving for Toledo, there to enter the Carmel founded nine years earlier by St Teresa herself. In a letter to the Community, the Saint gave this remarkable and well-known recommendation of Maria: 'Daughters, I am sending you a postulant with a dowry of five thousand ducats, but I assure you her character is such that I would willingly give fifty thousand ducats for her. Therefore do not hold her on par with the rest, for I hope in God that she will be a prodigy.'

María López de Rivas received the habit of the Discalced Carmelites in Toledo on August 12th, 1577, and was given the religious name of Maria of Jesus. When it came to the time for her Profession, the Community was undecided as to whether they would receive her on account of her ill-health. St Teresa, hearing of this, wrote to them: 'Think what you are doing, my daughters, for if you do not allow Maria of Jesus to be professed, I shall have her brought to Avila, for I am sure that the community that gets her will be more fortunate than any other. I want to have her in my house, even if she has to stay in bed all her life long.'

Our Lord rewarded her great generosity with the most exceptional grace of mystical stigmata in her hands, feet and side, making her feel at the same time the pain of the crown of thorns in her head.

Words spoken to her by Our Lord on the feast of the Epiphany, 1629, give a profound meaning to the last ten years of her life, which was a period of continual pain and suffering: 'Maria, you beg me to release you form the prison of your body. Know that the time has not yet arrived. If you have to go on living, it is because you have to live for others. As for taking rest, eternity awaits you.'

In truth, during those remaining years, she lived solely for the glory of God, the welfare of her Community and the conversion of sinners. Elected Counsellor for the fourth time, and still Mistress of Novices, she gave great edification as a model of observance and fervour.

She offered herself, in imitation of Christ, as a victim in body and soul for the conversion of sinners, especially for certain notorious ones. In imitation of Our Lord, too, she wanted to be obedient unto death; so, in her last agony, she said to her Prioress: 'Mother, may I have your permission to die?' Having received the last Sacraments with the utmost devotion, this most prudent virgin gave up her spirit to her Savior at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 12th of September, 1640. She was eighty years of age, sixty-three of which had been spent in Carmel."

Bl Maria of Jesus, pray for us!

-- Blessed Maria of Jesus by Editorial de Espiritualidad

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