Friday, July 31, 2009

Silence and solitude: our guides to God

“Of all human experiences, prayer is the simplest and the most profound. The school of Carmel provides people with a means to explore their internal depths for a lifetime of prayer. Two primary necessities in Carmel are silence and solitude. Places and times for silence and solitude are not easy to find in modern society. God-seekers on Mount Carmel face the battle and babble of the ages as they continually turn from peripheral living to searching for God. To live in the midst of the world and be not of it is an ongoing challenge. Silence and solitude are supports that link the whole Carmelite family together. No one is really alone as he or she strives to pray, think with the teachings of Jesus, and respond as one imagines Jesus might have done.

Interior silence and solitude are needed as guides to God that go beyond the absence of noise or people. Self-knowledge and faith are built on these supportive structures which are as lattices for growth in giving and receiving. Carmelites do not forget others; instead they stand alone in God’s presence for others. Prayers for people are offered and a greater sense of God’s goodness is received. God is sought through quiet waiting and pondering, and is received by unknowingly drawing closer to Jesus. Eventually, Carmelites find themselves without masks, adornments or devotional accretions and experience true freedom in the peace of Christ. Teresa said it well: 'We need no wings to go in search of him, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon his presence within us.'”

n Carmel, Land of the Soul by Carolyn Humphreys, ocds

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Prayer - the language of the interior life

“The language of the interior life, which is another name for the spiritual journey, is prayer. In the depths of prayer we commune most profoundly with God, and prayer links us to God and others in extraordinary ways. Communication in prayer has many modes, the most basic which are adoration, praise, contrition, supplication and thanksgiving. These elements of prayer are at the heart of the interior life. Because the forces of prayer move us from the outskirts of our ego selves to the inroads of our true selves in Christ, it takes unwavering perseverance to stick with the work of honest, day-to-day prayer. However, with day-by-day graces from the Holy Spirit, prayer transforms us into a new life in Christ.”

n Carmel, Land of the Soul by Carolyn Humphreys, ocds

Abandonment opens the gates of God's treasures

"It is prayer that leads us to such an appreciation of Divine Providence that the soul can reach this state of abandonment. Prayer opens the gates of the treasures of the Divine will. It is founded on Divine Providence because our only reason for living is to do the will of God. We pray, not just for what we want but in order, above all, to be able to accomplish the will of God.

As we pray we begin to see into the transcendent darkness of Divine things. God illumines the soul that prays. When the hand of God seems to deal out only adversities, bitterness and afflictions, we are made to turn to Him for help in our trials.

We learn God and His ways; we learn humility in dealing with Him; we learn to revere His majesty because we see that in our prosperity we were walking in darkness, and if not in serious sin, at least we were living for ourselves, with that dullness to Divine realities which can never be cleared away without the cleansing power of suffering. It is through prayer that we penetrate into the secret and hidden mysteries of the Divine will. We see and experience that we only knew abstractly before, namely, that God's infinite ways are so much above us that we must suffer before we can see.

We learn that there is grace for every trial; that God really is with us in suffering. He never presses down without holding us up with the other hand. No, we may not see where we are going but we need see when we are being led? The light that is given may not be exactly the light that we want, the light that will answer our demands to understand why He is being so hard on us. The light that we are given shows us that we are sinners and we dare not demand to know. We are illumined by a light that will feed us with the sweet peace of humility. we understand that we can trust His desire to do good for us; that what He takes away only seems to take away in order to give us something greater. We learn that what He does not grant in one way He will grant in another. If He closes a door it is to keep us from going through it to our own loss. If He shuts up our path with 'square stones' (Lamentations 3:9) it is to keep us from going astray. If He hinders and brings to nothing all out plans and aspirations, it is to show us how much we were working for our own profit. If He lets our lives turn to failure, it is to keep us from sin.

We come to understand that He wants us to love Him and cling to Him in situations we cannot understand. Peaceful abandonment is always profitable to us. Through it we see that it is His merciful love that is pursuing us through trials and adversities. He wants to bring the proud heart to surrender; He wants to soothe the fearful heart with trust - because the proud one does not want to surrender to a power above himself or to admit his need to depend on God's loving providence... and the fearful one mistrusts his own ability to remain in grace because he has not yet learned by experience that it is God Who keeps him in grace. "

-- The Pathways of Prayer: Communion with God by Sr Immaculata, ocd

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In prayer we come to know ourselves

“It is with the ear of our hearts that we listen. We allow God’s work to sink into our hearts. We come into his presence in an attitude of reverence and docility in order to hear his word in our hearts. We come as we are, in thanksgiving, in praise, in sorrow or in pain.

Prayer makes us sensitive to the needs of others and docile to the Word of God.


In prayer we come to know ourselves very well. Our faults and failings, our weaknesses, the dark deeds we ourselves are capable of, and it makes us ready to empathise and sympathise with our brothers and sisters who come to us for prayers. Listening in prayer tunes us to listen to those who come to us to pray for them. We make their prayers our own and bring them to the Lord.


The Eucharist is the climax of our prayer. It is the great prayer of Jesus to his Father. His supreme sacrifice. When he tells us ‘Do this in memory of me’ he doesn’t just mean consecrate the bread and wine, he means us to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters just as he has done. That is, we must love them as he has loved them. Then we can come and offer our gift at the altar. We gather all our prayers and needs into the eucharist. We come into the presence of the God who loves us, we confess our sins and ask pardon we praise him and hear his word. We express all our needs and prayers, we offer our gifts, fruits of the earth and work of our hands. We enter into the great prayer of Jesus. We are united with him as he offers himself to the Father. Jesus to whom we have listened, to whom we have prayed, now becomes truly alive, flesh, blood, soul and divinity and gives himself to us. He invites us to communion with him. The Mass is ended, we are sent out to love and serve the Lord. We serve him by serving our brothers and sisters. Our lives centre on the eucharist, the living Jesus, whom we carry with us throughout the day. The Eucharist becomes fruitful for us by the way we share it throughout the day.

The privilege and gift which prayer and eucharist are, demand that we share them with each other in a life of service.”

-- Eucharist and Contemplation an essay by Sr Teresa Whelan, ocd in Hidden Riches- The Eucharist in the Carmelite Tradition edited by Eltin Griffin, OCarm

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memorial of Bl John Soreth

John Soreth was born at Caen in Normandy and entered Carmel as a young man. He pursued a doctorate of theology in Paris and served as regent of studies and provincial of the province. He was prior general from 1451 until his death at Angers in 1471. He restored observance within the Order and promoted its reform, wrote a famous commentary on the Rule, issued new Constitutions in 1462, and promoted the growth of the nuns and the Third Order.

From the Exhortation on the Carmelite Rule by Bl John Soreth

"It is from Christ Himself, brother, that you will learn how to love Him. Learn to love Him tenderly, with all your heart; prudently, with all your soul; fervently, with all your strength. Love Him tenderly, so that you will not be seduced away from Him; prudently, so that you will not be open to deception; and fervently, so that downheartedness will not draw you away from God's love. May the wisdom of Christ seem sweet to you, so that you are not led away by the glory of the world and the pleasures of the flesh. May Christ, Who is the Truth, enlighten you, so that you do not fall prey to the spirit of error and falsehood. May Christ, Who is the Strength of God, fortify you when hardships wear you out.

St. Basil says that we are bound to our benefactors by bonds of affection and duty. But what greater gift or favor could we receive than God Himself? For, He continues, I experience the ineffable love of God--a love more easily felt than described. Since God has planted the seeds of goodness in us, we can be certain that He is awaiting their fruits.

So let the love of Christ kindle your enthusiasm; let His knowledge be your teacher, and His constancy your strength. May your enthusiasm be fervent, balanced in judgement and invincible, and neither lukewarm nor lack- ing in discretion. Love the Lord your God with all the affection of which your heart is capable; love Him with all the attentiveness and balance of judgement of your soul and reason; love Him with such strength that you will not be afraid to die for love of Him. May the Lord Jesus seem so sweet and tender to your affections that the sweet enticements of the world hold no attraction for you; may His sweetness conquer their sweetness.

May He also be the guiding light of your intellect and the ruler of your reason: then you will not only avoid the deceptions of heresy and save your faith from their ambushes, but you will also avoid too great and indiscreet an enthusiasm in your behavior. God is Wisdom, and He wants to be loved not only fervently, but also wisely; otherwise the spirit of error will easily take advantage of your enthusiasm. If you neglect this advice, that cunning enemy thereby has a most effective means of taking the love of God from your heart by making you progress carelessly and without discretion. Therefore, may your love be strong and persevering, neither giving in to fears nor being worn out by labors.

Not to be led astray by allurements, that's what it means to love with all one's heart; not to be deceived by false arguments, that's the meaning of loving with all one's soul; not to let your spirit be broken by difficulties, that is to love with all one's strength.

The Rule goes on to say that you should love your neighbor as yourself. For he who loves God, loves his neighbor too; 'for he who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see?'"

Seek what is more perfect: be generous to God

" generous give [yourself] to God without any reservation. God has given us so much that the least return we can make to Him is to give Him ourselves, whole and entire. It is, moreover, in the proportion that we give ourselves to God that He communicates Himself to us. It is only by giving all that we can enter into intimate union with Jesus. ...listen neither to reason nor the fears that the understanding suggests, but only to faith; seek what is more perfect in everything; apply [yourself] to love God with all [your] soul; have no other will than that of God; and be ready to suffer everything for Him.

St John of the Cross is no less uncompromising, and it is with reason that he has been called the Doctor of Nothingness (nada). The character of totality in Carmelite spirituality shows itself especially in his teachings regarding the practice of renunciation. But this absolute self-denial is demanded by love and is practised for the sake of the union of love; it is love.

For fear that nature might become disheartened, he recommends that renunciation be practised with love, intelligence, and discretion. On these conditions, he says, one will find only delight and consolation in self-denial.

In brief, the Carmelite and anyone who wishes to live in the spirit of Carmel, disengages himself from created tings and renounces himself resolutely and completely. Then, when the powers of the soul are quiet, he tries in an habitual movement of meditative prayer to know and to contemplate God in the light of faith; to unite himself to God by love; to tend towards eternal possession of Him by hope. Round about himself, he has created a void; within himself, all is forgetfulness; he no longer knows anything, no longer desires to know anything save God alone, for He is all, and the rest is nothing."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by François Jamart, ocd

Monday, July 27, 2009

Memorial of Bl Titus Brandsma

Below are some excerpts from the writings of this Carmelite scholar, martyred by the Nazis.

"The imitation of Mary, the most elevated of all creatures, set as an example before us by God Himself, shows Mary as the pattern of all virtues. She is the mirror in which we should ever watch ourselves, the Mother whom her children ought to resemble ever more.


There is, however, yet another profounder idea in the devotion to Mary on Carmel. (...) I have called it the union with Mary. If we wish to conform ourselves to Mary in order to enjoy more fully the intercourse with God, by following her example, we should obviously be other Marys. We ought to let Mary live in us. Mary should not stand outside the Carmelite, but he should live a life so similar to Mary that he should live with, in, through, and for Mary.


The devotion to Mary is one of the most delightful flowers in Carmel's garden. I should like to call it a sunflower. This flower rises up high above the other flowers. Borne aloft on a tall stem, rich in green leaves, the flower is raised yet higher from among the green foliage.

It is characteristic of this flower to turn itself towards the sun and moreover it is an image of the sun. It is a simple flower; it can grow in all gardens and it is an ornament to all. It is tall and firm and has deep roots like a tree. In the same way, no devotion is firmer than that to Mary. The fresh foliage, the green leaves point to the abundance of virtues, with which devotion to Mary is surrounded. The flower itself represents the soul created after God's image in order to absorb the sunlight of God's bounty. Two suns shining into each other, one radiant with an unfathomable light, the other absorbing that light, basking in that light and glowing like another sun, but so enraptured by the beams of the Sun which shines on it, that it cannot turn itself away from Him, but can only live for Him and through Him. Such a flower was Mary. Like her, so may we, flowers from her seed, raise our flower-buds to the Sun, Who infused Himself into her, and will transmit to us also the beams of His light and warmth."

-- Carmelite Mysticism Historical Sketches by Bl Ttitus Brandsma, O Carm

Purify this world with merciful love

"Stay with us Jesus, make a gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life! Free this world from the poison of evil, violence and hatred that pollute consciences, purify it with the power of your merciful love". "And you, Mary, who were the woman 'of the Eucharist' throughout your life, help us to walk united towards the heavenly goal, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, the eternal Bread of life and medicine of divine immortality". Amen!

-- Pope Benedict XVI, Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 11 June 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Books by/about St Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi

For those of you interested, the following books are available in English.

The Complete Works of Saint Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi: Carmelite and Mystic
Volumes 1-4
Translated by Gabriel N. Pausback, OCarm
Published in 1969

The Spiritual Doctrine of Saint Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi: Carmelite and Mystic
Salvator Thor-Salviat, AA, STD
Translated by Gabriel N. Pausback, OCarm
Published in 1961

Seraph Among Angels - The Life of St Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi: Carmelite and Mystic
Sr Mary Minima, carmelite
Translated by Gabriel N Pausback, OCarm
Published in 1958

Portrait of a Seraph: A Pictorial Life of Sain Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi: Carmelite and Mystic
Illustrations by Mina Anselmi
Text by a carmelite nun
Translated by Gabriel N Pausback, OCarm
Published in 1965

Life and Works of St Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi
Compiled by Placido Fabrini
Translated from the Florentine edition of 1852 by Antonio Isoleri, Miss Ap
Published in 1900

There may be other books available. A good place to start searching would be Open Library. If anyone reading this blog knows of others, please let me know. There's much published in other languages, but my understanding is that availability is limited in English. Still, her complete works are theoretically still available. I'll see about posting from her works in the coming future.


Abandonment is the heart of sanctity

"The measure of our abandonment is the measure of our sanctity. Those who are most intimately united to God cannot pray for anything intensely or desire anything ardently except on the condition that it be the holy will of God in which is all their life. The live in it as fish in water.

Whatever their minds conceive or their hearts desire to pray for is always prefaced by: If it be Your will, Lord, because they know that nothing good is done outside of His will.

The difference between a good person and a saint is a simple but continuous 'yes' to Divine Love.

All our merit consists not in what we have done but in the part of our lives that we have surrendered to Christ to live in us. This abandonment of ourselves to Him so that His life is all we have through the will of God, is the heart of sanctity. Abandonment makes us the little children of the Gospel more than anything else. It is both the way up the mountain and the summit. All our prayer must aim at this: to remove the obstacles so that we allow God to act in us, through Christ living in us."

-- The Pathways of Prayer: Communion with God by Sr Immaculata, ocd

Thoughts on prayer

"Prayer is a way to arrive at perfection, because in prayer God teaches the soul and through prayer the soul detaches itself from created things and unites itself with God.

Give yourself to prayer because communing with God in prayer brings it about that the creature does not care for naught but God.

Thirst for holy prayer; be eager to make time to retire with God, because it takes a lot of effort to make work and prayer tantamount (in our lives).

Go to God with humility, with distrust of yourself and with great confidence in God, recognizing yourself as mean and abject and as nothingness itself.

In prayer, strive to be humble, fervent, resigned and persevering.

Think that God willingly hears the humble and pure of heart, and that He hears us in proportion to our faith.

Pray with great reverence, thinking that you are before the divine Majesty, before Whom the Virtues of heaven tremble.

Do not set your desire or fix your aim on spiritual tastes and sweetness; and do not pay much attention to extraordinary sweetnesses or consolations.

Often ask the Lord to make you understand how worthy a thing it is to suffer for love of Him.

Frequently pray for holy Mother Church and for the Supreme Shepherd (the pope)."

Thoughts of St Mary Magdalen dei' Pazzi

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Depend upon the star, call upon Mary

"Let us say a few words on this name, Stella Maris, which means star of the sea, and which is appropriately accorded to the Virgin Mother. Fittingly is she compared to the stars, since just as a star gives light without burning itself out, so the virgin gave birth to her son without stain to herself. As a star’s light does not lessen its own brightness, so neither does the Son lessen the Virgin’s wholeness. She is therefore that noble star rising from Jacob which casts light over the whole world; whose splendour sines to the heavens and reaches down into the deep; which crosses the earth, warming spirits rather than bodies; fostering goodness and purging sins.

And so I say that she is that bright and distinguished star to be raised above this vast ocean, sparkling with merit, shining with character. Whoever you may be, grasp that, as this age runs it’s course, you are tossed on the waves by gales and storms more than you walk upon dry land; do not turn your eyes from the beam of this star if you do not wish to be swamped by the storm! If the winds of temptation engulf you, if you are running onto the rocks of adversity, depend upon the star, call upon Mary. If you are thrown about on the waves of pride or ambition, speaking ill of others or jealousy, depend upon the star, call upon Mary. If anger or greed or the cares of the flesh batter your soul’s boat, depend upon Mary. If you are unsettled by the hideousness of your sins, troubled by a bad conscience, terrified by the horror of the final judgment; if you are beginning to be dragged down into the pit of sadness, into the abyss of despair, reflect upon Mary. In danger, in distress, in doubt, reflect upon Mary, call upon Mary. Let her not leave your lips, let her not leave your heart and do not abandon your dealings with her if you wish to gain the object of your prayer.

Following her, you will not stray; praying to her, you will not despair; reflecting upon her, you will not go wrong. With her taking your hand, you will not fall down; with her protecting you, you will not fear; with her leading you, you will not grow weary; with her favour, you will accomplish; and thus you will learn for yourself how truly it is said: And the Virgin’s name was Mary.

But now, having paused for a moment, let us all who are passing through this life gaze upon the brightness of such a light. For in the words of the Apostle, It is good for us to be here, and it is pleasing to contemplate in silence that which many words fail to explain."

-- In praise of the Virgin Mary by St Bernard of Clairvaux

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feast of the Blessed Martyrs of Guadalajara

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Three Blessed Martyrs of the Carmel of Guadalajara, Spain. The general story (albeit, greatly simplified and some minor errors in details) may be found here. Some generally unknown details (privilege of those of us in "the loop") include:

  1. There was a fourth sister martyred. Her name was Sr Inés (Agnes) of Jesus. She was elderly and very ill and was forced in one of the "death marches". She died somewhere along the road. Because there weren't many details about her death, the Guadalajara sisters could not include her in the cause for beatification. However, she is considered a martyr by the community.
  2. Sisters Maria Pilar and Maria Angeles were not as young as depicted on the banner above. Yes, the painting is accurate, but they were portrayed as much younger sisters.
  3. Sr Teresa, the youngest (on the left), has a brother that, as of two years ago, would still visit the sisters in the Guadalajara Carmel.
  4. Sr Maria Pilar's blood sister, Mother Maria Araceli of the Blessed Sacrament, was prioress at the time of martyrdom. Years later, she would go to her younger sisters' resting place in the monastery, and tap the reliquary containing the remains with her walking stick saying, "Pilar! Pilar, listen to me, you hear! I need..."
  5. The chapel of the monastery had been turned into a military garage during the war. The tank marks can still be seen on the chapel's floor to this day.
  6. Sr Maria Pilar, who was brutally stabbed, was taken to a local pharmacy for help. The table in which she was placed and eventually died in, is now in the monastery and venerated as a relic.
  7. After the sisters fled the monastery various people invaded the monastery. Sheeps were kept in the parlor; wood was burned (for heat) in the cells (rooms) and some smoke marks are still visible 70 yrs later.
Bl Martyrs of Guadalajara, pray for us!

Dispose yourself to receive the crown of victory

"Think of [Christ's] suffering and that of the saints, and cease complaining. You have not yet resisted to the shedding of blood. What you suffer is very little compared with the great things they suffered who were so strongly tempted, so severely troubled, so tried and tormented in many ways. Well may you remember, therefore, the very painful woes of others, that you may bear your own little ones the more easily. And if they do not seem so small to you, examine if perhaps your impatience is not the cause of their apparent greatness; and whether they are great or small, try to bear them all patiently. The better you dispose yourself to suffer, the more wisely you act and the greater is the reward promised you. Thus you will suffer more easily if your mind and habits are diligently trained to it.

Do not say: 'I cannot bear this from such a man, nor should I suffer things of this kind, for he has done me a great wrong. He has accused me of many things of which I never thought. However, from someone else I will gladly suffer as much as I think I should.'

Such a thought is foolish, for it does not consider the virtue of patience or the One Who will reward it, but rather weighs the person and the offense committed. The man who will suffer only as much as seems good to him, who will accept suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it, is not truly patient. For the truly patient man does not consider from whom the suffering comes, whether from a superior, an equal, or an inferior, whether from a good and holy person or from a perverse and unworthy one; but no matter how great an adversity befalls him, no matter how often it comes or from whom it comes, he accepts it gratefully from the hand of God, and counts it a great gain. For with God nothing that is suffered for His sake, no matter how small, can pass without reward. Be prepared for the fight, then, if you wish to gain the victory. Without struggle you cannot obtain the crown of patience, and if you refuse to suffer you are refusing the crown. But if you desire to be crowned, fight bravely and bear up patiently. Without labor there is no rest, and without fighting, no victory."

-- Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Surrender everything to arrive at union with God

"Under the influence of these virtues [faith, hope and love] the soul lives a truly supernatural life. However, St John of the Cross assigns another role to these virtues in the practice of the contemplative life. By contemplation, the soul tends to union with God. Now there is no proportion between God and His creatures. It follows that no created thing can be a means of union with God; no natural activity of our intellectual powers can unite us to Him. Hence the soul, in order to arrive at union with God, must despoil and empty itself of all created things and must cease all its natural modes of activity in its search for God. It must detach itself from everything that comes to it through the senses, empty itself of all distinct or particular knowledge even though it be clearly supernatural, and establish itself in obscurity and in a complete freedom of these things. This purification of the faculties of the soul is accomplished through the exercise of the theological virtues.

Faith purifies the intellect. By adhering to faith, by replying upon it alone on its journey to God, the soul is purified and enlightened and takes hold of God, as it were. Faith, indeed, 'is the only proximate and proportionate means for union of the soul with God.' 'The Son of God,' says St John of the Cross, 'communicates Himself to the soul only through faith. Between faith and God the resemblance is so great that there is no other difference than that which exists between seeing God and believing in God.' It is therefore 'in the obscurity of faith that God is found hidden, and it is with the aid of darkness that the mind is united with God.' Further, 'the more faith a soul has, the more it is united to God.'

Just as faith purifies the understanding, so hope empties the memory of the remembrance of earthly things to turn the soul towards the things that we hope for. 'To arrive at the union of love,' says St John of the Cross, 'the soul must despoil itself of everything and walk without any other support than hope in God alone.' 'God, indeed, so greatly values the hope of a soul which is always turned towards Him without ever lowering its gaze on anything else, that we can say in truth: it obtains all it hopes for.'

Finally, charity must free the will of all affection or attraction for created things so that it loves God alone. This love of God, St John of the Cross insists, must be absolute and continuous. The soul that desires God to give Himself wholly to it must give itself wholly and unreservedly to Him. It must be content with Him alone and surrender everything to Him. Consequently the soul must keep itself from loving anything as much as it loves God, because to put into the balance with God what is infinitely below Him is really to belittle Him. It must even avoid seeking itself in God. It must live for Him in complete detachment."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by François Jamart, ocd

Feast of Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace (Mater Gratiae)

Remember, O most amiable Virgin Mary, the ineffable power which the Holy Trinity conferred on thee when constituting thee the Mother of Grace. Animated with entire confidence in they all-powerful mediation, I place into thy blessed hands the needs, the intentions, and the persons of all who are dear to me and for whom I am bound to pray. I pray especially for the acknowledgment of the rights of her august head, for priests, for the conversion of sinners, the relief of the holy souls in purgatory, and particularly for (name your intention here).

Hail Mary...

Mother of love, of sorrow, and of mercy, pray for us.


Lord, Jesus, the hour is come; glorify Thy Mother that Thy Mother may glorify Thee. Manifest to all her power and efficacious mediation, and grant us the favors we implore through her intercession. Hear us for Thy Mother's sake, hear us for love of Thy Mother, we beseech Thee, Lord Jesus! Show Thyself her Son and procure her triumph which we desire in view of Thine Own. That Thy Kingdom may come, may we have the Kingdom of Mary, Mother of Grace. Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Realize that your soul is the temple of God

"Separated from everything, I am asking the Holy Spirit to show you this presence of God within you that I spoke to you about. I have looked over some books for you that discuss this, but I would rather see you again before I give them to you. You can believe my doctrine, for it is not mine; if you read the Gospel of John, you will see over and over again that the Master insists on this commandment: ' Remain in me, and I in you.' and also that beautiful thought at the beginning of my letter, in which He speaks of making His home in us. Saint John, in his epistles, wants us to have 'fellowship' with the Holy Trinity; that word is so sweet, and it is so simple. It is enough - Saint Paul said this - it is enough to believe: God is spirit, and we approach Him through faith. Realize that your soul is the temple of God, it is again Saint Paul who says this; at every moment of the day and night the three Divine Persons are living within you. You do not possess the Sacred Humanity as you do when you receive Communion; but the Divinity, that essence the blessed adore in Heaven, is in your soul; there is a wholly adorable intimacy when you realize that; you are never alone again! If you'd prefer to think that God is close to you rather than within you, follow your attraction, as long as you live with Him."

-- Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity, ocd

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Discover the presence of God - have a prayer life

Vacare Deo translates literally as vacating for God. It is a significant part of the process of transformation for it disposes the individual to putting into practice what God wants in any situation. It entails being able to see reality with the eyes of God and so being enabled to see reality with the eyes of God and so being enabled to act with integrity in any situation. Oftentimes, the reason why we cannot see as God sees is because our hearts have fallen in love with what is not wholesome. Puritas cordis or purity of heart is both a fruit and source of the process of transformation and allows us to discard whatever is not useful for the journey of life.

It is becoming clearer, then, that contemplation is about being immersed in reality in order to discover the presence of God who is already in every person and situation. Hopefully you are agreeing with me in believing that this understanding of contemplation is both attractive and accessible to us all. We now must briefly explore the obstacles to the flourishing of this attractive interpretation.


We are all busy people. Every day there are a thousand and one duties to be performed and time is precious. It can quite easily happen that amidst a very busy schedule, what goes to the wall is my prayer time. It must be clear from all that we have said thus far that if personal prayer goes to the wall, even for the best of reasons, the journey of transformation which is itself contemplation will suffer significantly. I cannot be a contemplative if I am not a person of regular intimacy with the Lord. In order to keep personal prayer alive in my life, I may need to re-establish my priorities. Not always either easy or pleasant, this insistence on a good prayer life is a non-negotiable.”

n Eucharist and Contemplation an essay by Brian McKay, OCarm in Hidden Riches- The Eucharist in the Carmelite Tradition edited by Eltin Griffin, OCarm

Monday, July 20, 2009

Feast of St Elijah

"Believers today as in the past can learn from the prophet of Carmel. Chosen by God to be his emissary, Elijah with a display of remarkable courage and zeal showed himself to be a true servant of the Lord. Time and again he proclaimed the lordship of the God of Israel by opposing idolatry and injustice of the formidable King Ahab. To the embarrassment of the royal family he exposed the prophets of Baal as frauds. Although his intervention did not succeed in exterminating the cult of Baal in his own time, nevertheless, he did help to sustain the cult of the one true God in Israel. Elijah, the man of God, the zealous servant, has left his mark on salvation history. He is venerated even today by Christians, Jews and Moslems.

If Elijah has left his mark on salvation history, he has also left it on the Carmelite Order. From its origin on Mount Carmel at the dawn of the thirteenth century the Order of Carmel has venerated Elijah as its leader and model. The prophet of Carmel belongs to the roots of the Order. So much so, that if in the future Carmel were to forget its relationship to Elijah, it would soon pass out of existence. For any society, and this is true of a religious society, once separated from its roots slowly fragments. A society without roots is like a flower pulled loose from its bed that blossoms for a while and then withers and dies. Carmel, then, must never be separated from its spiritual father."

-- Elijah, the spiritual father of Carmel by Fr Kilian Healy, OCarm

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Listen with your heart

"The world of the spirit is not bound by the laws of time and space anymore than it is bound by the law of gravity. The saints were like time travelers who, through the vehicle of God's grace, moved through time into eternity and returned to chart spiritual directions for those who were to journey after them. Like our earthly travels, no two trips are alike. The road is the same, and the landmarks are the same, but the experiences along the way are different for each soul.

It is reassuring to know that we have the teachings and traditions of the Church, and the ancient heritage of Carmel, to keep us on the right path, for God often draws us to Himself in 'a cloud of unknowing,' and asks us to take the first steps to Him in faith. Many souls are searching for a deeper spirituality, but are not clear in their minds how God is leading them. It is a lifetime journey, and He reveals His plans one step at a time. If we learn to 'listen with our hearts' we gradually come to know God's will for us. In silent, expectant waiting, we try to learn God's plan, not convince Him of ours. 'Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet like a child in a mother's arms.' (Ps 131:2) 'I sleep but my heart watches.' (Sg 5:2)"

-- Welcome to Carmel edited by Fr Michael D Griffin, ocd

If you haven't done so yet, read and learn about the saints and blesseds that the Church presents to us as models of sanctity. Though their lives may have been very different from yours, their goal was the same as yours: attaining union with God. Choose one, two , three, or however many you feel drawn to, and learn from their experiences and love for God and souls. Seek their intercession and your life will surely change.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Carmelite apostolate - prayer and penance for souls

"The Carmelite apostolate is based on a fervent inner life that makes the soul powerful over the Heart of God. This power comes from the total gift of self, made as perfect as possible by means of the evangelical counsels. Carmelites are entirely devoted to Our Lord, sparing nothing in order to give to Him.

The first thing needed to move the Heart of God and help save souls is to become intimate with Him. This friendship makes one's prayer and penance powerful, and prayer and penance are the interior tools of the apostolate. 'As my whole yearning was, and still is, that, as He has so many enemies and so few friends, these last should be trusty ones, I determined to do the little that was in me - namely, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could, and to see that these few nuns who are here should do the same, confiding in the great goodness of God, Who never fails to help those who resolve to forsake everything for His sake. As they are all that I have ever painted them as being in my desires, I hoped that their virtues would more than counteract my defects, and I should thus be able to give the lord some pleasure.' Pleasing Our Lord one becomes dear to His Heart; then prayer will really have power. '...And all of us, by busying ourselves in prayer for the champions of the Church, and for the preachers and theologians who defend her, should do everything we could to aid this Lord of mine Who is attacked with so much cruelty by those to whom He has shown so much good.'

So the tools of the Carmelite apostolate - prayer and penance - get their power from the soul's love for God."

-- The Way of Prayer by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, ocd

Friday, July 17, 2009

Prayer for the Holy Father

O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers
with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in union with him.

whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind
and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power.


Feast of the Blessed Martyrs of Compiègne

"In September, 1792, Mother Teresa of St Augustine, prioress of the Carmelites of Compiègne, proposed to her religious that they make an act of consecration by which the community would offer itself as a holocaust to God, 'so that peace may be restored to the church and the state.' Each day, until their deaths, they renewed this offering of their lives.

The sisters had to leave their monastery on September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. They found refuge with some friendly families near their parish church of Saint-Antoine. For a period of time they assembled there for Mass celebrated by Abbé Courouble, the chaplain of the community. In 1794, denounced by the postmaster, all the sisters were arrested and locked up in the convent of the Visitation, which had been transformed into a prison. Transferred to Paris on July 12, they were summarily judged on the morning of July 17, and condemned for their 'fanaticism and their foolish religious practices.' The same night they were taken by cart to the gate of Vincennes (Place de la Nation) to be executed."

-- The Mantle of Elijah: The Martyrs of Compiègne as Prophets of the Modern Age by Terrye Newkirk, ocds

Their names are:

  1. Madeleine-Claudine Ledoine (Mother Teresa of St Augustine), prioress, b. 22 September 1752, professed 16 or 17 May, 1775;
  2. Marie-Anne Brideau (Mother St Louis), sub-prioress, b. 7 December 1752, professed 3 September 1771;
  3. Marie-Anne Piedcourt (Sister of Jesus Crucified), choir-nun, b. 1715, professed 1737; on mounting the scaffold she said "I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me";
  4. Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection), sacristan, b. 16 September 1715, professed 19 August 1740;
  5. Marie-Antoniette (Sister Teresa of the Holy Heart of Mary), b. in 1740 or 1742, professed in 1764;
  6. Marie-Françoise Gabrielle de Croissy (Mother Henriette of Jesus), b. 18 June 1745, professed 22 February 1764;
  7. Marie-Gabrielle Trézel (Sister Teresa of St Ignatius), choir-nun, b. 4 April, 1743 professed 12 December 1771;
  8. Rose-Chrétien de la Neuville, widow, choir-nun (Sister Julia Louisa of Jesus), b. in 1741, professed probably in 1777;
  9. Anne Petras (Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence), choir-nun, b. 17 June 1760, professed 22 October 1786.
  10. Sister Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception b. in 1736 professed in 1757;
  11. Marie-Geneviève Meunier (Sister Constance), novice, b. 28 May 1765 (or 1766), received the habit 16 December 1788. She mounted the scaffold singing "Laudate Dominum".
  12. Angélique Roussel (Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost), lay sister, b. 4 August 1742, professed 14 May 1769;
  13. Marie Dufour (Sister St Martha), lay sister, b. 1 or 2 October, 1742, entered the community in 1772;
  14. Julie or Juliette Vérolot (Sister St Francis Xavier), lay sister, b. 11 January 1764, professed 12 January 1789.
Two Extern Sisters also gave their lives for the faith.
  1. Marie-Anne-Catherine Soiron, 52 yrs old at time of martyrdom
  2. Thérèse Soiron, 46 yrs old at time of martyrdom
Only 3 members of the community survived. They were absent when the others were arrested.

-- To Quell the Terror: The True Story of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne by William Bush

Bl Martyrs of Compiègne, pray for us!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Feast Day!

To all in the Discalced and Ancient Observance Carmelite family, have a wonderful happy feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! In this most special day in Carmel, please remember the souls in purgatory who wore the scapular and were part of the Carmelite family. May Our Lady bring them all to Heaven on this day.
Your sister in Carmel

Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

"It is my duty, I feel, to recommend to everyone this outstandingly effective means of leading a devout life in Christ: heartfelt devotion, filial love and the tenderest affection toward Mary, the most lovable of mothers. We hail her—do we not?—as Mother of Grace and Mother of Mercy. But both grace and mercy are indispensable if we wish to live devoutly; and who has a better claim to receive our appeals for grace and mercy than the Mother of Grace and Mother of Mercy? For this reason I say with Hebrews: Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy, and receive the timely help of grace.

But if we are to go with confidence to this throne, this Mother of Grace, we must first be worthy of her love. We proudly proclaim ourselves her slaves, her sons and daughters and her brothers and sisters: let us make sure that our lives substantiate this claim by being in conformity with what we profess. We must try to resemble as closely as possible our most holy Lady, our lovable mother, and our gracious sister, by imitating her perfections and making her excellence our own. If indeed you love her as a mother, imitate her humility, her chastity, her poverty and her obedience; imitate her love of God, her love of neighbor, and all her other virtues.

How can you show her adequate love and honor? Each day, after offering yourself and all you have to the most holy Trinity according to Christ’s intentions and in union with his merits, make a practice of offering yourself especially, and all you have, to this your most lovable mother; and as you do all you have to do in the word of the Lord, do it also in the word—in the name—of Mary.

Commit yourself to her completely. Have recourse to her as the best of teachers; consult her as the most prudent of virgins; in a word, conduct yourself as befits a good child, and you will learn by experience that she is the mother of fair love and holy hope, in whom you may expect to receive every grace of life and truth, and in whom every hope of life and virtue will shine before you; nor will she ever cease to obtain for you the graces you need to persevere in true devotion. Indeed you will find her a well of living water. At the hour of your death she will not refuse to say she is your sister, indeed your mother, so that then more than ever it may be well with you, and your soul may live by virtue of her grace. If you lead a devout life in her honor and service you will surely deserve to breathe your last confidently, peacefully and devoutly in her love, and be joyfully borne to the haven of salvation in her maternal arms; for to those who love Mary it will go well at the last."

-- Mystical Instructions by Fr Michael of Saint Augustine, ocd

Our Lady of Mt Carmel and the Carmelite Scapular

The following is an excerpt of the letter His Holiness John Paul II address to the OCarm and OCD families in March 2001.


Generations of Carmelites, from the beginnings up to today, in their journey towards the "holy mountain, Jesus Christ Our Lord" (Roman Missal, Collect for the Mass in honour of the BVM of Mt. Carmel, 16 July), have sought to model their lives after the example of Mary. For this reason, contemplation of the Blessed Virgin flourishes in Carmel and in every soul moved by a tender affection towards Her who is our most holy Mother.

[A] contemplative attitude of mind and heart brings us to admire the Blessed Virgin’s faith and love, by which She already possesses what every faithful Christian desires and hopes to be within the mystery of Christ and the Church (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 103; Lumen gentium, 53). For this reason, Carmelites justly have chosen Mary as their Patroness and spiritual Mother and keep her always in mind, She who is the Most Pure Virgin and who leads all to the perfect knowledge and imitation of Christ.

In this way a spiritual intimacy develops in which the communion with Christ and with Mary is always growing. For the members of the Carmelite Family, Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and Mother of all people, is not only a model to imitate, but is also present as Mother and Sister in whom one can confide. Rightly St. Teresa of Jesus wrote, "Imitate Mary and consider how great she must be and what a good thing it is that we have her for our Patroness" (Interior Castle, III, 1, 3).

This intense Marian life, which is expressed in trusting prayer, in enthusiastic praise and in diligent imitation, leads us to understand that the most genuine form of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the Scapular, is the consecration to her Immaculate Heart (cf. Letter of Pope Pius XII, Neminem profecto latet [11 February 1950: AAS 42, 1950, pp. 390-391]; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 67). Therefore in each one’s heart a communion and familiarity with the Holy Virgin grows, "as a new way of living for God and continuing here on earth the love which Jesus had towards his mother Mary" (cf. Sermon at the Angelus, in Insegnamenti XI/3, 1988, p.173). In this way, according to the expression of the Blessed martyr Titus Brandsma, we are profoundly united with Mary, the Theotokos, becoming like her, bearers of the divine life: "The Lord sends an angel also to us…… we also must receive God in our hearts, carry him in our hearts, nourish him and let him grow within us so that he is born from us and lives with us as Emmanuel, God-with-us (From the talk of Bl. Titus Brandsma to the Mariological Congress of Tongerloo, August 1936).

This rich Marian heritage which Carmel possesses has become over time a treasure for the whole Church, through the spread of the devotion of the Brown Scapular. By means of its simplicity, its relatedness to ordinary human life and its connection with the role of Mary in the Church and the whole of humanity, this devotion has been profoundly and whole heartedly received by the people of God, so much so as to be remembered in the memorial of 16th July, which is in the liturgical calendar of the Universal Church.

The Scapular represents a synthesis of Marian spirituality. It nourishes the devotion of believers, making them sensitive to the loving presence of the Virgin Mother in their lives. The Scapular is essentially a "habit". Those who receive it are aggregated or associated in varying degrees with the Order of Carmel, which is dedicated to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church (cf. Formula for the imposition of the Scapular, in the "Rite of Blessing and imposition of the Scapular", approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 5/1/1996). Those who put on the Scapular are introduced into the land of Carmel so that they might "eat its abundant fruit" (cf. Jer. 2,7), and experience the tender and maternal presence of Mary, as they commit themselves daily to put on Christ and to make his presence manifest in their lives for the good of the Church and of the whole of humanity (cf. Formula for the imposition of the Scapular, cit).

There are two truths which the sign of the Scapular brings out: on the one hand, there is the continuous protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only along the pathways of this life, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other hand, there is the awareness that devotion towards Our Lady cannot be limited to the occasional prayer in her honour, but must become a "habit", that is a permanent way of Christian living, made up of prayer and the interior life, frequent recourse to the Sacraments and the concrete exercise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of "covenant" and of reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful. It expresses in a concrete way the gift, which Jesus, while hanging on the cross, made of his Mother to John, and through him to us. It also gives expression to Jesus’ commitment of the beloved disciple and us to Her, who thus became our spiritual Mother.

The witness of holiness and wisdom of so many Saints of Carmel, who all grew up under the shade and the care of their Mother, is a splendid example of this Marian spirituality, which forms us and configures us to Christ, who is the first born among many brothers and sisters. For a very long time I too have worn the Carmelite Scapular! Because of the love which I have for our heavenly Mother, whose protection I experience constantly, I wish that this Marian year be an aid to all the religious in Carmel and the faithful who venerate her, to grow in their love of Her and to radiate in the world the presence of this Woman of silence and of prayer, who is invoked as the Mother of mercy, the Mother of hope and of grace.

With these wishes, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to all the friars, nuns, sisters and lay people of the Carmelite Family, who work so hard to spread among the people of God true devotion to Mary, Star of the Sea and Flower of Carmel!

© L'Osservatore Romano
Editorial and Management Offices
Via del Pellegrino
00120 Vatican City

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"[O]n the festival of the Assumption of Our Lady, I was in a monastery of the Order of the glorious Saint Dominic, thinking of the many sins which in times past I had confessed in that house and of other things concerning my wicked life, when there came upon me a rapture so vehement that it nearly drew me forth out of myself altogether. I sat down and I remember even now that I could neither see the Elevation nor hear Mass being said, and later this caused me a certain amount of scruple. While in this state, I thought I saw myself being clothed in a garment of great whiteness and brightness. At first I could not see who was clothing me, but later I saw Our Lady on my right hand and my father Saint Joseph on my left, and it was they who were putting that garment upon me. I was given to understand that I was now cleansed of my sins. When the clothing was ended, and I was experiencing the greatest joy and bliss, I thought that Our Lady suddenly took me by the hands and told me that I was giving her great pleasure by serving the glorious Saint Joseph and that I might be sure that all I was trying to do about the convent would be accomplished and that both the Lord and they two would be greatly served in it. I was not to fear that there would be any failure whatever about this, although the nature of the obedience which it would have to render might not be to my liking. They would keep us safe and her Son had already promised to go with us: as a sign that that was true, she said, she would give me this jewel.

Then she seemed to throw round my neck a very beautiful gold collar, to which was fastened a most valuable cross. The gold and stones were so different from earthly things of the kind that no comparison between them is possible: their beauty is quite unlike anything that we can imagine and the understanding cannot soar high enough to comprehend the nature of the garment or to imagine the brightness of the vision which it was the Lord's will to send me, and by comparison with which everything on earth looks, as one might say, like a smudge of soot.

The beauty which I saw in Our Lady was wonderful, though I could discern in her no particularly beautiful detail of form: it was her face as a whole that was so lovely and the whiteness and the amazing splendour of her vestments, though the light was not dazzling, but quite soft. The glorious Saint Joseph I did not see so clearly, though I could see plainly that he was there, as in the visions to which I have already referred and in which nothing is seen. Our Lady looked to me quite like a child. When they had been with me for a short time and caused me the greatest bliss and happiness -- more, I believe, than I had ever before experienced, so that I wished I need never lose it -- I seemed to see them ascending to Heaven with a great multitude of angels.

I remained quite alone, but so greatly comforted and exalted and recollected in prayer, and so full of tender devotion, that I stayed for some time where I was, without moving, and unable to speak, quite beside myself. I was left with a vehement impulse to melt away in love for God, and with other feelings of a like kind, for everything happened in such a way that I could never doubt that this was of God, however hard I tried. It left me greatly comforted and full of peace."

-- Life: The Autobiography of St Teresa of Avila by St Teresa of Jesus of Avila

Faith and reason

"Although we can come to know God through the exercise of our reason, it is above all by faith that we can enter into contact with Him. It is faith alone which reveals to us the mystery of the Trinity of persons in the one divine Nature and discloses to us the mysteries of Christ. It is faith which teaches us that we are the children of God, born of Him by grace, and that we must try to reproduce the divine life within ourselves, if we wish to share in the happiness of God in Heaven.

Hence, the Carmelite ideal asks the soul to keep itself habitually in the presence of God with its gaze fixed upon Him, to live in Him, who is present everywhere, but present especially in Heaven and in the soul. Again, the soul keeps itself united with Christ who lives in it, by making efforts to live as He lived, to remain as He does in sinu Patris (in the bosom of the Father). Living according to the Carmelite ideal, the soul judges everything in the light of faith, although it does not neglect to reason on that account. St John of the Cross himself invites us to to take counsel from reason in order to fulfill what it dictates to us regarding the way to God. But faith must rise above reason and change reason's natural mode of being to take on a divine form."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He is my unending wealth, my bliss, my heaven

"Jesus alone is beautiful; he is my only joy. I call for him, I cry after him, I search for him within my heart. I long for Jesus to grind me interiorly so that I may become a pure host where he can find his rest. I want to be athirst with love so that other souls may possess this love. I would die to creatures and to myself, so that he may live in me.

Is there anything good, beautiful or true that we can think of that would not be in Jesus? Wisdom, from which nothing would be secret. Power, for which nothing would be impossible. Justice, which made him take on flesh in order to make satisfaction for sin. Providence, which always watches over and sustains us. Mercy, which never ceases to pardon. Goodness, which forgets the offenses of his creatures. Love, which unites all the tendernesses of a mother, of a brother, of a spouse, and which, drawing him out of the abyss of his greatness, binds him closely to his creatures. Beauty which enraptures... what can you think of that would not be found in this Man-God?

Are you perhaps afraid that the abyss of the greatness of God and that of your nothingness cannot be united? There is love in him. His passionate love made him take flesh in order that by seeing a Man-God, we would not be afraid to draw near him. This passionate love made him become bread in order to assimilate our nothingness and make it disappear into his infinite being. This passionate love made him give his life by dying on the cross. Are you perhaps afraid to draw near him? Look at him, surrounded by little children. He caresses them, he presses them to his heart. Look at him in the midst of his faithful flock, bearing the faithless lamb on his shoulders. Look at him at the tomb of Lazarus. And listen to what he says of the Magdalene: Much has been forgiven her, because she has loved much. What do you discover in these flashes from the Gospel except a heart that is good, gentle, tender, compassionate; in other words, the heart of a God?

He is my unending wealth, my bliss, my heaven."

-- St Teresa of the Andes

Monday, July 13, 2009

Feast day of Saint Teresa of the Andes

"Let us love the Divine Little Child who suffers so much
without finding consolation in His creatures.
May He find refuge in our souls, a haven where He can heal in the
midst of the hatred of His enemies and a garden of delights where
He can forget the forgetfulness of His friends."
-- St Teresa of the Andes

"Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes was born in Santiago, Chile, on July 12, 1920. Her secular name was Juanita Fernández Solar. Her father was Miguel Fernández and her mother was Lucía Solar de Fernández. She was baptized at the parish Church of Saint Ann in Santiago on the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is Chile's titular feast. At baptism the little girl was named Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The Fernández family was a religious family. The young girl was surrounded by evidence of Christian virtues. From the time she was six, her mother and aunt Juana took her to daily Mass. Juanita loved to assist at Mass and was most eager to receive the Eucharist. She made her first Holy Communion at ten. She noted in her Diary: 'It was on that day that I heard the sweet voice of my Jesus for the first time' (D6).

Her parents enrolled their gifted daughter in schools conducted by the Religious of the Sacred Heart so that she would be given a sound academic education, where her character would be formed according to the ideals of the Christian faith and where she would grow in holiness.

When she was eighteen, Juanita entered the Carmel of Los Andes, Chile, and was given the name Sister Teresa of Jesus in honor of the great Carmelite saint of Avila. Overcome with humility by the grace of being called to the religious life, she wrote to a friend, 'What has God seen in us, that He loves us to the point of wanting us to be His friends and brides of His Heart' (L51).

Sister Teresa lived in the Monastery of Los Andes for eleven months, wore the habit of Carmel less than five and then was stricken with typhus. In danger of death, she was permitted to make her religious vows and thus died as a professed Carmelite Sister.

Immediately after her death in 1920, extraordinary things began to happen. People from all walks of life were moved by God to see in this young Chilean girl a model of perfect holiness. Many also found her to be a wonderful friend and intercessor before God. The fame of her holiness grew. As a result, she was beatified on April 3, 1987, in Santiago and solemnly canonized in Rome by the same Pope on March 21, 1993. On that occasion, Pope John Paul II called her 'an eminently contemplative soul' and proposed her as a model for youth. A short time later, the bishops of Chile declared her the patroness of children, especially homeless children or children in juvenile prisons." -- Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes translated by Fr Michael D Griffin, ocd

St Teresa of the Andes, pray for us!

Learn more about St Teresa of the Andes, visit the Shrine's website (Spanish only).