Saturday, July 31, 2010
-- Biography from Catholic Online
"I ask and implore you, by the love and reverence you have for God our Lord, to make every devout effort to honor, support and serve His only-begotten Son, Christ our Lord, in so great a work as the Blessed Sacrament, in which His Divine Majesty is present both in His divinity and His humanity, so wonderfully and so entirely, so powerfully and so infinitely, as He is present in heaven. . . I am firmly persuaded and I believe that by so acting you will make considerable spiritual progress."
-- Monumenta Ignatiana: Epistolae et Instructiones by St Ignatius of Loyola
Friday, July 30, 2010
"This eternal beauty, ever supremely loving, is so intent on winning man's friendship that for this very purpose he has written a book in which he describes his own excellence and his desire for man's friendship. This book reads like a letter written by a lover to win the affections of his loved one, for in it he expresses such ardent desires for the heart of man, such tender longings for man's friendship, such loving invitations and promises, that you would say he could not possibly be the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth and at the same time need the friendship of man to be happy.
In his pursuit of man, he hastens along the highways, or scales the loftiest mountain peaks, or waits at the city gates, or goes into the public squares and among the gatherings of people, proclaiming at the top of his voice, "You children of men, it is you I have been calling so persistently; it is you I am addressing; it is you I desire and seek; it is you I am claiming. Listen, draw close to me, for I want to make you happy" (Prov. 8:4). And the better to attract men, Wisdom says to them, "It is through me and through my grace that kings reign, princes rule, monarchs and sovereigns bear the sceptre and crown, I inspire legislators with the ability to enact just laws for the good of their people. I give magistrates the courage to administer justice fairly and fearlessly."
"I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently find me," and in finding me they will find good things in abundance. "For riches, glory, honours, dignities, real pleasure and true virtue are found in me; and it is far better for a man to possess me than to possess all the gold and silver, all the precious stones, and all the wealth of the whole universe. Those who come to me, I will lead along the paths of justice and prudence. I will enrich them with the inheritance due to rightful children and fulfil their greatest desires (cf. Prov. 8:15-21). Rest assured, it is my greatest pleasure and purest delight to converse and to abide with the children of men" (cf. Prov. 8:31).
"And now, my children, listen to me. Happy are those who keep my ways. Hear my instructions, be wise and do not ignore them. Happy is the man who listens to me, watching at my gates every day, waiting beside my door. He who finds me finds life and obtains salvation from the Lord, but he who sins against me, wounds his own soul. All who hate me love death" (Prov. 8:32-36).
Even though eternal Wisdom has spoken so kindly and so reassuringly to win the friendship of men, he still fears that they, filled with awe at his glorious state and sovereign majesty, will not dare approach him. That is why he tells them that "he is easily accessible, is quickly recognised by those who love him and is found by those who seek him; that he hastens to meet those who desire him and that anyone who rises early to look for him will have no trouble, for he will find him sitting at his door, waiting for him" (Wisd. 6:13b- 15)."
-- Eternal Wisdom's letter of love by St Louis de Montfort
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
-- From the writings of St Pedro Poveda
** Today we celebrate his memorial. To learn more about this saint of the carmelite family, please visit this site.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Then the hearts of the disciples burned within them. God’s word had set them on fire. And when the Holy Spirit had descended on them to fan that divine fire into flame, then they were glad to suffer scorn and persecution, whereby they resembled him who had preceded them on the way of suffering.
The prophets had already marked his way of suffering; the disciples now understood that he had not avoided that way. From the crib to the cross, suffering, poverty and lack of appreciation were his lot. He had directed his whole life to teaching people how different is God’s view of suffering, poverty and lack of human appreciation from the foolish wisdom of the world. After sin, suffering had to follow so that, through the cross, man’s lost glory and life with God might be regained. Suffering is the way to heaven. In the cross is salvation, in the cross is victory. God willed it so. He himself assumed the obligation of suffering in view of the glory of redemption. Saint Paul makes it clear to us how all the disasters of this earthly life are insignificant, how they must be considered as nothing and passing, in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us when the time of suffering is past and we come to share in God’s glory.
Mary, who kept all God’s words in her heart, in the fullness of grace granted her, understood the great value of suffering. While the apostles fled, she went out to meet the Savior on the Way to Calvary and stood beneath the cross, in order to share his grief and shame to the end. And she carried him to the grave, firmly trusting that he would rise.
We object when he hands us the chalice of his suffering. It is so difficult for us to resign ourselves to suffering. To rejoice in it strikes us as heroic. What is the value of our offering of self if we unite ourselves each morning only in word and gesture, rather than in thought and will, to that offering which we, together with the Church, make of him with whom we are in the one body?
Jesus once wept over Jerusalem.
Oh, that this day you had known the gift of God!
Oh, that this day we might realize the value God has placed on the suffering he sends: He, the All-Good."
-- From the writings of Bl Titus Brandsma, OCarm
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
"Among the first of the valiant witnesses to be martyred for their faith in Christ during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) were three Carmelite nuns, popularly known as the Guadalajara Martyrs. Blessed Maria Pilar of Saint Francis Borgia, aged 58, Blessed Teresa of the Child Jesus, aged 27, and Sister Maria Angeles, aged 31, were prepared for their heroic deed by the life of prayer and penance they had led in the Carmelite monastery of Guadalajara. All three martyrs showed a great love for God, were careful and joyful in observing even the smallest details of their religious rule, and accepted with a loving spirit any sacrifices they had to make.
All three nuns felt called to Carmel at a young age. The oldest of the martyrs, Blessed Maria Pilar, entered the Guadalajara Carmel at the age of twenty. She became known in Carmel for her love of silence and of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Whom she would call “the Living One”, because she felt His living Presence so strongly.
Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus felt called at the age of thirteen, and entered the Carmel of Guadalajara when she was only sixteen, in spite of obstacles in her way. In Carmel, she worked hard to master her determined and impulsive nature through mortifying her will in such things as food, eating vegetables, which she disliked. Her many acts of charity and her remarkable generosity also helped in her pursuit of holiness. She took as her motto “Charity above all”, and after her hard work she would say that she was happy to be tired. She loved to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, and would say that she was “sunbathing” because of the divine rays she received.
Sister Maria Angeles, although she felt called to be a Carmelite almost her whole life, had to wait until she was twenty-four years old to enter the Guadalajara Carmel. She spent only seven years there before she was martyred, and during that time she showed such holiness that her Prioress afterwards described her as “a little angel”. She had an intense missionary spirit, and was forgetful of herself, seeking rather to help others.
When the Spanish Civil War broke out, all of the nuns in the Guadalajara Carmel were ready and willing to die for their faith. Sister Maria Angeles expressed a very deep desire to suffer and die for Christ, as did Sister Teresa. Sister Maria Pilar, just a day or two before her martyrdom, asked Our Lord that if He should desire a victim, He should allow her to be the one to be martyred, and spare the rest of her community.
On July 22, 1936, the anti-religious havoc that the war was causing in Guadalajara reached the point where the Carmelites had to put on modest secular clothes and leave their convent to hide with their friends in the city. On July 24, as Sister Maria Pilar, Sister Teresa, and Sister Maria Angeles were searching for a safer hideout, they were discovered by the militia and gunned down. Sister Maria Angeles was the first to die, and had no time to speak before she fell. Sister Maria Pilar was badly wounded, and suffered for a while before her death, saying during that time, “Forgive them, Lord, for they do not know what they are doing.” Sister Teresa was the last to die, and she did so crying out, “Long live Christ the King!” She had wanted to die with these words on her lips. Thus the three Carmelite nuns crowned the life of virtue they had led in Carmel with the ultimate act of faith, hope and love, by offering their lives for their Lord and their loved ones, reaching for life eternal in Heaven, and forgiving those who killed them."
-- Biography from the Carmel of St Joseph, Ontario
Friday, July 23, 2010
"Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
We salute you, for in your holy womb was confined him who is beyond all limitation. Because of you, the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.
What more is there to say? Because of you, the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the holy Trinity.
Who can put Mary’s high honor into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking his own servant to become his mother?
Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen."
-- From the homily preached at the Council of Ephesus by St Cyril of Alexandria
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"A Friend of the Cross is one chosen by God, from among thousands who live only according to their reason and senses, to be wholly divine, raised above mere reason and completely opposed to material things, living in the light of pure faith, and inspired by a deep love of the Cross.
A Friend of the Cross is an all-powerful king, a champion who triumphs over the devil, the world and the flesh in their three-fold concupiscence. He crushes the pride of Satan by his love of humiliations; he overcomes the greed of the world by his love of poverty; he retrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love of suffering.
A Friend of the Cross is one who is holy and set apart from the things that are visible, for his heart is raised above all that is transient and perishable, and his homeland is in heaven; he travels through this world like a visitor and a pilgrim, and, far from setting his heart on it, he looks on it with indifference and tramples it underfoot with contempt.
A Friend of the Cross is a glorious trophy gained by the crucified Christ on Calvary, in union with his holy Mother. He is a Benoni or Benjamin, a child of sorrow and of the right hand, conceived in the suffering heart of Jesus, born from his pierced side, and baptised in his blood. True to his origin, his life embraces the cross, and death to the world, the flesh, and sin, so as to live here below a life hidden with Christ in God.
In short, a perfect Friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ, so that he can truly say, 'I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.'"
-- Letter to the Friends of the Cross by St Louis de Montfort
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wherever we direct our mental gaze, there we may be said to stand. That is why Elijah said: The Lord lives, in whose sight I stand. He did indeed stand before God, for his heart was intent on God. That the Jews gazed at the pillar of cloud and stood at the doors of their tents in adoration has this meaning: when the human mind perceives these high and heavenly things—albeit in image— the elevation of its thought has already lifted it free from the limits of its bodily habitation, and although it is denied sight of the divine substance, it humbly adores him whose power it can already see by spiritual illumination.
This is why Elijah is described as standing at the mouth of his cave and veiling his face when he heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him; for as soon as the voice of heavenly understanding enters the mind through the grace of contemplation, the whole person is no longer within the cave, for the soul is no longer taken up with matters of the flesh: intent on leaving the bounds of mortality; one stands at the cave’s mouth. But if we stand at the mouth of the cave and hear the word of God with the heart’s ear, we must veil our face. For when heavenly grace leads us to the understanding of higher things, the rarer the heights to which we are raised, the more we should abase ourselves in our own estimation by humility: we must not try to know more than is fitting; we must know as it befits us to know. Otherwise, through over-familiarity with the invisible, we risk going astray, and we might perhaps look for material light in what is immaterial. For to cover the face while listening with the ear means hearing with our mind the voice of him who is within us, yet averting the eyes of the heart from every bodily appearance. If we do this there will be no risk of our spirit interpreting as something corporeal that which is everywhere in its entirety and everywhere uncircumscribed.
Beloved, we have already learned through our Redeemer’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven what the joys of eternity mean, and we know that our fellow-citizens, his angels, have appeared bearing witness to his divinity. Let us therefore long for our King, and for those fellow-citizens we have known. While our feet stand within the walls of his holy Church, let us keep our eyes turned toward the door; let us mentally turn our backs on the corruption of this temporal life, let us keep our hearts facing toward the freedom of our heavenly homeland. We are still encumbered, it is true, by the many cares of this corruptible life. If then we cannot leave the cave completely, let us at least stand at its mouth, and go out whenever we are granted the favor of doing so by the grace of our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen."
-- From a homily on Ezekiel by Saint Gregory the Great
Monday, July 19, 2010
Carmel is the natural retreat of the contemplative, and it is not unfitting that on its slopes should stand the Cloister of Carmel, the cradle of the Order. It stands above the turmoil of life, above the world's stormy sea; its solitude is beyond the reach of "life's fitful fever"; it is wrapped in the peace of God. Such a peace we naturally associate with Carmel, but it has other associations more stirring and more turbulent. The memory of the great spiritual warfare of Elias still clings to it. It was here he gathered together all Israel and flung reproach at their heads. "How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow Him." Here Israel heard his challenge in words of flame, as a burning torch. But here he was more than the Prophet of the sword, here he was also the first of a long line of those who would worship God in spirit and in truth. In his lifetime disciples gathered round him and learned from him the deep secrets of his prayer and communion with God. His double spirit passed to Eliseus, and from him to the school of Prophets, and so down through the ages, the life of Elias has been continued in these hermits who ever sought inspiration in their great exemplar."
-- Carmelite Mysticism: Historical Sketches by Bl Titus Brandsma, OCarm
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Then in the following century, at Avila in Spain, appeared the great organizer and mystic of Carmel, Saint Teresa of Jesus. After living as a nun for twenty years under the mitigated rule, she felt impelled to bring back to the Order all its primitive penance and prayer. When she hesitated, because of her sex and weakness, to attempt the restoration of the original rule of Carmel, Our Lord spoke to her: 'It is because men and theologians will not listen to Me that, despised by them, I come like a beggar to talk of what I want with humble women and to find rest in their company.'
How I admired the great Saint Teresa and her courageous confidence in God! Church dignitaries and ministers of state conspired against her. But once God's will became clear to her, there was no obstacle she could not overcome.
It was because Saint Teresa, with her irrepressible determination, succeeded in restoring the Primitive Rule of Carmel, the Rule followed throughout the world by all discalced (or shoeless) nuns, that I was thinking of Carmel. I discovered that monasteries of the Reform were established all over Europe. And, most exciting of all, I learned that in our own country the very first religious order of women to found a convent in what was then the United States was the Carmelite Order."
-- My Beloved: the Story of a Carmelite Nun by Mother Catherine Thomas, ocd
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"Among the victims of cruelty who shed their blood for the faith of Christ at Paris, towards the end of the eighteenth century, sixteen Carmelite nuns gave an admirable example of heroism. Their leader and Prioress was Teresa of St Augustine. At first they were driven from their monastery at Compiègne; then as the fury of hatred for the very name of Christian mounted around them, they were thrown into prison in June, 1794. Not long afterwards they were brought to Paris, their hands bound behind their backs, and exposed to the insults of soldiers and people, then imprisoned in a filthy jail. Without witnesses to testify for them, without legal counsel, in a disorderly court, they were sentenced to death for this one cause: that they remained faithful to their Religious Order. These brave women were filled with joy when they heard their sentence; because they were confident that this would bring them the crown of martyrdom. Walking with joyful faces, singing hymns alternately as though in choir, they went to the place of execution as though on a march of triumph. One after another, like fragrant roses, they were beheaded. Last of all, like the mother of the Macchabees, Teresa offered her head to the guillotine. The fame of this martyrdom spread far and wide within a short time and miracles soon enhanced its glory. These sixteen illustrious martyrs were added tot he list of the blessed by the Supreme Pontiff Pius X."
-- From the 1966 Discalced Carmelite Proper
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"July 13, 2000, was the centenary year of the birth of St. Teresa of the Andes (Juanita Fernández Solar). This centenary year fell within the great jubilee, which gives greater enhancement to the anniversary of the birth of the Chilean Carmelite. There have already been articles about Teresa of the Andes, so I limit myself by way of introduction to some following brief biographical notes for the benefit of those readers less familiar with Teresa of the Andes.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The presence of the supernatural life is so essential for every man that without it the soul, in a most important sense, must be considered dead. In its absence all corporal, mental, and even moral endowments are so many dead men's bones. Physical strength and beauty are good; genius and intellectual accomplishments are good; moral excellence, as far as it can go in the natural order, is good. Why not? God made them. They are His gifts. He gave them to us to serve and to be transfigured by the higher life of grace. That is the divine purpose. If they do not minister to that purpose, if they thwart it, they cease to be admirable. A beautiful corpse is a phrase full of shudders, and it describes exactly the gentle and refined excellence and charm of a world which thinks it can get along for itself without divine interferences.
That is why Christ and the world, the Church and the world, have always been at odds with each other. Each despises what the other values. The world worships mere natural excellence; the Church, like Christ, attaches no importance to mere natural excellence. The world and the Church exist on different planets, in different dimensions, using different modes of thought and speech. While the Church can understand the language of the world, the world finds the language and usages of the Church simply unintelligible. To the ordinary Catholic the Church, in her speech and in her aims, is as simple and as clear as Christ. If there is mystery about her as a halo, it is the mystery that was about Christ; and that was mystery which never confounded hearts fixed in rectitude. The modern unbeliever, though he belong to the cultivated class, regards the Church, if he adverts to her at all, as a sinister and inscrutable portent, analogous to the dark and hideous worship of ancient nations, and full of menace to the intellectual and moral progress of the race. The Church canonizes saints; the world canonizes poets, philosophers, soldiers, and statesmen. While the world ignores most of the saints, the Church attaches a minor value to the characteristic excellence of the poets, philosophers, soldiers, and statesmen. The world and the Church seldom agree; and when they do, it is for different reasons."
-- The Road to Peace by James J Daly, SJ
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The Carmelite Rule consists of twenty-four short paragraphs dealing with the basic structures of the settlement on Mount Carmel, with liturgical and personal prayer, and with regulations concerning fasting, silence, work and spiritual warfare (based on Eph 6:10-18). A remarkable feature of this Rule is the number of times that the legislator inserts moderating clauses that allow exceptions depending on circumstances. The prior is appointed “by common consent;” places are to be “suitable and convenient;” refectory reading is prescribed if it “can be done without difficulty;” there is constant prayer, “unless there is another duty;” goods are to be distributed “according to need;” daily Mass is enjoined if “there is no difficulty.” In the two paragraphs on fasting and abstinence there are eleven exclusions with the reminder, “necessity overrides every law.”
You are to fast every day except Sundays from the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross until Easter Sunday, unless illness or bodily weakness, or other just cause counsels a lifting of the fast, since necessity has no law. You are to abstain from meat, unless it is to be taken as a remedy for illness or bodily weakness. Since you must more frequently beg on journeys, in order not to burden your hosts you may eat food cooked with meat outside your own houses. At sea, however, meat may be eaten. (nn. 16, 17) But the main asceticism of the Carmelite Rule will be found in the chapter on spiritual armour, based largely on Eph 6:10-17.
Since human life on earth is a trial and all who want to live devotedly in Christ suffer persecution; your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. You must then with all diligence put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand up to the ambushes of the enemy.
Your loins are to be girded with the belt of chastity; your breast is to be protected by holy thoughts, for the Scripture says, holy thoughts will save you. Put on the breastplate of justice, so that you may love the Lord your God from your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength, and your neighbour as yourselves. In all things take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the darts of the evil one; without faith, indeed, it is impossible to please God. The helmet of salvation is to be placed on your head, so that you may hope for salvation from the one Saviour, who saves his people from their sins. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is to dwell abundantly in your mouths and hearts. So whatever you have to do, is to be done in the word of the Lord. (nn. 18, 19).
Other ascetical norms are about work and silence. The very last words of the Rule are “See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however, for common sense is the guide of the virtues” (utatur tamen discretione, que virtutum est moderatrix). The author is strictest not on fasting or other practices, but about work, serious and continual work: “earn you bread by silent work; this is the way of holiness and goodness; see that you follow it.” The broad and compassionate tone of the Rule has in a profound way left its mark on Carmel."
-- The meaning of Lent with some Carmelite insights by Christopher O'Donnell, OCarm
Friday, July 9, 2010
O God, you hear the petitions of all who call on you. You strengthened Blessed Joan Scopelli by the spirit of prayer and penance against the wiles of demons. Strengthen us also in that same spirit through her merits and her pleading for us. This we ask of you through out Lord."
-- From the 1966 Discalced Carmelite Proper
Thursday, July 8, 2010
"I am your protector and your bulwark. I hold you in my hands, little company," says our Eternal Father (cf. Gen. 15:1; Is. 49:16). "I have graven you on my heart and on the palms of my hands in order to cherish and defend you because you have put your trust in me and not in men, in my Providence and not in wealth. I will deliver you from the snares they set for you, from the calumnies they spread about you, from the terrors of the night and from the devil who roams at noonday to seduce you.
I will shelter you under my wings, I will carry you on my shoulders. I will provide your sustenance. I will arm you with my truth and you will find it such a powerful weapon that you will see with your very eyes your enemies falling by the thousands around you: a thousand wicked paupers on your left hand and ten thousand evil rich on your right. You yourselves have nothing to fear from my avenging power. It will not even come near you.
You will trample on the asp and on the basilisk with all its envy and calumny. You will crush underfoot the lion and the dragon of ungodliness with its proud fury. I will hear you when you pray and I will be at your side when you suffer. I will deliver you from all the evils that beset you. All the glory that I have will be yours and will be revealed to you after I have given you length of days and abundant blessings upon earth."
-- Letters to the Members of the Company of Mary by St Louis de Montfort
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"No sooner had I finished the Autobiography of Saint Thérèse than I searched out and read with my customary enthusiasm everything I could find about the religious order of Carmel.
The name of Carmel, I discovered, meant literally 'garden' or 'beautiful hill'; its mystical meaning - 'sacrifice' - was far more significant
I learned that Carmel was a small mountain, one of a chain of high hills that ran across Palestine, and that it was to Mount Carmel that the prophet Elias retired, to seek God in solitude, and to pray for his people. And this, nine hundred years before Christ was born. This same Elias was actually, according to the Carmelite tradition, the founder of the religious order to which Saint Thérèse of Lisieux belonged. I never dreamed it possible that a religious order in the Catholic Church could trace its origin to a date before the coming of Christ. The beautifully impressive statue of Saint Elias, the prophet, that stands in the Vatican alongside the saintly founders of other religious orders is inscribed Elias, Founder of the Order of Mount Carmel.
Carmel was called the Order of Mary, and the early members of the society were called the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel; they were charged with the 'blessed duty of honoring her, and spreading devotion to her.'"
-- My Beloved: the Story of a Carmelite Nun by Mother Catherine Thomas, ocd
** Painting behind the altar of the chapel at the Discalced Carmelite Nun's Monastery in Haifa, Israel. Haifa is in the slopes of Mount Carmel.