Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pentecost Sunday

“I was prepared with great care to receive the visit of the Holy Spirit, and I did not understand why greater attention was not paid to the reception of this sacrament of Love… Like the Apostles I awaited the Holy Spirit’s visit with great happiness in my soul… Finally the happy moment arrived, and I did not experience an impetuous wind at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s descent but rather this light breeze which the prophet Elias heard on Mount Horeb. On that day, I received the strength to suffer, for soon afterward the martyrdom of my soul was about to commence.”

-- Story of a Soul by St Thérèse of Lisieux

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Memorial of Bl Marie of the Incarnation (Madame Acarie)

"Barbara was born in Paris on Feb. 1, 1566, daughter of Nicholas Avrillot, lord of Champlâtreux, and Mary L'Huillier. Her prime glory is to have contributed more than all others to the introduction of the reform of St. Teresa of Jesus into France, so much so that she merits the title of «mother and foundress of the (Discalced) Carmel in France.» As a young girl she was entrusted to the care of the Little Sisters of the Humility of Our Lady at Longchamp. At the age of fourteen she was recalled to her family. Her parents blocked her aspirations to the religious state; at the age of sixteen she was obliged to marry Peter Acarie, viscount of Villemor, lord of Montbrost and of Roncenay. Beautiful, rich, well-liked, she wished only to correspond with God's graces in the perfect fulfillment of her duties towards her husband, towards her six children, and towards her dependents, whose devoted affection she gained. During the thirty years of her married life she showed how Christian spouses can reach sanctity.

Her faith shone in her unconditional adherence to the Church when the Protestant heresy sought to extend itself to French soil. Meanwhile, she gave herself generously to works of mercy, especially on the occasion of the siege of Paris (1590), and to zeal for the salvation of souls. At the same time she was favored by God with extraordinary graces, which were accompanied, however, by both exterior and interior trials. The period of prosperity was followed by one of misfortune. Her husband was exiled by Henry IV and expelled from Paris after the defeat of the League to which he belonged. In these conditions Barbara learned the meaning of ingratitude; but, upheld by her heroic trust in God, she worked tirelessly day and night for her children and for her husband, until she obtained their complete rehabilitation. When after four years the family was thus reunited and once more in possession of its home and holdings, the blessed again gained popular esteem, including that of the royal family. The young Peter de Bérulle, her cousin and a future cardinal, venerated her as a mother; and St. Francis de Sales gave her his approval and directed her.

In the autumn of 1601 Barbara read the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and felt urged to introduce Teresa's religious reform into France. Trusting in the counsel of theologians and saints and facing up to difficulties of all kinds, in 1602 she began preparing for the foundations of the Teresian Carmel. She gathered the first vocations; she obtained the royal approval and also the pontifical bull of foundation (In supremo, of Pope Clement VIII, Nov. 13, 1603); and she built the first monastery.

Chosen and guided by Peter de Bérulle, six Discalced Carmelite nuns arrived from Spain on Aug. 29, 1604. At their head was the servant of God, Anne of Jesus (Lobera), and as lay sister, Bl. Anne of St. Bartholomew (Garcia). Then, on Oct. 17, the regular life was inaugurated in Paris. Barbara Acarie also cooperated in the new foundations of Pontoise (1605), Dijon (1605) and Amiens (1606), and was happy to see all three of her daughters, beginning with fifteen-year old Margaret, enter there.

Meanwhile Barbara spent herself in continued good works, even though her physical and spiritual sufferings were great. In 1613 her husband fell gravely ill, and she never left his beside until, nine days later, she saw him die the death of the just. The tears and the prayers of the blessed widow were comforted by the heavenly confirmation of the eternal salvation of her pious husband.

Free now from the duties towards her family, Barbara broke every bond with the world and decided to become a Carmelite. Though she was so well-known in Paris, and the various Carmels, which through her efforts were beginning to stud her native land, vied for her presence, she chose Amiens, the poorest and the one farthest away and asked the grace of being received as a lay sister there. On April 7, 1614, she was clothed in the Teresian habit and rapt in ecstasy; she received the name of Mary of the Incarnation.

As a religious, she edified her fervent sisters by her attention to the humblest tasks of the kitchen, by her complete submission to all, by her practice of poverty and a unique finesse in charity, especially towards the sick. Although favored by God with exceptional gifts, she was extremely cautious and preferred the simple practice of the common, solid virtues. She made her solemn profession on April 8, 1615, in the course of a prolonged sickness. The coming of a new prioress from another monastery also caused her much suffering. Then, on Dec. 7, 1616, for reasons of health, she was sent to the Carmel of Pontoise. After a long illness, and after being comforted repeatedly by holy viaticum, by ecstasies and heavenly visions, she died peacefully on April 18, 1618, at Pontoise.

The process for beatification was opened in Rome in 1627. The successive decrees of Pope Urban VIII and other circumstances contributed to have the cause suspended, and it was not resumed until 1782. It was concluded with her beatification, proclaimed by Pope Pius VI on June 5, 1791. Her body lies in the chapel of the convent of Pontoise."

-- Biography by John of Jesus Mary, ocd


"The great love which you have for me impels me to come to you, all the more because of the existence of the Sacrament of your love, in which you have clearly shown me your love and have drawn me to love you in return; this is why I desire to receive you, so that when my soul is satiated with this spiritual food, I may joyfully embrace you within my soul, never be separated from you and love you with all my heart."

-- Les vraies exercices by Madame Acarie

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Feast of the Annunciation

"Mary became the Mother of God at the moment of the Incarnation. It was a moment for which God had richly prepared her. Through the fullness of grace which He gave her, Mary had lived a life of obedience to the will of God. Her every thought and action had been formed in the burning crucible of charity or the love of God. She had even conceived the resolution to devote herself to the service of God by a vow of virginity. At the moment chosen by God, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her in bodily form and announced to her the great purpose for which God had chosen her. 'Hail, full of grace,' he said, and his words signified her worthiness to fulfill the role for which she was destined. 'The Lord is with thee,' he continued, and in these words he announced the conception that was to take place. When Mary gave full consent of her loving, obedient heart in the words, 'Be it done unto me according to thy word,' the marriage between God and human nature was complete. God had become man, and in the consent of Mary all mankind consented to its own ennoblement in the God-man, Christ. Eve had seduced Adam to the destruction of the human race. Mary conceived Christ for the salvation of the human race."

-- My Way of Life: The Summa Simplified for Everyone by  Walter Farrell, OP, STM, and Martin J Healy, STD

** The painting is by Fra Angelico.

Ven Peter of the Mother of God

"Pedro Villagrasa (1565-1608), a native of Daroca (Zaragoza), was also studying at Alcalá when, at the early age of sixteen and a half, he joined the Carmelites at Pastrana, where he had John of Jesus and Mary as a fellow-novice. After his profession on 23 January 1583, he completed his studies for the priesthood at Alcalá. Very soon he was showing signs of the great oratorical talent for which he was so deservedly famous in later years.

It was probably about mid 1590 that Fr. Doria sent him to Rome to accompany and assist Juan de San Jerónimo who was going there as Procurator. Pedro's work included going to the market to do the shopping and this gave him the opportunity to mix with people and learn Italian quickly, an invaluable opportunity for so promising a young preacher. There is evidence that he was in Genoa from 1593 to 1595, and it was here that his oratorical talent began to be noticed in high places. It even reached the ears of Cardinal Pinelli, protector of the Order, and that brought an invitation to preach the Lenten sermone in Rome in 1596. Such was the effect which his sermons produced in Rome that Pope Clement VIII immediately appointed him Papal Preacher, an office in which he was confirmed by both Leo XI and Paul V. It was Pedro's fame that moved the Pope to request a Discalced monastery in Rome. So, when the superiors in Spain tried to raise difficulties lest Gracián find a way back and sought to bring the Carmelites who were in Rome back to Spain, the Pope exempted them from the jurisdiction of Spain and appointed Pedro Commissary of the new Congregation pending the election of a general by a chapter in due course. As we have said, the first general was Fr.Fernando in 1605. He was succeeded by Pedro in 1608, but Pedro died prematurely on 26 August of that year."

-- Teresian Carmel: Pages of History by Idelfonso Moriones, ocd

Monday, December 26, 2011

Memorial of St. Stephen

"If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr. Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism to become Christ — He who was the world's outstanding Martyr." 

-- Love Does Such Things by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Memorial of Bl Louis Morbioli

"The oldest biography of Blessed Louis is a poem composed between 1485 and 1489 (Saggi dates it in the autumn of 1486) by Bl. Baptist of Mantua, who lived in Bologna for many years. Louis belonged to a family of the lower middle class; his father was called Francis of Anthony, his mother Agnes, and these were blessed with six children, five boys and one girl. Louis was born in Bologna in 1433; his youth was happy and carefree, nor did his life change after his marriage with Lucy, daughter of John Tura.

In 1462 he moved to Venice, where he was struck by a serious illness, taken into the hospice of the Canons Regular of St. Savior, he underwent a profound spiritual crisis that resulted in a radical change in his life. He probably returned to Bologna in 1470, and aroused admiration and amazement for his austere and penitent conduct. He separated from his wife, put on a plain grey habit, much like that of the Carmelites (hence the erroneous affirmation that he was a Carmelite tertiary), which he afterwards changed for a white one with a cross on his breast and which he wore both summer and winter. He went through the streets of Bologna preaching penance and mortification, and accompanied those condemned to the scaffold. He visited other cities of Emilia (Modena, Ferrara) on donkey back. He traveled the streets holding a cross in his hand and preaching penance. When he became sick, he refused every relief. He died at Bologna on Nov. 9, 1485, as he himself had foretold.

He was buried in the cathedral of St. Peter. Although a popular cult to him began immediately after his death, his bones were not found in the restoration of the cathedral, which occurred under Gabriel Card. Paleotti (1566-97). Already in 1582, Louis was inscribed in the catalogue of saints of Bologna, and Card. Paleotti included him in the Archiepiscopalis Bononiensis /Of the Archdiocese of Bologna/ in 1594. Under Jerome Card. Boncompagni a regular process of canonization was begun (1654), but the work was never brought to a conclusion. In 1843 his cult was permitted for the diocese of Bologna and for the Carmelite Order, which erroneously claimed him as one of its tertiaries. The liturgical celebration at Bologna is fixed for Nov. 17, as an optional memorial."

-- Biography by John Dominic Gordini

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memorial of Bl Lucas of St Joseph and companions

"Fr. Lucas of St. Joseph (José Tristany Pujol) was born on December 14, 1872. He was only six months old when his father died. It became such a hardship that his mother, Rosa, had to ask her older sons and daughter to live on their own. She took with her the two younger boys to live near a hermitage on the estate called Saint Justin. They later moved to the town of Cardona where Rosa died shortly after.

Jose, as a child, was taken in by a neighboring farm family that hoped to eventually train him to be a sheepherder. This only lasted for a short time until his Uncle Antonio and Aunt Margarita brought José to their home in Tarragona after his older brother, Meliton, who became known as Ludovico of the Sacred Hearts, entered the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was here that Jose spent his adolescent years and where he became interested in carpentry. He was frequently found helping at the local carpenter’s shop on Florencio Vives Street. As the boy grew older, his relatives thought he would marry. However the young man felt in his heart the vocation to be a priest. At fifteen years of age, he began his studies in Humanities at the seminary. At age eighteen, Jose, along with his relatives, made a visit to the Carmelite Desert Monastery of Las Palmas—the same monastery where his brother had lived. He began his novitiate there in 1890 and made his first profession of vows the following year. He made his solemn vows in 1894 at the hands of his brother, Fr. Ludovico.

After his ordination to the priesthood on May 27, 1899, Fr. Lucas was made superior and professor of Philosophy. He became well known for his preaching and spiritual writings. His great intellectual capacity was coupled with a warm, generous heart that he placed at the service of God, the Order, and souls. His conviction as a Carmelite friar inspired him to write these prophetic words in an article: “As long as God preserves my vocation, I will not lower my head in shame for anybody because I am a religious ... If we die for the truth, we will have triumphed.”

Fr. Lucas was sent to Mexico in 1902 where his apostolic work began in Mazatlan and Durango. His personality attracted many people and helped in the building up of the good name of the Carmelites. As a result, the bishop of Mazatlan requested more friars for ministry and handed over to them a parish in the city with Fr. Lucas being appointed its first pastor. However the situation was not as smooth in Durango, and both Frs. Pedro of St. Elijah and Lucas had difficulties making a Carmelite establishment in that city. The issues that impeded them from establishing in the diocese were lifted upon the installation of a new bishop in Durango who granted them all the permissions necessary to minister to the people there and establish a monastery. It was soon after these negotiations that Fr. Lucas contracted typhoid that almost cost him his life were it not for the diligent care of a religious sister who was a nurse.

The religious persecution in Mexico brought the Discalced Carmelites to the Diocese of Tucson in the United States in 1912. The Catalonian Carmelites vigorously served twenty-two mission churches in the surrounding mining towns and camps. Bishop Henry Granjon, as a sign of his appreciation for the work done by the friars, assigned the newly-built Holy Family Church in the city of Tucson to the Carmelites and appointed Fr. Lucas as its first pastor in 1915. He left the United States and returned to Barcelona when he was elected provincial of the Catalonian Province in 1924. A year later, Fr. Lucas was transferred to Rome to serve as general definitor. After completing his tenure there in 1933, he returned to Barcelona and served as prior. In 1936, he assumed the office of provincial and was stationed at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona."

-- From the website of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the California-Arizona Province

"The political ambiance was gradually simmering on an anticlerical attitude since the assassination of General Miguel Primo de Rivera who had established a military dictatorship. The republican government, headed by President Manuel Azaña, had passed laws and restrictions including the confiscation of church property and the prohibition of clergy from teaching in public schools. When the monarchy had been overthrown by the exile of King Alfonso XIII and with the republican government established for a second time in 1931, churches in Madrid and in Andalucia were burned.Fearful that the government would lose popular support, police authorities were unwilling to stop the destruction. In the new republican government, the Catholic Political Party (CEDA) demanded representation. However in 1934, leftist groups responded with a rebellion by killing thirty-four priests, brothers, and seminarians in the mining area of Asturias.

By election time in February 1936, the Popular Front Party, comprised of liberals, socialists, and communists with anarchist support, had taken power over the government. In July, the military rose up against the Popular Front government, which in turn called the working-class organizations to bear arms in response.

The uprising turned into a civil war and thereby began what one historian called “the greatest clerical bloodletting in the entire history of the Christian Church.”Carmelites in Barcelona at the onset of civil warThe friars at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona, located at the corner of LIuria Street and Diagonal Avenue, were still asleep at 4:30 Sunday morning when suddenly they were awakened by shouts and banging at the door.

On that morning of July 19, 1936, the quiet streets of Barcelona had turned into a battlefield when nationalist troops were sent to secure the cross streets between Paseo de Gracia and Diagonal.The troops were ambushed between Callis and Llüria Street by republican assault guards and city militia. The civil war had come to Barcelona. The sounds of horrible gun fire and the militia shouting “Viva Ia Republica” and “Viva el Ejercito” grew louder and louder. The banging at the door was increasingly frantic— shouting through the door that the wounded needed care. The monastery door was opened and infantry men from the Santiago cavalry barged in bringing with them several armed soldiers.

The community had rapidly set up an infirmary in the largest room in the monastery close to the entrance. They had laid the wounded on mattresses that the friars had taken from all their cells. Food was scarce for so many inside, but the friars made sure that the wounded and fatigued were well nourished, even if it meant abstaining from food themselves. Soldiers from the infantry continued to storm into the monastery bringing weapons and ammunition and placing themselves in strategic areas throughout the compound and turning the Carmelite monastery into a military fort.

An American reporter, Magan Laird, was vacationing with her family at an apartment across from the monastery when she heard what sounded like firecrackers and rockets. But when she looked out of her apartment and found no one coming out, she knew something was wrong: “The first sign of life is a private car coming rapidly up Calle Lluria ... It stops in the next block in front of the church and monastery of the Carmelites. Two assault guards get out hurriedly, grasp the rifles in firing position, and station themselves behind a tree. At the same moment, I see other assault guards running, rifles in their hands, down the diagonal, another block away ... There is a crackle and a puff of smoke from the tower of the Carmelite church. In the street below, an assault guard, sheltered behind a tree knoll, raises his rifle and fires ... this is no fiesta. This is war.”

The cavalry had set a perimeter with soldiers on the bell tower, on windows inside the cells, and church areas. Laird recounts, “From time to time the air is torn with their sharp pum-pum-pum ... Suddenly the drone of an airplane motor is heard directly above our heads. In a minute the plane itself dips into our line of vision, flying high and circling above the Carmelite church. There is the sharp rattle of machine guns from the plane. They are firing at random on the streets and houses below.”

In the midst of this chaos, the whole Carmelite community was able to celebrate Sunday Mass and pray the Divine Office.As evening drew near, the wounded were transferred to the library where they would be safer and make more space for the incoming troops from the street. “Cars are passing more frequently in the streets—beautiful cars, luxurious limousines, and open sport models, polished and shining—the cars of the wealthy, filled now with men and soldiers in shirt sleeves, firing constantly as they careen wildly through the streets. All of them have painted letters on the sides — FAI and CNT ...“ The streets finally fell quiet late Sunday night.Inside the monastery, as it was forbidden to light any lamps, many soldiers rested in the pews, refectory, sacristy, and basement.

The Carmelites did not go back to their cells but attended to the needs of the soldiers and prisoners who had been captured by the military. “The night air is very cold ... here and there, among darkened buildings of the city, rises a column of white, heavy smoke. They are burning the churches. Off to the right, and elevated on a little hill, one church stands up like liquid gold against the night.”Early Monday morning, the friars celebrated Mass in the middle of gunfire, which was heavier than Sunday.

Throughout the morning, many officers and troops inside came to the Carmelites to be enrolled in the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. With no reinforcements to relieve the soldiers, it was a matter of time before they could no longer hold down the monastery. Seeing that surrender was inevitable, the Carmelite community gathered in the church and knelt before theBlessed Sacrament. Fr. Lucas, the provincial, proceeded to distribute all the consecrated hosts to be consumed. Shortly after this, everyone was alerted that there was an agreement to surrender, with the condition that the lives of the officers, the troops, the wounded, and the religious be spared.For safety, the Carmelites were told not to wear their habits outside, One friar recalls: “We took off our Carmelite habits and clothed ourselves in civilian attire ... all of us were ready to die after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

Laird continues: “Presently, in the top of the bell tower, the white flag is run up. Instantly the streets are filled with cheering mobs. The police are powerless to hold them back; they surge against the church, shaking their fists, dancing with rage. Many carry lighted torches.” The mob had infiltrated the monastery by breaking doors and windows. The civil guard was able to give some of the friars a safe passage outside, but the mob became so uncontrollable that there was no longer any guarantee for their safety.

Some friars tried to escape by blending with the crowd, but for some it was no use. Fr. Jorge of St. Joseph and Bro. Juan Jose of Jesus were killed as soon as they were discovered to be friars.Martyrdom of Fr. LucasWitnesses testify to seeing Fr. Lucas as he came out of the monastery through the smaller door adjacent to the tower bell with his face covered with blood, his head bandaged with a colored handkerchief, and accompanied by two civil guards. The mob wanted to lynch Father, but the soldiers forced them back telling them they wanted to take him to the authorities.

As they approached Diagonal Avenue, one of the civil guards with him said, “I gave you my word that I will save your life.” From a distance, however, a patrol shot the guard in the head killing him. The other soldiers fell back as the mob grew restlessly violent.Fr. Lucas crossed Diagonal Avenue alone under fire and took refuge before a large portal. A patrol, armed with two rifles, pushed him ruthlessly onto the Avenue. The patrol approached him again striking him on the head with rifle butts.

Fr. Lucas was ordered to walk down the Avenue and “with an uncertain gait, he staggers slowly down the Diagonal, his palms joined before his breast praying.” After walking a few yards, he was shot from behind and fell to the ground. Wounded, Fr. Lucas was able to crawl some distance before he died near a small oak tree in front of a doctor’s clinic on Diagonal Avenue. Fr. Lucas was lying on the ground with his face turned to the Carmelite monastery until 8 o’clock that night when a Red Cross ambulance from Lluria Street came to take away the body."

-- Account of martyrdom from Tucson priests blog.