Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Memorial of Bl Joan of Toulouse

"According to the most reliable biography, that of the Carmelite John Bale, who visited Toulouse in 1527, Joan was of a noble family of the kingdom of Navarre. Because of her devotion to Our Lady, she wished to live as a recluse near the Carmelite convent of Toulouse, where she led a life of great austerity. She loved to speak about heavenly things with the young friars and prayed much for them, which was to their great spiritual benefit. It does not appear that she lived much before the XV century, because she does not appear on the lists of Carmelite saints of the second half of the XIV century nor on the list of the saints of the Order by John Grossi (d. 1437), a member of the Carmelite province of Toulouse. Joan is often called a tertiary or even a nun; however, it is not impossible that she professed the Carmelite rule, as did other «converted» ladies of that time.

After her death, many miracles were attributed to her by the faithful. Bernard du Rosier, archbishop of Toulouse from 1452 until 1474, had Joan's body exhumed and placed in an urn, in a worthy place in a chapel of the Carmelite church of the city; and on that occasion he granted an indulgence of forty days to all who would visit the remains. Gailhard de Ruppe, provincial of Toulouse, gave the panegyric. An antiphon, with verse and oration, in honor of the blessed is also known. According to Bale, the general chapter of the Carmelites, held at Naples in 1510, treated of the canonization of Joan. Examinations of the remains were held in 1616, 1656 and 1688. In 1656 it was noted that an arm and the right hand were wanting; they had been carried into Spain by the prior general, Henry Silvio, during a visit to the convent. And in 1688 the left hand and some teeth were also missing. After the French revolution, during the demolition of the Carmelite church at Toulouse in 1805, the remains of the blessed were found in a wall, together with the document of the examination of 1688 and some prayers that the blessed reputedly recited on a regular basis. The body was carried into the metropolitan church of St. Stephen and buried in the chapel of St. Vincent de Paul; then, in 1893, for the occasion of her beatification, it was again exhumed and placed in an ogival reliquary. Joan was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895; her feast was celebrated on March 31 before the latest liturgical reform."

-- Biography by Fr Joachim Smet, OCarm

** The fresco of Bl Joan of Toulouse is at the Carmelite Shrine of St Felix in Brescia (Italy)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The sorrow of Jesus goes far beyond the bounds of death

"A chalice is offered to Him which He cannot drink. He shudders so violently that the tears pour not only from His eyes but from the whole of His body, bringing with them drops of blood. He weeps with His whole being. He weeps as a man might bleed, and that blood and those tears are for Him the dew of His last night on earth.

Jesus has said, 'My soul is sorrowful even unto death.' But the words are inadequate; the sorrow of Jesus goes far beyond the bounds of death. Death reaches only the body, and there are limits to what the body can endure. There are sufferings which normally would break the human heart; but God can, if He wills, sustain the soul's frail consort so that the spirit may suffer the more. Death will now stay its hand at the threshold of agony, but for the soul there will be no limit. Chalice upon chalice will be offered Him, until the very Cross will come as a welcome relief. Who shall enter into these depths, and who shall describe how, after those tears of blood that redden the ground, a still more copious flood of tears bathes that soul divine, like a current that flows in the depths of the sea?

We can never comprehend this vision of Jesus, but we may infer it. In the foreground appears death with its retinue of pain and suffering. The Cross has suddenly reared itself before Him. Admittedly the Cross is familiar to His thought, and He has accepted it from the beginning. He speaks of the morrow as 'His hour,' saying, 'For this cause came I unto this hour.' But do we not all know the suddenly vivid horror that a prospect may assume after long habit has dulled its outlines? When pain is all-absorbing and the whole mind is concentrated upon its image, then the torture exceeds all bounds. So it is with the Son of Man.

'My heart is troubled within me: and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fear and trembling are come upon me: and darkness hath covered me.' So far as words can convey, these expressions of the Psalmist give a faithful picture of the agony of Jesus. He is scourged by His thoughts and crucified by His knowledge of what is to come. His visions drag Him across the garden, up the slope to the house of Annas, to the lodge of Caiaphas, to the tower of Antonia, along the streets to death and to the tomb. He sees it all; and for a moment He is seized with an obsession that He cannot shake off. Flat on His face, arms extended, He tastes the extreme bitterness of desolation."

-- What Jesus saw from the Cross by A. G. Sertillanges, OP

** Painting by Ary Sheffer

Monday, March 29, 2010

Memorial of St Berthold

"A native of Lombardy, Berthold was the second prior general of the Carmelites (about 1230). He died and was buried on Mount Carmel. To him is attributed a vision during which he saw the souls of many Carmelites who had been killed by the Saracens being carried into heaven by angels. His figure has passed through various deforming stages. The information given here has been preserved in the collection of Abbreviated Legends of the Catalogue of the Saints, which in the case of many saints include a still more primitive version.

The Dominican, Stephen of Salignac (before 1278) —¦ who attributed the composition of the Carmelite rule to Aymeric of Malefaida of Salignac, patriarch of Antioch (1142-93?), while in reality it is the rule of Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem (1206-14) — said that the said Aymeric had among the Carmelites a nephew, «a holy and famous man.» This nephew received a name and a rank in the so-called Letter of Cyril, published after the year 1378 by the Carmelite, Philip Riboti. Riboti says that Berthold was a brother — no longer a nephew — of Aymeric, that his name was Berthold, and that he was the first prior general of the Carmelites. Afterwards another Carmelite, John Grossi, in his Viridarium /Garden/ (about 1400), gave to this nephew the name of Brocard (q. v.), while in the succeeding compositions of the same work and in the Catalogue of Carmelite Saints of the same epoch, Berthold of Malefaida is considered the first general and Berthold of Lombardy passes to fourth place.

The saint is represented in the Carmelite habit, with a book and a sword, or while he has the vision of the martyrs. His cult was ordered by the general chapter of the Order of 1564. His name, removed from the reformed breviary of 1585, was re-introduced a short while after (1609). The proper lessons were approved in 1672. His feast was fixed for March 29; now it is abolished."

-- Biography by Adrian Staring, OCarm

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

"Dearly beloved, the Solemnity of the Lord's Passion is come ; that day which we have so desired, and which same is so precious to the whole world.  Shouts of spiritual triumph are ringing, and suffer not that we should be silent.  Even though it be hard to preach often on the same solemnity, and do so meetly and well, a priest is not free to shirk the duty of preaching to the faithful concerning this so great mystery of divine mercy.  Nay, that his subject-matter is unspeakable should in itself make him eloquent, since where enough can never be said, there must needs ever be something to say.  Let human weakness, then, fall down before the glory of God, and acknowledge itself unequal to the duty of expounding the works of his mercy.  Let us toil in thought, let us fail in insight, let us falter in speech; it is good for us to feel how inadequate is the little we are able to express concerning the majesty of God.

For when the Prophet saith : Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face evermore: let no man thence conclude that he will ever find all that he seeketh.  For if he cease his seeking, he will likewise cease to draw near.  But among all the works of God which weary the stedfast gaze of man's wonder, what is there that doth at once so ravish and so exceed the power of our contemplation as the Passion of the Saviour?  He it was who, to loose mankind from the bonds of the death-dealing Fall, spared to bring against the rage of the devil the power of the divine Majesty, and met him with the weakness of our lowly nature.  For if our cruel and haughty enemy could have known the counsel of God's mercy, it had been his task rather to have softened the hearts of the Jews into meekness, than to have inflamed them with unrighteous hatred.  Thus he might not have lost the thraldom of all his slaves, by attacking the liberty of the One that owed him nothing.

But he was undone by his own malice.  For he brought upon the Son of God that death which is become life to all the sons of man.  He shed that innocent blood which was to become at once the price of our redemption and the cup of our salvation.  Wherefore the Lord hath received that which according to the purpose of his own good pleasure he hath chosen.  He submitted himself to the ungodly hands of cruel men which, busy with their own sin, nonetheless ministered to the Redeemer's work.  And such was his loving-kindness, even for his murderers, that his prayer to his Father from the Cross asked not vengeance for himself but forgiveness for them."

-- From a sermon by St Leo the Great

** Painting by Giotto

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Works of expiation bind one closer to Christ

"[W]hen someone desires to suffer, it is not merely a pious reminder of the suffering of the Lord. Voluntary expiatory suffering is what truly and really unites one to the Lord intimately. When it arises, it comes from an already existing relationship with Christ. For, by nature, a person flees from suffering. And the mania for suffering caused by a perverse lust for pain differs completely from the desire to suffer in expiation. Such lust is not a spiritual striving, but a sensory longing, no better than other sensory desires, in fact worse, because it is contrary to nature. Only someone whose spiritual eyes have been opened to the supernatural correlations of worldly events can desire suffering in expiation, and this is only possible for people in whom the spirit of Christ dwells, who as members are given life by the Head, receive his power, his meaning, and his direction. Conversely, works of expiation bind one closer to Christ, as every community that works together on one task becomes more and more closely knit and as the limbs of a body, working together organically, continually become more strongly one.

But because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God's kingdom, are the most authentic children of God. And so those who have a predilection for the way of the cross by no means deny that Good Friday is past and that the work of salvation has been accomplished. Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ's cross. Only in union with the divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power. To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one's feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father's right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth."

-- The Hidden Life by St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Friday, March 26, 2010

I die continually until I live with you

I live, but not in myself,
and I have such hope
that I die because I do not die.

1. I no longer live within myself
and I cannot live without God,
for having neither him nor myself
what will life be?
It will be a thousand deaths,
longing for my true life
and dying because I do not die.
2. This life that I live
is no life at all,
and so I die continually
until I live with you;
hear me, my God:
I do not desire this life,
I am dying because I do not die.
3. When I am away from you
what life can I have
except to endure
the bitterest death known?
I pity myself,
for I go on and on living,
dying because I do not die.
4. A fish that leaves the water
has this relief:
the dying it endures
ends at last in death.
What death can equal my pitiable life?
For the longer I live, the more drawn out is my dying.
5. When I try to find relief
seeing you in the Sacrament,
I find this greater sorrow:
I cannot enjoy you wholly.
All things are affliction
since I do not see you as I desire,
and I die because I do not die.
6. And if I rejoice, Lord,
in the hope of seeing you,
yet seeing I can lose you
doubles my sorrow.
Living in such fear
and hoping as I hope,
I die because I do not die.
7. Lift me from this death,
my God, and give me life;
do not hold me bound
with these bonds so strong;
see how I long to see you;
my wretchedness is so complete
that I die because I do not die.
8. I will cry out for death
and mourn my living
while I am held here
for my sins.
O my God, when will it be
that I can truly say:
now I live because I do not die?
-- St John of the Cross

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

"God is he whose nature is goodness, whose will is power, and whose work is mercy.  Wherefore, at the very beginning of the world, as soon as the devil's hatred had mortally poisoned mankind with the venom of his envy, this almighty and merciful God even then foretold those remedies which his mercy had foreordained for our healing.  At that time he bade the serpent know that there was to be a Seed of the woman who yet should crush the prideful swelling of his pestilential head.  This Seed was none other than the Christ to come in the flesh, even God and Man in one Person, who should be born of the Virgin, and by his virgin-birth should condemn the seducer of man.

The devil rejoiced that he had, by his artful cunning, so deceived man as to make him lose the gifts of God, and forfeit the privilege of eternal life.  Yea, when the devil had thus brought man under the hard sentence of death, he found a certain solace for his own misery in the fact that he now had a comrade in his guilt.  He thought also that God, in his just anger, would change his original design towards man, whom he had made in such honour.  But, dearly beloved, that unchangeable God, whose will cannot be baulked of its loving-kindness, in the dispensation of his own secret counsel, had already provided a mysterious way for carrying out his original purpose of goodness.  So it was that mankind, which had been led into sin by the wicked craft of the devil, was not suffered to perish, and frustrate that gracious purpose of God.

When, therefore, dearly beloved, the fulness of that time was come, which God had appointed for our redemption, our Lord Jesus Christ entered this lower world.  Christ came down from his heavenly throne.  And, while he left not that glory which he hath with the Father before the world was, he was incarnate by a new order and a new birth, in that he who is invisible among his own, was made visible among us.  He who is before the ages, began to be in time.  He who is the Lord of all placed the glory of his majesty under a shadow, for he took upon him the form of a servant.  Thus God the Impassible vouchsafed to become a man subject to suffering, and the Immortal laid himself under the laws of death."

-- From a sermon by St Leo the Great

** Painting by Murillo

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feast of St Gabriel Archangel

"The Angel appeared to Zacharias in the sanctuary of the temple at the right side of the altar of incense.  Which same was fitting, thus: he appeared in the sanctuary because he came to proclaim sacrifice; and at the right side thereof, to indicate how joyous was the honour about to be bestowed on mankind by the heavenly gift.  The right side is the side of honour, and therefore words indicating a position at the right hand are often used to signify an eternal good, and by the same token, to be at the left side doth sometimes signify only present good.  As for example where the Book of Proverbs singeth thus in praise of wisdom: Length of days in in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour.  First of all the Angel comforteth the trembling Zacharias.  Fear not, saith he.  For just as it is natural for human frailty to fear spiritual manifestations, so it is natural for Angels to comfort with good words the mortals that be in this wise fearful.  Contrariwise, when the devil perceiveth that his audacious manifestations do frighten, he proceedeth to frighten as much as he can, and that with an increasing fearsomeness.  There is no better way to overcome his workings than by a courageous faith.

Next, the Angel saith that the prayer of Zacharias was heard, and then straightway promiseth that the wife of Zacharias should bear a child.  We are not to understand that he had been praying for the birth of a son whilst he was offering the sacrifice according to the liturgy of that time, for we are told that he had given up hope of a son, and no one prayeth for that which he hath no hope of obtaining.  Yea, so hopeless was he of ever having children of his own, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both now well stricken in years, that he did not even believe the Angel's promise.  Therefore the words of the Angel : Thy prayer is heard: refer to the redemption of the people, for which Zacharias had prayed in the pleading of the sacrifice.  And the words: Thy wife shall bear a son: do shew the manner of that redemption, for he addeth that the son of Zacharias shall go before the Redeemer as a herald, to make ready his way amongst the people.  Thus, in this saying that the prayer of supplication offered by Zacharias was heard of God, the Angel sheweth in what manner the people can be brought to salvation and perfection; namely, by repentance at the preaching of John, whereby they are to be led to faith in Christ.

But Zacharias hesitateth because of the sublime things which have been promised.  Wherefore he asketh for a sign, that he may believe, albeit the coming of the Angel and his words of promise ought to have been a sufficient sign.  Hence he was stricken dumb as a just penalty for his slowness of belief: to be dumb was both a sign to stir him up to the faith which he sought, and the penance which he deserved for his unbelief.  We may thus understand that if a man of earth had promised such things, it would be lawful to seek for a sign, but that when an Angel is sent from heaven to give God's promise, there should have been no occasion for doubt.  And yet the Angel giveth the desired sign, so that he who spake from disbelief may learn from silence to believe.  Note that the Angel saith: I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee these glad tidings.  Doubtless when Angels come to us they fulfil this active and outward ministry in such a way that they yet do always remain in God's presence by contemplation.  Wherefore, they stand in his presence even though they be sent from him on a mission.  An Angel is a created spirit, and therefore hath many limitations.  But God hath no limitations, and is everywhere.  Thus when he sendeth his Angels from his presence, they yet do stand therein, for whithersoever they go on a mission, they go in him." 

-- From a sermon by St Venerable Bede

** Pope Benedict XV extended this feast to the universal Church. Unfortunately, this feast was suppressed in the general liturgical calendar, but it's still observed by those following the 1962 liturgical calendar.

** The painting is by Tiziano Vecellio

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Him all men have their good

"Oh most profound mystery of God, that the Divine Word without beginning, eternal, incomprehensible, would unite Himself to that sacred humanity and He impassive would take it passible, so He could suffer  for men and redeem them!; this is so big that human understanding cannot reach it; only God could work it out with his excessive charity and immense wisdom; and, how justly He chastises ingrate man that does not recognize nor takes advantage of this benefit of his Creator, that not being content with having made him, seeing that He had lost him, He took such measure to redeem him and win him, so costly to compel him, and show him his [God's] love that he may not despair of his remedy, and teach him as a Teacher (putting Himself as example and model of virtues), what it should do for his eternal health, as Captain to animate him in the battle, and as God and King most powerful in his virtue conquer!; because man without God, what can he do? Nothing, and in God who comforts him he can do everything. And such is the strength of God made man that he is the mediator that in Him all men have their good, have authority [potestad in Spanish] being made children of God by grace and adoption and participants of his divine nature, and this most sacred humanity assumed in God won everything for us with the virtue of God and shedding of his precious blood and most copious Redemption. And being that that sacred Humanity united to the Word of God so perfectly is one person, this most Exalted Lord humiliated himself so, that He suffered it was under the power of Pontius Pilate, tiny man** most vile..."

-- Misterios de nuestra santa Fe by Cecilia del Nacimiento, ocd
translated by ocdsister

** In the original Spanish, Mother Cecilia uses the word hombrecillo, literally tiny man. Hombrecillo was, and still is, a strong insult to any man. The closest I can think of in modern language is dirtbag. Though this expression may raise some hairs, we must remember how passionate Spanish were in the Spanish Golden Age, particularly when it came to describing Christ's suffering in His Passion and Crucifixion.

Monday, March 22, 2010

This Trackless Solitude

Deep in the soul the acres lie
of virgin lands of sacred wood
where waits the Spirit. Each soul bears
this trackless solitude.

The Voice invites, implores in vain
the fearful and the unaware;
but she who heeds and enters in
finds ultimate wisdom there.

The Spirit lights the way for her;
bramble and bush are pushed apart.
He lures her into wilderness
but to rejoice her heart.

Beneath the glistening foliage
the fruit of love hangs always near.
The one immortal fruit: He is
or, tasted: He is here.

Love leads, and she surrenders to
His will. His waylessness of grace.
She speaks no words save his, nor moves
until he marks the place.

Hence all her paths are mystery.
presaging a devine unknown.
Her only light is in the creed
that she is not alone.

The soul that wanders, Spirit led,
becomes, in His transforming shade,
the secret that she was, in God.
before the world was made. 

-- Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit, ocd

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Passion Sunday

"Among all the solemn feasts which are kept by Christians, we are well aware, dearly beloved, that the paschal mystery holdeth first place.  The observances of all the year are ordered to the end of preparing us to celebrate duly and worthily this one mystery.  But the days which have now come upon us make an especial claim on our devotion, seeing that they are those which be in immediate preparation for that most glorious mystery of the divine mercy.  The holy Apostles themselves (taught doubtless by the Holy Ghost) ordered a strict fast to be kept on these days, that by sharing together Christ's Cross with him, we too may in some measure partake in what he did for our sake, as the Apostle saith: We are the children of God, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  He that is partaker of the sufferings of the Lord hath a sure and certain hope of that blessedness which he hath promised unto us.

To no one, no matter what be the circumstances of his life, dearly beloved, is denied a share in this glory of partaking in Christ's sufferings, as if times of calm were without their occasions of exercising strength.  The Apostle giveth us this warning : All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  Therefore, so long as godliness is not lacking, neither is persecution lacking.  The Lord himself saith in one of his own exhortations: He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  And we must not doubt that these words of Christ apply not only to his immediate disciples, to whom he spake them, but belong to all the faithful and to the whole Church.  For the Church in the person of believers which were present and heard these words, believed and heard on behalf of all them who would afterwards accept the way of salvation in the Church.

As then, it is the duty of the whole body of the Church to live godly, so also it is the duty of all times to be a-bearing of the Master's Cross, and that not only in the mystical body in general, but individually in the person of each member thereof, who each and every one supporteth the weight of the Cross in his own way and measure.  The one common name for all their carrying of the Cross is persecution, but the manner of suffering is special to each.  Now there is often more danger from a foe lurking in ambush than from the open enemy.  Blessed Job, who was well tried in this world by alternate changes of good and evil, said devoutly and truly: Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?  That is, Is not man's life appointed as a time of trial?  The attack upon the faithful soul cometh not alone in bodily pains and suffering.  For if the health of the bodily members be sound, often the soul is grievously sick of longing for fleshly indulgence.  But since the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, the rational mind must be disciplined by the carrying of the Cross on such wise that, albeit the soul is enticed by evil desires, the will refuseth to give consent, by reason of the piercing of the nails of continence and the fear of God."

-- From a Sermon by St Leo the Great

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Even if I have no light I have the life of heaven

1. My soul is disentangled
from every created thing
and lifted above itself
in a life of gladness
supported only in God.
So now it can be said
that I most value this:
My soul now sees itself
without support yet with support.

2. And though I suffer darknesses
in this mortal life,
that is not so hard a thing;
for even if I have no light
I have the life of heaven.
For the blinder love is
the more it gives such life,
holding the soul surrendered,
living without light in darkness.
3. After I have known it
love works so in me
that whether things go well or badly
love turns them to one sweetness
transforming the soul in itself.
And so in its delighting flame
which I am feeling within me,
swiftly, with nothing spared,
I am wholly being consumed.
A gloss (with a spiritual meaning).
Not for all of beauty
will I ever lose myself,
but for I-don't-know-what
which is so gladly gained.

-- St John of the Cross

Friday, March 19, 2010

Solemnity of St Joseph

"Who and what manner of man this blessed Joseph was, we may conjecture from that title which the providential ordering of God bestowed upon him.  He was chosen to the honour of being called, and of being supposed to be, the father of God.  What he was we may also conjecture from the very name Joseph, which is to be interpreted as Increase.  Wherefore let us liken him to that great man after whom he was named, the Patriarch Joseph.  This latter sojourned in Egypt, even as he did.  From this latter he not only inherited a name, but an example of chastity which he more than equalled, so that he was like unto the Patriarch Joseph in grace and innocence. If the Patriarch Joseph (sold by his brethren through envy, and forced into servitude in Egypt) was a type of Christ sold by his brethren and handed over to the Gentiles, the other Joseph (forced through the envy of Herod to flee into Egypt) did in actual fact bring Christ amongst the Egyptian Gentiles.  The first Joseph (keeping faith with his lord) would not carnally know his lord's lady.  The second Joseph (spiritually knowing the Lady who was the Mother of his Lord to be virgin) kept faithfully virgin toward her.  To the first Joseph was given to know dark things in the interpretation of dreams.  To the second Joseph was given in sleep to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

The first Joseph laid by bread, not for himself only, but for all the people.  The second Joseph received into his keeping the Living Bread which came down from heaven, and he kept the same, not for himself only, but for all the world.  Without doubt, good and faithful was this Joseph who espoused the Mother of the Saviour.  Yea, I say unto you, he is that faithful and wise servant whom the Lord hath made ruler over his Household.  For the Lord appointed him to be the comfort of his Mother, the keeper of his own body, and, in a word, the chief and most trusty helper on earth in carrying out the eternal counsels."

-- From a sermon by St Bernard of Clairvaux

** Painting by Guido Reni

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Carmelites in Chile appeal for economic aid for rebuilding after earthquake damages

Chile (2010-03-03).- In an open letter to the whole Order last Tuesday, the Carmelite Friars of Chile’s Vicariate and the Sisters of “Teresa of the Andes” Federation appealed to the entire Order for financial assistance, as they attempt to remedy the wholesale damage caused by the earthquake of 27 February to their monasteries and churches.

In his letter, the Regional Vicar of Chile, Fr. Julio González Carretti reports that 80% damages have been caused to Carmelite buildings in Chillán, Viña del Mar, Independencia, Melon and to the Sanctuary of St. Teresa of the Andes. The quake measured 8,8 on the Richter scale and was followed by more than 50 after-shocks. It claimed the lives of more than 700 persons, although this number can vary.

Although, D.G., there have been no Carmelite victims, material damage has been horrific. Fr. Julio writes: “Carmel is Chile is practically razed to the ground”, given the damages to churches and most of the houses with “collapsed walls, fallen roofs and unusable basic installations”.

The Vicariate has opened 2 Bank Accounts to which economic aid may be forwarded:-

- Banco Santander, Cuenta Corriente 62-84212-1 (Padres Carmelitas Descalzos), Rut: 71.923.100-4

- Banco de Créditos e Inversiones, Cuenta Corriente, No 12937878 (Padres Carmelitas Descalzos), Rut: 81.795.103-1

** Note: "Cuenta Corriente" stands for checking account. "Rut" is the router number. Please be as generous as you possibly can. 

Memorial of St Cyril of Jerusalem

Saint Cyril (c. 315-386) was born in Jerusalem around 315 probably of Christian parents. He was raised and educated in Jerusalem and was ordained a priest by St Maximus. He taught catechumens for several years and about 349 became bishop of Jerusalem. Cyril died in 386 and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1882 by Pope Leo XIII.  


"The one word faith can have two meanings. One kind of faith concerns doctrines. It involves the soul's ascent to and acceptance of some particular matter. It also concerns the soul's good, according to the words of the Lord: Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and will not come to be judged. And again: He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but has passed from death to life.
   How great is God's love for men! Some good men have been found pleasing to God because of years of work. What they achieved by working for many hours at a task pleasing to God is freely given to you by Jesus in one short hour. For if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and taken up to paradise by him, just as he brought the thief there. Do not doubt that this is possible. After all, he saved the thief on the holy hiss of Golgotha because of one hour's faith; will he not save you too since you have believed?
   The other kind of faith is given by Christ by means of a special grace. 
To one wise sayings are given through the Spirit, to another perceptive comments by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing. Now this kind of faith, given by the Spirit as a special favor, is not confined to doctrinal matters, for it produces effects beyond any human capability. If a man who has this faith says to this mountain move from here to there, it will move. For when anybody says this in faith, believing it will happen and having no doubt in his heart, he then receives that grace.
   It is of this kind of faith, moreover, that it is said: 
If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small in size but it holds an explosive force; although it is sown in a small hole, it produces great branches, and when it is grown birds can nest there. In the same way faith produces great effects in the soul instantaneously. Enlightened by faith, the soul pictures God and sees him as clearly as any soul can. It circles the earth; even before the end of this world it sees the judgment and the conferring of promised rewards. So may you have the faith which depends on you and is directed to God, that you may receive from him that faith too which transcends man's capacity."

-- Biography from the Liturgy of the Hours. Meditation from the writings of St Cyril of Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Memorial of St Patrick

"I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trials. I can say now: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling that you worked through me with such divine power? You did all this so that today among the Gentiles I might constantly rejoice and glorify your name wherever I may be, both in prosperity and in adversity. You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God. God showed me how to have faith in him for ever, as one who is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel, bearing witness to all nations.
     How did I get this wisdom
, that was not mine before? I did not know the number of my days, or have knowledge of God. How did so great and salutary a gift come to me, the gift of knowing and loving God, though at the cost of homeland and family? I came to the Irish peoples to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.
     If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want tospend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many peoples should be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation and everywhere among them clergy ordained for a people so recently coming to believe, one people gathered by the Lord from the ends of the earth. As God had prophesied of old through the prophets: The nations shall come to you from the ends of the earth, and say: "how false are the idols made by our fathers: they are useless." In another prophecy he said: I have set you as a light among the nations, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world."

-- From the writings of St Patrick

To learn more about this popular saint, please visit this site.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Know that He will act only with love

"There are, it seems to me, two ways of praying and of having faith in God in prayer. The first is to ask solely, ardently, incessantly for a desired favor - a cure for example - and, supported by a grace which is not procured at will (as I have experienced very forcefully in certain circumstances, and not at all in others), to beg a miracle of God with the quasi certitude of being heard.

But there is another kind of faith, which I would be tempted to call superior, and which is neither particular, nor limited to a single divine response, but is sovereign, absolute: faith in God, faith in His love, without conditions, without forms. The soul resigns itself to its God with all that it loves, and it knows that He will act only with love. Life or death, sickness or health, a cure or merciful call which will snatch a soul from the dangers and sufferings of this earth, all will be only Goodness, Wisdom, infinite Omnipotence, all will be the world of eternity. One must have a very simple and profound knowledge of our God in order to live by this faith, which is likewise so simple, and so complete.

...[R]emain faithful to the eternal heart of your life: the vision of the Lord's love, the adoration of His wisdom, the passion of His glory, in a word, the one thing necessary..." -- Sr Marie of Jesus, ocd

-- Alessandra di Rudini Carlotti: Carmelite by A Nun of the Carmel of Montmartre

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly

"If we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little, to purify our souls, and oblige us to continue with Him.
Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time; and, in the height of your sufferings, beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers.
GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in GOD.
I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual, and so great, that I can scarce contain them.
I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great, that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do, that He never forsakes us, till we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me, as I for you."

-- Twelfth letter by Br Lawrence of the Resurrection, ocd

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins

"Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord. Shame indeed there is when each makes known his sins, but that shame, as it were, ploughs his land, removes the ever-recurring brambles, prunes the thorns, and gives life to the fruits which he believed were dead. Follow him who, by diligently ploughing his field, sought for eternal fruit: Being reviled we bless, being persecuted we endure, being defamed we entreat, we are made as the off scouring of the world. If you plough after this fashion you will sow spiritual seed. Plough that you may get rid of sin and gain fruit. He ploughed so as to destroy in himself the last tendency to persecution. What more could Christ give to lead us on to the pursuit of perfection, than to convert and then give us for a teacher one who was a persecutor?"

-- From the writings of St Ambrose
** Drawing by David Myers

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Memorial of St Euphrasia

"The virgin, Euphrasia, was born in the days of Theodosius the Elder. Her father, Antigonus, and her mother, Euphrasia, were both distinguished rank, for they were of the blood of the Emperor. They nevertheless valued piety more than birth, and they were always busied in works of charity. It was their occupation of almost every day to succor the poor, to entertain pilgrims, to soothe the suffering, to visit religious homes, which they liberally endowed, and to give themselves to prayer. God, in answer to their desires, sent them a daughter; but after her birth they took, by mutual consent, a vow of perpetual continence, in order that they might give their minds more entirely to God and to their neighbor. In this way they passed one year under the same roof, apart, but with hearts united; and at the end of that time Antigonus, enriched with good works, was removed from this life to light eternal. His widow, Euphrasia, could never be moved from the vow of perpetual continence which she had made to God, though she was sought by many for the sake of her rare gifts of mind and person. She chose rather the surer way, and determined to bid farewell to the world as she had already done to earthly pleasures. 

Therefore she set out far into Thebaide, taking the maiden, her daughter, with her, and there she passed the rest of her life, every supplying out of her abundance the needs of the neighboring monasteries, for her wealth was great. While she was applying herself earnestly to the discharge of these pious duties, it happened, by the providence of God, that she and her beloved daughter were taken to a large monastery where dwelt, in the practice of rigid discipline, more than one hundred and thirty nuns under one Abbess. They wore haircloth every day, and they were so given to fasting that some would go without food for two, and others for three days, while the rest took no food before evening. They lived upon herbs and vegetables only, and it was held a sin even to touch wine, oil, grapes, figs, or apples.** After passing some time there, the mother was getting ready to depart, when the little maiden, Euphrasia, was seixed with the desire of staying behind to serve God in these choirs of virgins. She confided her wish to the Abbess, who, to turn her from it, laid before her, on the other hand, the yoke of obedience, the trials of poverty, and the rigor of monastic discipline. The child still insisted, declaring that Christ, whom she longed to choose for her spouse, would not fail to help her.

Thereupon the mother was called in, and she did her utmost, by tender words, to keep her daughter with her. Finding that the maiden was not thus to be moved, the mother wondered; and turning to a picture of Our Lord, she raised her hands to Heaven, and, in a broken voice, she uttered these words, 'O Lord Jesus Christ, take this child under Thy care, for she hath desired Thee, and hath committed herself unto Thee.' She then at once used her influence with the Abbess n her daughter's behalf, urging that she be clothed with the religious habit. This was done, and the pious maiden dwelt in that monastery from her seventh to her thirtieth year, going onward daily from virtue to virtue. Her patience and humility were particularly remarkable, for she did not disdain the humbler duties of the monastery, but gave rise, on the contrary, to general admiration by the readiness with which she performed them. She was so exact in the practice of her obedience that wen the Abbess, to try her, commanded her to carry heavy stones upon her shoulders from one place to another, and then to take them back to their former position, she did it all faithfully and without delay, nor did she plead as as an excuse the difficulty of the task of her bodily weakness. She kept so strict a fast, that she would pass, not merely two days or a week, but even forty days without food or drink. The enemy of the human race, enraged at this, often attacked the maiden with various temptations, but she courageously overcame him by fasting and prayer. Thereupon he grew more and more infuriated, and laid open pitfalls for her life. At one time he would push her into a well, at another he cast her into a boiling cauldron, but by the power of God she always escaped unhurt. After she had heaped up merits so great, her Heavenly Spouse called her, and Euphrasia passed hence to Heaven.


O God! who makest Thy Church ever fruitful with new offspring, give ear unto Thy suppliants, that, as Thou hast adorned the holy Virgin Euphrasia with virtues and miracles, we may be snatched, through her intercession, from the darkness of vice. Through our Lord."

-- Proper Offices of the Saints granted to the Barefooted Carmelites (1896)

** There is nothing intrinsically evil about these food items. One has to consider that in the times of St Euphrasia they were considered delicacies. Oil was especially valuable. Thus, abstaining from these items was a sacrifice. The memorial of St Euphrasia was universally observed by all Carmelites until the revision of the liturgical calendar in the 1960s.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Five Holy Wounds

Oh! Sacred Feet, all gashed and torn,
   Bruised by the hammer's cruel blows,
Bathed in the life-blood dripping down
   From anguished Heart in bitter throes;
I press You to my lips in tears,
   With contrite sorrow, fervent sigh.
Dear precious Wounds, God's bleeding prayers,
   Ah! plead for me when death draws nigh.

Oh, Mangled Hands, transfixed and wan,
   in suppliance raised to Heaven above,
Pierced by the nails that torture wrung,
   From breaking Heart of burning love;
I press You to my lips in tears,
   With contrite sorrow, fervent sigh.
Dear precious Wounds, God's bleeding prayers,
   Ah! plead for me when death draws nigh.

Oh! Sacred Refuge, tender Side,
   Rent by the lance with cruel thrust,
There, where His Heart is, let me hide,
   There, where His love is, let me trust.
I press Thee to my lips in tears,
   With contrite sorrow, fervent sigh.
Most Holy Wound, allay my fears,
   Recieve my soul when death draws nigh

-- Prayer to the Five Wounds in The Little Treasury of Leaflets, v IV (1914)

** Traditionally, the Five Holy Wounds of Christ are remembered on the Friday after the 3rd Sunday in Lent.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Time Magazine article with Mother Catherine Thomas

"Granted a valid vocation and a healthy body and mind, what does the postulant find in a cloistered convent? The group she has joined gives a family's sense of solidarity and protection. Silence does not exclude communication, and a world that talks from morning to night may not appreciate the gaiety of the recreation hour after a day-long silence. Barring homesickness, the postulant is likely to be happy during her first few convent months. But, as New York-born Carmelite Mother Catherine Thomas puts it, in her autobiography, My Beloved, The Story of a Carmelite Nun, "Postulants are new brides; and like other new brides, for the most part they are blissfully ignorant of the trials that lie ahead."

The contemplative convent is far more than a quiet place to provide the opportunity for prayer. It is also a kind of operating room where prolonged and drastic surgery takes place to free the individual from those things that stand between her and the love of God.

Sacrifice of Self. There are three main areas to be operated upon, represented by the vows. The vow of poverty, designed to cut through the hampering entanglement of material things, operates on many levels; Carmelites and some other religious are forbidden to use the word "my" except for their faults (they refer to "our" cell, "our" Breviary). Poverty applies equally to any kind of attachment. Sisters are systematically frustrated by their superiors in the tendency to become identified with a particular job or hobby. Still more strictly applied, the vow of poverty applies also to impressions. Contemplatives are actually enjoined to see and hear as little as possible of what goes on around them.

The vow of chastity is the easiest to fulfill for most religious. Hardest is the vow of obedience, designed to eliminate the most formidable barrier between the human and divine: the self.

Obedience to the superior is looked upon by the monastic as obedience to the will of God—much as the soldier is trained to salute not the officer but the uniform of his country. The superior deliberately imposes humiliations to break the natural self-love most lay Christians take as a matter of course. Obedience even to a relatively relaxed rule can be a stringent whip if performed, as it should be, on the split instant. St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), the "Little Flower," once advised a novice: "When someone knocks at your door, or when you are called, you must practice mortification and refrain from doing even one additional stitch before answering. I have practiced this myself, and I assure you that it is a source of much peace."

Dark Night of the Soul. The life of contemplation has its occupational diseases. Sisters sometimes suffer shattering doubts about the genuineness of their vocation, or an onslaught of "scrupulosity"—obsession with insignificant imperfections that begin to loom like mortal sins. Most agonizing of all is spiritual dryness, analyzed by St. John of the Cross in his book, The Dark Night of the Soul. Without any apparent cause, all the warm joy and pleasure that the religious normally finds in prayer and the monastic routine suddenly disappears. As one contemporary has described it: "The entire spiritual world seems meaningless and unreal; even one's own most vivid spiritual experiences fade out like half-forgotten dreams. One becomes keenly, sometimes agonizingly aware of everything prosaic: heat, cold, stuffy rooms . . . excessive weariness, the irritation of the heavy, uncomfortable garments . . . other people's maddening 'little ways'; the 'sinking feeling' and depression that are inseparable from fasting: the appalling monotony of the rule-imposed routine . . ."

Infractions of the rule, in letter or spirit, are inevitable, and different orders have different ways of dealing with them. Carmelites have a weekly "Chapter of Faults," at which the monitress is honor-bound to report all lapses observed during the past week: "In charity I accuse Sister—of the fault of doing . . ." This is considered a valued opportunity to practice humility. Sisters may also publicly accuse themselves of their own faults (as they do at Maryknoll) and accept appropriate penances from the Mother Prioress.

Corporeal penances, such as hair shirts or scourging, are practiced today only in the strictest orders, though Carmelites sometimes make and sell both hair shirts and scourges to priests. They themselves still subdue their bodies with whips. Writes Mother Catherine Thomas: "In Carmel, when we are inflicting this penance upon ourselves, we have more than our own bodies and our own souls in mind. It is true that we accompany the flagellation with the chanting of the psalm Miserere for our own sins; but we also recite prayers at this time for the exaltation of the church, for peace and concord on earth, for our benefactors, for the souls in Purgatory, for those in the state of sin, and for those in captivity."
The convent or monastery, said St. Teresa, is a strong point in a dangerous situation. This, she told her followers 400 years ago, when the world was no less dangerous than it is today, is "the chief reason why Our Lord gathered us together in this house. "

"In time of war, when the enemy has overrun the whole country and the situation is desperate, the lord of the region withdraws into a town which he orders strongly fortified, and from it he sometimes attacks the enemy. As those in his stronghold are chosen men, they can do more by themselves than they could with whole armies . . . Even if they are not victorious, they are never vanquished.''

*The Church distinguishes between nuns, who generally take "solemn vows" and are strictly cloistered; and sisters, who take "simple vows" and are usually active in the outside world. *One of the foremost U.S. missionary societies, active in the U.S., South America, Africa and Asia. The Maryknoll Sisters are a completely separate organization. *When Martha asked her sister Mary to help her get dinner ready for Jesus and the disciples, instead of sitting adoringly at the Lord's feet. Jesus admonished the busy woman. "Martha, Martha," He said. "Thou art careful, and thou art troubled about many things: but . . . Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10: 41-42)."

-- Laborare est Orare, Time Magazine, 11 April 1955

I tried to do a Google search on Mother Catherine Thomas, authoress of My Beloved: The Story of a Carmelite Nun and I found this 1955 article interviewing Mother. The article is more extensive, with information on Maryknoll Sisters. I don't read Times Magazine, but I don't believe this type of article is common for what I presume is a "popular" magazine.

Many things have changed since 1955, but I thought this would be interested for those readers who would like to read Mother's book and cannot afford a copy. I actually saw online a hard-cover copy with dust jacket for $350?! Outrageous. The original paperback cost 78 cents back in 1955. Fear not, dear readers, I have a paperback copy and look forward to putting some excerpts in the future.

Our little world and the will of God

"The little world of each of us with its persons and places, its sunshine and shadows, its joys and its pain, is the one and only Holy of Holies, in which is tabernacled the will of God, the chosen temple in which alone he accepts our worship. 'I shall dwell in their midst' (Deut 3:12) was his promise, and he is present in every happening."

-- From the writings of Mother Aloysius of the Blessed Sacrament, ocd

**Photo © 2010 Roy Tennant,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heaven is a never-ending Communion

"I want to tell you about my happiness.  Yes, I want you to feel for just a moment, the happiness of belonging entirely to God, but there's no human language that can express the divine feelings in which my soul finds itself submerged.  I've given Him everything, it's true, but I've also come to posses the One who is Everything.  If your love and sacrifices make you love Him more, what can I tell you, when in God love knows no limit and His immolation of self can never be greater since His Wisdom has exhausted every possibility. Oh, though I want to love Him in an infinite degree; I feel more and more my inability and my flaws.  I wish I could exhaust myself and die very quickly in order to love Him.  But the sight of the sinful world, of the glacial coldness surrounding the altar keeps me back.  Seeing it I would rather "suffer and not die."  Yes, to suffer and not die that I may weep with the Divine Prisoner and console Him in His exile.  I wish I could help people understand that the Eucharist is a heaven.  Given that "heaven is only a tabernacle without doors, a Eucharist without veils,"  heaven is a never-ending Communion."

-- From a letter of St Teresa of the Andes, ocd

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Savior is not alone on the way of the cross

"The burden of the cross that Christ assumed is that of corrupted human nature, with all its consequences in sin and suffering to which fallen humanity is subject. The meaning of the way of the cross is to carry this burden out of the world. The restoration of freed humanity to the heart of the heavenly Father, taking on the status of a child, is the free gift of grace, of merciful love. But this may not occur at the expense of divine holiness and justice. The entire sum of human failures from the first Fall up to the Day of Judgment must be blotted out by a corresponding measure of expiation. The way of the cross is this expiation. The triple collapse under the burden of the cross corresponds to the triple fall of humanity: the first sin, the rejection of the Savior by his chosen people, the falling away of those who bear the name of Christian.

The Savior is not alone on the way of the cross. Not only are there adversaries around him who oppress him, but also people who succor him. The archetype of followers of the cross for all time is the Mother of God. Typical of those who submit to the suffering inflicted on them and experience his blessing by bearing it is Simon of Cyrene. Representative of those who love him and yearn to serve the Lord is Veronica. Everyone who, in the course of time, has borne an onerous destiny in remembrance of the suffering Savior or who has freely taken up works of expiation has by doing so canceled some of the mighty load of human sin and has helped the Lord carry his burden. Or rather, Christ the head effects expiation in these members of his Mystical Body who put themselves, body and soul, at his disposal for carrying out his work of salvation. We can assume that the prospect of the faithful who would follow him on his way of the cross strengthened the Savior during his night on the Mount of Olives. And the strength of these cross-bearers helps him after each of his falls. The righteous under the Old Covenant accompany him on the stretch of the way from the first to the second collapse. The disciples, both men and women, who surrounded him during his earthly life, assist him on the second stretch. The lovers of the cross, whom he has awakened and will always continue to awaken anew in the changeable history of the struggling church, these are his allies at the end of time. We, too, are called for that purpose."

-- The Hidden Life by St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Monday, March 8, 2010

Memorial of St John of God

"Saint John of God (1495-1550) was born at Montemoro Novo, Portugal and served as a soldier under Charles V in the wars between France, Spain and against the Turks in Hungary. He was the overseer of slaves in Morocco, and a shepherd near Seville. At forty he decided to make amends for his dissolute life by going to Africa to rescue Christian slaves captured by the Turks. Instead he accompanied a Portuguese family from Gibraltar to Ceuta, Barbary, and when he returned to Gibraltar, he became a peddler of holy pictures and religious books. He opened a shop in Granada, Spain and in 1538, a sermon by Saint John of Avila filled him with remorse and guilt for the sins of his past life.  Helped by John, he found a new purpose in life and he devoted his life to helping the sick and the poor and imploring God's mercy. He then rented a house in Granada to serve the sick and poor and that began the religious group known as the Order of Hospitallers, also called the Brothers of St. John of God. His holiness and dedication brought donations from the wealthy to carry on his work. He died in Granada, Spain in 1550 at age 55. He was canonized a saint in 1690 and is the patron of the sick, nurses and of hospitals.


If we look forward to receiving God's mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive according to his promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! Who would not entrust his possessions to this best of merchants, who handles our affairs so well? With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin.
     So many poor people come here that I very often wonder how we can care for them all, but Jesus Christ provides all things and nourishes everyone. Many of them come to the house of God, because the city of Granada is large and very cold, especially now in winter. More than a hundred and ten are now living here, sick and healthy, servants and pilgrims. Since this house is open to everyone, it receives the sick of every type and condition: the crippled, the disabled, lepers, mutes, the insane, paralytics, those suffering from scurvy and those bearing the afflictions of old age, many children, and above all countless pilgrims and travelers, who come here, and for whom we furnish the fire, water, and salt, as well as the utensils to cook their food. And for all of this no payment is requested, yet Christ provides.
     I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, who knows my heart. And so I say: "Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ." Whether you like it or not, you will grow apart from men, but Christ is faithful and always with you, for Christ provides all things. Let us always give thanks to him. Amen."

-- Biography from the Liturgy of the Hours. Reading from the writings of St John of God.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Carmelite Servant of God

TREMEMBÉ (26-02-2010).- The diocese of Taubatè (São Paulo–Brazil) has officially opened the process of canonization of Mother María del Carmen of the Most Holy Trinity, the foundress of the Carmel of the Holy Face and Pius XII.

The ceremony took place on Sunday, 7th February, in the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in the monastery of the Holy Face and Pius XII in Tremembé, 135 kilometres from São Paolo. The Eucharist was presided by the Bishop of the diocese, Mons. Carmo João Rhoden, and the Vice-postulator of the cause, Fr Patrizio Sciadini concelebrated. Attending were many priests and deacons friends of the Carmel, as well as a great number of faithful who joined in with the 15 Carmelite nuns in their celebrations. 

With Mother Carmen, there are now three Discalced Carmelite Nuns whose cause is in process in Brazil. 

Mother María del Carmen of the Most Holy Trinity

Carmen Catarina Bueno was born in Itu, in the State of São Paulo, on 25th December 1898. She entered the Carmel of St Joseph in Rio de Janeiro in 1926, where she was professed with the name of María del Carmen of the Most Holy Trinity at the age of 27. During her religious life she was Mistress of Novices, Sub-Prioress, and Prioress. In 1955 she set out to found the Carmel of the Holy Face and Pius XII at Tremembè. 

She devoted great attention to novitiate formation and the care of the sick sisters in the community. In 1966 she died from a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 67. 

Introduction of the Cause of Canonization

The first step in the process of canonization belongs to the diocesan bishop and to the Postulator of the Cause who present to the Congregation of Causes of the Saints a report on the life and virtues of the candidate for the Altars.

After examining the report presented, the Vatican Congregation issue the Decree “Nihil Obstat” by which the diocesan authorities are permitted to begin the canonical process. At this time, the diocesan Bishop can pronounce the Decree of Introduction of the Cause of the Servant of God.

-- Communicationes 

** With gratitude to Sister Mary Joseph for reminding me of this new flower in Carmel.

You have a function as a member of the Body of Christ

"Your elevation remains in the secret of God; undoubtedly, He will not tell you anything. Do what is in your hand[s]. Love, offer often to God the unrivaled sanctity of Jesus, of Mary, and of the living and departed saints: all of that belongs to you, beneficiary of the Communion of Saints. Offer Him the global sanctity of the Mystical Body of Christ: this is what glorifies God. You are a member of that Body, perhaps the least noble, but not without a function. Say with conviction and serenity: 'Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner.' And live in peace under the protecting wings of the God that loves you."

-- Carthusian writings

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Memorial of St Cyril of Constantinople

"Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, was born of noble parents. He was nephew, on the father's side, of Theophilus, then Bishop of Alexandria, who sent the youth to Athens to pursue his studies. There Cyril made marked progress, and he afterwards sought out John, the Bishop of Jerusalem, that he might be thoroughly instructed in the perfection of christian life. Strengthened by his intercourse with the Bishop, Cyril retired to Mount Carmel, where he led for some time the life of heaven upon earth, in company with certain pious men who dwelt there. Later he returned to Alexandria, his native city, and was ordained a priest of that church. Shortly afterwards, Theophilus died, who was Bishop, as well as Cyril's uncle, and Cyril was raised to the vacant seat by general consent.

As Bishop he gave himself up wholly to the duties of the episcopal charge. In the first place, that he might purge his diocese of the errors of unbelievers, he drove the Jews out of Alexandria, for they were then undermining the city by their evil lives. He attached also the Nestorian heretics, and he was therefore appointed the legate of Celestine the First, at the Council of Ephesus, where he uprooted almost entirely the baneful dogma of the Nestorians, and proved the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the true mother of God.

The old enemy of the human race, and of the Mother of God, raised up many persecutions against Cyril by means of John (Sacrensis), who represented the Emperor at Ephesus. Cyril was divinely aided in warding off these attacks; and after his return to Alexandria he wrote many letters to the different parts of Egypt, in order to blot out what remained of the Nestorian heresy. He wrote much and labored much in defence of the Church, and his works are read in the divine office throughout almost the whole of Syria. After he had ruled his church in holiness for many years, being bowed down with age, he gave up his soul to God on the fourth of the Kalends of February, under the Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian.


Father of heavenly light! who, with the light of wisdom and of the true faith, hast vouchsafed to enlighten the mind of Blessed Cyril, thy Confessor and Pontiff, that he might defend the honor of Mary, the Mother of Thy Son and ever Virgin, from the errors of heretics; grant, through his intercession, that the hearts of them that go astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may be on in obedience to Thy will. Through our Lord."

-- Proper Offices of the Saints granted to the Barefooted Carmelites (1896)