In this, the 125th anniversary year of the death of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, each day we will share excerpts from her poetry that reveal her eminent doctrine and passionate desire "to love Jesus and to make him loved" as a Discalced Carmelite nun.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity began her ten-day retreat on this day in 1904, the first since her profession retreat in January 1903. She told her sister that the extra solitude and prayer “created a very enticing schedule” because “I'm going to lose myself in Him.”
St. Thérèse described her sister Céline as someone who found God in all of nature, everywhere. In the poem, “Canticle of Céline”, which Thérèse wrote for her sister, Céline sings, “in Him I found peace forever!”
St John of the Cross has a quick and easy reference when he discusses “joy in the delights of food” in the Ascent of Mount Carmel. Simply take a look at the rich man and his sumptuous banquet while poor Lazarus lies at his gate like a piece of garbage, attracting the attention of the rich man’s hounds.
On the night before He died, Jesus spoke plainly to the disciples. St Thérèse notes that Jesus was “speaking without parable” to them. To the one who keeps God’s word, Jesus says: “We want him to remain, filled with peace, in our Love!”
On this date, three days before his death, Blessed John Paul I mentioned Georges Bernanos and the Dialogues of the Carmelites in his Angelus address. “Not violence but love,” he proclaimed, “can do everything.” His closing words were a prayer “that a new wave of love for our neighbour may sweep over this poor world.”
“Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went,” is one section of St. Joseph’s theme music in the Gospels. St. Thérèse knows how to sing that song, too, in Carmelite style: “Joseph, O tender Father, protect Carmel!”
"We cannot see God, but we can listen to Jesus who has revealed God to us with an existence full of goodness and forgiveness," writes Bishop Silvio José Báez. "The only way to see God is to listen to Jesus, follow him, and live in communion with him."
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord,” says St. Paul. St. Thérèse was a model of obedience to her father, St. Louis Martin. Speaking in the third person as she writes about their relationship, Thérèse reminds her father: “it was always your hand that guided her. O Papa! remember…”
We recall the birth of Blessed Teresa of St. Augustine on this day in 1752, sharing important details about the “Act of Consecration”—not a vow of martyrdom—that she proposed to her spiritual daughters, the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne.
“Do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus said. Thérèse took his advice and wrote, “if I think about tomorrow, I fear my fickleness. I feel sadness and worry rising up in my heart.” Her solution to this problem? Living “just for today.”
St. John of the Cross is fond of quoting from St. Matthew's gospel, with over 50 citations in John's collected works. Today we see him quote “my yoke is sweet and my burden light” in the all-important Chapter 7, Book II of the Ascent of Mount Carmel: "Indeed the gate is very narrow, more so than you think."
The Servant of God Herman Cohen was the first to lead a pilgrimage to Lourdes on 20 September 1858. Hundreds of people joined him in front of the grotto, although it was still blocked off by barricades and the civil authorities forbade close access to the site. He made quite an impression on St. Bernadette.
St John of the Cross has advice for us about asking God for favors: He has “more compassion when He beholds the need and resignation of a soul that loves Him;” in other words, God doesn’t need our opinions about what is best for us!
St. Titus Brandsma’s commitment to the vow of poverty in solidarity with the poor was unshakeable. He wrote, “Without poverty, a religious is a Pharisee, a gentleman of ease pretending to be a poor man.” And in his conferences he taught, “Giving alms is our way of life.”
On this feast day of St. Albert of Jerusalem, we recall that he gave the Rule of Life to Carmelite hermits who lived "near the spring on Mount Carmel." He urged them to clothe themselves with God's armor and to prepare for "the enemy's ambush". The enemy came in human form when the Mamluks who conquered the Crusader stronghold at Acre moved south unchallenged and massacred the hermits on Carmel.
In 1885 St. Louis Martin accompanied a priest on a pilgrimage to Constantinople, Athens, and Rome. While in Constantinople he wrote a newsy letter on this date to his daughter Marie, praising her for doing an excellent job of managing the household. He also described in some detail the sights that he had seen.
Albert Avogadro was born about the middle of the twelfth century in Castel Gualtieri in Italy. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross at Mortara and was elected their prior in 1180. Named Bishop of Bobbio in 1184, and of Vercelli in 1185, he was made Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1205. There, in word and example, he was the model of a good pastor and peace-maker. While he was Patriarch (1206-1214) he formed the hermit brothers of Mount Carmel into a collegium and wrote a Rule for them. He was murdered at Acre on September 14, 1214, by the Master of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, whom he had rebuked and deposed for immorality.
In her 1939 poem "The Valley of the Cat-tails" Jessica Powers writes: “My valley is a woman unconsoled. Her bluffs are amethyst, the tinge of grief; her tamarack swamps are sad. There is no dark tale that she was not told; there is no sorrow that she has not had.”
For the renewal of vows at the Carmel of Echt in 1940, St. Edith Stein wrote a meditation for the prioress at her request. We share the final section of the meditation where Edith presents a striking response to the age-old complaint that God doesn't hear our prayers. "What right have we to be heard?" Edith asks. Her own answer is decisive: "The day on which God has unrestricted power over our hearts we shall also have unrestricted power over his."