BLESSED MARY OF THE INCARNATION
In provinces of France: Memorial
Barbe Avrillot was born in Paris in 1566. At the age of sixteen, she married Pierre Acarie, by whom she had seven children. In spite of her household duties and many hardships, she attained the heights of the mystical life. Under the influence of St. Teresa’s writings, and after mystical contact with the Saint herself, she spared no effort in introducing the Discalced Carmelite nuns into France. After her husband’s death, she asked to be admitted among them as a lay sister, taking the name of Mary of the Incarnation; she was professed at the Carmel of Amiens in 1615. She was esteemed by some of the greatest men of her time, including St. Francis de Sales; and she was distinguished by her spirit of prayer and her zeal for the propagation of the Catholic faith. She died at Pontoise on April 18th, 1618.
From the Common of Holy Women (Religious)
Office of Readings
Proud Heresy, with fur’ous, flame-like glance,
Hath gazed exulting on the Western nations;
And fired, as by a torch, unhappy France
is prey to cruel wars and devastations.
A noble woman, brave, of lion heart,
Now giveth rescue, home and faith defending,
With courage to repel the poison-dart,
And spurn the peril with a will unbending.
The exile of her lord is bravely borne,
Her scattered heritage and ruined dwelling;
She nobly conquers insult, pride, and scorn,
With joyful heart to lowly deeds compelling.
She faltereth not tho’ trial presseth sore,
Though cares abound, tho’ lamed in torture lying;
Nay, for her Lord’s sweet sake she craveth more,
To suffer all with Him her soul is sighing.
And when misfortune giveth place to peace,
She resteth not, her zeal o’erpasseth measure;
To spread the faith her ardors never cease,
And gentle service is her life and pleasure.
From Spain she seeketh help for her loved land,
For Carmel there, a noble vine hath flourished,
Transplanting thence a sacred virgin band,
By blest Theresa’s strength of spirit nourished.
All honor to the Father and the Son!
Be equal glory to the Spirit given!
O great Divinity, Thou, Three in One,
May ages praise Thee with the songs of Heaven!
The Second Reading
From the Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila
(C. 1, no. 1ff.: ed. Kavanaugh-Rodriguez 1980, pp. 41-43, 50)
The apostolic aim of the Teresian Carmel
When I began to take the first steps toward founding this monastery, it was not my intention that there be so much external austerity.
At that time news reached me of the harm being done in France and of the havoc the Lutherans had caused and how much this miserable sect was growing. The news distressed me greatly, and, as though I could do something or were something, I cried to the Lord and begged him that I might remedy so much evil. It seemed to me that I would have given a thousand lives to save one soul out of the many that were being lost there.
I realized I was a woman and wretched and incapable of doing any of the useful things I desired to do in the service of the Lord. All my longing was and still is that since he has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones. As a result I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same.
I did this trusting in the great goodness of God, who never fails to help anone who is determined to give up everything for him. My trust was that if these sisters matched the ideal my desires had set for them, my faults would not have much strength in the midst of so many virtues; and I could thereby please the Lord in some way. Since we would all be occupied in prayer for those who are the defenders of the Church and for preachers and for learned men who protect her from attack, we could help as much as possible this Lord of mine who is roughly treated by those for whom he has done so much good; it seems these traitors would want him to be crucified again and that he have no place to lay his head. Still, my heart breaks to see how many souls are lost. Though I can’t grieve so much over the evil already done—that is irreparable—I would not want to see more of them lost each day.
O my Sisters in Christ, help me beg these things of the Lord. This is why he has gathered you together here. This is your vocation. These must be the things you desire, the things you weep about; these must be the objects of your petitions. The world is all in flames, they want to sentence Christ again, so to speak, since they raise a thousand false witnesses against him; they want to ravage his Church.
So, then, I beg you for the love of the Lord to ask His Majesty to hear us in this matter. Miserable though I am, I ask His Majesty this, since it is for his glory and the good of the Church; this glory and good is the object of my desires.
R/. Let petitions and prayers of thanksgiving be offered to God for everyone: * for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).
V/. Prayer of this kind is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, * for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).
Freed at length from marriage tie,
Winged with joy her soul doth fly
To the fortress of Teresa, led by Spirit’s call;
Choosing there the lowest place,
She, who with a mother’s grace
Well might rule and govern, now is subject unto all.
O’er her sisters rising far,
As a bright and glorious star,
Guide of all who seek the path of life to God above,
She all honor doth despise,
And with great Teresa vies
In the tortures of her heart consumed with flames of love.
Mount thee to the heavenly height,
In the grace of love and light,
Harken to thy suppliants then, who pleading cry to thee.
Cast a love-enkindled glance
On thine own, thy native France,
That all minds and hearts be one in faith and charity.
Hasten all ye right of heart,
Sing ye loud with joyful art
Praise to our Redeemer Christ, and humbly Him adore;
Praise with all the heavenly host
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One in Blessed Trinity of Persons ever more.
Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, says the Lord, He will give you (alleluia).
You gave Blessed Mary of the Incarnation
heroic strength in the face of the adversities
she met along life’s road,
and zeal for the extension of the Carmelite family.
May we your children
courageously endure every trial
and persevere to the end in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Let angels hymn sweet harmony unending,
Let Carmel gladly join her ardent prayer,
While temples echo with the songs ascending
Upon the joyful air.
The glorious life of Mary now inspires
The chanting of her praises, fitly due;
She dwelleth high amid celestial choirs,
In bliss serene and true.
Her mind reposed in God from earliest dawning;
Her ready heart was swift to prompting grace;
All empty pomp and sinful pleasures scorning,
She fled the world’s embrace.
To dwell with Christ a virgin, was her choosing;
She fondly sought Him for her Lord and Spouse,
But wishes of her parents ne’er refusing,
‘Neath wedded yoke she bows.
So hath God willed that this exalted matron
With brightest luster of her state might shine,
To them that wed a noble type and patron
Of virtues all divine.
As wife and mother strong her love and tender,
Meek to obey her husband’s every call,
To children and to servants prompt to render,
A prudent care in all.
All honor to the Father, Son, and Spirit,
O glorious Trinity enthroned above.
The blessed faith whose teachings we inherit,
Proclaims Thee One in love.
Canticle of Mary
Ant. I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek wisdom (alleluia).
Catholic Church 1993, Proper of the Liturgy of the Hours of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and the Order of Discalced Carmelites (Rev. and augm.), Institutum Carmelitanum, Rome.
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