Quote of the day: 3 August

The testimony of Dr. Lenig

 

I met Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, known in the camp as Edith Stein, on the 2nd of August 1942, in the transit camp at Amersfoort, in barracks No. 9, if I am not mistaken.

[Nota Bene: Other sources clarified that Edith and Rosa arrived at Camp Amersfoort on August 3 after processing in Roermond]

On that Sunday all Catholics of Jewish, or partly Jewish, ancestry were arrested by the German hangmen’s helpers as a reprisal for a pastoral letter that had been read from the pulpits of all Dutch churches the previous Sunday. They were taken away and at first assembled at Amersfoort before being deported from there to the gas chambers and crematoria…

 

Amersfoort-Camp-entry
Entrance, Camp Amersfoort | faceme / Flickr

 

When your Sister, together with about three hundred men, women and children had been driven behind the barbed wire fence of the camp, they had to stand for hours on the barrack-square, where they could watch, just as a pleasant welcome, a roll call that had been in progress for two or three days. It was to punish the entire camp, so far as I rememberone of the starving internees who had “stolen” some dry bread that had been thrown away. That is to say, some of them were still standing, the rest had collapsed and were being variously mishandled to get them on their feet again.

Among those still standing I noticed an inflexible opponent of the Third Reich, Ministerial Director Dr. Lazarus, who, like the new arrivals, was a courageous and avowed Catholic. Nor can I forget how the day was one long series of kickings and beatings, although these were tolerable.

More upsetting was the condition of most of the women… It was at this moment that Edith Stein courageously showed her commitment.

It must be mentioned that, to begin with, all were released who had been brought in by mistake, Protestants, Greek (Bulgarian) Orthodox, etc., and then the monotony of camp life set in. Roll calls and nightly deportations.

With diligence, they read the Imitation of Christ that someone had smuggled in; a Trappist faithfully said Holy Mass for themhis six brothers and sisters who had all joined the same Order were with him [the Loeb family], all prepared for transport. Holy Communion was distributed diligently, and despite the harassment by the SS, every one of this flock destined for death steadfastly sang the Confiteor daily, until the last of them had gone their way…

 

Loeb Family Trappists Koningshoeven Abbey website
The martyrs of the Loeb family, Dutch Trappists who were deported from the Netherlands on the same date and in the same transport as Edith and Rosa Stein. Read the Trappist generalate’s tribute to the Loeb family martyrs here. | Photo credit: Koningshoeven Abbey

 

It was also very moving to see the response of this brave flock of believers when they heard that there were priests somewhere in the camp; immediately they gave up some of their meager rations, their tobacco, their money, etc., that were now useless to them but might help the priests to placate their torturers and so hope to experience the day of liberation.


 

Doctor Fritz Lenig  (Friedrich Moritz Levinsohn) was a native of Gelsenkirchen, Germany;  he was a physician, entrepreneur, and a refugee in the Netherlands like Edith, Rosa, and so many others. He had been arrested and was interned at Camp Amersfoort at the same time that the transport arrived carrying the Carmelite Stein sisters and the Trappist Loeb family, as well as the Dominican Sister Judith Mendes Da Costa and other Catholics of Jewish ancestry.

Saint Edith Stein’s first biographerher Cologne novice mistress and prioress Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.indicates that after the war the Sisters in Cologne, Echt, the friars at the Discalced Carmelite General Curia, as well as family and friends of Edith worldwide were anxiously searching for news of the whereabouts of Edith and Rosa. As far as the Order, family, and friends were concerned, the Stein sisters were still considered to be missing persons and everyone held out hope for their return:

“Neither the office of the Father General of the Carmelite Order in Rome, nor the relatives in America, nor the Carmelite convents in either Germany, Holland or Switzerland were able to discover any trace of them.”

An unexpected article published in l’Osservatore Romano at the Vatican in 1947 prompted a new flurry of activity and inquiries. Written in a very authoritative tone, the biographical article entitled “From Judaism to the University and Thence to Carmel” indicated that Edith and her sister were beaten, imprisoned, and then killed “either in a gas chamber or as some think, by being thrown down into a salt-mine.”

Mother Teresia Renata states that the source of the announcement was untraceable. Nevertheless, coming from a publication as authoritative as l’Osservatore Romano, the news item was reprinted in diocesan newspapers around the world despite errors in Sister Teresa Benedicta’s biography.

 

Mother Teresia Renata Posselt - Edith Stein Archiv
Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D. | Edith Stein-Archiv

 

The Cologne Carmelites decided to send a circular letter, as is the custom of Discalced Carmelite nuns; except they decided to distribute thousands of copies across the globe to enlighten, edify, and correct any previous misstatements concerning Edith and Rosa.

As a direct result of the dissemination of that circular letter, the noted German physician, Professor Max Budde from Gelsenkirchen, contacted the nuns in Cologne to tell them that one of his friends from Gelsenkirchen days, Dr. Fritz Lenig was at Camp Amersfoort when Sr. Benedicta and Rosa arrived, but he had been able to escape death.

The nuns in Cologne wasted no time in contacting Dr. Lenig.

The excerpt published here presents the salient points of Dr. Lenig’s response to the inquiry from the Carmel of Cologne concerning the whereabouts of Edith and Rosa, in particular as it pertains to their arrival at Camp Amersfoort on the 3rd of August 1942.

 

Posselt, Teresia Renata. Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite (p. 212). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.
Dutch Bishops 1943 in Utrecht
The Dutch episcopal conference meeting in the Bishop’s Palace in Utrecht, 14 December 1943.
From left to right: Bishop J.P. Huybers (Haarlem), Bishop P. Hopmans (Breda), Archbishop Dr. J. de Jong (Utrecht), Bishop G. Lemmens (Roermond, in which diocese the Carmel of Echt was located), Bishop W.P.A.M. Mutsaerts (Den Bosch).
Photo credit: NIOD Photo Archives (used by permission) 
Pastoral letter of the Dutch Bishops

July 20, 1942

We live in a time of great affliction, both spiritual and material. In recent times two specific afflictions have come to the fore: the persecution of the Jews and the unfortunate lot of those who are sent to work in foreign countries.

These afflictions must also be brought to the attention of those who are responsible for them. To this end, the venerable Dutch Episcopate, in communion with nearly all the churches in the Netherlands, approached the authorities of the occupying forces concerning, among other things, the Jews, in a recent telegram of Saturday, July 11. The telegram stated the following:

The undersigned Dutch churches, already deeply shocked by the actions taken against the Jews in the Netherlands that have excluded them from participating in the normal life of society, have learned with horror of the new measures . . .

Read the full text of the telegram and the pastoral letter here

 

With gratitude to the translator at Rorate Caeli blog

 

Quote of the day: 17 June

ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
TO THE BISHOPS OF VIETNAM
ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT

Tuesday, 17 June 1980


Last year in taking possession of his titular church, your dear Cardinal said that the Church in Vietnam has always found “a mother’s powerful hand” in Mary. I entrust to her protection your ecclesial mission and that of all the Christians in your country.

Just returning from my pilgrimage to Lisieux, permit me also to invoke the little Carmelite, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who is linked to Vietnam in many ways. Her Carmel is at the origins of Carmelite life in your homeland and, if her health had permitted it, she would have gladly gone to your country.

Saint John Paul II
Excerpt from the Ad Limina Address

 

Statue of Saint Jean-Paul II Notre-Dame de Paris Tsereteli 2014
Saint John Paul II monument, Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, Zurab Tsereteli (2014) | Amaury Laporte / Flickr

 

Translation from the French is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

 

Quote of the day: 28 May

We have the duty to assist the pope

 

In the Church, the Holy Father is infallible in matters of faith and morals. The Holy Father appoints bishops who ordain priests, and approves and establishes religious congregations. Through the pastors of the Church, all of us receive the truth of the faith, and thus there is created a unity between us here present and the Holy Father. And if we obey the pope, we obey the Lord Jesus, according to his own words addressed to Peter and the other apostles: “Whoever hears you, hears me” [Lk 10:16].

Therefore, we have the duty to assist the pope, and if we are unable to do it in other ways, let us help with prayers and good works.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski
The Church is Our Home
Conference to the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Wadowice
Wednesday, 29 March 1893

 

Paten_of_Płock
Chalice and paten of Konrad of Masovia | Maksymilian Fajans / Wikimedia Commons

 

Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality (p. 41)
Szczepan T. Praskiewicz: translated by Thomas Coonan, Michael Griffin, and Lawrence Sullivan.
ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc. 1998, 2016

Monseñor Silvio Báez: “Tomar la justicia por sus propias manos, eso es aumentar la espiral de la violencia” — Obrera de la Tecla

Un llamado a la población a no tomarse la justicia por sus propias manos, hizo este domingo el obispo auxiliar de Managua, monseñor Silvio Báez, tras los incidentes derivados de la represión el sábado por la tarde en Metrocentro, cuando un fanático orteguista fue golpeado por manifestantes cuando lo desarmaron. La entrada Monseñor Silvio Báez:…

via Monseñor Silvio Báez: “Tomar la justicia por sus propias manos, eso es aumentar la espiral de la violencia” — Obrera de la Tecla

San Jose Sabana Grande 31 Mar 19
Monseñor Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. predicando a los fieles en la parroquia San José de Sabana Grande, 31 de marzo de 2019 | Photo: Emiliano Chamorro / LaPrensa  

9 January: St. Andrew Corsini

January 9
SAINT ANDREW CORSINI
Bishop

Optional Memorial

Andrew was born at the beginning of the fourteenth century in Florence and entered the Carmelite Order there. He was elected provincial of Tuscany at the general chapter of Metz in 1348. He was made bishop of Fiesole on October 13th, 1349, and gave the Church a wonderful example of love, apostolic zeal, prudence, and love of the poor. He died on January 6th, 1374.

From the Common of Pastors

Office of Readings

The First Reading
James 2:1-9, 14-24

A reading from the Letter of St. James

Faith without works is dead

My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats;’ then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my footrest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?

Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. In spite of this, you have no respect for anybody who is poor. Isn’t it always the rich who are against you? Isn’t it always their doing when you are dragged before the court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the honorable name to which you have been dedicated? Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme law of scripture: “you must love your neighbor as yourself;” but as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin, and under condemnation for breaking the Law.

Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds’; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds — now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God — that is creditable enough, but the demons have the
same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realize, you senseless man, that faith without good deeds is useless. You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he ‘offered his son Isaac on the altar’? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: ‘Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified’; and that is why he was called ‘the friend of God.’

You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified.

Responsory

R/. Pure, unspoiled religion in the eyes of God our Father is this: *
you must come to the help of orphans and widows in their need and keep yourself uncontaminated by the world

V/. Quick to be generous, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains forever. *
you must come to the help of orphans and widows in their need and keep yourself uncontaminated by the world

The Second Reading
Bk 1,10

A reading from The Pastoral Rule of Pope St. Gregory the Great

Portrait of a good pastor

It is important that a man who is set up as a model of how to live should be one who is dead to all the passions of the flesh and lives by the spirit, turns his back on what the world has to offer, is unafraid of hardship, and is attracted only by the interior life. He does not let his body shirk its duty out of frailty; he does not become depressed when abused, for he realizes that things of this kind further his true ends. He does not readily covet what is not his, but with what he does possess he is generous. His loving nature is quick to forgive, though he never allows himself to be misled into condoning more than he should. While he does no wrong himself, he grieves over the misdeeds of others as if they were his own. His compassion for others when they are sick is heartfelt, and he is just as glad when good befalls his neighbor as when his own interests are advanced. His behavior is so exemplary in all respects that he need never fear being made to blush, even for past faults. He so conducts his life that those whose hearts are in need of refreshment can always find it in the guidance he gives. He is so well versed in the art of prayer that he can obtain anything he asks for from the Lord; it is as though he were singled out by a prophetic voice saying to him: “While you are still speaking I will say, ‘See, I am here.’”

If someone happened to come and ask one of us to intercede for him with an influential man we did not know and who was annoyed with him, we should at once say: ‘I cannot come and intercede — I do not know what he is like.’ So if a person is afraid to intercede with a mere man about whom he knows nothing, how can one, who is not sure whether or not his conduct makes him worthy to be counted God’s friend, take it upon himself to be the people’s advocate before God? How can he ask pardon for others if he is not sure that his own sins have been forgiven?

Responsory

R/. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.*
Try then to imitate God, as children of his that he loves.

V/. Tend the flock that is placed under your care, willingly as God would have you do, being examples to your flock.*
Try then to imitate God, as children of his that he loves.

Prayer

God our Father,
You reveal that those who work for peace
will be called Your children.
Through the prayers of St. Andrew Corsini,
who excelled as a peacemaker,
help us to work without ceasing
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.

We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God, says the Lord.

Canticle of Mary

Ant. The kingdom of God consists of justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of all.

 

andrew corsini_guido_reni,_s._andrea_corsini,_1639_pinacoteca_bologna

BAEZ - The priesthood is not IGsize
“The priesthood is a mission received from God; it isn’t a job, it’s a loving surrender to others in the name of God. This means being ministers – not performing functions, but serving with joy – without depending on things that happen and without relying on worldly powers.”
(Bishop Silvio Báez, Homily for the Ordination of Oscar Martínez, C.Ss.R., 29 December 2018)

A Carmelite response to the sexual abuse crisis

Some have asked if Carmelites have a particular message or word of advice and counsel to offer to the Catholic Church as she passes through a profound crisis concerning sexual abuse, the abuse of power, and the abuse of conscience. Of course, the answer is a resounding, “yes”. Let us turn to the teaching of our Doctors of the Church, and in particular, let us learn from their feminine genius, to be attentive to the wisdom that emanates from Carmel.

Teresa-de-Jesus_Juan-de-la-Misericordia-original
One of three portraits claimed to be the original painted by Fray Juan de la Miseria in 1570

When she was a young nun, Saint Teresa was attached to a priest with fallen morals in Becedas, and she talks about this relationship in Chapter 5 of her autobiography, The Book of Her Life.

“I was so fascinated with God at that time what pleased me most was to speak of the things of God. And since I was so young, it threw him into confusion to observe this; and by reason of the strong love he had for me, he began to explain to me about his bad moral state. This was no small matter, because for about seven years he had been living in a dangerous state on account of his affection and dealings with a woman in that same place; and, despite this, he was saying Mass. The association was so public that he had lost his honor and reputation, and no one dared to admonish him about this. To me, it was a great pity for I loved him deeply. I was so frivolous and blind that it seemed to me a virtue to be grateful and loyal to anyone who loved me. Damned be such loyalty that goes against the law of God! This is the kind of nonsense that goes on in the world, which makes no sense to me: that we consider it a virtue not to break with a friendship, even if the latter go against God, whereas we are indebted to God for all the good that is done to us. Oh, blindness of the world! You would have been served, Lord, if I had been most ungrateful to all that world and not the least bit ungrateful to You! But it has been just the reverse because of my sins.”

“Damned be such loyalty that goes against the law of God!”

Brother_Lawrence_in_the_kitchen
An artist’s rendering of Frère Laurent in the cuisine of the Couvent des Carmes

The wisdom of our Carmelite doctors teaches that practicing the presence of Christ is essential in the Christian life to weather every trial. “Keeping Christ present is what we of ourselves can do,” wrote Saint Teresa (The Book of Her Life, 12:4).

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection agrees: “The holiest, most ordinary, and most necessary practice of the spiritual life is that of the presence of God. It is to take delight in and become accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measure, especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even infidelity and sin.” (Maxims, 2:6)

“Keeping Christ present is what we of ourselves can do”

Untitled Design (1)
USAG-Humphreys, South Korea, Full-Scale Exercise, 2012: Hostage Scenario

Saint Teresa teaches us the necessity of avoiding sin at all costs. In her Spiritual Testimonies, No. 20, Saint Teresa describes her 1571 vision of “how a soul in sin is without any power but is like a person completely bound, tied, and blindfolded; for although wanting to see, such a person cannot, and cannot walk or hear, and remains in great darkness. Souls in this condition make me feel such compassion that any burden seems light to me if I can free one of them.”

In the Interior Castle (First Dwelling, Chapter 2) she described the torment to a greater extent: “there’s no darker darkness nor anything more obscure and black… Nothing helps such a soul; and as a result, all the good works it might do while in mortal sin are fruitless for the attainment of glory… Since, after all, the intention of anyone who commits a mortal sin is to please the devil, who is darkness itself, not God, the poor soul becomes darkness itself.”

But, it was her vision of hell in 1560 that compelled her first and foremost to serve God with the greatest fervor, to avoid sin at all costs, and to “give a thousand lives to save one soul” (Way of Perfection, Chapter 1). She explained the horror of the vision in The Book of Her Life, Chapter 32:

[W]hile I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it…

What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe… This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces. The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair

I was left terrified, and still am now in writing about this almost six years later, and it seems to me that on account of the fear my natural heat fails me right here and now. Thus I recall no time of trial or suffering in which it doesn’t seem to me that everything that can be suffered here on earth is nothing; so I think in a way we complain without reason… 

Consequently, it is hardly surprising that Saint Teresa shrugged off so many hardships with her “grande y muy determinada determinación“; that is to say, her “great and very determined determination,” a typical Teresian turn of phrase that gives us a glimpse into her unflinching character. Not only was her heart aflame with divine love, but her soul bore the traces of this unquenchable fire and disconsolate despair.

“Souls in this condition make me feel such compassion that any burden seems light to me if I can free one of them”

adolfo-lozano-sidro-99
Santa Teresa de Jesús, Adolfo Lozano Sidro, oil on canvas, ca. 1897

Saint Teresa responded to the Church’s most profound crisis in centuries by practicing prayer, silence, and striving for evangelical perfection. She continues her account of the 1560 vision of hell with these remarkable words: “from this experience [the vision of hell] also flow the great impulses to help souls and the extraordinary pain that it caused me by the many that are condemned (especially the Lutherans, for they were through baptism members of the Church). It seems certain to me that in order to free one alone from such appalling torments I would suffer many deaths very willingly.” (The Book of Her Life, Chapter 32)

When the professor of moral theology at Wittenburg University sent his Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum in a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz on 31 October 1517,  few could have foreseen that the 95 theses in Professor Luther’s Disputatio would wound the Church so deeply, or that the wound would grow so infected that it would spread even to Spain.

Teresian scholars Rodriguez and Kavanaugh describe the context of the times for Saint Teresa: only a few short years after the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, the Inquisition in Spain promulgated a decree (1525) against the “heresies of Luther”.  The restrictions of the Inquisition in those days were so oppressive that even Saint Ignatius of Loyola was forbidden to preach for three years.

In the months following her harrowing vision of hell, Saint Teresa continued to hear distressing reports concerning the spread of the Lutheran sect, as she called it. While she prayerfully, carefully laid the plans to gather a “few good friends” to found a Carmelite monastery of strict observance, the damnation of Lutherans – made more urgent by the terrifying vision of hell – was her constant concern. As she puts it, she had “some good motives”; we’ll let her explain:

When I began to take the first steps toward founding this monastery…  it was not my intention that there be so much external austerity or that the house have no income; on the contrary, I would have desired the possibility that nothing be lacking. In sum, my intention was the intention of the weak and wretched person that I am — although I did have some good motives besides those involving my own comfort. 

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. [The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the evangelical counsels in Nos. 1973 and 1974; a further explanation of the counsels in relation to the Ten Commandments is found at No. 2053.] 

Saint Teresa’s motives, methods, and goals are clear: she hears the distressing news, comprehends the gravity of the situation, and her immediate recourse is to “arise, cry out in the night,” and, clinging to her Spouse, to pour out her heart “like water before the presence of the Lord.” (Lamentations 2:19)

Much in the same way that Elijah stands on God’s holy mountain, speaking to Him when he hears the gentle breeze, rendering an account for his presence and actions saying, “with zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts,” (Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum, the motto of the Carmelites), even so Saint Teresa is driven with zealous zeal at this moment. She who desired in her reform to lift up the holy founders of the order as models and exemplars, the “holy fathers of the past, those hermits whose lives we aim to imitate,” (Way of Perfection, Chapter 11) Saint Teresa is following their path into the Wadi ‘Ain Es-Siah to pursue prayer and silence. For Teresa, a rugged hike along the way of perfection is the best remedy to the Church’s greatest crisis of the second millennium.

“I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could”

Pri06r
Saint Thérèse’s Offering to Merciful Love (recto)

In her infinite wisdom, the Virgin of Carmel, who is our sister and teacher, impresses upon us the necessity of prayer for priests.  During her summer vacation in July 1890, Celine Martin writes to her sisters in the Carmelite monastery back home in Lisieux, “Oh! how necessary it is to pray for priests!” (Letter, 7/22/1890)

Nearly five years later, Saint Thérèse took her sister’s urgent request to heart as she penned the first draft of her act of Offering of Myself as a Victim of Holocaust to the Merciful Love of the Good God. The opening lines of her first draft state: “O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love you and make you loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. Finally, my God, I want to make myself worthy of my vocation by helping your apostles to conquer for you all hearts.”

Thérèse eloquently expressed that desire in the final months of her life to the one apostle to whom she confided her deepest dreams and celestial aspirations: the Missionaries of Africa seminarian, Maurice Bellière. In an extraordinary letter dated 24 February 1897, Saint Thérèse plainly states her life’s mission: “If the Lord takes me soon with Him, I ask you to continue each day the same prayer, for I shall desire in heaven the same thing as I do on earth: To love Jesus and to make him loved.” 

The eminent Carmelite authority on the theology of the saints, François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D. expounded upon Saint Thérèse’s deepest desires as the preacher of the 2011 Lenten Exercises for Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia. In the seventh meditation, which focuses on the Christocentrism of  Thérèse, he explains, “the light of Christ, which we contemplate with Thérèse in this meditation, is the total Truth of God and Man that shines forth in Love. Inseparable from scientia fidei, the scientia amoris of Thérèse makes him shine; and, by making him loved, she gives him easier access to our hearts.” (La lumière du Christ dans le coeur de l’Eglise, p. 101, blogger’s translation)

This “total truth of God and Man”, which Thérèse loved so passionately that she desperately hoped to die of love, is the same incarnate truth whom she sought so passionately throughout her life. Let’s join her sister, Pauline and the prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague at her bedside after Vespers just before the community gathers to pray as she draws her final, labored breath:

After Vespers, Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her knees. She looked at it for a moment and said, when Mother Prioress assured her she’d be soon caressing the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus:

“O Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin; I’m a baby who can’t stand anymore! . . . Prepare me for death.”

Mother Prioress told her that since she had always understood humility, her preparation was already made. She reflected a moment and spoke these words humbly:

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart. . . . It seems to me I’m humble.”

Saints Thérèse and Teresa, these two great Doctors of the Church teach us the immediacy and power of these words: Dios es suma Verdad, y la humildad es andar en verdad (God is supreme Truth; and, to be humble is to walk in truth).

Thérèse embodied the eminent teaching of her Holy Mother Teresa.

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth…”

Père-Jacques_headshot
Père Jacques de Jésus (1900-1945)

The holy Martin family’s pressing call to pray for priests was echoed nearly fifty years later by a spiritual brother of Saint Thérèse, the Discalced Carmelite friar Père Jacques of Jesus. A friar from the same province as Brother Lawrence, Père Jacques was the headmaster of the Discalced Carmelite friars’ boarding school in Avon. In September 1943 he preached the annual retreat for the community of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Pontoise, France. In his opening conference of the retreat, he wasted no time in addressing the Carmelite’s call to intercession for priests, in particular for priests in dire need of prayer:

Carmel is a community of human beings who reveal God to other human beings. There should be a Carmel in every city, and then there would be no need of works. One would see God through these human beings who live for him and him alone.

In reading the history of the Church or the history of our own order, like all the other orders, except for the Carthusians, we find periods of decline and need of reform in the wake of intervals of laxity and even scandal. Even among priests and religious, we find cases of spiritual death. We learn that a particular priest grew spiritually cold and left the priesthood, only to embark upon a life of degradation. You need to be aware of such cases and, in turn, to pray for priests. As you can see, it is not enough to experience a period of surpassing spiritual fervor. Gradually, one can abandon retreat instead of intensifying it. Gradually, one can return to the world left behind by readopting its norms instead of embracing God’s standards ever more fully.

Ultimately, it is through embracing the teaching of the Carmelite Doctors of the Church that one finds peace in troubled moments; calm for our fears; reminders of God’s immutable nature and the unsurpassed value of patience; and, the most timely counsel of all: “whoever possesses God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.”

Solo dios basta
God alone is enough

 

Citations from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila 
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (unless otherwise noted)
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC 
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Edited by Conrad De Meester, OCD, Translated by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Excerpt from Listen to the Silence: A Retreat With Père Jacques
Translated and Edited by Francis J. Murphy 
Copyright © 2005 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

Triduum of Prayer for the Beatification of Chiquitunga – June 20

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:3)

Resolution: Pray one mystery of the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope and our Bishops

Lord, I give you my whole being; I want to be entirely yours, no longer belonging to myself; to be wonderfully a slave of your will.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

CHIQUITUNGA - Dying to live

Photo: Curia Generalizia Carmelitani Scalzi, Rome
Triduum prayers: @ChiquitungaOficial
Chiquitunga quotes translated by Heidi Cooper, OCDS

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