Mary, Mother of God: Her face speaks peace — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Solemnity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of God
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
1 January 2020


Gospel
Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On the first day of the new year, we have the joy and grace of celebrating the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and at the same time the World Day of Peace. Gathered as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist around Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary and our true peace, we welcome with emotion the words of the ancient blessing that the priests imparted on the people of Israel: The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! (cf. Nm 6:26).

We have heard, both in the first reading—taken from the Book of Numbers—and in the responsorial Psalm, some expressions that contain the metaphor of the face in reference to God: “The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!” (Nm 6:25); “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2, NRSVCE). The face is the expression par excellence of the person, which makes him recognizable; through it, the feelings, thoughts, and intentions of the heart are shown. God, by his nature, is invisible; however, the Bible also applies this image to him. Showing his face is an expression of his benevolence while hiding it indicates his anger and indignation. The Psalms present believers as those who seek the face of God (cf. Ps 27:9; 102:2, NRSVCE) and who aspire to see it in worship: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:2, NRSVCE).

We begin this year with the deep conviction of our faith that the Lord wants to show us his face and that this is a reason for trust and hope. We trust that this year the Lord will look upon us as we journey and that he’ll gaze upon us with infinite kindness. We know that he’ll never turn his face away from us because he is the faithful one and he loves us dearly. We do not know what will happen in this new year, but we’re sure that the Lord will continue to show us his gentle, loving, welcoming face, assuring us that he is with us. The face of the Lord who is looking upon us will overcome our loneliness.

Biblical history as a whole can be read as a progressive revelation of the face of God, until it reaches its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. “When the fullness of time had come,” the Apostle Paul reminded us today, “God sent his Son” (Gal 4:4). And immediately he adds, “born of a woman, born under the law.” The face of God took on a human face, allowing Himself to be seen and recognized in the son of the Virgin Mary, whom we, therefore, venerate as “Mother of God.” She, who kept in her heart the secret of divine motherhood, was the first to see the face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb. The mother has a very special, unique and in some ways exclusive relationship with her newborn child. The first face the child sees is that of the mother, and this look is decisive for his relationship with life, with himself, with others, and with God.

Through her face, Mary “gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son (…) and sensing “the maternal tenderness of God”. At the same time, in contemplating the face of Mary, “the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles, the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise” (Pope Francis, Homily 1 January 2017). Seeing his mother’s face, Jesus recognized himself to be a son and a brother, as the Son of God and as the brother of all people. The mother’s serene gaze communicates security and peace, giving an awareness of being a person and strengthening the ability to relate to others and to God with maturity and generosity. Today too, the face of the Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us feel like children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.

The face of Our Lady, whose heart was always full of God’s loving presence, allows us to feel that God is close to us and loves us, it instills in us the certainty that God never leaves our side, and that he cares for us and always forgives us. Our Lady’s face also helps us to look at each other as sisters and brothers. It teaches us to see as she does, and it enables us to have a caring vision that seeks to welcome, to accompany, and to protect. Let’s learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary. May she help us this year to show a kind and welcoming face to all. Let’s not be afraid to go out and look at our brothers and sisters with Our Lady’s eyes, to let her face be seen in our faces. Her face speaks peace to us and makes us capable of being peacemakers.

Peace has much to do with the face, with our own face and the faces of others. Peace begins with a respectful look that recognizes a real person in the face of the other individual, whatever the color of their skin, their nationality, their language, and their religion may be. In this New Year, may people who see our face have no fear, neither let them feel ignored or rejected, because “mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace” (Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2020).

Peace is destroyed when we live in faceless, anonymous societies where the law that seems to dominate our coexistence is “every man for himself,” all of us being submerged in the sea of selfishness and indifference. We contribute to peace when we fill our lives and our hearts with faces—with faces that have names and stories, with faces that make our hearts beat with charity and solidarity, that move us with tenderness and goodness.

In many of our countries, injustice and violent repression continue to sow terror and death because we have not learned to recognize human beings who deserve dignity and respect in the faces of others, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Peace will be possible for our people only through “a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honor the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance” (World Day of Peace 2020).

The ancient priestly blessing of Israel concludes with these words: “The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace” (Nm 6:26). The human face of God who imparts his peace to us is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, at the beginning of this New Year, to prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessing in Christ and to be peacemakers, let us run back to the manger like the shepherds (cf. Lk 2:15-26) and confidently turn our faces to the face of the Mother who carries God in her arms. May she, whose face reflects God’s maternal tenderness, preserve our hearts in peace and help the whole of humanity to walk in the pathways of peace.

 

Theotokos BAEZ fave
Credit: Desde dentro…

 

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

The Holy Family: The fiber of humanity — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
29 December 2019


Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.

Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which reminds us of a particular dimension of the mystery of God’s becoming human in Jesus Christ: the Lord wanted to live in the very heart of a family. He entered the world as a child, born of the Virgin Mary and, through Joseph he received a legal father, was lovingly welcomed and protected by his parents, and was educated by them in the best human and religious values of his people. Ever since then the family, every family, has a certain sacredness. The Son of God sanctifies and gladdens every family with his presence and enables families to experience tenderness, reconciliation, and hope by sustaining them with his tender and merciful love.

The gospel text that we heard reminds us that Jesus’ family was a family like many of our families today, forced to move to foreign lands to save their lives and survive. As soon as Jesus is born, he suffers opposition from the mighty of this world, as will be the case throughout his life. The servant Messiah, devoid of power, always will be spied upon, persecuted, and harassed by the leaders of religion and politics who are governed by selfishness, ambition, and violence. The powerful are afraid of God’s people and respond to the gifts of God with intimidation and terror.

King Herod, who ruled in Judea, fearing the “king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2), who according to the testimony of the Magi was just born in Bethlehem, decided to take drastic measures to eliminate the child. Those who wield power like despots in an authoritarian manner always live in fear of losing their power. Ambitious and thirsty for power, Herod is afraid and orders the murder of all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). Like the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, like the tyrants of today who dominate by repression and the shedding of innocent blood, Herod chooses to kill rather than lose his power and privileges. History repeats itself.

Because he’s just a little child, Jesus is not able to take care of himself and protect himself from danger and it’s only thanks to Joseph and Mary’s care that his life is saved. Salvation history, woven by God with the fiber of humanity, passes through the daily events of families who are called to protect life by keeping love alive and seeking relationships of closeness and affection.

An angel, a messenger of the Lord, appeared in a dream to Joseph and commanded him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph promptly obeys, takes Mary and the newborn with him, and goes to Egypt where they experience the dramatic conditions of refugees, characterized by fear, poverty, uncertainty, and discomfort (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Unfortunately, thousands of families in our Latin American countries can see themselves in this sad reality. I’m thinking especially of Cuba, Venezuela and, more recently, my beloved people in Nicaragua. How many people in our countries, children, women and the elderly included, have to leave their homeland because of hunger or violence in search of an existence with greater dignity or simply to save their lives! I’m thinking today especially of the approximately 80,000 Nicaraguans who’ve had to flee our country, persecuted by a dictatorial government and its dark forces of death, in search of safety, trying to survive at all costs by exposing themselves to all kinds of risks and dangers!

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these difficulties so that no one would feel excluded from God’s loving presence. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is there wherever people are in danger, wherever they suffer, wherever they are forced to flee, and wherever they experience rejection and abandonment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced what it means to leave your own land and become immigrants, to have to flee and take refuge in a foreign country. In the midst of such a painful drama, Mary’s maternal heart and Joseph’s attentive heart always held onto the trust that God never would abandon them. Through their intercession, may this same conviction be rooted in your hearts, dear brothers and sisters, most of you who are immigrants and refugees who have left our countries. Don’t sink into sadness or let yourselves be overcome by despair in the face of difficulties; put your trust in the God who is the protector of the weak and vulnerable and who will never abandon you; live out your exile in communion with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who will accompany you with their love and help you to envision ever-new horizons.

After some time following Herod’s death, an angel reveals to Joseph—once again in a dream—that he can return to Israel. The situation is as yet uncertain because Archelaus, Herod’s son, reigns over Judea. This is why Jesus and his parents are going to Galilee. Joseph, the great dreamer of the dreams of God, also dreams in Egypt, in a foreign land, and Mary and Jesus share those dreams with him. Exile is a time to welcome the dreams that are born from trust in God. God is also there where men and women dream, where they hope to return to their homes in freedom, and where they plan and make choices in favor of life and dignity for themselves and their families.

Exile, even when forced by socio-political circumstances, can become a time of salvation, an authentic experience of God in darkness and pain. The great majority of you, who are either immigrants or refugees because of egotism, corruption, and violence, have a special place in the heart of God. He comforts, protects and invites you not to reproduce the same dehumanizing patterns of behavior of those who forced you out of your own country. Those who live outside their land are called to behave honestly in public life in the country that welcomes them, to respect its laws and to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of life. But that isn’t all. Immigrants and refugees must cultivate selfless friendships and fraternal charity towards one another, you must help each other in times of difficulty and, as far as possible, create networks of humanitarian aid and support among yourselves.

The family of Nazareth, which knew exile with all its difficulties and was protected by God, returned to its land and invites all exiles and refugees to feel loved and protected by God. Don’t lose hope that a safer future is reserved for you, too. Let us ask Jesus, Joseph, and Mary that you always may find an outstretched hand to help you and that you may experience fellowship, solidarity, and the warmth of friendship. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t forget your country, because as our great Rubén Dario said, “if the homeland is small, a great one can dream of it.” To my Nicaraguan compatriots outside the homeland, I remind you that Nicaragua is made for freedom, not for living like hostages. From now on, let us dream and strive to build a more dignified country for everyone, one that is free, just, peaceful and democratic. God is with us.

 

 

"Holy Family" by Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649) is licensed under CC0 1.0
Holy Family
Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649)
Etching, 1633
Cleveland Museum of Art (Licensed under CC0 1.0)

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

Quote of the day: 24 December

Del Verbo divino
la Virgen preñada
viene de camino:
¡si le dais posada!

San Juan de la Cruz

Navideña: Del Verbo Divino

 


 

The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God,
comes down the road:
if only you’ll shelter her.

Saint John of the Cross

Christmas Refrain

 

Nativity Census Bruegel Belgium copy bruegel-3637dig-l
The Census at Bethlehem
Pieter Bruegel I (Dutch, 1527/28? – 1569)
Oil on oak panel, 1566
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

 

 

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

St. Joseph: Silence, Humanity and Love — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
22 December 2019


Gospel
Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, on the eve of the Christmas celebration, the liturgy of the word is centered on the person and experience of Saint Joseph, a young worker from Nazareth engaged to Mary, whom he loved and who he was going to marry. Before living together, Joseph discovers that she is expecting a child whose paternal origin is not entirely clear to him. The Gospel says that Joseph was “just”, that is, he faithfully fulfilled the law of the Lord; and not wishing to disown her in public, he decided to do so in private, sending her away quietly (cf. Mt 1:19). Was he surprised to see that Mary was pregnant since they had not had relations? Is it possible that his fiancée didn’t involve him in the event by sharing with him what she had understood from God about this birth?

Something unexpected and unpleasant is interjected in the marriage plans of the two young people. That pregnancy could only be the fruit of betrayal and, from the point of view of the cultural and religious customs of the time, Mary was considered an adulteress and according to the Law of Moses, she was to be stoned to death for her infidelity. Adultery was a break with the patriarchal order that dominated society; since the woman was deemed as belonging to the husband, so the aggrieved husband could denounce her and have her killed for her sin.

Joseph was just, that is, a faithful observer of the Lord’s law, but not in the style of the Pharisees, attached to the letter of the law. Joseph fulfills the law of the Lord by acting with profound humanity. With Joseph, justice means humanity, as the Book of Wisdom says: “the righteous must be kind” (Wis 12:19). He breaks with the logic of domination and possession. The other person is not first and foremost a sinner, a personified error, or a traitor, but a human being who has received life as a gift and commitment; a person who has the right to make changes and to live. Joseph proves to be truly just.

Joseph is not ashamed, he doesn’t belittle Mary and he doesn’t act in such a way as to expose her to shame and death. He doesn’t react in an impulsive and disciplinary fashion, but he looks for a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. Joseph’s justice is manifested in the fact that he was “unwilling to expose her to shame”, in not acting as if he owned her by deciding that she had to suffer and die. Nor does he care about his image as a man whose honor has been tarnished and whose rights have been violated by his future wife. Joseph acts with humanity and love.

Joseph’s actions were a huge, painful inner struggle for him. How many questions, how many doubts, how much uncertainty assail Joseph! It’s at this moment that God intervenes by revealing to Joseph in a dream the mystery of the conception of Mary’s son: it is the work of the creative power of God’s Spirit (v. 20-21). That dream obviously not only tried to resolve the conflict that had arisen between two spouses, but its ultimate aim was above all to reveal the identity of the child that was growing in Mary’s womb. Her child is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit; he is a creature that only God could give us. Joseph, accepting divine revelation about the divine origin of Jesus and accepting his role as the legal father of the child, presents himself as a “just” man, again not on the ethical-legal level of the old covenant like the Pharisees, but in the evangelical sense of the new covenant, as one who thoroughly fulfills the divine will—even without thoroughly understanding it—with absolute trust in God. He is the just and obedient man, open to God’s ways and docile to his will.

Joseph—who never speaks, of whom the Gospel doesn’t recall even one word, a silent and strong man, simple and energetic, practical and free—is also a dreamer.  The fate of the world was entrusted to his dreams because the just man has the same dreams as God. Today we need dreamers who are committed to making their dreams come true. It takes courage to dream, not mere imagination. Dreaming means not being content with the world as it is, but rather having the courage to see and imagine the most humane and the happiest future for everyone. Shakespeare said that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 1887-1889).

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). He doesn’t hesitate. Now he knows that God is asking him to do the hardest, not the easiest thing, and he decides not to leave Mary—not to run away; he abandons his doubts and decides to do God’s will (Mt 1:24). Maybe he knew the saying of his wife, Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) because in silence he repeats the same thing with his attitude when he gets up: “Here is your servant. Use me”. His willingness to choose God’s will, even if it is the most difficult and incomprehensible, his courage of faith not to run away but to stay and collaborate with God, changes Saint Joseph’s life forever. It will be his rule of life. Saint Joseph is like Abraham. He always walked without knowing where God was taking him, but he journeyed in serenity, knowing that he was in God’s hands.

Joseph accepts the legal paternity of the child; he will give him his last name. In this way, Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is directly linked to the dynasty of King David. The Son of God is now also the son of David. He receives his name from his legal father. Joseph names him as the angel has indicated: Jesus, in Hebrew yehoshua, means “The Lord saves”. The divine origin of Jesus and his saving mission are wonderfully condensed in his name. That is why he was born, that is why he came into the world, as the angel explained to Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). From now on Joseph will be the father of Jesus. He will walk in faith before the mystery of that son who is growing up before his eyes, who was his own but at the same time was not, welcoming the mystery of God in him through loving care and the silence of faith.

Saint Joseph’s life isn’t the life of a man who seeks his own fulfillment no matter how much it costs, who wants to do what’s convenient for him, whatever he pleases, and whatever sets him apart; but rather, his is the exemplary life of a man who denies himself, who doesn’t run away in the face of difficulties, and who humbles himself to let God lead the way. He hasn’t allowed himself to be paralyzed by doubt and fear in the face of the incomprehensible, nor has he allowed himself to be guided by a reasonable plan that he himself organized in human terms; rather, responding to God’s wishes, he has renounced his will in order to give himself over to the will of the Other, to the magnificent will of the Most High. In this way, he shows us that a person is completely fulfilled through this complete renunciation of self in order to do God’s will.

This Christmas we contemplate Saint Joseph, with the Virgin and the Child in the manger; Joseph—who had an unwavering trust in God, which allowed him to accept a situation that was difficult in human terms and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible. May he teach us that to be righteous is to be human; that to be a believer is to trust and obey God; and, that to be a believer it isn’t necessary to speak much. Joseph never spoke in the Gospel, because, as Saint John of the Cross says, “what is wanting, if anything is wanting, is not writing or speaking—rather these usually superabound—but silence and work.”

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome, and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, he currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

 

RIZI-Francisco_Dream of St Joseph_IMA
The Dream of St. Joseph
Francisco Rizi (Spanish, 1608-1685)
Oil on canvas, about 1665
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Gallery label

In a subject that became popular in Spain during the 17th century, an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary has miraculously conceived a child. The luminous angel points to a vision of Mary with the infant Christ in her womb and the dove of the Holy Spirit above her. The veneration of the expectant Virgin as protectress of women in childbirth was prevalent at the Spanish court.

The artist’s forceful draftsmanship, fluid brushwork, and radiant color exemplify the most important tendencies of late Baroque painting in Madrid.

Rizi was born in Spain, the son of a Bolognese painter who worked for Philip II at the royal complex of El Escorial. In 1656 Rizi became royal painter to Philip IV. He was also a stage designer.

Learn more about this painting here. Learn more about Francisco Rizi here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

Quote of the day: 17 December

Amaury-Duval
Head of the Virgin, Eugène Amaury-Duval, 1865

Total Virgin

“She was a virgin even of herself.”
Père François de Sainte-Marie, O.C.D.


In a house of mirrors that coveted her image
she never walked
with her own beauty
nor made a feast of her goodness,
inviting friends from the far and wide.
She never sat down with her own innocence
to dialogue together,
nor called a stranger in
to sit at her hearth and be glorified.

She was a maiden promised to one lover
whom she was always seeking.
Though he hid in her heartbeat and settled himself
behind her breath,
he was distance, too. Journeys dwindled to places
beside her own, and miles melted beneath
her steps of wanting. She could by-pass all
meadows that trap us with their poisonous flower
and their soliciting pools
and winding lanes that skirt the only death.

She was out on a road alone, hastening onward,
gathering all as a gift, the small and great
fragments of mystery and reality.
Everything was for Him, even her own being.
Since love marks neither measurement or weight
she carried all, without touching or tasting.

Life which comes as a virgin to us all,
most safely came to her.
Time, when she passed, remained inviolate.

 

Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.

 

Powers, J 1999, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 22 November

Think what must have been in the soul of the Virgin when, after the Incarnation, she possessed within her the Incarnate Word, the Gift of God… in what silence, what recollection, what adoration she must have been wrapped in the depth of her soul in order to embrace this God whose mother she was.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

22 November 1903

 

Margetson, William Henry, 1861-1940; Mary at the Loom
Mary at the Loom
William Henry Margetson (British, 1861–1940)
Oil on canvas, 1895
Victoria Art Gallery

15 November: All Carmelite Souls

November 15
ALL CARMELITE SOULS

Commemoration

When November 15 falls on a Sunday, the Commemoration is celebrated on the following day.

Just as the love of Christ and the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary have brought us together in a single family, fraternal charity unites those of us still striving to lead a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ in this world, and those already awaiting the vision of God in purgatory. Today the whole Order commends our departed brothers and sisters to God’s mercy through the intercession of Our Lady, sure sign of hope and consolation, and begs for their admission to the courts of heaven.

All as in the Office of the Dead.

Prayer

Lord,
you are the glory of those who serve you.
Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters,
united in following Christ and his Mother
by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel.
In your mercy
grant them everlasting sight of you,
their Creator and Redeemer.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

 

Indy Carmel cemetery cross EgoSumResurrectioEtVita CoreyBruns Flickr 12328135805_0a02a11bb2_o
Ego sum resurrectio et vita: I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) The cross overlooks the garden in what was once the monastery cemetery at the Carmel of Indianapolis, now Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary | Corey Bruns / Flickr

Quote of the day: 27 October

Mary, with her Maternity, is like a book in which the world can read the Eternal Word, Jesus, the Lord.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski

 

Dyce, William, 1806-1864; Virgin and Child
Virgin and Child
William Dyce (Scottish, 1806–1864)
Oil on plaster
Nottingham City Museums
A study of the Virgin Mary facing right, holding Jesus in her right arm, and reading a small red book in her right hand. She wears her light brown hair braided at the back, and has on a red round-necked dress with large sleeves edged in green, with a blue cloak that has slipped to waist level. The child is naked except for a band of white material slung over his left shoulder. The background is a rocky landscape.

Santa Maria in Traspontina

Flos carmeli,
Vitis florigera
Splendor coeli,
Virgo puerpera
Singularis.

Mater mitis,
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
Da privilegia
Stella maris.

Radix Jesse
Germinans flosculum,
Hic adesse
Me tibi servulum
Patiaris!

Inter spinas
Quae crescis lilium
Serva puras
Mentes fragilium
Tutelaris!

Armaturis
Fortis pugnantium
Furun bella
Tende praesidium
Scapularis!

Per incerta
Prudens consilium
Per adversa
Juge solatium
Largiaris.

 

NDMC Traspontina gbcarmelite Flickr 24647026116_510d4acd77_o
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Carmelite Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina | Johan Bergström-Allen, gbcarmelite / Flickr | View more photos of the Carmelite Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina here

 

Flower of Carmel,
Blossom on the vine,
Splendor of Heaven,
Virgin bearing child,
Singular.

Gentle mother,
Yet unknown to man,
Give your Rule
To the Carmelites,
Star of the Sea.

Stem of Jesse
Sprouting a blossom
Be thou near me.
And permit me
To be thy servant!

Lily which grows
Among the thorns,
Preserve as innocent
And protect
The minds of the weak!

Strong armour
Of the fighting men
The wars are raging
Extend the protection
Of the scapular.

Through uncertainty
You lavish
Wise council,
And through adversity
Eternal consolation.

 

Quote of the day: 15 September

Mary, at the top of Calvary standing beside the Cross
To me you seem like a priest at the altar,
Offering your beloved Jesus, the sweet Emmanuel,
To appease the Father’s justice…
A prophet said, O afflicted Mother,
« There is no sorrow like your sorrow ! _ »
O Queen of Martyrs, while remaining in exile
You lavish on us all the blood of your heart !

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Why I Love You, O Mary (PN 54, excerpt)

 

Calvaire_Rochefort-en-Terre_Bretagne (2)
This detail from a streetside Calvary shrine in the village of Rochefort-en-Terre is typical of many found scattered throughout Bretagne, France | Source: Flickr creative commons

Better and more than anyone else, we who are doubly the children of Mary should imitate her, to be enriched as faithful children with the fruits of her maternity; seeking the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary for salvation.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Mother of God, Hope of the World

 

Annunciation_CARRACCI Agostino_Louvre
The Annunciation
Agostino Carracci (Italian, 1557-1602)
Oil on canvas, late 16th c.
Louvre Museum

 

Praskiewicz OCD, S 1998, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

23 July: Our Lady of Divine Grace

July 23
(In Europe: July 19)
OUR LADY, MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE

Memorial

‘The Blessed Virgin Mary was eternally predestined, in the context of the Incarnation of the divine Word, to be the Mother of God. As decreed by divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving Mother of the divine Redeemer, His associate, uniquely generous, and the Lord’s humble servant. She conceived, bore, and nourished Christ; presented Him to the Father in the Temple; and was united with Him in His suffering as He died on the cross. In a completely unparalleled way she cooperated, by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity, with our Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is Mother to us all in the order of grace’ (Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, 61).

From the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, except the following:

Office of Readings

The Second Reading

Hom. 4

From the homily of St. Cyril of Alexandria preached at the Council of Ephesus

Our access to the fountainhead of grace is through Mary

Hail Mary, Mother of God, august treasury of the whole world, unquenchable torch, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, temple indestructible, and place of the uncontainable, mother and virgin. Through you is named blessed in the holy gospel He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hail Mary! You contained the uncontainable in your holy virginal womb. Through you the Trinity is glorified; through you is the cross named precious, and adored throughout the whole world; through you heaven exults; through you angels and archangels rejoice; through you demons are put to flight; through you the devil, the tempter, fell from heaven; through you the fallen creature is taken up to heaven; through you the whole created world, gripped in the madness of idolatry, come to a recognition of the truth; through you comes about holy baptism for believers; through you the oil of gladness; through you churches have been founded through the whole world; through you nations are led to repentance.

What need is there to speak at length? Through you the only Son of God shone His light for those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; through you prophets foretold what was to come; through you apostles preach salvation to the nations; through you the dead are raised to life; through you kings reign, through the Holy Trinity.

What man can sing adequately the praise of Mary? She is both virgin and mother! The wonder astounds me. Shall the Builder be forbidden to inhabit the temple He has built? Shall He be despised who chose His handmaid for His mother?

See then, all things rejoice. May it be ours to fear and bow before the unity of the Trinity, to worship and tremble in awe before the indivisible Trinity, as we sing praises of the ever-virgin Mary, that is the holy Church, and of her Son and immaculate spouse; for to Him is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Responsory

R/. With confidence let us draw near to the throne of grace, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help.
V/. To you do we cry, blessed Virgin, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help.

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. It is I who give birth to all noble loving and the holy gift of hope. From me comes every grace of faithful observance; from me all promise of life and vigor.

Prayer

God of eternal wisdom,
in your providence, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary
should bring forth the Author of Grace,
and take part with him
in the mystery of man’s redemption.
May she obtain for us grace in abundance
and bring us to the haven of everlasting salvation.

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.

Evening Prayer

Canticle of Mary

Ant. Our salvation is in your hands, O Mother; smile upon us, and we shall be happy in our service of the Lord our King.

 

Mater-Divinae-Gratiae_sepia
“She is Mother to us all in the order of grace” (LG 61)

Flos Carmeli: Novena 9

I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself. It wearies me now to see and think that I was not constant in the good desires I had in my childhood.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life: Chapter 1


Acuérdome que cuando murió mi madre quedé yo de edad de doce años, poco menos. Como yo comencé a entender lo que había perdido, afligida fuime a una imagen de nuestra Señora y supliquéla fuese mi madre, con muchas lágrimas. Paréceme que, aunque se hizo con simpleza, que me ha valido; porque conocidamente he hallado a esta Virgen soberana en cuanto me he encomendado a ella y, en fin, me ha tornado a sí. Fatígame ahora ver y pensar en qué estuvo el no haber yo estado entera en los buenos deseos que comencé.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
El Libro de la Vida: Capítulo 1

 

1991.48
The Virgin Placing St. Teresa of Avila Under the Protection of St. Joseph
François Guillaume Ménageot (French, 1744–1816)
Oil paint over pen and brown ink, on paper, mounted on canvas, ca. 1787
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

SEQUENCE HYMN
Flos Carmeli

Flos Carmeli,
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera
singularis.

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
esto propitia
stella maris.

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium
tutelaris.

Armatura
fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium
scapularis.

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium
largiaris.

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

Paradisi
clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
coronaris. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.”

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

 

Many of the images of St. Teresa are found in the Iconografía Teresiana online collection of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes; other works are found in the PESSCA online collection of Spanish Colonial Art
Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

Per Adversa: Novena 8

The way of suffering and love

1. On another day the Lord told me this: “Do you think, daughter, that merit lies in enjoyment? No, rather it lies in working and suffering and loving. Haven’t you heard that St. Paul rejoiced in heavenly joys only once and that he suffered often. Look at my whole life filled with suffering, and only in the incident on Mount Tabor do you hear about my joy. When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. The great saints who lived in deserts, since they were guided by God, performed severe penances; and besides this, they waged great battle with the devil and with themselves. They spent long periods without any spiritual consolation. Believe, daughter, that My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these. How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point. Suffering is the way of truth. By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

2. When I had begun prayer I had such a bad headache I thought it would be almost impossible to pray. The Lord said to me: “In this way, you will see the reward that comes from suffering, for since you did not have the health to speak with Me, I have spoken with you and favored you.” And so it is certain that I must have been recollected about an hour and a half. During that time He spoke the above words to me and all the rest. I was not distracted, but neither did I know where I was; and I was so happy I don’t know how to describe it. My headache went away — which surprised me — and I was left with a great desire for suffering.

It is true, at least I haven’t heard otherwise, that our Lord didn’t have any joy in life other than this once, nor did St. Paul. The Lord also told me I should keep very much in mind the words He spoke to His apostles, that the servant must not be greater than the Lord.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 32


1. Esto me dijo el Señor otro día: “¿Piensas, hija, que está el merecer en gozar? No está sino en obrar y en padecer y en amar. No habrás oído que San Pablo estuviese gozando de los gozos celestiales más de una vez, y muchas que padeció, y ves mi vida toda llena de padecer y sólo en el monte Tabor habrás oído mi gozo. No pienses, cuando ves a mi Madre que me tiene en los brazos, que gozaba de aquellos contentos sin grave tormento. Desde que le dijo Simeón aquellas palabras, la dio mi Padre clara luz para que viese lo que Yo había de padecer. Los grandes santos que vivieron en los desiertos, como eran guiados por Dios, así hacían graves penitencias, y sin esto tenían grandes batallas con el demonio y consigo mismos; mucho tiempo se pasaban sin ninguna consolación espiritual. Cree, hija, que a quien mi Padre más ama, da mayores trabajos, y a éstos responde el amor. ¿En qué te le puedo más mostrar que querer para ti lo que quise para Mí? Mira estas llagas, que nunca llegaron aquí tus dolores. Este es el camino de la verdad. Así me ayudarás a llorar la perdición que traen los del mundo, entendiendo tú esto, que todos sus deseos y cuidados y pensamientos se emplean en cómo tener lo contrario”.

2. Cuando empecé a tener oración, estaba con tan gran mal de cabeza, que me parecía casi imposible poderla tener. Díjome el Señor: “Por aquí verás el premio del padecer, que como no estabas tú con salud para hablar conmigo, he Yo hablado contigo y regaládote”. Y es así cierto, que sería como hora y media, poco menos, el tiempo que estuve recogida. En él me dijo las palabras dichas y todo lo demás. Ni yo me divertía, ni sé adónde estaba, y con tan gran contento que no sé decirlo, y quedóme buena la cabeza -que me ha espantado- y harto deseo de padecer.

Es verdad que al menos yo no he oído que el Señor tuviese otro gozo en la vida sino esa vez, ni San Pablo. También me dijo que trajese mucho en la memoria las palabras que el Señor dijo a sus Apóstoles, “que no había de ser más el siervo que el Señor”.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 36

 

The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila_Alonso Cano_Museo del Prado
The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila, Alonso Cano, Oil on canvas, 1629, Museo del Prado, Madrid

 

SCRIPTURE
Colossians 1:24-2:5

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face. It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. I say this to make sure that no one deceives you with specious arguments. I may be absent in body, but in spirit I am there among you, delighted to find you all in harmony and to see how firm your faith in Christ is.

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

Carmelitis Da Privilegia: Novena 7

Her vision of our Lady in the choir of the Incarnation

1. On the eve of the feast of St. Sebastian, the first year in which I was prioress at the Incarnation, at the beginning of the Salve Regina, I saw the Mother of God descend with a great multitude of angels and sit in the prioress’s choir stall where there was a statue of our Lady. In my opinion I didn’t then see the statue but our Lady herself. It seemed to me she looked something like she does in the painting the countess gave me; although the power to discern this was quickly taken away, for my faculties were soon held in great suspension. It seemed to me there were angels above the canopies of the stalls in the back and above the front stalls; although they were not in corporeal form, for this was an intellectual vision.

She remained for the whole of the Salve, and she told me: “You were indeed right in placing me here; I shall be present in the praises they give my Son, and I shall offer these praises to Him.”

2. After this I remained in the kind of prayer I now have, that of keeping my soul present with the Blessed Trinity. And it seemed to me that the Person of the Father drew me to Himself and spoke very pleasant words. Among them, while showing me what He wanted, He told me: “I gave you My Son, and the Holy Spirit, and this Blessed Virgin. What can you give Me?”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 21


1. La víspera de San Sebastián, el primer año que vine a ser Priora en la Encarnación, comenzando la Salve, vi en la silla prioral, adonde está puesta nuestra Señora, bajar con gran multitud de ángeles la Madre de Dios y ponerse allí. A mi parecer, no vi la imagen entonces, sino esta Señora que digo. Parecióme se parecía algo a la imagen que me dio la Condesa aunque fue de presto el poderla determinar, por suspenderme luego mucho. Parecíame encima de las comas de las sillas y sobre los antepechos, ángeles, aunque no con forma corporal, que era visión intelectual.

Estuvo así toda la Salve, y díjome: “Bien acertaste en ponerme aquí; yo estaré presente a las alabanzas que hicieren a mi Hijo, y se las presentaré”.

2. Después de esto quedéme yo en la oración que traigo de estar el alma con la Santísima Trinidad, y parecíame que la persona del Padre me llegaba a Sí y decía palabras muy agradables. Entre ellas me dijo, mostrándome lo que quería: “Yo te di a mi Hijo y al Espíritu Santo y a esta Virgen. ¿Qué me puedes tú dar a mí?”.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 25

Choir Incarnation Avila British Library Blogfeatimage
Engraving of Carmelite nuns in prayer at the Monastery of the Incarnation; note the canopies above the choir stalls

 

SCRIPTURE
Romans 12:1-2

So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars,

Paradisi Clavis: Novena 6

O my Jesus! What a sight it is when You through Your mercy return to offer Your hand and raise up a soul that has fallen in sin after having reached this stage! How such a soul knows the multitude of Your grandeurs and mercies and its own misery! In this state it is in truth consumed and knows Your splendors. Here it doesn’t dare raise its eyes, and here it raises them up so as to know what it owes You. Here it becomes a devotee of the Queen of heaven so that she might appease You; here it invokes the help of the saints that fell after having been called by You. Here it seems that everything You give it is undeserved because it sees that it doesn’t merit the ground on which it treads. Here, in approaching the sacraments, it has the living faith to see the power that God has placed in them; it praises You because You have left such a medicine and ointment for our wounds and because this medicine not only covers these wounds but takes them away completely. It is amazed by all this. And who, Lord of my soul, wouldn’t be amazed by so much mercy and a favor so large for a betrayal so ugly and abominable? I don’t know why my heart doesn’t break as I write this! For I am a wretched person!

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life: Chapter 19


¡Oh Jesús mío! ¡Qué es ver un alma que ha llegado aquí, caída en un pecado, cuando Vos por vuestra misericordia la tornáis a dar la mano y la levantáis! ¡Cómo conoce la multitud de vuestras grandezas y misericordias y su miseria! Aquí es el deshacerse de veras y conocer vuestras grandezas; aquí el no osar alzar los ojos; aquí es el levantarlos para conocer lo que os debe; aquí se hace devota de la Reina del Cielo para que os aplaque; aquí invoca los Santos que cayeron después de haberlos Vos llamado, para que la ayuden; aquí es el parecer que todo le viene ancho lo que le dais, porque ve no merece la tierra que pisa; el acudir a los Sacramentos; la fe viva que aquí le queda de ver la virtud que Dios en ellos puso; el alabaros porque dejasteis tal medicina y ungüento para nuestras llagas, que no las sobresanan, sino que del todo las quitan. Espántanse de esto. Y ¿quién, Señor de mi alma, no se ha de espantar de misericordia tan grande y merced tan crecida a traición tan fea y abominable? Que no sé cómo no se me parte el corazón, cuando esto escribo; porque soy ruin.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Libro de la Vida: Capítulo 19

 

Teresa in a Nativity scene Antwerp 18th c Manuel Navarro
Saint Teresa depicted in a Nativity scene | Teresa, de la rueca a la pluma

 

SCRIPTURE
Romans 7:21-25

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars,

Inter Spinas: Novena 5

(Seville, Nov. 21, 1575)
The feast of the Presentation of our Lady in the temple

1. On the day the brief was presented, while I was anxiously waiting, I was all troubled and couldn’t even pray vocally. For they had come to tell me our Father’s life was in danger. It wasn’t allowed for him to leave the monastery and there were so many rumors. I heard these words: “O woman of little faith! Be calm, for things are going very well.”

2. It was the feast of the Presentation of our Lady, in the year 1575. I resolved within myself that if the Virgin would obtain from her Son that we see both our Father and ourselves freed from these friars, I would ask our Father for an indult that in all of our monasteries of the discalced nuns this feast could be celebrated with solemnity

3. When I made this resolve I didn’t recall what I had heard in the vision I’d seen, that the Father would establish a feast. Now in turning back to read this little notebook, I have wondered if the feast could be this one of the Presentation.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 55


El día que se presentó el Breve, como yo estuviese con grandísima atención, que me tenía toda turbada, que aun rezar no podía, porque me habían venido a decir que nuestro Padre estaba en gran aprieto, porque no le dejaban salir y había gran ruido, entendí estas palabras: “¡Oh mujer de poca fe!; sosiégate, que muy bien se va haciendo”.

2. Era día de la Presentación de nuestra Señora, año de mil y quinientos y setenta y cinco. Propuse en mí si la Virgen acababa con su Hijo que viésemos a nuestro Padre libre de estos frailes, y a nosotras, pedir ordenase que en cada cabo se celebrase con solemnidad esta fiesta en nuestros monasterios de Descalzas.

3. Cuando esto propuse no se me acordaba de lo que entendí, que había el Padre de establecer fiesta, de la visión que vi. Ahora, tornando a leer este cuadernillo, he pensado si ha de ser ésta la fiesta.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 60
Sevilla, el 21 de noviembre de 1575

 

Teresa in Penance_Pernambuco PESSCA
Saint Teresa in Penance, João de Deus Sepúlveda, Oil on wood, 1760-1761, Igreja de Santa Teresa, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

 

SCRIPTURE
Matthew 14:22-32

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars,

Mater Mitis: Novena 4

It happened that while I was here [at St. Joseph’s monastery in Toledo] a fatal illness struck one of the Sisters. After receiving the sacraments and being anointed, her happiness and joy were so great that, as though she were going to another country, we were able to talk to her about how she should recommend us to God when in heaven and to the saints to whom we were devoted. A little before she died, I went to her room to be with her, for I had just gone before the Blessed Sacrament to beg the Lord to give her a good death. And when I entered I saw His Majesty at the head of the bed. His arms were partly opened as though He was protecting her, and He told me that I could be certain He would protect all the nuns that die in these monasteries and that they should not fear temptation at the hour of death. I was left very consoled and recollected. After a little while I began to speak to her, and she said to me: “O Mother, what great things I am going to see.” Thus she died, like an angel.

And I have noticed that some who have died since this occurred have done so with quiet and calm as though they were in rapture or in the prayer of quiet, without showing the least sign of any temptation. Thus I hope in the goodness of God that He will be merciful to us at the moment of death through the merits of His Son and those of His glorious Mother whose habit we wear. Therefore, my daughters, let us strive to be true Carmelites, for soon the day’s journey will end.

May Our Lord be pleased, Sisters, that we live our lives as true daughters of the Blessed Virgin and keep our vows so that He may grant us the favor He has promised us. Amen.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Foundations: Chapter 16


Acaeció, estando yo aquí [Carmelo de San José de Toledo], darle el mal de la muerte a una hermana. Recibidos los sacramentos y después de dada la Extremaunción, era tanta su alegría y contento, que así se le podía hablar en cómo nos encomendase en el cielo a Dios y a los santos que tenemos devoción, como si fuera a otra tierra. Poco antes que expirase, entré yo a estar allí, que me había ido delante del Santísimo Sacramento a suplicar al Señor la diese buena muerte; y así como entré, vi a Su Majestad a su cabecera, en mitad de la cabecera de la cama. Tenía algo abiertos los brazos, como que la estaba amparando, y díjome: que tuviese por cierto que a todas las monjas que muriesen en estos monasterios, que El las ampararía así, y que no hubiesen miedo de tentaciones a la hora de la muerte. Yo quedé harto consolada y recogida. Desde a un poquito, lleguéla a hablar, y díjome: “¡Oh Madre, qué grandes cosas tengo de ver!”. Así murió, como un ángel.

Y algunas que mueren después acá he advertido que es con una quietud y sosiego, como si les diese un arrobamiento o quietud de oración, sin haber habido muestra de tentación ninguna. Así espero en la bondad de Dios que nos ha de hacer en esto merced, y por los méritos de su Hijo y de la gloriosa Madre suya, cuyo hábito traemos. Por eso, hijas mías, esforcémonos a ser verdaderas carmelitas, que presto se acabará la jornada.

Plega a nuestro Señor, hermanas, que nosotras hagamos la vida como verdaderas hijas de la Virgen y guardemos nuestra profesión, para que nuestro Señor nos haga la merced que nos ha prometido. Amén.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Fundaciones: Capítulo 16

 

death of st teresa_carmenalto_quito
Death of Saint TeresaQuito School, Mural painting c. 1653 
Claustro Alto, Convento del Carmen Alto, Quito, Ecuador

 

SCRIPTURE
II Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling—if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

12 July: Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin

July 12
SAINT LOUIS MARTIN AND ZELIE GUERIN

Optional Memorial

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux, on August 22, 1823. While he was master-watchmaker in Alençon, he met Marie Azelie (Zelie) Guerin, a lace maker, born in Gandelain (St-Denis-sur-Sarthon), on December 23, 1831. They were married on July 13, 1858,and had nine children, including the future Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus. Model spouses, devoted parents, workers, attentive to the poor, always nourishing a missionary spirit, they found their strength and hope in regular attendance at Holy Mass and in a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. After a long illness Zelie died in Alençon on August 28, 1877. Louis, in retirement, went to Lisieux near his in-laws to ensure a better future for his five children (the other four having died in infancy). This patriarch of the family, after offering all his children to God, knew suffering and illness. He died near Evreux on July 29, 1894.

From the Common of Holy Men, with the psalms of the day.

Office of Readings

The Second Reading
(Zelie et Louis Martin, Correspondance Familiale [1863 – 1885].  Paris, 2004, L1, 72, 130, 81, 110, 147, 179, 204)

From the Letters of St. Zelie Martin

We must be willing to accept generously the will of the good God

My dear friend, I am really worried about you.  Every day my husband makes sad prophecies. He knows Paris and told me that you will be exposed to temptations that, because you are not pious enough, you will not be able to overcome.  He told me that he experienced them himself, and that he needed a lot of courage to come out victoriously from all the battles. If you only knew what trials he had to go through … I beg you, my dear Isidore (Zelie’s brother), to do as I did; pray, and you will not be carried away by the current.  If you succumb once you will be lost. On the road to perdition as on the road to salvation the first step is all important; afterwards you will be carried away by the current.

When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I really felt the pain.  It is a pain to which I have always been resigned. I do not regret the pains and the anxieties I have had to endure on their account.  Many people have said to me: “It would have been better if you had never had them.” I cannot tolerate these words.  The pains and anxieties of this life cannot be compared to the eternal happiness of my children.  After all, they have not been lost forever, life is short and full of suffering, we shall find them in heaven.

Little Therese is always well and looks very healthy.  She is very intelligent and we have very amusing conversations.  She already knows how to pray to God. Every Sunday, she goes for some part of Vespers and if, by mistake, the family forgets to bring her there she cries uncontrollably.

My sister has spoken to me a great deal about your business… I told her not to break her neck because of this, that there is only one thing to do, pray to God, because neither she, nor I, can help you in any other way.  However, He, who is never embarrassed, will rescue us from all this when He sees that we have suffered enough, and then, you will recognize that your success is not due either to your ability or to your intelligence, but to God alone, as it happens with my lace making; this conviction is very beneficial, I have experienced it myself.  You know that we are all inclined to be proud and I notice often that those who have made their fortune are, for the most part, unbearably self-important. I am not saying that I would have been like this, nor you either, but we would have been somewhat tainted by pride; it is a fact that constant prosperity leads one away from God. He never led his chosen ones along this path, they had to pass first through the crucible of suffering in order to be purified.  You are going to say that I am preaching, but no matter I don’t wish to. I think of these things very often and I share them with you; now, call that a sermon if you like!

My dear children, I must go to Vespers to pray for the intention of our dear deceased relatives.  The day will come when you will do this for me, but I must make sure that I do not have so great a need of your prayers.  I would like to become a saint but this will not be easy; there is a lot of wood to burn but it is as hard as stone. It would have been better if I had begun earlier, when it was less difficult, but anyhow “it is better late than never.”

Today is then Wednesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is a great feast for me!  On this day, the Blessed Virgin truly gave me many very special graces… This year, I will go again to find the Blessed Virgin early in the morning… my only prayer will be that those that she has given me will all be saints and that I shall not be too far behind, but they must be much better than me.

Doctor Notta is very sorry that they did not operate at the beginning, as by now it is too late.  However, he seems to be saying that I can go on for a very long time like this. But more than that we put ourselves in God’s hands, who knows better than us what we need, “it is He who wounds but also heals.”  I will go to Lourdes on the first pilgrimage, and I hope that the Blessed Virgin will heal me, if that is what is needed. Let’s remain calm while we wait.

Before leaving, I will assist at the first Mass here, arriving in Le Mans at nine o’clock, still in time to attend the High Mass, after that I will come for you… At the beginning, your father was not happy that I took all three of you, but he wishes it now, and says that we cannot make enough sacrifices to obtain so great a miracle.  Even if I do not obtain it, I will never regret taking you there. We must be willing to accept generously the will of God, whatever it is, because it will always be what is best for us.

Responsory

R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.
V/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.

Prayer

O God,
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 


Discover more from the letters of Saints Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin on the website of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

 

Official-Vatican-Portrait
Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin, banner for their canonization (courtesy Discalced Carmelites)

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