Quote of the day: 30 November

You have entered an Order so holy and perfect, that by keeping its rules and constitutions faithfully, one will go directly from her deathbed to her home in heaven.  

 

Foundation of the Carmel of Pontoise

From the Autobiography of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew, to whom they had just given the black veil, was named Prioress of the new monastery; Mother Isabel of the Angels, Sub-Prioress; and Sister Beatrice of the Conception, Mistress of Novices. Mother Anne of Jesus, who governed the first convent, wished to accompany to Pontoise the three Spanish Carmelites sent there, and she took with her two of the first novices of the Order, Sister Louise of Jesus and Sister Aimee of Jesus.

On Monday Mother Anne of Jesus gave the religious habit to four young ladies of M. Gallemant’s community; the first received was called Agnes of Jesus; later she became Sub-Prioress, and took great care of Blessed Mary of the Incarnation (Madame Acarie) in her last illness. After the ceremony, Mother Anne of Jesus, in order to excite the fervor of the novices just received, spoke these remarkable words: “You have entered an Order so holy and perfect, that by keeping its rules and constitutions faithfully, one will go directly from her deathbed to her home in heaven.”

The first night these novices passed in the house they noticed a miraculous odor, which the Spanish Carmelites told them to call the perfume of St. Teresa.

On Tuesday they started on their return trip to Paris. They left Sister Louise of Jesus, who had to remain in the new monastery, at Pontoise… On returning to Paris, Mother Anne of Jesus was in admiration of the way in which Madame Acarie had established the Order in France; and Madame Acarie admired the way in which Mother Anne of Jesus governed.

The Carmelite said: “How could one woman have sufficient influence in France, Rome, and Spain to make so difficult a foundation? How has she been able to find all the money used in it?”

The Blessed one said in her turn: “How has a Spanish religious, who does not understand French, been able to acquire so much authority over persons of so different a language and customs? How has she been able to make them all one heart and one soul?”

 

Ana_de_Jesús Carmel de Pontoise
Detail of a portrait of Venerable Anne of Jesus in the Carmel of Pontoise, view the complete image here | Credit: Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Diffusion RMN-GP

 

Learn more about the foundation of the Discalced Carmelites in France here

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

Quote of the day: 14 November

Let us remember this one thing. Throughout his life, Christ was unsparing of himself in his zeal to save souls. Our saints have likewise been zealous to save souls. Consider Saint Thérèse, as she offered her walk in the garden for a missionary. All our saints have been passionate apostles. So, too, must we be. This morning, we are going to make an examination of conscience in this regard. Are we other Christs and other Apostles? Are we true Carmelites? Or, are we not merely living smugly? Are we completely committed to the apostolate and eager to give our all to the souls who await our help?

Do we live in such a way that Christ is not deeply disappointed in us? We want to take care not to shy away from suffering, not to speak impulsively, and not to seek a life of comfort. We want to take care to follow our Rule in its demanding details and not just in its broad outline. In a word, we want to avoid pretending to be Carmelites, and instead to be genuine Carmelites. A pseudo-Carmelite is a pseudo-apostle. In ten, fifteen or thirty more years, you will come before God to render an account of your life. Then, Christ will show you all the souls you should have saved. You will have no valid excuse and will have to reply: “I could not spare my sleep or I was tired…”

True Carmelites are committed to saving the world. Day by day they grow in prayerfulness and year-by-year they become living embodiments of our Rule and Constitutions. Admittedly, we may be far from perfect at the beginning of our religious life. However, once we have completed our apprenticeship, we must be the living embodiment of our Rule and Constitutions for no other reason than to work with Christ for the salvation of the world. Pray to our saints and to the Virgin Mary to help you to attain that goal. Amen.

Père Jacques of Jesus

Excerpt from a retreat conference
Saturday evening 11 September 1943

 

Père-Jacques-de-Jèsus_portrait-headshot
Servant of God Père Jacques of Jesus, OCD (Lucien Bunel) | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites
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Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French  and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

 

Quote of the day: 2 June

God is eternal silence

 

nature water flowers lake
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

God dwells in silence

 


Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
Silence
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Eight 
Thursday evening, 9 September 1943


The Servant of God Jacques de Jésus, O.C.D., who was a professed friar of the Province of Paris-Avon, an ordained priest, and the headmaster of the Discalced Carmelite friars’ boys’ preparatory school at Avon, the Petit Collège Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésusdied on this date, 2 June 1945 in St. Elizabeth Hospital in Linz, Austria following 70 weeks in Nazi prison camps. Père Jacques was weakened by a year of hard labor and harsh conditions at Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps in Austria; when the Allied Forces liberated the camps on 5 May 1945, he summoned the strength to help restore order and organize relief efforts. But 15 days later the Allied camp commanders transferred him to St. Elizabeth Hospital so that he could be close to the community of the Discalced Carmelite friars at Linz. It was there that he succumbed to illness and exhaustion at 45 years of age.

The diocesan process of his cause for beatification was opened in 1990. You can find the prayer for his beatification here and the website for his cause here.

The World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem has a featured story dedicated to Père Jacques. It includes a description of his heroic acts to shelter Jewish students at the preparatory school, for which he was arrested. It also quotes the testimony of witnesses to his arrest and imprisonment and provides links to read full accounts of witnesses’ testimonies. On 17 January 1985 Yad Vashem recognized Père Jacques as Righteous Among the Nations. You can read the Yad Vashem featured story, find the links, and see the Yad Vashem photos here.

Listen to the Silence – A Retreat with Père Jacques, is available for purchase from the publisher, ICS Publications.

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques 
Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy
ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Marie du jour: 24 May

True Carmelites are committed to saving the world

 

Day by day they grow in prayerfulness and year-by-year they become living embodiments of our Rule and Constitutions. Admittedly, we may be far from perfect at the beginning of our religious life. However, once we have completed our apprenticeship, we must be the living embodiment of our Rule and Constitutions for no other reason than to work with Christ for the salvation of the world. Pray to our saints and to the Virgin Mary to help you to attain that goal. Amen.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
The Apostolate
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Thirteen 
Saturday evening, 11 September 1943

Holy Hill main church Erik Aldrich Flickr
A moment of personal reflection and prayer is captured by photographer Erik Aldrich inside the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Holy Hill, the Discalced Carmelite church and retreat center in Hubertus, Wisconsin | pureimaginations / Flickr

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques (pp. 104) Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Marie du jour: 23 May

He was creating and maintaining his mother in existence

 

It is so awesome that it makes us weep with admiration and thanksgiving to think that a poor little human creature, our sister human being, had the tremendous honor of forming a body and bringing god into the world. She received him, she guarded him, she enclosed him in the humble, narrow limits of her own body. What a privilege! The creator of the world called her “Mama.” She held him in her arms and cradled him at her breast.

You know very well that creation was not a passing gesture, as if God had withdrawn, leaving his work to continue according to determined laws. Creation is actually continuing while I speak to you. If God discontinued his creating action, all beings would instantly return to nothingness. Creation is a work that continues unceasingly. This is a consoling thought, which puts us in the presence of God and into contact with the being of God. Thus the little one who was there under Mary’s eye was continuing the act of creating the world; he was creating and maintaining his mother in existence.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
The Divine Preparation in Mary and in Us
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Five 
Wednesday morning, 8 September 1943

 

Nativity Arundel MS 157 folio 3verso British Library (2)
The Nativity, Arundel MS 157, folio 3v
The Book of Psalms, Psalter of the Virgin Mary, and Little Office of the Virgin Mary
English, 1st quarter of the 13th century
Latin and Anglo-Norman proto-gothic script on parchment
The British Library, Digitised Manuscripts Collection

 

About the illustration

This English manuscript is an early example of a Psalter with the Hours of the Virgin Mary attached. The manuscript’s origin is unknown, but probably has a connection with Oxford since its Calendar contains three feasts of St Frideswide (d. 727): the latter was abbess at Oxford and venerated there as local saint by the 10th century; her relics were discovered and elevated in 1180 and preserved at the Augustinian Priory of St Frideswide at Oxford. The manuscript also contains the ‘Psalter of the Virgin Mary’ that has been attributed to St Anselm (b. c. 1033, d. 1109), abbot of Bec and archbishop of Canterbury. This relatively rare attribution can also be found in the 13th century Oscott Psalter which has also been associated with Oxford because of its inclusion of St Frideswide in its Litany of Saints.

Learn more about this manuscript here

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques (p. 34)
Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy
ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

 

Marie du jour: 19 May

The Virgin Mary shares this condition of creaturehood with us.

God is pure act, as the philosophers say; that is, he is the total realization of all possibility. We are not pure act; we have not realized all possibilities of being that are in us. Our being evolves as our heart intensifies its affections and perfects them. Our body grows and then declines. God himself is pure actuality, pure act. Nothing in him is in the state of possibility, passing from nonexistence to existence. All is infinite existence in him.

The human person, on the contrary, far from being this totality of realization, is a creature of infirmity and dependence. Remember what I was saying to you regarding creation? Nothing exists that cannot be annihilated instantly, if the creative action ceases to operate. It is this way, because we are not self-existent beings, as the words of Our Lord to Saint Catherine of Siena indicated: “You are she who is not.” This is the foundation of our being. We are not; we have only a borrowed being, unceasingly renewed by God. The Virgin Mary shares this condition of creaturehood with us. By herself she was not; she was totally dependent, as we are totally dependent.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
Virginity in God and in Mary
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Six 
Wednesday evening, 8 September 1943

Annonciation_MetMuseum_FrenchSculpture
Virgin of the Annunciation
French, ca. 1300–1310
Limestone, traces of paint
Gallery Label: Interrupted in her spiritual meditations, the Virgin Mary modestly recoils from the archangel Gabriel (now lost), whose message foretells the birth of the Christ Child. The statuette’s sensitively carved features and slight smile, elongated proportions, and graceful draperies show stylistic analogies to courtly art in Paris.
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Open Access

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques (pp. 41-42)
Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy
ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Quote of the day: 4 May

I am here; I consider you as the light of my eyes

The magistrates came to receive us half a mile outside the city. All the people arranged in procession welcomed us with demonstrations of most lively faith. The gathering was so great, and our entrance made with such solemnity, that we were unable to cross the threshold of our home until evening. There was reason to praise God in witnessing the devotion with which the inhabitants of Pontoise received this new foundation, and even now they retain the same sentiments. Our Lord has granted and ceases not to grant many favors to this city, owing to the prayers of the Sisters.

Witnessing all this, I experienced intense sorrow only at the thought that I was to be head of the monastery. I was like one condemned to death, and so mortified that it seemed to me the office of Prioress, in my case, was a disgrace, and that never in any other circumstances had I been weighed down body and soul by such ignominy. My whole being seemed but a worm of the earth; and that in truth is what I am. But I never saw it in so clear a light as on that occasion.

Being one day before the Blessed Sacrament, I begged our Lord that He, Himself, would be watchful for His glory, and that He would assist me, as I felt entirely alone. He said to me: “I am here; I consider you as the light of my eyes.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar
Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, despite her fears and trepidation, became one of the great foundresses of the Teresian Carmel in France and Belgium. The Carmel of Pontoise was founded with the aid of Blessed Madame Acarie (Marie of the Incarnation), 15 January 1605, three months after the foundation of the Carmel of Paris on faubourg Saint-Jacques, 18 October 1604. 

Quote of the day: 2 May

God is eternal silence; God dwells in silence. He is eternal silence because he is the One who has totally realized his own being because he says all and possesses all.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
September 1943 Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise: Conference 8 on Silence

leafless trees under starry night sky
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

18 April: Blessed Mary of the Incarnation

April 18
BLESSED MARY OF THE INCARNATION
Religious

Optional Memorial

Barbe Avrillot was born in Paris in 1566. At the age of sixteen, she married Pierre Acarie, by whom she had seven children. In spite of her household duties and many hardships, she attained the heights of the mystical life. Under the influence of St. Teresa’s writings, and after mystical contact with the Saint herself, she spared no effort in introducing the Discalced Carmelite nuns into France. After her husband’s death, she asked to be admitted among them as a lay sister, taking the name of Mary of the Incarnation; she was professed at the Carmel of Amiens in 1615. She was esteemed by some of the greatest men of her time, including St. Francis de Sales; and she was distinguished by her spirit of prayer and her zeal for the propagation of the Catholic faith. She died at Pontoise on April 18th, 1618.

From the Common of Holy Women (Religious)

Office of Readings

Hymn

Proud Heresy, with fur’ous, flame-like glance,
Hath gazed exulting on the Western nations;
And fired, as by a torch, unhappy France
is prey to cruel wars and devastations.

A noble woman, brave, of lion heart,
Now giveth rescue, home and faith defending,
With courage to repel the poison-dart,
And spurn the peril with a will unbending.

The exile of her lord is bravely borne,
Her scattered heritage and ruined dwelling;
She nobly conquers insult, pride, and scorn,
With joyful heart to lowly deeds compelling.

She faltereth not tho’ trial presseth sore,
Though cares abound, tho’ lamed in torture lying;
Nay, for her Lord’s sweet sake she craveth more,
To suffer all with Him her soul is sighing.

And when misfortune giveth place to peace,
She resteth not, her zeal o’erpasseth measure;
To spread the faith her ardors never cease,
And gentle service is her life and pleasure.

From Spain she seeketh help for her loved land,
For Carmel there, a noble vine hath flourished,
Transplanting thence a sacred virgin band,
By blest Theresa’s strength of spirit nourished.

All honor to the Father and the Son!
Be equal glory to the Spirit given!
O great Divinity, Thou, Three in One,
May ages praise Thee with the songs of Heaven!

10.11.10.11.

The Second Reading
From the Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila
(C. 1, no. 1ff.: ed. Kavanaugh-Rodriguez 1980, pp. 41-43, 50)

The apostolic aim of the Teresian Carmel

When I began to take the first steps toward founding this monastery, it was not my intention that there be so much external austerity.

At that time news reached me of the harm being done in France and of the havoc the Lutherans had caused and how much this miserable sect was growing. The news distressed me greatly, and, as though I could do something or were something, I cried to the Lord and begged him that I might remedy so much evil. It seemed to me that I would have given a thousand lives to save one soul out of the many that were being lost there.

I realized I was a woman and wretched and incapable of doing any of the useful things I desired to do in the service of the Lord. All my longing was and still is that since he has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones. As a result I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same.

I did this trusting in the great goodness of God, who never fails to help anone who is determined to give up everything for him. My trust was that if these sisters matched the ideal my desires had set for them, my faults would not have much strength in the midst of so many virtues; and I could thereby please the Lord in some way. Since we would all be occupied in prayer for those who are the defenders of the Church and for preachers and for learned men who protect her from attack, we could help as much as possible this Lord of mine who is roughly treated by those for whom he has done so much good; it seems these traitors would want him to be crucified again and that he have no place to lay his head. Still, my heart breaks to see how many souls are lost. Though I can’t grieve so much over the evil already done—that is irreparable—I would not want to see more of them lost each day.

O my Sisters in Christ, help me beg these things of the Lord. This is why he has gathered you together here. This is your vocation. These must be the things you desire, the things you weep about; these must be the objects of your petitions. The world is all in flames, they want to sentence Christ again, so to speak, since they raise a thousand false witnesses against him; they want to ravage his Church.

So, then, I beg you for the love of the Lord to ask His Majesty to hear us in this matter. Miserable though I am, I ask His Majesty this, since it is for his glory and the good of the Church; this glory and good is the object of my desires.

Responsory

R/. Let petitions and prayers of thanksgiving be offered to God for everyone:
for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).

V/. Prayer of this kind is good, and pleasing to God our Savior,
for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Hymn

Freed at length from marriage tie,
Winged with joy her soul doth fly
To the fortress of Teresa, led by Spirit’s call;
Choosing there the lowest place,
She, who with a mother’s grace
Well might rule and govern, now is subject unto all.

O’er her sisters rising far,
As a bright and glorious star,
Guide of all who seek the path of life to God above,
She all honor doth despise,
And with great Teresa vies
In the tortures of her heart consumed with flames of love.

Mount thee to the heavenly height,
In the grace of love and light,
Harken to thy suppliants then, who pleading cry to thee.
Cast a love-enkindled glance
On thine own, thy native France,
That all minds and hearts be one in faith and charity.

Hasten all ye right of heart,
Sing ye loud with joyful art
Praise to our Redeemer Christ, and humbly Him adore;
Praise with all the heavenly host
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One in Blessed Trinity of Persons ever more.

77.76.D.

Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, says the Lord, He will give you (alleluia).

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
You gave Blessed Mary of the Incarnation
heroic strength in the face of the adversities
she met along life’s road,
and zeal for the extension of the Carmelite family.
May we your children
courageously endure every trial
and persevere to the end in Your love.

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

Evening Prayer

Hymn

Let angels hymn sweet harmony unending,
Let Carmel gladly join her ardent prayer,
While temples echo with the songs ascending
Upon the joyful air.

The glorious life of Mary now inspires
The chanting of her praises, fitly due;
She dwelleth high amid celestial choirs,
In bliss serene and true.

Her mind reposed in God from earliest dawning;
Her ready heart was swift to prompting grace;
All empty pomp and sinful pleasures scorning,
She fled the world’s embrace.

To dwell with Christ a virgin, was her choosing;
She fondly sought Him for her Lord and Spouse,
But wishes of her parents ne’er refusing,
‘Neath wedded yoke she bows.

So hath God willed that this exalted matron
With brightest luster of her state might shine,
To them that wed a noble type and patron
Of virtues all divine.

As wife and mother strong her love and tender,
Meek to obey her husband’s every call,
To children and to servants prompt to render,
A prudent care in all.

All honor to the Father, Son, and Spirit,
O glorious Trinity enthroned above.
The blessed faith whose teachings we inherit,
Proclaims Thee One in love.

11.10.11.6

Canticle of Mary
Ant. I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek wisdom (alleluia).

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 8

Scripture – Galatians 5:19, 22-25

What human nature does is quite plain. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.

Reading – Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D., from his retreat to the Carmel of Pontoise, 1943

There are two ways of communing with God. The first is the sacramental way, by reception of the Sacred Host, which allows us to bear Christ’s presence within ourselves. The second and unceasing way consists of God giving himself to us every moment of every day of our lives. In this way, God comes to us in the form of a duty, a joy or a sorrow. God comes to us in other persons, such as an unappealing [person] with whom we have to work or a congenial [friend] with whom we sit at [a meal]. In all these situations, it is God who comes to us, but we do not realize his presence. Yet, whatever the form behind which he hides and whatever the garb in which he presents himself, he is the God of Wisdom, Omnipotence, and Love without limits.

We will be saints, with holiness like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila and the Little Flower, when God comes to us no longer in divine radiance, but in the form of a crushing threat to our life. Such was the experience of Christ in his Passion. Even if our human nature recoils in fear and trembling, we will be able to commune with God within the recesses of our soul through abandonment. There lies the key to God’s love and peace.

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!

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

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