Quote of the day: 22 April

It’s not easy to let yourself  be surprised by God

We must accept that God surprises us, that he intervenes in our lives producing unexpected changes, opening unprecedented horizons, removing insurmountable obstacles. They are changes that surprise us and the newness is disconcerting and makes us afraid, as well as the changes that God brings us and the innovation that God asks of us. Sometimes they are such drastic changes in life that we feel disoriented; sometimes they are risks that we have to take – and from which we would like to flee. They are God’s surprises. Although we cannot explain some situations that we experience – and with our limited understanding, we don’t find any logical explanation – we always trust in the God who surprises us by acting unexpectedly. It’s not easy to let yourself be surprised by God. It requires a high dose of trust in his love. But it is better to abandon ourselves into his hands, even without understanding, than to be paralyzed by fear or enslaved to security and nostalgia that deceive us.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homily for the Easter Vigil
21 April 2019

EasterVigil2019_01_withkiddies
Vigilia Pascual | Esquipula, Managua | Easter Vigil
Photo: @sj.baez

No es fácil dejarse sorprender por Dios

Hay que aceptar que Dios nos sorprende, que interviene en nuestra vida produciendo cambios inesperados, abriendo horizontes inéditos, quitando obstáculos insalvables. Son cosas nuevas que nos sorprenden y la novedad disconcierta y nos da miedo, también la novedad que Dios nos trae, la novedad que Dios nos pide. A veces son cambios tan drásticos en la vida que nos sentimos como desorientados, a veces son riesgos que hay que correr de los que quisiéramos huir. Son las sorpresas de Dios. Aunque no logremos explicar algunas situaciones que vivimos y con nuestra limitada razón no le encontremos lógica alguna, tengamos confianza siempre en el Dios que nos sorprende actuando inesperadamente. No es fácil dejarse sorprender por Dios. Se requiere una alta dosis de confianza en su amor. Pero es mejor abandonarnos en sus manos, aun sin comprender, que quedarnos paralizados por el miedo o esclavizados a seguridades y nostalgias engañosas.

Monseñor Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homilía de la Vigilia Pascual
20 de abril de 2019


On Easter Sunday 21 April 2019, Silvio José Báez, O.C.D., who is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, said goodbye to the faithful as he moves to Rome at the request of Pope Francis to assume a new ministry. The Discalced Carmelite friar explained that he knows from personal experience in this transition that it is better to choose the path of abandonment than to cling to false security and nostalgia that does nothing but deceive and disappoint. He does not know yet what his new post will be, nor for how long he will be away from the archdiocese.

The blogger serves as the English translator for Bishop Báez in social media. This translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission. 

Quote of the day: 10 April

I convened a chapter in Lisbon; I sent friars to the Congo to convert the Blacks, they made great gains. The first group was drowned; the second group was denuded, robbed by the Lutherans;  until the arrival of the third group and they have borne much fruit.

Servant of God Jerome Gracián
Efemérides Carmelitanas

Carrack_1565_(cropped)
Portuguese carrack, as depicted in a map by cartographer Sebastião Lópes (15??–1596) made in 1565 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On 10 April 1582, the third expedition of Discalced Carmelite friars departed from Lisbon bound for the Congo, where they safely landed and converted many people. The missionary friars were Fathers Diego of the Blessed Sacrament, Diego of the Incarnation, and Francisco of Jesus the Unworthy; they baptized thousands of Congolese.

St. Thérèse, son entrée au Carmel le 9 avril 1888

 

Comme la veille toute la famille se trouva réunie pour entendre la Ste Messe et y communier. Aussitôt que Jésus fut descendu dans le coeur de mes parents chéris, je n’entendis autour de moi que des sanglots, il n’y eut que moi qui ne versai pas de larmes, mais je sentis mon coeur battre avec une telle violence qu’il me sembla impossible d’avancer lorsqu’on vint nous faire signe de venir à la porte conventuelle ; j’avançai cependant tout en me demandant si je n’allais pas mourir par la force des battements de mon coeur… Ah ! quel moment que celui-là ! Il faut y avoir passé pour savoir ce qu’il est…

Mon émotion ne se traduisit pas au dehors : après avoir embrassé tous les membres de ma famille chérie, je me mis à genoux devant mon incomparable Père, lui demandant sa bénédiction ; pour me la donner il se mit lui-même à genoux et me bénit en pleurant… C’était un spectacle qui devait faire sourire les anges que celui de ce vieillard présentant au Seigneur son enfant encore au printemps de la vie !…Quelques instants après, les portes de l’arche sainte se fermaient sur moi et là je recevais les embrassements des soeurs chéries qui m’avaient servi de mères et que j’allais désormais prendre pour modèles de mes actions… Enfin mes désirs étaient accomplis, mon âme ressentait une paix si douce et si profonde qu’il me serait impossible de l’exprimer et depuis 7 ans et demi cette paix intime est restée mon partage, elle ne m’a pas abandonnée au milieu des plus grandes épreuves.

Extraits du Manuscript A, folio 69 recto et verso
Archives du Carmel de Lisieux

 

Quote of the day: 9 April

Monday, 9 April 1888

Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

Thérèse enters the Carmel of Lisieux

From Marie Martin (Marie of the Sacred Heart) to her father, Saint Louis Martin 
9th April 1888

Incomparable Father,

What Céline tells us is worthy of you! Ah! What a remarkable father we have! He truly is unique… Also, I’m not surprised that God is taking all the children away from this incomparable father! He is too dear to his Heart for Him not to look upon him and his family with a very special love. How our dear mother must be smiling down upon you, she must be rejoicing to see her darling boat being so well directed by you towards Heaven.

 

Entrée aqua-entree-1
St. Thérèse crosses the threshold of the cloister, a later watercolor | Photo: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux | Visit the Archives site to see the annotated sketch for this watercolor and all of the artworks associated with the life of St. Thérèse, her “Life in Pictures

 

O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints, and if we didn’t follow in the footsteps of your generosity… Ah! How Jesus will have to repay you a hundredfold for the lily barely in bloom, the lily, filled with freshness, that you are offering him today. Oh, your crown in heaven! Darling Father, how radiant and beautiful it will be. Ah! Pray that your diamond may not be too pale beside so many beauties.

I can’t continue any longer, my heart is too full of affection for you and is all yours.

Our Mother couldn’t help crying as she read Céline’s account. Ah! What a remarkable father you are!!

M. of the S. H.

O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints

N.B. — St. Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux on the Feast of the Annunciation, which was deferred to Monday, April 9 in the year 1888 because March 25 was Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. “Our Mother” refers to the prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague. You can read a brief biographical sketch of Mother Marie here; as Sr. Geneviève (Céline) remarked at the end of her life to another younger member of the community, “But we loved her! But you would have loved her! Only…” she continued with an appropriate facial expression “she was feared as a storm is feared when you have no umbrella … “

Read an outstanding essay concerning Thérèse’s entry to the Carmel of Lisieux on April 9, written by St. Thérèse expert Maureen O’Riordan and illustrated with 19th-century photos, published on her blog Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway.

 

The letter from Marie of the Sacred Heart to her father, Saint Louis Martin, all correspondence by family and friends, and other texts and sources concerning St. Thérèse are found on the official website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

Quote of the day: 8 April

Altare1
Apse and altar, Carmel of St Joseph, Bari | Tarantini / Carmelo San Giuseppe Bari

Goodbye, my house, nest of peace and love, sweet sanctuary of faith and virtue, goodbye forever, I’m leaving you for my God. Lord, I’ve heard your voice, I’m flying to Carmel.

Blessed Elia of San Clemente
Scritti, sez. I, A. Scritti Autobiografici, 1.

Elia-di-San-Clemente_closeup
On 8 April 1920 Blessed Elia of St. Clement (Teodora Fracasso) entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of St. Joseph in Bari, Italy

Learn more about Blessed Elia here

Quote of the day: 6 April

None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but you are to possess everything in common; and each is to receive from the prior — that is from the brother he appoints for the purpose — whatever befits his age and needs.

Saint Albert of Jerusalem 

The Carmelite Rule, Chapter 12

Untitled Design
The spring of Elijah at the ruins of the first Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel

In 1229 Pope Gregory IX forbade the Carmelites to possess properties, houses, land, or income of any type so that they might be less distracted by such concerns and more easily devoted to the life of contemplation. He confirmed Pope Honorius III’s approval of the Rule of Carmel with the Brief  Ex Officii Nostri. 

Source: Efemerides Carmelitanas 

Quote of the day: 5 April

Just as the grain that dies in the earth is the beginning and origin of many others, in the same way the death of the first missionaries to the Congo in the ocean was the cause of many religious who offered themselves to the Father Provincial, with letters full of urgent pleading to go and take their places in the Congo.

Anonymous Portuguese historian

Chronicle of the disastrous end of the first Discalced Carmelite mission
Efemérides Carmelitanas 

FIRST CARMELITE MISSIONARY EXCURSION SHIPS Portuguese_Carracks_off_a_Rocky_Coast
Portuguese Carracks Off a Rocky Coast
Joachim Patinir (circle of) circa 1540

Six months before her death, Saint Teresa of Avila sent the first Discalced Carmelite friars on a mission to a foreign shore. On 5 April 1582 King Philip II of Spain went to the port of Lisbon to personally bid farewell to the missionaries on board the Portuguese carrack (não) San Antonio headed to the Congo. The king himself gave the signal to the ships to cut the moorings and hoist the anchors at 6:00 in the morning. Tragically, the San Antonio sank and all on board perished.

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph has strong arms, a strong grasp
When strength is in demand.
Not only is a child’s soft hand protected
In his brown massive hand,

But he can hold up cities, hold up nations.
Now in the season of weakness, season of search,
He can poise on his shoulder like a child
The ponderous age-old structure of the Church.

There on his shoulder, there in the crotch of his arm,
A church, a people held, a kingdom piled.
And Joseph knows this strength grew great in him
From lifting up a Child.

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

Untitled Design (2)
Saint Joseph | Carmel of Terre Haute

Joseph was written by Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, a published poet and Discalced Carmelite nun from the Carmel of Pewaukee, Wisconsin upon a special commission by the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Terre Haute, Indiana to accompany this image of Saint Joseph, which the nuns then used to print holy cards for distribution to their benefactors and to the faithful. We are grateful to them for sending us an image of the prayer card and the text of Sr. Miriam’s poem. Learn more about the Terre Haute Carmel and Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, as well as her published poetry.

Quote of the day: 19 March

On March 19th, Saint Thérèse confides to her older sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart:

“I just asked St. Joseph to obtain for me from God the grace of spending my Heaven doing good on earth.”

Her sister replied to her, “You don’t need to ask that of St. Joseph”

But she insisted, “Oh, but yes! I need him to support my request!”

Just days before, St. Thérèse made the novena of grace, an infallible novena to St. Francis Xavier. Thérèse made the novena, as she said to Marie of the Sacred Heart, to obtain the grace of “spending her heaven doing good on earth!”

As Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart recalled, “she had just asked this of St. Francis Xavier, too, through the novena of grace.”

And, the young Carmelite doesn’t imagine that one day, along with St. Francis Xavier, she will be the co-patroness of the missions…

Learn more about March 1897 and the last year in the life of Saint Thérèse here.

 

 

THERESE - Marie Therese sacristines
In this detail of Photo 39 taken by Céline with her sisters and cousin in the sacristy courtyard at the Carmel of Lisieux, we see Marie and Thérèse showing the making of altar bread and the work of the sacristan. See the complete photo here. Photo dated November 1896, before the 14th. [Source: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux]
EDITH - You reign on the Almighty's throne transfigured
Excerpt from I Will Remain With You . . . an undated poem by St. Edith Stein; the original manuscript is preserved in the archives of the Carmel of Cologne. It is assumed that the origin of the poem was Edith’s departure from the Cologne Carmel for the Carmel of Echt, Holland, 31 December 1938. [Source: Dr. Lucy Gelber, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, p. 146]

Quote of the day: 16 March

This our American Carmel — your lifted hands are the very strength & hope of all our rising churches

J.M.J.

Eternity.

Now it grows very serious my mother, — the parting, & may be not to see you, o blessed, blessed, blessed souls of this our American Carmel.

Speciosa Deserti & lilia convallium — Every day may be the last on earth for me, for you my Mother & ye all her worthy Daughters — but just so has been the pleasing moment granted to me after 15 years of landing on this shore more endeared to me — it had always been so desired — & you have made it so extremely kind.

May that only joy of meeting as souls who wish to live but to their Jesus, his priests or his sacred spouses, ever be so pleasingly felt as it has been to my own heart these two days. I wish no greater encouragement to my friends when they will succeed me here for, whether simplicity or awkwardness I yield entirely to the pleasure of telling you how delighted I have been, how finding me among you nearer to the Sacred Heart to which you live so beautifully offered & united in this happy solitude.

Speciosa, Speciosissima Deserti — You live under his roof, return continually to praise him in his own presence in that choir, dead & lost to the world, though your very name the sweetest edification abroad while your lifted hands are the very strength & hope of all our rising churches.

0 Speciosa, Speciosissima lilia Deserti — I May I only be faithful to my own share of that common grace of your prayers, best of mothers, & ye all her worthy daughters. Accept my full gratitude & love in J. & M.

Servant of God Simon Bruté
Thank you note to the prioress of the Carmel of Port Tobacco, Maryland written at the close of his first visit, most likely in 1825 since Bruté arrived in the United States in 1810

Mother-Frances-Dickinson_Port-Tobacco
Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Frances Dickenson, 1755-1830)

Learn more about the Servant of God Simon Bruté and his cause for beatification

Father Bruté's letter was published in Charles Currier's Carmel in America: a centennial history of the Discalced Carmelites in the United States (1890)
TERESA AVILA - By proceeding with humility IGsize
Saint Teresa of Avila writes, “in the final analysis, by proceeding with humility, through the mercy of God, we will reach that city of Jerusalem, where all that has been suffered will be little, or nothing, in comparison with what is enjoyed.” (The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 4)

Quote of the day: 6 March

March 6, 1870

I received your last letter, and I promise I’ll put into practice all the good advice you gave me.

I’m even more inclined to constantly blame myself for my little Hélène’s death, but I never for a moment thought it would end like that. I’d seen Pauline and Léonie so gravely ill when they were little and then recover very well, that I was no longer afraid of childhood illnesses. But now it will be completely the opposite, and I’m afraid my fear will go too far as soon as I see the slightest thing.

You tell me to change doctors, but which one should I use? I tried Doctor P for Léonie, seeing that Monsieur D didn’t prescribe anything. He gave me a new prescription every day, and the more the child took his medicines, the worse she got. He had to give up on her. I tried the first doctor again who told me to stop all the medicines because the child was too young and there was nothing to be done, apart from not giving her food that’s too rich. I believe he was right. I also had such contradictory experiences with my second little boy. In the end, I have nothing to blame Doctor D for in my little girl’s illness. My dear friend, I’ll be crying for my little Hélène for the rest of my life!

Troyes_hospital-pharmacy-museum
Apothicairerie de l’Hôtel-Dieu-le-Comte (Troyes), présenté au musée de l’apothicairerie | G. Garitan / Wikimedia Commons

Now Léonie has had a problem with her eyes for almost two years. If you know a remedy for this, please let me know. God willing, it will be more effective than those I’ve tried so far! This poor child concerns me because she has an undisciplined character and a limited ability to understand.

As for me, I’m not strong. For two weeks straight, I’ve had a fever. Thursday night I was so sick that I thought I was finished. I thought I had the same illness as my little Hélène.

Louis went to Le Mans on Tuesday to see the children. I’d promised them so long ago that he would come. He didn’t want to travel because of the death of our little darling, but I persuaded him. They would have been too sad. They’ve cried a lot for their little sister.

 

Celine_martin_toddler
Céline Martin | Archives, Carmel de Lisieux

In April I’m going to bring Céline home from the wet nurse. Having her here will comfort us a little because in the summer I won’t have the courage to go anywhere but the cemetery. Besides, I can’t imagine seeing myself on the street without a child by my side. Give me your advice about Céline. She’ll be one year old on April 28. I don’t think it will hurt her to wean her, all the more because the wet nurse makes her eat everything, and she’s doing very well.

I hug all three of you with all my heart.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter to her brother Isidore – March 6, 1870 (CF 53)

Quote of the day: 3 March

It behooveth thee to grant a favor and confirmation to my holy and devout Order of Carmel

For centuries the faithful who held a pious devotion to the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel believed in an apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Pope John XXII in Avignon. Based on that supposed apparition, the sovereign pontiff issued a Papal Bull, Sacratissimo uti culmine, dated 3 March 1322 from Avignon; it is in the text of the Bull that the pope mentions the apparition. The historical difficulty with this document lies in the fact that the Bull is mentioned nowhere prior to 1752, according to Joseph Hilgers.

A modern-day spiritual descendant of St. Simon Stock, former Carmelite prior general Father Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm. writes, “In any case, the symbolism of the scapular as a sign of consecration to Mary, the Mother of Carmel, was and remains very important.” Citing the Carmelite friar, Mathias of St. John, Father Chalmers adds one important qualifier: “It would be far better to have holiness under a worldly habit than a worldly heart under a holy habit.” He concludes, “wearing the scapular is intended to be an outward reminder of what should be going on within.”

The recently deceased Discalced Carmelite scholar Father Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. discusses the historical problems head-on in his article, Brown Scapular: a Silent Devotion. He reviews the scapular as the habit of the Carmelites from their humble beginnings in the Holy Land to their spread through western Europe. In particular, Father Kieran describes the painstaking research undertaken by the Discalced Carmelites in defense of Carmelite Marian devotion following the Second Vatican Council, and how their careful documentation led to the restoration of the feast day of Saint Simon Stock to the Church’s liturgical calendar in 1979 (God reward you, Father Nilo).

But more important, Father Kieran explains with great precision where the Church stands today in regard to the Brown Scapular devotion: “No mention is made of the vision of St. Simon Stock or of that of Pope John XXII in relation to the Sabbatine privilege, which promises that one will be released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death.”

Fr. Kavanaugh continues: “Nonetheless, the Carmelites have also been authorized to freely preach to the faithful that they can piously believe in the powerful intercession, merits, and suffrages of the Blessed Virgin, that she will help them even after their death, especially on Saturday, which is the day of the week particularly dedicated to Mary, if they have died in the grace of God and devoutly worn the scapular. But no mention is made of the “first” Saturday after their death.”

One particular reflection that this great Discalced Carmelite scholar offers is rather consoling: “If some day an historian were to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no grounds to the Marian apparition to St. Simon Stock or the scapular promise, the scapular devotion would still maintain its value. The Church’s esteem of it as a sacramental, her appreciation of its meaning and of the good that has come about through its pious use on the part of the faithful is all that is needed.” Thank you, Father Kieran.

Perhaps Saint John Paul II summarized the Church’s teaching and the Carmelite scapular catechesis best in his 2001 Message to the Carmelite Family. The saint wrote, “the scapular is essentially a habit.”

For our readers who are history buffs, we have researched the Bull Sacratissimo uti culmine and found the text in Satolli’s Dictionnaire de Droit Canonique, which we present to you sans scrupule. An English translation is found here.

JohnPaul2 Scapular Relic
Brown Scapular worn by Saint John Paul II, a gift to the Discalced Carmelite parish in Wadowice, Poland | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelite Order

SACRATISSIMO UTI CULMINE

JOANNES EPISCOPUS SERVUS SERVORUM DEI,
Universis et singulis Christifidelibus, tam praesentibus quam futuris, praesentes literas inspecturis, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.

Sacratissimo uti culmine Paradisi angelorum tam suavis et dulcis reperitur melodia, modulamine visionis, dum paterno Jesus Numini circumspicitur adumatus, dicendo: Domine, Ego et Pater unum sumus, et qui videt me, videt et Patrem meum, et angelorum chorus non desinit dicere: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus; ita Synodus non cessat laudes effundere celsæ Virgini, dicendo Virgo, Virgo, Virgo, sis speculum nostrum pariter et exemplum. Quoniam munere munitur gratiarum, sicut sancta cantat Ecclesia: Gratia plena et Mater misericordiae. Sic ille mons reputatur de Carmelo Ordine cantibus extollendo, et hanc gratiarum Genitricem commendando et dicendo: Salve Regina, Mater misericordiæ et spes nostra.

Sic mihi flexis genibus supplicanti Virgo visa fuit Carmelita, sequentem effata sermonem: 0 Joannes, o Joannes, vicarie mei dilecti Filii, veluti a tuo te eripiam adversario, te Papam facio solemni dono Vicarium, meis coadjuvantibus supplicationibus, a dulcissimo meo Filio petens, quod gratiose obtinui, ita gratiam et amplam meo sancto ac devoto Carmelitarum Ordini confirmationem debeas praeconcedere, per Eliam et Eliseum in Monte Carmeli inchoato. Quod unusquisque professionem faciens, Regulam a meo servo Alberto, patriarcha, ordinatam observabit et inviolatam obtinebit, et per meum dilectum filium Innocentium approbatam, ut veri mei Filii Vicarius debeas in terris assentire, quod in cœlis meus statuit et ordinavit Filius; quod qui in sancta perseverabit obedientia, paupertate et castitate, vel qui sanctum intrabit Ordinem, salvabitur; et si alii, devotionis causa, in sanctam ingrediantur Religionem, sancti Habitus signum ferentes, appellantes se Confratres et Consorores mei Ordinis prænominati, liberentur et absolvantur a tertia eorum peccatorum portione, a die quo præfatum Ordinem intrabunt, castitatem, si vidua est, promittendo; virginitatis, si est virgo, fidem præstando; si est conjugata, inviolati conservationem matrimonii adhibendo, ut sancta mater imperat Ecclesia. Fratres proféssi dicti Ordinis supplicio solvantur et culpa, et die quo ab isto se culo recedunt, properato gradu accelerant purgatorium, ego Mater gratiose descendam sabbato post eorum obitum, et quot inveniam in purgatorio liberabo, et eos in Montem sanctum vitæ æternæ reducam. Verum quod ipsi Confratres et Consorores te neantur Horas dicere Canonicales, ut opus fuerit, secundum Regulam datam ab Alberto; illi, qui ignari sunt, debeant vitam jejunam ducere diebus quos sacra jubet Ecclesia, nisi, necessitatis causa, alicui essent traditi impedimento ; mercurio ac sabbato debeant se a carnibus abstinere, præterquam in mei Filii Nativitate. Et hoc dicto, evanuit ista sancta visio.

Istam ergo sanctam Indulgentiam accepto, roboro et in terris confirmo, sicut, propter merita Virginis Matris, gratiose Jesus-Christus concessit in coelis. Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam nostræ Indulgentiæ, seu statuti, et ordinationis irritare, vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si quis autem hoc attentare præsumpserit, indignationem Omnipotentis Dei, et Beatorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli se noverit incursurum.

Datum Avenione, tertia die Martii, Pontificatus nostri anno sexto

Templo San Marcos,Aguascalientes,Estado de Aguascalientes,México
Plaque in St. Mark Church, Aguascalientes bearing the essence of the Virgin’s message to Pope John XXII concerning the Sabbatine Privilege | Catedrales e Iglesias/Flickr (Creative Commons)

 

Quote of the day: 25 February

On Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face died at the age of 89 years and 10 months, and 63 years of religious profession.

With her Sisters continually and prayerfully keeping watch by her bedside, she had a peaceful night, happy with the deliverance drawing nigh. At dawn, she was a bit restless, but without any suffering.

“It really is today,” said the Mother Prioress.

“Today!” she repeated, as if she was savoring her joy.

“Yes, you fight, it’s a hard fight! But you will have the victory because Jesus is with you.”

In a tone of triumph, a blurry look in her eyes, but extremely lucid, Sister Genevieve continued: “Jesus!”

That was her last word. She expressed the tenderness of her entire life.

Today! — Jesus!

Céline Martin
Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD

Read the complete account of her final day on our post, Adieu Céline

Adieu Céline

The 24th of February is the anniversary of the profession of Céline Martin, Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, in 1896 and the vigil of her death in 1959. We have translated for our readers an extract from Céline’s biography on the website of the Carmel of Lisieux’s archives.

Céline Martin
Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD

The Chaplain brought her Holy Communion. Since he had sent his best wishes for the occasion to her in a letter, she thanked him with a smile. She did not stop admiring two beautiful wreaths of flowers providentially offered to the monastery’s portresses on the day before.

In the morning, a choking crisis ensued, accompanied by a disturbing decline in blood pressure. In the doctor’s judgment, the danger was imminent. Despite her weakness and collapse, the dying nun completely retained her lucidity.

Later that afternoon, she asked the Sister who was treating her to come to over so that she could tell her: “I truly believe that this time, it’s the real thing. Oh ! What happiness!” As they were about to give her an injection, she said softly, “Why don’t you let the lamp go out slowly, since I’m not suffering and everything is peaceful?”

With her Sisters continually and prayerfully keeping watch by her bedside, she had a peaceful night, happy with the deliverance drawing nigh. At dawn, she was a bit restless, but without any suffering.

“It really is today,” said the Mother Prioress.

“Today!” she repeated, as if she was savoring her joy.

“Yes, you fight, it’s a hard fight! But you will have the victory because Jesus is with you.”

In a tone of triumph, a blurry look in her eyes, but extremely lucid, Sister Genevieve continued: “Jesus!”

That was her last word. She expressed the tenderness of her entire life.

Today! — Jesus!

There were light beads of perspiration on her forehead. Her face, however, remained peaceful, almost radiant. Around 9:00 a.m., the community recited the Act of Offering to Merciful Love. Communicating through signs, the patient showed that she was united to them in the prayer. As the doctor arrived, all the nuns withdrew.

It was then that, stopping suddenly, Sister Geneviève straightened up on her pillows, her eyes wide open and filled with light, staring up above in an attitude of sweet joy. The doctor, impressed, knelt down, then faded into the background, realizing that it was the end. The Community returned immediately and was able to contemplate this spectacle which lasted from eight to ten minutes.

There was in the dying nun a sort of majesty, a sovereign tranquility, where one could read in her face the certainty of the tender welcome that her Father would give her. The support remained firm, the head remained upright, even in death. Only the breath that went out imperceptibly, and a slight contraction of the throat, marked her passing.

It was Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face was eighty-nine years and ten months old.

Excerpted and translated from the French. To read the complete biography, click here


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Quote of the day: 22 February

Being in prayer on the feastday of the glorious St. Peter, I saw or, to put it better, I felt Christ beside me; I saw nothing with my bodily eyes or with my soul, but it seemed to me that Christ was at my side — I saw that it was He, in my opinion, who was speaking to me.

Valladolid-adoration
Ángel Cantero / Iglesia en Valladolid

Since I was completely unaware that there could be a vision like this one, it greatly frightened me in the beginning; I did nothing but weep. However, by speaking one word alone to assure me, the Lord left me feeling as I usually did: quiet, favored, and without any fear. It seemed to me that Jesus Christ was always present at my side; but since this wasn’t an imaginative vision, I didn’t see any form.

Yet I felt very clearly that He was always present at my right side and that He was the witness of everything I did. At no time in which I was a little recollected, or not greatly distracted, was I able to ignore that He was present at my side.

Yet I felt very clearly that He was always present at my right side and that He was the witness of everything I did.

I immediately went very anxiously to my confessor to tell him. He asked me in what form I saw Him. I answered that I didn’t see Him. He asked how I knew that it was Christ.

I answered that I didn’t know how, but that I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me, that I saw and felt Him clearly, that my recollection of soul was greater, and that I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet, that the effects were much different from those I usually experienced, and that it was very clear.

It seemed to me that Jesus Christ was always present at my side

8477537711_ccf29a7ae7_m
Ángel Cantero / Iglesia en Valladolid

I could do nothing but draw comparisons in order to explain myself. And, indeed, there is no comparison that fits this kind of vision very well. Since this vision is among the most sublime (as I was afterward told by a very holy and spiritual man, whose name is Friar Peter of Alcántara and of whom I shall speak later, and by other men of great learning) and the kind in which the devil can interfere the least of all, there are no means by which those of us who know little here below can explain it. Learned men will explain it better.

I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me
I saw and felt Him clearly
my recollection of soul was greater
I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet
the effects were much different
it was very clear

The Book of Her Life: Chapter 27; The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila 
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (unless otherwise noted)
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC 
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

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