Surrounded by martyrs

the Crib of the Child is surrounded by martyrs

There are the innocent children, the babes of Bethlehem and Juda, who were cruelly slaughtered by the hands of brutal hangmen. What does this mean? Where is now the rejoicing of the heavenly hosts, the silent bliss of the Holy Night? Where is the peace on earth? Peace on earth to those of goodwill. But not all are of goodwill. For the Son of the eternal Father descended from the glory of heaven, because the mystery of iniquity had shrouded the earth in the darkness of night.

Saint Edith Stein

The Mystery of Christmas

 

Holy Innocents_COGNIET_MBA Rennes
Scène du Massacre des Innocents
Léon Cogniet (French, 1794 – 1880)
Oil on canvas, 1824
Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes

 

Jesus: God’s love story — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Day
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
25 December 2019


Gospel
John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Christmas Day, the gospel that we heard is the prologue of the Gospel of John, which is a solemn poem, an authentic canticle dedicated to the Word of God, a hymn that from the earliest centuries helped Christians to delve into the mystery enclosed in Jesus of Nazareth.  If on this Christmas day we all listen to this gospel with simple faith and openness to God, it also can help us to believe in Jesus in a deeper way. Given the great richness of the Gospel text, we will try to dwell only on some of its central affirmations.

In the beginning was the Word

“In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was with God” (Jn 1:1). The prologue of John’s gospel starts with these words. It speaks of the beginning. Not the beginning of human history, but rather of the absolute principle from which everything has sprung. It affirms that from eternity “the Word” already existed. At the beginning of it all, there is no chaos, no absolute disorder; at the beginning of it all, there is no absurdity, darkness or nothingness. No. A word and a reason exist.  There is a divine “why” that brings everything into being and justifies everything that exists, a desire and a plan of God’s love that creates and guides everything. It’s a kind of divine wisdom (cf. Prov 8) that has created the universe and wisely maintains and cares for everything with tenderness and love.

Only if we trust that there has always been an eternal word from God that lovingly guides and directs everything for our good, can we ever overcome despair, moments of anguish, the unmanageability of our very lives, social and personal uncertainties, and the darkness in which everything seems to lose meaning.  Beyond all this, there is a logic, an eternal word, a divine reason, which is love. We can live with serenity and trust because God’s love, which is his eternal Word, which has always existed, enfolds, guides and protects us.

The Word of God became flesh

Today’s gospel has reminded us that God is not mute. From all eternity God has a word that he has wanted to speak, to communicate. He hasn’t remained silent, enclosed within himself. Throughout the course of history, that eternal word has been communicated to us: through creation, through revelation to the people of Israel, and through the cultures of all the peoples. God has always wanted to speak to us: to tell us how much he loves us, to reveal and explain his Word to us and his loving plan for us.

Today, we heard in the Gospel that this Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). The eternal Word became human, took on substance and entered history as a human being. Jesus of Nazareth is that Word that God has always wanted to speak to us. Jesus, the Word made flesh, incarnates God’s eternal plan; he embodies God’s infinite and gracious love for humanity and for each one of us.

God has not conveyed Himself to us through sublime concepts and doctrines. His Word has been incarnated in the intimate and simple life of Jesus so that even the most ordinary people can understand it. The eternal Word has been incarnated silently in the manger, like a child in need, so that we can welcome it and embrace it with love. In those days, the Word shone in Jesus’ humanity and was revealed in his works and words: when he healed the sick; when he offered God’s mercy and forgiveness to sinners; when he dedicated himself to acts of kindness by embracing the children on the streets, because he didn’t want anyone to feel like an orphan; when he blessed the sick, because he didn’t want them to feel forgotten by God; when he caressed the skin of lepers, because he didn’t want them to be excluded; and, when he died on the cross to teach us that no one has greater love than the one who gives his life for those whom he loves. The entire life of Jesus is the greatest book alive in which we can read the Word of God.

He made his dwelling among us

This Word of God “made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). The distances have vanished. God became “flesh”; he became human like us out of love. Since his birth in Bethlehem, he has lived among us. He has fallen so intensely in love with humanity that he hasn’t departed from our midst. That is why to meet God we don’t have to go outside the world, but rather we need to approach Jesus and let ourselves be touched and invaded by the love of God that has been revealed in him. It’s up to us to allow ourselves to be surprised and embraced by this love on a daily basis.

It’s a pity that God has come down to the depths of our existence, yet life still seems empty to us; it’s a shame that God has come to dwell in the human heart, yet at times we feel an unbearable inner emptiness; and, it is a tragedy that God has come to reign among us, but seems to be totally absent from our interpersonal and social relationships.

When we don’t understand the sacred value of that which is material and human since God became man, we become indifferent to the hunger of the poor, or indifferent to the disrespect for human rights, the violence of war, or the destruction of the planet. When we don’t understand that God has taken on that which is material, we make the beauty of sex into an experience of slavery and deceptive pleasure. Because we don’t take seriously the fact that God took on all that is human, we don’t know how to accept our human limitations with humility, nor do we live with joy and patience the necessary journey of maturity and aging. Only when we lovingly take on our human condition do we fully accept God and allow Him to transform us with His infinite love.

No one has ever seen God

The text of today’s gospel ends with this statement: “No one has ever seen God: it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known”. Jesus has been like the great narrative of God’s love. He did not make Him known through theory but through a story of goodness and forgiveness, which culminates in the cross and resurrection. The story of Jesus is the story of God among us. Only Jesus has “told” us what God is like.

Everything changes when we grasp that Jesus is the human face of God. Everything becomes clearer, simpler, and more attractive. By contemplating Jesus we know how God looks upon us when we suffer, how he looks for us when we are lost, and that he understands us and forgives us when we deny him. In Jesus, the “grace of the truth” of God has been revealed to us. We still won’t see God. You can’t see him. But Jesus helps us to overcome this impossibility of seeing God. The only way to see God is to listen to Jesus, to follow Jesus, and to live in communion with Jesus. He himself will say later: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. May we welcome Jesus, may we be transformed by his love, and may we become not only holier but more human.

 

In the beginning Shkolnik ICON FrTed Flickr S5504096566_f9119d89ea_o (straighten-fx)
Creation of the Cosmos (detail)
Written by Dmitry Shkolnik
St. Paul Orthodox Church
Dayton, Ohio

 


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.

 

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: 25 December

Following the Incarnate

Son of God


 

Darkness covered the earth, and He came as the Light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend Him. To those who received Him, He brought light and peace; peace with the Father in Heaven, peace with all those who, like them, are children of light and children of the Father in Heaven, peace also in the intimate depths of the heart: but no peace with the children of darkness.  To them, the Prince of Peace does not bring peace but the sword. To them, He is the stumbling block against which they knock and on which they are broken.

This is the bitterly serious truth that ought not to be obscured by the poetic charm of the Child in the manger. The mystery of the Incarnation is closely linked to the mystery of iniquity. The night of sin appears all the more black and uncanny against the Light that is come down from heaven.  

The Child in the manger stretches out His small hands, and His smile seems to say even now the same as later the lips of the Man: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened”. The poor shepherds have followed His call, when the radiance of the sky and the voice of the angel had announced the good tidings to them in the fields of Bethlehem, simply saying: “Let us go to Bethlehem” and setting out on their way.

The kings from the far-away East followed the marvelous star with the same simple faith; on them all the hands of the Child poured the dew of His grace, and they “rejoiced with exceeding great joy”.

These hands give and demand at the same time

You wise men, lay down your wisdom and become simple like children; you kings, give your crowns and your treasures and bow down humbly before the King of kings; do not hesitate to take upon yourselves the sufferings and hardships His service entails.

You children, who cannot yet give anything of your own free will, this Child’s hands will take away your tender life even before it has really begun. It cannot be used better than to be sacrificed for the Lord of Life.

These Child’s hands say “Follow me” just as later the lips of the Man will say it. Thus He spoke to the “disciple whom the Lord loved”, and who now belongs also to those around the Crib.  St. John, the young man whose heart was as pure as a child’s, followed without asking where and whither. He left his father’s boat and followed the Lord on all His ways even to the summit of Golgotha.  

St. Stephen, too, heard these words “Follow me”. He followed the Lord to do battle against the powers of darkness, the blindness of obstinate unbelief. He bore witness to Him with his words and with his blood; he followed Him also in His spirit of love which fights sin but loves the sinner, and intercedes for his murderer even in death.

Those kneeling around the crib are figures of light

Those kneeling around the crib are figures of light: the tender innocent children, the trustful shepherds, the humble kings, Stephen, the enthusiastic disciple, and John the apostle of love, all those who have followed the call of the Lord. They are opposed by the night of incomprehensible obstinacy and blindness:  the scribes, who know indeed when and where the Saviour of the world is to be born, but who will not draw the conclusion: Let us go to Bethlehem”. King Herod, who would kill the Lord of Life.

Ways part before the Child in the manger.  He is the King of kings, the Lord of life and death. He speaks His “Follow me”, and if a man is not for Him, he is against Him. He speaks also to us, and asks us to choose between light and darkness.

Saint Edith Stein

The Mystery of Christmas: Incarnation and Humanity
Following the Incarnate Son of God (excerpt)

 

Nativity with saints Ridolfo Ghirlandaio MetMuseum DT235074 (2)
The Nativity with Saints (detail)
Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (Italian, 1483–1561)
Oil on wood, c. 1514
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

 

Stein, E 1931, The mystery of Christmas: incarnation and humanity, translated from the German by Rucker, J [see WorlCat entry here] 
Our sincere thanks to the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Saint Louis, Missouri for sharing their text with us

 

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.

 

O Emmanuel

Tú me apareces, Virgen, en lo alto del Calvario,
de pie junto a la Cruz, cual preste ante el altar,
ofreciendo a Jesús, tu Hijo, el Emmanuel,
a fin de la justicia de su Padre aplacar…
Un profeta dijo, ¡oh, Madre desolada ! :
« ¡No hay dolor que se pueda al tuyo comparar ! »
¡Oh, Reina de los mártires !, ¡desterrada prodigas
por nosotros tu sangre, corazón maternal !

Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús

Por qué te amo, María
Pn 54, Estrofa 23

 

saint-therese-of-lisieux43_7jun97 TWsize
1897 | Photo credit: © Office Central de Lisieux / archives-carmel-lisieux.fr

 

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, Stanza 23

Quote of the day: 23 December

This year we also celebrated the fourth centenary of the death of another European saint, Saint John of the Cross. I wanted the event to be commemorated by sending a delegate of mine both at the beginning and at the end of the Jubilee celebrations in Spain, and with the apostolic letter Maestro en la fe.

The humble and austere figure of this Carmelite emanates with his writings, which are still very relevant today, a great light to penetrate the mystery of God and the mystery of man. He, who had a particular sense of divine transcendence, directs our gaze in the hour of the new evangelization.

Master in faith and theological life, John of the Cross inculcated in us the need to be purified by the Spirit of the Lord in order to carry out an incisive and effective apostolic activity. There is, in fact, a close connection between contemplation and commitment to the transformation of the world.

Aware of this, the Church has always attached special importance to the function of contemplative souls who, in recollection, prayer and hidden sacrifice, offer their lives to God for the salvation of their brothers and sisters. I hope that even today, there will be many people generously disposed to accept God’s call and to face – in the solitude of the Carmels and the various monasteries of contemplative life – the demanding and fascinating adventure of the exclusive search for dialogue with the one who is the source of all human existence.

Saint John Paul II

Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia (excerpt)
23 December 1991

 

Juan de la Cruz (10) writing
Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

This English translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

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.

O Rex Gentium

Jesús, no puedo ir más allá en mi petición, temería verme aplastada bajo el peso de mis audaces deseos…

La excusa que tengo es que soy una niña, y los niños no piensan en el alcance de sus palabras. Sin embargo sus padres, cuando ocupan un trono y poseen inmensos tesoros, no dudan en satisfacer los deseos de esos pequeñajos a los que aman tanto como a sí mismos; por complacerles, hacen locuras y hasta se vuelven débiles…

Pues bien, yo soy la HIJA de la Iglesia, y la Iglesia es Reina, pues es tu Esposa, oh, divino Rey de reyes…

No son riquezas ni gloria (ni siquiera la gloria del cielo) lo que pide el corazón del niñito… El entiende muy bien que la gloria pertenece a sus hermanos, los ángeles y los santos… La suya será un reflejo de la que irradia de la frente de su madre.

Lo que él pide es el amor… No sabe más que una cosa: amarte, Jesús…

Las obras deslumbrantes le están vedadas: no puede predicar el Evangelio, ni derramar su sangre… Pero ¿qué importa?, sus hermanos trabajan en su lugar, y él, como un niño pequeño, se queda muy cerquita del trono del Rey y de la Reina y ama por sus hermanos que luchan…

¿Pero cómo podrá demostrar él su amor, si es que el amor se demuestra con obras? Pues bien, el niñito arrojará flores, aromará con sus perfumes el trono real, cantará con su voz argentina el cántico del amor…

Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús

 Historia de un alma
Manuscrito B, Folio 4 recto

 

saint-therese-of-lisieux38_July 1896 Blogfeatimage
1896 | Photo credit: © Office Central de Lisieux / archives-carmel-lisieux.fr

 

Jesus, I cannot fathom the depths of my request; I would be afraid to find myself overwhelmed under the weight of my bold desires.

My excuse is that I am a child, and children do not reflect on the meaning of their words; however, their parents, once they are placed upon a throne and possess immense treasures, do not hesitate to satisfy the desires of the little ones whom they love as much as they love themselves. To please them they do foolish things, even going to the extent of becoming weak for them.

Well, I am the Child of the Church and the Church is a Queen since she is Your Spouse, O divine King of kings.

The heart of a child does not seek riches and glory (even the glory of heaven). She understands that this glory belongs by right to her brothers, the angels and saints. Her own glory will be the reflected glory which shines on her Mother’s forehead.

What this child asks for is Love. She knows only one thing: to love You, O Jesus.

Astounding works are forbidden to her; she cannot preach the Gospel, shed her blood; but what does it matter since her brothers work in her stead and she, a little child, stays very close to the throne of the King and Queen. She loves in her brothers’ place while they do the fighting.

But how will she prove her love since love is proved by works? Well, the little child will strew flowers, she will perfume the royal throne with their sweet scents, and she will sing in her silvery tones the canticle of Love.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Story of a Soul
Manuscript B, Folio 4 recto

Quote of the day: 22 December

St. Magdalena [Speyer]
22 December 1928

My dear Frau Noack,

You will allow me a few words, won’t you? If you should now cancel your trip, or postpone it, and if you thought that being with me would do you good, then I ask you sincerely to make use of me–until the 28th, for then I must go away for a bit (until January 7).

In any case, I think most warmly of you and your little one, and I will do so especially on Christmas Eve, at the creche which I would love to show to your children. There one is united with all who are scattered throughout the world and also beyond the world. That is such a consoling mystery.

Lovingly, your

Edith Stein

Letter 48 to Frau Adelheid Noack, Heidelberg

 

Nativity scene Stephansdom Austria pfarrmedien Flickr 15933039957_7e1e62bd5f_o
Daniel Furxer, pfarrmedien / Flickr

 

 

Stein, E. 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

O Oriens

Mi Amado, las montañas,
los valles solitarios nemorosos,
las ínsulas extrañas,
los ríos sonorosos,
el silbo de los aires amorosos,

la noche sosegada
en par de los levantes del aurora,
la música callada,
la soledad sonora,
la cena que recrea y enamora.

San Juan de la Cruz

 Cántico Espiritual (Redacción B)
Canciónes entre el alma y el esposo
Canciónes 14-15

 

Juan de la Cruz (15) writing
St. John of the Cross, enlightened by the Holy Spirit | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

My Beloved, the mountains,
and lonely wooded valleys,
strange islands,
and resounding rivers,
the whistling of love-stirring breezes,

the tranquil night
at the time of the rising dawn,
silent music,
sounding solitude,
the supper that refreshes and deepens love.

Saint John of the Cross

The Spiritual Canticle (Redaction B)
Songs between the soul and the Bridegroom
Stanzas 14-15

 

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.

O Clavis David

Mi alma exiliada a la tierra
Aspira a la felicidad eterna
Nada la satisfaría
que ver a su Dios en el cielo.
Pero antes de verlo sin sombra
Quiero luchar por Jesús…
para ganar almas sin número
¡Quiero amarlo más y más!…
Mi vida pasará como un día
Pronto sin vela, sin nube
Veré a Jesús, mi amor
Por allí… En la orilla celestial
¡Me besará para siempre!

Pasaron por ti en los días de la victoria…
Y el honor
Ya tus enemigos quieren ocultar tu gloria
En su furia
Pronto te tomarán, te harán prisionero…
Una mazmorra negra
Se convertirá en tu refugio, te quedarás sin luz…
Pero cada noche
Bajando a ti, Juana, dulce martirio…
Nosotros que te amamos
Para encantarte, al sonido de nuestra lira
Cantaremos.
Pobre niña, no tengas miedo, te consolarás.
En tu desgracia
Te prometemos que te entregaremos…
Por el Señor!….

Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús

Pía Recreación 3: Juana de Arco cumpliendo su misión

 

sainte-Therese-de-Lisieux_13 (2)
Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus, 1895 | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

My soul in earthly exile
Aspires to eternal happiness.
Nothing can satisfy it
But to see its God in Heaven.
But before seeing Him clearly,
I want to fight for Jesus…
To win Him countless souls.
I want to love Him more and more! …
My life will pass like a single day
And soon without veil or cloud
I will see Jesus, my love. There….
On that Heavenly shore,
He will embrace me forever!!!

They have passed for you, the days of victory
And honor.
Already your enemies seek to hide your glory
In their rage.
Soon they will take you and make you a prisoner.
A dark dungeon
Will become your shelter, you will be without light.
But every evening
Descending to you, Joan, sweet martyr,
We who love you
Will sing to the tune of our lyre
To delight you.
Do not fear, poor child, you will be consoled
In your sorrow.
We promise you, you will be delivered
By the Lord!….

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Pious Recreation 3: Joan of Arc Accomplishing Her Mission

O Radix Jesse

¡Bienaventurada alma que la trae el Señor a entender verdades! ¡Oh, qué estado éste para los reyes! ¡Cómo les valdría mucho más procurarle, que no gran señorío! ¡Qué rectitud habría en el reino! ¡Qué de males se excusarían y habrían excusado! Aquí no se teme perder vida ni honra por amor de Dios. ¡Qué gran bien éste para quien está más obligado a mirar la honra del Señor, que todos los que son menos, pues han de ser los reyes a quien sigan!

Por un punto de aumento en la fe y de haber dado luz en algo a los herejes, perdería mil reinos, y con razón. Otro ganar es. Un reino que no se acaba. Que con sola una gota que gusta un alma de esta agua de él, parece asco todo lo de acá. Pues cuando fuere estar engolfada en todo ¿qué será?

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Libro de la Vida: Capítulo 21

 

31944258_2021907738049770_2462622178944745472_o
Santa Teresa de Jesús por Gerardo Lopez Bonilla / Fuente: Carmelitas Descalzos

 

Blessed is the soul the Lord brings to the understanding of truth! Oh, how fit a state this is for kings! How much more worthwhile it would be for them to strive for this stage of prayer rather than for great dominion! What righteousness there would be in the kingdom! What evils they would avoid and have avoided! In this stage one does not fear to lose one’s life or honor for the love of God! What a great blessing this is for anyone who has a greater obligation to look after the honor of God than do all those who are subordinate, since these latter must follow their kings!

For one fraction of an increase in faith and for having given some light to the heretics such a king would be willing to lose a thousand kingdoms — and rightly so; for the gain would be far greater: a kingdom without an end, which when the soul tastes only one drop of its water, makes everything here below seem repulsive. How much more if the soul be immersed in this water?

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life: Chapter 21

 

 

Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. 1 ICS Publications, Washington DC.

O Adonai

Si hablamos de la sobrenatural, según se puede en esta vida, de potencia ordinaria no tiene el entendimiento disposición ni capacidad en la cárcel del cuerpo para recibir noticia clara de Dios, porque esa noticia no es de este estado, porque, o ha de morir, o no la ha de recibir.

Y ésta es la causa por que Moisés en la zarza, como se dice en los Actos de los Apóstoles (7,32), no se atrevió a considerar, estando Dios presente; porque conocía que no había de poder considerar su entendimiento de Dios como convenía, conforme a lo que de Dios sentía.

San Juan de la Cruz
Subida del Monte Carmelo: Libro 2 Capítulo 8

 

Juan dela Cruz - Brescia- 17th c Spanish School
17th c. Spanish, Carmel of Brescia | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

If we speak of supernatural knowing, insofar as one can in this life, we must say that the intellect of its ordinary power, while in the prison of this body, is neither capable of nor prepared for the reception of the clear knowledge of God. Such knowledge does not belong to our earthly state; either one must die or go without this knowledge.

This is why Moses, as affirmed in the Acts of the Apostles (7:32), did not dare to look at the bush while God was present. He knew that his intellect was powerless to consider God in an appropriate way, a way that conformed to what he felt about him.

Saint John of the Cross
The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Book Two, Chapter 8

 

 

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.

O Sapientia

La sabiduría entra por el amor, silencio y mortificación. Grande sabiduría es saber callar y no mirar dichos ni hechos ni vidas ajenas.

San Juan de la Cruz
Puntos de amor, reunidos en Beas, No. 29

 

Juan dela Cruz - Brescia- 17th c Spanish School
17th c. Spanish, Carmel of Brescia | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

Wisdom enters through love, silence, and mortification. It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.

Saint John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, No. 109

Quote of the day: 16 December

Dr. Roman Ingarden
4 Jabłonowskich
Lemberg (Lwów)
Poland

St. Magdalena, December 15, 1929

I want to send an early Christmas greeting because I do not know whether I can find the time later. I hope all of you can celebrate the holiday in good health. There is a lot to tell, but writing is a great robber of time. With kindest regards,

Your Edith Stein

Postcard to Roman Ingarden
Postmark: December 16, 1929

 

Krippe Philipp Roth Flickr 3140334373_6a62d45d9e_o
Philipp Roth / Flickr

 

 

Stein, E 2014, Edith Stein Letters to Roman Ingarden: Edith Stein Self-Portrait in Letters, translated from the German by Hunt, H, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Marie du jour: 14 May

O loving Queen, Mother of might most holy,
O deign to place us all within thy breast!
For in thy power, thy children all, though lowly,
Do set their hope, trusting in thy behest.

Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine
Excerpt from a Christmas carol


Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of the martyred Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, France, was born Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine in Paris, 22 September 1752.  When she introduced herself as a candidate for formation in the Carmel of Compiègne, she was unable to raise the funds for the necessary dowry that postulants were expected to bring with them to support the financial needs of the community. The prioress of the Carmel of Saint-Denis, Venerable Mother Teresa of Saint-Augustine — lovingly remembered by her baptismal name, Madame Louise — was the daughter of King Louis XV. When she learned of the difficulty the promising candidate faced in acquiring the francs needed for her dowry, Madame Louise supplied the balance of the funds required for the young Madame Lidoine’s admission to formation. In recognition of her benefactor’s great generosity, the Discalced Carmelite novice took the same religious name as her benefactor: Teresa of Saint-Augustine. Madame Louise’s generosity was well repaid when her protégée, now prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, led her nuns bravely and joyfully to the scaffold in revolutionary Paris on 17 July 1794.

 

Virgin and Child with a Rose - BOUCHER Francois - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Legion of Honor
Virgin and Child with a Rose
François Boucher (French, 1703 – 1770)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1765-1770
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – Legion of Honor

François Boucher was the court painter to King Louis XV

Excerpt from William Bush, To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne Guillotined July 17, 1774 
Copyright © 1999, 2013 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
 Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

The tent-dwelling nomad

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?

“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'”

First Reading
Monday in Fourth Week of Advent – Mass in the Morning
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Nativity scene from Barcelona
A nativity scene in Barcelona, Spain

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