You must build a little cell within your soul as I do. Remember that God is there and enter it from time to time; when you feel nervous or you’re unhappy, quickly seek refuge there and tell the Master all about it.
Ah, if you got to know Him a little, prayer wouldn’t bore you anymore; to me it seems to be rest, relaxation. We come quite simply to the One we love, stay close to Him like a little child in the arms of its mother, and we let our heart go.
You used to love sitting very close to me and telling me your secrets; that is just how you must go [to] Him; if only you knew how well He understands…. You wouldn’t suffer any more if you understood that.
It is the secret of life in Carmel: the life of a Carmelite is a communion with God from morning to evening, and from evening to morning. If He did not fill our cells and our cloisters, ah! How empty they would be! But through everything, [we] see Him, for we bear Him within us, and our life is an anticipated Heaven.
I ask God to teach you all these secrets, and I am keeping you in my little cell; for your part, keep me in yours, and that way we will never be parted.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 123 to Françoise de Sourdon Thursday, 19 June 1902
Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC
Pilgrim in the footsteps of Saint Teresa of Jesus, with great satisfaction and joy I come to Avila. In this city there are so many Teresian places, such as the monastery of Saint Joseph, the first of the “dovecotes” founded by her; this monastery of the Incarnation, where Saint Teresa received the Carmelite habit, made her religious profession, had her decisive “conversion” and lived her experience of total consecration to Christ. It can well be said that this is the shrine of the contemplative life, place of great mystical experiences, and the focal point of monastic foundations.
To contemplate so many cloistered religious today, I cannot help but think about the great Spanish monastic tradition, its influence on Spanish culture, customs and life. Isn’t it here where the moral strength dwells, where there is a continuous reference to the spirit of the Spaniards?
The Pope calls you today to continue cultivating your consecrated life through a liturgical, biblical and spiritual renewal, following the guidelines of the Council. All this requires a permanent formation that enriches your spiritual life, giving it a solid doctrinal, theological and cultural foundation. In this way, you will be able to give the evangelical response that so many young people of our time expect, who today also approach your monasteries, attracted by a life of generous surrender to the Lord.
In this regard I want to issue a call to Christian communities and their Pastors, reminding them of the irreplaceable position occupied by the contemplative life in the Church. We all must deeply value and esteem the dedication of contemplative souls to prayer, praise, and sacrifice.
They are very necessary in the Church. They are living prophets and teachers for all; they are the vanguard of the Church on the way to the kingdom. Their attitude toward the realities of this world, which they contemplate according to the wisdom of the Spirit, enlightens us about the last things and makes us feel the gratuitousness of God’s saving love. I, therefore, urge everyone to try to foster vocations to monastic life among young women, in the assurance that these vocations will enrich the whole life of the Church.
Daughters of Carmel: May you be living images of your Mother Teresa, of her spirituality and her humanism. May you truly be as she was and wanted to be called—and as I wish her to be called—Teresa of Jesus.
As prayer is one of the chief objects of the Order of Carmel, the Sisters are constantly called upon from far and near to give the assistance of their prayers in all kinds of spiritual and temporal necessities. The following incident will serve to show with what faith and confidence the people recur to the Community:
In the latter part of the year 1882, small-pox broke out in the city of Baltimore and it was feared that it would become an epidemic. Many persons requested the prayers of the Sisters to avert the calamity, and they chanted daily, in community, the hymn to Our Lady, for help in time of pestilence: “Stella coeli extirpavity” [sic].
In January of 1883, a secular newspaper published the following item: “The Mayor received yesterday a card, signed, ‘Our City,’ requesting the prayers of the good Carmelite Nuns for the small-pox sufferers.” On hearing of this petition, the Sisters redoubled their supplications and daily went in procession through the cloisters, carrying a statue of Our Lady and chanting the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, with appropriate versicles and prayers. Thus they continued to implore the mercy of God until the faith of the good citizens of Baltimore was rewarded and all danger was at an end.
Charles Currier Carmel in America: a centennial history of the Discalced Carmelites in the United States (p. 354)
Stélla caéli extirpávit Quae lactávit Dóminum Mórtis péstem quam plantávit Prímus párens hóminum. Ipsa stélla nunc dignétur Sídera compéscere, Quórum bélla plébem caédunt Dírae mórtis úlcere.
O gloriósa stélla máris A péste succúre nóbis: Audi nos, nam te fílius Níhil négans honórat. Sálva nos, Jésu!
Pro quíbus vírgo máter te órat.
The star of heaven, she who suckled the Lord, has uprooted the scourge of death which the first parent of mankind planted. That very star is now worthy to encompass the world, whose wars cut down the people with the sore of dreaded death.
O glorious star of the sea, save us from the scourge: Hear us, for the son, denying nothing, honors you. Save us, Jesus!
From Marie Martin (Marie of the Sacred Heart) to her father, Saint Louis Martin 9th April 1888
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.
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
So far we still live in deep peace, entirely unmolested within our cloister walls. But the fate of our Spanish sisters tells us, all the same, what we must be prepared for. And when such profound upheaval takes place in such close proximity, it is a salutary warning.
Saint Edith Stein
Letter 283 to Sister Callista Kopf, O.P. (excerpt) Cologne-Lindenthal, 7 May 1937
“The fate of our Spanish sisters” refers to the assassination on 24 July 1936 at Guadalajara, Spain, of three Discalced Carmelite nuns who were killed for their fidelity to the faith. Sisters María Pilar de San Francisco de Borja, María Ángeles de San José, and Teresa del Niño Jesús y de San Juan de la Cruz were beatified by Saint John Paul II on 29 March 1987, 33 days before he beatified Edith Stein.
RESPONSORY R/.You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man. V/.So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
On 7 May 1919, Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of the Holy Spirit in the township of Los Andes, roughly 90 kilometers from her family in the capital of Santiago, Chile.
Years later, her brother Luis testified for her process of beatification and canonization:
“Juanita chose the poorest Monastery of Los Andes out of the spirit of poverty. She could have entered a Carmelite cloister in Santiago which, while austere, had more comforts and a better appearance. Nevertheless, Juanita preferred the poorest one.
“Juanita entered religious life at the age of eighteen. The whole family traveled with her to Los Andes and was present when she entered the convent. Juanita bade farewell to each of us in the midst of a huge electrical storm. The rain was exceedingly heavy. She said goodbye to me last, hugged me and whispered in my ear, ‘God exists, brother, and never forget that.’ At this point, my sister, Rebecca, was so upset that she fainted.”
The Writings of Saint Teresa Of Jesus of the Andes: An Abridgement
Edited by Barbara Haight Garcia, OCDS
Translated by Reverend Michael D. Griffin, OCD
Published by New Life Publishing Company, 2003
Featured photo: Peregrinación de Santa Teresa de Los Andes
Km 19, Cerro Chacabuco
Benjamín Mejías / Flickr