Flos Carmeli: Novena 9

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

SEQUENCE HYMN
Flos Carmeli

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

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
esto propitia
stella maris.

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium
tutelaris.

Armatura
fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium
scapularis.

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium
largiaris.

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

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

SCRIPTURE
John 19:25-27

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

NOVENA PRAYER

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

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

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

 

 

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

Mater Mitis: Novena 4

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

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

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

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Foundations: Chapter 16


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

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

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

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Fundaciones: Capítulo 16

 

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

 

SCRIPTURE
II Corinthians 5:1-10

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

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

NOVENA PRAYER

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

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

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

 

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

Pentecost Novena: Edith Stein — Day 3

Pentecost Novena 3-17 Edith IGsize (1)
Pentecost Novena: Edith Stein — Day 3

Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son’s heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!


Saint Edith Stein

And I Remain With You:
From a Pentecost Novena

Day 3

 

The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 4
ICS Publications, Washington DC
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Quote of the day: 30 May

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 — 1 Kings 19:4-8

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.


Commentary

The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God because God does not want anyone to be afraid and remain asleep. Precisely at the time of greater darkness and weariness is when the prophet listens once again to the word of the Lord — two different times — speaking through an angel, saying: “Get up and eat.”

After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep.

 

Sometimes crisis in our lives is so great and there is so much discouragement, that it is difficult to get up and walk; but God is not overcome by our weakness.

 

God insists for the second time in feeding Elijah: “Get up and eat, because the road before you is very long, it is greater than your strength”.

God does not want us to feel fearful; neither does he want us to sleep. That is why he feeds the prophet, just like he feeds all of us when we feel deflated, frustrated, and hopeless.

 

God takes what seems like the end of the road and turns it into a new horizon;  what we experience as death is transformed into the beginning of a new life.

 

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homily, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (excerpt)
Mount Tabor Parish, Managua — 12 August 2018

 

PalmSunday2019_Esquipulas_CARLOSHERRERA-04
Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. | Carlos Herrera / Confidencial (Used by permission)

 

Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. is one of eighteen living bishops who are affiliated with the Discalced Carmelite order; he is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua. He began his Discalced Carmelite formation in the General Delegation of Central America in 1979 and was ordained a priest 15 January 1985. He pursued advanced studies in Sacred Scripture and biblical geography and archeology in Rome and Jerusalem. In 1999 he defended his doctoral thesis in biblical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on the subject, Tiempo de callar y tiempo de hablar: el silencio en la Biblia Hebrea (A time to keep silence, and a time to speak: silence in the Hebrew Bible). Serving as a seminary professor, he authored numerous articles and books, speaking at conferences and retreats, and served on the council of the general delegation. In 2006 he was appointed Vice-President of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology Teresianum in Rome, where he was Professor of Sacred Scripture and Biblical Theology and Spirituality; in addition, he was the editor of the theology journal Teresianum. On 9 April 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Managua and Titular Bishop of Zica.

On 30 May 2009 Silvio José Báez, O.C.D, was ordained bishop in the Cathedral of Managua. The principal consecrator was Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua; the principal co-consecrators were Archbishop Henryk Józef Nowacki, Titular Archbishop of Blera and Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of León en Nicaragua.

You may view his episcopal lineage / apostolic succession here.

 

#BAEZ BLAZON
The coat of arms of Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. reflects his background as a native of Nicaragua — seen in the image of the volcano and the lake on the left — and as a Discalced Carmelite friar, exemplified by the emblem of the Order on the right. At the base of the shield is the scripture with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13). The bishop’s motto is, “For Your Word.” | SajoR / Wikimedia Commons

 

Scripture commentary translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission

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Quote of the day: 20 May

 

They tell me that I’ll be afraid of death. That could happen. There isn’t anyone here who doesn’t trust her feelings more than I don’t. I never rely on my own thoughts; I know how weak I am, but I want to enjoy the feeling that God is giving me right now. There will always be time to suffer from the opposite.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
The Yellow Notebook, 20 May 1897

 

saint-therese-of-lisieux42_Jun1897 (2)
This is a detail of a photo taken by Céline on 7 June 1897. See the complete photo and all of the photos at the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

 

Carnet Jaune translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission

Marie du jour: 12 May

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

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

 

grayscale photo of religious statue
Photo by Alem Sánchez on Pexels.com

 

The Book of Her Life: Chapter 9; 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.

Quote of the day: 11 May

A priest from Villanueva de la Jara brought me letters from the town council there

The Foundation of Villanueva de la Jara and Venerable Catalina de Cardona

Excerpts from the Book of Her Foundations, Chapter 28


One day after I received Communion I was recommending this matter to God as I often used to do. For what made me answer them somewhat favorably was the fear of hindering spiritual progress in souls, for my desire is always to be some means by which our Lord may be praised and that there be more to serve Him. While I was praying in this way, His Majesty reprimanded me sternly, asking me with what treasures that which had been done so far had been accomplished and telling me that I should not hesitate to accept this house, that it would be for His great service and the spiritual progress of souls….

We had to go to the monastery of our Lady of Succor, already mentioned, which is three leagues from Villanueva, and stay there so as to inform the town that we were coming, which had been agreed upon with these Fathers, and it was right that in everything I obey these Fathers with whom we were traveling. This house stood in a delightfully isolated and solitary spot. And as we approached, the friars came out in procession to meet their prior. Since they were discalced and wore their poor, coarse woolen mantles, they inspired us all with devotion and moved me to tender feelings since it seemed to me that I was present in that flourishing time of our holy Fathers of old. In that field, they appeared to be like white fragrant flowers, and indeed I believe that before God they are, for in my opinion He is authentically served there. They entered the church singing the Te Deum with voices very restrained. The entrance to it is underground, as though through a cave, which represented that of our Father Elijah. Certainly, I was feeling so much interior joy that I would have considered a longer journey well worthwhile. I regretted very much that the saintly woman through whom our Lord founded this house was now dead. I didn’t deserve to see her, although I had desired to do so very much.

On seeing the penance that was done by this holy woman, may you realize, my Sisters, how far behind we are and may you try harder to serve our Lord

It seems to me that it would not be an idle thing to tell something here about her life and the means by which our Lord desired that this monastery be founded there. It has been of such benefits to souls in the surrounding area, as I have been told. On seeing the penance that was done by this holy woman, may you realize, my Sisters, how far behind we are and may you try harder to serve our Lord. There is no reason that we should do less, for we do not come from such noble and refined family descent. Although this is not important, I am mentioning it because she had lived a comfortable life in keeping with her status in society, for she was a descendant of the dukes of Cardona and thus she was called Doña Catalina de Cardona. After she had written to me a few times, she signed her letter with only the words, “the sinner.”

she was called
Doña Catalina de Cardona
she signed her letter
with only the words,
the sinner

While this saintly woman was living among the nobility, she was always very concerned about her soul and did penance. The desire for penance greatly increased in her and also the longing to go where she could be alone to enjoy God and dedicate herself to doing penance without any hindrance….

She disclosed her plans to a hermit who was living in Alcalá and, without ever telling anyone about them, asked him to accompany her. They arrived at the place where the monastery now stands, and there she found a tiny cave hardly large enough for her; here he left her. But what love must have been hers since she wasn’t worried about what there might be to eat or about the dangerous things that could happen to her, or about the bad reputation she would have when it was discovered that she had disappeared….

Let us consider this well, Sisters, and reflect on how with one blow she conquered everything. For although what you do by entering this holy religious order, offering your will to God, and professing so continual an enclosure may not be less, I wonder whether, in the case of some, a part of this initial fervor does not pass away and out of self-love we make ourselves subject again to some things. May it please the divine Majesty that this not be so, but that since we imitate this holy woman in desiring to flee from the world we may interiorly stay far away from it in all things.

After these years that she lived there in such solitude, our Lord desired that her way of life become known, and the people began to venerate her so much that she could not get away from them…. She began to have desires that a monastery of friars be founded there, and these persisted for some time without her knowing from which order they would come. Once while praying before a crucifix she always carried with her, our Lord showed her a white mantle, and she understood that they would come from the discalced Carmelites, and she had never known that there were friars like this in the world. At the time only two monasteries of friars had been founded, Mancera and Pastrana. After this experience, she must have inquired. When she learned there was a monastery in Pastrana and since she had been in the past a close friend of the Princess of Eboli, wife of Prince Ruy Gómez, to whom Pastrana belonged, she went there to find out how she might make this foundation which she had been desiring so much.

La_princesa_de_Éboli
Ana de Mendoza de la Cerda y de Silva Cifuentes, Princess of Eboli, Duchess of Pastrana

There at the monastery of Pastrana, in the church of St. Peter, for this it is called, she received the habit of our Lady, although not with the intention of being a nun or of making profession, for she was never inclined toward being a nun since our Lord was leading her by another path. It seemed to her that if she professed obedience her plan to live in harsh austerity and solitude would be frustrated. All the friars were present when she received the habit of our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

In their company was Father Mariano, who I mentioned in these foundations. He told me that he himself had experienced at the time a suspension or rapture that carried him completely out of himself and that while in this state he saw many dead friars and nuns. Some were beheaded, some had their arms and feet cut off as though they were martyred, for martyrdom is what this vision was pointing to. And he is not the type of man who would tell what he had not seen, nor has his spirit ever been accustomed to these suspensions, for God does not lead him by such a path. Pray to God, Sisters, that this vision will come true and that we will merit in our times to see so great a blessing and be ourselves among the martyrs.

All of them have affirmed to me that the odor of sanctity emanating from her was so great that it permeated even her cincture and habit

From here, that is, from Pastrana, the holy woman of Cardona began to seek the means to found her monastery and for this purpose she went back to the court which she had so eagerly left before. Doing this must have been no small torment; it was a place where she underwent much criticism and trial. When she left the house where she was staying, she wasn’t able to protect herself from the crowd. This happened wherever she went. Some cut pieces from her habit, others from her mantle. She then went to Toledo where she stayed with our nuns. All of them have affirmed to me that the odor of sanctity emanating from her was so great that it permeated even her cincture and habit, which she exchanged for another given her by the nuns; it was something to praise God for. And the closer they came to her the greater was this fragrance, even though her manner of dress, because of the intense heat, would rather have caused a bad odor. I know that they wouldn’t say anything but the complete truth, and thus they were left with great devotion.

In the court and elsewhere they gave her the means for the monastery, and once she obtained the license, it was founded. The church was built at the place where her cave was. Another cave was made for her further away in which she had a tomb carved out, and she remained there most of the day and night. She lived this way only a short time, for about five and a half years after the monastery was built. That she lived even as long as she did seemed supernatural because of her harsh, austere life. Insofar as I can remember, she died in 1577. Her funeral services were held with greatest solemnity, for a gentleman named Fray Juan de León had great devotion to her and arranged it all with much care. She is now buried temporarily in a chapel of our Lady, to whom she was extremely devoted, until a church larger than the one they have now will be built to keep her blessed body as is fitting….

VillanuevaJara-ElCarmen
Discalced Carmelite Church “El Carmen” in Villanueva de la Jara, Spain

One day when I had just received Communion in that holy church, very great recollection came over me with suspension that drew me out of myself. In this suspension, through an intellectual vision, this holy woman appeared in a glorified body and some angels with her. She told me not to grow weary but that I should strive to go ahead with these foundations. I understood, although she did not indicate this, that she was helping me before God. She also told me something else but there is no reason to put it here in writing. I was left very much consoled and with a great desire to work hard, and I hope in the goodness of the Lord that with help as good as are these prayers of hers I will be able to serve Him in some way.

You can see here, my Sisters, how her trials have now come to an end, but the glory she enjoys will have no end. Let us now force ourselves for love of our Lord, to follow this sister of ours. Holding ourselves in abhorrence as she abhorred herself, we will finish our day’s journey, for it goes by so quickly and all comes to an end.

Catalina de Cardona had been governess to Don Juan de Austria, son of Charles V, and to Don Carlos, son of Philip II. In 1563 she withdrew to the solitude of La Roda, and in 1571 began to wear the Carmelite habit, but with the friar’s cowl. She died on 11 May 1577, the exact day that she herself had predicted.

Sources: Efemerides Carmelitanas and Teresa, de la rueca a la pluma

The Book of Her Foundations: 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.

Quote of the day: 10 May

John of the Cross helps me to believe that God exists. He helps me to believe that death is not the end, that there is more to life than biology. He helps me to trust that God loves us and means to bring us to eternal life in heaven. In short, he helps me to believe that Christ is risen.

Father Iain Matthew, O.C.D.
Memory and hope in eternal life
Congresso Internazionale Memoria e speranza in san Giovanni della Croce
Teresianum, Rome — 9 May 2019

Angel of the Resurrection Tiffany IMAmuseumNewfields
Angel of the Resurrection
Frederick Wilson, Designer (American, 1858-1932)
Tiffany Studios, Manufacturer (American)
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

 

The dominant figure in American decorative arts for more than half a century, Louis Comfort Tiffany founded several firms to satisfy the strong demand for his art glass, metalwork, pottery and furniture. Tiffany’s enthusiasm for sensuous materials and striking colors found full expression in his stained-glass windows. From 1877 through the 1920s, he and his craftsmen produced thousands of windows for churches, institutions and homes across the United States.

Upon the death of her husband in 1901, the widow of United States president Benjamin Harrison commissioned Tiffany to create a window in his memory. The window, the lower half of which appears here, was installed in 1905 at the First Presbyterian Church, 16th and Delaware Streets, Indianapolis, where the president had served as an elder for more than 40 years. Absorbed in scores of projects, Tiffany probably left the window’s conception to his team of talented designers, contributing his own thought before giving final approval. The design shows Michael, the Angel of the Resurrection, signaling the dead to rise at Christ’s second coming. In keeping with the romanticism of the time, Tiffany’s heroic angel is dressed in the chain mail suit of a crusading knight and seems like a figure from Sir Walter Scott’s novels…

Learn more about this artwork here

Watch Father Iain Matthew’s conference in English here

 

Quote of the day: 28 April

The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will.

I’m happy to see, my dear sister, that your little girl is your pride and joy. I, too, was so happy with my first child. To my eyes, there had never been a child like her. I hoped that it would go as easily for all the others. I was mistaken. What I’ll learn for another time is not to dream of lasting happiness, something quite impossible here below!

So, you can’t imagine how frightened I am of the future, about this little person that I’m expecting. It seems to me that the fate of the last two children will be his fate, and it’s a never-ending nightmare for me. I believe the dread is worse than the misfortune. When misfortunes come, I resign myself well enough, but the fear, for me, is torture. This morning, during Mass, I had such dark thoughts about this that I was very deeply moved. The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter CF 45, excerpt to Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin)
28 February 1869

Read the full text of Letter CF 45 here

Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones
Image taken from page 35 of ‘Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones. Compiled by T. B. S. [i.e. Thomas Bywater Smithies.]’
British Library HMNTS 11652.g.32.
London, [1874.]
Learn more about this image and this book here

Marie Céline Martin was born on 28 April 1869, the seventh child of Saints Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin. Her two older brothers, Joseph Louis (20 September 1866 – 14 February 1867) and Joseph Jean-Baptiste (19 December 1867 – 24 August 1868) had both died in infancy. One can understand Saint Zélie’s emotions and admire her practice of heroic faith despite her fear.


Read more correspondence from the family and friends of Saint Thérèse here

Quote of the day: 1 April

Let us lift the veil through faith and rest in those regions of peace and light.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 237 to Madame de Sourdon (excerpt)
August 11 or 12, 1905

afterglow avian backlit birds
Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

On April 1, 1883, St. Elizabeth’s great-uncle Raymond Rolland, priest of the Diocese of Carcassonne, died; Elizabeth was two years and eight months old.

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: 4 March

THE SPIRITUAL CANTICLE

This commentary on the stanzas that deal with the exchange of love between the soul and Christ, its Bridegroom, explains certain matters about prayer and its effects. It was written at the request of Mother Ana de Jesús, prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of St. Joseph’s in Granada, in the year 1584.

PROLOGUE

1. These stanzas, Reverend Mother, were obviously composed with a certain burning love of God. The wisdom and charity of God is so vast, as the Book of Wisdom states, that it reaches from end to end [Wis. 8:1], and the soul informed and moved by it bears in some way this very abundance and impulsiveness in her words. As a result, I do not plan to expound these stanzas in all the breadth and fullness that the fruitful spirit of love conveys to them. It would be foolish to think that expressions of love arising from mystical understanding, like these stanzas, are fully explainable. The Spirit of the Lord, who abides in us and aids our weakness, as St. Paul says [Rom. 8:26], pleads for us with unspeakable groanings in order to manifest what we can neither fully understand nor comprehend.

Who can describe in writing the understanding he gives to loving souls in whom he dwells? And who can express with words the experience he imparts to them? Who, finally, can explain the desires he gives them? Certainly, no one can! Not even they who receive these communications. As a result, these persons let something of their experience overflow in figures, comparisons, and similitudes, and from the abundance of their spirit pour out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanations.

If these similitudes are not read with the simplicity of the spirit of knowledge and love they contain, they will seem to be absurdities rather than reasonable utterances, as will those comparisons of the divine Song of Solomon and other books of Sacred Scripture where the Holy Spirit, unable to express the fullness of his meaning in ordinary words, utters mysteries in strange figures and likenesses. The saintly doctors, no matter how much they have said or will say, can never furnish an exhaustive explanation of these figures and comparisons, since the abundant meanings of the Holy Spirit cannot be caught in words. Thus the explanation of these expressions usually contains less than what they embody in themselves.

2. Since these stanzas, then, were composed in a love flowing from abundant mystical understanding, I cannot explain them adequately, nor is it my intention to do so. I only wish to shed some general light on them, since Your Reverence has desired this of me…

Ana_de_Jesús
Mother Ana de Jesús (Lobera) was born in Medina del Campo on November 25, 1545, and entered the Teresian Carmel on August 1, 1570. In 1575 she went to Beas as prioress, where she became an intimate friend of St. John of the Cross. She later served as prioress also in Granada and Madrid. In 1604 she went to France and Belgium where she made numerous foundations. She died in Brussels on March 4, 1621. The cause for her beatification is in process. | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelite Order

Read the official biography of the Servant of God on the website of the Discalced Carmelite General Postulation of the Causes of the Saints 

The Spiritual Canticle and biographic sketch of Ana de Jesús from
The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
ICS Publications
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

 

 

 

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


Discover more from Flaviane Montenegro on Instagram at @flavimontenegro

TERESA AVILA - I am a daughter of the Church IGsize
At five in the afternoon, Teresa asked that Padre Antonio bring her Communion. When the Eucharist was brought in, her countenance changed and grew radiant with a kind of reverent beauty, making her look much younger. The impulses of love became so ardent that it seemed she who had been dying now wanted to leap from the bed to receive her Lord. She spoke aloud fervent words of love: “O my Lord and my Spouse, now the hour has arrived for us to go forth from this exile, and my soul rejoices in oneness with You over what I have so much desired.” She also uttered fervent prayers of thanksgiving to God for having made her a daughter of the Church and enabling her to die within it. [The Book of Her Foundations: Introduction]
BRO LAWRENCE - Death comes only once
We have so little time left to live. Death is at our heels, so be on guard: death comes only once!
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D.
The Practice of the Presence of God, Letter 1

Quote of the day: 20 February

I have taken advantage of this opportunity to share with you the experience of one of our friars concerning the admirable effects and continual help he receives from the practice of the presence of God; we can both benefit from it.

He often complains of our blindness and cries out ceaselessly that we deserve sympathy for settling for so little. “God,” he says, “has infinite treasures to give us, yet we are satisfied with a bit of perceptible devotion that passes in an instant.” He complains that “we are blind since we bind God’s hands in this way and halt the abundant flow of his graces; yet when God finds a soul penetrated by an intense faith he pours out his graces in abundance. This torrent of his grace, impeded from running its ordinary course, expands impetuously and abundantly once it has found an outlet.”

Yes, sometimes we stop this torrent by our lack of appreciation for it. We must not stop it any longer, dear Mother; we must turn inward, break through the dam, let grace come forth, and make up for lost time. We have so little time left to live. Death is at our heels, so be on guard: death comes only once!

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D.
The Practice of the Presence of God, Letter 1


Father Conrad De Meester, O.C.D. who was the editor of the French critical edition of Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God notes these biographic details concerning the uncle whose own Discalced Carmelite vocation inspired Brother Lawrence to enter religious life after military service:

His uncle Jean, his mother’s brother, a native of Hériménil, Jean Majeur entered the Discalced Carmelites as a lay brother at the beginning of October 1633. He took the name “Brother Nicolas of the Conception.” He was professed in Paris on December 9, 1635, and died on February 20, 1652, in his nephew’s monastery in Paris.

 

Resurrection of the Dead BODLEIAN
Detail from Book of Hours, Use of Rome 
Folio 98/254
Meister des Gijsbrecht van Brederode [illustrator]
Netherlands, 1440 – 1460
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
See the entire folio and the complete Book of Hours here
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God
(Biographic note, p. 27; Letter 1, p. 53)
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

 

Quote of the day: 19 February

These last two days our dear invalid has grown considerably weaker, and this morning she wasn’t able to get up to take Holy Communion. Our beloved Sister is in a state of weakness, oppression, and anxiety which leads us to think that the end cannot be far off.

She was most touched by your parcel, but she eats so little now that she only tasted it. She has asked us to convey her gratitude for this kind gesture which moved her deeply.

Letter from Sister Marie-Louise de Gonzague Vétillart, V.H.M. to Saint Zélie Martin
(excerpt)
19 February 1877


I’m enclosing a letter I just received a moment ago which doesn’t leave us any more hope, as you can see. Last week I sent some roasted goose to my sister since she’d wanted to eat some cooked in our house. I also sent her a pound of gumdrops and a dozen cakes, but Pauline wrote Marie that she gave almost all of them to her.

Finally, I think her death is imminent, and it makes me very sad. But on the other hand, I want my poor sister to be freed as soon as possible.

Letter from Saint Zélie Martin to her sister-in-law Céline Fournet Guérin
(excerpt)
20 February 1877

Garden of the Visitandines Rouen, edhal on flickr
Garden of the former Visitation monastery, Rouen | Edhral / Flickr 

Quote of the day: 12 February

If he so loved God during his life, he did not love him any less at his death. He made continuous acts of love, and when a friar asked him if he loved God with all his heart, he answered, “Ah! If I thought that my heart did not love God, I would tear it out right now.”

The next day, Monday, February 12, 1691, at nine o’clock in the morning, fully conscious, without agony or convulsions, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection died in the embrace of the Lord and offered his soul to God with the peace and tranquility of one asleep.

Joseph de Beaufort’s Eulogy for Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
The Practice of the Presence of God

Brother-Lawrence1

Quote of the day: 2 February

“The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole. If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the Others. Thus the way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the Cross. When the blessed Virgin brought the Child to the temple, Simeon prophesied that her soul would be pierced by a sword, that this Child was set for the fall and the resurrection of many, for a sign that would be contradicted. His prophecy announced the Passion, the light between light and darkness that already showed itself before the crib.

“In some years Candlemas and Septuagesima are celebrated almost together, the feast of the Incarnation and the preparation of the Passion. The star of Bethlehem shines in the night of sin. The shadow of the Cross falls on the light that shines from the crib. The light is extinguished in the darkness of Good Friday, but it rises all the more brilliantly as the sun of grace on the morning of the Resurrection. The way of the incarnate Son of God leads through the Cross and Passion to the glory of the Resurrection. In his company the way of every one of us, indeed of all mankind, leads through suffering and death to this same glorious goal.”

Saint Edith Stein
The Mystery of Christmas

 

Edith Stein was confirmed on 2 February 1922: On Candlemas Day 1922 she had received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the house chapel of His Excellency Dr. Ludwig Sebastian.” (Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, OCD)

 

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