I shall say Mass for George on November 24, the feast of our father St. John of the Cross. On that day, I am leaving to minister to the French prisoners interned in Germany. French priests who wished to go were refused permits. I felt I could not refuse this mission, since Jesus says to those he rejects, “I was in prison and you did not visit me.” People think I am suited to the work because I have relatives in Germany. So I am setting out under the protection of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I am looking forward to bringing some consolation to these prisoners who are in such great need.
Hermann Cohen to his sister, writing from Montreux, Switzerland
Late November 1870
When Cohen arrived in Berlin, he took up the chaplaincy of Spandau prisoner of war camp, about nine miles from the capital. There were 5,300 French prisoners in the camp. While ministering to their spiritual needs, he also didn’t overlook their material ones. He would arrive at the camp armed with parcels of clothes and linen, which he distributed to those in need during the bitter Berlin winter.
I am at Spandau where you made your First Communion in the sacristy. I vest in this sacristy every day to say Mass and preach to the French prisoners. About 500 of them are ill with typhus and dysentery. About 400 attend Mass every day, and I preach to them. Then I visit the hospital to minister to the sick; and in the afternoon, I visit the barracks to see those who are well. Pray earnestly for their conversion; many of the healthy have not been to confession yet.
Hermann Cohen to his sister, writing from Spandau
Early December 1870
A last fragment of a letter from Hermann Cohen has survived. His beloved nephew George Raunheim has noted on it, “N.B. End of a letter written on 11 December in Spandau, twenty days before his death.”
Let us love Jesus more every day! Father Augustine. An unworthy sinner who wishes to be converted for the new year that is beginning. Amen.
On January 9, Cohen contracted smallpox while anointing two of its victims. His family afterward believed that he did not have the spatula with him with which he usually anointed the sick. He had a scratch on his finger through which he contracted the disease. A Capuchin friar in Spandau gave an account of his last days in January 1871..
On Friday, the 13, Father Hermann was ill. We went to his room, and his eldest brother Albert had come from Montreux. He was being looked after by a Sister of Charity. “Well Father, I need you,” he said to me. “I have smallpox and shall be in bed for three or four weeks. I shall be unhappy if the work I have begun is not continued. Besides, the Lord can take me. You will be there to take my place.” “Father,” I said, “I hope God will leave you still longer in your ministry.” But he looked at his crucifix and said, “No, I don’t think so, I hope the Lord will take me this time.”
On January 15, he grew worse; and after a seizure, the parish priest of Spandau decided to give him the last rites. Cohen accepted them with joy and peace, which impressed everyone present. Then he renewed his Carmelite vows. He joined in the Te Deum, the Salve Regina, and the De Profundis. Then he saw his brothers Albert and Louis for the last time and asked Louis to see that he was buried in the vaults of the Cathedral of St. Hedwig in Berlin.
Two days later, his condition deteriorated. On January 19, the sister asked if he wanted her to call a priest. Cohen replied,
So I am going to die. May God’s holy will be done; besides, if I were cured, I would have to witness distressful things.
Cohen’s last hours do remind us of what St. John of the Cross wrote in his “Spiritual Canticle”:
Death cannot be bitter to the soul who loves, who finds in her all sweetness, delights of love. The soul looks upon death as her friend and spouse, and thinking of her, rejoices as on the day of her espousals. She desires the day and hour when death will come, more than the kings of this earth desire their kingdoms.
He gave a last blessing to those around him at their request—his attendants, the Sister of Charity who looked after him, and a Jesuit coworker. Cohen survived the night and died quietly the next morning at about ten o’clock. He was forty-nine years of age. It was a truly heroic end to a life that, after conversion, was completely dedicated to Christian and Carmelite ministry. He was indeed a martyr of charity.
And so on a frosty morning in the course of a Berlin winter, January 20, 1871, Hermann Cohen yielded his generous soul into the arms of eternal love.
Timothy Tierney, O.C.D.
A Life of Hermann Cohen: From Franz Liszt to John of the Cross Chapter 13: Final Mission, 1870-1871 (excerpts)
The official website for the cause of the beatification of the Servant of God Augustine-Mary of the Blessed Sacrament is maintained by the vice-postulator of the cause in the Discalced Carmelite Friars’ province of Avignon-Aquitaine, the Carmes de Midi. You can access the cause’s official website here; it is in published only in French. The Discalced Carmelite General Postulator in Rome also has an official website with pages and links dedicated to Father Augustine-Mary. You can access the website’s links to Hermann Cohen here; it is published only in Italian. You can find the English translation of the Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Augustine-Mary of the Blessed Sacrament here. You can view our previous blog posts about Hermann Cohen here.
Tierney, T 2017, A Life of Hermann Cohen: From Franz Liszt to John of the Cross, Balboa Press, Bloomington, IN
John’s entire work is tensed towards eternity, towards the ‘other, better Indies’. As the friars at his bedside began the prayers for the dying, John checked them. “That is not necessary: read me something from the Song of Songs.” He was interpreting his death as a mystery of love.
He had written of death like this:
“The rivers of love which have long been flowing in the soul swell, bank up, like seas of love, as they press to pour into the ocean.”
Eternity meant to him love set free. That is where night is leading.
Iain Matthew, O.C.D.
The Impact of God, Chap. 10
At midnight on the night of 13-14 December 1591, Saint John of the Cross died in the discalced friar’s convent at Úbeda and entered fully into the mystery of love.
Matthew, I 1995, The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross,Hodder & Stoughton, London.
Fray Antonio de Jesús, his companion since the beginnings of the order in Duruelo, stood before St John of the Cross and said: “Padre Juan, cheer up, trust in God and remember the deeds we did and the labors we endured in the beginnings of this religious life.”
John of the Cross, with a loud voice, apparently a bit exhausted, covered his ears with his hands:
We joyfully present to our Christian brothers and sisters the writings of Elizabeth of the Trinity, which appear here for the first time in their entirety.
Doubtless, history will be surprised when it verifies that three-quarters of a century was necessary since the death of this great contemplative on November 9, 1906, for the integral publication of her works to be realized. Her desire to remain “hidden in God” has been well served by the vicissitudes of time!
And it was only pure Chance — a word which since then I gladly write with a capital letter — which led us to consider this edition, happily favored by the coincidence of the centenary of Elizabeth’s birth on July 18, 1880.
Certainly, Elizabeth of the Trinity is already known, perhaps more so abroad than in France. Since 1909 the Souvenirs, her first biography written by her prioress, has experienced a wide diffusion and has been translated many times. One of her prayers O My God, Trinity Whom I Adore is loved and recited almost everywhere in the world. Large extracts from her writings have been published, and Elizabeth has already taken her place among the classic authors of the Experience of God.
But this edition, of which the greater part of the texts has never been published, and which has benefited from ample information, has the good fortune to present to us Elizabeth’s whole personality. Alongside her most sublime features, her lofty praises of the divine Mystery, we hear the rich harmonies of her other keyboard, her whole humanity. The somewhat blurred halo which surrounded Elizabeth like that of a medieval saint gradually comes into focus.
The preparation of this edition has convinced us that, thanks to a much more abundant documentation than we had before, we can avoid limiting Elizabeth’s message in the future. Certainly, we must emphasize her special graces of recollection and prayer, of listening to and understanding the word of God. That is her charism which won for her the love of contemplatives, priests, and theologians. But now the scope of this charism expands wide enough to encompass in its light the smallest events of our daily life, the least encounters with our neighbor, which, like so many sacraments, reveal God’s presence and demonstrate how we are to give ourselves to Love at each moment. The charism of Elizabeth of the Trinity goes so far as to show us that the contemplation of the Word is prolonged in the concrete act of the gift of self. Finally, what makes her so close to us is that she had to seek God in faith, in a life more hidden and more monotonous than our own. And what makes her so different from us is not at all that she was the object of so many graces from God but that she was so terribly logical in her faith in Love present, Love inviting her.
We entrust this integral work on Elizabeth to every friend who is seeking God. It was no little labor but the happiness of the friendship which brought about this edition was doubled by our joy in meeting a prophet of the presence of God, one of the race of saints! We sense in her the Fire of the Spirit. May a spark from this Fire fly into the hearts of many of our brothers and sisters who read this book.
Conrad de Meester, OCD
We share with our readers the sad news of the death of Father Conrad de Meester as it was conveyed to the world 6 December 2019 by the Discalced Carmelite General Curia, after having received this notice from the Discalced Carmelite Provincial Superior of Flanders, Father Paul de Bois:
Last night our brother Conrad fell due to thrombosis. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital… where he had more thromboses. Last night our brother met his Savior. I believe that he gave his whole life for the Order and for the Church.
In response to the news, Discalced Carmelite Superior General Saverio Cannistrà, OCD sent the following reply:
Dear Fr. Paul:
Yes, truly Father Conrad worked hard to delve into and make known the riches of our Carmelite saints. He had both theological expertise and an admirable precision in philology and history. The Order owes much to his work as a specialist in spiritual theology and as a disseminator.
We pray for him: may the Lord grant him the reward of a life generously offered to the Order and to the Church.
Fraternally, Fr. Saverio
With the passing of Father Conrad, a giant among Carmelite scholars has gone to be with the Lord. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
of the Trinity, E 2014, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: General Introduction Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC
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.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chap. 1
On 24 November 1528 Doña Beatriz Dávila Ahumada y de las Cuevas—better known as Doña Beatriz de Ahumada—made her last will and testament. Scholars such as Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Joseph Pérez indicate that it is believed she expired soon after she made and signed her will, dying in her palace at Gotarrendura, Avila. From there, her body was taken to the city with all due ceremony where she received a burial with honors in the Church of San Juan in Avila.
Spanish Wikipedia editor CrisDC has done a fine job creating and editing a small biography for Doña Beatriz drawing upon the research of Pérez and others, as well as consulting the Cepeda genealogy.
Father Kavanaugh discusses the “image of our Lady” in his notes to St. Teresa’s Life:
According to an old tradition, she is referring to a statue of Our Lady of Charity that was venerated in the hermitage of St. Lazarus, outside the walls of the city, near the river Adaja. After the destruction of the hermitage in the nineteenth century, the statue was moved to the cathedral where it is venerated today.
This statue of Our Lady of Charity is found in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Capilla de la virgen de la piedad o de los dolores) in the Cathedral of Avila. You can learn more about the chapel here on the cathedral website and see a better photo of the chapel here on Wikimedia Commons, which includes the statue of Our Lady of Charity.
Finally, thanks to Flickr members javiolano for sharing his photo of the stunning autumn colors along Camino Río Arbillas in Avila in November 2016 and to juanobe for his photo of the famous “image of our Lady” who received the tears of a grief-stricken child named Teresa.
Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Before flying away to Heaven, dear little Sister Marie-Odile, I want to send you a little note from my soul, for I am anxious for you to know that in the Father’s House I will pray especially for you.
I am keeping a rendez-vous with you in the Furnace of love; my eternity will be spent there, and you can begin it already here on earth.
Dear Sister, I will be jealous for the beauty of your soul, for, as you know, my little heart loves you very much, and when one loves, one desires the best for the beloved.
I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself.
Dear little sister of my soul, it seems to me I now see everything in God’s light, and if I started my life over again, oh, I would wish not to waste one instant! He does not allow us, His brides in Carmel, to devote ourselves to anything but love, but the divine, and if by chance, in the radiance of His Light, I see you leave that sole occupation, I will come very quickly to call you to order; you would want that, wouldn’t you?
Pray for me, help me prepare for the wedding feast of the Lamb. Death entails a great deal of suffering, and I am counting on you to help me. In return, I will come to help you at your death.
My Master urges me on, He speaks to me of nothing but the eternity of love. It is so grave, so serious; I wish to live each moment fully.
A Dieu, I don’t have the strength or the permission to write at length, but you know Saint Paul’s words: “Our conversation is in Heaven” [Phil. 3:20].
Beloved little sister, let us live by love so we may die of love and glorify the God Who is all Love.
“Laudem gloriae,” 28 October 1906
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 335 to Sister Marie-Odile
Carmel of Paray-le-Monial
Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 2014, I have found God, Complete Works II - Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
… I’m grief-stricken, my heart is as broken as when I lost my own children. I see you all in tears, next to your little loved one, who died under such distressing conditions [Paul Guérin was delivered stillborn on October 16, 1871]. And yet God has still granted you a great grace since he had time to be baptized. So, my dear friend, you have to have courage, and I don’t think you lack it. You have enough strength and faith to endure the afflictions of life.
I received your letter just as I was sitting down at the table with company because we had people over. I assure you, what I ate didn’t hurt me. I could eat nothing. My heart was so shattered, I couldn’t breathe. If I could only cry when I’m like this, but no, this relief is denied me. When I’m in great pain, I can’t cry.
I was supposed to be the godmother, and I was rejoicing so much over that! Well! It’s destined that all my celebrations turn out this way….
I don’t know why, but I had a vague premonition of some misfortune. Saturday night, on receiving the dress that I’d had made for the occasion, I said to myself, “I’m rejoicing too much, something terrible could very well happen.”
I wasn’t wrong. If the child had died after several days, I would feel less pain, but given the way things took place, I imagine that it was the doctor’s fault.
As you see, my dear friend, I’m giving you peculiar consolations, but I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I can’t console you because I myself need to be consoled. When I saw our guests, during lunch, enjoying themselves as if nothing upsetting had happened, I felt a lot of bitterness. Don’t think, however, that Louis was one of them, because he was very sensitive to your pain and speaks of it constantly.
We’re going over in our minds all the suffering and all the troubles your poor wife has had to endure the last six months, and we’re bemoaning the sad ending. Yes, this is very hard. However, my dear friend, let’s not complain, God is the Master. For our own good, He may allow us to suffer a great deal, but never without His help and His grace.
Yesterday I received, at the same time, a letter from our aunt, Madame Frédéric Guérin, announcing the death of her husband (the brother of their father, Isidore, Sr.), who was struck down by a stroke last Tuesday. She invited us to the service that will take place on Thursday. She didn’t give me any detail. I don’t know if he had time to see a priest. This saddened me, but not nearly as much as the news you gave me.
If you can write once before I come to see you, you would make me happy. Tell me, above all, if the child was alive when he was baptized. The doctor should really have baptized him before his birth. When they see a child in danger, it’s always there that they should begin.
While waiting for a letter from you, I hug you with all my heart.
Oh father, ten years ago
You were stricken by cruel death!
You left your grief-stricken widow,
Your children, still quite young;
And your soul left the earth,
The place of exile and of misery,
To return to the bosom of God
In the beautiful city of Heaven.
It was in my weak arms as a child,
These arms that caressed you so much,
That your brief agony lasted,
The last battle of your life!
And I tried to hold on
To that last, long breath!
Protector of my childhood,
Who knew how to watch over
His dear little children with constancy,
I truly promise you that the years
Will not erase from my memory
The souvenir of a beloved father
Who was called by Jesus,
Still quite young, to eternal glory!
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Poem 37, 2 October 1897
The year 1887 was difficult for St. Elizabeth’s family. When she was two years old, her maternal grandmother died, leaving her grandfather, Raymond Rolland as a widower to fend for himself. Eventually, he moved in with his daughter Marie and son-in-law Capt. Joseph Catez.
But 24 January 1887, Grandfather Rolland died in the Catez home. It was a rude shock for the family.
Eight months later, Joseph Catez, the proud army captain, was knocked down by serious health problems. It’s his heart, the doctor says. Besides, he can feel it himself, says biographer Conrad de Meester (2017). Several times during the summer of 1887 he has serious heart attacks, “but the courageous captain, a committed Christian, doesn’t complain easily.”
Nobody expected his condition to deteriorate so quickly, however. The veritable unraveling of the strong fabric of his existence was so rapid and so tragic for the Catez family.
Sunday morning 2 October 1887, Captain Catez fought his last battle and died, borne away in one single night by a massive heart attack. He died in the arms of Elizabeth, who literally felt him draw his last breath.
Elizabeth was always a daddy’s girl; the profound event, which engraved an indelible image upon her memory, inspired her to compose a poem on the anniversary of Captain Catez’s death 10 years later.
The French website of the Carmel of Dijon provides more detail here. Images of Capt. Catez and Elizabeth at age seven are courtesy of the Carmel of Dijon.
de Meester C 2017, Rien moins que Dieu: Sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité biographie, Presses de la Renaissance, Paris.
In the morning, I was with her during the Mass. She didn’t speak a word to me. She was exhausted, gasping for breath; her sufferings, I thought, were indescribable. One moment she joined her hands and looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin.
“Oh! I prayed fervently to her! But it’s the agony, really, without any mixture of consolation.”
I spoke a few words of sympathy and affection and I added that she had edified me very much all through her illness:
“And you, the consolations you’ve given me! Ah! they are very great!”
All through the day, without a moment’s respite, she remained, we can say without any exaggeration, in veritable torments.
She appeared to be at the end of her strength and nevertheless, to our great surprise, she was able to move, to sit up in her bed.
“You see the strength that I have today! No, I’m not going to die! I still have strength for months, perhaps years!”
“And if God willed it, ” asked Mother Prioress, “would you accept it?”
She began to answer in her agony: “It would really have to be . . .”
But checking herself immediately, she said with a tone of sublime resignation, falling back on her pillows: “I really will it!”
I was able to gather these exclamations, but it is impossible to express the tone in which they were said:
“I no longer believe in death for me. … I believe only in suffering. . . . Well, so much the better! . . .” “O my God! . . .” “I love God!”
“O good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid! ” “If this is the agony, what is death?! . . .”
“Ah! my God! . . . Yes, He is very good, I find Him very good. . . .”Looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin: “Oh! you know I’m suffocating!”
“God is going to aid you, poor little one, and it will soon be all over. “
“Yes, but when?”
“. . . My God, have pity on Your poor little child! Have pity on her!”
To Mother Prioress:
“O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim! …”
“But God is not going to abandon me, I’m sure. . . .”
“He has never abandoned me.”
“Yes, my God, everything that You will, but have pity on me!”
“Little sisters! little sisters! pray for me!”
“My God! my God! You who are so good!”
“Oh, yes, You are good! I know it. . . .”
After Vespers, Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her knees. She looked at it for a moment and said, when Mother Prioress assured her she’d be soon caressing the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus:
“O Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin; I’m a baby who can’t stand anymore! . . . Prepare me for death.”
Mother Prioress told her that since she had always understood humility, her preparation was already made. She reflected a moment and spoke these words humbly:
“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart. . . . It seems to me I’m humble.”
She repeated once more:
“All I wrote about my desires for suffering. Oh! it’s true just the same!”
“And I am not sorry for delivering myself up to Love.”
“Oh! no, I’m not sorry; on the contrary!”
A little later:
“Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! never! never! I cannot explain this except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”
Towards five o ‘clock, I was alone by her side. Her face changed all of a sudden; I understood it was her last agony.
When the community entered the infirmary, she welcomed all the Sisters with a sweet smile. She was holding her Crucifix and looking at it constantly.
For more than two hours, a terrible rattle tore her chest. Her face was blue, her hands purplish, her feet were cold, and she shook in all her members. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. Her difficulties in breathing were always increasing, and in order to breathe she made little involuntary cries.
All during this time, so full of agony for us, we heard through the window—it made me suffer very much—the twittering of robins, and other little birds, but this twittering was so strong, so close, and so prolonged! I prayed to God to make them keep silent; this concert pierced my heart, and I feared it would tire out our poor little Thérèse.
At one moment, her mouth seemed to be so dry that Sister Geneviève, thinking to relieve her, placed on her lips a little piece of ice. She accepted it, giving her a smile which I’ll never forget. It was like a last farewell.
At six o’clock, when the Angelus was ringing, she looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin for a long time.
Finally, at a few minutes past seven, Mother Prioress dismissed the community, and she sighed:
“Mother! Isn’t this the agony! . . . Am I not going to die? . . .”
“Oh! I would not want to suffer for a shorter time!”
And looking at her Crucifix, the prioress replied: “Yes, my poor little one, it’s the agony, but God perhaps wills to prolong it for several hours. “
She answered with courage:
“Well . . . All right! . . . All right!”
“Oh! I love Him! …
“My God … I love you! . . .”
Suddenly, after having pronounced these words, she fell back, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress had the infirmary bell rung very quickly to call back the community.
“Open all the doors, ” she said at the same time. These words had something solemn about them, and made me think that in heaven God was saying them also to His angels.
The Sisters had time to kneel down around her bed, and they were witnesses to the ecstasy of the little, dying saint. Her face had regained the lily-white complexion it always had in full health; her eyes were fixed above, brilliant with peace and joy. She made certain beautiful movements with her head as though someone had divinely wounded her with an arrow of love, then had withdrawn the arrow to wound her again…
Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a candle to get a closer view of that sublime look. In the light of the candle, there didn’t appear any movement in her eyelids. This ecstasy lasted almost the space of a Credo, and then she gave her last breath.
After her death, she had a heavenly smile. She was ravishingly beautiful. She was holding her Crucifix so tightly that we had to force it from her hands to prepare her for burial. Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I performed this office, along with Sister Aimée of Jesus, and we noticed she didn’t seem any more than twelve or thirteen years old.
Her limbs were supple right up to her burial, on Monday, October 4, 1897.
Sr. Agnès of Jesus, r.c.i.
(unworthy Carmelite religious)
Words that I found in my notes
… All my little desires have been fulfilled… Now this great one (to die of love) should be fulfilled!
In the afternoon:
Ah! I have such strength today!… I’ve got enough for months! And tomorrow, every day, it will still be worse!…
… Oh well! So much the better!
I can’t breathe, I can’t die!…
(Mother Agnès adds in the margin, “she never had oxygen, I believe that it wasn’t popular back then.”)
…I will never know how to die!. . . . . . . . . . . . .
… Yes, my God!… Yes! . . . . . . . . . .
… I really want to keep suffering … ………….
Toward 5 o’clock, Mother Marie de Gonzague had the relics of Bl. Théophane and Mother Anne of Jesus brought down, that had been pinned to her curtain on the right-hand side. They brought them to her and she gave them a little caress.
But she was inspired by the good God to say this to me in a very particular way so that later, because of the authority that would be given to me, one might rely entirely upon that which I would say and write about her.
Sr. Agnès of Jesus, c.d.i.
(unworthy Discalced Carmelite nun)
28 August 1940
Note from the blogger . . .
We present for our readers an idea of what Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook actually looks like. Neither Father John Clarke’s translation of the Last Conversations that was published by ICS Publications in 1977 (print edition out of stock) nor the same translation that appears on the English pages of the Archives website for the Carmel of Lisieux include these images of the notebook. Only the French version of the website provides photographic images of Pauline Martin’s months of note-taking and bedside companionship.
On the English pages of the Archives website, the Yellow Notebook ends with Mother Agnès’ comment concerning the body remaining supple until 4 October. The Appendix is not included.
The entire Appendix—with photographic images—is found only on the French version of the Archives website. The translation of the Appendix for 30 September is our own. Thus, we encourage our readers to explore the links in the caption of each photo to see the complete pages of Mother’s Yellow Notebook, or to view the images for the entire month of September here. For further, in-depth analysis of St. Thérèse’s last conversations with her family and community at her bedside, as well as Mother Agnès’ record-keeping in her notebook, you can read an English translation of historian Claude Langlois’ commentary and analysis here. It is subdivided into 16 sections; click next at the bottom of each page or navigate back to the top of his analysis.
sainte petite Thérèse, pray for us!
de l'Enfant Jésus, T 1977, St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, translated from the French by Clarke, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
The English translation of the Appendix is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and proper attribution.
It struck me forcibly. You called it ‘The story of a little flower’. To me the will-power, courage, and decisiveness it showed made it seem more like the story of a piece of steel. Once you had chosen the path of complete dedication to God, nothing could stop you: not illness, nor opposition from outside, nor inner confusion and darkness.
I remember the time I was ill and sent to a sanatorium, in the days before penicillin and antibiotics, when death awaited pretty well anyone who was sent to the hospital. I was ashamed of myself for feeling a little afraid.
‘At the age of twenty-three,’ I said to myself, ‘Therese, who until then had been healthy and full of vitality, was filled with joy and hope when she first spat blood. Not only that—but when her health improved she got permission to end her fast with a diet of dry bread and water. And you’re almost trembling! You’re a priest! Don’t be silly!’
Reading it again, on the centenary of your birth (1873 to 1973), what now strikes me most is the way in which you loved God and your neighbor.
St. Augustine wrote: ‘We reach God, not by walking, but through love.’ You also called your road ‘the way of love’. Christ said: ‘No one comes to me unless my Father calls him’.
You were perfectly in tune with these words, feeling ‘like a bird without strength and without wings’, and seeing in God an eagle who came down to carry you off on high, on its wings. You called divine grace ‘the lifter’, which carried you to God swiftly and easily, since you were ‘too small to climb the harsh ladder of perfection’.
I said ’easily’, but let me make it clear: I meant it only in one way.
In another—well in the final months of your life your soul felt as if it was going down a kind of dark passage, seeing nothing of what it had once seen clearly. ‘Faith’, you wrote, ‘is no longer a veil but a wall’. Your physical sufferings were so great that you said, ‘If I had not had faith, I would have chosen death’.
In spite of that you kept saying to the Lord you loved, saying with your will alone, ‘I sing of the happiness of Paradise, but without any feeling of joy; I sing simply because I want to believe’. Your last words were: ‘My God, I love You’.
To the merciful love of God you offered yourself as a victim. All this did not prevent you from enjoying what was good and beautiful. Before your final illness you loved painting, and wrote poetry and short plays on religious subjects, taking some of the parts yourself and showing quite a talent for acting.
In the last stage of your illness, when you felt briefly better, you asked for some chocolates. You had no fear of your own imperfections, not even of having sometimes slept during meditation, out of weariness (‘mothers love their children, even when they are asleep’).
Loving your neighbor, you tried to serve others in small, useful ways, but to do so unobserved; and you preferred, if anything, to do this for people who irritated you, those you understood least. Behind their unlikeable faces you sought the beloved face of Christ.
And no one noticed these efforts of yours. ‘How mystical she was in chapel, and at her work’, the prioress wrote of you, ‘At other times she was very amusing, full of fun and making us laugh uproariously at recreation’.
Joy mixed with Christian love appears in the song of the angels at Bethlehem. It is part of the essence of the Gospel which means ‘good news’. It is characteristic of the saints. Joy may become perfect charity if it is shared, as in fact, dear St. Therese, you shared yours at recreation in the convent.
Therese, the love you gave God (and your neighbor for love of God) was really worthy of Him. This is how our love should be: a flame fed by all that’s great and fine in ourselves; a rejection of all that is refractory in us; and a victory that carries us on its wings and takes us as a gift to the feet of God.
These few lines certainly don’t contain the whole of your message to Christians, but they are enough to point out a few things to us.
Archbishop Albino Luciani Patriarch of Venice
This letter to St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the series of Illustrissimi letters that Archbishop Luciani wrote regularly in a column for the Messaggero di San Antonio magazine. They were published in 1976 and are still available from booksellers in Italian and several translations, including English. We thank the whitesmokeahoy blog for publishing this excerpt from the publication.
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “Tell me, have you had any struggles?”
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “Oh! yes, I have had some. I’ve had a nature that wasn’t easy going; this wasn’t apparent exteriorly, but I know it well, and I can assure you that I wasn’t a day without suffering, not a single day.”
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “But some think you had none. “
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “Ah! the judgments of creatures! Because they don’t see, they don’t believe!”
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “There are some Sisters who believe you will experience the fears of the dying. “
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “These haven’t come to me as yet. If they should come, I’ll bear them; but if I should have them, they would not be sufficient to purify me, they would be no more than bleach. What I need is the fire of love.”
Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine was the one nun of whom St. Thérèse wrote, “There is in the Community a Sister who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me. And still, she is a holy religious who must be very pleasing to God.” (Ms C 13v)
She played an instrumental role in assisting St. Thérèse through her dark night of faith. In January 1897 Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine had a prophetic dream of a dark apartment with a heavy black door “under which a very bright ray of light came through.” On the other side of the door, she could hear a voice calling from the light asking for St. Thérèse. When Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine awoke from her dream, she was convinced that the saint soon would die.
A few days later, Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine shared her dream with St. Thérèse. The saint’s response gives us a striking indication of the depths of her crisis of faith.
“How beautiful! It’s not a dream, it’s a fantasy and it’s for me that you had it. (…) If you knew what good you do for me; haven’t I spoken to you about the state of my soul? (…) I don’t believe in eternal life, it seems to me after this earthly life, there is nothing more. I can’t describe to you the shadows into which I’ve sunk. What you just told me is exactly the state of my soul. The preparation they are doing with me and especially the black door is really the picture of what is happening in me. You saw nothing but red in that door that is so dark, that is to say, that all has vanished for me and there is nothing left but love. Your dream is my only ray of light, I have no other. I know it by heart down to the smallest details.”
Months later in the infirmary, when Sister Thérèse asks if her dying companion has had any struggles, January’s dream certainly must have been on her mind.
Learn more about Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine here.
Read more of her last conversations with St. Thérèse here.
Your kind words did me a lot of good, I know what faithful sisterly love lies behind them. Every bulletin from Breslau reports a worsening. I must be prepared to hear the worst any day. The “Scimus, quoniam diligentibus Deum…” [cf. Rom 8:28] will surely apply to my dear mother too since she truly loved “her” God (as she often said with emphasis). And, with confidence in him, she bore much that was painful and did much that was good. I also think these last months when her life was constantly in peril were particularly grace-filled days—above all, the days since she no longer troubles herself about anything in her external life. And no one but the Lord himself knows what is happening in her soul.
That phrase I quoted from the Letter to the Romans afforded me the greatest comfort and joy during the summer of 1933, in Münster, when my future was still shrouded in total darkness. Never have I prayed the Divine Office of the Martyrs, which recurs so frequently during the Easter cycle, with greater fervor than I did at that time. Now it must be my support again. My mother was the strong bond that cemented the family together—four generations by now—for the common concern about her keeps us all bound to her, even the grandsons who are in far-off corners of the world. What will follow will be all the more difficult for those she will leave behind. For my whole life long I shall have to substitute for her [before God], together with my sister Rosa, who is one with me in faith…
In the love of Christ, your grateful
Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce, OCD
Letter 225 to Mother Petra Bruning, OSU Ursuline Sisters, Dorsten (excerpt)
Sr. Teresa Renata Posselt, OCD—Edith Stein’s novice mistress, later prioress, and first biographer—tells us how Frau Stein’s final illness and death affected the saint.
On 1 September 1936, Sr. Benedicta was able to put the finishing touch to the huge philosophical work that she had begun at her Provincial’s request immediately after her Clothing Ceremony. He gave the work his approval and Sr. Benedicta sought to arrange for its publication.
Meanwhile, her ailing mother’s condition became more and more serious. The year drew on to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 14 September, a very important day in Carmel, since it marks the beginning of the fast that lasts until the day of Our Lord’s Resurrection. Also, in accordance with the seraphic Teresa’s instructions, all the members of the Order renew their vows. This was the third time that Sr. Benedicta took part in the ceremony, held at a silent early morning hour. Afterward, she said to one of her sisters who was especially intimate with her, “When it was my turn to renew my vows my mother was beside me. I felt her presence quite distinctly.” On that same day, a telegram came from Breslau with the news that Frau Stein had died—at the very time when her daughter was renewing her vows. This circumstance greatly consoled Sr. Benedicta, who bore up nobly even when the first waves of sorrow were sweeping over her.
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite
Chapter 16, Joys and Sorrow of the Bride of Christ (excerpt)
Auguste Stein, known as Gustel, was born at Lublinitz, Silesia, Prussia, Germany on 4 October 1849. She was the fourth of the twelve children born to Solomon Courant and Adelheid Burchard. Her favorite brother was Eugen. Auguste married Siegfried Stein on 2 August 1871 and they had eleven children, four of whom died in infancy. For the first ten years of their marriage they lived in Gleiwitz, Prussia and Sigfried worked in the lumber business with his mother. In 1881 they moved to Lublinitz, Prussia where Sigfried established his own business in lumber and coal. In 1890 they moved to Breslau, Germany. Gustel was widowed in 1893 when Sigfried died very suddenly, her youngest child was not quite two. Gustel took on the lumber business and made a great success of it. She became much respected in the Breslau area. She was distressed in old age when her youngest daughter became a Carmelite nun and other children and grandchildren made plans to emigrate to escape the Nazi persecution. She died on 14 September 1936, two years before the import of the terror became clear to all on Kristallnacht (18 October 1938). [Source: Wikitree]
Visit Auguste Stein’s Wikitree page to see more genealogy details, family photos, and a photo of her gravestone.
Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Stein, E 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters 1916-1942, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
To Padres Luis de Guzmán, S.J. and Pablo Hernández, S.J. Toledo
I, Teresa of Jesus, prioress of St. Joseph’s in Avila, have received from the Most Reverend General, Master Fray Juan Bautista Rubeo, sufficient patent letters for founding and accepting monasteries of the primitive rule of the holy Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I have been informed that in the city of Toledo, moved by the grace of our Lord and aided by the Blessed Virgin, patroness of our order, some persons want to give this order an alms consisting of a house together with a church and four chaplains and everything else necessary for the divine service in the church. I am of the opinion that our Lord will be served and praised by this, and I therefore accept the offer as a work of charity and alms and sign my name below.
And if it should be necessary to negotiate certain matters regarding this agreement, as usually happens, I declare that if Father Superior [Luis de Guzmán] and Padre Pablo Hernández are willing to do me this charity of working toward an understanding in these matters, I will accept the obligation to fulfill all that they arrange. And if they themselves should not want to enter into these negotiations, I will accept whomever they appoint; we must not fail in reaching an agreement since my going to that city would please the Lord.
And because these things are my desire, I declare that I will carry them out and attest to this with my signature.
Valladolid, 7 December 1568.
Teresa of Jesus, prioress St. Joseph’s in Avila, Carmelite
Carmelite Prior General Giovanni Battista Rossi—who St. Teresa referred to as ‘Juan Bautista Rubeo’—died on this date, 4 September 1578 as a consequence of an accident in which he fell from his mule and broke his leg. Teresa was deeply saddened when she received the news:
I greatly grieved over the news written to me about our Father General. I feel deep sorrow, and the first day cried and cried without being able to do otherwise. (Letter 272, 15 October 1578)
Read a brief biography of Father Giovanni Battista Rossi here.
The torment had been going on since April, but it was worse during the latter three months.I hastened to go to confession, for I always liked to confess frequently. They thought I was afraid of dying, and so that I would not become troubled my father would not allow me to confess. Oh, love, too excessive, springing from flesh and blood; even though from so Catholic and prudent a father (for he was every bit of this, and his action did not arise from ignorance), it could have done me great harm!
That night I suffered a paroxysm in which I remained for four days, [15-19 August 1539] or a little less, without any feeling.
At this time they gave me the sacrament of the anointing of the sick,and from hour to hour or moment to moment they thought I was going to die; they did nothing but recite the Creed to me, as if I were able to understand them. At times they were so certain I was dead that afterward I even found the wax on my eyes.
The sorrow my father felt for not having let me confess was great — many outcries and prayers to God. Blessed be He who desired to hear them! For after the grave in my convent was open for a day and a half awaiting arrival of the body, and the funeral rites were already celebrated at a monastery of our friars outside the city, the Lord allowed me to return to consciousness.
Immediately I desired to confess. I received Communion with many tears, though it seems to me these tears were not caused by sorrow for having offended God, which would have been sufficient for salvation, but for the mistake I made on account of those who told me certain things were not mortal sins, which I afterward clearly saw were.
The pains that remained were unsupportable — the contrition imperfect, although the confession was integral, including, in my opinion, everything I understood to have been an offense against God. For among other favors His Majesty has given me since my first Communion, there is this one: thatI never fail to confess what I think is a sin even though venial.
But without a doubt it seems to me that my salvation would have been in jeopardy if I should have then died since on the one hand my confessors were so poorly educated and on the other hand I was wretched, and for many other reasons.
Truly and certainly it seems to me that I am so startled in arriving at this part of my life and in seeing how apparently the Lord raised me from the dead that I am almost trembling within myself.
I think it was good, O my soul, that you beheld the danger from which the Lord delivered you. And if out of love you do not give up offending Him, may you do so out of fear lest on any other of a thousand occasions He might let you die in a more dangerous state.
I don’t believe I’m adding much by saying “any other of a thousand,” although I may be scolded by the one who commanded me to be moderate in telling about my sins; and they are being really beautified.
For the love of God I beg him not to cut out anything having to do with my faults, for this is where the magnificence of God and what He endures from a soul is seen more clearly.
May He be blessed forever. May it please His Majesty that I die rather than ever cease to love Him.
Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa, 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Léonie Martin—Sr. François-Thérèse, V.H.M.—was the seventh witness at the diocesan inquiry for the cause of beatification of her sister, Thérèse. In her response to the 21st question concerning the theological virtue of faith, she mentioned this incident…
Her spirit of faith allowed her to see all things from a spiritual point of view. The letters she wrote to me spoke only of God and she only ever considered events from the point of view of faith. When our father died, she wrote (20th August 1894):
“I am thinking more than ever about you ever since our dear Father went up to heaven… Papa’s death does not give me the impression of a death but of a real life. I am finding him once more after an absence of 6 years, I feel him around me, looking at me and protecting me. Dear little Sister, are we not more united now that we gaze on the heavens to find there a Father and a Mother who offered us to Jesus? … Soon their desires shall be accomplished, and all the children God gave them are going to be united to Him forever.”
Saint Louis Martin died 29 July 1894
Read more from Léonie, Witness 7 at the Diocese of Lisieux Interrogatory
Homily of H.E. Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Parish of San Anthony of Mount Tabor, Managua 12th August 2018
Today’s first reading (1 Kings 19:4-8) tells us about the prophet Elijah, who one day is filled with fear and goes to the desert because, disappointed in himself, in religion, and in the society in which he lives, he wants to die: “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kg 19:4).
The previous verse tells us why Elijah decides to go to the desert and wants to die: “He was afraid; he got up and fled for his life” (1 Kg 19:3). He had made a great effort for years to show the people the true face of God;he had committed himself completely so that the people of Israel would keep the faith intact against the religion of the false god Baal and defend the poor against the acts of violence and injustice of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, the royal couple who ruled at that time.
Elijah was a great prophet, a man of God, and a giant of the faith.
After having defeated the false prophets of the queen, unmasking the religious deceptions of the royal couple with which they dominated the people, and having denounced the great acts of injustice they committed, the queen had persecuted him and threatened to kill him. The prophet is afraid and runs away. Nelson Mandela said that “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Even the great men of God can suffer moments of crisis and fear, as in this case with the prophet Elijah, who flees in fear before the threats and persecution of the powerful Phoenician queen Jezebel who ruled at that time in Israel. A prophet of God was running away from a soulless woman, whose will was supposed to be the law; who was the manipulator of religion; she who was the unjust and violent one. The prophet is afraid and flees to the desert.
The prophet’s crisis, however, becomes a moment of grace because God approaches him in the desert and feeds him, giving him new strength to live.
Elijah goes to the desert, lies down and goes to sleep. He’s just waiting to die. The fact that Elijah lies down and wishes for death shows the drama of the moment he is experiencing: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4).
Like so many other believers in the Bible, Elijah complains before God and goes on about the weariness of his life, the fatigue of the struggle, the temptation to make the final withdrawal. All that remains is to throw in the towel;everything has been useless. He has probably experienced that his prophetic ministry and his efforts to fight against Baalism and against the injustice of the system in Israel have proved to be of little value.
In reality, nothing has changed and now his life is threatened.
And further, now Elijah is afraid. The powerful queen has intimidated him and threatened to take his life. To dominate others, fear is the most effective instrument. It is the preferred weapon of oppressors. Fear leads Elijah not only to run away but also to fall asleep. Falling asleep is to remain unconscious, in a certain way: it’s an escape from reality.
However, when things turn dark; when what’s transpired becomes indecipherable and the future, uncertain: that’s when we have to be wide awake.We must not turn off the light of conscience and discernment, for that is when we must be more clear-headed than ever.Poor Elijah. Defeated.Full of fear, running away from Queen Jezebel, running away from reality, and running away from himself.
The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God, because God doesn’t want anyone to be asleep and fearful. Precisely at the moment of the greatest darkness and fatigue is when the prophet turns to hear the word of the Lord through an angel, saying two times: “Get up and eat” (1 Kings 19:5). After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep. Sometimes the crisis is so great and the discouragement is so strong that it is difficult to get up and walk.
God is not overcome by our weakness
God insists for the second time in feeding him: “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” (1 Kings 19:7).God doesn’t want us to feel fearful, neither does he want us to sleep. That is why he feeds the prophet, as he feeds all of us when we feel fallen, frustrated, and hopeless. God makes the boundary seem like it becomes a new horizon; what is experienced as death is transformed into the beginning of a new life.
God offered Elijah—through his messenger—frugal and simple food: a pilgrim’s meal (“a cake baked on hot stones” and “a jar of water”, 1 Kings 19:6). At that moment you don’t need a succulent feast, but effective nutrition. That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide. Elijah ate and “he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).
Before eating, the prophet’s flight was headed toward death;after being fed in the desert, that miraculous meal takes him to Mount Horeb or Sinai, where Moses met the Lord, where Israel first made a covenant with its God.God began everything on that mountain. Elijah goes to that mountain—where the whole history of the covenant started—to begin again, renewed by God’s strength, and to be able to continue as a man, as a believer, and as a prophet.
We who are living in the current drama of our society† know about the injustice and arrogance of the powerful, the manipulation of religion, violent repression, and the use of fear as a form of domination. All of these shady schemes are opposed to God’s plan.
Elijah fought against all of this.He gave everything. In the end, in self-imposed exile, escaping to protect himself from the death threats of Queen Jezebel, he falls down, tired and hopeless, in the desert. He was tempted not to keep fighting, dreaming, and hoping.It can happen to anyone.
The biblical text, however, gives us the certainty that God’s nourishment allows us to come out of our unconscious state and overcome fear—not letting anyone deprive us of hope—to keep moving forward to build a freer and more democratic country. The bread that God gives us in the desert is more powerful than the wiles and threats of the shadowy structures of oppression and death.
We have the right to dreamof a Nicaragua without rulers who oppress the people, where the dignity and rights of every person are respected, where we put off particular interests to share our goods and concerns in peace and justice, and where dissent from power is not a crime.
Today, too, we need a bread that is mysterious and effective, that allows us to walk with strength and hope.
That bread is Jesus, who today has told us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51). Jesus offers to nourish us so as to give us strength, light, hope, and the breath of life that come from the same God, the creator of life.
If Jesus nourishes us with his love and kindness, with his light and with his strength, nothing can take away our joy and hope. In our interior, in the depths of our heart, God feeds us with his Son, the Bread come down from heaven.
We have heard Jesus today who told us: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”The Father mysteriously draws us to Jesus; he makes Jesus attractive to us. And if Jesus presents himself again to us—attractive, fascinating, familiar in the depths of our being—we are attracted to the good, the beautiful, the noble; we will prefer honesty instead of corruption, truth instead of lies, peace rather than violence.
If Jesus makes us attractive, we will be fascinating and attractive, which does good for the human person—which builds a better world.
This English translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Born in Bolsward (The Netherlands) in 1881, Blessed Titus Brandsma joined the Carmelite Order as a young man. Ordained a priest in 1905, he earned a doctorate in philosophy in Rome. He then taught in various schools in Holland and was named professor of philosophy as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone. He was a professional journalist, and in 1935 he was appointed the ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both before and during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands he fought, faithful to the Gospel, against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of Catholic education and of the Catholic press. For this, he was arrested and sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners and did good even to his tormentors. In 1942, after much suffering and humiliation, he was killed at Dachau. He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on Nov. 3, 1985.
From the Common of One Martyr, except the following:
Office of Readings
The Second Reading (Alternative 1)
Introduction to Het lijden vergoddelijkt
From the writings of Blessed Titus Brandsma
The mysticism of the Passion
Jesus called Himself the head of the Mystical Body, of which we are the members. He is the vine, we are the branches. He laid Himself in the winepress and Himself trod it. He handed us the wine so that, drinking it, we might lead His life, might share His suffering. Whoever wishes to do My Will, let him daily take up his cross. Whoever follows me has the light of life. I am the way, He said. I have given you an example, so that as I have done so you may do also. And when His disciples did not understand that His way would be a way of suffering, He explained this to them and said, “Should not the Christ so suffer, in order to enter into His glory?”
Then the hearts of the disciples burned within them. God’s word had set them on fire. And when the Holy Spirit had descended on them to fan that divine fire into flame, then they were glad to suffer scorn and persecution, whereby they resembled Him Who had preceded them on the way of suffering.
The prophets had already marked His way of suffering; the disciples now understood that He had not avoided that way. From the crib to the cross, suffering, poverty and lack of appreciation were His lot. He had directed His whole life to teaching people how different is God’s view of suffering, poverty and lack of human appreciation from the foolish wisdom of the world. After sin, suffering had to follow so that, through the cross, man’s lost glory and life with God might be regained. Suffering is the way to heaven. In the cross is salvation, in the cross is victory. God willed it so. He Himself assumed the obligation of suffering in view of the glory of redemption. St. Paul makes it clear to us how all the disasters of this earthly life are insignificant, how they must be considered as nothing and passing, in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us when the time of suffering is past, and we come to share in God’s glory.
Mary, who kept all God’s words in her heart, in the fullness of grace granted her, understood the great value of suffering. While the apostles fled, she went out to meet the Savior on the way to Calvary and stood beneath the cross, in order to share His grief and shame to the end. And she carried Him to the grave, firmly trusting that He would rise.
We object when He hands us the chalice of His suffering. It is so difficult for us to resign ourselves to suffering. To rejoice in it strikes us as heroic. What is the value of our offering of self if we unite ourselves each morning only in word and gesture, rather than in thought and will, to that offering which we, together with the Church, make of Him with whom we are in the one body?
Jesus once wept over Jerusalem.
Oh, that this day you had known the gift of God!
Oh, that this day we might realize the value God has placed on the suffering He sends: He, the All-Good.
R/. God forbid that I glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. V/. We preach Christ crucified, to others a stumbling block and a folly, but to us the power and the wisdom of God, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Lord our God, source and giver of life,
you gave to Blessed Titus the Spirit of courage
to proclaim human dignity and the freedom of the Church,
even in the throes of degrading persecution and death.
Grant us that same Spirit
so that in the coming of your kingdom of justice and peace
we might never be ashamed of the Gospel
but be enabled to recognize your loving-kindness
in all the events of our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
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
clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
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.”
O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
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
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
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.
O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
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!
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!