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.
I beg you, oh, mark everything with the seal of love! It alone endures.
For an increase in the gift of Love
St. Paul speaks
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks
“Oh! how empty is all that has not been done for God and with God! I beg you, oh, mark everything with the seal of love! It alone endures.” (Letter 333 to Madame de Bobet, end of October 1906)
At the end of October 1906, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity already was seeing things with an eternal viewpoint. In her letter to her friend Antoinette de Bobet she remarked, “in the light of eternity, the soul sees things as they really are.” How can we benefit from St. Elizabeth’s heavenly view and apply her advice to our lives? How can I place a seal or a stamp of love on everything I do or say?
O Saint Elisabeth!
In your great love of God,
You were always so close
to your friends’ needs.
Now, in Heaven,
Face to face with the Lord,
Do intervene near Him
for the needs we recommend to you.
(Make your request)
Teach us how to abide,
in Love and Faith,
with the Holy Trinity
in the utmost of our heart.
Teach us how to radiate God’s Love
amongst men, in our everyday life
just as you did yourself,
so that we may be a praise of God’s glory.
Our Father… (pray slowly, contemplating the meaning of the prayer)
Glory be… (three times, in praise of the indwelling Trinity)
Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC
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 believe love does not allow us to pause for long here on earth, and besides Saint John of the Cross says so definitively; he has a wonderful chapter in which he describes the death of souls who are victims of love, the last assaults He gives them, then all the rivers of the soul, which are so immense they already resemble seas, go to lose themselves in the Ocean of divine love. Little sister, Saint Paul says that “our God is a consuming Fire.” If we remain always united to Him by a simple, loving gaze of faith; if, like our adored Master, we can say at the end of every day: “Because I love my Father, I always do what pleases Him,” He will really be able to consume us, and like two little sparks we will lose ourselves in the immense Furnace, free to burn there for all eternity.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Letter 293 to Clémence Blanc (excerpt) Beginning of July, 1906
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!
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.
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…
The appointed time has come … for the renewal of His spouse, the Church
But let us go on, let us go on, let us go on! For, the gentle Jesus does not want me to keep on writing more words to you for the satisfaction of my own lowliness and to make you understand the truth, but He wants me to begin to make His work known to you. I say that what God wants me to make known to you and me understand– I insist, make me understand– is this: That the appointed time has come, the time predestined from eternity in the mind of God, and long since desired by His servants, past and present, for the renewal of His spouse, the Church.
Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, born 2 April 1566
Letter 6 to the Reverend Father Peter of the Company of the Holy Name of Jesus 1 August 1586
Read more of the letters of St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi here
Read the Carmelites’ biographical profile of St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi here
Today we live again in a time that urgently needs to be renewed at the hidden springs of God-fearing souls… It is not necessary that we experience the epiphany in our lives. We may live in confident certainty that what the Spirit of God secretly effects in us bears its fruits in the kingdom of God. We will see them in eternity.
St Teresa Benedicta (The Hidden Life and Epiphany)
Letter of Invitation to the Wedding of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Being unable to invite you to the Nuptial Blessing which was given on Mount Carmel, September 8, 1890, (the heavenly court alone was admitted), you are nevertheless asked to be present at the Return from the Wedding which will take place Tomorrow, the Day of Eternity, on which day Jesus, Son of God, will come on the Clouds of Heaven in the splendor of His Majesty, to judge the Living and the Dead.
The hour being as yet uncertain, you are invited to hold yourselves in readiness and to wait.
Tarjeta de Invitación a las Bodas de Sor Teresa del Niño Jesús de la Santa Faz
No habiendo podido invitaros a la bendición nupcial que les fue otorgada en la montaña del Carmelo, el 8 de septiembre de 1890 (a la que sólo fue admitida la Corte Celestial), se os suplica que asistáis a la Tornaboda, que tendrá lugar Mañana, Día de la Eternidad, día en que Jesús, el Hijo de Dios, vendrá sobre las Nubes del Cielo en el esplendor de su Majestad, para juzgar a vivos y muertos.
Dado que la hora es incierta, os invitamos a estar preparados y velar.
More than the “end of the world,” the Gospel speaks about “the truth of the world.”
The Gospel text makes an effort to tell us about the great mystery of the end of time when this world as we know it will pass away; it will end and an absolutely new world will emerge, but it will be impossible to describe. The Gospel does not speak exactly about what we call “the end of the world,” which we often imagine as a universal cataclysm, as a catastrophe in which everything will be destroyed. More than the “end of the world,” the Gospel of Mark [Mark 13:24-32] speaks about “the truth of the world.” It speaks about this world that God has created with so much love, that he has sustained and cared for over the centuries, but it will have a terminating point, an end.
Just as there is a personal end for each one of us with death, so there will be an end to this world. The world will not last forever. Only God is eternal. This world that seems so stable, so sure and eternal, one day will end. However, let’s not forget that the Gospel does not proclaim the destruction of the world, of cities, of the cosmos, or of humankind. No. What is proclaimed is that the world, as we know it today, threatened by suffering, injustice, sin, evil, and death, will end. And, it will be wonderfully recreated, transfigured into a new reality of full and everlasting life that we cannot even imagine.
Excerpt from a homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
The world as we know it today will end and it will be wonderfully transfigured into a new reality of everlasting life that we cannot even imagine.
In the light of eternity the soul sees things as they really are.
For the gift of God’s sight: we often hear the expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can become so engrossed in the concerns and anxieties of life that we lose the “the big picture.” This big picture includes the reality that God is always at work among us. God sees everything. St. Paul often refers to God’s sight; to St. Timothy he writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone… This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” [I Tim 2:1, 3]
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks
“In the light of eternity the soul sees things as they really are.”
What dark ways of thinking or preoccupations do I need to renounce in order to welcome the light of eternity in my life? Who in particular should I pray and give thanks for? How and where can I expand my spiritual vision to see as God sees?
O God of bountiful mercy,
you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
the mystery of your secret presence
in the hearts of those who love you,
and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth.
Through her intercession
may we also abide in the love of Christ,
that we may see what you see
and love in the way that you love
and thus merit to be transformed
into temples of your life-giving Spirit
to the praise of your glory.
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.
We seem to give them back to Thee, O God, who gavest them to us. Yet as Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return. Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O lover of souls. What Thou givest, thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours also, if we are Thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; draw us closer to Thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer our loved ones who are with Thee. And while Thou dost prepare a place for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where Thou art we may be also forevermore.
“As Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return.”
.2 Let God arise, let his foes be scattered.
Let those who hate him flee before him.
.3 As smoke is blown away so will they be blown away;
like wax that melts before the fire,
so the wicked shall perish at the presence of God.
.4 But the just shall rejoice at the presence of God,
they shall exult and dance for joy.
.5 O sing to the Lord, make music to his name;
make a highway for him who rides on the clouds.
Rejoice in the Lord, exult at his presence.
.6 Father of the orphan, defender of the widow,
such is God in his holy place.
.7 God gives the lonely a home to live in;
he leads the prisoners forth into freedom;
but rebels must dwell in a parched land.
.8 When you went forth, O God, at the head of your people,
.9 when you marched across the desert, the earth trembled:
the heavens melted at the presence of God,
at the presence of God, Israel’s God.
.10 You poured down, O God, a generous rain;
when your people were starved you gave them new life.
.11 It was there that your people found a home,
prepared in your goodness, O God, for the poor.
.12 The Lord gives the word to the bearers of good tidings:
“The Almighty has defeated a numberless army
.13 and kings and armies are in flight, in flight
while you were at rest among the sheepfolds.”
.14 At home the women already share the spoil.
They are covered with silver as the wings of a dove,
its feathers brilliant with shining gold
.15 and jewels flashing like snow on Mount Zalmon.
.16 The mountains of Bashan are mighty mountains;
high-ridged mountains are the mountains of Bashan.
.17 Why look with envy, you high-ridged mountains,
at the mountain where God has chosen to dwell?
It is there that the Lord shall dwell for ever.
.18 The chariots of God are thousands upon thousands.
The Lord has come from Sinai to the holy place.
.19 You have gone up on high; you have taken captives,
receiving men and women in tribute, O God,
even those who rebel, into your dwelling, O Lord.
.20 May the Lord be blessed day after day.
He bears our burdens, God our savior;
.21 this God of ours is a God who saves.
The Lord our God holds the keys of death.
.22 And God will smite the head of his foes,
the crown of those who persist in their sins.
.23 The Lord said: “I will bring them back from Bashan;
I will bring them back from the depth of the sea.
.24 Then your feet will tread in their blood
and the tongues of your dogs take their share of the foe.”
.25 They see your solemn procession, O God,
the procession of my God, of my king, to the sanctuary:
.26 the singers in the forefront, the musicians coming last,
between them, maidens sounding their timbrels.
.27 “In festive gatherings, bless the Lord;
bless God, O you who are Israel’s sons.”
.28 There is Benjamin, least of the tribes, at the head,
Judah’s princes, a mighty throng,
Zebulun’s princes, Naphtali’s princes.
.29 Show forth, O God, show forth your might,
your might, O God, which you have shown for us.
.30 For the sake of your temple high in Jerusalem
may nations come to you bringing their tribute.
.31 Threaten the wild beast that dwells in the reeds,
the bands of the mighty and rulers of the peoples.
Let them bow down offering silver.
Scatter the peoples who delight in war.
.32 Envoys will make their way from Egypt;
Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.
.33 Kingdoms of the earth, sing to God, praise the Lord
.34 who rides on the heavens, the ancient heavens.
He thunders his voice, his mighty voice.
.35 Come, acknowledge the power of God.
His glory is on Israel; his might is in the skies.
.36 God is to be feared in his holy place.
He is the Lord, Israel’s God.
He gives strength and power to his people.
Blessed be God!
MEDITATION Three Dialogues: I Am Always in Your Midst
Mother Ursula’s dialogue with Saint Angela Merici
How foolish now this doubt appears to me!
If God’s call sounds within a soul,
When he leads it to our house’s door
And to knock hard—why should we not open
The door wide, our arms and our heart?
If he shows the way, then he also knows
That it is not a wrong track where people suddenly get lost;
No spurious way that ends in desert sands.
That step by step the road will be revealed, I firmly believe.
And in fact what is certain?
Where is “certain fate”? Yes, we see—
And it’s good that we are so confronted—
How around us structures are becoming ruins
That seemed to us to have been raised for eternity.
One thing alone is certain: that God is
And that his hand holds us in being.
Then even if around us the whole world falls to wrack and ruin,
We are not ruined if we hold ourselves to him.
Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Reading – Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, from her Writings
Do everything for love of Him. Do not seek to please others. They are so mistaken in their judgments! God sees deeply within you at every moment, as though you were the only person alive. Be aware that as you sleep, as you work and live, there is an infinite Being concerned with giving you life, with loving you eternally and infinitely!
How I wish I could fill you with these thoughts, which make everything else pale in comparison, so that there is nothing before you but God! Then, what peace, what joy we might experience. We would understand that God is our center. We would be living the life of love, the life of heaven. 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!
“Virgo fidelis”: that is, Faithful Virgin, [Litany of Loretto] “who kept all these things in her heart.” [Cf. Lk 2:19, 51] She remained so little, so recollected in God’s presence, in the seclusion of the temple, that she drew down upon herself the delight of the Holy Trinity: “Because He has looked upon the lowliness of His servant, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed!” [Lk 1:48] The Father bending down to this beautiful creature, who was so unaware of her own beauty, willed that she be the Mother in time of Him whose Father He is in eternity. Then the Spirit of love who presides over all of God’s works came upon her; the Virgin said her fiat: “Behold the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to Your word,” and the greatest of mysteries was accomplished. By the descent of the Word in her, Mary became forever God’s prey.
“Virgo fidelis”: that is, Faithful Virgin, “who kept all these things in her heart.” [Lk. 2:19] She remained so little, so recollected in God’s presence, in the seclusion of the temple, that she drew down upon herself the delight of the Holy Trinity: “Because He has looked upon the lowliness of His servant, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed!” [Lk. 1:48] The Father bending down to this beautiful creature, who was so unaware of her own beauty, willed that she be the Mother in time of Him whose Father He is in eternity.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
She remained so little, so recollected in God’s presence