Quote of the day: 17 October

October 17, 1871

… 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.

Saint Zélie Martin

Letter CF 71 to her brother Isidore Guérin

 

 

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Photo by Trina Snow on Pexels.com

Quote of the day: 2 October

Capt Catez 04_deuils_portrait
Capt. Joseph Catez (1832-1887)

 

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

 

7 years old 04_deuils_e06
Elizabeth, age 7 (1887)

 

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.

Quote of the day: 4 September

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.

 

Teresa of Avila 1976 The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications,

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

 

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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: 27 March

I assure you that I barely care for my own life.

As for me, I’m not confined to my bed, but I’m not doing well at all. I often have a fever, or, more accurately, I have a fever every day. I’m not suffering very much, but I have a constant headache and a general weakness. I have no more energy. I have no stamina for work, and I don’t have the heart for it. Sometimes I imagine that I’ll go away as gently as my little Hélène. I assure you that I barely care for my own life. Ever since I lost this child, I feel a burning desire to see her again. However, those that remain need me, and, because of them, I ask God to leave me on this earth a few more years.

Saint Zélie Martin

From the Saint to her sister-in-law, Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin)
Letter CF 54, 27 March 1870

zelie-martin-before-her-death
St. Zélie Guérin Martin

Read the entire letter on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

A prayer of comfort in time of mourning

We seem to give them back to Thee, O God

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.

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Stevenson Memorial, Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1903, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum

“As Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return.”

Prayer attributed to Bede Jarrett, O.P.

 

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