Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
With these words, these three daughters of Carmel could address the Good Shepherd when it was time for them to give their lives for the faith in the divine Spouse of their souls. Yes, “I fear no evil.” Not even death. Love is greater than death and “You are with me.” You, the crucified Spouse! You, Christ, my strength!
Saint John Paul II Homily, Rite of Beatification
Sr. María Pilar de San Francisco de Borja
Sr. María Ángeles de San José
Sr. Teresa del Niño Jesús 29 March 1987
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.
In a particular way, I wish to greet the Discalced Carmelite Fathers of Górka in Wadowice. We are meeting on an exceptional occasion: 27 August this year marks the centenary of the consecration of the Church of Saint Joseph, at the Convent founded by Saint Raphael Kalinowski. As I did as a young man, I now return in spirit to that place of particular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which had such a great influence on the spirituality of the Wadowice area. I myself received many graces there, and today I wish to thank the Lord for them.
I am pleased that I was able to beatify, together with one hundred and eight martyrs, Blessed Father Alfons Maria Mazurek, a pupil and later a worthy teacher in the minor seminary attached to the Convent. I had the opportunity to meet personally this witness of Christwho in 1944, as prior of the convent of Czerna, confirmed his fidelity to God by a martyr’s death.
I kneel in veneration before his relics, which rest in the Church of Saint Joseph, and I give thanks to God for the gift of the life, martyrdom and holiness of this great Religious.
Saint John Paul II Wadowice, 16 June 1999 Homily excerpts
This is her message: happiness is in God alone; only God is infinite joy.
The Church today proclaims Sister Teresa de los Andes to be Blessed and, as of this day, she venerates her and invokes her with this title.
Blessed, blissful, happy, is the person who has made the Gospel’s beatitudes the center of her life; that she has lived them with heroic intensity.
In this way, our Blessed, having put into practice the beatitudes, incarnated in her life the most perfect example of holiness that is Christ. Indeed, Teresa of the Andes radiates the happiness of poverty of spirit, the goodness and meekness of her heart, the hidden suffering with which God purifies and sanctifies his chosen ones. She hungers and thirsts for justice, loves God intensely and wants God to be loved and known by all. God made her merciful in her total immolation for priests and for the conversion of sinners; peaceful and conciliatory, she sowed understanding and dialogue all around her. She reflects, above all, the bliss of purity of heart. Indeed, she gave herself totally to Christ and Jesus opened her eyes to the contemplation of his mysteries.
God also permitted her in advance to taste the sublime joy of living beforehand on earth the bliss and joyfulness of communion with God in the service of others.
This is her message: happiness is in God alone; only God is infinite joy. Young people of Chile, youth of Latin America, discover in Sister Teresa the joy of living the Christian faith to its very extreme! Take her as a model!
Saint John Paul II
Homily, Mass of Beatification of Sister Teresa of the Andes (excerpts)
Parque O’Higgins, Santiago de Chile
Friday 3 April 1987
Explore Saint John Paul II’s 1987 Apostolic Journey to Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina here
English translation of St. John Paul II's homily is the blogger's own work; do not reproduce without permission.
God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her
Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.
As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.
The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:
“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!
To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”
And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.
A Carmelite never forgets
In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”
Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”
The Carmelite is the priest’s sister
The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”
However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.
We are co-redeemers of the world
Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.
Saint John Paul II
Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet 21 March 1993
See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here
1stSunday of Lent 2019 ( C ) Here we are at the first Sunday of Lent. People came to the church on Wednesday to receive their ashes, to begin Lent well. Many people give up things for Lent; chocolate is a popular one, alcohol is another, some people who smoke give up cigarettes. Lent is […]
“Munire digneris me, Domine Iesu Christe…, signo sacratissimae Crucis tuae: ac concedere digneris mihi… ut, sicut hanc Crucem, Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis refertam, ante pectus meum teneo, sic semper mente retineam et memoriam passionis, et sanctorum victorias Martyrum: this is the prayer recited by the Bishop as he puts on the pectoral cross. Today I make of this invocation the prayer of the entire Church in Poland which, bearing for a thousand years the marks of the Passion of Christ, is constantly regenerated by the seed of the blood of the martyrs and draws life from the memory of their victory on earth.
Saint John Paul II Homily for the Beatification of the 108 Polish Martyrs Warsaw, Sunday, 13 June 1999
“Deign Thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, to guard me from all the snares of every enemy, by the sign of Thy most holy Cross: and deign Thou to grant to me, Thy unworthy servant, that as I hold before my breast this Cross with the relics of Thy Saints within it, so may I ever keep in mind the memory of the Passion, and the holy victorious Martyrs.”
But no apostolic cause was dearer to the heart of this great man of faith than that of the unity and harmony within the Church. It was as if he had always before his mind the prayer of Jesus, on the night before his Sacrifice on the Cross: “That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us”.
Today the Church solemnly recalls with love and gratitude all his efforts to resist threats of disunity and to encourage the clergy and faithful to maintain unity with the See of Peter and the universal Church. His success in this, as in all his many undertakings, was undoubtedly due to the intense charity and prayer which characterized his daily life, his close communion with Christ and his love for the Church as the visible Body of Christ on earth.
Saint John Paul II Homily for the Beatification of Kuriakose Elias Chavara 8 February 1986, Kottayam