Quote of the day: 24 July

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

 

Guadalajara_portrait
The Discalced Carmelite martyrs from the Carmel of Guadalajara, Spain: Teresa, María Pilar, and María Ángeles

 

Elijah: Fear and Hope

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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.

 

Leighton, Frederic, 1830-1896; Elijah in the Wilderness
Elijah in the Wilderness
Frederic Leighton (British, 1830–1896)
Oil on canvas, 1877-78
Walker Art Gallery

 

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.

 

BAEZ - We must not turn off the light IGsize

 

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.

 

Leighton, Frederic, 1830-1896; Elijah in the Wilderness
That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide.

 

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 mountainwhere the whole history of the covenant startedto begin again, renewed by God’s strength, and to be able to continue as a man, as a believer, and as a prophet.

 

 

SONY DSC
God began everything on that mountain. | Phillip Marsh / Flickr

 

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.

 

BAEZ - Elijah was tempted not to keep fighting TWsize

 

The biblical text, however, gives us the certainty that God’s nourishment allows us to come out of our unconscious state and overcome fearnot letting anyone deprive us of hopeto 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 dream of 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.

 

BAEZ - I dream of a Nicararagua

 

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.

 

Divine Liturgy Eucharistic Prayer St Petersburg Theological Academy Flickr
In our interior,
in the depths of our heart,
God feeds us with his Son,
the Bread come down from heaven
Saint-Petersburg Theological Academy / Flickr

 

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.

 


Ocupa INSS protest 20jun13
† Silvio José Baez, O.C.D. is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua; when he speaks of the “current drama of our society” he refers to the regime of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. The Organization of American States commissioned a Group of Independent Experts to study the violence that occurred during the first six weeks of protests in 2018 after the government announced cutbacks to Social Security pensions. The official report was clear-cut: the Ortega-Murillo police and paramilitary forces committed crimes against humanity. However, the grievances of the people are not recent; in this photo, the youth turned out to support older adults when Social Security pension cutbacks were first announced in June 2013. The sign says, “in Ortega and Murillo’s government, senior citizens have no rights.” Learn more about the 2013 protests here. Learn more about the 2018 unrest and the challenges for the Catholic Church in Nicaragua here. Listen to Bishop Báez deliver this homily in Spanish at San Antonio en Monte Tabor parish here.| Jorge Mejía Peralta / Flickr

 

This English translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

Quote of the day: 12 June

APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO POLAND
EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

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.

 

St Joseph Convent of the Discalced Carmelite Friars Wadowice
A statue of St. Raphael Kalinowski stands in front of St. Joseph Convent of the Discalced Carmelite Friars in Wadowice, Poland | Tulio Bertorini / Flickr

 

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 Christ who in 1944, as prior of the convent of Czerna, confirmed his fidelity to God by a martyr’s death.

 

Alphonsus Mary Mazurek-870x1024 (2)
Detail of a portrait of Blessed Alphonsus Mary Mazurek displayed in the Basilica of St. Anne in Lubartów, Poland, where Blessed Alphonsus Mary was born. See the complete portrait here.

 

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

 

Deep within, Mary had learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in history. 

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
From the homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

BAEZ 8Sep18 Tweet
Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua

Quote of the day: 3 April

Óleo_conmemorativo_de_la_Beatificación_de_Santa_Teresa_de_Los_Andes,_Parque_O'Higgins_de_Santiago
Commemorative oil painting of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes that was used to create the banner for the Mass of Beatification in Santiago, 3 April 1987 during Saint John Paul II’s apostolic journey to Chile | Philippus2011 / WikimediaCommons

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

Beatification Teresa de los Andes 1987 Blessing
Saint John Paul II waves farewell to the faithful at the conclusion of the Mass of Beatification of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes in Parque O’Higgins, Santiago, Chile, 3 April 1987 | Photo: Santuario Teresa de los Andes

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.

Quote of the Day: 21 March

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

TERESA ANDES - Santuario Auco Church IGsize
Perdóname | Santuario Santa Teresa de los Andes | Claudio Quezada Ibáñez / Flickr

See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here

Quote of the day: 1 March

“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

Alphonsus Maria Mazurek_564x389
Blessed Alphonsus Maria Mazurek was born in 1891 at Baranowka, near Lubartow, Poland. He entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites in 1908, taking the religious name Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit. He was ordained a priest and appointed as a professor, while dedicating himself to the education of youth. Afterwards he served in his Order as prior and bursar. In 1944, after having been arrested by the troops that had invaded his country, he was shot by the Gestapo on 28th August at Nawojowa Gora, near Krzeszowice. He was beatified by John Paul II on 13th June 1999, among the 108 Blessed Polish martyrs. | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelite Order

 

“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.”

Quote of the day: 8 February

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

 

BAEZ - We must build bridges
The word of God came, then, over John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He is not the announcer who carries the announcement, it is the announcement who carries him, impels him, launches him onward: and he crossed the whole region of the Jordan. The word of God is always in flight in search of men and women, simple and true, to create new beginnings and processes. Straightening, smoothing, filling in empty spaces … This young and austere prophet paints a harsh and difficult landscape, which has the hard and violent features of history: all violence, exclusion, and injustice are a ravine that needs to be filled… We must build bridges with mercy, ask for forgiveness, repairing the damage caused. We have to smooth out the rough edges in our relationships.

Excerpt from a homily for the Second Sunday of Advent by Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, Nicaragua. Translation by @carmelitequotes. Listen to the full audio of the Bishop Báez’s homily here.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑