The theological virtues perfect the faculties of the soul and produce emptiness and darkness in them.
Excerpts concerning the virtue of hope
We must discuss the method of leading the three faculties (intellect, memory, and will) into this spiritual night, the means to divine union. But we must first explain how the theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity (related to these faculties as their proper supernatural objects), through which the soul is united with God, cause the same emptiness and darkness in their respective faculties: faith in the intellect, hope in the memory, and charity in the will. Then we shall explain how in order to journey to God the intellect must be perfected in the darkness of faith, the memory in the emptiness of hope, and the will in the nakedness and absence of every affection.
As a result it will be seen how necessary it is for the soul, if it is to walk securely, to journey through this dark night with the support of these three virtues. They darken and empty it of all things. As we said, the soul is not united with God in this life through understanding, or through enjoyment, or through imagination, or through any other sense; but only faith, hope, and charity (according to the intellect, memory, and will) can unite the soul with God in this life.
These virtues, as we said, void the faculties: Faith causes darkness and a void of understanding in the intellect, hope begets an emptiness of possessions in the memory, and charity produces the nakedness and emptiness of affection and joy in all that is not God.
Hope, also, undoubtedly puts the memory in darkness and emptiness as regards all earthly and heavenly objects. Hope always pertains to the unpossessed object. If something were possessed there could no longer be hope for it. St. Paul says ad Romanos: Spes quae videtur, non est spes; nam quod videt quis, quid sperat? (Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?) [Rom 8:24]. As a result this virtue also occasions emptiness, since it is concerned with unpossessed things and not with the possessed object.
In the sixth chapter of Isaiah we read that the prophet saw a seraph at each side of God, and that they each had six wings: with two wings they covered their feet, which signified the blinding and quenching of the affections of the will for God; with two they covered their faces, which signified the darkness of the intellect in God’s presence; and with the two remaining wings they flew, so as to indicate the flight of hope toward things that are not possessed, an elevation above everything outside of God that can be possessed, earthly or heavenly [Is. 6:2].
Saint John of the Cross
John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Jesus, hope of suffering humanity, our refuge and our strength, whose light pierces the black clouds that hang over our stormy sea, enlighten our eyes so that we can direct ourselves toward you who are our harbor. Guide our bark with the rudder of the nails of your cross, lest we drown in the storm. With the arms of this cross rescue us from the turbulent waters and draw us to yourself, our only repose, Morning Star, Sun of Justice, for with our eyes obscured by tears, we can catch a glimpse of you there, on the shores of our heavenly homeland. Redeemed by you, we pray: Salvos nos fac propter nomen tuum—“save us for the sake of your holy name” (St. Augustine).
And all this through Mary.
Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Conference, “On a Good Confession” Carmel of Leopoli, 24 November 1902
Praskiewicz OCD, S 2016, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
A direct and intimate experience of God is the basis of Carmelite spirituality. Therefore, before any Rule, and in order that the Rule may be lived when it is formulated, a contemplative spirit and a deep sense of God are required of those who wish to lead the life of Carmel.
If they aspire to love with the love of God himself, it is because they are strong in their hope, resolute in their faith, docile in all things to the invitations of the Spirit; it is because they depend on God alone.
Father Paul-Marie of the Cross, OCD
Carmelite Spirituality in the Teresian Tradition
II. Characteristics of Carmel: Primacy of the Contemplative Spirit
of the Cross P-M 1997, Carmelite Spirituality in the Teresian Tradition, translated from the French by Sullivan K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
He wants to be my peace so that nothing can distract me or draw me out of “the invincible fortress of holy recollection.”
For an increase in the fruit of peace
St. Paul speaks
For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Eph 2:14-18)
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks
Here I am in the presence “of a mystery hidden from ages and generations,” the mystery “which is Christ”: “your hope of glory,” says St. Paul! And he adds that “the understanding of this mystery” was given to him. So it is from the great Apostle that I am going to learn how I may possess this knowledge which, in his expression, “surpasses all other knowledge: the knowledge of the love of Christ Jesus.”
First of all he tells me that He is “my peace,” that it is “through Him that I have access to the Father,” for it has pleased this “father of lights” that “in Him all fullness should dwell, and that through Him He should reconcile to Himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the Blood of His Cross….
He wants to be my peace so that nothing can distract me or draw me out of “the invincible fortress of holy recollection.” It is there that He will give me “access to the Father” and will keep me as still and as peaceful in His presence as if my soul were already in eternity. It is by the Blood of His Cross that He will make peace in my little heaven, so that it may truly be the repose of the Three. (Last Retreat, Twelfth Day)
Just imagine more than two weeks on retreat! From 14-31 August 1906, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity spends each day in prayer as if it is her “novitiate for Heaven.” Those days are not totally peaceful, though—there are doctors and infirmarians coming and going, trips to the monastery terrace to enjoy the good weather, another aged nun in the infirmary with her, and a visit with her mother in the parlor. So the peace that Elizabeth seeks is definitely the peace of which St. Paul writes: it surpasses all other knowledge. It is a peace rooted in the knowledge of Christ’s love. He is our peace! So even without two weeks on retreat, how can we seek him and know his love?
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)
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
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.
Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.
The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God because God does not want anyone to be afraid and remain asleep. Precisely at the time of greater darkness and weariness is when the prophet listens once again to the word of the Lord — two different times — speaking through an angel, saying: “Get up and eat.”
After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep.
Sometimes crisis in our lives is so great and there is so much discouragement, that it is difficult to get up and walk; but God is not overcome by our weakness.
God insists for the second time in feeding Elijah: “Get up and eat, because the road before you is very long, it is greater than your strength”.
God does not want us to feel fearful; neither does he want us to sleep. That is why he feeds the prophet, just like he feeds all of us when we feel deflated, frustrated, and hopeless.
God takes what seems like the end of the road and turns it into a new horizon; what we experience as death is transformed into the beginning of a new life.
Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. Homily, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (excerpt) Mount Tabor Parish, Managua — 12 August 2018
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. is one of eighteen living bishops who are affiliated with the Discalced Carmelite order; he is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua. He began his Discalced Carmelite formation in the General Delegation of Central America in 1979 and was ordained a priest 15 January 1985. He pursued advanced studies in Sacred Scripture and biblical geography and archeology in Rome and Jerusalem. In 1999 he defended his doctoral thesis in biblical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on the subject, Tiempo de callar y tiempo de hablar: el silencio en la Biblia Hebrea(A time to keep silence, and a time to speak: silence in the Hebrew Bible). Serving as a seminary professor, he authored numerous articles and books, speaking at conferences and retreats, and served on the council of the general delegation. In 2006 he was appointed Vice-President of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology Teresianum in Rome, where he was Professor of Sacred Scripture and Biblical Theology and Spirituality; in addition, he was the editor of the theology journal Teresianum. On 9 April 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Managua and Titular Bishop of Zica.
On 30 May 2009 Silvio José Báez, O.C.D, was ordained bishop in the Cathedral of Managua. The principal consecrator was Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua; the principal co-consecrators were Archbishop Henryk Józef Nowacki, Titular Archbishop of Blera and Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of León en Nicaragua.
You may view his episcopal lineage / apostolic succession here.
Scripture commentary translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission
This sweet nectar surrounds me, this merciful love penetrates me, purifies me, renews me, and I feel it consuming me. The cry of my heart is: “Love of my God, my soul searches for You alone. My soul, suffer and be quiet; love and hope; offer yourself but hide your suffering behind a smile, and always move on. I want to spend my life in deep silence, in the depths of my heart, in order to listen to the gentle voice of my sweet Jesus.
O loving Queen, Mother of might most holy,
O deign to place us all within thy breast!
For in thy power, thy children all, though lowly,
Do set their hope, trusting in thy behest.
Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine Excerpt from a Christmas carol
Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of the martyred Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, France, was born Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine in Paris, 22 September 1752. When she introduced herself as a candidate for formation in the Carmel of Compiègne, she was unable to raise the funds for the necessary dowry that postulants were expected to bring with them to support the financial needs of the community. The prioress of the Carmel of Saint-Denis, Venerable Mother Teresa of Saint-Augustine — lovingly remembered by her baptismal name, Madame Louise — was the daughter of King Louis XV. When she learned of the difficulty the promising candidate faced in acquiring the francs needed for her dowry, Madame Louise supplied the balance of the funds required for the young Madame Lidoine’s admission to formation. In recognition of her benefactor’s great generosity, the Discalced Carmelite novice took the same religious name as her benefactor: Teresa of Saint-Augustine. Madame Louise’s generosity was well repaid when her protégée, now prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, led her nuns bravely and joyfully to the scaffold in revolutionary Paris on 17 July 1794.
François Boucher was the court painter to King Louis XV
You will find that the reading of sacred scripture is a great and powerful remedy against bodily suffering and depression of mind. In my opinion, there is no other writing, no matter how eloquent and stylish it may be, that can bring such peace to our minds and so thoroughly dissolve our cares as sacred scripture can.
I speak from personal experience: for there have been times when I was beset with anxieties, the worst of which came from the experience of my own weakness, and if on such occasions I sought relief in the scriptures, the hopes and desires that led me there were never disappointed. The word of scripture proved to be a solid bulwark against my anxieties and a relief to my troubled spirit.
Blessed Baptist Spagnoli of Mantua From the treatise of Blessed Baptist Spagnoli “On Patience”
Born in Mantua on April 17th, 1447, as a youth Blessed Baptist Spagnoli joined the Carmelites of the Congregation of Mantua at Ferrara. He made his religious profession in 1464 and served in many positions of responsibility in the community; he was vicar general of his congregation six times, and in 1513 was elected prior general of the whole Order. In his own time, he was a renowned humanist ‘who brought his richly varied poetry into the service of Christ’. He used his friendships with scholars as an opportunity of encouraging them to live a Christian life. He died in Mantua on March 20th, 1516.
To conform our life to Christ’s, we need, above all, to study His life, know it, and meditate upon it, not only in its outward appearance, but by immersing ourselves in the thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams of Jesus Christ so as to do everything in union with Him.
St Henry de Osso y Cervello A Month in the Heart of Jesus, Prologue
Jesus Christ is born today and the world will never be the same again. This is the truth we hold on to at Christmas; that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. This is what gives us hope and that hope is sometimes all we need. I […]
Recently, in my travels throughout NYC, something occurred in a subway car. I was returning to the Bronx from Manhattan when early in my travels five men entered the same car as me. A car, mind you, that was already becoming pretty filled with people. The smell of these gentlemen filled the car quickly. Within minutes of the subway training moving along to the next stop, it became clear that all these men were on something. That something might’ve been alcohol, drugs, or a mixture of the two. They were loud and rude, causing a situation where those around them began to move away, causing the five to push and shove each other to claim one of the newly vacated seats. Much of their conversation between themselves was about their currently ‘wasted state’ or previously ‘wasted states.’ Of course, they were using language that I dare not type for you all. As I listened and watched these men my heart had only one response to them: pity.