St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 7

To be taken with love for a soul, God does not look on its greatness, but on the greatness of its humility.

Sayings of Light and Love, 103

 

SCRIPTURE

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge,
O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit,
a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favor to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocausts offered on your altar.

Psalm 51

 

MEDITATION

“O sweetest love of God, so little known, whoever has found this rich mine is at rest!” (Sayings, 16) This is the song of St. John of the Cross, his canticle of love distilled down to its very essence. 

God truly loves us, St. John reminds us through his letters. He tells us that God cannot fit in hearts that are occupied with distractions, that are attached to people, places, or things that mean more to us than God himself. God only fits in hearts that have been emptied to make room for him.

It seems that nada—nothingness within us—isn’t so farfetched after all. Cleansing our souls is like the necessary spiritual housekeeping that must be done prior to any Nativity moment in our spiritual lives; without that soul-cleansing, that housecleaning in our hearts, there will always be a NO VACANCY light shining outside the inn within. How can God find space to squeeze in here?

St. Edith Stein says that the moment we reach the realization that we need to clean house is the moment when we are on the threshold of making the greatest spiritual progress. Recalling the spiritual sense of dryness, darkness, and emptiness that we mentioned in the meditation for our sixth day of this novena, Edith offers this reflection on the state of the soul in her final masterpiece, The Science of the Cross (SC):

She [the soul] is put into total darkness and emptiness. Absolutely nothing that might give her a hold is left to her anymore except faith. Faith sets Christ before her eyes: the poor, humiliated, crucified one, who is abandoned on the cross even by his heavenly Father. In his poverty and abandonment, she rediscovers herself. Dryness, distaste, and affliction are the “purely spiritual cross” that is handed to her. If she accepts it she experiences that it is an easy yoke and a light burden. It becomes a staff for her that will quickly lead her up the mountain. (SC 10)

Accepting the dryness we experience in prayer, the distaste, the affliction, these are all signs that we actually are clearing out space for God within. 

When she realizes that Christ, in his extreme humiliation and annihilation on the cross, achieved the greatest result, the reconciliation and union of mankind with God, there awakens in her the understanding that for her, also, annihilation, the “living death by crucifixion of all that is sensory as well as spiritual” leads to union with God. (SC 10)

And by the way, there is a little voice in Dijon, France who takes up the refrain: it is St Elizabeth of the Trinity, singing so sweetly in the pages of her Last Retreat (LR):

If my interior city (cf. Rev. 21) is to have some similarity and likeness to that “of the King of eternal ages” (I Tim 1:17) and to receive this great illumination from God, I must extinguish every other light and, as in the holy city, the Lamb must be “its only light.”

Here faith, the beautiful light of faith appears. It alone should light my way as I go to meet the Bridegroom. The psalmist sings the He “hides Himself in darkness” (Ps 17:12), then in another place he seems to contradict himself by saying that “light surrounds Him like a cloak” (Ps 103:2). What stands out for me in this apparent contradiction is that I must immerse myself in “the sacred darkness” by putting all my powers in darkness and emptiness; then I will meet my Master, and “the light that surrounds Him like a cloak” will envelop me also, for He wants His bride to be luminous with His light, His light alone, “which is the glory of God.” (LR 4)

So there it is: the challenge, the call is to accept, welcome, embrace and—so to speak—hide in the dark and empty spaces within us, not running to another distraction, another attachment, another new idol in our lives to fill up that interior void. It is at the point when we feel (and know) the emptiness within, the void that we are creating and/or that God is helping us to create so that we can spend time and focus on him—whether that is accepting a loss of some sort of attachment, or purposefully choosing to give up a distracting activity in order to spend more time going to daily Mass, making time for daily Scripture reading, or praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or the rosary, or going to Eucharistic adoration, or practicing silent mental prayer instead of (name your distraction here).

At this point when we have a hunger and a thirst for God that is so strong and powerful that we are willing to sacrifice and say, “all for you and nothing for me” (Sayings 111), we also find ourselves crying out to God, “but I can’t do this alone, by myself!” When we are ready to give up and have reached the point of abandon, we’ve reached the most crucial moment of all because…

That is the truth.

“I never sought anything but the truth,” St. Thérèse said in the hours before her death (Yellow Notebook, 30 September).

St. Teresa set the benchmark in the Interior Castle: “To be humble is to walk in truth” (IC VI, 10:7)

And how will we know when we’re meeting the benchmark for St. John of the Cross?

The humble are those who hide in their own nothingness and know how to abandon themselves to God. (Sayings 163)

 

NOVENA PRAYER

O St. John of the Cross
You were endowed by our Lord with the spirit of self-denial
and a love of the cross.
Obtain for us the grace to follow your example
that we may come to the eternal vision of the glory of God.

O Saint of Christ’s redeeming cross
the road of life is dark and long.
Teach us always to be resigned to God’s holy will
in all the circumstances of our lives
and grant us the special favor
which we now ask of you:

mention your request.

Above all, obtain for us the grace of final perseverance,
a holy and happy death and everlasting life with you
and all the saints in heaven.
Amen.

 

Bust of John of the Cross 17th c. Carmel of Pontoise Palissy POP 95W00986
Bust of St. John of the Cross
17th c. French
Oil on canvas, no date
Carmel of Pontoise
© Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Diffusion RMN-GP. Used by permission.
Latin inscription upper left: QVID TIBI PRO LABOR
Latin inscription at base: PATI. ET. CONTEMNI. PROTE

 

 

All Scripture references in this novena are found on the Bible Gateway website, with the exception of texts drawn from the 1968 Reader’s Edition of the Jerusalem BibleSelections from the psalter appear in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The novena prayer was composed from approved sources by Professor Michael Ogunu, a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Nigeria.

All of the citations from the Sayings of Light and Love are drawn from The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition (1991), translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

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

 

Stein, E 2002, The Science of the Cross, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 16 October

Edith Stein was a Carmelite even while she was in the world.

In all actuality, for Edith Stein entrance into Carmel was a descent from the height of a distinguished career to the depth of insignificance. Maybe she herself did not perceive this as we see it.

But when she left behind the world at her crossing the threshold of Carmel, did not everything that gave her prominence in that world sink with it and lower her to the level of the humanly commonplace?

She was received into the Cologne Carmel as just another postulant.

Most of the Sisters had not even heard of her before. None of them was aware of her public activities; very few would have been able to follow her if she had tried to introduce them into her own intellectual world.

But no one thought about this—least of all Edith herself. Everyone assumed, quite naturally, that she should undertake the thousand and one little tasks that a postulant has to get used to from the first day. And it was moving to watch the childlike way in which Edith struggled to fall in with the regulations of the house at every point, promptly responding to all requests and trying to accustom herself to this new mode of life.

Sister Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.

Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, Chap. 14

 

Flemish Emblems Humility British Museum AN01132143_001_l
Humility (ootmoedigeyt)
Anonymous Flemish, 17th c.
Engraving on paper, 1685-1686
British Museum
From the Flemish Emblems series, the emblem of humility is exemplified by a nun standing in a room near a bed, holding a ball in her hand and stepping on a crown with her foot.
Photo credit: British Museum Online Collection (Creative Commons)

 

 

Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 11 October

O Eternal Father! How much this humility deserves! What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son? The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver. [Mt 26:15] But to buy Him, no price is sufficient. Since by sharing in our nature, He has become one with us here below—and as Lord of His own will—He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him, the Father, in turn, can give Him to us. And so He says, “our bread.” He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection: Chap. 33

 

glitzy wounded cristo pendant yang-jing-_lQJUdNpOr0-unsplash
Photo by Yang Jing on Unsplash

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

St. Teresa Novena 2019 — Day 5

From her writings

O Eternal Father! How much this humility deserves! What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son? The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver. [Mt 26:15] But to buy Him, no price is sufficient. Since by sharing in our nature, He has become one with us here belowand as Lord of His own willHe reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him the Father, in turn, can give Him to us. And so He says, “our bread.” He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.

The Way of Perfection: Chapter 33, No. 5

 

Reflection by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm.

Teresa composed these words as she reflected on the words of the Our Father: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Her meditation on this phrase brought her immediately to Christ’s experience of the passion and its significance for her and her contemporaries. For her, Jesus is the foundation and model of humility in the spiritual life.

Humility plays an important role in interior progress, because through it we come to appreciate and understand the beauty of our souls and our limitations, to gradually cede control of our lives to God in faith and trust and develop a sensibility for perceiving and carrying out His will, to love others properly, and to accept and cherish the depth of the love God has for us.

So let us ask for the grace of humility, that we may grow in truthful relationship with God, ourselves, and others.

 

We pray together

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. Holy Mother St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Father,
by your Spirit, you raised up
our Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show your Church the way to perfection.
May her inspired teaching
awaken in us a longing for true holiness.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

 


Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. is a friar of the Saint Elias Province and the pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Tarrytown, New York, U.S.A.

View the entire novena on the website of the General Curia of the Carmelite Order.

Quote of the day: 9 September

The Greatness of Our Vocation (excerpt)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

It seems to me that the soul that is aware of its greatness enters into the “holy freedom of the children of God” of which the Apostle speaks (Rom 8:21), that is, it transcends all things, including self.

The freest soul, I think, is the one most forgetful of self.

If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say it is to no longer think of ourselves; well, love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love.

 

Augustine writing De Civitate Dei British Museum AN00045163_001_l (2)
St Augustine writing; the city of God and the city of Satan; Abel and Cain; cutting from “Augustinus de Ciutate dei cum commento”, printed by Johannes von Amorbach, Basle. 1489-90 Woodcut
© The Trustees of the British Museum / Creative Commons License

 

St. Augustine says we have two cities within us, the city of God and the city of SELF (cf. De Civitate 14:28). To the extent that the first increases, the second will be destroyed.

A soul that lives by faith in God’s presence that has this “single eye” that Christ speaks of in the Gospel (Matt 6:22), that is, a purity of “intention” that seeks only God (Rusbrock l’Admirable 34); this soul, it seems to me, would also live in humility: it would recognize his gifts to it—for “humility is truth” (Interior Castle VI:10)—but it would attribute nothing to itself, referring all to God as the Blessed Virgin did.

 

white doves waikato new zealand peter_from_wellington flickr 16289388796_b778a4e0eb_o
Two white doves pause for a moment in the serene stillness of the Japanese Garden of Contemplation in Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand | Peter Kurdulija / Flickr

 

Catez, E 2014, I Have Found God: General Introduction, Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

 

Interior_Castle_1205 LIBRIVOX cover art

Listen to the LibriVox recording of The Interior Castle read by Ann Boulais below

August 16: Blessed Maria Sagrario

August 16
BLESSED MARIA SAGRARIO
OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA
Virgin and Martyr

Optional Memorial

Maria Sagrario was born at Lillo (Toledo) on 8th January 1881. A pharmacist by trade, she was one of the first women in Spain to be admitted to this qualification. In 1915 she entered the Carmel of St. Anne and St. Joseph in Madrid. Through her spirit of prayer and her love for the Eucharist, she was a perfect embodiment of the contemplative and ecclesial ideal of the Teresian Carmel. She was Prioress of her community when she was martyred on 15th August 1936. It was a grace she longed for and accepted in perfection of faith and ardent love for Christ.

From the common of martyrs or of virgins

THE SECOND READING

From the letters and writings of Blessed Maria Sagrario

Following Christ by way of humility and the cross

May Jesus reign always in my heart! The Lord asks me to be humble, to weep over my sins, to love him much, to love my sisters much, to mortify them in nothing, not to mortify myself uselessly, to live recollected in him wanting nothing for myself, completely surrendered to his divine will.

In this vale of tears, suffering will not be lacking, and we should be content to have something to offer to our most beloved Jesus who wanted so much to suffer for love of us. The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it. May the Lord not permit that I be separated from his divine will.

Blessed be God who gives us these ways of offering ourselves up to his love! The day will arrive when we will rejoice for having suffered in this way. Meanwhile, let us be generous, suffering everything, if not with happiness, at least in close conformity to the divine will of him who suffered so much out of love for us. However great are our sufferings, they come nowhere near his. If you wish to be perfect, seek first of all to be quite humble in thought, word, deed and desire; learn well what this means and work tenaciously to carry it out. Keep your gaze always on our most beloved Jesus, asking him in the depths of his heart what he desires for you, and never deny him anything, even if it means going strongly against the grain for you.

Blessed be he who arranges everything for our good! In possessing him, we possess everything.

RESPONSORY

I have fought the good fight to the end;
I have run the race to the finish. I have kept the faith;
all there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

Because of the supreme advantage
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
I count everything else as loss,
that I may partake of his sufferings
by being molded to the pattern of his death.
All there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

PRAYER

O God,
who by a spirit of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist
prepared Blessed Maria Sagrario to suffer martyrdom,
grant that we, through her example,
may freely spend our lives for you
by faithfully and constantly fulfilling your will.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Maria-Sagrario_cadaver
“The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it.”

Quote of the day: 11 August

The God of mercy does not cease coming to the aid of his weak creature. The life of human beings and their most ambitious desires have limits, while God’s love has none. This love accompanies us along our way, surprises us in our erring wayward paths, and reminds us of what we have forgotten; it repeats in our hearts the promises made on a day, long ago, and speaks to us at length of our first faith, of that first charity, of that incomparable innocence regained with holy baptism. A stream of tears floods one’s conscience at the sight of the loss of those treasures, and to this the Spirit of God bears witness. Christ’s mercy endures everything, and does not think evil but rejoices in the good; it intercedes for us, and knocks on the door of our heart, it lowers itself until it conquers the soul with its love full of humility.

What Christ accomplished in Judea during the thirty-three years of his earthly life is reproduced in every human heart.

Even still today, right up until death, his love continues to struggle with our egoism. And we see today what results: conquered by eternal love and awakened from a deep sleep, we remember the promises made at holy baptism, raise our eyes to heaven, and present ourselves again before the Lord’s face, now no longer as infants who speak through the mouth of others spiritually substituting for them, but as persons mature in their own reason and will. And along with the prodigal son, we say: “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread in abundance, while here I die of hunger! I shall arise and go to my father” (Lk 15:17-18).

Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Baptism and Religious Vows

 

Parable of Prodigal Son Master of St Christopher 1530 Netherlands Getty Museum
Scenes from the Life of the Prodigal Son (detail) 
Master of Saint Christopher (Flemish, active first half of 16th century)
Pen and brown ink and gray wash, over traces of black chalk, 1530
J. Paul Getty Museum

 

Praskiewicz OCD, S 1998, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Prudens Consilium: Novena 3

The queen is the piece that can carry on the best battle in this game, and all the other pieces help. There’s no queen like humility for making the King surrender. Humility drew the King from heaven to the womb of the Virgin, and with it, by one hair, (Sg 4:9) we will draw Him to our souls.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Way of Perfection, Chapter 16


La dama es la que más guerra le puede hacer en este juego, y todas las otras piezas ayudan. No hay dama que así le haga rendir como la humildad. Esta le trajo del cielo en las entrañas de la Virgen, y con ella le traeremos nosotras de un cabello a nuestras almas.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Camino de Perfección: Capítulo 16

 

Illumination of St Teresa_Carmen Alto cloister_Quito
Illumination of Saint Teresa, Quito school, mural painting toward 1653, Convento del Carmen Alto, Quito

 

SCRIPTURE
I Peter 5:5

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for

“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”

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!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

7 June: Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

June 7
BLESSED ANNE OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW
Virgin

Memorial

Ana Garcia was born at Almendral, Castille, in 1549. In 1572 she made her profession as a Carmelite in the hands of St Teresa at Saint Joseph’s, Avila. The Saint later chose her as her companion and nurse, and she subsequently brought the Teresian spirit to France and Belgium, where she proved herself, like Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for the salvation of souls. She died at Antwerp in 1626.

From the common of virgins

Office of Readings

Second Reading
From the Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew
(Autog. MS monast. St. Teresa, Madrid)

Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart

According to Saint Bernard, it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults, but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin. And though it is virtuous indeed to bear this in silence, it is more perfect still to want to be despised and thought mad and good-for-nothing, and to go on, as our Lord Jesus Christ did, wholeheartedly loving those who despise us.

If Jesus kept silent, it was not because he hated anyone. He was simply saying to his eternal Father what he said on the cross: Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. What infinite love burned in that sacred heart of yours, Lord Jesus! Without uttering a single word you spoke to us; without a word you worked the mysteries you came to accomplish—teaching virtue to the ignorant and blind. What our Lord did was no small thing. Where should we get patience and humility and poverty and the other virtues, and how could we carry each other’s burdens and cross, if Christ had not taught us all this first, and given himself as a living model of all perfection?

Blessed silence! In it, you cry out and preach to the whole world by your example. Volumes could be written about your silence, Lord! There is more wisdom to be learned from it by those who love you than from books or study.

Our Lord became a spring of Living water for us so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us. How truly he said in the Gospel that he came to serve and not to be served! What tremendous goodness! Can we fail to be shamed by your words and deeds, and the patience you show with us every day? How truly, again Lord, did you say: Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. Where can we obtain this patience and humbleness of heart? Is there any way to achieve it except by taking it from Christ as he taught it to us with those other virtues we need—faith, hope, and charity? Without faith, we cannot follow that royal road of the divine mysteries. It is faith that opens our eyes and makes us see the truth; and where faith is wanting there is no light and no way leading to goodness.

Responsory
Proverbs 3:5, 6
R/. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not rely on your own intelligence;
and he will make straight your paths (alleluia).
R/. Wherever you go be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. Where humility is, there is wisdom; the wisdom of the humble will protect them from defeat (alleluia).

Prayer

Father,
rewarder of the humble,
you blessed your servant Anne of Saint Bartholomew
with outstanding charity and patience.
May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us,
to carry our cross
and be faithful in loving you,
and others for your sake.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Evening Prayer

Canticle of Mary
Ant. God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him (alleluia).

 

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar_FrancedeWilde
Portrait of Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew by France de Wilde (1917)

Marie du jour: 31 May

Why I Love You, O Mary!

You make me feel that it’s not impossible
To follow in your footsteps, O Queen of the elect.
You made visible the narrow road to Heaven
While always practicing the humblest virtues.
Near you, Mary, I like to stay little.
I see the vanity of greatness here below.
At the home of Saint Elizabeth, receiving your visit,
I learn how to practice ardent charity.

~   ~   ~

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary (PN54, Stanza 6)

Saint Thérèse’s first draft of the poem is featured in the image above. Stanza 6 is the second stanza on the right side of the page. Lines 5-6 and 7-8 of the stanza appear in brackets.

 

Bell, Robert Anning, 1863-1933; The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
Robert Anning Bell (British, 1863–1933)
Tempera on linen, 1910
Manchester Art Gallery
This is a biblical scene of Saint Elizabeth receiving the visit of the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth is dressed in gray and red robes and is kneeling and clutching at the waist of Mary, who is dressed in blue and white robes. Mary is bending over to take Elizabeth’s face in her hands. It is set in a flat landscape with a low horizon. The two women are framed by the wall of a building immediately behind them to their right, and some shrubbery further away in the center and left.

 


View the complete image of St. Thérèse’s first draft of the poem, an image of her second draft, details of her corrections, and images of the finished poem and its full text in English or French at the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Quote of the day: 31 May

 

When I read in the Gospel “that Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judea” (Lk 1:39) to perform her loving service for her cousin Elizabeth, I imagine her passing by so beautiful, so calm and so majestic, so absorbed in recollection of the Word of God within her. Like Him, her prayer was always this: “Ecce, here I am!” Who? “The servant of the Lord,” (Lk 1:38) the lowliest of His creatures: she, His Mother! Her humility was so real for she was always forgetful, unaware, freed from self. And she could sing: “The Almighty has done great things for me, henceforth all peoples will call me blessed.” (Lk 1:49, 48)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Last Retreat, Fifteenth Day

 

Magnificat-Siby-Flickr
Magnificat | Siby / Flickr

 

The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: 
I Have Found God, General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings 
ICS Publications, Washington DC
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Marie du jour: 20 May

She raised her head as a servant of the Lord welcoming his word

The gospel says, “raise your heads” (Luke 21:28).  The Lord wants us to look to the future with hope. There are certainly problems, there are situations that create fear; but as Christians, we who believe in Jesus Christ who is to come, we raise our heads.

Raising your head means being able to talk to God. Lifting your head is a gesture of humility in the gospel. It is the one who stands up to meet the Lord and listen to him, to be available to walk wherever he sends us, to be available to listen to his voice, to speak with him like the Virgin Mary did: she raised her head as a servant of the Lord welcoming his word.

Annunciation_Nicolas Poussin_1657 NatlGalleryLondon (2)
The Annunciation
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594 – 1665)
Oil on canvas, 1657
The National Gallery, London

She raised her head — full of grace — to do the will of God in everything and always to be moved by the Spirit that had descended upon her most holy womb. Mary teaches us to raise our heads; that is not the lifting up of the haughty, the head-raising of the proud, who look at others from above, who are so sure of themselves that they think they don’t need others.

To raise your head in the gospel means raising your head to meet God and abandoning yourself into his hands; it means gazing at him with love and welcoming his love like the Virgin.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Homily, First Sunday of Advent, 2015 (excerpt)


About the painting:

The archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin that she will bear the Son of God. New Testament (Luke 1:26-38). Above her hovers a dove who represents the Holy Spirit, the medium through whom the Christ Child was conceived. Unusually, the Virgin’s cloak is painted yellow. This color probably had symbolic significance, possibly as a sign of hope and/or purity.

Learn more from The National Gallery

 

Quote of the day: 15 May

I only have to cast my eyes on the holy gospel, all at once I breathe in the fragrance of the life of Jesus and I know where to run… It isn’t the first place, but the last place that I aim for; instead of moving ahead with the Pharisee, I repeat, full of trust, the humble prayer of the tax collector; but above all I imitate Magdalene’s behavior, her astonishing or rather her loving audacity that charms the Heart of Jesus seduces my own. Yes, I feel it, even if I’d have on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I’d go — my heart,  broken from repentance — to throw myself in the arms of Jesus because I know how much he cherishes the prodigal child who comes back to him. It’s not because the good Lord in his prevenient mercy has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I rise up to him through trust and love…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Manuscript C 35 recto – 37

 

Child and Tears_coolbite1_Flickr
Child and Tears
“When a child can be brought to tears, and not from fear of punishment, but from repentance he needs no chastisement. When the tears begin to flow from the grief of their conduct you can be sure there is an angel nestling in their heart.” — Horace Mann
Photo: coolbite1 / Flickr

 

Learn more about St. Thérèse’s boundless trust in God’s merciful love here

Manuscript C translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission

 

 

 

 

You inspire me

Since, O my God, You inspire me to make myself like you in everything, as much as I can, I want particularly to imitate You in those virtues that are so pleasing to Your most loving Heart, namely: humility, meekness, and obedience.

St. Teresa Margaret Redi

Quote of the day: 25 March

Why I Love You, O Mary!

When an angel from Heaven bids you be the Mother
Of the God who is to reign for all eternity,
I see you prefer, O Mary, what a mystery!
The ineffable treasure of virginity.
O Immaculate Virgin, I understand how your soul
Is dearer to the Lord than his heavenly dwelling.
I understand how your soul, Humble and Sweet Valley,
Can contain Jesus, the Ocean of Love!…

Oh! I love you, Mary, saying you are the servant
Of the God whom you charm by your humility.
This hidden virtue makes you all-powerful.
It attracts the Holy Trinity into your heart.
Then the Spirit of Love covering you with his shadow,
The Son equal to the Father became incarnate in you,
There will be a great many of his sinner brothers,
Since he will be called: Jesus, your first-born!…

O beloved Mother, despite my littleness,
Like you I possess The All-Powerful within me.
But I don’t tremble in seeing my weakness:
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren’t your virtues and your love mine too?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you!…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Why I Love You, O Mary!
Stanzas 3, 4, and 5

 

Pourquoi je t'aime O Marie
Date: May, 1897 | Written for: St. Thérèse herself, at the encouragement of Marie of the Sacred Heart. “I’ve always dreamed of writing a song to the Blessed Virgin to express everything that I think about her,” Thérèse confided to Céline. (Testimonies for the Diocesan Process of Beatification and Canonization, PO 667) | Photo: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

See the complete text of the poem in English here and photos of St. Therese’s rough drafts, complete with corrections, here

TERESA AVILA - By proceeding with humility IGsize
Saint Teresa of Avila writes, “in the final analysis, by proceeding with humility, through the mercy of God, we will reach that city of Jerusalem, where all that has been suffered will be little, or nothing, in comparison with what is enjoyed.” (The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 4)

The True Poison of the Pharisees — The Frank Friar

 

Trumpeter swan on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
USFWS Mountain-Prairie Trumpeter swan on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge | Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

I believe a mistake that far too many people make is misunderstanding the Pharisees. When the Pharisees are brought up they are depicted as men who live the law strictly and cruelly that results in the heaping of burdens laced upon their own people…. (35 more words)

via The True Poison of the Pharisees — The Frank Friar

The prison of our misery

broken glass window with gray metal frame
Photo by Ignacio Palés on Pexels.com

 

Who will be able to say of himself that he is virtuous or rich? For at the very moment when there is need of virtue one finds oneself poor. No, Sisters; but let us always think we are poor, and not go into debt when we do not have the means with which to repay. The treasure will have to come from elsewhere, and we do not know when the Lord will want to leave us in the prison of our misery without giving us anything. True, if we serve with humility, the Lord in the end will succor us in our needs; but if this poverty of spirit is not genuinely present at every step, as they say, the Lord will abandon us.

Excerpt from The Way of Perfection, Chapter 38; 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.

August 16: Blessed Maria Sagrario

August 16
BLESSED MARIA SAGRARIO
OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA
Virgin and Martyr

Optional Memorial

Maria Sagrario was born at Lillo (Toledo) on 8th January 1881. A pharmacist by trade, she was one of the first women in Spain to be admitted to this qualification. In 1915 she entered the Carmel of St. Anne and St. Joseph in Madrid. Through her spirit of prayer and her love for the Eucharist, she was a perfect embodiment of the contemplative and ecclesial ideal of the Teresian Carmel. She was Prioress of her community when she was martyred on 15th August 1936. It was a grace she longed for and accepted in perfection of faith and ardent love for Christ.

From the common of martyrs or of virgins

THE SECOND READING

From the letters and writings of Blessed Maria Sagrario

Following Christ by way of humility and the cross

May Jesus reign always in my heart! The Lord asks me to be humble, to weep over my sins, to love him much, to love my sisters much, to mortify them in nothing, not to mortify myself uselessly, to live recollected in him wanting nothing for myself, completely surrendered to his divine will.

In this vale of tears, suffering will not be lacking, and we should be content to have something to offer to our most beloved Jesus who wanted so much to suffer for love of us. The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it. May the Lord not permit that I be separated from his divine will.

Blessed be God who gives us these ways of offering ourselves up to his love! The day will arrive when we will rejoice for having suffered in this way. Meanwhile, let us be generous, suffering everything, if not with happiness, at least in close conformity to the divine will of him who suffered so much out of love for us. However great are our sufferings, they come nowhere near his. If you wish to be perfect, seek first of all to be quite humble in thought, word, deed and desire; learn well what this means and work tenaciously to carry it out. Keep your gaze always on our most beloved Jesus, asking him in the depths of his heart what he desires for you, and never deny him anything, even if it means going strongly against the grain for you.

Blessed be he who arranges everything for our good! In possessing him, we possess everything.

RESPONSORY

I have fought the good fight to the end;
I have run the race to the finish. I have kept the faith;
all there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

Because of the supreme advantage
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
I count everything else as loss,
that I may partake of his sufferings
by being molded to the pattern of his death.
All there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

PRAYER

O God,
who by a spirit of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist
prepared Blessed Maria Sagrario to suffer martyrdom,
grant that we, through her example,
may freely spend our lives for you
by faithfully and constantly fulfilling your will.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Maria-Sagrario_cadaver
“The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it.”

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