Love is something that touches all of our lives. Everyone has a pretty good idea what it’s like to be in love. If you haven’t ever experienced it yourself, you’ve at least observed it in the world around you: you know couples who are in love, you’ve seen love stories in movies, you’ve read them in books, and you’ve heard them in songs. When you think about it, love stories surround us everywhere in life! It seems that every popular movie or song has to do with love. It’s almost as if human beings are obsessed with being in love. It’s almost as if there is a great desire in us that yearns to be in love. It’s almost as if we were made to fall in love.
But why? Why is there this great fire in our hearts that desires to be in love?
Read more on the blog of the Discalced Carmelite Friars Washington Province
“I propose to have no other purpose in all my activities, either interior or exterior, than the motive of love alone, by constantly asking myself: ‘Now what am I doing in this action? Do I love God?’ If I should notice any obstacle to pure love, I shall take myself in hand and recall that I must seek to return my love for His love.”
Jesus gave us the Cross so the Cross might give us Love
L 106 To Madame de Bobet
[February 10, 1902] Dijon Carmel, February 10
J. M. + J. T.
Very dear Madame,
I don’t know how to thank you, you have spoiled me so much; if you knew how much pleasure you have given me! I so desired this beautiful Canticle of Saint John of the Cross, and, given by you with this pretty thought on its first page,* it is doubly precious to me. It is right here beside me on my little board in our dear little cell; but will I tell you that I need to look at it in order to think of you, dear Madame?
Oh no, of course not, for my thoughts and my heart, or rather my soul, find you in the One near whom there is neither separation nor distance and in whom it is so good to meet. Would you like Him to be our “Rendez-vous,” our Meeting Place, dear Madame? Our souls have certainly made an impact on each other: we know each other very little and we love each other so much. Oh! it is Jesus who has done that; may He thus bind us together and may He consume us in the flames of His love.
A Dieu, dear Madame, know that behind the grilles of Carmel you have a little heart that keeps a very faithful memory of you, a soul wholly united to yours and deeply fond of you. Thank you again. I don’t know how to say it, it is He who will bring it to you on behalf of His little fiancée.
Elizabeth of the Trinity
A kiss to dear little Simone.
*The book Vie et oeuvres de saint Jean de la Croix, vol. 4, Le Cantique spirituel et La vive Flamme d’amour [Life and Works of Saint John of the Cross, vol. 4, The Spiritual Canticle and The Living Flame of Love], 1892, 3d ed., autographed on February 3, 1902, by Mme. de Bobet, carries this thought: “Jesus gave us the Cross so the Cross might give us Love.” Simone was Mme. de Bobet’s daughter.
The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel
She is the model of all
who live by the Spirit of the gospel;
As we look up to her in prayer we learn
from her mind to love you above all things,
from her spirit to be rapt in contemplation of your Word, and
from her heart to serve the needs of others.
August 16 BLESSED MARIA SAGRARIO OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA Virgin and Martyr
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.
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.
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.
.2 O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
.3 So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
.4 For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
.5 So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
.6 My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
.7 On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
.8 for your have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
.9 My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
MEDITATION The Science of the Cross, I.6.(3)
Passive Night as Crucifixion
In the beginning, this being inflamed in love is not commonly perceived. The soul feels rather only dryness and emptiness, sorrowful fear and concern. And if she does feel any of the love, it is as a painful yearning for God, a smarting wound of love…
Now she is to travel on the constricted road, which is the night of the spirit. Of course, few will come so far, yet the advantages of the first night are very great: the soul is granted self-knowledge; she gains insight into her own misery, no longer finds anything good in herself and learns therefore to approach God with greater reverence. Yes, only now is she aware of the grandeur and majesty of God. Precisely this being freed from all sensory supports enables her to receive illumination and become receptive for the truth. That is why we find in the psalm: “In a desert land, without water, dry and without a way, I appeared before you to be able to see your power and your glory ” (Ps 63:1-2).
In dryness and emptiness the soul becomes humble. The earlier arrogance disappears when one no longer finds in oneself anything that would give reason to look down on others; instead, others now appear to one to be more perfect; love and esteem for them awakens in the heart. One is too occupied with one’s own misery to be concerned about others. Through her helplessness the soul also becomes subservient and obedient; she longs for instruction in order to reach the right way. Spiritual avarice is thoroughly healed; when one no longer finds any practice to one’s taste, one becomes very moderate and does whatever one does purely for the sake of God without seeking any satisfaction for the self. And so it goes with all imperfections. All the confusion and unrest disappear with them. Instead, a deep peace and a constant remembrance of God are established. The only care that remains is the concern not to displease God.
Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
What human nature does is quite plain. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.
Reading – Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D., from his retreat to the Carmel of Pontoise, 1943
There are two ways of communing with God. The first is the sacramental way, by reception of the Sacred Host, which allows us to bear Christ’s presence within ourselves. The second and unceasing way consists of God giving himself to us every moment of every day of our lives. In this way, God comes to us in the form of a duty, a joy or a sorrow. God comes to us in other persons, such as an unappealing [person] with whom we have to work or a congenial [friend] with whom we sit at [a meal]. In all these situations, it is God who comes to us, but we do not realize his presence. Yet, whatever the form behind which he hides and whatever the garb in which he presents himself, he is the God of Wisdom, Omnipotence, and Love without limits.
We will be saints, with holiness like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila and the Little Flower, when God comes to us no longer in divine radiance, but in the form of a crushing threat to our life. Such was the experience of Christ in his Passion. Even if our human nature recoils in fear and trembling, we will be able to commune with God within the recesses of our soul through abandonment. There lies the key to God’s love and peace. 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!