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
Monday, 9 April 1888
Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord
Thérèse enters the Carmel of Lisieux
From Marie Martin (Marie of the Sacred Heart) to her father, Saint Louis Martin
9th April 1888
What Céline tells us is worthy of you! Ah! What a remarkable father we have! He truly is unique… Also, I’m not surprised that God is taking all the children away from this incomparable father! He is too dear to his Heart for Him not to look upon him and his family with a very special love. How our dear mother must be smiling down upon you, she must be rejoicing to see her darling boat being so well directed by you towards Heaven.
O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints, and if we didn’t follow in the footsteps of your generosity… Ah! How Jesus will have to repay you a hundredfold for the lily barely in bloom, the lily, filled with freshness, that you are offering him today. Oh, your crown in heaven! Darling Father, how radiant and beautiful it will be. Ah! Pray that your diamond may not be too pale beside so many beauties.
I can’t continue any longer, my heart is too full of affection for you and is all yours.
Our Mother couldn’t help crying as she read Céline’s account. Ah! What a remarkable father you are!!
M. of the S. H.
O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints
N.B. — St. Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux on the Feast of the Annunciation, which was deferred to Monday, April 9 in the year 1888 because March 25 was Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. “Our Mother” refers to the prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague. You can read a brief biographical sketch of Mother Marie here; as Sr. Geneviève (Céline) remarked at the end of her life to another younger member of the community, “But we loved her! But you would have loved her! Only…” she continued with an appropriate facial expression “she was feared as a storm is feared when you have no umbrella … “
Read an outstanding essay concerning Thérèse’s entry to the Carmel of Lisieux on April 9, written by St. Thérèse expert Maureen O’Riordan and illustrated with 19th-century photos, published on her blog Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway.
The letter from Marie of the Sacred Heart to her father, Saint Louis Martin, all correspondence by family and friends, and other texts and sources concerning St. Thérèse are found on the official website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux
Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this we were created.
“Pure love” for our Holy Father John of the Cross means loving God for his own sake, with a heart that is free from all attachment to anything created: to itself and to other creatures, but also to all consolations and the like which God can grant the soul, to all particular forms of devotion, etc.; with a heart that wants nothing more than that God’s will be done, that allows itself to be led by God without any resistance. What one can do oneself to attain this goal is treated in detail in the Ascent of Mount Carmel. How God purifies the soul, in the Dark Night. The result, in the Living Flame and the Spiritual Canticle. (Basically, the whole way is to be found in each of the volumes, but each time one or other of the stages is predominant.)
He will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do
Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this, we were created. [Perfect love] will be our eternal life, and here we have to seek to come as close to it as possible. Jesus became incarnate in order to be our way. What can we do? Try with all our might to be empty: the senses mortified; the memory as free as possible from all images of this world and, through hope, directed toward heaven; the understanding stripped of natural seeking and ruminating, directed to God in the straightforward gaze of faith; the will (as I have already said) surrendered to God in love.
The little — taken absolutely, is for us a great deal
This can be said very simply, but the work of an entire life would not attain the goal were God not to do the most essential. In the meantime, we may be confident that he will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do. The little—taken absolutely, is for us a great deal. And while we are about it, we have to be careful not to wish to judge for ourselves how far we have come. Only God knows that. That brings me to Psalm 18 (so simple, as I understand the phrase). What we recognize of ourselves, and of our faults and behavior, is only the illuminated surface. The depth they come out of is to a large extent hidden from ourselves. God knows that depth and can purify it. The ab alienis can probably be understood in different ways. I think of it principally as what burdens us through unknown faults. But one could also think of that in which we are implicated by others. Delictum maximum probably is not to be understood as anything definite. To me it seems to point far more to Divine Mercy’s immensity and Salvation’s almighty power, for to them nothing is too great.
Saint Edith Stein
Letter 311 to Sister Agnella Stadtmüller, O.P. (Excerpts)
Written from the Carmel of Echt, 30 March 1940
Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5) Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Whoever knows God (in the measure in which knowledge of God is possible through natural and supernatural light) cannot do other than love Him; whoever loves Him cannot do other than serve Him.
Thus, matters of mind and heart, achievement and act of will are living faith. He who knows how to awaken faith trains all faculties. But one can only awaken it when one also summons up all the faculties. This cannot be done through tedious intellectual instruction, but it also cannot be done through fanatic instruction which “appeals to the emotions”; on the contrary, this can be done only through a religious instruction which leads from the fullness of one’s own religious life to the depths of the Godhead, an instruction which is able to present God in His kindness; such instruction enkindles love and exacts proof through deed, and it may so challenge because one achieves this by oneself. Wherever the soul is enkindled, that soul itself longs for action; and it eagerly grasps the forms of practical life for which God and Holy Church have provided: participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a participation which consummates the holy sacrifice as an offering in union with the Eucharistic Lord, festive praise of God, and all works of love in which Christ is served in the members of His Mystical Body. The entire abundance of the supernatural world of the spirit is opened to the soul thereby, and an inexhaustible abundance of formative material which enters into it is thus able to build up and transform it.
Saint Edith Stein
Excerpt from Fundamental Principles of Women’s Education
Published in Stimmen der Zeit, monthly review of contemporary intellectual life, March 1931, No. 6
Essays On Woman Edited by Dr. Lucy Gelber and Romaeus Leuven, OCD; Translated by Freda Mary Oben, Ph.D. The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 2 (p. 29) ICS Publications, Washington D.C. © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.
See more photos from LIFE magazine photographer Nat Farbman here
God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her
Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.
As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.
The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:
“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!
To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”
And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.
A Carmelite never forgets
In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”
Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”
The Carmelite is the priest’s sister
The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”
However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.
We are co-redeemers of the world
Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.
Saint John Paul II
Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet
21 March 1993
See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here
Today we continue the novena to St. Joseph. Joseph is so silent in the Gospels, so ordinary, that it took many years for the Church to give him due importance. St. Joseph is special because he reflects in a unique way the love of the Eternal Father for his only begotten Son.
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.
Jude exhorts us to build our lives on the foundation of our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit and to remain firm in the love of God. St. Joseph was a person of unshakeable faith and ardent love.
As love is from above, let us pray:
Lord, furnace of love, set our hearts on fire with divine love. (Thrice)
Holy Joseph, Man according to the Heart of God you whose heart was afire with ardent charity and whose life was a constant prayer and continual contemplation, direct us in the way of perfection. Obtain for us the grace of which we stand in need, in order to arrive at the sanctity to which we are called particularly, a spirit of prayer, humility, and surrender to God’s will, of which you were the model.
Hymn to St. Joseph
From David’s line came Joseph,
A just and upright man,
Engaged to Virgin Mary,
And startled by God’s plan.
An angel came and told him
What God’s love had in mind;
Obedient, he trusted,
Left all mistrust behind.
The Frank Friar is a member of the Carmelite Order, Saint Elias Province in North America. We highly recommend his blog and all of his content in social media.
Within the heart love is never isolating. Love unites the lack of love separates. The unifying intent of love within the heart is important. Why? It is from the heart that a person primarily interacts with the world. Within that vision our minds must always …. The post Lent: A Season for the Heart appeared…
The power of a soul surrendered to love is so great…
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 225 to Canon Angles
Shortly before the beginning of Lent, 1905
keep me in the womb of your love
Lord, always keep me in your love like a child is kept safe in his Mother’s womb; there he has no need of anything, neither to eat nor drink; he cannot be harmed by drafts of cold air; he is safe from danger; with his Mother he has everything. And me, too, Lord, if you keep me in your love, I will lack nothing; I desire nothing more than to be yours; I never want to leave you, and as the child begins to be fragile and miserable as soon as he comes out of his Mother’s womb, I too would be unhappy if I left you. Keep me, Lord, in your bosom, keep me in the womb of your love!
Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified
Unpublished Canticles and Prayers, Notebook 5
We are grateful to the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Bethlehem for giving us a transcribed copy of Saint Mariam Baouardy's unpublished prayers and canticles. We are pleased to provide a new English translation for our readers.
God does not abandon the children who love him and who are suffering.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Cahier Scolaire No. 10, p. 34
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.”
Saint Teresa Margaret Redi
God Is Love
Edith’s six months of probation passed quickly. On 15 February 1934, following the custom of the Order, she knelt before the assembled community and asked to receive the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel. She was granted her request on 15 April. During the two months that she was preparing for her clothing, she grew in love and gratitude toward her superiors and her sisters. It was not easy for her to grasp that, as the “bride-to-be,” she should be the object of so much attention and solicitude on the part of her Sisters. Everyone was busy helping her to prepare for her clothing as it drew nearer. Besides the bridal dress, all the clothes she would need in the convent had to be made – a long white tunic of wool, a pair of rope sandals, a rosary with big beads and a coarse brown handkerchief. She had to go from one workroom to another to try on first one thing and then another; and though nothing more was done for her than for anyone else, she accepted each service as though it were a special token of love for herself.
Mother Teresia Renata of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite
If he so loved God during his life, he did not love him any less at his death. He made continuous acts of love, and when a friar asked him if he loved God with all his heart, he answered, “Ah! If I thought that my heart did not love God, I would tear it out right now.”
The next day, Monday, February 12, 1691, at nine o’clock in the morning, fully conscious, without agony or convulsions, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection died in the embrace of the Lord and offered his soul to God with the peace and tranquility of one asleep.
Joseph de Beaufort’s Eulogy for Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
The Practice of the Presence of God
That superabundant share of divine light and grace enkindled in Thérèse so ardent a flame of love, that she lived by it alone, rising above all created things, till in the end it consumer her; so much so that shortly before her death she could candidly avow she had never given God anything but Love…
Therefore do We desire earnestly that all the Faithful of Christ should render themselves worthy of partaking in the abundant profusion of graces resulting from the intercession of “little Thérèse.” But We desire much more earnestly that all the faithful should study her in order to copy her, becoming children themselves, since otherwise they cannot, according to the oracle of the Master, arrive at the Kingdom of Heaven.
If the way of spiritual childhood became general, who does not see how easily would be realized the reformation of human society which We set ourselves to accomplish at the commencement of our Pontificate…
Pope Pius XI
Homily for the Canonization of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus
17 May 1925
From this spiritual source the faith and ardent love of John of the Cross and of Teresa of Jesus were nourished, two saints to whom, let me say it, I have entrusted myself since the years of my youth.
Saint John Paul II
Address to the Bishops of Oviedo and Valladolid on their Ad Limina Visit
6 February 1982
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
Jesus, my love, have mercy on me.
Blessed Archangela Girlani
Her last words