Quote of the day: 17 January

You must cross out the word discouragement from your dictionary of love.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 298 to her sister Guite
16 July 1906

 

Dictionary-of-love crossed out
Learn more about DISCOURAGEMENT

 

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 15 January

Now let us speak about the type of soul that enters the second dwelling places and what such a soul does in them. I’d like to say only a little, for I have spoken at length on this subject elsewhere. And it would be impossible to avoid repeating much of it, for I don’t remember a thing of what I said. If I could present the matter for you in a variety of ways I know well that you wouldn’t be annoyed since we never tire of booksas many as there arethat deal with it.

This stage pertains to those who have already begun to practice prayer and have understood how important it is not to stay in the first dwelling places. But they still don’t have the determination to remain in this second stage without turning back, for they don’t avoid the occasion of sin. This failure to avoid these occasions is quite dangerous…

These rooms, in part, involve much more effort then do the first, even though there is not as much danger, for it now seems that souls in them recognize the dangers, and there is great hope they will enter further into the castle. I say that these rooms involve more effort because those who are in the first dwelling places are like deaf-mutes and thus the difficulty of not speaking is more easily endured by them than it is by those who hear but cannot speak. Yet, not for this reason does one have greater desire to be deaf, for after all it is a wonderful thing to hear what is being said to us. So these persons are able to hear the Lord when He calls. Since they are getting closer to where His Majesty dwells, He is a very good neighbor. His mercy and goodness are so bountiful; whereas we are occupied in our pastimes, business affairs, pleasures, and worldly buying and selling, and still falling into sin and rising again. These beasts are so poisonous and their presence so dangerous and noisy that it would be a wonder if we kept from stumbling and falling over them. Yet this Lord desires intensely that we love Him and seek His company, so much so that from time to time He calls us to draw near Him. And His voice is so sweet the poor soul dissolves at not doing immediately what He commands. Thus, as I say, hearing His voice is a greater trial than not hearing it.

Saint Teresa of Jesus

The Interior Castle
The Second Dwelling Place

 

Listening astrid Flickr 11200954926
Astrid Westvang / Flickr

 

 

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.

The Holy Family: The fiber of humanity — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
29 December 2019


Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.

Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which reminds us of a particular dimension of the mystery of God’s becoming human in Jesus Christ: the Lord wanted to live in the very heart of a family. He entered the world as a child, born of the Virgin Mary and, through Joseph he received a legal father, was lovingly welcomed and protected by his parents, and was educated by them in the best human and religious values of his people. Ever since then the family, every family, has a certain sacredness. The Son of God sanctifies and gladdens every family with his presence and enables families to experience tenderness, reconciliation, and hope by sustaining them with his tender and merciful love.

The gospel text that we heard reminds us that Jesus’ family was a family like many of our families today, forced to move to foreign lands to save their lives and survive. As soon as Jesus is born, he suffers opposition from the mighty of this world, as will be the case throughout his life. The servant Messiah, devoid of power, always will be spied upon, persecuted, and harassed by the leaders of religion and politics who are governed by selfishness, ambition, and violence. The powerful are afraid of God’s people and respond to the gifts of God with intimidation and terror.

King Herod, who ruled in Judea, fearing the “king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2), who according to the testimony of the Magi was just born in Bethlehem, decided to take drastic measures to eliminate the child. Those who wield power like despots in an authoritarian manner always live in fear of losing their power. Ambitious and thirsty for power, Herod is afraid and orders the murder of all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). Like the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, like the tyrants of today who dominate by repression and the shedding of innocent blood, Herod chooses to kill rather than lose his power and privileges. History repeats itself.

Because he’s just a little child, Jesus is not able to take care of himself and protect himself from danger and it’s only thanks to Joseph and Mary’s care that his life is saved. Salvation history, woven by God with the fiber of humanity, passes through the daily events of families who are called to protect life by keeping love alive and seeking relationships of closeness and affection.

An angel, a messenger of the Lord, appeared in a dream to Joseph and commanded him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph promptly obeys, takes Mary and the newborn with him, and goes to Egypt where they experience the dramatic conditions of refugees, characterized by fear, poverty, uncertainty, and discomfort (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Unfortunately, thousands of families in our Latin American countries can see themselves in this sad reality. I’m thinking especially of Cuba, Venezuela and, more recently, my beloved people in Nicaragua. How many people in our countries, children, women and the elderly included, have to leave their homeland because of hunger or violence in search of an existence with greater dignity or simply to save their lives! I’m thinking today especially of the approximately 80,000 Nicaraguans who’ve had to flee our country, persecuted by a dictatorial government and its dark forces of death, in search of safety, trying to survive at all costs by exposing themselves to all kinds of risks and dangers!

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these difficulties so that no one would feel excluded from God’s loving presence. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is there wherever people are in danger, wherever they suffer, wherever they are forced to flee, and wherever they experience rejection and abandonment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced what it means to leave your own land and become immigrants, to have to flee and take refuge in a foreign country. In the midst of such a painful drama, Mary’s maternal heart and Joseph’s attentive heart always held onto the trust that God never would abandon them. Through their intercession, may this same conviction be rooted in your hearts, dear brothers and sisters, most of you who are immigrants and refugees who have left our countries. Don’t sink into sadness or let yourselves be overcome by despair in the face of difficulties; put your trust in the God who is the protector of the weak and vulnerable and who will never abandon you; live out your exile in communion with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who will accompany you with their love and help you to envision ever-new horizons.

After some time following Herod’s death, an angel reveals to Joseph—once again in a dream—that he can return to Israel. The situation is as yet uncertain because Archelaus, Herod’s son, reigns over Judea. This is why Jesus and his parents are going to Galilee. Joseph, the great dreamer of the dreams of God, also dreams in Egypt, in a foreign land, and Mary and Jesus share those dreams with him. Exile is a time to welcome the dreams that are born from trust in God. God is also there where men and women dream, where they hope to return to their homes in freedom, and where they plan and make choices in favor of life and dignity for themselves and their families.

Exile, even when forced by socio-political circumstances, can become a time of salvation, an authentic experience of God in darkness and pain. The great majority of you, who are either immigrants or refugees because of egotism, corruption, and violence, have a special place in the heart of God. He comforts, protects and invites you not to reproduce the same dehumanizing patterns of behavior of those who forced you out of your own country. Those who live outside their land are called to behave honestly in public life in the country that welcomes them, to respect its laws and to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of life. But that isn’t all. Immigrants and refugees must cultivate selfless friendships and fraternal charity towards one another, you must help each other in times of difficulty and, as far as possible, create networks of humanitarian aid and support among yourselves.

The family of Nazareth, which knew exile with all its difficulties and was protected by God, returned to its land and invites all exiles and refugees to feel loved and protected by God. Don’t lose hope that a safer future is reserved for you, too. Let us ask Jesus, Joseph, and Mary that you always may find an outstretched hand to help you and that you may experience fellowship, solidarity, and the warmth of friendship. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t forget your country, because as our great Rubén Dario said, “if the homeland is small, a great one can dream of it.” To my Nicaraguan compatriots outside the homeland, I remind you that Nicaragua is made for freedom, not for living like hostages. From now on, let us dream and strive to build a more dignified country for everyone, one that is free, just, peaceful and democratic. God is with us.

 

 

"Holy Family" by Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649) is licensed under CC0 1.0
Holy Family
Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649)
Etching, 1633
Cleveland Museum of Art (Licensed under CC0 1.0)

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

Jesus: God’s love story — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Day
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
25 December 2019


Gospel
John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Christmas Day, the gospel that we heard is the prologue of the Gospel of John, which is a solemn poem, an authentic canticle dedicated to the Word of God, a hymn that from the earliest centuries helped Christians to delve into the mystery enclosed in Jesus of Nazareth.  If on this Christmas day we all listen to this gospel with simple faith and openness to God, it also can help us to believe in Jesus in a deeper way. Given the great richness of the Gospel text, we will try to dwell only on some of its central affirmations.

In the beginning was the Word

“In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was with God” (Jn 1:1). The prologue of John’s gospel starts with these words. It speaks of the beginning. Not the beginning of human history, but rather of the absolute principle from which everything has sprung. It affirms that from eternity “the Word” already existed. At the beginning of it all, there is no chaos, no absolute disorder; at the beginning of it all, there is no absurdity, darkness or nothingness. No. A word and a reason exist.  There is a divine “why” that brings everything into being and justifies everything that exists, a desire and a plan of God’s love that creates and guides everything. It’s a kind of divine wisdom (cf. Prov 8) that has created the universe and wisely maintains and cares for everything with tenderness and love.

Only if we trust that there has always been an eternal word from God that lovingly guides and directs everything for our good, can we ever overcome despair, moments of anguish, the unmanageability of our very lives, social and personal uncertainties, and the darkness in which everything seems to lose meaning.  Beyond all this, there is a logic, an eternal word, a divine reason, which is love. We can live with serenity and trust because God’s love, which is his eternal Word, which has always existed, enfolds, guides and protects us.

The Word of God became flesh

Today’s gospel has reminded us that God is not mute. From all eternity God has a word that he has wanted to speak, to communicate. He hasn’t remained silent, enclosed within himself. Throughout the course of history, that eternal word has been communicated to us: through creation, through revelation to the people of Israel, and through the cultures of all the peoples. God has always wanted to speak to us: to tell us how much he loves us, to reveal and explain his Word to us and his loving plan for us.

Today, we heard in the Gospel that this Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). The eternal Word became human, took on substance and entered history as a human being. Jesus of Nazareth is that Word that God has always wanted to speak to us. Jesus, the Word made flesh, incarnates God’s eternal plan; he embodies God’s infinite and gracious love for humanity and for each one of us.

God has not conveyed Himself to us through sublime concepts and doctrines. His Word has been incarnated in the intimate and simple life of Jesus so that even the most ordinary people can understand it. The eternal Word has been incarnated silently in the manger, like a child in need, so that we can welcome it and embrace it with love. In those days, the Word shone in Jesus’ humanity and was revealed in his works and words: when he healed the sick; when he offered God’s mercy and forgiveness to sinners; when he dedicated himself to acts of kindness by embracing the children on the streets, because he didn’t want anyone to feel like an orphan; when he blessed the sick, because he didn’t want them to feel forgotten by God; when he caressed the skin of lepers, because he didn’t want them to be excluded; and, when he died on the cross to teach us that no one has greater love than the one who gives his life for those whom he loves. The entire life of Jesus is the greatest book alive in which we can read the Word of God.

He made his dwelling among us

This Word of God “made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). The distances have vanished. God became “flesh”; he became human like us out of love. Since his birth in Bethlehem, he has lived among us. He has fallen so intensely in love with humanity that he hasn’t departed from our midst. That is why to meet God we don’t have to go outside the world, but rather we need to approach Jesus and let ourselves be touched and invaded by the love of God that has been revealed in him. It’s up to us to allow ourselves to be surprised and embraced by this love on a daily basis.

It’s a pity that God has come down to the depths of our existence, yet life still seems empty to us; it’s a shame that God has come to dwell in the human heart, yet at times we feel an unbearable inner emptiness; and, it is a tragedy that God has come to reign among us, but seems to be totally absent from our interpersonal and social relationships.

When we don’t understand the sacred value of that which is material and human since God became man, we become indifferent to the hunger of the poor, or indifferent to the disrespect for human rights, the violence of war, or the destruction of the planet. When we don’t understand that God has taken on that which is material, we make the beauty of sex into an experience of slavery and deceptive pleasure. Because we don’t take seriously the fact that God took on all that is human, we don’t know how to accept our human limitations with humility, nor do we live with joy and patience the necessary journey of maturity and aging. Only when we lovingly take on our human condition do we fully accept God and allow Him to transform us with His infinite love.

No one has ever seen God

The text of today’s gospel ends with this statement: “No one has ever seen God: it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known”. Jesus has been like the great narrative of God’s love. He did not make Him known through theory but through a story of goodness and forgiveness, which culminates in the cross and resurrection. The story of Jesus is the story of God among us. Only Jesus has “told” us what God is like.

Everything changes when we grasp that Jesus is the human face of God. Everything becomes clearer, simpler, and more attractive. By contemplating Jesus we know how God looks upon us when we suffer, how he looks for us when we are lost, and that he understands us and forgives us when we deny him. In Jesus, the “grace of the truth” of God has been revealed to us. We still won’t see God. You can’t see him. But Jesus helps us to overcome this impossibility of seeing God. The only way to see God is to listen to Jesus, to follow Jesus, and to live in communion with Jesus. He himself will say later: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. May we welcome Jesus, may we be transformed by his love, and may we become not only holier but more human.

 

In the beginning Shkolnik ICON FrTed Flickr S5504096566_f9119d89ea_o (straighten-fx)
Creation of the Cosmos (detail)
Written by Dmitry Shkolnik
St. Paul Orthodox Church
Dayton, Ohio

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, he currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

St. Joseph: Silence, Humanity and Love — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
22 December 2019


Gospel
Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, on the eve of the Christmas celebration, the liturgy of the word is centered on the person and experience of Saint Joseph, a young worker from Nazareth engaged to Mary, whom he loved and who he was going to marry. Before living together, Joseph discovers that she is expecting a child whose paternal origin is not entirely clear to him. The Gospel says that Joseph was “just”, that is, he faithfully fulfilled the law of the Lord; and not wishing to disown her in public, he decided to do so in private, sending her away quietly (cf. Mt 1:19). Was he surprised to see that Mary was pregnant since they had not had relations? Is it possible that his fiancée didn’t involve him in the event by sharing with him what she had understood from God about this birth?

Something unexpected and unpleasant is interjected in the marriage plans of the two young people. That pregnancy could only be the fruit of betrayal and, from the point of view of the cultural and religious customs of the time, Mary was considered an adulteress and according to the Law of Moses, she was to be stoned to death for her infidelity. Adultery was a break with the patriarchal order that dominated society; since the woman was deemed as belonging to the husband, so the aggrieved husband could denounce her and have her killed for her sin.

Joseph was just, that is, a faithful observer of the Lord’s law, but not in the style of the Pharisees, attached to the letter of the law. Joseph fulfills the law of the Lord by acting with profound humanity. With Joseph, justice means humanity, as the Book of Wisdom says: “the righteous must be kind” (Wis 12:19). He breaks with the logic of domination and possession. The other person is not first and foremost a sinner, a personified error, or a traitor, but a human being who has received life as a gift and commitment; a person who has the right to make changes and to live. Joseph proves to be truly just.

Joseph is not ashamed, he doesn’t belittle Mary and he doesn’t act in such a way as to expose her to shame and death. He doesn’t react in an impulsive and disciplinary fashion, but he looks for a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. Joseph’s justice is manifested in the fact that he was “unwilling to expose her to shame”, in not acting as if he owned her by deciding that she had to suffer and die. Nor does he care about his image as a man whose honor has been tarnished and whose rights have been violated by his future wife. Joseph acts with humanity and love.

Joseph’s actions were a huge, painful inner struggle for him. How many questions, how many doubts, how much uncertainty assail Joseph! It’s at this moment that God intervenes by revealing to Joseph in a dream the mystery of the conception of Mary’s son: it is the work of the creative power of God’s Spirit (v. 20-21). That dream obviously not only tried to resolve the conflict that had arisen between two spouses, but its ultimate aim was above all to reveal the identity of the child that was growing in Mary’s womb. Her child is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit; he is a creature that only God could give us. Joseph, accepting divine revelation about the divine origin of Jesus and accepting his role as the legal father of the child, presents himself as a “just” man, again not on the ethical-legal level of the old covenant like the Pharisees, but in the evangelical sense of the new covenant, as one who thoroughly fulfills the divine will—even without thoroughly understanding it—with absolute trust in God. He is the just and obedient man, open to God’s ways and docile to his will.

Joseph—who never speaks, of whom the Gospel doesn’t recall even one word, a silent and strong man, simple and energetic, practical and free—is also a dreamer.  The fate of the world was entrusted to his dreams because the just man has the same dreams as God. Today we need dreamers who are committed to making their dreams come true. It takes courage to dream, not mere imagination. Dreaming means not being content with the world as it is, but rather having the courage to see and imagine the most humane and the happiest future for everyone. Shakespeare said that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 1887-1889).

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). He doesn’t hesitate. Now he knows that God is asking him to do the hardest, not the easiest thing, and he decides not to leave Mary—not to run away; he abandons his doubts and decides to do God’s will (Mt 1:24). Maybe he knew the saying of his wife, Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) because in silence he repeats the same thing with his attitude when he gets up: “Here is your servant. Use me”. His willingness to choose God’s will, even if it is the most difficult and incomprehensible, his courage of faith not to run away but to stay and collaborate with God, changes Saint Joseph’s life forever. It will be his rule of life. Saint Joseph is like Abraham. He always walked without knowing where God was taking him, but he journeyed in serenity, knowing that he was in God’s hands.

Joseph accepts the legal paternity of the child; he will give him his last name. In this way, Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is directly linked to the dynasty of King David. The Son of God is now also the son of David. He receives his name from his legal father. Joseph names him as the angel has indicated: Jesus, in Hebrew yehoshua, means “The Lord saves”. The divine origin of Jesus and his saving mission are wonderfully condensed in his name. That is why he was born, that is why he came into the world, as the angel explained to Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). From now on Joseph will be the father of Jesus. He will walk in faith before the mystery of that son who is growing up before his eyes, who was his own but at the same time was not, welcoming the mystery of God in him through loving care and the silence of faith.

Saint Joseph’s life isn’t the life of a man who seeks his own fulfillment no matter how much it costs, who wants to do what’s convenient for him, whatever he pleases, and whatever sets him apart; but rather, his is the exemplary life of a man who denies himself, who doesn’t run away in the face of difficulties, and who humbles himself to let God lead the way. He hasn’t allowed himself to be paralyzed by doubt and fear in the face of the incomprehensible, nor has he allowed himself to be guided by a reasonable plan that he himself organized in human terms; rather, responding to God’s wishes, he has renounced his will in order to give himself over to the will of the Other, to the magnificent will of the Most High. In this way, he shows us that a person is completely fulfilled through this complete renunciation of self in order to do God’s will.

This Christmas we contemplate Saint Joseph, with the Virgin and the Child in the manger; Joseph—who had an unwavering trust in God, which allowed him to accept a situation that was difficult in human terms and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible. May he teach us that to be righteous is to be human; that to be a believer is to trust and obey God; and, that to be a believer it isn’t necessary to speak much. Joseph never spoke in the Gospel, because, as Saint John of the Cross says, “what is wanting, if anything is wanting, is not writing or speaking—rather these usually superabound—but silence and work.”

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome, and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, he currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

 

RIZI-Francisco_Dream of St Joseph_IMA
The Dream of St. Joseph
Francisco Rizi (Spanish, 1608-1685)
Oil on canvas, about 1665
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Gallery label

In a subject that became popular in Spain during the 17th century, an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary has miraculously conceived a child. The luminous angel points to a vision of Mary with the infant Christ in her womb and the dove of the Holy Spirit above her. The veneration of the expectant Virgin as protectress of women in childbirth was prevalent at the Spanish court.

The artist’s forceful draftsmanship, fluid brushwork, and radiant color exemplify the most important tendencies of late Baroque painting in Madrid.

Rizi was born in Spain, the son of a Bolognese painter who worked for Philip II at the royal complex of El Escorial. In 1656 Rizi became royal painter to Philip IV. He was also a stage designer.

Learn more about this painting here. Learn more about Francisco Rizi here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

O Sapientia

La sabiduría entra por el amor, silencio y mortificación. Grande sabiduría es saber callar y no mirar dichos ni hechos ni vidas ajenas.

San Juan de la Cruz
Puntos de amor, reunidos en Beas, No. 29

 

Juan dela Cruz - Brescia- 17th c Spanish School
17th c. Spanish, Carmel of Brescia | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

Wisdom enters through love, silence, and mortification. It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.

Saint John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, No. 109

Quote of the day: 14 December

John’s entire work is tensed towards eternity, towards the ‘other, better Indies’. As the friars at his bedside began the prayers for the dying, John checked them. “That is not necessary: read me something from the Song of Songs.” He was interpreting his death as a mystery of love.

He had written of death like this:

“The rivers of love which have long been flowing in the soul swell, bank up, like seas of love, as they press to pour into the ocean.”

Eternity meant to him love set free. That is where night is leading.

Iain Matthew, O.C.D.

The Impact of God, Chap. 10

 

At midnight on the night of 13-14 December 1591, Saint John of the Cross died in the discalced friar’s convent at Úbeda and entered fully into the mystery of love.

 

 

Ubeda_-_112_(30738110375) memorial plaque
Memorial plaque at the Discalced Carmelite friars’ convent in Úbeda, Spain | Luis Rogelio HM / Flickr

 

 

Matthew, I 1995,  The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross,  Hodder & Stoughton, London.

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 9

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.        

Sayings of Light and Love, 132

 

SCRIPTURE

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
  my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:1-8

 

MEDITATION

“Are you seeking to find God? Then listen to the silence; immerse yourself in silence.”

This simple, yet profound advice comes from Father Jacques de Jésus, O.C.D., the headmaster of the Discalced Carmelite boarding school in Avon, France who was arrested by the Nazis and sent to the harshest forced labor camps at Gusen and Mauthausen during World War II. Like St. Raphael Kalinowski in Poland, who we met on the third day of our novena, and whose experience in a forced labor camp in Siberia prepared him for life in Carmel, so for Père Jacques, life in Carmel prepared him for life as a political prisoner.

And as prisoners, both of them resembled St. John of the Cross: suffering, abandoned, physically tested, yet through it all they were seeking, reaching, listening, grasping for the presence of God. We can imagine them passing through vast interior deserts in silence, en route to their loving encounter with God.

On the eighth day of our novena, we shared an excerpt from John 17, which is often referred to as Jesus’ high priestly prayer. St. Edith Stein offers this brief comment concerning the prayer in her 1936 essay, The Prayer of the Church:

The Savior’s high priestly prayer unveils the mystery of the inner life: the circumincession of the Divine Persons and the indwelling of God in the soul. In these mysterious depths, the work of salvation was prepared and accomplished itself in concealment and silence. And so it will continue until the union of all is actually accomplished at the end of time. The decision for the Redemption was conceived in the eternal silence of the inner divine life.

Small wonder, then, that St. Thérèse understood that hiding in the Face of Christ meant that she would be able to tune out the trivial noise of the world, as we also discovered in the eighth novena meditation.

Father Jacques makes that abundantly clear: “God is eternal silence; God dwells in silence.” We’ll let him continue:

Christ is characteristically serene and silent. (…) That serene silence is the hallmark of Christ. (…)

God is eternal silence; God dwells in silence. He is eternal silence because he is the One who has totally realized his own being because he says all and possesses all. He is infinite happiness and infinite life. All God’s works are marked by this characteristic. Contemplate the Incarnation; it was accomplished in the silence of the Virgin Mary’s chamber at a time when she was in prolonged silence, her door closed. Our Lord’s birth came during the night, while all things were enveloped in silence. That is how the Word of God appeared on earth, and only Mary and Joseph were silently with him. They did not overwhelm him with their questions, for they were accustomed to guarding their innermost thoughts. (…)

Whoever embraces silence, welcomes God and whoever relishes silence, hears God speak. Silence is the echo of God’s eternity and the foundation of the rich teaching of Saint John of the Cross. That teaching in all its richness derives from his prison cell at Toledo. During the months of his solitary confinement there, he accepted his isolation and embraced silence. He became imbued with silence. In turn, that silence revealed to him the true value of suffering, which is at the heart of his teaching concerning the ascent to God. Without this treasured silence, John of the Cross would never have become the great mystical Doctor of the Church that he is. (…)

Silence should penetrate deep within us and occupy every area of our inner home. Thus is our soul transformed into a sanctuary of prayer and recollection. (…) Such silence allows us to listen to the secret voice of God, like the saints, especially St. John of the Cross. (Listen to the Silence, Conference 8)

Have you ever had the opportunity to make a silent retreat? Or to enjoy 30 minutes in a quiet home when the rest of the family is out of the house? Perhaps there is a favorite spot, a “happy place” or some other getaway location, real or imagined, where you virtually or literally can get away from the rush and the noise of your daily commitments. In that space, do you find yourself feeling calmer, more peaceful, better able to think, to relax, to focus, even to pray?

If God dwells in silence, it is in silence that we must seek him. And if God dwells in silence, he is no more attracted to the noise than we are in moments of silence. As we accustom ourselves to silence, we welcome and even crave silence.

It’s in the midst of our welcome, our craving the silence of God that we understand the silence that God desires of us:  “the language he best hears is silent love.”

As we have walked together through these novena days with Saint John of the Cross and the commentary offered by the saints of Carmel, we have gained many insights along the way. As we conclude, let’s read St. John’s own prologue to the Sayings of Light and Love; his proposals at the beginning of the collection of sayings form a wonderful summary of what we have learned as we come to the end. Thanks for joining us.

O my God and my delight, for your love I have also desired to give my soul to composing these sayings of light and love concerning you. Since, although I can express them in words, I do not have the works and virtues they imply (which is what pleases you, O my Lord, more than the words and wisdom they contain), may others, perhaps stirred by them, go forward in your service and love – in which I am wanting. I will thereby find consolation, that these sayings be an occasion for your finding in others the things that I lack.

Lord, you love discretion, you love light, you love love; these three you love above the other operations of the soul. Hence these will be sayings of discretion for the wayfarer, of light for the way, and of love in the wayfaring. May there be nothing of worldly rhetoric in them or the long-winded and dry eloquence of weak and artificial human wisdom, which never pleases you. Let us speak to the heart words bathed in sweetness and love that do indeed please you, removing obstacles and stumbling blocks from the paths of many souls who unknowingly trip and unconsciously walk in the path of error – poor souls who think they are right in what concerns the following of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in becoming like him, imitating his life, actions, and virtues, and the form of his nakedness and purity of spirit. Father of mercies, come to our aid, for without you, Lord, we can do nothing.

 

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.

 

Haifa-icon
Icon of St John of the Cross venerated by the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Haifa Israel | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

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.

 

Bunel, J 2004, Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Pere Jacques, translated and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Stein, E 2014, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, translated from the German by Stein W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 8

 The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul. 

Sayings of Light and Love, 100

 

SCRIPTURE

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:6-19

 

MEDITATION

“What is truth?” (Jn 18:38)

Pontius Pilate’s rhetorical question echoes through the centuries.

St. Edith Stein reminds us that Pilate could have asked a more essential question: Who is truth?

In her meditation, The Hidden Life and Epiphany, Edith touches on this question as she makes use of the Epiphany manger scene to make an analogy for the Church and its development. 

The kings at the manger represent seekers from all lands and peoples. Grace led them before they ever belonged to the external church. There lived in them a pure longing for truth that did not stop at the boundaries of native doctrines and traditions. Because God is truth and because he wants to be found by those who seek him with their whole hearts, sooner or later that star had to appear to show these wise men the way to truth. And so they now stand before the Incarnate Truth, bow down and worship it, and place their crowns at its feet, because all the treasures of the world are but a little dust compared to it. 

“God is truth… he wants to be found… that star had to appear.” Edith, in her matter-of-fact, German way, minces no words. God isn’t hiding after all, he’s in our midst, standing before our eyes, just as Jesus stood before Pilate. Jesus, Incarnate Truth, was standing before the governor who asked him, “what is truth?”

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity seems to be speaking to us when she writes:

I understand that you need an ideal, something that will draw you out of yourself and raise you to greater heights. But, you see, there is only One; it is He, the Only Truth! Ah, if you only knew Him a little as your Sabeth does! He fascinates, He sweeps you away; under His gaze, the horizon becomes so beautiful, so vast, so luminous…. My dear one, do you want to turn with me toward this sublime Ideal? It is no fiction but a reality. (Letter 128)

Are you serious? Where is this horizon? Because in the darkness where we’re hiding, it’s difficult to see. And once again, it is St. John himself who responds:

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart. (Sayings 27)

Hiding in glory… there’s a concept that we don’t see or hear every day. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it seems that God is the one who is doing all the hiding while we’re waiting around for him to show up. Is there anyone who understands what St. John of the Cross means?

St. Thérèse does! The language of “hiding” was one of her favorite concepts, especially in her poetry, and it’s a transferable concept, meaning that it’s not strictly applicable to the cloistered life. For example:

My Sweet Jesus, on your Mother’s breast
You appear to me, glowing with Love.
Love—this is the indescribable mystery
That exiled you from the Heavenly Abode…
Ah! Let me hide under the veil
That hides you from all mortal eyes
And close to you, O Morning Star!
I’ll find a foretaste of Heaven.

(Pn 1)

Here, Thérèse is talking about hiding under the Blessed Virgin’s veil, not necessarily hiding under the veil of a Carmelite nun. Hiding under the veil of the Virgin Mary is an image that is more approachable for us, perhaps. But the Infant is glowing on Mary’s breast, glowing with Love, and is there a hint of glory in that image, too?

Here’s another example from the poetry of St. Thérèse:

The unspeakable gaze of your Son—
Upon my poor soul he deigned to look down;
I looked for his adorable face
And in Him, I want to be hidden.
I’ll have to stay little forever
To deserve the glances from his eyes;
But by virtue of that, I will soon grow up
Under the heat of this heavenly star.

(Pn 11)

Now, we are getting more of a sense of how Thérèse has captured St. John’s profound concept of hiding in glory, yet she has expressed it in the language of littleness, that loving gaze of Jesus, and yet at the same time—while remaining hidden—there is light and heat generated by the Lord, having a direct effect on her spiritual life.

This is all very heady stuff. But it seems that for Thérèse, the key to hiding in glory is to be found in the face of Jesus. The Gospel of John and St. Paul testify to this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (…) And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1-5,14)

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18)

Well if that’s the case, gazing on the face of Christ and hiding in the face of Christ, must be a key to “growing up” as Thérèse said; growing in prayer, growing in faith, growing in hope, and our goal… growing in love. After all, that’s our aim.

We’ll let St. Thérèse have the last word, then, about hiding in the face of Jesus:

Ah! Let me, Lord, hide in your Face.
There I will no longer hear the trivial noise from the world.
Give me your love, preserve me in your grace
Just for today.

(Pn 5)

Ah…. silence.

 

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.

 

Praying John of the Cross 16-17th c Carmel de Pontoise Palissy POP 95W00984
St. John of the Cross in prayer
French, late 16th-17th c.
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.

 

 

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.

 

Stein, E 2014, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, translated from the German by Stein W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

The English translation of the poetry of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and proper attribution.

 

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.

 

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 4

The soul that walks in love neither tires others nor grows tired

Sayings of Light and Love, 97

 

SCRIPTURE

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

 

MEDITATION

“Love makes _____.”

How would you complete this sentence?

Our answers may give us clues as to how we understand love: God’s love, our love for God, and how love, in all its forms—filial, erotic, and caritative—is at work in our lives. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul is talking about charity, or what some refer to as agape love (αγαπη).

And like a professor standing at a blackboard or whiteboard, Paul defines his term, including both what love is and what it is not. We can feel fairly certain that he is sketching some of the basic parameters of love… as St. John of the Cross might define it in his saying, an untiring love.

Now, nowhere in this passage of his first letter to the Corinthians is St. Paul scolding the Church for possessing a lack of love or a warped concept of love. The context of this chapter is an instruction on worship in the Corinthian church, and how any worship—no matter how glorious it may be—that lacks the spiritual gift of charity, i.e. love, is so much dust in the wind. Hence that famous verse that we so often hear at weddings: “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” (1 Cor 13:8)

It was in reading these chapters that St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus found her inspiration one day. “I opened the Epistles of St. Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters 12 and 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes… the Apostle explains how all the most PERFECT gifts are nothing without LOVE. That Charity is the EXCELLENT WAY that leads most surely to God” (Ms B, 3r-3v). Therefore, St. Paul urges the Corinthians, “make love your aim” (1 Cor 14:1).

St. John Paul II noted this inspired reading of First Corinthians in his 1997 Apostolic Letter Divini Amoris Scientia:

She discovered hidden treasures, appropriating words and episodes, sometimes with supernatural boldness, as when, in reading the texts of St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 12-13), she realized her vocation to love (cf. Ms B, 3r-3v). Enlightened by the revealed Word, Thérèse wrote brilliant pages on the unity between love of God and love of neighbor (cf. Ms C, 11v-19r).

St. Thérèse did not develop her mad love for God in a vacuum. Love was her aim from her youth, as she testified time and time again in her autobiographical manuscripts and letters. St. John Paul II explained the nature of her formation when he declared Thérèse to be a Doctor of the Universal Church:

Her doctrine, as was said, conforms to the Church’s teaching. From childhood, she was taught by her family to participate in prayer and liturgical worship. In preparation for her first Confession, first Communion and the sacrament of Confirmation, she gave evidence of an extraordinary love for the truths of the faith, and she learned the Catechism almost word for word (cf. Ms A, 37r-37v).

So what was this untiring love that St. Thérèse learned in her family? What did it look like? Who were her models?

When a Doctor of the Universal Church is born to a pair of Saints, one doesn’t have to look very far because ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ In fact, one particular letter from her mother, Saint Zélie Guérin Martin to her father, Saint Louis Martin, provides us with an example of the untiring love that was taught by example in the Martin family home. Written during the summer of 1873 after the birth of Thérèse, Zélie takes Pauline and Marie with her to visit her brother and the Guérin family in Lisieux. Can you read untiring, selfless love in these lines?

Lisieux, August 31, 1873

My dear Louis,

We arrived yesterday afternoon at four-thirty. My brother was waiting for us at the station and was delighted to see us. He and his wife are doing everything they can to entertain us. This evening, Sunday, there’s a beautiful reception in their home in our honor. Tomorrow, Monday, we’re going to Trouville. Tuesday there will be a big dinner at the home of Madame Maudelonde and, perhaps, a drive to the country house of Madame Fournet. The children are thrilled and if the weather were good, they’d be ecstatic.

As for me, I’m finding it hard to relax! None of that interests me! I’m absolutely like the fish you pull out of the water. They’re no longer in their element and they have to perish! This would have the same effect on me if I had to stay a lot longer. I feel uncomfortable, I’m out of sorts. This is affecting me physically, and it’s almost making me sick. However, I’m reasoning with myself and trying to gain the upper hand. I’m with you in spirit all day, and I say to myself, “Now he must be doing such and such a thing.”

I’m longing to be near you, my dear Louis. I love you with all my heart, and I feel my affection so much more when you’re not here with me. It would be impossible for me to live apart from you.

This morning I attended three Masses. I went to the one at six o’clock, made my thanksgiving and said my prayers during the seven o’clock Mass, and returned for the high Mass.

My brother is not unhappy with his business. It’s going well enough.

Tell Léonie and Céline that I kiss them tenderly and will bring them a souvenir from Lisieux.

I’ll try to write you tomorrow, if possible, but I don’t know what time we’ll return from Trouville. I’m hurrying because they’re waiting for me to go visiting. We return Wednesday evening at seven-thirty. How long that seems to me!

I kiss you with all my love. The little girls want me to tell you that they’re very happy to have come to Lisieux and they send you big hugs.

Zélie

(Family Correspondence CF 108)

 

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.

 

ancien eglise de Leucate Diocese de Carcasonne-Narbonne Joconde # 11W02069
Saint John of the Cross
17th c. French painting
Saints Pierre et Paul des Etangs (Leucate), Diocese of Carcasonne-Narbonne
Photo credit: Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN-GP

 

 

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 Bible.

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

The autobiographical manuscripts and family correspondence are found on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. The English version of the website appears here and the complete French version of the website is found here.

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 3

If you desire that devotion be born in your spirit and that the love of God and the desire for divine things increase, cleanse your soul of every desire, attachment, and ambition in such a way that you have no concern about anything. Just as a sick person is immediately aware of good health once the bad humor has been thrown off and a desire to eat is felt, so will you recover your health, in God, if you cure yourself as was said. Without doing this, you will not advance no matter how much you do.

Sayings of Light and Love, 78

 

SCRIPTURE

This is what we have heard from him, and the message that we are announcing to you: God is light; there is no darkness in him at all. If we say that we are in union with God while we are living in darkness, we are lying because we are not living the truth. But if we live our lives in the light, as he is in the light, we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong. To say that we have never sinned is to call God a liar and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s. We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. Anyone who says, “I know him,” and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth. But when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him. We can be sure that we are in God only when the one who claims to be living in him is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.

1 John 1:5-2:6

 

MEDITATION

“Cleanse your soul,” writes Our Holy Father Saint John of the Cross. This is the medicine, the remedy he prescribes to those who are sin-sick and desire health and wholeness in Christ. Cleansing the soul of all that is not God enables us to grow in devotion, the desire for the things of God, and to grow in the love of God.

What are we cleansing? Desire. Attachment. Ambition. St. John of the Cross leads us on an examination of conscience with these three points.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) provides a veritable smorgasbord of theological and catechetical delights upon which we may feast in its article on the Tenth Commandment. (CCC 2534-2557) “The tenth commandment concerns the intentions of the heart,” and that goes precisely to the heart of the teaching of St. John of the Cross. Although the teaching of the Catechism rightly focuses on “coveting the goods of another” (CCC 2534), St. John would caution us to examine our disordered desires for another’s spiritual goods, not simply temporal goods. Who among us has not desired or envied someone else’s contemplative spirit, prayerful attitude, or Christlike zeal?

The Catechism says that “the sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have” (CCC 2535). But Our Holy Father John of the Cross explains how his teaching encompasses more than just the senses: “God gathers together all the strength, faculties, and appetites of the soul, spiritual and sensory alike, so the energy and power of this whole harmonious composite may be employed in this love” (Dark Night II, 11:4).

Love: that must be our true ambition. First, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; then, to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lk 10:27). St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus went one step further, praying: “You know, Lord, that my only ambition is to make you known and loved” (Pri 8). If we are willing to do some regular housekeeping, we will progress—step by step— toward the desired state of having “no concern about anything”, just like an infant in its mother’s arms (cf. Ps 131:2).

Saint Raphael Kalinowski, a Discalced Carmelite friar from Poland who learned about the Carmelite order by reading the lives of the saints during years of forced labor in the salt mines of Usole, Siberia, has some housekeeping suggestions for us. May the beauty and depth of his words bring us a message of hope and encouragement as we read and understand the teaching of Our Holy Father St. John of the Cross.

As the raging sea seems to feel displeasure at all that pollutes it, and desires to expel from itself anything foreign, so that the beauty of the mysteries it holds might appear to view in all clarity, so the soul does not tolerate anything within itself unless it is of God or leads to God; approaching confession from the abyss of her misery, she casts off everything, desiring to preserve in herself only the image of God according to which she was created, to look only at him and to rejoice only in him. In her love-filled tears she receives a shower of graces that descend from the wounds of her Savior. The misery of sin makes way for grace, the thorns become roses, and even the very poison of sin changes into an antidote for the soul. Here are the fruits of a good confession: it purifies, heals, fortifies, and beautifies the soul.

All that we have treated so far leads us back to what we discussed at the beginning: imitating our Holy Father by using the means the Savior left us to purify our soul, to preserve the heart ever pure in order to be able to transform it into an altar of the living God, and to become enamored of him in suffering and being despised: Altare Dei, cor nostrum! Humilis corde, cor Christi est [The altar of God is our heart; the humble heart is like the heart of Christ].

In the sketch of the Ascent of Mount Carmel drawn by Our Holy Father John of the Cross, we read: “Here there is no longer any way because for the just . . . there is no law.” This means that if all the prescriptions of the law have as their object the love of God, when this is fully attained, the prescriptions cease of themselves. True repentance, in crushing the heart of man, crushes everything opposed to the love of God and destroys all that does not lead to him…

And all this through Mary.

(Excerpts from On a Good Confession, 24 November 1902)

 

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.

 

jan_od_krzyza_Carmel of Usole PL
Icon of St. John of the Cross venerated by the Discalced Carmelite friars of the Krakow Province at Holy Trinity House of Prayer in Piotrkowice | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

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 Bible.

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

Praskiewicz OCD, S 1998, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, Translated from the Italian by Coonan, T, Griffin OCD, M and Sullivan OCD, L, ICS Publications, Washington, D.C.

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 2

All for me and nothing for you.

All for you and nothing for me.

Sayings of Light and Love, 110-111

 

SCRIPTURE

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him, I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upward to receive in Christ Jesus. We who are called “perfect” must all think in this way. If there is some point on which you see things differently, God will make it clear to you; meanwhile, let us go forward on the road that has brought us to where we are.

Philippians 3:8-16

 

MEDITATION

“Nothing for me.” The nada—that absolute, naked, utter nothing—of Saint John of the Cross can seem so stark, even off-putting to a novice reader of the Church’s Mystical Doctor. Nothing for me? How can this be?

In order to unpack these absolutes, it helps to have a reference point. Saint Paul can help us to understand the purpose of striving for such nakedness, such emptiness, the possession of nothing to the point of being nothing.

In the verses preceding our Scripture reading, St. Paul lists all the reasons that he had to boast of his “Hebrew-ness”. He even calls himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” That’s a rather bold statement. Yet despite all of his reasons to boast of his Hebrew and Pharisee pedigree, he says that nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus.” (Ph 3:8) There’s that absolute qualifier again: nothing.

But Paul doesn’t stop there, he goes further: “For Him, I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish.” St. Paul is getting out his virtual work gloves, his virtual broom, dustpan, trash bags, and taking inventory of his life as one would assess their home and property with an insurance adjuster after a fire or natural disaster, understanding that all one possessed is a total loss, ready to be hauled away with the garbage.

Ah, but there’s a reason for rejoicingclearing away the rubbish creates total and absolute room for Christ: “if only I can have Christ and be given a place in Him.”

This contrast of self-emptying to be filled with something greater in St. John of the Cross and St. Paul the Apostle reminds us of the self-emptying in the life of Christ:

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. (Ph 2:6-9)

And as we look at St. Paul’s words, it is interesting to look further at his all-or-nothing contrasts. We know what he considers to be nothing, a pile of rubbish. With what does he seek to replace it? Let’s search his text for the simple word, all. “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death… All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come” (Ph 3:10,13). Yes, nothing for me leaves all for you. That is, essentially, what St. John of the Cross said, in the stark all-and-nothing contrast of his saying, todo para ti y nada para mí.

If the nada of St. John of the Cross and the rubbish-heap imagery of St. Paul still leave us wondering how to attain such noble, holy aspirations, it is St. Paul’s great disciple, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity who can show us the way. In her retreat Heaven in Faith (First Day, second prayer) she writes:

We must not, so to speak, stop at the surface, but enter ever deeper into the divine Being through recollection. “I am still running,” exclaimed St. Paul (Ph 3:12); so must we descend daily this pathway of the Abyss which is God; let us slide down this slope in wholly loving trust. “Deep calls to deep” (Ps 42:8). It is there in the very depths that the divine impact takes place, where the abyss of our nothingness encounters the Abyss of mercy, the immensity of the all of God. There we will find the strength to die to ourselves and, losing all vestige of self, we will be changed into love…. “Blessed are those who die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13)!

 

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.

 

StJohn_Orleans-France
Orléans, France

 

 

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 Bible.

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

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

Quote of the day: 1 December

Have a great love for those who contradict and fail to love you, for in this way love is begotten in a heart that has no love. God so acts with us, for he loves us that we might love by means of the very love he bears toward us.

Saint John of the Cross

Letter 33 to a Discalced Carmelite nun in Segovia
Ubeda, October-November 1591

 

B14504.jpg
Saint John of the Cross, Francisco Antonio Gijón (Spanish, 1653 – after 1705), 1675, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. | Credit: National Gallery of Art

 

 

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.

Quote of the day: 21 November

The vow of chastity intends to release human beings from all the bonds of natural common life, to fasten them to the cross high above all the bustle, and to free their hearts for union with the Crucified. This sacrifice, too, is not accomplished once and for all.

Of course, one is cut off, externally, from occasions that can become temptations outside but often much that distracts the spirit and the heart, robbing them of their freedom, cleaves to the memory and fantasy. Besides, there is also a danger that new ties establish themselves within the protective cloister walls and hinder full union with the Divine Heart.

When we enter the Order, we again become members of a family. We are to see and respect, as head and members of the Mystical Body of Christ, our superiors and the other sisters. But we are human, and something all too human can easily become mingled with holy, childlike, and sisterly love. We believe we see Christ in the people we look up to and fail to notice that we attach ourselves to them humanly and are in danger of losing sight of Christ.

But human attraction is not the only cloud on purity of heart. Too little love is a worse offense against the Divine Heart than too much. Every aversion, any anger and resentment we tolerate in our hearts closes the door to the Savior. Involuntary stirrings naturally arise through no fault of our own, but as soon as we become aware of them, we must relentlessly oppose them. Otherwise, we resist God who is love and do the devil’s work.

The song sung by the virgins attending the Lamb is surely one of purest love.

Saint Edith Stein

The Marriage of the Lamb
For September 14, 1940

 

JOSE-MARIA MORENO GARCIA
Clothing day at the Carmel of Consuegra (Toledo), founded in 1597 | José-María Moreno García / Flickr

 

 

Stein, E 2014, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, translated from the German by Stein W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

19 November: St. Raphael Kalinowski

November 19
SAINT RAPHAEL KALINOWSKI
Priest

Memorial

Raphael Kalinowski was born to Polish parents in the city of Vilnius in 1835. Following military service, he was condemned in 1864 to ten years of forced labor in Siberia. In 1877 he became a Carmelite and was ordained a priest in 1882. He contributed greatly to the restoration of the Discalced Carmelites in Poland. His life was distinguished by zeal for Church unity and by his unflagging devotion to his ministry as confessor and spiritual director. He died in Wadowice in 1907.

From the common of pastors or of holy men (religious)

Office of Readings

Second Reading

From the exhortations of Saint Raphael, Religious

(C. Gil, O. Rafal Kalinowski, pp. 109-110)

You must be holy

The Holy Scriptures praise nothing more than a perfect and holy life lived in the exact and perfect fulfillment of each one’s duties. In the Old Testament our Lord and God taught his people and told them: You must be holy because I am holy.

The Eternal Father gave us our Lord Jesus Christ as our teacher, master, and guide. He confirmed and ratified the Old Testament injunction where he taught us that we must emulate the holiness of the Father: You must be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect. How does one become perfect and holy? The Doctors of the Church, the leaders of souls, and the masters of the spiritual life answer: If you would be perfect and become holy, fulfill your duties faithfully.

Once a desert father was asked by a certain young hermit what books he ought to study in order to advance in holiness. The old man replied: My practice is to read two books only. In the morning hours I read the Gospel, and in the evening I read the Rule. The first teaches me the way I should walk as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The other teaches me what I should do to be a good religious. That is enough for me.

Let us, therefore, be students of the laws of God so that we may conduct ourselves according to them. When you walk, these will guide you; when you lie down, watch over you; when you wake, talk with you. Wherever we may be or go, may they go with us to direct our footsteps. May they be so near us when we sleep that they may fill our thoughts as soon as we awaken. His voice will speak to us in them. He will refresh us for the day ahead. Through his laws, we will gain the victory over our doubts. We will cast away every obstacle. We will free ourselves of that sluggishness of nature which is the enemy of strength, the foe of devotion, and the lover of ease. The law of life will help us to overcome our fears in the time of temptation and to follow eagerly in the way of obedience. May it always be at hand to counsel us, so that by it we may find the strength to follow God’s call with generous hearts and willing souls.

Responsory

Free your minds, then, of encumbrances, since it is the Holy One who has called you
be holy in all you do.
For it is I, the Lord, who am your God;
you have been sanctified and have become holy because I am holy.
be holy in all you do.

Prayer

Lord God, you made your priest Saint Raphael
strong in adversity and filled him with
a great love in promoting Church unity.
Through his prayers, make us strong in faith
and in love for one another,
that we too may generously work together
for the unity of all believers in Christ.

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.

 

 

Rafael-Kalinowski_1897 (2)
Saint Raphael of St. Joseph Kalinowski, photo taken 30 March 1897 | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

Quote of the day: 12 November

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

 

sunset love lake resort
Photo by Download a pic Donate a buck! ^ on Pexels.com

 

 

of the Cross P-M 1997, Carmelite Spirituality in the Teresian Tradition, translated from the French by Sullivan K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 5

Although I possess nothing, I nevertheless appoint as my sole heir…

Intention

For an increase in the fruit of kindness

St. Paul speaks

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks

I the undersigned declare that although I possess nothing, since I have previously disposed of everything that belonged to me, I nevertheless appoint as my sole heir Madame la comtesse Georges de Sourdon, resident of Dijon.
Elizabeth Catez
30 October 1906
(Letter 338 to Madame de Sourdon, 30 October 1906)

Meditation 

St. Elizabeth’s biographer, the Discalced Carmelite scholar Fr. Conrad De Meester, O.C.D., notes that “what at first glance looks like an official will, in reality, constitutes a true message of friendship… an astounding gesture of kindness and even of gaiety in this totally exhausted young woman, who is going to collapse that every evening and die ten days later.” Elizabeth doesn’t write about kindness; she simply was kindness personified. If God, who is Love, dwells within us, then kindness dwells within us and overflows to those around us. Shouldn’t that be the model for our lives?

NOVENA PRAYER 

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)

 

Spiti 2010 359 kanglapass Flickr 4908057875_b66a2c458c_o
kanglapass / Flickr

 

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 3 November

“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.” (Wisdom 3:1)

Yet, Titus Brandsma went through torment: he was punished in the eyes of men. Yes, God tried him. The former prisoners from concentration camps know very well what kind of human Calvary those places of punishment were.

Places of great human trial.

The test of physical strength, ruthlessly driven to complete annihilation.

The test of moral forces

Perhaps today’s Gospel speaks to us even better, recalling the commandment to love our enemies. The concentration camps were organized according to the program of contempt for man, according to the program of hatred. Through what a test of conscience, of character, of the heart a follower of Christ had to pass, who remembered Christ’s words about loving your enemies! Not responding to hatred with hatred but with love. This is perhaps one of the greatest tests of a man’s moral energies.

Titus Brandsma emerged victorious from this test. In the midst of the raging hatred, he knew how to love; everyone, even his torturers: “They, too, are children of the good God,” he said, “and perhaps something still remains within them…”

Certainly, such heroism cannot be improvised. Father Titus went on to develop it over the course of a lifetime, starting from the first experiences of childhood, lived in a deeply Christian family, in the beloved land of Frisia. From the words and examples of parents, from the teachings heard in the village church, from the charitable initiatives experienced within the parish community, he learned to know and to practice the fundamental commandment of Christ concerning love for everyone, not excluding even our own enemies. It was an experience that marked him in-depth, to the point of orienting his whole life.

The activities that Father Brandsma carried out during his existence were of a surprising multiplicity; but, if one wanted to look for the inspiring motive and the driving force, you would find it right here: in the commandment of the love taken to extremes.

Saint John Paul II

Homily, Mass for the Beatification of Titus Brandsma (excerpt)
3 November 1985, Vatican Basilica

 

Dachau gate P Fahr Flickr
payam_fahr / Flickr

 

 

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

 

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