Quote of the day: 30 November

You have entered an Order so holy and perfect, that by keeping its rules and constitutions faithfully, one will go directly from her deathbed to her home in heaven.  

 

Foundation of the Carmel of Pontoise

From the Autobiography of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew, to whom they had just given the black veil, was named Prioress of the new monastery; Mother Isabel of the Angels, Sub-Prioress; and Sister Beatrice of the Conception, Mistress of Novices. Mother Anne of Jesus, who governed the first convent, wished to accompany to Pontoise the three Spanish Carmelites sent there, and she took with her two of the first novices of the Order, Sister Louise of Jesus and Sister Aimee of Jesus.

On Monday Mother Anne of Jesus gave the religious habit to four young ladies of M. Gallemant’s community; the first received was called Agnes of Jesus; later she became Sub-Prioress, and took great care of Blessed Mary of the Incarnation (Madame Acarie) in her last illness. After the ceremony, Mother Anne of Jesus, in order to excite the fervor of the novices just received, spoke these remarkable words: “You have entered an Order so holy and perfect, that by keeping its rules and constitutions faithfully, one will go directly from her deathbed to her home in heaven.”

The first night these novices passed in the house they noticed a miraculous odor, which the Spanish Carmelites told them to call the perfume of St. Teresa.

On Tuesday they started on their return trip to Paris. They left Sister Louise of Jesus, who had to remain in the new monastery, at Pontoise… On returning to Paris, Mother Anne of Jesus was in admiration of the way in which Madame Acarie had established the Order in France; and Madame Acarie admired the way in which Mother Anne of Jesus governed.

The Carmelite said: “How could one woman have sufficient influence in France, Rome, and Spain to make so difficult a foundation? How has she been able to find all the money used in it?”

The Blessed one said in her turn: “How has a Spanish religious, who does not understand French, been able to acquire so much authority over persons of so different a language and customs? How has she been able to make them all one heart and one soul?”

 

Ana_de_Jesús Carmel de Pontoise
Detail of a portrait of Venerable Anne of Jesus in the Carmel of Pontoise, view the complete image here | Credit: Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Diffusion RMN-GP

 

Learn more about the foundation of the Discalced Carmelites in France here

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

Quote of the day: 20 September

Map_of_Spain,_1685__(another_view)
Map of Spain by Alain Manesson Mallet, Paris, 1683
View more maps in his collection, Description de l’Univers

 

From the Autobiography of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

Third Book, Chapter 1

Deputation Sent From France

 

Some years before our departure for France, M. de Bretigny made a journey to Spain. He begged most earnestly of the Superiors of the Order permission to take some Spanish Carmelites to France; but he could not then succeed in his design.

Not having been able to get the Carmelites, he took home the writings of the Saint and had them translated into French. As in these works there is so much said in favor of France, the French servants of God who had devotion to our holy Foundress loved her more and more, and took new courage.

In several cities they gathered together some very virtuous high-born ladies to initiate them little by little into the spirit of this new Order. These reunions once well established, they asked permission of the king to found a monastery in Paris, desiring for this purpose to have Spanish Carmelites brought there; but in case the Carmelites were not willing, their plan was to have our Constitutions brought from Spain and be taught to these young ladies whom they had gathered together, with the intention of giving them the habit and making them daughters of the Order of our Holy Mother, St. Teresa.

 

NATTIER_Jean-Marc_Madame Louise de France
Madame Louise-Marie of France (1737-1787)
Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685-1766)
Oil on canvas, 1748
Venerable Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, better known as Madame Louise, like the French novices who helped to found the Teresian Carmel in France, was “a very virtuous high-born” lady. The youngest of the ten children of King Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska, she entered the Carmel of Saint-Denis (now a museum) in 1770. The martyred prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, was named for Madame Louise. | Palais de Versailles / Wikimedia Commons, Joconde

 

This first foundation having been arranged, the servant of God whom I mentioned above, M. de Bretigny, returned to Spain, bringing with him three noble French ladies. They intended, if their enterprise was successful, to take Spanish religious with them to France. Besides, during their stay in Spain, they were to learn the language of the country.

Messrs. Rene Gauthier and de Berulle also went to Spain, not without meeting great dangers at sea, as they themselves narrated. For our Lord tried their courage in every way and on all sorts of occasions. But they were so faithful to God and so firm in their design, that nothing terrified them.

They were several months in Spain without succeeding in obtaining religious from the Order. Seeing this, M. de Berulle and the others did their utmost and labored for a whole year before obtaining from the Superiors of the Order what they asked.

The deputation sent from France had to endure much labor and many affronts; this, because it was not known what great servants of God they were; for they certainly were such—their works and the zeal they showed for the glory of God proved their great fervor. But in order that their virtue might be more purified, God permitted that they should not be esteemed at their proper worth. Some said that they were heretics, and other things of a similar nature. They suffered with much patience and humility, and, persevering in this way, their enterprise was crowned with success.

At last our Father General, Francis of the Mother of God, came to Avila with several Fathers of the Order to arrange for our departure. We left on the morning of the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. [1604] Our Father General accompanied us a great part of the day. When he was obliged to leave us we begged his blessing. He gave it with an emotion that was shared by all the religious. In parting, both Fathers and daughters made a great sacrifice to God.

Two friars of our Order, great servants of God, two French priests, one of whom was M. de Berulle, and the other, M. Rene Gauthier, together with three Frenchmen on horseback, and several Spaniards, accompanied us on this journey. The three French ladies were alone in one carriage and the six religious in another. We were together in the inns.

 

Pierre de Bérulle LaRochelle
Cardinal Bérulle at the Foot of the Cross
Lagrenée the Younger (French, 1739-1821)
Oil on canvas, 1784
Saint-Sauveur Parish, La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

 

The French ladies taught us their language; it must be acknowledged we did not make great progress in it; we learned sufficient, however, to understand most of what was said to us. But we did not speak fluently; we could, with difficulty, say only a few sentences. Our Lord wished to humble us in this, and I think it was best for us, for by speaking little we did not give disedification. Every nation has its own customs.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

“Every nation has its own customs,” wrote Blessed Anne. Truer words were never spoken. The influence of “Monsieur de Bérulle” upon the Carmelites in France grew and expanded as his authority expanded not only in the Church but also in government.

Considered by many as the founder of the French School of Spirituality, he collaborated with Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, better known as Madame Acarie, in the foundation of the first Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris, the original destination of Blessed Anne and her traveling companions in 1604.

 

marieoftheincarnationblogfeatimage
Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, Madame Acarie

 

As a priest, Pierre de Bérulle was passionate in his ministry. Educated by the Jesuits, he had only been ordained five years earlier when he set out on his great adventure in Spain in the year 1604. In 1611, he undertakes another great project: the foundation of an Oratory in France similar to the Oratory founded by Philip Neri in Italy.

In the space of 18 years, Bérulle founded 40 Carmels and 60 houses for his Oratorians in France.

 As his fame spread in the Church in France, he naturally attracted the attention of the royal family, as well. In 1625, he became a personal chaplain to Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of France, the wife of England’s King Charles I.

In 1627, Pope Urban VIII insisted upon creating him a Cardinal. And his influence in affairs of state continued to develop when he was named head of the queen’s council, then councilor of state. Through all of this, Bérulle’s influence on the French Carmelites remained firm.

But there was dissension. The Venerable Anne of Jesus, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s companion in making the original foundation, believed that Bérulle was leaving an imprint upon the Carmels in France that decidedly was not in keeping with the Teresian ideal. Further, she desired for the nuns to be directed by Discalced Carmelite friars. Frustrated, in 1607, she accepted an offer from the Archduke of Belgium to transfer to Flanders, where she founded Carmels in Brussels, Louvain, and Mons.

 

Ana-de-Jesus_Teresa-de-Jesus_Ana-de-SBart
The holy foundresses: Anne of Jesus, Teresa of Avila, and Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew had moved from Paris to Pontoise where she was elected prioress (1605) and then assumed the same office in the Carmel of Tours (1608). But in 1611, she too was called to make the journey north. She left on 5 October, “the day following the anniversary of the death of the Saint.” She wrote that she “had no desire to go to Flanders,” but Anne of Jesus needed her in Mons, and she would go on to found the Carmel of Antwerp.

Meanwhile, in France, the spirituality of le Carmel Bérullien that so concerned Venerable Anne of Jesus continued to thrive without the Spanish foundresses. Cardinal de Bérulle died suddenly while he was celebrating Mass 2 October 1629, making the greatest ecclesiastical figure in France seem larger than life. His legacy did not fade.

Discalced Carmelite theologian François-Marie Léthel points out that the Bérullien influence is seen in the writings of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. For example, Christocentrism is one of the hallmarks of his French School of spirituality. Father Léthel indicates that Thérèse refers to the name of Jesus twice as much as she mentions “God”: more precisely, she writes the name of Jesus more than 1600 times, but she only makes roughly 800 references to “God” (Léthel 2011).

Antoinette Guise Castelnuovo has carefully documented the history of the Bérullien crisis in the 20th century. In response to the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1917, all religious orders were obliged to revise their constitutions, including the Discalced Carmelites. In France, disorder reigned supreme; every Carmel’s superior was the local bishop, and none of the local superiors consulted with one another. Thus, the nuns of the Carmel of Clamartthe post-revolutionary re-foundation of the original Carmel of Paris in Faubourg Saint Jacquesundertook the task to issue a set of constitutions in 1924 that might unify the Discalced Carmelites of the so-called “French Observance”. Getting Vatican approval for their text was another matter completely. (Castelnuovo 2015)

Every other Discalced Carmelite monastery worldwide turned to the general curia of the Discalced Carmelite friars for their care and direction. In short order, the friars’ revised constitutions for the nuns were approved in 1926. In France, no word of approval had been received yet.

At this point, St. Thérèse’s own sister, Mother Agnès of Jesus—then the prioress in Lisieuxsaw an opportunity to restore a true Teresian spirit in France and make Venerable Anne of Jesus’ dream a reality, that the nuns in France might once again submit to the governance of the Discalced Carmelite friars in Rome.

 

Mutter_Agnes_von_Jesus
Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900

 

Although Mother Agnès herself enjoyed an office that was hardly Teresian, having been named prioress-for-life by Pope Pius XI in 1923, she had gained a level of influence, unlike no other prioress, due to her tireless efforts to make Thérèse known, loved, and canonized. She set forth to use that influence to seek the imposition of the friars’ constitutions in France.

Castelnuovo describes the conflict between Mother Agnès and the Carmel of Clamart as degenerating from a struggle for influence into an all-out fratricidal war. Letters to the apostolic nuncio, the Sacred Congregation for Religious, even to the pope were flying fast and furious. Mother Agnès wrote in 1925 to the nuncio, Archbishop Cerretti, that she was confident that 12 to 15 monasteries would pass to the Teresian observance with Lisieux; she said the “Bérullien Carmels” who would stick with Clamart were blind.

In 1927, Mother Agnès sent a confidential report to the new nuncio, Archbishop Maglione, outlining why this or that Carmel—although desirous to adopt the friars’ constitutions—could not do so. In every case, although the nuns were in favor of the change, the superior (either the bishop or his delegate) prevented such a transition. Nevertheless, a handful of monasteries joined Lisieux and adopted the friars’ constitutions of 1926.

Sadly, Mother Agnès learned in 1931 that the prioress of the Carmel of Agen circulated a letter among her fellow prioresses in the circle of Bérullien Carmels, accusing those who followed the 1926 Constitutions like Lisieux of being “lax” and “mitigated”. In her historical study, Castelnuovo draws a distinct correlation at this point between the Lisieux-Clamart conflict in the 1920s and the constitutional crisis between the followers of Saint Maria Maravillas and the Discalced Carmelite friars in the 1980 and ’90s. The similarities are striking.

To resolve the conflict in France, the Sacred Congregation for Religious issued a decree on 20 September 1936 to impose the adoption worldwide of the 1926 Constitutions revised by the Discalced Carmelite friars’ general curia in Rome.

This was an unprecedented action that proved unsuccessful; the Bérullien Carmelites refused to accept the decree of the Sacred Congregation and continued to follow their French Observance.

Divine intervention finally came with the nomination of an apostolic visitator in 1948: the vicar general of the Discalced Carmelite friars who was himself a native of France, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus. It was a stroke of genius. Castelnuovo notes that  Bérulle in his day had placed great importance in the role of a visitator. St. Teresa, for her part, had great recourse to the visitators to save her reform.

 

 

Marie-Eugene-de-l'Enfant-Jesus
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus

 

Marie-Eugène was known and respected by all, thanks to his preaching during the canonization of Thérèse. Now, he had 130 Carmels to visit; he began in September 1948 and completed his visits in March 1951, delivering his report at the end of the month. In the meantime, Pope Pius XII published Sponsa Christi and an Instruction concerning the cloister.

No longer was there simply a matter of constitutional conformity in France to deal with; Blessed Marie-Eugène also realized that the Carmelites needed guidance in the implementation of Sponsa Christi, as well. He set to work as an invaluable courier between the Holy See and the nuns, helping the pope to safeguard the contemplative vocation and helping the nuns to broaden their horizons.

In a final, grand effort to assure that his hard work would not be wasted and that the new-found unity of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in France might be preserved, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus took the bold step of assisting the nuns to organize themselves into four federations according to geographic location. Two federations in the north, conforming to the friars’ Paris Province, and two federations in the south under the care of the Province of Avignon-Aquitaine were established, and Marie-Eugène himself was the assistant to all four federations.

 

Marie-Eugene-of-the-Infant-Jesus_with-2-nuns
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, Apostolic Visitator

 


Sources

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

Guise Castelnuovo, A 2015, ‘Femmes en réseau et centralisation romaine : le gouvernement des carmélites de France au XXe siècle’, Les Carnets du LARHRA,  Gouverner l’Eglise au XXe siècle, pp.109-131, ffhalshs-01404512

Léthel, F-M 2011, La Lumière du Christ Dans le Coeur de l’Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints, Éditions Parole et Silence, Les Plans-sur-Bex.

 

Quote of the day: 5 June

They could not sufficiently admire the genius of Madame Acarie

 

The people came in crowds to Notre Dame des Champs to see the Carmelites take possession of their monastery; distinguished persons also assisted in great numbers at this touching ceremony. All praised God for the new Order of religious that had been established, returned thanks to Spain for the present she had made to France in giving Saints for foundresses. After the Spanish religious had taken possession of the [priory], they examined the interior arrangements. They could not sufficiently admire the genius of Mme. Acarie, who had known how, in so small a space, to make all the proper arrangements, together with all that was necessary for a community. They then visited the new buildings which were on the other side of the church, and the way in which this intelligent woman had grouped them seemed to them equally admirable.

Marcel Bouix, S.J., editor (1806-1889)
Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Eglise_NDDC_XVIIè_siècle
Priory of Notre-Dame-des-Champs in Paris, c. 1650
Jean Marot (1619-1679)
Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art

Quote of the day: 18 April

Marie-of-the-Incarnation_with-Notre-Dame CROP

“I do not trouble myself at all about the money needed for the material building, but solely about the living stones which will build up the spiritual edifice.”

Blessed Mary of the Incarnation (Madame Acarie)
The Beautiful Acarie

Learn more about Blessed Mary of the Incarnation in the biographic essay, The Beautiful Acarie by Fr. Robert P. Maloney, C.M., the 23rd Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. He wrote the essay “in an attempt to revive her memory for the members of the family of Vincent de Paul. He knew and admired her, as did Louise de Marillac, whose uncle was one of Madame Acarie’s greatest devotees.”

18 April: Blessed Mary of the Incarnation

April 18
BLESSED MARY OF THE INCARNATION
Religious

Optional Memorial

Barbe Avrillot was born in Paris in 1566. At the age of sixteen, she married Pierre Acarie, by whom she had seven children. In spite of her household duties and many hardships, she attained the heights of the mystical life. Under the influence of St. Teresa’s writings, and after mystical contact with the Saint herself, she spared no effort in introducing the Discalced Carmelite nuns into France. After her husband’s death, she asked to be admitted among them as a lay sister, taking the name of Mary of the Incarnation; she was professed at the Carmel of Amiens in 1615. She was esteemed by some of the greatest men of her time, including St. Francis de Sales; and she was distinguished by her spirit of prayer and her zeal for the propagation of the Catholic faith. She died at Pontoise on April 18th, 1618.

From the Common of Holy Women (Religious)

Office of Readings

Hymn

Proud Heresy, with fur’ous, flame-like glance,
Hath gazed exulting on the Western nations;
And fired, as by a torch, unhappy France
is prey to cruel wars and devastations.

A noble woman, brave, of lion heart,
Now giveth rescue, home and faith defending,
With courage to repel the poison-dart,
And spurn the peril with a will unbending.

The exile of her lord is bravely borne,
Her scattered heritage and ruined dwelling;
She nobly conquers insult, pride, and scorn,
With joyful heart to lowly deeds compelling.

She faltereth not tho’ trial presseth sore,
Though cares abound, tho’ lamed in torture lying;
Nay, for her Lord’s sweet sake she craveth more,
To suffer all with Him her soul is sighing.

And when misfortune giveth place to peace,
She resteth not, her zeal o’erpasseth measure;
To spread the faith her ardors never cease,
And gentle service is her life and pleasure.

From Spain she seeketh help for her loved land,
For Carmel there, a noble vine hath flourished,
Transplanting thence a sacred virgin band,
By blest Theresa’s strength of spirit nourished.

All honor to the Father and the Son!
Be equal glory to the Spirit given!
O great Divinity, Thou, Three in One,
May ages praise Thee with the songs of Heaven!

10.11.10.11.

The Second Reading
From the Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila
(C. 1, no. 1ff.: ed. Kavanaugh-Rodriguez 1980, pp. 41-43, 50)

The apostolic aim of the Teresian Carmel

When I began to take the first steps toward founding this monastery, it was not my intention that there be so much external austerity.

At that time news reached me of the harm being done in France and of the havoc the Lutherans had caused and how much this miserable sect was growing. The news distressed me greatly, and, as though I could do something or were something, I cried to the Lord and begged him that I might remedy so much evil. It seemed to me that I would have given a thousand lives to save one soul out of the many that were being lost there.

I realized I was a woman and wretched and incapable of doing any of the useful things I desired to do in the service of the Lord. All my longing was and still is that since he has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones. As a result I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same.

I did this trusting in the great goodness of God, who never fails to help anone who is determined to give up everything for him. My trust was that if these sisters matched the ideal my desires had set for them, my faults would not have much strength in the midst of so many virtues; and I could thereby please the Lord in some way. Since we would all be occupied in prayer for those who are the defenders of the Church and for preachers and for learned men who protect her from attack, we could help as much as possible this Lord of mine who is roughly treated by those for whom he has done so much good; it seems these traitors would want him to be crucified again and that he have no place to lay his head. Still, my heart breaks to see how many souls are lost. Though I can’t grieve so much over the evil already done—that is irreparable—I would not want to see more of them lost each day.

O my Sisters in Christ, help me beg these things of the Lord. This is why he has gathered you together here. This is your vocation. These must be the things you desire, the things you weep about; these must be the objects of your petitions. The world is all in flames, they want to sentence Christ again, so to speak, since they raise a thousand false witnesses against him; they want to ravage his Church.

So, then, I beg you for the love of the Lord to ask His Majesty to hear us in this matter. Miserable though I am, I ask His Majesty this, since it is for his glory and the good of the Church; this glory and good is the object of my desires.

Responsory

R/. Let petitions and prayers of thanksgiving be offered to God for everyone:
for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).

V/. Prayer of this kind is good, and pleasing to God our Savior,
for it is His will that all should be saved and come to know the truth (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Hymn

Freed at length from marriage tie,
Winged with joy her soul doth fly
To the fortress of Teresa, led by Spirit’s call;
Choosing there the lowest place,
She, who with a mother’s grace
Well might rule and govern, now is subject unto all.

O’er her sisters rising far,
As a bright and glorious star,
Guide of all who seek the path of life to God above,
She all honor doth despise,
And with great Teresa vies
In the tortures of her heart consumed with flames of love.

Mount thee to the heavenly height,
In the grace of love and light,
Harken to thy suppliants then, who pleading cry to thee.
Cast a love-enkindled glance
On thine own, thy native France,
That all minds and hearts be one in faith and charity.

Hasten all ye right of heart,
Sing ye loud with joyful art
Praise to our Redeemer Christ, and humbly Him adore;
Praise with all the heavenly host
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One in Blessed Trinity of Persons ever more.

77.76.D.

Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, says the Lord, He will give you (alleluia).

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
You gave Blessed Mary of the Incarnation
heroic strength in the face of the adversities
she met along life’s road,
and zeal for the extension of the Carmelite family.
May we your children
courageously endure every trial
and persevere to the end in Your love.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Evening Prayer

Hymn

Let angels hymn sweet harmony unending,
Let Carmel gladly join her ardent prayer,
While temples echo with the songs ascending
Upon the joyful air.

The glorious life of Mary now inspires
The chanting of her praises, fitly due;
She dwelleth high amid celestial choirs,
In bliss serene and true.

Her mind reposed in God from earliest dawning;
Her ready heart was swift to prompting grace;
All empty pomp and sinful pleasures scorning,
She fled the world’s embrace.

To dwell with Christ a virgin, was her choosing;
She fondly sought Him for her Lord and Spouse,
But wishes of her parents ne’er refusing,
‘Neath wedded yoke she bows.

So hath God willed that this exalted matron
With brightest luster of her state might shine,
To them that wed a noble type and patron
Of virtues all divine.

As wife and mother strong her love and tender,
Meek to obey her husband’s every call,
To children and to servants prompt to render,
A prudent care in all.

All honor to the Father, Son, and Spirit,
O glorious Trinity enthroned above.
The blessed faith whose teachings we inherit,
Proclaims Thee One in love.

11.10.11.6

Canticle of Mary
Ant. I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek wisdom (alleluia).

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