On 6 October 1571 St Teresa left the Carmel of Medina del Campo to return to Avila as prioress of the Monastery of the Incarnation, where she was once a member. Fr Kieran Kavanaugh explains this trying situation, including the reasons why an Apostolic Visitation was needed and the concrete human and financial challenges facing Teresa.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity began her ten-day retreat on this day in 1904, the first since her profession retreat in January 1903. She told her sister that the extra solitude and prayer “created a very enticing schedule” because “I'm going to lose myself in Him.”
For the renewal of vows at the Carmel of Echt in 1940, St. Edith Stein wrote a meditation for the prioress at her request. We share the final section of the meditation where Edith presents a striking response to the age-old complaint that God doesn't hear our prayers. "What right have we to be heard?" Edith asks. Her own answer is decisive: "The day on which God has unrestricted power over our hearts we shall also have unrestricted power over his."
In a tender letter to her mother, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity reassures her mother once again that her heroic sacrifice will be recorded "in the great book of life." But she also intimates that her health is failing: the prioress insists that Elizabeth should "spend time out in the fresh air."
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity can't hide the fact that she has a particular love for the Divine Office. Where St. Therese of the Child Jesus found it helpful to imagine herself throwing flowers during the Church's official prayer, Elizabeth instead deeply appreciates the Latin in the Liturgy of the Hours and frequently uses Latin quotations in her retreats and letters.
On the 4th of July 1942, the Prioress of the Carmel of Le Pâquier, Switzerland proposed to the voting members of the monastic community that St. Edith Stein should transfer and be received as a member of the community. On July 5, the nuns gathered once again and held a secret vote...
Léonie Martin died early in the morning on 17 June 1941. We share the last two letters exchanged between Léonie and her sisters Pauline and Céline.
For the feast day of her prioress in 1902, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote: "Infinite Being! Depth unsoundable! Delighted, lost in Your Divinity — O Trinity, God thrice-immutable, We see Yourself in Your own clarity."
In June 1944, Mother Agnès of Jesus was ready to sacrifice the Carmel of Lisieux to God if he wanted it. The obituary circular notice written by her nuns for the other Carmels in France testified to her valiant spirit. The nuns were terrified, while she remained calm. Read an excerpt from this circular letter.
St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart was heroic in her charity and compassion, especially for the sick in the infirmary of the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Florence. When one of the nuns who was mentally infirm became quite insane, St. Teresa Margaret asked to be allowed to care for the nun, although it was terrifying. The Saint would kneel and pray before a statue of the Blessed Mother every time she would need to enter the patient's locked room.
When a smallpox epidemic broke out in Baltimore in the closing months of the year 1882, many persons begged the Discalced Carmelite nuns to pray for an end to the calamity. The nuns chanted the now-famous prayer, Stella Caeli Extirpavit to Our Lady, for help in time of pestilence.
When Sister Maria Lucia, the Fatima visionary entered the Carmel of Coimbra, the Prioress showed Lucia to her cell after the morning Mass. Above the door she saw the name of the cell: "Immaculate Heart of Mary". There was a verse addressed to its inhabitant: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge."
On 14 May 1919, St. Teresa of the Andes wrote, "I'm now in Carmel eight days. Eight days of heaven. I feel divine love in such a way that there are moments when I believe I'm unable to endure it..."
Frei Belchior de Santa Ana describes how pious recreations that prepared St Teresa's nuns for martyrdom became part of the tradition at the new monastery of San Alberto in Lisbon. But they nearly became a rehearsal for reality on 9 May 1585 when the English Armada attacked the city.
I wish I were a painter so I could make you a sketch of the scene that surrounds me [...] the moonlight is flooding our cell through the frosted window panes, it's ravishing [...] All is calm and silent, and that makes me think of the night when the little Jesus was given to us.
"To found a monastery where there will be only fifteen nuns and no possibility for any increase in numbers. They will practice a very strict enclosure and thus never go out or be seen without veils covering their faces. Their lives will be founded on prayer and mortification."
I have a strong desire... that the thought not even enter your mind to go to Seville... they are definitely undergoing a pestilence down there.