I am so weak I can hardly hold a pencil and yet I need to thank you from my heart, which was so deeply touched by your thoughtfulness. I award you a diploma in candy making: your Kalougas are so good! How pretty they are in their little box! I have quite a supply of chocolates of every kind; everything makes me suffer, but yours, on the contrary, soothe me; it is surely your heart that has placed a special essence in these pretty candies. A thousand thanks. I am not forgetting you on my cross, where I taste unknown joys, and when I am in Heaven, your names and your memories, which are so well engraved in the depths of my heart, will be constantly present there before God. I am very happy, little Anne-Marie!… If you saw how my dear Mother takes care of me…. For a Carmelite used to mortification, I am ashamed of my comfort, but where I am concerned, the only consideration is one of charity, of goodness that is so maternal! A Dieu, little one, I love you and your family a lot, and I kiss you all. Thanks again.
S. E. of the Trinity r.c.i.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 328a to Anne-Marie d’Avout around October 21, 1906
Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 2014, I have found God, Complete Works II - Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
The foundation of St. Joseph of Carmel in the city of Seville
Preparations were immediately begun for the journey because it was beginning to get very hot… We journeyed in wagons well covered, which was our mode of traveling… Although we hurried along on our journey, we did not reach Seville until the Thursday before Trinity Sunday, [26 May 1575] after having endured scorching heat.
Even though we did not travel during siesta time, I tell you, Sisters, that since the sun was beating on the wagons, getting into them was like stepping into purgatory.
Sometimes by thinking of hell, at other times by thinking that something was being done and suffered for God, those Sisters journeyed with much happiness and joy.
The six souls who were with me were of the kind that made me think I was daring enough to go off with them to the land of the Turks and that they had the fortitude, or better, our Lord gave them the fortitude, to suffer for Him; for this was the subject of their desires and conversations. They were very experienced in prayer and mortification.
Saint Teresa of Avila The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 24
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Now, until God gives us this good in heaven, pass the time in the virtues of mortification and patience, desiring to resemble somewhat in suffering this great God of ours, humbled and crucified. This life is not good if it is not an imitation of his life.
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 thee (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.
I read in a book that it was an imperfection to have ornate paintings. So I didn’t want to keep one I had in my cell. Even before I read this it seemed to me a practice of poverty not to have any other images than paper ones. And since it was after I had formed this opinion that I read the above, I had no longer kept any other kind. And having forgotten about this, I heard the following: that what I wanted to do was not a good mortification (what was better, poverty or charity?); that since love was the better, I shouldn’t renounce anything that awakened my love, nor should I take such a thing away from my nuns; that the book was talking about the many carvings and adornments surrounding the picture and not about the picture itself…
1 O Lord, my heart is not proud
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
nor marvels beyond me.
2 Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A weaned child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
both now and forever.
MEDITATION The Science of the Cross 3.C.(3)
Passive Night as Crucifixion
It was mentioned earlier that the active entrance of the soul into the dark night is only possible for her because God’s grace anticipates her, draws her, and supports her along the entire way.
But for beginners this anticipatory and enabling grace does not as yet have the character of the dark night. Rather, God treats them the way a tender mother treats her tiny children—carrying them in her arms and feeding them with sweet milk: in all their spiritual exercises—in prayer, meditation, and mortifications—they receive abundant joy and consolation. This joy then motivates them to devote themselves to spiritual exercises. They are unaware of the imperfections that lie therein and how many faults they commit in their practice of virtue.
In order to be freed from all these defects we must be weaned from the milk of consolations and be fed with strengthening nourishment…. “After beginners have exercised themselves for a time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer and through the delight and satisfaction they experience in this have become detached from worldly things and have gained some spiritual strength in God, which helps them to restrain their appetites for creatures, and for God’s sake are able to suffer a little oppression and dryness without yearning to return to those better times when they experienced more pleasurable satisfaction and gratification… then… God darkens all this light and closes the door and the spring of sweet spiritual water they were tasting as often and as long as they desired…. Now he leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn in their discursive imaginings.”
Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.