My dear little daughter, I don’t want the eve of such a beautiful day to pass by without speaking a little word to her from her Jesus. Her Jesus! He has made her a bed of lilies! “My beloved browses among the lilies!”says the spouse in the Canticle. I want to give my little daughter the only picture that is dear to me among all others… Aunt at Le Mans gave it to me, and I am attached to it,for it says much to my heart. But all for the little fiancée of Jesus! What is too beautiful for her? Oh! yes, “…happy the lily that remained without spot until the hour of reaping.”
One day, we shall reap, rejoicing!And this hour will come! And it will be a day without clouds, and the more we shall have suffered the more radiant that day will be. Then! then! Ah! I keep silent… This day will be so beautiful, it will be so sweet, this day which will have no end!! My whole heart to my dear angel, whom I adorned for Jesus on the day of her First Communion and whom I will adorn on the day of her espousals.
Marie of the Sacred Heart
This tender letter from Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie Martin) to her younger sister and goddaughter, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, includes an interesting detail. Marie pours out her love: “my whole heart to my dear angel, whom I adorned for Jesus on the day of her First Communion and whom I will adorn on the day of her espousals.”
St. Thérèse will receive the holy habit of Carmel on 10 January 1889 and her sister Marie will play an important role on this special day. Martin family historian Maureen O’Riordan offers the following insights:
Marie was still living in the novitiate at the time and perhaps that increased her proximity to Thérèse while Thérèse was being dressed in the bridal gown. Someone wrote that Marie fussed so much over Thérèse’s long curls that Thérèse begged “Enough! enough!” One would be pretty safe in assuming that Marie and Pauline helped to dress Thérèse, although perhaps Marie of the Angels, as novice mistress, might also have been present, as well as the prioress. This would have been a role in the preparation, not in the actual ceremony.
I am very sorry, for, yesterday evening, not knowing my sisters were going to write you, I slept like a lazy thing! . . . This morning, I have only a bit of time, and I even have to take it from the Office.
Dear Aunt, I would like to be the first to wish you a Happy New Year for 1889!. . .
When I think, dear Aunt, that it will soon be nine months since your little daughter is in Carmel, I can’t get over it. It seems to me it was only yesterday that I was still with you!. . . How quickly life passes; it is already sixteen years since I have been on earth. Oh! soon we shall all be reunited in heaven. I love these words of the psalms very much: “A thousand years in the eyes of the Lord are like yesterday that has passed already.” What rapidity! Oh! I want to work during the day while it is still light, for afterwards will come the night when I shall be able to do nothing. Pray for your little daughter, dear Aunt, so that she does not abuse the grace which God is showering on her in the fertile valley of Carmel.
I cannot refrain from laughing when seeing my letter; it is not really a New Year’s letter, but, dear little Aunt, with you I am like a child who lets its heart go without searching in any way for what it is going to say!. . .
If you only knew, dear Aunt, all I will ask for you and dear Uncle on New Year’s day!. . . No, you don’t know, and I am not going to undertake telling you, for it would bore you because it would take too long.
And my little cousins (my dear little sisters), how I will pray for them!. ..
Au revoir, dear Aunt. I beg you to tell Uncle how much I love him. I should have written him at the same time as I wrote you, dear Aunt, but I am too stupid to talk to two persons together …. I beg him to pardon me, and I send to both of you the best kiss from your littlest Benjamin.
Thérèse of the Child Jesus
I just remembered that I haven’t thanked dear Aunt for the crown that she wants to give me for my reception of the Habit. Oh! if she only knew how grateful I am and also how dear this souvenir will be to her little daughter’s heart!. . .
LT 71 From Thérèse to Mme. Guérin
28 December 1888
Saint Raphael Kalinowski’s last and longest stage of life is the thirty years (1877-1907) he lived in the Carmelite monastery. Consenting to the voice that called him to Carmel, Joseph Kalinowski entered formation, ready to work for God within the Church after decades of service as an engineer, military officer, prisoner of war in Siberia, professor and tutor.
On November 26, 1877, he went to Graz, Austria and was clothed in the habit of the Order, receiving at the same time his religious name: Raphael of Saint Joseph.
How did Kalinowski come to know Carmel? We turn to Father Szczepan T. Praskiewicz, OCD, for the details, referring in particular to his biography, “Raffaele Kalinowski: Tappe Fondamentali di una Vita ed Elementi di Spiritualità”, which was translated and edited as part of the book, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, published by the Discalced Carmelite friars’ Washington Province, ICS Publications. A scholar who has served on the faculty of the Discalced Carmelites’ International Theological College in Rome, the general curia of the order, as well as completing three terms as a consultant to the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints in Rome, Father Szczepan’s years of formation in the traces of Saint Raphael of St. Joseph add a unique perspective to his rigorous standards as a scholar. Fr. Praskiewicz’s 1990 biography of Kalinowski, which was translated from the Italian, edited, and published by the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Saint’s vocation.
In his Memoirs Saint Raphael tells us that early on during his exile in Siberia he happened upon a copy of a book written by Piotr Skarga, The Lives of the Saints:
That opened up many horizons for me. There I discovered a note on the Order of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and its rapid diffusion in the West. It occured to me that precisely this Order should be able to bring the schismatics back to the Church of Rome. Guided in a marvelous way by Providence, I entered this Order ten years later.
As with every vocation story, there were many graced encounters that guided his steps along the way.
Saint Raphael Kalinowski had wanted to find a way to become a Carmelite friar, which is why he became a tutor to Gucio, the young son of the noble Czartoryski family residing in Paris. But in God’s providence and unbeknownst to Saint Raphael, one of his pupil’s aunts was a Discalced Carmelite nun in the Carmel of Krakow.
In true Teresian spirit, this aunt, Sr. Mary Xavier of Jesus was seeking young men to renew Carmelite life in Poland. When the Saint accompanied his young pupil on a trip from Paris to visit his aunt at the monastery in Krakow, Kalinowski made a profound impression upon the nun; but it was the Holy Spirit that spoke to her spirit, impressing upon her the fact that her nephew’s tutor was sent by Divine Providence.
Without saying a word, Sr. Mary Xavier of Jesus began a prayer crusade for the family tutor and his vocation to the Discalced Carmelites; further, she began to correspond with him.
Saint Raphael explained what had happened in a letter to his family back home in Vilnius, Lithuania:
I have a sign of the mercy and goodness of the Lord, which brought me hope and consolation through people consecrated to him. Gucio’s aunt, the Reverend Sister Mary Xavier of Jesus… whom I met only once at the grilles and who hardly knows me, only a few days ago—exactly when I least expected it—sent me the following poem of the seraphic Saint Teresa: Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you…
Fr. Praskiewicz tells us that St. Teresa’s famous Nada te turbe became Kalinowski’s motto. Soon after he received Sr. Mary Xavier’s letter, he wrote to his parents:
Each day I take strength from Saint Teresa’s words about which I wrote to you, my dear parents, in my last letter.
In the end, these very words were the source of divine inspiration that induced him to join the sons of St. Teresa, the Discalced Carmelite friars. He wrote to his parents on 4 November 1876:
A year ago there came to me, like an echo, a voice from the grilles of Carmel. This voice was clearly addressed to me and I have accepted it; it was a salvific voice from the infinite mercy of God commanding me. I can only exclaim, ‘I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever.’ The only thing that now remains for me to do is to ask your parental blessing.”
Kalinowski attended to the details, the housekeeping of his life as anyone aspiring to enter religious life would do: prepare to leave a job, a home, to travel and pray. On 5 July 1877, he left the Czartoryski family in Paris and traveled to Linz, Austria to meet the Discalced Carmelite provincial superior.
God rewarded Kalinowski for the steadfast pursuit of his vocation at such a mature age—Raphael of St. Joseph was 42 years old when he received the holy habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
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.
Let us praise the Lord and give Him thanks for the great favor He has bestowed on your little daughter. I have permission, and with God’s help, I will fly to the dear little dovecote on May 7.
My father gave me his permission last Sunday. Saint Joseph was the one who wrought this miracle. Yesterday, I went to Communion for the first time since receiving his permission. I assure you that I could not keep from weeping in the face of such a great favor from my dear Jesus. I am at the peak of happiness and pain. When I consider the favor Our Lord granted me and on the other hand, when I see my misery and unworthiness, I am filled with confusion. Then, I throw myself into the arms of the One who is all mercy and, casting myself there, remain completely surrendered to my celestial Bridegroom.
He does everything in me. All I do is love Him and this so imperfectly. I love Him and for Him I am going to give up everything. That everything, however, is such a small thing in comparison with the everything of His love.
Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes Letter 80
Read the Vatican biography of Saint Teresa of the Andes here
The Writings of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes: An Abridgement
Edited by Barbara Haight Garcia, OCDS
Translated by Father Michael D. Griffin, OCD
New Life Publishing Company, 2003
While I was in this town of Beas waiting for the license from the Council of the Order of Knights for the foundation of Caravaca, a Father from the discalced of our order named Maestro Jerónimo Gracián de la Madre de Dios came to see me. A few years before he had received our religious habit while in Alcalá. Throughout his life, he has been a man of much learning, intelligence, and modesty along with other great virtues. It seems, while he was in Alcalá, that he was chosen by our Lady for the good of this primitive order without his having the remotest idea of receiving our habit, although he had considered entering the religious life. His parents had other intentions because of his great talent and their good standing with the king, but he was far from being inclined toward their plans for him. From the time he began school, he was urged by his father to take up the study of law. Yet, while still very young, he felt so strongly the desire to study theology that by force of tears he got his father to allow him to do so.
After graduating with a master’s degree, he took steps to enter the Society of Jesus, and they had accepted him. But for a certain reason, they told him to wait several days. He tells me that he was tormented by all the enjoyments in his life and that he didn’t think they constituted a safe path to heaven. He always set aside the hours for prayer and was extremely recollected and upright.
At this time a close friend of his entered the monastery in Pastrana to become a friar in our order. This friend’s name was Fray Juan de Jesús, and he, too, had a master’s degree. I don’t know how the interest began, whether it did so because of a letter Fray Juan wrote about the greatness and antiquity of our order or in some other way; for Father Gracián enjoyed very much reading everything about the order and verifying, through important authors, what was asserted. He says that he often had scruples about failing to study other things because he was unable to set these studies aside, and he occupied his hours of recreation in this way. O wisdom and power of God! How impossible for us to flee from His will! Our Lord truly saw the great need there was for a person like this to carry on the work that He had begun. I often praise Him for the favor He granted us in this matter. Had I very much desired to ask His Majesty for a person to organize all the things pertaining to the order in these initial stages, I would not have succeeded in asking for all that He, in fact, gave in Father Gracián. May the Lord be blessed forever.
God brought him there in order to give him the habit
Well then, while not having the slightest thought of taking the habit of this order, he was asked to go to Pastrana to speak to the prioress of our monastery there— for it had not yet been abandoned —that she might accept a nun. What means the divine Majesty takes! For had Father Gracián decided to go there to take the habit, he would perhaps have met with so much opposition that he might never have done so. But the Blessed Virgin, our Lady, to whom he is extremely devoted, wanted to repay him by giving him her habit. So I think she was the mediatrix through whom God granted him this favor. And this glorious Virgin was the reason he received it and became so fond of the order. She did not want one who desired to serve her so much to lack the occasion for putting this desire into practice. It is her custom to favor those who want to be protected by her.
While still a boy in Madrid, he often went to pray before an image of our Lady to whom he had great devotion. I don’t remember where it was; he called her “his love,” and his visits were very frequent. She must have obtained for him from her Son the purity in which he always lived. He says that sometimes it seemed to him his eyes were swollen from weeping over the many offenses committed against her Son. As a result, there arose in him a strong impulse and desire to help souls, and he felt it very deeply when he saw offenses committed against God. He has so great an inclination toward the good of souls that any hardship becomes small to him if he thinks that through it he can produce some fruit. I have seen this myself in the many trials that he has undergone.
Well, the Virgin brought him to Pastrana as though by tricking him into the thought that he was going there in order to request the habit for a nun. And God brought him there in order to give him the habit. Oh, secrets of God! But how true that without our desiring it, He disposes us so as to give us favors. And this soul was repaid for the good deeds that he did, for the good example that he had always given, and for his great desire to serve the Lord’s glorious Mother. His Majesty must always repay this latter with wonderful rewards.
Well, when he arrived in Pastrana, he went to speak to the prioress that she might accept the nun; and it seemed as though he had asked her to pray to the Lord that he himself might enter. For he is a very pleasant person so that generally he is loved by those who have dealings with him — it is a grace our Lord gives — and thus he is extremely loved by all his subjects, both friars and nuns. Yet he doesn’t let any fault go by, for he is extraordinarily careful in looking out for the welfare of the religious life. In his actions, he is so gentle and pleasant that it seems no one is able to complain about him.
Well, when this prioress saw him, that which happened to others happened to her; she felt a strong desire that he enter the order and told the Sisters how important it was to get him to join, for at the time there were very few, or almost none like him. And she told them all to beseech our Lord not to let him go without his receiving the habit.
This prioress is a very great servant of God. By her prayer alone I think she would have been heard by His Majesty; how much more would the prayers of nuns as good as those that were there be heard. All of them took the matter very much to heart and with fasts, disciplines, and prayer begged His Majesty continually. Thus He was pleased to grant us this favor. For since Father Gracián went to the monastery of the friars and saw so much religious observance and opportunity to serve our Lord and above all that it was the order of the Lord’s glorious Mother whom he so much desired to serve, his heart was moved not to return to the world. The devil set before him many difficulties, especially the pain this would bring his parents. They loved him very much and had great trust that he would help provide for their children, for they had many daughters and sons. He left this care to God for whom he left all, and decided to be a subject of the Virgin and take her habit. So they gave it to him amid the great happiness of all, especially of the nuns and the prioress. The nuns gave much praise to our Lord, thinking that His Majesty had granted them this favor through their prayers.
Father Jerónimo Gracián of the Mother of God (1545-1614) was an important figure in Teresian history. He was born in Valladolid, the son of one of King Phillip II’s secretaries. He studied at the University of Alcalá and was ordained a priest in 1570. Exceptionally gifted, he entered the novitiate in Pastrana on 25 April 1572. After meeting Teresa in 1575, he worked closely with her until her death. Later, falling into disfavor with Superior General Fr. Nicolas Doria, he was expelled from the order. He died in Brussels.
On 24th February 1922, Father Henri Grialou entered the Discalced Carmelite novitiate at Avon, France, only 20 days after his priestly ordination; he took the name Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus.
Today, holiness needs to overflow, it needs to reach everyone, permeate all walks and states of life. This is a necessity not only for the consecrated life, the state of perfection but also for any way of life in the world.
There, too, we have to be saints, just to be saved. Mediocrity is no longer an option.
Edith’s six months of probation passed quickly. On 15 February 1934, following the custom of the Order, she knelt before the assembled community and asked to receive the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel. She was granted her request on 15 April. During the two months that she was preparing for her clothing, she grew in love and gratitude toward her superiors and her sisters. It was not easy for her to grasp that, as the “bride-to-be,” she should be the object of so much attention and solicitude on the part of her Sisters. Everyone was busy helping her to prepare for her clothing as it drew nearer. Besides the bridal dress, all the clothes she would need in the convent had to be made – a long white tunic of wool, a pair of rope sandals, a rosary with big beads and a coarse brown handkerchief. She had to go from one workroom to another to try on first one thing and then another; and though nothing more was done for her than for anyone else, she accepted each service as though it were a special token of love for herself.
On 5 February 1895, Céline Martin was clothed in the Carmelite habit and began her novitiate in the Carmel of Lisieux. St. Thérèse wrote the Song of Gratitude of Jesus’s Fiancée as a gift for her sister’s clothing.
On 9 September 2014 another Discalced Carmelite advanced toward the honors of the altar. The closing of the last public session of the diocesan process of beatification and canonization of Friar Jean Thierry Ebogo of the Child Jesus and the Passion took place in Legnano, Italy.
Brother Jean Thierry was a Discalced Carmelite friar from Cameroon. Born in 1982, he entered Carmel in July 2003. A year later, he entered the novitiate and was supposed to continue his formation in Burkina Faso. Shortly thereafter, a tumor was discovered on his right knee, which threatened to end his novitiate. The friars sought treatment for him, and he was sent from hospital to hospital. Remedies exhausted, in November 2004 he was sent to the capital of Yaoundé, where his right leg was amputated at the general hospital. Throughout his course of treatment and in the face of this amputation, he was completely serene and sought to encourage others.
The OCD mission in Cameroon was established in 1984 by the Italian province of Lombardy (Milan), so it was a mixed blessing when in August 2005 the Father Provincial from Milan came to Cameroon to take Friar Jean Thierry to Italy to pursue rehab, prosthesis, and formation. It was a blessing to receive better care, but there was the sorrow of leaving his family, his brothers, and his friends. Once again, he abandoned himself to the divine will.
When he completed his first examination at the hospital in Legnano, the diagnosis was much more serious than ever imagined: a recurrence of the malignant bone tumor with cancer now throughout his body. He spent two months at a famous cancer institute in Turin, but the best care still could not provide the hoped-for cure. He returned to the hospital in Legnano, where the staff kept him as comfortable as possible.
On December 8, 2005, with special permission from Father General Luis Aróstegui Gamboa and the Sacred Congregation for Religious, Brother Jean Thierry of the Child Jesus and the Passion professed his solemn vows in the intimacy of his hospital room. His mother, Marie Thérèse Ebogo was present for the blessed occasion. Hundreds of people were drawn to him: youth, priests, religious, the sick, his friends. He hid his sufferings and focused on the other person.
On January 5, 2006, Br. Jean Thierry went home to God. A few hours before, he received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist that was celebrated in his hospital room. His greatest sacrifice was the departure of his mother on December 26, because, despite all efforts, her visa could not be renewed. Her consolation was to assist at Jean Thierry’s religious profession and when he received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for the final time.
His last words were spoken to a very dear friend whom he called “Mamma Anna.” A few hours before he slipped into a coma, he pointed out the image of Divine Mercy on the wall across from his bed, saying, «comme il est beau Jésus!» — How beautiful Jesus is!
To see photos of Brother Jean Thierry, to read some of his inspiring quotes, and to read a more detailed biography, visit: