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 November

November 23, 1887
Wednesday

My dear little sisters,

Rejoice! it is when all seemed lost that all is gained… We went to Naples and Pompeii yesterday and the day before with Mme. Bénard. During this time, Papa went to see the superior of the Brothers, to shake his hand and to thank him for the recep­tion he had given him two years ago with M. l’abbé Marie. The Brother was charmed. Papa spoke to him frankly; he recounted the audience we had on Sunday, Thérèse’s desires, her request, all the ups and downs, the sadness she experienced. The superior knew that Marie, Papa’s oldest daughter, had entered Carmel. He had never seen such a thing and he was very much enthused about our family. He understood this very well, and he him­self—if he had not entered the Brothers when young—believes that he would not have gone, and he thanked God every day for having called him when young (he is fifty years a Brother). He was noting down what Papa was saying about Thérèse, and he offered to speak about her to M. Révérony. But listen to the very end:

Papa stood up to leave and whom did he see enter but M. Révé­rony!… You may judge his surprise and that of the brother. M. Révérony was very much charmed by Papa; he seemed to be re­pentant. He reminded Papa that the Sovereign Pontiff had spo­ken to him particularly, because [M. Révérony] had introduced him by telling the pope that two of his daughters were Carmelites. Papa asked him if he had heard anything regarding the bishop’s decision, and he added: “You know very well that you had prom­ised to help me.” What a good Father! Then he recounted Thé­rèse’s grief at the audience and especially when he had replied that the matter was being examined by the superiors, etc. M. Révérony was touched, I believe, and he is beginning to believe that Thérèse’s vocation is extraordinary. He even said: “Well! I will assist at the ceremony; I’m inviting myself.” Papa told him he would be happy to have him and all sorts of amiable things were exchanged between them. That is what Papa told us this morning—I could not keep this in and I am writing to you immediately. To show you the promptitude with which I am writing this, I hardly waited for Papa to finish and in the office of the hotel I seized a piece of paper and a pen and here I am!….

Are you happy, dear little sisters? Perhaps even before this let­ter, you have some rays of hope, perhaps you even know more good news than we do. I believe we have won M. Révérony’s sym­pathy. Thérèse was so pretty at the feet of the Holy Father. She was kneeling at his feet, her hands joined on the pope’s knees, and her eyes were so pleading! It was beautiful to see her this way, and then I followed, in tears, asking for a blessing for the Carmel. This scene was touching, I assure you.

It could have influenced M. Révérony. So all goes well, what joy! I believe the trials are quite close to being over. . . .

Au revoir my darlings. We must go to dinner.

Your little Céline

Pisa, Hôtel de la Minerve Nice, Beau Rivage Marseille, Grand Hôtel de Marseille, you know the dates.

Letter from Céline to Agnes of Jesus and Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Céline1903-TH-et-LeonXIII_fusain
Thérèse kneels at the feet of Pope Leo XIII, charcoal drawing by Céline Martin | Image credit: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

Quote of the day: 5 November

Whatever the troubles and difficulties that weigh you down, bear them all patiently and keep in mind that these are the things which constitute your cross. Offer your help to the Lord and carry the cross with Him in gladness of heart. There is always something to be endured, and if you refuse one cross, be sure that you will meet with another, and maybe a heavier one. If we trust in God and rely on His help, we shall overcome the allurements of vice. We must never let our efforts flag nor our steps grow weary, but must keep our hearts under steady discipline.

Consider the afflictions and great trials which the holy Fathers endured in the desert. And yet the interior trials they suffered were far more intense than the physical penances they inflicted on their own bodies. One who is never tried acquires little virtue. Accept then whatever God wills to send, for any suffering He permits is entirely for our good.

Blessed Françoise d’Amboise

Foundress of the Carmelite nuns in France
From the Exhortations of Blessed Françoise to her nuns

 

Francoise dAmboise kneeling crowned sepia

Quote of the day: 4 November

Celebration of the Word
in Honor of St. John of the Cross
Homily of St. John Paul II (excerpts)

 


Brothers and sisters: in my own words I wanted to pay a tribute of gratitude to Saint John of the Cross, theologian and mystic, poet and artist, a “heavenly and divine man”— as Saint Teresa of Jesus called him—a friend of the poor and a wise spiritual director of souls. He is the father and spiritual teacher of the entire Teresian Carmel, the forger of that living faith that shines in the most eminent children of Carmel: Thérèse of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Rafael Kalinowski, Edith Stein.

I ask the daughters of John of the Cross, the Discalced Carmelite nuns: may you know how to live the contemplative essence of that pure love that is eminently fruitful for the Church (cf. Spiritual Canticle, 29, 2-3). I recommend to his sons, the Discalced Carmelite friars, faithful guardians of this convent, who operate the Spirituality Center dedicated to the Saint, fidelity to his doctrine and dedication to the spiritual direction of souls, as well as to the study and deepening of spiritual theology.

For all the children of Spain and this noble land of Segovia, as a guarantee of ecclesial revitalization, I leave these beautiful slogans of Saint John of the Cross that have universal appeal: clairvoyance in intelligence to live the faith: “One human thought alone is worth more than the entire world, hence God alone is worthy of it.”(Sayings of light and love, 35). Courage in the will to exercise charity: “where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love” (Letter 26, to M. María de la Encarnación). A solid and enthusiastic faith, that constantly moves us truly to love God and man; because at the end of life, “when evening comes, you will be examined in love” (Sayings of light and love, 60).

 

Segovia_-_Convento_de_los_Carmelitas_Descalzos,_Capilla_de_San_Juan_de_la_Cruz,_Sepulcro_del_santo_1
Tomb of St. John of the Cross | Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons

 

Read the original text of Saint John Paul II’s homily here

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

Quote of the day: 25 October

Teresa is writing a letter. If you could see the faces she’s making while writing you would be delighted. However badly our fortunes go I don’t allow them to tell her anything. Today is January 30.

Saint Teresa of Avila

 


Discalced Carmelite translator, editor, and scholar Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh tells us that this autograph fragment from a letter, presumably written in 1578 to Padre Jerónimo Gracián from Avila, gives us an intimate glimpse inside the tender relationship between Teresa and her niece, ‘Teresita’, Sr. Teresa de Jesús Cepeda.

This is a little scene in which Teresa watches as Teresita, about eleven years old, makes some first attempts at writing. This fact in itself is significant. In 1935, the international literary quarterly Books Abroad invited the famed Ecuadorean writer, Víctor Manuel Rendón, to write an article on Ecuadorean literature. His topic of choice was ‘Women Writers of Ecuador’ and in it, he made a bold claim:

Who was the first woman writer of Ecuador? Teresa de Jesús Cepeda (1566-1610). Her father was a brother of Santa Teresa de Jesús. She was born in Quito but was taken at an early age to Spain and educated in the Carmelite Convent over which her glorious aunt presided. The latter said of her: “She has the disposition of an angel, and is a brilliant conversationalist; she tells stories of the Indians and of the sea better than I could tell them.” All that we have of Teresa de Jesús Cepeda is her letters; but they are written with consummate grace and in the purest Castilian, abounding in profound ideas in which discretion, strength, modesty, and piety vie with one another, like reflections of the divine intellectual gifts of the Saint of Avila.

Discalced Carmelite historian and blogger Father Iván Mora Pernía places Teresita’s date of birth as 25 October 1566, relying upon the research of Teresian biographer Father Salvador de la Virgen del Carmen, OCD.

Father Mora recalls the words of St. Teresa’s brother and Teresita’s father, Lorenzo; when he presented his daughter Teresita to the nuns at the Carmel of St. Joseph in Avila, he reportedly said, “I’m giving you the best gift I brought back from the Indies.”

 

Sister Teresa de Jesús Cepeda (1566-1610), portrait by fray Juan de la Miseria

 

Rendón, V 1935, 'Women Writers of Ecuador', Books Abroad, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 380-382.

 

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.

Quote of the day: 16 October

Edith Stein was a Carmelite even while she was in the world.

In all actuality, for Edith Stein entrance into Carmel was a descent from the height of a distinguished career to the depth of insignificance. Maybe she herself did not perceive this as we see it.

But when she left behind the world at her crossing the threshold of Carmel, did not everything that gave her prominence in that world sink with it and lower her to the level of the humanly commonplace?

She was received into the Cologne Carmel as just another postulant.

Most of the Sisters had not even heard of her before. None of them was aware of her public activities; very few would have been able to follow her if she had tried to introduce them into her own intellectual world.

But no one thought about this—least of all Edith herself. Everyone assumed, quite naturally, that she should undertake the thousand and one little tasks that a postulant has to get used to from the first day. And it was moving to watch the childlike way in which Edith struggled to fall in with the regulations of the house at every point, promptly responding to all requests and trying to accustom herself to this new mode of life.

Sister Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.

Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, Chap. 14

 

Flemish Emblems Humility British Museum AN01132143_001_l
Humility (ootmoedigeyt)
Anonymous Flemish, 17th c.
Engraving on paper, 1685-1686
British Museum
From the Flemish Emblems series, the emblem of humility is exemplified by a nun standing in a room near a bed, holding a ball in her hand and stepping on a crown with her foot.
Photo credit: British Museum Online Collection (Creative Commons)

 

 

Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 6 October

I do not know what is happening. My Master caught hold of me and made me understand that today the Mother and child are beginning a new life, “wholly present to Love, wholly within pure Love.”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 321 to Mother Germaine of Jesus
October (4th or 9th), 1906

 

animals birds dawn giraffe
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 1995, I Have Found God : Complete Works. II, Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, E, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 4 October

The Death of St Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

The day of her death she was unable to speak from early morning; in the evening, the Father who was attending her (Father Anthony of Jesus, one of the two first Discalced Carmelites) told me to go take some nourishment.

But scarcely had I left than the Saint became restless; with an anxious air she looked from one side to the other. The Father asked her if she wished me near her. She answered yes, by signs.

They called me; I hastened back.

As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired, being more dead than the Saint herself; for, as for her, she was so inflamed with love for her Spouse that she sighed for the moment of parting from her body in order to be with Him.

As our Lord is so good and saw how little patience I had to bear this cross, He appeared to me at the foot of the Saint’s bed in all His Majesty, accompanied by His blessed ones who came to seek her soul.

This glorious vision lasted the space of a Credo, giving me time to exchange my pain and grief for a great resignation, to ask pardon of our Lord and say to Him:

“My Lord, even should Your Majesty wish to leave her for my consolation, I would ask you, now that I have witnessed your glory, not to leave her one moment in this exile.”

Scarcely had I uttered these words than she expired, and this blessed soul soared like a dove to enjoy the possession of her God.

 

Death of St Teresa - Madrid San Jorge
Death of St. Teresa
Polychrome wood
Church of San Jorge, Madrid

 


Saint Teresa of Avila died in the arms of her nurse and companion, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, at 9:00 in the evening on the 4th of October in the year 1582 in the Carmel of Alba de Tormes.

But why was St. Teresa in Alba de Tormesnot in Avila? Translator and editor Fr. Kieran Kavanagh explains:

Antonio de Jesús [Heredia], who was acting as vicar provincial while Gracián was in Andalusia, came to Medina with the news that the Mother Foundress must go to Alba de Tormes because of the election of a prioress that was to take place there and because the Duchess of Alba wanted to see her. Still weak from her lingering illness, longing to get back to Avila, Teresa fell into a deep sadness. The vicar provincial’s orders and their effect on the Madre remained fixed in mind. This incident became for the devoted infirmarian a key example of Teresa’s virtue.

In our quote of the day for 3 October, we had read Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s testimony of the exhaustion of Teresa at their arrival in Alba de Tormes. Blessed Anne’s own words provide a resume of the situation: “from Burgos to Alba the route was one chain of sufferings for the saint.”

Father Kavanagh continues the account:

As for the election of a prioress in Alba, it seems there was little that was edifying in the community. No doubt Father Antonio thought Teresa’s presence would inspire better behavior and change some attitudes. In a previous letter, dated August 6, to the founding benefactress, Teresa Layz, Madre Teresa indicated some of the problems of the Alba community and bluntly states her displeasure over the conduct of some of the nuns. She worries that no prioress will want to stay there very long since so many are trying to get out of the office. “If the nuns are what they ought to be,” the Madre writes, “what will it matter to them who the prioress is? But these are childish ways and reveal attachments that are far from being appropriate for discalced nuns, nor are they found in other houses.” This is the community in which Teresa was to end her days.

Father Kavanagh also mentions that another visitor to Our Holy Mother, “perhaps on September 28, was her sister Doña Juana de Ahumada to whom Teresa manifested her desire to move on to Avila. But on September 29 the Madre went to bed never to rise again. She had suffered a hemorrhaging from which it was understood that she would die. Doctors who have studied the remaining descriptions of her last illness believe that the actual cause of Teresa’s death was cancer of the uterus.”

Another medical detail mentioned by Kavanagh:

On October 3, in the morning, the barber-surgeon put the Mother Foundress through the painful ordeal of cupping, a remedy that was prevalent in those times and meant to facilitate the excretion of certain liquids and humors.

For centuries, we have heard the story that her last words were en fin soy hija de la Iglesia… “Finally, I am a daughter of the Church.” But there are more details to share that Carmelite scholars like Father Kieran Kavanaugh can reveal. We will let him tell the rest of the story:

In the testimony given by witnesses, there is a general agreement concerning the themes of the prayers spoken aloud by Teresa on the eve of her death before and after receiving the Eucharist and after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. On the one hand, she revealed her intense feelings of sorrow at being a sinner, repeating pleas for mercy from God. This she did through verses taken from a psalm and spoken in Latin as she had learned them through choral recitation of the prayer of the Church. On the other hand she revealed her awareness of approaching union with Christ her Bridegroom and her urgent longings for that moment. The words denote an active surge of loving energy and searching rather than an attitude of passive waiting. “Now the hour has struck.”

Further, in her thankfulness for being a daughter of the Church, she rejoiced in the thought of her Mother the Church, where she found the deposit of revelation, the norm of faith, the administration of the sacraments, the Christian family; this Church was now to offer her the Blood of Christ, the grace of redemption.

The following day, the feast of St. Francis (the little poor man of Assisi), her face was aglow, and with a crucifix, in her hands, she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day. In the evening, a couple of hours before she died, Padre Antonio told Blessed Ana [Anne of St. Bartholomew] who had been continually at her foundress’s side to go and get something to eat. But Teresa began looking about, and when Antonio asked her if she was looking for Sister Ana, she gestured affirmatively.

When Ana returned, Teresa smiled and with tender love took the humble Sister’s arms and placed her head in them. In this manner, the saintly Madre remained until she died between nine and ten that evening. She was surrounded by all the nuns in the community. Her niece Teresita, Blessed Ana, Padre Antonio de Jesús, and Padre Tomás de la Asención were also present.

After her death, her countenance turned as white as alabaster and being freed of every wrinkle took on an extraordinary beauty. A powerful and pleasing fragrance began to flow from her body and spread through the entire house, indeed as the truths of her profound writings would one day spread through the world. Hers had been a life unexplainable without God and without the grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

When Pope Gregory XIII issued the papal bull Inter Gravissimas in February 1582 to reform the Julian calendar, King Philip II decreed that Spain and all Spanish territories would observe the change in the calendar specified by the Vatican. Therefore, Thursday 4 October on the Julian calendar was followed by Friday 15 October on the newly reformed Gregorian calendar.

 

Death of St Teresa - Cathedral of Almudena
Death of Saint Teresa
Sr. Isabel Guerra, O.Cist. (Spanish, 1947 – )
Oil on canvas
Almudena Cathedral, Madrid 

 

Images of the death of St. Teresa from the churches of Madrid are courtesy of the Iconografía Teresiana pages on the website of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Quote of the day: 1 October

Les Sacristines au jardin (5)
Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, November 1896 | Photo credit: © Office Central de Lisieux / archives-carmel-lisieux.fr

 

Cause of Beatification

Ordinary Process, Diocese of Lisieux
Deposition, Witness 3 (excerpts)

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie Martin)

 

I asked Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to write down what I called “her little way of trust and love,” which she did during her last retreat in September 1896, after having asked our Mother for permission. This letter is now a part of the printed manuscript  (Manuscript B).

After having read these impassioned pages, I told her it was impossible for me to reach such heights.

It was then that she wrote me the letter dated 17th September 1896 (Letter LT 197), in which, amongst other things, she said:

“How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him?. . . My desires of martyrdom are nothing; I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is seeing me loving my littleness and my poverty, and the blind hope that I have in His mercy . . . .That is my only treasure”.

One day when she had prayed to obtain the twofold love of angels and saints, as Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, (cf. 2 Kgs 2:9), she added,

“Jesus, I cannot fathom my request, I would be afraid of being overwhelmed by the weight of my bold desires. My excuse is that I am a child, and children do not reflect on the meaning of their words. However, their parents, once they are placed on a throne and possess immense treasures, do not hesitate to satisfy the desires of the little ones whom they love as much as they love themselves. To please them, they do foolish things, even to the extent of becoming weak for them. Well, I am the Child of the Church and the Church is Queen since she is Your Spouse, O divine King of kings. . . . O Jesus! Why can’t I tell all little souls how unspeakable Your condescension is? I feel that if You found a soul weaker and littler than mine, which is impossible, You would take pleasure in granting it still greater favors, provided it abandoned itself with total confidence to your infinite Mercy”.

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus loved God ardently and thought about Him constantly. One day, I said to her, “How do you manage to always think of God?”

“It’s not difficult,” she replied, “we naturally think of someone we love.”

“So, don’t you ever forget His presence?”

“Oh, no! I don’t think I’ve ever been three minutes without thinking of Him” (Conseils et Souvenirs, search for Oh ! non, je crois bien).

A few weeks before she died, she confided:

“If God were to say to me, ‘If you die right now, you will have very great glory. If you die at eighty, your glory will not be as great, but it will please Me much more,’ then I wouldn’t hesitate to answer, ‘My God, I want to die at eighty, for I’m not seeking my own glory but simply Your pleasure’” (Last Conversations, 16 July).

Recalling her memories of when she was five or six years old, she said:

“I loved God more and more as I grew older. . . I strove to please Jesus in everything I did, and I was very careful never to offend Him” (Ms A, 15v).

In the aforesaid letter written during her last retreat, this passage is also of note:

“Above all, O my beloved Savior, I would shed my blood for You, even to the very last drop. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me within the Carmel’s cloisters. But here again, I feel that my dream is a folly, for I cannot limit myself to desiring one kind of martyrdom. To satisfy me, I would need all of them” etc.

 

THERESE - Marie Therese sacristines

 


Note from the blogger . . .

Whereas the English translation of Sister Marie’s testimony provides written, in-text citations to her many references, we offer our readers the actual links to find the texts on the Archives website itself for the Carmel of Lisieux. Were Sister Marie to submit any portion of her deposition today in electronic format, she might include links to the various resources, also.

It is regrettable that Céline’s wonderful collection of words of advice and counsel that she gathered from her memories of novitiate, and which she later recorded in a volume called Conseils et Souvenirs, has not yet been translated into English. We will make an effort to share tidbits from her recollections in the month of October as time permits.

Quote of the day: 30 September

The Yellow Notebook

30 September

Thursday, the day of her holy death


In the morning, I was with her during the Mass. She didn’t speak a word to me. She was exhausted, gasping for breath; her sufferings, I thought, were indescribable. One moment she joined her hands and looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin.

“Oh! I prayed fervently to her! But it’s the agony, really, without any mixture of consolation.”

I spoke a few words of sympathy and affection and I added that she had edified me very much all through her illness:

“And you, the consolations you’ve given me! Ah! they are very great!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 263
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 263. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 262 and 263 here.

 

All through the day, without a moment’s respite, she remained, we can say without any exaggeration, in veritable torments.

She appeared to be at the end of her strength and nevertheless, to our great surprise, she was able to move, to sit up in her bed.

“You see the strength that I have today! No, I’m not going to die! I still have strength for months, perhaps years!”

“And if God willed it, ” asked Mother Prioress, “would you accept it?”

She began to answer in her agony: “It would really have to be . . .”

But checking herself immediately, she said with a tone of sublime resignation, falling back on her pillows: “I really will it!”

I was able to gather these exclamations, but it is impossible to ex­press the tone in which they were said:

“I no longer believe in death for me. … I believe only in suf­fering. . . . Well, so much the better! . . .” “O my God! . . .” “I love God!”

“O good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid! ” “If this is the agony, what is death?! . . .”

“Ah! my God! . . . Yes, He is very good, I find Him very good. . . .” Looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin: “Oh! you know I’m suffocating!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 264-5
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 264 and 265. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 264 and 265 here.

 

“God is going to aid you, poor little one, and it will soon be all over. “

“Yes, but when?”

“. . . My God, have pity on Your poor little child! Have pity on her!”

To Mother Prioress:

“O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim! …”

“But God is not going to abandon me, I’m sure. . . .”

“He has never abandoned me.”

“Yes, my God, everything that You will, but have pity on me!”

“Little sisters! little sisters! pray for me!”

“My God! my God! You who are so good!”

“Oh, yes, You are good! I know it. . . .”

After Vespers, Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her knees. She looked at it for a moment and said, when Mother Prioress assured her she’d be soon caressing the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus:

“O Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin; I’m a baby who can’t stand anymore! . . . Prepare me for death.”

Mother Prioress told her that since she had always understood humility, her preparation was already made. She reflected a moment and spoke these words humbly:

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart. . . . It seems to me I’m humble.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 266-7
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 266 and 267. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 266 and 267 here.

 

She repeated once more:

“All I wrote about my desires for suffering. Oh! it’s true just the same!”

“And I am not sorry for delivering myself up to Love.”

With insistence:

“Oh! no, I’m not sorry; on the contrary!”

A little later:

“Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! never! never! I cannot explain this except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 268 voir appendice
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 268. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink, the words of Mother Agnès are written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 268 and 269 here.
Note the penciled annotation: “X voir appendice”. This refers to materials that were found later and appended to the yellow notebook. On 28 August 1940 Mother Agnès swore to the authenticity of these newly-discovered words of Thérèse.

 

 

Towards five o ‘clock, I was alone by her side. Her face changed all of a sudden; I understood it was her last agony.

When the community entered the infirmary, she welcomed all the Sisters with a sweet smile. She was holding her Crucifix and looking at it constantly.

For more than two hours, a terrible rattle tore her chest. Her face was blue, her hands purplish, her feet were cold, and she shook in all her members. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. Her difficulties in breathing were always increasing, and in order to breathe she made little in­voluntary cries.

All during this time, so full of agony for us, we heard through the window—it made me suffer very much—the twittering of robins, and other little birds, but this twittering was so strong, so close, and so prolonged! I prayed to God to make them keep silent; this concert pierced my heart, and I feared it would tire out our poor little Thérèse.

At one moment, her mouth seemed to be so dry that Sister Geneviève, thinking to relieve her, placed on her lips a little piece of ice. She accepted it, giving her a smile which I’ll never forget. It was like a last farewell.

At six o’clock, when the Angelus was ringing, she looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin for a long time.

Finally, at a few minutes past seven, Mother Prioress dismissed the community, and she sighed:

“Mother! Isn’t this the agony! . . . Am I not going to die? . . .”

“Oh! I would not want to suffer for a shorter time!”

And looking at her Crucifix, the prioress replied: “Yes, my poor little one, it’s the agony, but God perhaps wills to prolong it for several hours. “

She answered with courage:

“Well . . . All right! . . . All right!”

“Oh! I love Him! …

“My God … I love you! . . .”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 270
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 270. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 270 and 271 here.

 

Suddenly, after having pronounced these words, she fell back, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress had the infirmary bell rung very quickly to call back the community.

“Open all the doors, ” she said at the same time. These words had something solemn about them, and made me think that in heaven God was saying them also to His angels.

The Sisters had time to kneel down around her bed, and they were witnesses to the ecstasy of the little, dying saint. Her face had regained the lily-white complexion it always had in full health; her eyes were fixed above, brilliant with peace and joy. She made certain beautiful movements with her head as though someone had divinely wounded her with an arrow of love, then had withdrawn the arrow to wound her again…

Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a candle to get a closer view of that sublime look. In the light of the candle, there didn’t appear any movement in her eyelids. This ecstasy lasted almost the space of a Credo, and then she gave her last breath.

After her death, she had a heavenly smile. She was ravishingly beautiful. She was holding her Crucifix so tightly that we had to force it from her hands to prepare her for burial. Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I performed this office, along with Sister Aimée of Jesus, and we noticed she didn’t seem any more than twelve or thirteen years old.

Her limbs were supple right up to her burial, on Monday, October 4, 1897.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, r.c.i.

(unworthy Carmelite religious)

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 272
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 272. The commentary of Mother Agnès is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 272 and 273 here.

 


APPENDIX

Words
that I found
in my notes

30 September

 

… All my little desires have been fulfilled… Now this great one (to die of love) should be fulfilled!

In the afternoon:

Ah! I have such strength today!… I’ve got enough for months! And tomorrow, every day, it will still be worse!…

… Oh well! So much the better!

I can’t breathe, I can’t die!…

(Mother Agnès adds in the margin, “she never had oxygen, I believe that it wasn’t popular back then.”)

…I will never know how to die!. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 280 oxygen
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 281. The footnote of Mother Agnès concerning the fact that Thérèse never used oxygen is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 280 and 281 here.

 

… Yes, my God!… Yes! . . . . . . . . . .

… I really want to keep suffering … ………….

Toward 5 o’clock, Mother Marie de Gonzague had the relics of Bl. Théophane and Mother Anne of Jesus brought down, that had been pinned to her curtain on the right-hand side. They brought them to her and she gave them a little caress.

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 289 remarque

 

Important point.

 

When my holy little Thérèse told me 16 July 1897: “You know all the secret places of my soul, you alone…” I am sure that, in her mind, she wasn’t excluding Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart and Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face from that complete knowledge of her soul. Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, to whom she owed the smile of the Blessed Virgin, and who prepared her for her First Communion, to whom we owe even more the marvelous response of her goddaughter the 17th September 1896. Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, her Céline whom she sweetly called “the gentle echo of my soul.”

But she was inspired by the good God to say this to me in a very particular way so that later, because of the authority that would be given to me, one might rely entirely upon that which I would say and write about her.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, c.d.i.

(unworthy Discalced Carmelite nun)

28 August 1940

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 290 signature
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 290. The conclusion of the Appendix added by Mother Agnès containing additional words of St. Thérèse, which Mother found later in her notes. View the complete image of page 290 here.

 


Note from the blogger . . .

We present for our readers an idea of what Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook actually looks like. Neither Father John Clarke’s translation of the Last Conversations that was published by ICS Publications in 1977 (print edition out of stock) nor the same translation that appears on the English pages of the Archives website for the Carmel of Lisieux include these images of the notebook. Only the French version of the website provides photographic images of Pauline Martin’s months of note-taking and bedside companionship.

On the English pages of the Archives website, the Yellow Notebook ends with Mother Agnès’ comment concerning the body remaining supple until 4 October. The Appendix is not included.

The entire Appendixwith photographic imagesis found only on the French version of the Archives website. The translation of the Appendix for 30 September is our own. Thus, we encourage our readers to explore the links in the caption of each photo to see the complete pages of Mother’s Yellow Notebook, or to view the images for the entire month of September here. For further, in-depth analysis of St. Thérèse’s last conversations with her family and community at her bedside, as well as Mother Agnès’ record-keeping in her notebook, you can read an English translation of historian Claude Langlois’ commentary and analysis here. It is subdivided into 16 sections; click next at the bottom of each page or navigate back to the top of his analysis.

sainte petite Thérèse, pray for us!

de l'Enfant Jésus, T 1977, St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, translated from the French by Clarke, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

The English translation of the Appendix is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and proper attribution.

 

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: 14 September

September 14, 1939

Ave Crux, Spes Unica

“Hail, Cross, our only hope!”—this is what the holy church summoned us to exclaim during the time for contemplating the bitter suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. The jubilant exclamation of the Easter Alleluia silenced the serious song of the cross. But the sign of our salvation greeted us amid the time of Easter joy, since we were recalling the discovery of the One who had passed from sight. At the end of the cycle of ecclesiastical feasts, the cross greets us through the heart of the Savior. And now, as the church year draws toward an end, it is raised high before us and is to hold us spellbound until the Easter Alleluia summons us anew to forget the earth for a while and rejoice in the marriage of the Lamb.

Our holy Order has us begin our fast with the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. And it leads us to the foot of the cross to renew our holy vows. The Crucified One looks down on us and asks us whether we are still willing to honor what we promised in an hour of grace. And he certainly has reason to ask.

More than ever the cross is a sign of contradiction. The followers of the Antichrist show it far more dishonor than did the Persians who stole it. They desecrate the images of the cross, and they make every effort to tear the cross out of the hearts of Christians. All too often they have succeeded even with those who, like us, once vowed to bear Christ’s cross after him.

Therefore, the Savior today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open.

If you decide for Christ,
it could cost you your life.
Carefully consider
what you promise.

Taking and renewing vows is a dreadfully serious business. You make a promise to the Lord of heaven and earth. If you are not deadly serious about your will to fulfill it, you fall into the hands of the living God…

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

The world is in flames. The conflagration can also reach our house. But high above all flames towers the cross. They cannot consume it. It is the path from earth to heaven. It will lift one who embraces it in faith, love, and hope into the bosom of the Trinity.

The world is in flames. Are you impelled to put them out? Look at the cross. From the open heart gushes the blood of the Savior. This extinguishes the flames of hell.

Make your heart free by the faithful fulfillment of your vows; then the flood of divine love will be poured into your heart until it overflows and becomes fruitful to all the ends of the earth. Do you hear the groans of the wounded on the battlefields in the west and the east? You are not a physician and not a nurse and cannot bind up the wounds. You are enclosed in a cell and cannot get to them. Do you hear the anguish of the dying? You would like to be a priest and comfort them. Does the lament of the widows and orphans distress you? You would like to be an angel of mercy and help them.

Look at the Crucified. If you are nuptially bound to him by the faithful observance of your holy vows, your being is precious blood. Bound to him, you are omnipresent as he is. You cannot help here or there like the physician, the nurse, the priest. You can be at all fronts, wherever there is grief, in the power of the cross. Your compassionate love takes you everywhere, this love from the divine heart. Its precious blood is poured everywhere—soothing, healing, saving.

The eyes of the Crucified look down on you—asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness? What will you answer him? “Lord, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

 

Jesus on the Cross
Jesus on the Cross, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver Colorado | Thomas Hawk / Flickr

 


We present excerpts from the meditation for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a fervorino that Saint Teresa Benedicta wrote for the prioress to deliver to the nuns of the Carmel of Echt, Holland on 14 September 1939, her first opportunity to renew her vows as a Discalced Carmelite in her new community.

Edith mentions that “our holy Order has us begin our fast with the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.” Here she makes a direct reference to the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert of Jerusalem, No. 16:

You are to fast every day, except Sundays, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from the fast; for necessity overrides every law.

For centuries, Discalced Carmelite nuns have renewed their vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity—the order in which Edith presented the vows in her meditation—on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Although the Discalced Carmelite friars renew their vows and the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order members renew their Promise at Easter or during the Octave of Easter, the 1991 Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelite nuns indicate that they shall renew their profession twice each year:

“In order to give common witness to religious consecration in following Christ, every year the sisters will renew their religious profession during the Easter Vigil or the octave of Easter, and on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, using the formula given in the Ritual. The communities may repeat this renewal on other occasions in order to strengthen their commitment to this way of life.”

No matter what legislation Discalced Carmelites may observe, the essential purpose is clear: “to strengthen their commitment to this way of life.”

 

Thicket Priory 10th anniv GBCarmelites Flickr 48393091826_a41a057804_o
The Discalced Carmelite nuns of Thicket Priory | © Johan Bergström-Allen, British Province of Carmelites / Flickr

 

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

1 September: St. Teresa Margaret Redi

September 1
SAINT TERESA MARGARET REDI OF THE SACRED HEART
Virgin

Memorial

Teresa Margaret belonged to the noble family of Redi, and was born in the Tuscan city of Arezzo in 1747. She entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery at Florence on September 1, 1764. She was granted a special grace of contemplative insight based on Saint John’s phrase God is love, through which she felt called to a hidden life of love and self-sacrifice. She progressed rapidly, fulfilling her vocation through heroic charity toward others. She died in Florence in 1770, aged twenty-three.

From the common of virgins

Office of Readings

Hymn

Come, happy Saint, and teach us all
The boundless love of Christ,
His gifts to you, that for the height
Of sanctity sufficed.

You made Teresa’s teaching yours,
Together with her name,
Determined to become with her
A spirit of pure flame.

Drawn by your Spouse, you lived with Him
A hidden life apart.
Teach us to drink the healing springs
That well up from his heart.

Praise to You, Eternal Father
And to Your Only Son
Who with the Holy Spirit pure
Forever reign as One.

C.M.
Unknown

Second Reading
From the Acts of Canonization of Saint Teresa Margaret

(Decr. “Super tuto” AAS 26 [1934], pp 105-06)

The love of Christ impels us

Brief as it was, Teresa Margaret’s whole life may be regarded as one continual raising up of her guiltless soul to God.

In its innocence, her soul turned spontaneously to God, and seemed able to find rest in him alone. In her, utter purity was joined to profound humility and she genuinely loved to be disregarded and despised. She did not simply bear humiliations, she rejoiced in them. Her purity of heart and her lowliness of spirit earned for her a high degree of charity, and this rapidly increased until her ardor became truly seraphic and she could hardly speak of God without her face becoming suffused with joy. Her love of God went hand in hand with a deep love for her neighbor and especially for sinners, on whose behalf she offered herself unreservedly to God as a victim. Her unassuming kindness and complete self-denial for the sake of her sisters in religion, especially the sick, were such that she was regarded as an angel of charity.

The fires of her love were fed principally by the Eucharist, and she looked forward with longing to her communions. She was also especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion which did much to curb the advances of Jansenism at that time in Tuscany. She was utterly devoted to Our Lady, whom she regarded as the model and protectress of her own virginal purity. She was endowed to a high degree with the gift of contemplative prayer, and daily grew closer to God, as though reflecting the glories of the eternity she was fast approaching.

As her life neared its end this true daughter of the holy Mother Teresa and faithful disciple of Saint John of the Cross was called upon through a mystical martyrdom of the spirit, to resemble her crucified Spouse yet more closely. It was the very intensity of her love which caused this martyrdom; for the more fervent love becomes the more unrelentingly it spurs the soul on to further love, and since no love of ours can match God’s infinite lovableness, such a soul suffers exquisite torments from its insatiable thirst for greater love, and seems to itself to be wrapped in impenetrable darkness and to be totally lacking in love for God. In fact the greater love is, the less it seems to itself to be. It is the soul that is truly nailed to the cross with Christ by this supreme martyrdom of the heart that wins for itself and for others the choicest fruits of redemption.

Such souls by their silent apostolate of suffering, love and prayer, are foremost in the benefits they obtain for mankind and are the purest and most exalted in the whole Church.

Responsory

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

The Lord your God is a consuming fire; a jealous God.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Morning Prayer

Hymn

The life that flowered in Carmel’s shade,
Yielding a fragrant-scented grace,
Is crowned in heaven, a bud of light
Washed in the radiance from God’s face.

Margaret, you blaze with charity
Among those weaving virgin choirs
Who, for reward, follow the Lamb
Singing the love his name inspires.

Help us to catch that same love’s fire
That, lit with the interior flame,
We find our life, our peace, our joy,
All things in Christ and in his name.

Help us deserve the Father’s gifts,
Tasting eternity and heaven
On the unclouded source of joy
From whom alone all gifts are given.

Open our hearts to take the life
Which his renewing Spirit pours,
Life that returns the Father’s love
With the same freedom it restores.

So even on earth we come to know
God’s Trinity by God’s own grace,
Happy, like you, for evermore
To sing his glory and his praise.

L.M.
Text: Bro. John Leonard Davies, O.C.D.

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Prayer

Father,
you enabled Saint Teresa Margaret Redi
to draw untold resources of humility and charity
from the fountainhead, our Savior.
Through her prayers
may we never be separated from the love of Christ.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Evening Prayer

Hymn

Jesu, the Virgins’ Crown, do thou
Accept us, as in prayer we bow;
Born of that woman, whom alone
Virgin and Mother we do own.

Amongst the lilies thou dost feed,
With virgin choirs accompanied;
With glory deck’d, the spotless brides
Whose bridal gifts thy love provides.

They, wheresoe’er thy footsteps bend,
With hymns and praises still attend;
In blessed troops they follow thee,
With dance, and song, and melody.

We pray thee therefore to bestow
Upon our senses here below
Thy grace, that so we may endure
From taint of all corruption pure.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honor, might, and glory be,
From age to age eternally. Amen.

88.88.
Jesu, coróna Vírginum

Canticle of Mary

Ant. As the Father has loved me, I have loved you; remain in my love.

 

Teresa Margaret-Redi
All things count for nothing when it is a matter of acquiring true love of God

 

26 August: St. Teresa of Jesus’ Transverberation

August 26
SAINT TERESA OF JESUS’ TRANSVERBERATION

Memorial for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns
Optional Memorial for all others

“The chief among Teresa’s virtues was the love of God, which our Lord Jesus Christ increased by means of many visions and revelations. He made her his Spouse on one occasion. At other times she saw an angel with a flaming dart piercing her heart. Through these heavenly gifts the flame of divine love in her heart became so strong that, inspired by God, she made the extremely difficult vow of always doing what seemed to her most perfect and most conducive to God’s glory” (Gregory XV in the Bull of Canonization).

Invitatory

Ant. Come let us worship the Lord, Source of all wisdom.

Invitatory psalm, as in the Ordinary

Office of Readings

HYMN

Noonday blaze of virtues rare;
Highest gifts of grace and prayer;
You have lived, in deep repose,
All that faith on us bestows.

Wedded to the Father’s Word,
Word of light, in silence heard
Leaning on the Savior’s breast,
Guided by the Spirit blest.

Blest the mind refined by fire
To receive divine desire,
Wisdom’s secrets in your heart,
Opened by the heavenly dart.

Christ drew you to his embrace
By the fragrance of his grace;
In your teaching we confide,
Trusting you, our heav’n-sent guide.

Truth eternal, One and Three,
May Teresa constantly
Lead us up the mountain’s ways
To the realms of joy and praise.

77.77.
Sr. Margarita of Jesus, O.C.D.

THE SECOND READING

(Red. B, st. 2, no. 2-4, 9,, 12, 8: ed. Kavanaugh-Rodriguez 1979, pp. 596-99)

From the Living Flame of Love by Saint John of the Cross

You have wounded my heart

Moses declares in Deuteronomy, Our Lord God is a consuming fire, that is, a fire of love, which being of infinite power, can inestimably consume and transform into itself the soul it touches. Yet he burns each soul according to its preparation: he will burn one more, another less, and this he does insofar as he desires, and how and when he desires. When he wills to touch somewhat vehemently, the soul’s burning reaches such a high degree of love that it seems to surpass that of all the fires of the world, for he is an infinite fire of love. Because the soul in this case is entirely transformed by the divine flame, it not only feels a cautery, but has become a cautery of blazing fire.

It is a wonderful thing and worth relating that, since this fire of God is so mighty it would consume a thousand worlds more easily than the fire of this earth would burn up a straw, it does not consume and destroy the soul in which it so burns. And it does not afflict it, rather, commensurate with the strength of the love, it divinizes and delights it, burning gently. Since God’s purpose in granting these communications is to exalt the soul, he does not weary and restrict it, but enlarges and delights it, brightens and enriches it. The happy soul that by great fortune reaches this cautery knows all things, tastes all things, does all it wishes, and prospers; no one prevails before it and nothing touches it. This is the soul of which the Apostle speaks: The spiritual one judges all things and he is judged by no one. And again: The spirit searches out all things, unto the deep things of God.

It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the love of God, it will feel that a seraphim is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraphim pierces and cauterizes this soul which, like a red-hot coal, or better, a flame, is already enkindled. For the soul is converted into the immense fire of love.

Few persons have reached these heights. Some have, however, especially those whose virtue and spirit was to be diffused among their children. For God accords to founders, with respect to the first fruits of the spirit, wealth and value commensurate with the greater or lesser following they will have in their doctrine and spirituality.

O happy wound, wrought by one who knows only how to heal! O fortunate and choicest wound; you were made only for delight, and the quality of your affliction is delight and gratification for the wounded soul! You are great, O delightful wound, because he who caused you is great! And your delight is great, because the fire of love is infinite and makes you delightful according to your capacity and greatness. O, then, delightful wound, so much more sublimely delightful the more the cautery touched the intimate center of the substance of the soul, burning all that was burnable in order to give delight to all that could be delighted!

RESPONSORY

The Lord our God is one Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

The Lord your God is a consuming fire.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

 

Flowery border_British Library_medium

 

Morning Prayer

HYMN

The day is dawning with delight,
When, spotless as the dove,
Theresa winged her spirit flight
Afar, to realms of love and light,
In heavenly courts above.

Her ear hath caught the mystic sound,
Oh, come, my sister, spouse!
From Carmel’s summit come, be crowned,
Bride of the Lamb, in bliss profound,
Come plight thy nuptial vows!

O Jesus! Spouse of Virgin choice,
Thy holy name we praise!
While heavenly choirs, too, rejoice,
Their bridal canticle to voice,
And hymn their endless lays.

86.88.6.
Felix dies, qua candidae

Antiphons and psalms of the current weekday.

READING

2 Corinthians 4:5-7

It is not ourselves we preach but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts, that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ. This treasure we possess in earthen vessels, to make it clear that its surpassing power comes from God and not from us.

RESPONSORY

My heart is ever pleading, show me your face.
My heart is ever pleading, show me your face.

I long to gaze upon you, Lord.
Show me your face.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
My heart is ever pleading, show me your face.
CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH

Ant. In my heart, imprisoned in my bones, was the likeness of a burning fire, and I was scarcely able to bear it.

Intercessions

The Lord of glory, Crown of all the Saints, gives us the joy of honoring our Mother, Saint Teresa. Let us praise him, saying:
Glory to you, Lord!

Source of life and holiness, in your saints you show us the infinite marvels of your grace;
in company with Saint Teresa may we sing of your mercies forever.

You want your love to blaze like fire throughout the world;
with Saint Teresa, make us zealous in spreading your charity.

You make friends of your saints, and reveal to them the mysteries of your heart;
bind us to yourself in friendship so close that we may taste the secrets of your love, proclaim your wonders, and draw others to you.

You pronounced blessed the pure of heart, and promised that they should see you;
purify our sight, so that we may see you in everyone and be faithful to you in all things.

You resist the proud and give wisdom to little ones;
make us humble of heart, so that we may receive your wisdom for the sake of the whole Church.

Our Father …

PRAYER

Almighty God,
you filled the heart of Saint Teresa of Avila, our Mother,
with the fire of your love
and gave her strength to undertake difficult tasks
for the honor of your name.
Through her prayers
may the power of your love fill our hearts also
and stir us to ever more generous efforts in your service.

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.

 

Ivy border media

 

Evening Prayer

HYMN

As messenger of the Most high,
Theresa from her home would fly,
Good tidings of the Heavenly King
To heathen lands afar to bring,
Or yield for Christ her gentle life,
In ruddy streams of martyr strife.

But death with sweeter aspect came,
Awaiting her with rapturous claim.
Ecstatic pangs delight her soul,
And, conquered by their strong control,
She falleth, wounded from above
By piercing lance of heavenly love.

Oh, flaming victim! may thy dart
Enkindle every frozen heart,
That upward mounting, one with thine,
They rise, consumed with fire divine.
And may thy pleading safely keep
Thy nations from the burning deep.

All praise unto the Father be,
And to the Son eternally,
With joyful harmony repeat
All praise unto the Paraclete,
The Blessed Trinity adore
With reverent homage evermore.

88.88.88.
Regis superni nuntia

Antiphons and psalms of the current weekday.

READING

Jude 20-21

Beloved, grow strong in your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit. Persevere in God’s love, and welcome the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which leads to life eternal.

RESPONSORY

You are the temple of the living God.
You are the temple of the living God.

And the Spirit of God dwells in you,
the temple of the living God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
You are the temple of the living God.

CANTICLE OF MARY

Ant. My heart will rejoice in your salvation; I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me.

INTERCESSIONS

Christ loved his Church and gave his life for her that she might be holy: let us pray to Christ that his Church may be holy and spotless in all her members:
Lord Jesus, be with your Church.

You are the Head of the Church and the source of all her grace;
keep us all close to you in faith and love, as living members of your Body.

You founded the Church on Peter and the apostles, and through them you teach us the truth and lead us in green pastures;
enlighten and guide those you have placed over your Church, and confirm our faith so that in them we may hear your voice leading us to life.

You choose some to announce the Good News by teaching, baptizing, calling to repentance, and offering in your memory the Eucharistic Sacrifice;
as the harvest is great, and the laborers few, send laborers into your harvest.

You choose some of your friends to follow you more closely in your poverty, your chastity and your obedience, for the building up of the Church;
with Mary as their Mother and teacher, may all religious cling to you and show forth your life within them as they serve the Church.

You made your people one body and one spirit in the unity of faith and baptism;
may all whom you have redeemed preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace.

You died for our redemption and rose so that we could have life;
may all who have died in your love and await the revelation of your glory rejoice at the eternal banquet in the company of your saints.

Our Father …
PRAYER

Almighty God,
you filled the heart of Saint Teresa of Avila, our Mother,
with the fire of your love
and gave her strength to undertake difficult tasks
for the honor of your name.
Through her prayers
may the power of your love fill our hearts also
and stir us to ever more generous efforts in your service.

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.

 

Bernini_ocd-curia-photo
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, 1647-52
Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome (Discalced Carmelite Fathers)
Photo: Curia Generalizia Carmelitani Scalzi

 

 

Learn more about Bernini’s masterpiece on the Khan Academy website

 

Photos of artworks from Quito provided by the Project on the Engraved Sources of Spanish Colonial Art (PESSCA)

Quote of the day: 21 August

The Master has done all things well.

He has chosen a very beautiful part for your daughter by calling her to Carmel. Know that she is happy, with a happiness no one can take away from her, for it is wholly divine…

On the 15th, I entrusted my best wishes to the Blessed Virgin and asked her, in going up to Heaven, to draw the very best from God’s treasures for my Mama.

I also asked her to reveal that sweet secret of union with God that makes us remain with Him through everything: it’s the intimacy of a child with its mother, of the bride with the Bridegroom; that is the life of your Carmelite; union is her brilliant sun, she sees infinite horizons unfold!

When you go to that dear little church, say a prayer for me, remember the time when we came and knelt together before the poor Tabernacle, remember that I am the prisoner of the divine Prisoner and that, close to Him, there is no distance at all. One day in Heaven, we shall be even closer still, since we are separated now for love of Him! 

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 209 to her mother (excerpts)
21 August 1904

 

Atmosphère Spirituelle Antony Pinto Flickr
Atmosphère Spirituelle
D’après “Rosée” d’Hélène Mugot
Musée d’arts sacrés à Dijon
Exposition temporaire ” Une spiritualité au féminin”
Antony Pinto/Flickr

 

Nash, A, and Elizabeth of the Trinity, 1995, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

20 August: Blessed Georg Häfner

August 20
BLESSED GEORG HÄFNER
Priest and Martyr

Memorial, Diocese of Würzburg

Georg Häfner was born in Würzburg in 1900. From the time he was an altar boy, he was very close to the Carmelite nuns in Würzburg, where he joined the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS), taking the name of Aloysius of the Most Blessed Sacrament. He sang his first Mass on 21st April 1924, having been ordained on 13th April of the same year. After having carried out pastoral work in various parishes, on 12th November 1934 he was appointed Pastor of the Oberschwarzach parish; during this period Hitler was coming to power. Häfner soon came into conflict with Hitler’s agents, since he would never use the typical Hitler salute, and always defended the doctrine and rights of the Church. He was arrested on 31st October 1941 and taken to the Dachau concentration camp on 12th December the same year. There, as a faithful priest, he was exposed to all types of torture and injustice, yet always bearing up with a heroic attitude before each humiliation and maltreatment. His letters from Dachau show his deep faith and his capacity to pardon his executioners. One of his last phrases from the concentration camp was: “I do not want to curse anybody, nor take vengeance, I want to be good towards everyone.” Finally, exhausted by illness and, above all, by hunger, he died on 20th August 1942.

Prayer  

Almighty God,
you chose the priest and martyr Blessed George Häfner
as a witness of your mercy
and you accepted his life’s sacrifice in captivity;
through his example may we recognize the love of the Redeemer,
love you and all people,
and forgive our enemies above all.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God for ever and ever.

 

Approbatum Imprimatur
Wurzburg, 1. March 2011
+ Friedhelm Hofmann
Bishop of Wurzburg

Nota bene: Working translation only. Original texts here

 

Georg-Haefner_Dachau-ID-photo-profile-view
Blessed George Häfner’s booking photo taken by the Wurzburg Gestapo | Würzburg Diocese

 

Quote of the day: 3 August

The testimony of Dr. Lenig

 

I met Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, known in the camp as Edith Stein, on the 2nd of August 1942, in the transit camp at Amersfoort, in barracks No. 9, if I am not mistaken.

[Nota Bene: Other sources clarified that Edith and Rosa arrived at Camp Amersfoort on August 3 after processing in Roermond]

On that Sunday all Catholics of Jewish, or partly Jewish, ancestry were arrested by the German hangmen’s helpers as a reprisal for a pastoral letter that had been read from the pulpits of all Dutch churches the previous Sunday. They were taken away and at first assembled at Amersfoort before being deported from there to the gas chambers and crematoria…

 

Amersfoort-Camp-entry
Entrance, Camp Amersfoort | faceme / Flickr

 

When your Sister, together with about three hundred men, women and children had been driven behind the barbed wire fence of the camp, they had to stand for hours on the barrack-square, where they could watch, just as a pleasant welcome, a roll call that had been in progress for two or three days. It was to punish the entire camp, so far as I rememberone of the starving internees who had “stolen” some dry bread that had been thrown away. That is to say, some of them were still standing, the rest had collapsed and were being variously mishandled to get them on their feet again.

Among those still standing I noticed an inflexible opponent of the Third Reich, Ministerial Director Dr. Lazarus, who, like the new arrivals, was a courageous and avowed Catholic. Nor can I forget how the day was one long series of kickings and beatings, although these were tolerable.

More upsetting was the condition of most of the women… It was at this moment that Edith Stein courageously showed her commitment.

It must be mentioned that, to begin with, all were released who had been brought in by mistake, Protestants, Greek (Bulgarian) Orthodox, etc., and then the monotony of camp life set in. Roll calls and nightly deportations.

With diligence, they read the Imitation of Christ that someone had smuggled in; a Trappist faithfully said Holy Mass for themhis six brothers and sisters who had all joined the same Order were with him [the Loeb family], all prepared for transport. Holy Communion was distributed diligently, and despite the harassment by the SS, every one of this flock destined for death steadfastly sang the Confiteor daily, until the last of them had gone their way…

 

Loeb Family Trappists Koningshoeven Abbey website
The martyrs of the Loeb family, Dutch Trappists who were deported from the Netherlands on the same date and in the same transport as Edith and Rosa Stein. Read the Trappist generalate’s tribute to the Loeb family martyrs here. | Photo credit: Koningshoeven Abbey

 

It was also very moving to see the response of this brave flock of believers when they heard that there were priests somewhere in the camp; immediately they gave up some of their meager rations, their tobacco, their money, etc., that were now useless to them but might help the priests to placate their torturers and so hope to experience the day of liberation.


 

Doctor Fritz Lenig  (Friedrich Moritz Levinsohn) was a native of Gelsenkirchen, Germany;  he was a physician, entrepreneur, and a refugee in the Netherlands like Edith, Rosa, and so many others. He had been arrested and was interned at Camp Amersfoort at the same time that the transport arrived carrying the Carmelite Stein sisters and the Trappist Loeb family, as well as the Dominican Sister Judith Mendes Da Costa and other Catholics of Jewish ancestry.

Saint Edith Stein’s first biographerher Cologne novice mistress and prioress Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.indicates that after the war the Sisters in Cologne, Echt, the friars at the Discalced Carmelite General Curia, as well as family and friends of Edith worldwide were anxiously searching for news of the whereabouts of Edith and Rosa. As far as the Order, family, and friends were concerned, the Stein sisters were still considered to be missing persons and everyone held out hope for their return:

“Neither the office of the Father General of the Carmelite Order in Rome, nor the relatives in America, nor the Carmelite convents in either Germany, Holland or Switzerland were able to discover any trace of them.”

An unexpected article published in l’Osservatore Romano at the Vatican in 1947 prompted a new flurry of activity and inquiries. Written in a very authoritative tone, the biographical article entitled “From Judaism to the University and Thence to Carmel” indicated that Edith and her sister were beaten, imprisoned, and then killed “either in a gas chamber or as some think, by being thrown down into a salt-mine.”

Mother Teresia Renata states that the source of the announcement was untraceable. Nevertheless, coming from a publication as authoritative as l’Osservatore Romano, the news item was reprinted in diocesan newspapers around the world despite errors in Sister Teresa Benedicta’s biography.

 

Mother Teresia Renata Posselt - Edith Stein Archiv
Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D. | Edith Stein-Archiv

 

The Cologne Carmelites decided to send a circular letter, as is the custom of Discalced Carmelite nuns; except they decided to distribute thousands of copies across the globe to enlighten, edify, and correct any previous misstatements concerning Edith and Rosa.

As a direct result of the dissemination of that circular letter, the noted German physician, Professor Max Budde from Gelsenkirchen, contacted the nuns in Cologne to tell them that one of his friends from Gelsenkirchen days, Dr. Fritz Lenig was at Camp Amersfoort when Sr. Benedicta and Rosa arrived, but he had been able to escape death.

The nuns in Cologne wasted no time in contacting Dr. Lenig.

The excerpt published here presents the salient points of Dr. Lenig’s response to the inquiry from the Carmel of Cologne concerning the whereabouts of Edith and Rosa, in particular as it pertains to their arrival at Camp Amersfoort on the 3rd of August 1942.

 

Posselt, Teresia Renata. Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite (p. 212). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.

Quote of the day: 2 August

“We went to Mass, and she didnt come back.”

Madame Catez

 

Dijon_Monastere_Carmel_de_Dijon
The former Carmel of Dijon | Photo: Discalced Carmelites

 

On 2 August 1901, the cloister door of the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Dijon opened wide to admit 21-year-old Elizabeth Catez as a postulant. Mother Marie of Jesus, the prioress of Dijon who was also the foundress of the new Carmel of Paray-le-Monial, had desired to take the young postulant with her to the new foundation. Mother Marie had discussed it with Madame Catez toward the end of June, who promised the prioress that she would make the supreme sacrifice and permit her daughter to enter a Carmel in another diocese. Elizabeth, in an attitude of total abandonment to the will of God, was ready to accept all.

Biographer Conrad de Meester, O.C.D. notes that at the beginning of July, Mother Marie of Jesus began to prepare for the new postulant in Paray-le-Monial. Elizabeth would enter on the First Friday in August—August 2nd. The entire month of July was spent with a sense of certitude in the Catez household that Sabeth would be over 100 kilometers from home, not a mere stone’s throw away, not even within earshot as the nuns would sing the Sanctus after Madame Catez would take a brisk walk to morning Mass at the Carmelite monastery.

The postulant’s trousseau was already prepared in Paray-le-Monial when Madame Catez was overcome with regret. She confided in a friend. The friend advised her that she should take up the matter with someone of authority. God writes straight with crooked lines, they say; in this case, the line of authority ran directly from the Sister who was the monastery Portress and an old friend of the Catez family: Sr. Marie of the Trinity.

When Sister Marie learned how distraught Madame Catez had become at the prospect of losing her daughter to the Carmel of Paray-le-Monial, Sister had an idea: to have her own spiritual director, the esteemed Dominican friar Père Vallée, intervene with Mother Marie of Jesus. But first, Sister Marie needed to ascertain Elizabeths own sentiments in the matter. That was simple.

During the Diocesan Inquiry for the process of beatification, Sister Marie of the Trinity explained under oath that when Elizabeth next stopped by the monastery, Sister Marie quizzed her concerning her upcoming postulancy in the Carmel of Paray-le-Monial.

Do you have a special attraction for the city of the Sacred Heart?

No.

Does a foundation there attract you?

I rather doubt it. The peace and silence of an established monastery like Dijon would attract me much more. And the distance would cost my mother. 

Have you talked to Père Vallée about this?

No, I prefer to abandon myself and let the good God guide everything according to his good wishes.

Would you permit me to talk to Father about it?

Oh, yes!

Father de Meester writes that without the intervention of Sister Marie of the Trinity, the portress of Dijon, we would not even be speaking of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity from the Carmel of Dijon; she would be known as Elizabeth from the Carmel of Paray-le-Monial.

De Meester also indicates that when the Dominican Père Vallée learned of the great emotional toll it would take upon Elizabeth’s mother, he urged Madame Catez to speak honestly with Mother Marie about her misgivings and her sincere desire to remain near her beloved daughter. That distance of 140 kilometers between Dijon and Paray-le-Monial could make visits to the monastery difficult and rare.

 

Paray-le-Monial basilique
The 12th c. basilica of Paray-le-Monial. Photo taken from a glass plate negative | Gilles Péris y Saborit / Flickr

 

It was all a last-minute decision. On the 28th or the 29th of July, Madame Catez wrote to Mother Marie of Jesus, who was away at Paray-le-Monial. Father De Meester indicates that the prioress responded immediately and “with humanity and serenity.”

 

Dear Madame,

May the good God give you peace and joy in your great sacrifice. As far as I am concerned, I am happy to be able to contribute by leaving our dear child to [the Carmel of] Dijon and you can consider it as having taken place. I am writing to Dijon that they should prepare her little cell for the 2nd of Augustif I am not there to receive her, our dear Mother sub-prioress Germaine of Jesus and Sister Marie of the Trinityher guardian angelwill be there and I will find her when I return; I am really held back here. So console yourself right now, as well as my dear little Marguerite, Elizabeth will stay in Dijon. I really love Elizabeth because I feel that she loves Our Lord very much and that she will make a true daughter of Saint Teresa; if it is a sacrifice for me to lose her, it is a joy to give her to Dijon, of which I am still a mother and of which I will always be a daughter, the two convents will never be but one. I would like to write to Elizabeth, but I cannot do it tonight and I want to reassure you right away because it is painful for me to sense that you are in such anguish. Fear no moreI believe, dear Madame, that we are doing God’s will, and that’s all there is in this world.

 

MEESTER, Conrad de. Rien moins que Dieu : sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité (French Edition) . edi8. Kindle Edition.
Translations from the French are the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Dedicated to Cristhian, sine qua non.

 

28 July: Blessed John Soreth

July 28
BLESSED JOHN SORETH
Priest

Optional Memorial

John Soreth was born at Caen in Normandy and entered Carmel as a young man. He took a doctorate of theology in Paris and served as regent of studies and provincial of his province. He was prior general from 1451 until his death at Angers in 1471. He restored observance within the Order and promoted its reform, wrote a famous commentary on the Rule, issued new Constitutions in 1462, and promoted the growth of the nuns and the Third Order.

From the Common of Men Saints (Religious), except the following:

Office of Readings

The Second Reading
Ch 4

From the Exhortation on the Carmelite Rule by Blessed John Soreth

Learn from Christ how you should love him

It is from Christ Himself, brother, that you will learn how to love Him. Learn to love Him tenderly, with all your heart; prudently, with all your soul; fervently, with all your strength. Love Him tenderly, so that you will not be seduced away from Him; prudently, so that you will not be open to deception; and fervently, so that downheartedness will not draw you away from God’s love. May the wisdom of Christ seem sweet to you, so that you are not led away by the glory of the world and the pleasures of the flesh. May Christ, Who is the Truth, enlighten you, so that you do not fall prey to the spirit of error and falsehood. May Christ, Who is the Strength of God, fortify you when hardships wear you out.

St. Basil says that we are bound to our benefactors by bonds of affection and duty. But what greater gift or favor could we receive than God Himself? For, He continues, I experience the ineffable love of God–a love more easily felt than described. Since God has planted the seeds of goodness in us, we can be certain that He is awaiting their fruits.

So let the love of Christ kindle your enthusiasm; let His knowledge be your teacher, and His constancy your strength. May your enthusiasm be fervent, balanced in judgment and invincible, and neither lukewarm nor lacking in discretion. Love the Lord your God with all the affection of which your heart is capable; love Him with all the attentiveness and balance of judgement of your soul and reason; love Him with such strength that you will not be afraid to die for love of Him. May the Lord Jesus seem so sweet and tender to your affections that the sweet enticements of the world hold no attraction for you; may His sweetness conquer their sweetness.

May He also be the guiding light of your intellect and the ruler of your reason: then you will not only avoid the deceptions of heresy and save your faith from their ambushes, but you will also avoid too great and indiscreet an enthusiasm in your behavior. God is Wisdom, and He wants to be loved not only fervently, but also wisely; otherwise the spirit of error will easily take advantage of your enthusiasm. If you neglect this advice, that cunning enemy thereby has a most effective means of taking the love of God from your heart by making you progress carelessly and without discretion. Therefore, may your love be strong and persevering, neither giving in to fears nor being worn out by labors.

Not to be led astray by allurements, that’s what it means to love with all one’s heart; not to be deceived by false arguments, that’s the meaning of loving with all one’s soul; not to let your spirit be broken by difficulties, that is to love with all one’s strength.

The Rule goes on to say that you should love your neighbor as yourself. For he who loves God, loves his neighbor too; “for he who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see?”

Responsory

R/. This is the love of God: that we keep His commandments; * and His commandments are not burdensome.
V/. Those who keep His commandments abide in God, and God abides in them; * and His commandments are not burdensome.

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. Be faithful ’til death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Prayer

Lord God,
you willed that Blessed John Soreth
should renew religious life
and establish communities for women
in the Order of Carmel.
May his prayers and merits
help us to be ever more faithful
in following Christ and His Mother.

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

Canticle of Mary

Ant. This faithful man made his city strong and renewed the faith of sinners.

 

Maurice d'Angers
Saint Maurice (detail)
André Robin (French, 15th c.)
Stained glass
Cathedral of Saint-Maurice, Angers
André Robin was the painter in charge of the stained glass windows at the Angers Cathedral, beginning in 1434. The artist’s great attention to detail in his work is clearly seen in the window dedicated to Saint Maurice. The photographer notes that the patron saint “wears a beautiful Italianate French armour of the early 1450s. Note how all the details in its construction have been carefully depicted.”
View the complete photo by Roel Renmans here

 

“We would like to give a voice” — An open letter from Discalced Carmelite and Poor Clare nuns in Italy

Dear Editor of Avvenire, 

We wish to share with you and all the readers of ‘Avvenire’ the open letter which, inspired by the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 23:8): ‘You are all brothers’, we decided to send to President Mattarella and to Prime Minister Conte on 11 July 2019, on the feast of St Benedict.


Dear President of the Italian Republic, 
Dear Prime Minister, 

We are sisters of Poor Clare and Discalced Carmelite monasteries, united by the sole desire to express concern about the spread in Italy of feelings of intolerance, rejection, and violent discrimination against migrants and refugees who are seeking welcome and protection in our lands. It was not possible for us to contact all Italian monastic houses, but we know that we are in communion with those who share our concerns and our own desire for a more humane society. 

With this open letter we would like to give a voice to our migrant brothers and sisters who flee from wars, persecution, and famines, those who face endless and inhumane journeys, suffer humiliation and violence of every kind that no one can possibly deny. The stories of survivors and rescuers, the statistics of international institutions who observe migration, and reports from journalists all clearly demonstrate the increasingly dramatic situation we face. 

We repeat the appeal contained in the Document on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis and by the Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb calling upon ‘leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace’. In particular ‘in the name of orphans, widows, refugees, and exiles from their homes and their countries; of all the victims of wars, persecutions, and injustice; of the weak, of those who live in fear, of prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world’. We too, therefore, dare to beg you: please protect the lives of migrants! 

Through you, we ask that government institutions guarantee their dignity, care for their integration, and protect them from racism and from a mentality that considers them only as an obstacle to national well-being. Please remember that alongside the many problems and difficulties, there are countless examples of migrants who build friendships, enter the world of work and university, create businesses, engage in trade unions and volunteer work. These riches must not be devalued and we should acknowledge and promote their great potential. 

Our simple life as sisters testifies that staying together is challenging and sometimes tiring, but achievable and always constructive. Only the patient art of mutual acceptance can keep us humane and allow us to accept ourselves as we really are.

We are also deeply convinced that it is not naive to believe that developing a strong relationship with everyone who is called to live in our society, can only enrich our history and, in the long term, also develop our economic and social situation. It is actually naive to believe that a civilization that closes its doors is destined for a long and happy future. A society that among other things closes the ports for migrants, which as Pope Francis pointed out, actually ‘opens the doors to the boats that prefer to load sophisticated and expensive weapons’. What seems to be lacking today in many political decisions is a wise reading of the past made up of peoples who have themselves migrated and a foresight capable of perceiving for tomorrow the consequences of today’s choices. 

Many Italian monasteries, belonging to various orders, are questioning how to contribute tangibly to the reception of refugees, alongside diocesan institutions. Some are already offering space and help. And at the same time, we are trying to listen to their experience to understand their suffering and fear. We wish to place ourselves next to all the poor of our country and, now more than ever, to those who come to Italy and see themselves denied the right of every man and every woman: peace and dignity. Many of us have also intimately experienced their tragedies at first hand.

We wish to support those who dedicate time, energy and heart to the defense of refugees and to the fight against all forms of racism, even by simply declaring their opinion. We thank all those who, because of this, are mocked, hindered, and accused. An article of our Italian Constitution (Art. 21) says that everyone has ‘the right to freely express their thoughts with speech, writing and any other means of communication’.

We wish to dissociate ourselves from every form of the Christian faith that does not translate itself into charity and service.

Finally, in communion with the teaching of Pope Francis, and his call for fraternity and solidarity, we wish to follow our consciences as women; we are daughters of God and the sisters of every woman and man on earth, and we wish to publicly express our concern. 

We thank you for the attention with which you have read our appeal. We thank you, President Mattarella, for your continuous calls for peace and your confidence in the dialogue that allows, as you said when we celebrated ‘Republic Day’ on the 2nd of June 2019, ‘to overcome conflicts and promote mutual interest in the international community’.

We thank you, Prime Minister Conte, for your difficult role as mediator and institutional guarantor within the Government. We sincerely thank you for what you are already doing to support peaceful coexistence and a more welcoming society. We assure you of our prayers for you, for those who work in government institutions, for our country, and for Europe, because together we wish to promote what is good for everyone.

Signed

Discalced Carmelite Nuns: Sassuolo, Crotone, Parma, Cividino, Venice, Savona, Monte S. Quirico, Arezzo, Bologna, Piacenza, Legnano, Nuoro. 

Poor Clares: Lovere, Milan, Fanano, Grottaglie, Padua, Montagnana, Mantua, Urbania, Montone, S. Severino Marche, S. Benedetto del Tronto, Vicoforte, Bra, Sant’Agata Feltria, Roasio, Verona, S. Lucia di Serino, Altamura, Otranto, Capri, Leivi, Alcamo, Bologna, Boves, Sassoferrato, Termini Imerese, Chieti, Pollenza, Osimo, Castelbuono, Porto Viro, Bergamo, Rimini, Manduria, Urbino, Bienno, Scigliano, Sarzana, Caltanissetta, Ferrara, San Marino. 

Capuchin Poor Clares: Fiera di Primiero, Naples, Mercatello sul Metauro, Brescia, Citta di Castello. 

 

Original Italian text: https://www.avvenire.it/opinioni/pagine/lettera-claustrali-preghiamo-per-i-migranti-senza-voce

 

Translated by Christian Kendall-Daw, edited for style by the blogger.

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