There was a person to whom I spoke a few days ago who for about fifteen years was kept so busy through obedience with work in occupations and government that in all those years he didn’t remember having had one day for himself, although he tried the best he could to keep a pure conscience and have some periods each day for prayer. His soul in its inclination is one of the most obedient I have seen, and so he communicates this spirit of obedience to all those with whom he deals. The Lord has repaid him well; for he has found that he has, without knowing how, that same precious and desirable liberty of spirit that the perfect have. In it, they find all the happiness that could be wanted in this life, for in desiring nothing they possess all. Nothing on earth do they fear or desire, neither do trials disturb them, nor do consolations move them. In sum, nothing can take away their peace because these souls depend only on God. And since no one can take Him away from them, only the fear of losing Him can cause them pain. Everything else in this world, in their opinion, is as though it were not; it neither contributes anything nor removes anything from their happiness. Oh, happy obedience and happy the resulting distraction that could obtain so much!
This is not the only person, for I have known others of the same sort, whom I had not seen for some, or many, years. In asking them about how they had spent these years, I learned that the years were all spent in the fulfillment of the duties of obedience and charity. On the other hand, I saw such improvement in spiritual things that I was amazed. Well, come now, my daughters, don’t be sad when obedience draws you to involvement in exterior matters. Know that if it is in the kitchen, the Lord walks among the pots and pans helping you both interiorly and exteriorly.
Saint Teresa of Jesus
The Book of the Foundations Chapter 5
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.
After the 8 o’clock Mass, the community, in their white mantles and a large candle in their hands, go up the grand staircase to the chapter room, singing the O gloriosa Virginum (“O glorious Virgin”) to Mary. As a small cell of the Church, the community experiences the profession as a great moment of universal significance, an offering for the universal Church. United in intimacy, it’s also the family that’s going to grow. At the end of the procession, the prioress leads the novice by the hand.
The account of Sister Mary of the Trinity, plainly taken up again in the Memoirs (S 107), introduces us to this supreme act:
“Her profession was still made entirely in faith, but already in peace since her visit with the priest. She tells us that she was taken up by the idea of sacrifice and immolation alone. Especially as she climbed the steps, going up to the chapter room, she was strongly taken, seized by this thought and then told us that she had found her whole state of mind in the day’s reading: ‘Offer your bodies to God as pure, holy and pleasing hosts to God’” (cf. Rom 12:1).
Climbing the stairs reminds Elizabeth of the symbol of the mountain, whether it be Tabor or Calvary—like Abraham going up to the top of the mountain indicated by Yahweh to sacrifice his son Isaac (cf. Gen 22:1-19), like Jesus Christ on his way to the Cross. Each stair-step is a decisive movement towards total self-giving to God, prayer, and sacrifice for the Church.
Upon arriving in the chapter room, the Prioress sits on the left side of the altar. Elizabeth kneels before her. Mother Germaine asks her the same questions as on the day she took the habit. The same answers resound—standard, formulated answers—but with great density, essential expressions of what one is seeking. After Elisabeth has thus sought “the mercy of God, the poverty of the Order and the company of her sisters,” the Prioress reminds her of the demands of the narrow path she is following forever.
Then, with her hands joined in those of the Prioress, Mother Germaine of Jesus, Elizabeth Catez repeated the formula of her profession three times: “I, Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Trinity, make my profession, and I promise chastity, poverty and obedience to God, Our Lord, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” in obedience to the superiors “according to the primitive, unmitigated Rule of the Order of Mount Carmel until death.”
Translator’s Note—In English-speaking Discalced Carmelite monasteries, the formula was: I, Sister N. of N., make my solemn profession and I promise obedience, chastity, and poverty to God, to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, and to you, Rev. Mother Prioress, and to your successors, according to the primitive Rule of the Discalced Carmelites and our Constitutions, until death.
In this very sparse setting, the words resonate…
After the prayers offered by the Prioress, as on the day she took the habit, the newly professed is clothed in her Marian scapular and white mantle to symbolize the new life received from the Risen One. Now she lies on the floor in the form of a cross on the wool carpet decorated with flowers while the community sings the Te Deum. After she has been sprinkled with holy water, a reminder of the water of Baptism, Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity rises, kneels before the Prioress, kisses her hand, embraces her, and goes to kiss all the sisters as they sing Psalm 133, Ecce quam bonum: See how good it will be to live together as true sisters.
She receives her profession crucifix, on the back of which she has had St. Paul’s words engraved in Latin: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). She also receives her copy of the Constitutions of the Order and the Prioress places a crown of flowers on her head, which she wears all day long, she who is Christ’s bride.
During the day’s prayers, she is the one who presides. At meals and evening recreation she sits between the Prioress and the Sub-Prioress, her place in the refectory being adorned with flowers. The community has “license” today to visit each other, but the newly professed remains in silence, in a prayer of gratitude and love, until the joyful and emotional gathering during the evening recreation.
After Compline, the Prioress removes the crown from Elizabeth who will place it in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace in the cloister, the Queen of Heaven, of whom she wants to remain more than ever the daughter, the mystical Spouse of Jesus.
Conrad de Meester, O.C.D.
Rien Moins Que Dieu: Sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité Chap. 22: Chaque jour ma vie d’épouse (excerpt)
We invite our readers to explore the official website of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. Not all of the website is in English, but important information has been translated for the English visitor.
de Meester, C 2017, Rien moins que Dieu : sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité, Presses de la Renaissance, Paris. Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC
Teresian expert Father Kieran Kavanaugh reminds us that “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.”
Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew was constantly at her side throughout those final days. She herself writes, “I did not leave her for a moment. I begged the religious to bring me what was necessary for her. I gave it to her. It was a consolation to her for me to do so.”
On 3 October, her condition worsened; the doctor administered a painful cupping treatment, Father Kavanaugh explains. On 4 October, the feast of St. Francis, Fr. Kavanaugh says that “she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day.”
Poor Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, who had virtually no respite for hours, was ordered by Father Antonio of Jesus (Heredia)—St. John of the Cross’ companion in the first foundation of Discalced Carmelite friars at Duruelo—“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.”
Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew hurried back to St. Teresa’s cell. . .
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.
As the Saint loved me so much, I had begged her to console me, and to ask of our Lord for me perfect liberty of spirit, without attachment for anyone whomsoever. I was naturally affectionate, and I loved the Saint more than anyone could love her, also the other religious whom I saw advanced in perfection and loved by the Saint.
I loved them very much, and sometimes the Saint told me this attachment for friends was not good for my soul, and I must overcome it for my spiritual welfare; but until that hour when God called her to Himself, I had not succeeded.
It was she who obtained this grace for me, for from that time I was free and detached and it seemed to me that I had a yet greater love for the religious, loving them without any mixture of self-love; and, for the rest, it was as if I were alone in the world. I love all my Sisters in God and for God.
I received such strength of soul to prepare the body of the Saint for burial, that I did it with as much calmness as if her death had been a matter of indifference to me.
I wished to remain in that convent, but neither the Superior nor the religious of the Monastery of Avila, to which I belonged, would give their consent. They sent for me in haste. I felt some perplexity of soul. But the Saint appeared to me and said: “My daughter, obey the command given you, and depart!”
From the time of my return to the Convent of Avila, I prayed to the Saint and recommended myself to her. I spoke of this to my confessor. He told me it was wrong to recommend myself to a Saint who was not yet canonized and commanded me not to do it.
That same night whilst asleep, the Saint appeared to me most glorious and resplendent. She said to me: “My child, ask of me anything you wish and I will obtain it for you.”
Awakening, then, I said to her: ‘I ask of you the Spirit of God, that it may always dwell in my soul.”
She disappeared, leaving me in perfect certainty of the opinion I had formed of her sanctity. The command of my confessor, however, did not fail to cause me pain, for he had told me not to pray to her as a Saint. Even had not the signal favors granted her by God, and which proved that He loved her, led me to think her such, the consideration alone of the love with which she had endured for God so many labors, of which I was witness, and in which I had taken some part, would cause me to state as a certainty that she was a real Saint.
From the time in which she appeared to me in such great glory, as I have already narrated, I earnestly desired that her holy body should be brought back to Avila. One day, occupied with this thought, and believing that they feared to remove the holy body because they knew not in what condition they would find it, I fervently begged of our Lord to make this known to me.
Immediately I entered into a spiritual slumber, and angels carried me to the sepulcher; they opened it and showed me the body; it was entire, having the same color as when later they brought it forth from the tomb, and it exhaled the same odor and perfume.
The angels showed me two sleeves on her arms, also entire and in the same condition as when I placed them there. They said: “Are you satisfied? Do you wish anything more?”
I replied yes, that I would be more satisfied if I saw the Saint in her own convent at Avila, but that the Duke of Alba would never consent to it.
They said to me: “Do not make any account of the opposition of the Duke of Alba. It is the king who will decide; this matter depends on him alone.”
The Duke and Duchess of Alba died soon after, and the king, to please his heirs, was unwilling that the holy body should be transferred to Avila. Before this happened, the Order earnestly desired the translation of the holy body from Alba to Avila.
My tender affection for the Saint led me to recommend the affair to God with great fervor. Our Lord said to me: “Do not be troubled; the holy body will return to this house.”
Continuing with importunity, I asked our Lord when this would take place, because I was eager to know. He replied: “It will be on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin.”
There was still almost a year to wait; but on the day fixed the thing was accomplished; they took the body of the Saint from the house at Alba and transferred it to that of Avila.
It was received there with the liveliest transports of joy. The number of lights burning was so great the convent seemed like heaven. The Saint gave a thousand proofs of tenderness towards her children; in whatever part of the convent they might be, she appeared to them and consoled them.
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.
“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, andthey 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!
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.”
Stein, E 2014, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, translated from the German by Stein W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
God desires the least degree of obedience and submissiveness more than all those services you think of rendering him.
Saint John of the Cross Sayings of Light and Love, No. 13
On 10 August 1591 Saint John of the Cross transferred from the friars’ convent in Segovia to the solitude of La Peñuela, where at last he was relieved of all offices in the order; once again he was a humble friar, forgotten, despised, and neglected… as he had always desired.
His superior was the Provincial, Father Antonio de Jesús, with whom he had begun the reform under the guidance of Saint Teresa many years earlier in their humble abode in Duruelo.
Although John was able to pray gloriously in the solitude of rocks and forest, difficulties lay ahead; within weeks he would develop erysipelas, a skin infection on his foot that would lead to septicemia. By December, consumed by penances, trials, and his disease, Saint John of the Cross would be dead.
The Lord walks among
the pots and pans
Saint Teresa of Avila
First, I want to treat, according to my poor understanding, of the substance of perfect prayer.For I have run into some for whom it seems the whole business lies in thinking.If they can keep their minds much occupied in God, even though great effort is exerted, they at once think they are spiritual. If, on the contrary, without being able to avoid it, they become distracted, even if for the sake of good things, they then become disconsolate and think they are lost….
And so I am not treating of this now. But I should like to explain that the soul is not the mind, nor is the will directed by thinking, for this would be very unfortunate.
Hence, the soul’s progress does not lie in thinking much but in loving much.
How does one acquire this love?By being determined to work and to suffer, and to do so when the occasion arises.
It is indeed true that by thinking of what we owe the Lord, of who He is, and what we are, a soul’s determination grows, and that this thinking is very meritorious and appropriate for beginners. But it must be understood that this is true provided that nothing interferes withobedienceorbenefit to one’s neighbor.
When either of these two things presents itself, time is demanded, and also the abandonment of what we so much desire to give God, which, in our opinion, is to be alone thinking of Him and delighting in the delights that He gives us.
To leave aside these delights for either of these other two things is to give delight to Him and do the work for Him, as He Himself said: What you did for one of these little ones you did for Me (Matt 25:45). And in matters touching on obedience, He doesn’t want the soul who truly loves Him to take any other path than the one He did:obediens usque ad mortem (Phil 2:8).
There was a person to whom I spoke a few days ago who for about fifteen years was kept so busy through obedience with work in occupations and government that in all those years he didn’t remember having had one day for himself, although he tried the best he could to keep a pure conscience and have some periods each day for prayer. His soul in its inclination is one of the most obedient I have seen, and so he communicates this spirit of obedience to all those with whom he deals.
The Lord has repaid him well;for he has found that he has, without knowing how, that same precious and desirable liberty of spirit that the perfect have. In it, they find all the happiness that could be wanted in this life, for in desiring nothing they possess all.
Nothing on earth do they fear or desire, neither do trials disturb them, nor do consolations move them. In sum, nothing can take away their peace because these souls depend only on God.
And since no one can take Him away from them, only the fear of losing Him can cause them pain. Everything else in this world, in their opinion, is as though it were not; it neither contributes anything nor removes anything from their happiness. Oh, happy obedience and happy the resulting distraction that could obtain so much!
This is not the only person,for I have known others of the same sort, whom I had not seen for some, or many, years. In asking them about how they had spent these years, I learned that the years were all spent in the fulfillment of the duties of obedience and charity. On the other hand, I saw such improvement in spiritual things that I was amazed.
Well, come now, my daughters, don’t be sad when obedience draws you to involvement in exterior matters. Know that if it is in the kitchen, the Lord walks among the pots and pans helping you both interiorly and exteriorly.
First of all, let none of our subjects, in any case whatsoever, fail to object at least once or twice to that which obedience might demand of him or her. If they raise objections three or four or five times or even more, we will reward them when they appear before us.
Servant of God Father Jerome Gratian Constitutions of the Cerro, or Treatise on Melancholy
Translation of a Work of Jerome Gratian: An Example of Teresian Humor
The book called The Way of Perfection written by Teresa of Jesus, a nun of the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel. This book is intended for the discalced nuns who observe the primitive rule of our Lady of Mount Carmel.
This book deals with the advice and counsel Teresa of Jesus gives to her religious Sisters and daughters who live in the monasteries that, with the help of our Lord and the glorious Virgin Mother of God, our Lady, she founded. These monasteries follow the primitive rule of our Lady of Mount Carmel. She directs her counsel particularly to the Sisters at St. Joseph’s monastery in Avila, which was the first foundation and the place where she was prioress when she wrote this book.
In all that I say in this book I submit to what our Mother the Holy Roman Church holds. If there should be anything contrary to that, it will be due to my not understanding the matter. And so I beg the learned men who will see this work to look it over carefully and to correct any mistake there may be as to what the Church holds, as well as any other mistakes in other matters. If there should be anything good in this work,may it be for the honor and glory of God and the service of His most Blessed Mother, our Lady and Patroness, whose habit I wear despite my being very unworthy to do so.
Saint Teresa of Avila Foreword to the Way of Perfection
In the Church, the Holy Father is infallible in matters of faith and morals. The Holy Father appoints bishops who ordain priests, and approves and establishes religious congregations. Through the pastors of the Church, all of us receive the truth of the faith, and thus there is created a unity between us here present and the Holy Father. And if we obey the pope, we obey the Lord Jesus, according to his own words addressed to Peter and the other apostles: “Whoever hears you, hears me” [Lk 10:16].
Therefore, we have the duty to assist the pope, and if we are unable to do it in other ways, let us help with prayers and good works.
Saint Raphael Kalinowski The Church is Our Home Conference to the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Wadowice Wednesday, 29 March 1893
Wherefore it is imperative for you to strip yourselves completely of every earthly convenience and of all human respect, even though there are but few [who rank] above you. It is imperative, further, that you follow the Vicar of Christ, who holds the place of the glorious apostle Peter; and that you be most obedient to him, just as the other apostles were to Peter, though they were not less anxious for the salvation of peoples and of the human race than was the glorious Peter.
Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi Letter No. 7 to “the most illustrious Cardinals who are assisting the Apostolic See”
Since, O my God, You inspire me to make myself like you in everything, as much as I can, I want particularly to imitate You in those virtues that are so pleasing to Your most loving Heart, namely: humility, meekness, and obedience.
Today we continue the novena to St. Joseph. Joseph is so silent in the Gospels, so ordinary, that it took many years for the Church to give him due importance. St. Joseph is special because he reflects in a unique way the love of the Eternal Father for his only begotten Son.
Reading Luke 2:1-7
1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.
On account of the census, Joseph and Mary had to leave their Nazareth home at a time the child was to be born. A long tedious journey would have certainly caused much trouble and pain to Joseph and Mary.
How should we express our commitment to obedience and compassion in the socio-cultural context in which we live?
Holy Joseph, Man according to the Heart of God you whose heart was afire with ardent charity and whose life was a constant prayer and continual contemplation, direct us in the way of perfection. Obtain for us the grace of which we stand in need, in order to arrive at the sanctity to which we are called particularly, a spirit of prayer, humility, and surrender to God’s will, of which you were the model.
Hymn to St. Joseph
From David’s line came Joseph,
A just and upright man,
Engaged to Virgin Mary,
And startled by God’s plan.
An angel came and told him
What God’s love had in mind;
Obedient, he trusted,
Left all mistrust behind.
With the greatest zeal, therefore, seek those things which draw you to the ardor of my love, such as the precepts of my law, and those things which I urged on you above, namely poverty and the crucifixion of bodily desires, obedience and the renunciation of your own will, continence and the solitude of the desert.
St Peter Thomas The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites, I:7
‘The Blessed Virgin Mary was eternally predestined, in the context of the Incarnation of the divine Word, to be the Mother of God. As decreed by divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving Mother of the divine Redeemer, His associate, uniquely generous, and the Lord’s humble servant. She conceived, bore, and nourished Christ; presented Him to the Father in the Temple; and was united with Him in His suffering as He died on the cross. In a completely unparalleled way she cooperated, by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity, with our Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is Mother to us all in the order of grace’ (Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, 61).
From the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, except the following:
Office of Readings
THE SECOND READING
From the homily of St. Cyril of Alexandria preached at the Council of Ephesus
Our access to the fountainhead of grace is through Mary
Hail Mary, Mother of God, august treasury of the whole world, unquenchable torch, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, temple indestructible, and place of the uncontainable, mother and virgin. Through you is named blessed in the holy gospel He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hail Mary! You contained the uncontainable in your holy virginal womb. Through you the Trinity is glorified; through you is the cross named precious, and adored throughout the whole world; through you heaven exults; through you angels and archangels rejoice; through you demons are put to flight; through you the devil, the tempter, fell from heaven; through you the fallen creature is taken up to heaven; through you the whole created world, gripped in the madness of idolatry, come to a recognition of the truth; through you comes about holy baptism for believers; through you the oil of gladness; through you churches have been founded through the whole world; through you nations are led to repentance.
What need is there to speak at length? Through you the only Son of God shone His light for those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; through you prophets foretold what was to come; through you apostles preach salvation to the nations; through you the dead are raised to life; through you kings reign, through the Holy Trinity.
What man can sing adequately the praise of Mary? She is both virgin and mother! The wonder astounds me. Shall the Builder be forbidden to inhabit the temple He has built? Shall He be despised who chose His handmaid for His mother?
See then, all things rejoice. May it be ours to fear and bow before the unity of the Trinity, to worship and tremble in awe before the indivisible Trinity, as we sing praises of the ever-virgin Mary, that is the holy Church, and of her Son and immaculate spouse; for to Him is glory for ever and ever. Amen.
R/. With confidence let us draw near to the throne of grace, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help. V/. To you do we cry, blessed Virgin, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help.
Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. It is I who give birth to all noble loving and the holy gift of hope. From me comes every grace of faithful observance; from me all promise of life and vigor.
God of eternal wisdom,
in your providence, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary
should bring forth the Author of Grace,
and take part with him
in the mystery of man’s redemption.
May she obtain for us grace in abundance
and bring us to the haven of everlasting salvation.
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.
CANTICLE OF MARY
Ant. Our salvation is in your hands, O Mother; smile upon us, and we shall be happy in our service of the Lord our King.
Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it.
Reading – Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, from her Letters
Yes, my darling, I am praying for you and I keep you in my soul quite close to God, in that little inner sanctuary where I find Him at every hour of the day and night. I’m never alone: my Christ is always there praying in me, and I pray with Him. You grieve me, My Framboise; I can well see that you’re unhappy and I assure you it’s your own fault. Be at peace. I don’t believe you’re crazy yet, just nervous and overexcited, and when you’re like that, you make others suffer too. Ah, if I could teach you the secret of happiness as God has taught it to me. You say I don’t have any worries or sufferings; it’s true that I’m very happy, but if you only knew that a person can be just as happy even when she is crossed. We must always keep our eyes on God. In the beginning, it’s necessary to make an effort when we’re just boiling inside, but quite gently, with patience and God’s help, we get there in the end. Novena Prayer
O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity. There are none that can withstand your power! O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother. Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel, pray for me and obtain my requests! Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!
True happiness is not of this world.
We waste our time looking for it here.
April 14, 1868
Your last letter made me very happy. I was so eager to hear from you, and I still am because I’d like to know how little Jeanne is doing, as well as all of you.
I see you’ve already had many concerns about your dear little girl. But, my dear sister, you mustn’t worry unnecessarily; children always have a few problems. I’m so used to it with mine that I just accept it.
However, I’ve had plenty of reasons to be anxious over the youngest one, who was very sick three weeks ago. The wet nurse arrived, sobbing, to tell me that there was no hope, that he was sick exactly like his little brother. The fear of seeing him die in her home frightened her so much that she wanted to return him to me. The doctor went there right away and saw he had bronchitis. We took care of him as best we could, and now he’s completely cured.
We went to see him today. He smiled at his father and me as if he knew us. I feel so deprived not having him with us, and I’m longing for the moment when he returns, although I already fear the extra problems his return will bring us because we’re so overworked here. If I had three times less work, I’d still have so much that I’d rarely have a free moment. But it’s such sweet work to take care of little children! If I only had that to do, it seems to me I’d be the happiest of women. But it’s quite necessary that their father and I work to earn money for their dowries. Otherwise, when they’re grown, they won’t be very happy with us!
In my last letter, I forgot to thank you for the beautiful box of candy you sent home to us with my father. He gave us a charming account of little Jeanne’s baptism. He was truly impressed.
Everyone here is in good health, but my poor Léonie took a bad fall and has two very large and deep cuts on her forehead. This is the third time she has cut her forehead, and the marks from the first two times are very noticeable. I’m sorry about that. But on the other hand she has the best nature you could imagine. She and Pauline are charming; little Hélène is very cute as well. Marie has a very special and determined nature. She is the prettiest, but I’d like her to be more obedient. When you write to me, don’t mention what I say to you about this child, other than being so gifted. My husband wouldn’t be happy; she’s his favorite!
I hope to receive news from you soon. Will you tell me if the pharmacy is doing well, if my brother still worries and if he’s sad? I’d like you all to be happy, but true happiness is not of this world. We waste our time looking for it here.
RESPONSORY R/. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, V/. So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.
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.
The image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to woman’s natural vocation; her relation to her husband is one of obedience, trust, and participation in his life as she furthers his objective tasks and personality development; to the child she gives true care, encouragement, and formation of his God-given talents; she offers both selfless surrender and a quiet withdrawal when unneeded. All is based on the concept of marriage and motherhood as a vocation from God; it is carried out for God’s sake and under His guidance.