Quote of the day: 7 December

Complete Works

of

ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY

Excerpts from the Foreword by the editor

Father Conrad de Meester, OCD

(1936-2019)


 

We joyfully present to our Christian brothers and sisters the writings of Elizabeth of the Trinity, which appear here for the first time in their entirety.

Doubtless, history will be surprised when it verifies that three-quarters of a century was necessary since the death of this great contemplative on November 9, 1906, for the integral publication of her works to be realized. Her desire to remain “hidden in God” has been well served by the vicissitudes of time!

And it was only pure Chance — a word which since then I gladly write with a capital letter — which led us to consider this edition, happily favored by the coincidence of the centenary of Elizabeth’s birth on July 18, 1880.

Certainly, Elizabeth of the Trinity is already known, perhaps more so abroad than in France. Since 1909 the Souvenirs, her first biography written by her prioress, has experienced a wide diffusion and has been translated many times. One of her prayers O My God, Trinity Whom I Adore is loved and recited almost everywhere in the world. Large extracts from her writings have been published, and Elizabeth has already taken her place among the classic authors of the Experience of God.

But this edition, of which the greater part of the texts has never been published, and which has benefited from ample information, has the good fortune to present to us Elizabeth’s whole personality. Alongside her most sublime features, her lofty praises of the divine Mystery, we hear the rich harmonies of her other keyboard, her whole humanity. The somewhat blurred halo which surrounded Elizabeth like that of a medieval saint gradually comes into focus.

The preparation of this edition has convinced us that, thanks to a much more abundant documentation than we had before, we can avoid limiting Elizabeth’s message in the future. Certainly, we must emphasize her special graces of recollection and prayer, of listening to and understanding the word of God. That is her charism which won for her the love of contemplatives, priests, and theologians. But now the scope of this charism expands wide enough to encompass in its light the smallest events of our daily life, the least encounters with our neighbor, which, like so many sacraments, reveal God’s presence and demonstrate how we are to give ourselves to Love at each moment. The charism of Elizabeth of the Trinity goes so far as to show us that the contemplation of the Word is prolonged in the concrete act of the gift of self. Finally, what makes her so close to us is that she had to seek God in faith, in a life more hidden and more monotonous than our own. And what makes her so different from us is not at all that she was the object of so many graces from God but that she was so terribly logical in her faith in Love present, Love inviting her.

We entrust this integral work on Elizabeth to every friend who is seeking God. It was no little labor but the happiness of the friendship which brought about this edition was doubled by our joy in meeting a prophet of the presence of God, one of the race of saints! We sense in her the Fire of the Spirit. May a spark from this Fire fly into the hearts of many of our brothers and sisters who read this book.

Conrad de Meester, OCD

Conrad de Meester OCD (2)
Father de Meester with his biography of Elizabeth of the Trinity | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 


 

We share with our readers the sad news of the death of Father Conrad de Meester as it was conveyed to the world 6 December 2019 by the Discalced Carmelite General Curia, after having received this notice from the Discalced Carmelite Provincial Superior of Flanders, Father Paul de Bois:

Last night our brother Conrad fell due to thrombosis. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital… where he had more thromboses. Last night our brother met his Savior. I believe that he gave his whole life for the Order and for the Church.

In response to the news, Discalced Carmelite Superior General Saverio Cannistrà, OCD sent the following reply:

Dear Fr. Paul:

Yes, truly Father Conrad worked hard to delve into and make known the riches of our Carmelite saints. He had both theological expertise and an admirable precision in philology and history. The Order owes much to his work as a specialist in spiritual theology and as a disseminator.

We pray for him: may the Lord grant him the reward of a life generously offered to the Order and to the Church.

Fraternally,
Fr. Saverio

With the passing of Father Conrad, a giant among Carmelite scholars has gone to be with the Lord. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

of the Trinity, E 2014, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: General Introduction Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 6 December

In the winter of 1932 we had a celebration for St. Nicholas

 

Edith Stein biographer Sr. Teresia Renata Posselt, OCD—Edith’s former prioress in the Carmel of Cologne—writes of her experiences as a member of the faculty of the German Institute for Scientific Pedagogy at Münster, a position she accepted in early 1932. She resided at the Collegium Marianum in Münster.

Sr. Teresia Renata tells us that she took her meals with the students and made a deep impression on all she met, “basing her way of life, as always, on simplicity. (…) She would be the first in the chapel… her life was all prayer and work.”  (Posselt 2005, p. 102)

One of Edith’s students shared a personal anecdote concerning Nikolaustag, the typical German celebration of the feast day of St. Nicholas that forms a significant part of German culture. Sr. Teresia Renata includes this lovely story in her biography, which testifies to the personal warmth and affection that Edith Stein bore not only for her students but also in later years for her sisters in Carmel.

Her personality had a much stronger effect in a small group. She loved to join in our small parties and celebrations in the house and at the students’ association. In the winter of 1932 we had a celebration for St. Nicholas. After a visit by St. Nicholas, played by one of us, we sat down together in our common room in front of a plate and an innocent glass of punch. She had put a small card of the Immaculate Conception from Beuron beside each plate. It was December 8th. We sang Advent songs, and she was just like one of us. (Posselt 2005, p. 104)

 

Immaculate Conception Beuron_Abteikirche_Vorhalle_2
St. Martin’s Archabbey Church, Beuron, Germany | Andreas Praefcke / Wikimedia 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: 5 December

750th Anniversary

Scapular Catechesis

 

The following catechesis was prepared in the year 2000 under the direction of the North American prior provincials of the Carmelite Order and the Order of Discalced Carmelites as the Carmelite Family prepared to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Brown Scapular. The draft was prepared by Father Sam Anthony Morello, O.C.D. and Father Patrick McMahon, O.Carm. and was then submitted to the Archdiocesan authorities in Washington, D.C. for the imprimatur of the then archbishop, Cardinal James Hickey. After several minor modifications, the Imprimatur was granted. The following is the revised and approved text. It was published as part of The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Catechesis and Ritual. We share the preamble; the full text may be found here and here. The publication of the text for the 750th anniversary follows the 5 December 1994 decision in a joint meeting of the Discalced Carmelite General Definitory and the General Council of the Ancient Observance to prepare a new scapular catechesis that would become a common text for both orders. Today marks the 25th anniversary of that decision, which was significant in the life of the Carmelite family.

 


 

The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is best understood in the context of our Catholic faith. It offers us a rich spiritual tradition that honors Mary as the first and foremost of her Son’s disciples. This scapular is an outward sign of the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our sister, mother, and queen. It offers an effective symbol of Mary’s protection to the Order of Carmel its members, associates, and affiliates as they strive to fulfill their vocation as defined by the Carmelite Rule of Saint Albert: “to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ.”

While Christ alone has redeemed us, the Blessed Virgin Mary has always been seen by Catholics as a loving mother and protector. The Blessed Virgin has shown her patronage over the Order of Carmel from its earliest days. This patronage and protection came to be symbolized in the scapular, the essential part of the Carmelite habit.

Stories and legends abound in Carmelite tradition about the many ways in which the Mother of God has interceded for the Order, especially in critical moments of its history. Most enduring and popular of these traditions, blessed by the Church, concerns Mary’s promise to an early Carmelite, Saint Simon Stock, that anyone who remains faithful to the Carmelite vocation until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance. The Carmelite Order has been anxious to share this patronage and protection with those who are devoted to the Mother of God and so has extended both its habit (the scapular) and affiliation to the larger Church.

Private revelation can neither add to nor detract from the Church’s deposit of faith. Therefore, the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel echoes the promise of Divine Revelation: The one who holds out to the end is the one who will see salvation (Matthew 24:13), and Remain faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a reminder to its wearers of the saving grace which Christ gained upon the cross for all: All you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in him (Galatians 3:27). There is no salvation for anyone other than that won by Christ. The Sacraments mediate this saving grace to the faithful. The sacramentals, including the scapular, do not mediate this saving grace but prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows form the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. (CCC 1670)

We see, therefore, that the Church clearly teaches that all grace, including that of final perseverance, is won for us by the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord. Simply wearing the Brown Scapular does not confer that same result.

 

Scapular Vision Shrine Aylesford gbcarmelite Flickr 7141273775_ba0de9914c_o
Scapular vision shrine (detail) Aylesford Priory, England | gbcarmelite / Flickr

 

Quote of the day: 4 December

The whole city is truly scandalized.

In our quote of the day for 2 December we remembered the anniversary of the abduction of Saint John of the Cross from his chaplain’s quarters at the monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. We read Saint Teresa’s anguished letter to King Philip II wherein she provided the backstory and described the abduction of Saint John and his companion and fellow confessor, Fray Germán. More important, Teresa begged the king to intervene in the affair.

Saint Teresa’s letter was dated 4 December 1577. We recall that she wrote how the Carmelite vicar provincial “is holding these confessors captive in his monastery after having forced his way into their cells and confiscating their papers” (Letter 218).

 

 

2017-08-17 (1)
Saint Edith Stein wrote the Science of the Cross in the final months before her arrest in August 1942. Did a correlation between Saint John of the Cross’ abduction and the arrests of the Jews come to mind? | Photo Credit: Bundesarchiv (Creative Commons)

 

 

Today we turn to Saint Edith Stein’s Science of the Cross to provide us with more details of his abduction; we refer to her introduction, “The Message of the Cross”. Let us recall that scholars differ on the date of the abduction; by Edith’s calculation, the event occurred on the night of December 3 and Teresa wrote to the king on the very next day. Based on this knowledge, Edith recounts the story:

On the night of December 3, 1577, several of the Calced with their accomplices broke into the living quarters of the nuns’ two confessors and took them away as captives. From then on, John was missing. True, Holy Mother learned that the prior, Maldonado, had taken him away. But where he had been taken was not revealed until nine months later when he was freed.

Nine months. During nine months Saint John of the Cross would be exposed to cruel captivity in Toledo, penned up like a political prisoner. For all intents and purposes, John actually was a political prisoner, a prisoner because of the jealous machinations of the prior in the Carmelite friars’ convent in Toledo, Fray Hernando Maldonado. Maldonado: he of whom Saint Teresa wrote to King Philip, “he is more capable than the others of making martyrs.”

 

French Underground inspects blindfold in Paris Yad Vashem photo record 1460_179
After the liberation, a member of the French underground in Paris inspects a blindfold used on prisoners during interrogations | Photo credit: Yad Vashem (Creative Commons)

 

We will let Saint Edith continue the story of Saint John’s abduction:

Blindfolded, he had been brought through a lonely suburb to the monastery of Our Lady in Toledo, the most important Carmelite monastery of the mitigated Rule in Castile. He was interrogated, and because he refused to abandon the Reform he was treated as a rebel. His prison was a narrow room, about 10 feet long and 6 feet wide. Teresa later wrote: “small though he was in stature, he could hardly stand erect in it.”

At this point, the conditions of Saint John of the Cross’ confinement remind us of Saint Teresa’s vision of hell, where she wrote in her autobiography:

The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting a foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway, a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated (Life 32:1).

Here is what Edith has to say about Saint John’s “cramped condition”:

This cell had neither window nor air vent other than a slit high up on the wall. The prisoner had to “stand on the poor-sinner-stool and wait until the sun’s rays were reflected on the wall in order to be able to pray the breviary.” The door was secured by a bolt.

Small wonder that when Saint Teresa wrote on 4 December to King Philip, she remarked, “I would consider the confessors better off if they were held by the Moors, who perhaps would show more compassion.”

 

Dachau Frans de Wit Flickr 14997966451_3b62cd0105_o
Dachau concentration camp | Frans de Wit / Flickr

 

There was a daily routine of psychological and physical torture, as Saint Edith explains:

At first every evening, later three times a week, and finally, only sometimes on Fridays, the prisoner was brought to the refectory where, seated on the floor, he ate his meal—bread and water. He was also given the discipline in the refectory. He knelt, naked to the waist, with bowed head; all the friars passed by him and struck him with the switch. And since he bore everything “with patience and love” he was dubbed “the coward.” Throughout, he was “immovable as a rock” when they commanded him to abandon the Reform, attempting to bribe him by offering to make him a prior. Then he would open his silent lips and assure them that he refused to turn back “no matter if it cost him his life.”

He bore everything with patience and love. How rich were his counsels to Saint Teresa’s nuns in later years! When he exhorted them to practice patience, they understood that he had the bitter life experience to qualify his counsel:

Serve God, my beloved daughters in Christ, following in his footsteps of mortification, in utter patience, in total silence, and with every desire to suffer, becoming executioners of your own satisfactions, mortifying yourselves, if perhaps something remains that must die and something still impedes the inner resurrection of the Spirit who dwells within your souls (Letter 7 to the nuns at Beas, 18 November 1586).

Saint Edith tells us that “the youthful novices who were witness to the humiliations and mistreatment wept out of compassion and said “This is a saint” when they saw his silent patience.”

 

Juan de la Cruz (silence profile pic 22)
Credit: Portal Carmelitano

 

 

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa, 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Stein, E 2002, The Science of the Cross, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 2 December

To the King Don Philip II

Avila, 4 December 1577

The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your majesty, amen. I strongly believe that our Lady has chosen you to protect and help her order. So, I cannot fail to have recourse to you regarding her affairs. For the love of our Lord, I beg you to pardon me for so much boldness.

I am sure your majesty has received news of how the nuns at the Incarnation tried to have me go there, thinking they would have some means to free themselves from the friars, who are certainly a great hindrance to the recollection and religious observance of the nuns. And the friars are entirely at fault for the lack of observance previously present in that house. The nuns are very much mistaken in their desire that I go there, for as long as they are subject to the friars as confessors and visitators, I would be of no helpat least not of any lasting help. I always said this to the Dominican visitator, and he understood it well.

Since God allowed that situation to exist, I tried to provide a remedy and placed a discalced friar in a house next to them, along with a companion friar. He is so great a servant of our Lord that the nuns are truly edified, and this city is amazed by the remarkable amount of good he has done there, and so they consider him a saint, and in my opinion, he is one and has been one all his life.

When the previous nuncio through a long report sent him by the inhabitants of the city was informed of the things that were happening and of the harm that the friars of the cloth were doing, he gave orders under pain of ex-communication that the confessors be restored to their house (for the calced friars had driven them from the city heaping abuse on them and giving much scandal to everyone). And he also ordered that no friar of the cloth under pain of ex-communication go to the Incarnation for business purposes, to say Mass, or hear confessions, but only the discalced friars and secular clergy. As a result, the house was in a good state until the nuncio died. Then the calced friars returnedand so too the disturbancewithout demonstrating the grounds on which they could do so.

And now a friar who came to absolve the nuns caused such a disturbance without any concern for what is reasonable and just that the nuns are deeply afflicted and still bound by the same penalties as before, according to what I have been told. And worst of all he has taken from them their confessors. They say that he has been made vicar provincial, and this must be true because he is more capable than the others of making martyrs. And he is holding these confessors captive in his monastery after having forced his way into their cells and confiscating their papers.

The whole city is truly scandalized. He is not a prelate nor did he show any evidence of the authority on which these things were done, for these confessors are subject to the apostolic commissary. Those friars dared so much, even though this city is so close to where your majesty resides, that it doesn’t seem they fear either justice or God. I feel very sad to see these confessors in the hands of those friars who for some days have been desiring to seize hold of them. I would consider the confessors better off if they were held by the Moors, who perhaps would show more compassion. And this one friar who is so great a servant of God is so weak from all that he has suffered that I fear for his life.

I beg your majesty for the love of our Lord to issue orders for them to set him free at once and that these poor discalced friars not be subjected to so much suffering by the friars of the cloth. The former do no more than suffer and keep silent and gain a great deal. But the people are scandalized by what is being done to them. This past summer in Toledo, without any reason, the same superior took as prisoner Fray Antonio de Jesúsa holy and blessed man, who was the first discalced friar. They go about saying that with orders from Tostado they will destroy them all. May God be blessed! Those who were to be the means of removing offenses against God have become the cause of so many sins. And each day matters will get worse if your majesty does not provide us with some help. Otherwise, I don’t know where things will end up, because we have no other help on earth.

May it please our Lord that for our sakes you live many years. I hope in him that he will grant us this favor. He is so alone, for there are few who look after his honor. All these servants of your majesty’s, and I ask this of him continually.

Dated in St. Joseph’s in Avila, 4 December 1577.

Your majesty’s unworthy servant and subject,

Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite

 


In early December 1577, St. John of the Cross was abducted from his chaplaincy at the monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. Sanjuanist scholars disagree on the exact date.

Translator and editor Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD indicates that “on the night of December 2, 1577, a group of Carmelites, laypeople, and men-at-arms broke into the chaplain’s quarters, seized Fray John, and took him away” (Kavanagh 1991, Introduction).

Saint Edith Stein, for example, writes, “on the night of December 3, 1577, several of the Calced with their accomplices broke into the living quarters of the nuns’ two confessors and took them away as captives” (Stein 2002, Introduction).

Teresianum professor and Sanjuanist authority Father Iain Matthew simply states this about John’s arrest: “On a cold night in early December, his chaplaincy in Avila was raided. The young man was taken away for interrogation and chastisement. Then he disappeared” (Matthew 1995, p. 9)

Whatever the date may have been, nine long months of physical and psychological torture followed with hardships that most would have found unbearable. Yet out of this darkness emerged the most profound and exquisite poetry that John of the Cross ever wrote.

 

Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
You fled like the stag
after wounding me;
I went out calling you, but you were gone.

 

 

Silhouelk Mark Gunn Flickr 27703036162_53bc7c3800_o
Mark Gunn / Flickr

 

 

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Matthew, I 1995,  The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross,  Hodder & Stoughton, London.

 

Stein, E 2002, The Science of the Cross, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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: 29 November

A genuine spirit seeks the distasteful in God rather than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God rather than toward possession. It prefers dryness and affliction to sweet consolation. It knows that this is the significance of following Christ and denying self, that the other method is perhaps a seeking of self in God—something entirely contrary to love.

Saint John of the Cross

Ascent of Mount Carmel
Book II, Chapter 7

 

SONY DSC
Michael Pollack / Flickr

Quote of the day: 28 November

The Foundation of the

Discalced Carmelite Friars

 

Having the permission of these two provincials, I now figured that nothing was lacking. We arranged that Father Fray John of the Cross would go to the house and get it ready so that, in spite of all, it could be lived in. For me, what was most urgent was that the friars begin, for I was very fearful lest some obstacle would come along our path. And this they did. Father Fray Antonio had already gathered some of the things necessary. Insofar as we could, we helped him; although our help amounted to little. He came to Valladolid with great happiness to speak to me and told me what he had collected, which was very little. It was only with clocks that he was well provided, for he had five of them; this greatly amused me. He told me they were meant as a help to follow the daily schedule, which he wanted well fixed; I don’t think he even had any bed yet to sleep in.

Although they had wanted to do a great deal with the house, not much time was required to prepare it because there was no money. When it was ready, Father Fray Antonio happily renounced his priorship and promised to observe the primitive rule. Although he was told to try the new way of life first, he did not want to. He went to his little house with the greatest happiness in the world. Fray John was already there.

Father Fray Antonio has told me that when he first came near the little place he felt a great inner joy, and it seemed to him that he was now through with the world by leaving it all and placing himself in that solitude. Neither of the two found the house unfit; rather, it seemed to them they were living in the midst of great pleasures.

On the First or Second Sunday of Advent (I don’t remember which of these Sundays it was), in the year 1568, the first Mass was said in that little stable of Bethlehem, for it doesn’t seem to me the house was any better.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of the Foundations
Chapter 14, excerpts


It was, in fact, the First Sunday of Advent, 28 November 1568 that the first Mass was offered in the new foundation of Discalced Carmelite friars. When St. Teresa obtained the formal permission from the Carmelite Prior General Giovanni Battista Rossi (Rubeo) in Rome, she exclaimed, ¡Bendito sea Dios que tengo para la fundación de mis descalzos fraile y medio!  (Blessed be God that I have for the foundation of my discalced friars a friar-and-a-half!)

 

Founding Duruelo
St. Teresa visits the foundation at Duruelo | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 27 November

The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Book Two, Chapter 6

The theological virtues perfect the faculties of the soul and produce emptiness and darkness in them.

Excerpts concerning the virtue of hope


We must discuss the method of leading the three faculties (intellect, memory, and will) into this spiritual night, the means to divine union. But we must first explain how the theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity (related to these faculties as their proper supernatural objects), through which the soul is united with God, cause the same emptiness and darkness in their respective faculties: faith in the intellect, hope in the memory, and charity in the will. Then we shall explain how in order to journey to God the intellect must be perfected in the darkness of faith, the memory in the emptiness of hope, and the will in the nakedness and absence of every affection.

As a result it will be seen how necessary it is for the soul, if it is to walk securely, to journey through this dark night with the support of these three virtues. They darken and empty it of all things. As we said, the soul is not united with God in this life through understanding, or through enjoyment, or through imagination, or through any other sense; but only faith, hope, and charity (according to the intellect, memory, and will) can unite the soul with God in this life.

These virtues, as we said, void the faculties: Faith causes darkness and a void of understanding in the intellect, hope begets an emptiness of possessions in the memory, and charity produces the nakedness and emptiness of affection and joy in all that is not God.

Hope, also, undoubtedly puts the memory in darkness and emptiness as regards all earthly and heavenly objects. Hope always pertains to the unpossessed object. If something were possessed there could no longer be hope for it. St. Paul says ad Romanos: Spes quae videtur, non est spes; nam quod videt quis, quid sperat? (Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?) [Rom 8:24]. As a result this virtue also occasions emptiness, since it is concerned with unpossessed things and not with the possessed object.

In the sixth chapter of Isaiah we read that the prophet saw a seraph at each side of God, and that they each had six wings: with two wings they covered their feet, which signified the blinding and quenching of the affections of the will for God; with two they covered their faces, which signified the darkness of the intellect in God’s presence; and with the two remaining wings they flew, so as to indicate the flight of hope toward things that are not possessed, an elevation above everything outside of God that can be possessed, earthly or heavenly [Is. 6:2].

Saint John of the Cross

 

Seraphim VASNETSOV
Серафим, Виктор Михайлович Васнецов (1896)

 

 

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 26 November

Saint Raphael Kalinowski’s last and longest stage of life is the thirty years (1877-1907) he lived in the Carmelite monastery. Consenting to the voice that called him to Carmel, Joseph Kalinowski entered formation, ready to work for God within the Church after decades of service as an engineer, military officer, prisoner of war in Siberia, professor and tutor.

On November 26, 1877, he went to Graz, Austria and was clothed in the habit of the Order, receiving at the same time his religious name: Raphael of Saint Joseph.

How did Kalinowski come to know Carmel? We turn to Father Szczepan T. Praskiewicz, OCD, for the details, referring in particular to his biography, “Raffaele Kalinowski: Tappe Fondamentali di una Vita ed Elementi di Spiritualità”, which was translated and edited as part of the book, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, published by the Discalced Carmelite friars’ Washington Province, ICS Publications. A scholar who has served on the faculty of the Discalced Carmelites’ International Theological College in Rome, the general curia of the order, as well as completing three terms as a consultant to the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints in Rome, Father Szczepan’s years of formation in the traces of Saint Raphael of St. Joseph add a unique perspective to his rigorous standards as a scholar. Fr. Praskiewicz’s 1990 biography of Kalinowski, which was translated from the Italian, edited, and published by the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Saint’s vocation.

Linz convent church
Karmelitenkonvent Linz | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

In his Memoirs Saint Raphael tells us that early on during his exile in Siberia he happened upon a copy of a book written by Piotr Skarga, The Lives of the Saints:

That opened up many horizons for me. There I discovered a note on the Order of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and its rapid diffusion in the West. It occured to me that precisely this Order should be able to bring the schismatics back to the Church of Rome. Guided in a marvelous way by Providence, I entered this Order ten years later.

As with every vocation story, there were many graced encounters that guided his steps along the way.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski had wanted to find a way to become a Carmelite friar, which is why he became a tutor to Gucio, the young son of the noble Czartoryski family residing in Paris. But in God’s providence and unbeknownst to Saint Raphael, one of his pupil’s aunts was a Discalced Carmelite nun in the Carmel of Krakow.

In true Teresian spirit, this aunt, Sr. Mary Xavier of Jesus was seeking young men to renew Carmelite life in Poland. When the Saint accompanied his young pupil on a trip from Paris to visit his aunt at the monastery in Krakow, Kalinowski made a profound impression upon the nun; but it was the Holy Spirit that spoke to her spirit, impressing upon her the fact that her nephew’s tutor was sent by Divine Providence.

Without saying a word, Sr. Mary Xavier of Jesus began a prayer crusade for the family tutor and his vocation to the Discalced Carmelites; further, she began to correspond with him.

Saint Raphael explained what had happened in a letter to his family back home in Vilnius, Lithuania:

I have a sign of the mercy and goodness of the Lord, which brought me hope and consolation through people consecrated to him. Gucio’s aunt, the Reverend Sister Mary Xavier of Jesus… whom I met only once at the grilles and who hardly knows me, only a few days ago—exactly when I least expected it—sent me the following poem of the seraphic Saint Teresa: Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you…

TERESA - NADA TE TURBE Polish
Nada te turbe in the current Polish translation

Fr. Praskiewicz tells us that St. Teresa’s famous Nada te turbe became Kalinowski’s motto. Soon after he received Sr. Mary Xavier’s letter, he wrote to his parents:

Each day I take strength from Saint Teresa’s words about which I wrote to you, my dear parents, in my last letter.

In the end, these very words were the source of divine inspiration that induced him to join the sons of St. Teresa, the Discalced Carmelite friars. He wrote to his parents on 4 November 1876:

A year ago there came to me, like an echo, a voice from the grilles of Carmel. This voice was clearly addressed to me and I have accepted it; it was a salvific voice from the infinite mercy of God commanding me. I can only exclaim, ‘I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever.’ The only thing that now remains for me to do is to ask your parental blessing.”

Kalinowski attended to the details, the housekeeping of his life as anyone aspiring to enter religious life would do: prepare to leave a job, a home, to travel and pray. On 5 July 1877, he left the Czartoryski family in Paris and traveled to Linz, Austria to meet the Discalced Carmelite provincial superior.

God rewarded Kalinowski for the steadfast pursuit of his vocation at such a mature age—Raphael of St. Joseph was 42 years old when he received the holy habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Karmelitenkloster_Graz_Heiliger_Joseph
A statue of Saint Joseph in the Maria Schnee convent of the Discalced Carmelite friars in Graz, where St. Raphael Kalinowski entered the novitiate | Eigenes Werk / Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Praskiewicz OCD, S 1998, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, Translated from the Italian by Coonan, T, Griffin OCD, M and Sullivan OCD, L, ICS Publications, Washington, D.C.

Quote of the day: 25 November

CEREMONY OF BEATIFICATION

JOSÉ MANYANET Y VIVES

DANIEL BROTTIER

ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY

HOMILY OF ST. JOHN PAUL II
excerpts

St. Peter’s Basilica
Sunday 25 November 1984

 

Almost a contemporary of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Elizabeth of the Trinity had a profound experience of the presence of God, which she matured in a remarkable manner in just a few years of life in Carmel.

In her, we acknowledge a being who is filled with natural gifts: she was intelligent and sensitive, an accomplished pianist, appreciated by her friends, and delicate in the affection she bore toward her family. Here she blossomed in the silence of contemplation, beaming from the happiness of a total forgetfulness of self; without reserve, she welcomed the gift of God, the grace of baptism and reconciliation; she admirably received the eucharistic presence of Christ. To an exceptional degree, she is aware of the communion offered to every creature by the Lord.

Today we dare to introduce to the world this cloistered religious who led a “life hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3) because she is a witness who is bursting with the joy that is rooted and grounded in love (cf. Eph 3:17).

She celebrates the splendor of God because she knows that in her innermost self she is inhabited by the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in whom she recognizes the reality of love that is infinitely living.

Elizabeth herself also knew physical and moral suffering. United to Christ crucified, she offered herself totally, completing in her flesh the Passion of the Lord (cf. Col 1:24), always assured of being loved and of being able to love. In peace, she donates the gift of her wounded life.

To our disoriented humanity that no longer knows how to find God or that disfigures Him, that seeks out some word on which to build its hope, Elizabeth gives the witness of a perfect opening to the Word of God, which she assimilated to the point of truly making it the nourishment of her reflection and prayer, to the point of finding therein all her reasons to live and to consecrate herself to the praise of His glory.

And this contemplative, far from isolating herself, knew how to communicate the wealth of her mystical experience to her sisters and to those close to her. Her message spreads today with a prophetic power.

We call upon her: disciple of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, may she inspire and sustain all the family of Carmel; may she help many men and women, in the lay or consecrated life, to receive and share the “streams of infinity charity” that she collected “at the fountain of life” (Letter 191).

 

Beatification-banner large
Banner commissioned for the beatification of Elizabeth of the Trinity, 25 November 1984 | Credit: Discalced Carmelite Order (used by permission)

 

 

Read the full text of Saint John Paul II’s homily in French here and in Italian here.

 

Translations from the French are the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission. Dedicated to the Benedictines of the former St. Pius X Abbey at Pevely, Missouri sine qua non.

 

Quote of the day: 24 November

I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life, Chap. 1

 


On 24 November 1528 Doña Beatriz Dávila Ahumada y de las Cuevas—better known as Doña Beatriz de Ahumada—made her last will and testament. Scholars such as Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Joseph Pérez indicate that it is believed she expired soon after she made and signed her will, dying in her palace at Gotarrendura, Avila. From there, her body was taken to the city with all due ceremony where she received a burial with honors in the Church of San Juan in Avila.

Spanish Wikipedia editor CrisDC has done a fine job creating and editing a small biography for Doña Beatriz drawing upon the research of Pérez and others, as well as consulting the Cepeda genealogy.

Father Kavanaugh discusses the “image of our Lady” in his notes to St. Teresa’s Life:

According to an old tradition, she is referring to a statue of Our Lady of Charity that was venerated in the hermitage of St. Lazarus, outside the walls of the city, near the river Adaja. After the destruction of the hermitage in the nineteenth century, the statue was moved to the cathedral where it is venerated today.

This statue of Our Lady of Charity is found in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Capilla de la virgen de la piedad o de los dolores) in the Cathedral of Avila. You can learn more about the chapel here on the cathedral website and see a better photo of the chapel here on Wikimedia Commons, which includes the statue of Our Lady of Charity.

Finally, thanks to Flickr members javiolano for sharing his photo of the stunning autumn colors along Camino Río Arbillas in Avila in November 2016 and to juanobe for his photo of the famous “image of our Lady” who received the tears of a grief-stricken child named Teresa.

 

Virgen de la Caridad Cathedral of Avila Juan NOLLA BENAGES Flickr 6037499941_a7cf838ff2_o
Virgen de la Caridad, Cathedral of Avila | juanobe / Flickr

 

 

Kieran Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O, and Teresa 1976, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 23 November

Didn’t the Virgin Mary always live in continuous prayer, in silence, and in forgetfulness of earthly things? How can souls be saved?

They can be saved through petition, prayer, and sacrifice.

Jesus Christ made Magdalene understand that the contemplative life is the best part she could have chosen. Yes, in Carmel we begin to do what we will be doing for all eternity: loving and singing the Lord’s praises.

If this is what we will be doing in heaven, isn’t this the most perfect thing we could be doing now?

Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes

Letter 40 (excerpts)

 

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A403
The statue of the Virgin of Carmel is the central focus of the Votive Church of Maipú Chilethe Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmelwhich was consecrated 23 November 1974 | Carlos Carvacho / Flickr

 

In his message for the consecration of the Votive Church of Maipú, St. Paul VI wrote:

An authentic devotion to Mary will, therefore, bring as a natural fruit for you, the people of Chile, and for all who on this memorable date participate in your Marian fervor, a growing commitment to serve the Gospel with a true desire to bring the message of salvation to all men and to build together the kingdom of God among those who have been liberated in Christ. In this way, “while the Mother is honored, the Son. . . will be rightly known, loved and glorified.”

Read the full text of St. Paul VI’s message in the original Spanish here.

 

Templo Maipú from Erwin Olmos on Vimeo.

 

 

of the Andes, T 2003, The Writings of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes: An Abridgement, translated from the Spanish by Father Michael D. Griffin, OCD, New Life Publishing Company,

Quote of the day: 22 November

Think what must have been in the soul of the Virgin when, after the Incarnation, she possessed within her the Incarnate Word, the Gift of God… in what silence, what recollection, what adoration she must have been wrapped in the depth of her soul in order to embrace this God whose mother she was.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

22 November 1903

 

Margetson, William Henry, 1861-1940; Mary at the Loom
Mary at the Loom
William Henry Margetson (British, 1861–1940)
Oil on canvas, 1895
Victoria Art Gallery

Quote of the day: 21 November

The vow of chastity intends to release human beings from all the bonds of natural common life, to fasten them to the cross high above all the bustle, and to free their hearts for union with the Crucified. This sacrifice, too, is not accomplished once and for all.

Of course, one is cut off, externally, from occasions that can become temptations outside but often much that distracts the spirit and the heart, robbing them of their freedom, cleaves to the memory and fantasy. Besides, there is also a danger that new ties establish themselves within the protective cloister walls and hinder full union with the Divine Heart.

When we enter the Order, we again become members of a family. We are to see and respect, as head and members of the Mystical Body of Christ, our superiors and the other sisters. But we are human, and something all too human can easily become mingled with holy, childlike, and sisterly love. We believe we see Christ in the people we look up to and fail to notice that we attach ourselves to them humanly and are in danger of losing sight of Christ.

But human attraction is not the only cloud on purity of heart. Too little love is a worse offense against the Divine Heart than too much. Every aversion, any anger and resentment we tolerate in our hearts closes the door to the Savior. Involuntary stirrings naturally arise through no fault of our own, but as soon as we become aware of them, we must relentlessly oppose them. Otherwise, we resist God who is love and do the devil’s work.

The song sung by the virgins attending the Lamb is surely one of purest love.

Saint Edith Stein

The Marriage of the Lamb
For September 14, 1940

 

JOSE-MARIA MORENO GARCIA
Clothing day at the Carmel of Consuegra (Toledo), founded in 1597 | José-María Moreno García / Flickr

 

 

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

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: 19 November

Jesus, hope of suffering humanity, our refuge and our strength, whose light pierces the black clouds that hang over our stormy sea, enlighten our eyes so that we can direct ourselves toward you who are our harbor. Guide our bark with the rudder of the nails of your cross, lest we drown in the storm. With the arms of this cross rescue us from the turbulent waters and draw us to yourself, our only repose, Morning Star, Sun of Justice, for with our eyes obscured by tears, we can catch a glimpse of you there, on the shores of our heavenly homeland. Redeemed by you, we pray: Salvos nos fac propter nomen tuum—“save us for the sake of your holy name” (St. Augustine).

And all this through Mary.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski

Conference, “On a Good Confession”
Carmel of Leopoli, 24 November 1902

 

Cruising Glacier Bay Kevin Harber Flickr 3606935413_83cb59dc7f_o
Glacier Bay, Alaska | Kevin Harber / Flickr

 

 

Praskiewicz OCD, S 2016, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 18 November

Because of the work that I am doing, I live almost constantly immersed in thoughts about our Holy Father John. That is a great grace.

Saint Edith Stein

18 November 1941
Letter to Mother Johanna van Weersth
Carmel of Beek

 

Juan_writing
Image credit: Discalced Carmelites

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