Quote of the day: 12 August

You were a man of heroic faith, Isidore Bakanja, a young layman from the Congo. As a baptized person called to spread the Good News, you knew how to share your faith and bore witness to Christ with so much conviction that, to your companions, you appeared to be one of those valiant lay faithful who are catechists. Yes, Blessed Isidore, completely faithful to the promises of your baptism, you really were a catechist, you worked generously for “the Church in Africa and its evangelizing mission”.

Isidore, your participation in the paschal mystery of Christ, in the supreme work of his love, was total. Because you wanted to remain faithful at all costs to the faith of your baptism, you suffered scourging like your Master. You forgave your persecutors like your Master on the Cross and you showed yourself to be a peacemaker and reconciler.

In an Africa painfully tested by struggles between ethnic groups, your luminous example is an invitation to harmony and to the rapprochement between the children of the same heavenly Father. You practiced fraternal charity towards all, without distinction of race or social condition; you earned the esteem and respect of your companions, many of whom were not Christians. In this way, you show us the path of dialogue necessary among men.

In this Advent of preparation for the third millennium, you invite us to accept, following your example, the gift that Jesus made of his own Mother on the Cross (cf. Jn 19:27). Dressed in the “habit of Mary”, like her and with her, you continued your pilgrimage of faith; like Jesus the Good Shepherd, you came to give your life for your sheep. Help us who have to walk the same path to turn our eyes toward Mary and take her as a guide.

Saint John Paul II
Homily, 24 April 1994
Eucharistic Concelebration for the Beatification of Isidore Bakanja


Isidore Bakanja worked as an assistant mason for white colonists in what was then the Belgian Congo and now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was a convert, baptized 6 May 1906 at age 18 after receiving instruction from Trappist missionaries. Rosary in hand, he used any chance to share his faith; though untrained, many thought of him as a catechist. He left his native village because there were no fellow Christians.

He found work as a domestic on a Belgian rubber plantation. Many of the Belgian agents were atheists who hated missionaries due to their fight for native rights and justice; the agents used the term “mon père”the formal term used to address a priestfor anyone associated with religion.

Isidore encountered their hatred when he asked for leave to go home. The agents refused, and he was ordered to stop teaching fellow workers how to pray: “You’ll have the whole village praying and no one will work!”

He was told to discard his Carmelite scapular, and when he didn’t, he was flogged twice. The second time the agent tore the scapular from Isidore’s neck, had him pinned to the ground, and then beaten with over 100 blows with a whip of elephant hide with nails on the end. He was then chained to a single spot 24 hours a day.

When an inspector came to the plantation, Isidore was sent to another village. He managed to hide in the forest, then dragged himself to the inspector. This was the inspector’s report:

“I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me – he wasn’t walking; he was dragging himself”.

The agent tried to kill “that animal of mon père”, but the inspector prevented him. He took Isidore home to heal, but Isidore knew better.

“If you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet a priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian.”

Two missionaries who spent several days with him reported that he devoutly received the last sacraments. The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he already had.

“I shall pray for him.
When I am in heaven,
I shall pray for him very much.”

After six months of prayer and suffering, he died, rosary in hand and scapular around his neck. [Source: ocarm.org]

 

Hans Beeckman, Royal Museum for Central Africa wood biology expert, in Yangambi - DRC.
Hans Beeckman, Royal Museum for Central Africa wood biology expert, in Yangambi – Democratic Republic of the Congo | Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR | cifor / Flickr | Learn more about forest conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the work of CIFOR, the Center for International Forestry Research at cifor.org

 

Marie du jour: 15 May

During the month of May, the refugees assembled for the daily prayers in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The scholarly journal Teresianum in 1990 published an account by noted Discalced Carmelite historian Father Elias Friedman, O.C.D. concerning the Discalced Carmelite friars’ charitable efforts to shelter refugees at Stella Maris monastery during the armed conflict in Haifa in the year 1948.

A bit of background: Fr. Elias reminds his readers that at the end of 1947 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution “recommending the partition of Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a corpus separatum for Jerusalem,” Jews and Arabs in the region “jostled for position in view of the approaching termination of the British Mandate.” Bloody violence ensued.

Injured Palestinians lying on cots waiting to be evacuated in Haifa_LIFE 1948
Injured Palestinians lying on cots waiting to be evacuated in Haifa | The Palestine Project / Medium

Photos from the LIFE magazine archives illustrate Fr. Elias Friedman’s documentation. Father Elias carefully noted that in 1944 the population of Haifa was 128,000, with a fair balance of Jews, Christians, and Muslims (52% Jewish); the Discalced Carmelite Fathers’ parish in the city of Haifa, Saint Joseph Church, had a membership of roughly 4000 families. After the violence broke out in 1948, “of a total population of 98,284, Jews numbered 94,718.” Saint Joseph’s parish experienced a dramatic drop in membership: in 1948, there were only about 500 families that remained. When Fr. Elias published his article in 1990, he noted that the membership had “risen slowly, so that at the time of writing, the number of parishioners stands at +/-1,500.” Haifa’s Christian population suffered immensely in 1948.

Beginning in January 1948, Catholics in Haifa began to seek secure shelter at the Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, now known as Stella Maris, on the promontory of Mount Carmel at Haifa.

THE_STELLA_MARIS_MONASTERY_ON_THE_FRENCH_CARMEL_IN_HAIFA._מנזר__סטלה_מאריס__על_הכרמל_הצרפתי_בחיפה.D397-105_1934
THE STELLA MARIS MONASTERY ON THE FRENCH CARMEL IN HAIFA. 
מנזר “סטלה מאריס” על הכרמל הצרפתי בחיפה.
Date: 01/07/1934
Source National Photo Collection of Israel, Photography Dept. Government Press Office,
under the digital ID D397-105
Photographer: Zoltan Kluger (1896-1977)

Four religious from the Christian Brothers school were the first Catholics who came to the friars asking for a place to stay. “Soon they were followed by Arab families, desperately in search of shelter.” At one point, the number of refugees at the Carmelite monastery across from the lighthouse reached a total of 521.

British soldier sitting guard on a rooftop Haifa_Dmitri Kessel_LIFE 1948
British soldier sitting guard on a rooftop, Port of Haifa, 1948. | Dmitri Kessel, photographer | The Palestine Project / Medium

Father Clemente Casinelli, O.C.D. transferred to Haifa from the friars’ monastery at El-Muhraqa the place of Elijah’s sacrifice in April 1948 and assumed the office of Procurator. When he arrived, he found “the first floor of the monastery to be filled with men, women, and children.  They were mostly Catholics, some three or four families were Greek-Orthodox, and one family was Muslim (the Sabas). The overflow spilled into the grounds of the monastery.”

The refugees were very resourceful and contributed to one another’s well-being given the circumstances. Fr. Clemente took charge of the refugee program. He was an Italian Discalced Carmelite friar who had spent six years in a British prison camp in Lebanon during World War II for no other reason than his nationality; his own harsh experiences there gave him a unique sense of initiative and compassion.

Palestinian child refugee waiting on the dock to leave Haifa
Palestinian child refugee waiting on the dock to leave Haifa | The Palestine Project / Medium

 

Fr. Elias notes that “the refugees assisted regularly at Sunday Mass.” A local family who were benefactors to the friars and their refugees “set a good example by first putting their contributions into the plate and taking it around the congregation at the Offertory.”

“During the month of May, the refugees assembled for the daily prayers in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at 7 o’clock each evening to recite the Rosary together and attend the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.”

 

NCMC Stella Maris closeup
The centerpiece of Stella Maris Church on the promontory of Mount Carmel is the miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and Beauty of Carmel. The statue of the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus enthroned, placed at the center of the main altar, standing on a pedestal carved from a cedar of Lebanon, is devoutly venerated by the local Christians. | Photo: Curia Generalizia Carmelitani Scalzi / Facebook

Friedman, Elias. “Internal Arab refugees at the monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, Mount Carmel, Haifa (Israel).” Teresianum: Ephemerides Carmeliticae, vol. 41, no. 1, 1990, pp. 261-274.

Project, The Palestine. LIFE Magazine: Palestine 1948 — rare photo collection. medium.com, 16 May 2018, https://medium.com/@thepalestineproject/life-magazine-rare-photos-of-palestine-1948-d80e83d4929. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Wikimedia Commons has photo collections concerning historical images of Haifa, the statue of Our Lady of Chile that stands across from the monastery, and several historic images in the Stella Maris Monastery collection.

 

Quote of the day: 23 March

Thursday morning, 6:00 a.m. [23 March 1899]

Devotion to Mary

93. There are three principal devotions to Mary: the scapular, pictures, the rosary.

A) The scapular is the livery of Mary. A soul who wears it and who, of course, makes every effort to work out his own salvation cannot be cast into hell, it is impossible. Never take off your scapular.

B) Pictures. We love to have pictures of our loved ones in our homes, a portrait of those whom we love. Why not have one everywhere of our heavenly Mother?

C) The rosary. It is the chain that unites us to Mary. Through the practice of this pious recitation, we accumulate a number of graces and Mary takes us by the hand, Mary directs our frail skiff on the fury of the waves and, with her as our guide, we are sure of our eternal salvation; she cannot let us perish, that is impossible!…


From the diary of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

On 23 March 1899 in every parish in St. Elizabeth’s hometown of Dijon, France, there was a great celebration in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of a city-wide preached retreat. [Source: De Meester] 

Ego_Sum_Immaculata_Conceptio
I am the Immaculate Conception!

See this image and more in A K M Adam’s photo album, Holy Cards on Flickr

This translation from the diary of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity is the blogger's own work and may not be reproduced without permission.

Quote of the day: 15 February

Edith’s six months of probation passed quickly. On 15 February 1934, following the custom of the Order, she knelt before the assembled community and asked to receive the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel. She was granted her request on 15 April. During the two months that she was preparing for her clothing, she grew in love and gratitude toward her superiors and her sisters. It was not easy for her to grasp that, as the “bride-to-be,” she should be the object of so much attention and solicitude on the part of her Sisters. Everyone was busy helping her to prepare for her clothing as it drew nearer. Besides the bridal dress, all the clothes she would need in the convent had to be made – a long white tunic of wool, a pair of rope sandals, a rosary with big beads and a coarse brown handkerchief. She had to go from one workroom to another to try on first one thing and then another; and though nothing more was done for her than for anyone else, she accepted each service as though it were a special token of love for herself.

Mother Teresia Renata of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite

Edith-Stein_clothing-bridal-
On 15 April 1934, Good Shepherd Sunday, Edith Stein was clothed in the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel and received a name that she herself had suggested, Teresia Benedicta a Cruce

Quote of the day: 11 February

She is there at the foot of the Cross, standing, full of strength and courage, and here my Master says to me: “Ecce Mater tua.” He gives her to me for my Mother. . . . And now that He has returned to the Father and has substituted me for Himself on the Cross so that “I may suffer in my body what is lacking in His passion for the sake of His body, which is the Church,” the Blessed Virgin is again there to teach me to suffer as He did, to tell me, to make me hear those last songs of His soul which no one else but she, His Mother, could overhear.

When I shall have said my “consummatum est,” it is again she, “Janua coeli,” who will lead me into the heavenly courts, whispering to me these mysterious words: “Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi; in domum Domini ibimus!”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Last Retreat, Fifteenth Day

bl-e-of-t-ill-near-death-full-pic
This last photo was taken of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity in mid-October, 1906, shortly before her death in the Carmel of Dijon, France. She is seated on the terrace of the monastery, holding two gifts from her dear friend, Madame de Bobet. First, Volume 4 of the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, opened to the Living Flame of Love; this was a gift received shortly after Elizabeth received the habit and began her novitiate. Elizabeth wrote her thank-you note on or about 10 February 1902. The rosary came from the shrine in Lourdes; Elizabeth’s closest friend Antoinette de Bobet brought the gift to the monastery in January 1906. The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is the one that Elizabeth gave to her mother when she entered the monastery; in her final illness, the statue returned to Carmel and Elizabeth called her, “Janua Coeli”, meaning “Gate of Heaven”.  [Source: De Meester]

Children’s games: let’s play hermit

Recounting her childhood playtime with the Maudelonde girls, St. Thérèse recalls:

Marie and Thérèse became two hermits, having nothing but a poor hut, a little garden where they grew corn and other vegetables. Their life was spent in continual contemplation; in other words, one hermit replaced the other at prayer while she was occupied in the active life. Everything was done with such mutual understanding, silence, and so religiously that it was just perfect. When Aunt came to fetch us to go for our walk, we continued the game even on the street. The two hermits recited the rosary together, using their fingers in order to screen their devotion from the inquisitive public; however, one day the younger hermit forgot herself completely: having received a piece of cake for lunch, she made a big sign of the Cross over it before eating it, causing  people to laugh.

Read more here

The two hermits recited the rosary together

Rose-window-hallway_Queens-College-Cambridge

Triduum of Prayer for the Beatification of Chiquitunga – June 20

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:3)

Resolution: Pray one mystery of the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope and our Bishops

Lord, I give you my whole being; I want to be entirely yours, no longer belonging to myself; to be wonderfully a slave of your will.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

CHIQUITUNGA - Dying to live

Photo: Curia Generalizia Carmelitani Scalzi, Rome
Triduum prayers: @ChiquitungaOficial
Chiquitunga quotes translated by Heidi Cooper, OCDS

The Marie du jour – May 31

The Visitation Journey

The second bead: scene of the lovely journey
of Lady Mary, on whom artists confer
a blue silk gown, a day pouring out Springtime,
and birds singing and flowers bowing to her.

Rather, I see a girl upon a donkey
and her too held by what was said to mind
how the sky was or if the grass was growing.
I doubt the flowers; I doubt the road was kind.

“Love hurried forth to serve.” I read, approving.
But also see, with thoughts blown past her youth,
a girl riding upon a jolting donkey
and riding further and further into the truth.

Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD

 

Visitation journey mosaic, Ein Karem
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah (Luke 1:39)
Central mosaic on the facade of the Church of the Visitation
Ein Karem, Israel
Photo: orlandophotoshooter / Flickr 

 

I doubt the flowers; I doubt the road was kind

 

Church of the Visitation facade full view
Church of the Visitation, Ein Karem
Photo credit: Fr. Gaurav Shroff / Flickr 

 

The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers (p. 67) ICS Publications, Washington DC © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

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