The Church intones a canticle of jubilation and praise to Christ for the beatification of Josefa Naval Girbés, a virgin, and a laywoman who dedicated her life to the apostolate in her native village Algemesi in the archdiocese of Valencia, Spain. A simple woman who was docile to the breath of the Spirit, throughout the course of her long life she reached the summit of Christian perfection, dedicated to the service of her neighbor, in times that were easy for no one in the 19th century, during which she lived and developed her intense apostolic activity…
A singular characteristic of Josefa was her secular status. She, who filled cloistered convents with her disciples, remained unmarried in the world, living the evangelical principles and being an example of Christian virtues for all those sons and daughters of the Church who “are by baptism made one body with Christ and… carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (Lumen Gentium, 31).
Saint John Paul II
Homily for the Beatification of Six Servants of God Saint Peter’s Square, 25 September 1988
I sacrifice my days of suffering for my parish and for those who are dear to me.
Blessed Georg Häfner Letter from the Dachau concentration camp
Blessed Georg Häfner was a priest of the Diocese of Würzburg and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS). While he was the pastor of the parish at Oberschwarzach he came into conflict with Hitler’s agents, since he would never use the typical Hitler salute and always defended the doctrine and rights of the Church. He was arrested on 31 October 1941 and taken to the Dachau concentration camp on 12 December the same year. There, as a faithful priest he was exposed to all types of torture and injustice, yet always bearing up with a heroic attitude before each humiliation and maltreatment. His letters from Dachau show his deep faith and his capacity to pardon his executioners.
Learn more about Blessed Georg Häfner here and here.
Georg Häfner was born in Würzburg in 1900. From the time he was an altar boy, he was very close to the Carmelite nuns in Würzburg, where he joined the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS), taking the name of Aloysius of the Most Blessed Sacrament. He sang his first Mass on 21st April 1924, having been ordained on 13th April of the same year. After having carried out pastoral work in various parishes, on 12th November 1934 he was appointed Pastor of the Oberschwarzach parish; during this period Hitler was coming to power. Häfner soon came into conflict with Hitler’s agents, since he would never use the typical Hitler salute, and always defended the doctrine and rights of the Church. He was arrested on 31st October 1941 and taken to the Dachau concentration camp on 12th December the same year. There, as a faithful priest, he was exposed to all types of torture and injustice, yet always bearing up with a heroic attitude before each humiliation and maltreatment. His letters from Dachau show his deep faith and his capacity to pardon his executioners. One of his last phrases from the concentration camp was: “I do not want to curse anybody, nor take vengeance, I want to be good towards everyone.” Finally, exhausted by illness and, above all, by hunger, he died on 20th August 1942.
you chose the priest and martyr Blessed George Häfner
as a witness of your mercy
and you accepted his life’s sacrifice in captivity;
through his example may we recognize the love of the Redeemer,
love you and all people,
and forgive our enemies above all.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God for ever and ever.
Wurzburg, 1. March 2011 + Friedhelm Hofmann Bishop of Wurzburg
Nota bene: Working translation only. Original texts here
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
Carmelite Online Retreat Lent 2019 with St. Edith Stein
Teresia Benedicta a Cruce OCD
Prepare yourself for the coming Easter together with the Discalced Carmelites
Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross is co-patroness of Europe. Before entering Carmel and taking this name, Edith Stein already had a long life as a philosopher and lecturer. Born in Prussia in 1891, a Jew who became agnostic, she undertook a quest for truth through philosophy and the events of her life, until her discovery of Christ.
Baptized at the age of 31, she became a remarkable Catholic intellectual. Forbidden to teach by the Nazis, she entered the Carmel of Cologne in 1933 and had to flee to the Carmel of Echt in Holland in 1939. Arrested with her sister Rosa Stein, she died at the Auschwitz camp on August 9, 1942, leaving us her work and a powerful message. During this Lent, her writings and her life will nourish our meditation on this paschal journey in the footsteps of Christ.
How do I make the retreat?
Click here to access the registration page; follow the instructions and complete the registration form on the page. Click Submit, you will be registered for the retreat. You will receive a confirmation message by email. Weekly, every Friday of Lent, you will receive another email message with a new point of inspiration for the following week, along with short texts for daily prayer.
Participation in this retreat is completely free!
If you have any difficulty in registering or if there are any problems, please email the retreat coordinators at email@example.com
With best wishes for a Lent filled with blessings from Heaven,
The Discalced Carmelite Friars of Paris and Austria
The retreat texts were written by Fr. Philippe Huguele ocd, from the Carmelites of Paris. The English translation is by Joanne Brydson ocds (Canada).
Honorius, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God — to his beloved sons, the prior and the brother hermits of Mount Carmel, health and the apostolic blessing. We enjoin you and your successors, for the remission of your sins, to observe in the future, as faithfully as you can with the help of God, the rule which was given to you by the Patriarch of Jerusalem of happy memory, and which, as you have humbly contended, you received before the General Council.
Albert, called by God’s favor to be patriarch of the church of Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved sons in Christ, B. and the other hermits under obedience to him, who live near the spring on Mount Carmel.
Saint Albert of Jerusalem
The Rule of St Albert, Chapter 1
She helped me… it is a very particular aspect of the spiritual wealth of the Virgin, the Mother of Christ, for her Carmelite mission, which begins on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land and is linked to a garment. This garment is called the holy Scapular. I owe much in my youth to this Carmelite Scapular.
Saint John Paul II Remarks to the parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Rome 15 January 1989
The time for my reception of the Habit had arrived. I was accepted by the conventual chapter, but how could we dream of any kind of ceremony? Already they were talking of giving me the Habit without my going outside the cloister, and then they decided to wait. Against all expectation, our dear Father recovered from his second attack, and the Bishop set the ceremony for January 10.
St Therese of the Child Jesus Story of a Soul, Ms A, 72r
Andrew was born at the beginning of the fourteenth century in Florence and entered the Carmelite Order there. He was elected provincial of Tuscany at the general chapter of Metz in 1348. He was made bishop of Fiesole on October 13th, 1349, and gave the Church a wonderful example of love, apostolic zeal, prudence, and love of the poor. He died on January 6th, 1374.
From the Common of Pastors
Office of Readings
The First Reading James 2:1-9, 14-24
A reading from the Letter of St. James
Faith without works is dead
My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats;’ then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my footrest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?
Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. In spite of this, you have no respect for anybody who is poor. Isn’t it always the rich who are against you? Isn’t it always their doing when you are dragged before the court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the honorable name to which you have been dedicated? Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme law of scripture: “you must love your neighbor as yourself;” but as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin, and under condemnation for breaking the Law.
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds’; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds — now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God — that is creditable enough, but the demons have the
same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realize, you senseless man, that faith without good deeds is useless. You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he ‘offered his son Isaac on the altar’? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: ‘Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified’; and that is why he was called ‘the friend of God.’
You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified.
R/.Pure, unspoiled religion in the eyes of God our Father is this: * — you must come to the help of orphans and widows in their need and keep yourself uncontaminated by the world
V/.Quick to be generous, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains forever. * — you must come to the help of orphans and widows in their need and keep yourself uncontaminated by the world
The Second Reading Bk 1,10
A reading from The Pastoral Rule of Pope St. Gregory the Great
Portrait of a good pastor
It is important that a man who is set up as a model of how to live should be one who is dead to all the passions of the flesh and lives by the spirit, turns his back on what the world has to offer, is unafraid of hardship, and is attracted only by the interior life. He does not let his body shirk its duty out of frailty; he does not become depressed when abused, for he realizes that things of this kind further his true ends. He does not readily covet what is not his, but with what he does possess he is generous. His loving nature is quick to forgive, though he never allows himself to be misled into condoning more than he should. While he does no wrong himself, he grieves over the misdeeds of others as if they were his own. His compassion for others when they are sick is heartfelt, and he is just as glad when good befalls his neighbor as when his own interests are advanced. His behavior is so exemplary in all respects that he need never fear being made to blush, even for past faults. He so conducts his life that those whose hearts are in need of refreshment can always find it in the guidance he gives. He is so well versed in the art of prayer that he can obtain anything he asks for from the Lord; it is as though he were singled out by a prophetic voice saying to him: “While you are still speaking I will say, ‘See, I am here.’”
If someone happened to come and ask one of us to intercede for him with an influential man we did not know and who was annoyed with him, we should at once say: ‘I cannot come and intercede — I do not know what he is like.’ So if a person is afraid to intercede with a mere man about whom he knows nothing, how can one, who is not sure whether or not his conduct makes him worthy to be counted God’s friend, take it upon himself to be the people’s advocate before God? How can he ask pardon for others if he is not sure that his own sins have been forgiven?
R/. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.* — Try then to imitate God, as children of his that he loves.
V/. Tend the flock that is placed under your care, willingly as God would have you do, being examples to your flock.* — Try then to imitate God, as children of his that he loves.
God our Father,
You reveal that those who work for peace
will be called Your children.
Through the prayers of St. Andrew Corsini,
who excelled as a peacemaker,
help us to work without ceasing
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
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 Zechariah
Ant. Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God, says the Lord.
Canticle of Mary
Ant. The kingdom of God consists of justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of all.
Born about 1305 in southern Perigord in France, Peter Thomas entered the Carmelites when he was twenty-one. He was chosen by the Order as its procurator general to the Papal Court at Avignon in 1345. After being made bishop of Patti and Lipari in 1354, he was entrusted with many papal missions to promote peace and unity with the Eastern Churches. He was translated to the see of Corone in the Peloponnesus in 1359 and made Papal Legate for the East. In 1363, he was appointed Archbishop of Crete and in 1364 Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. He won a reputation as an apostle of church unity before he died at Famagosta on Cyprus in 1366.
From the Common of Pastors
Office of Readings
The First Reading 1 Timothy 1:1-7, 15-19, 2:1-8
A reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy
The calling of a pastor
From Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus appointed by the command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, true child of mine in the faith; wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I asked you when I was leaving for Macedonia, please stay at Ephesus, to insist that certain people stop teaching strange doctrines and taking notice of myths and endless genealogies; these things are only likely to raise irrelevant doubts instead of furthering the design of God which are revealed in faith. The only purpose of this instruction is that there should be love, coming out of a pure heart, a clear conscience and a sincere faith. There are some people who have gone off the straight course and taken a road that leads to empty speculation; they claim to be doctors of the Law, but they understand neither the arguments they are using nor the opinions they are upholding.
Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Timothy, my son, these are the instructions that I am giving you: I ask you to remember the words once spoken over you by the prophets, and taking them to heart to fight like a good soldier with faith and a good conscience for your weapons. Some people have put conscience aside and wrecked their faith in consequence.
My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone — petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving — and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our Savior: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and — I am telling the truth and no lie — a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.
In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.
R/. Bear with one another in love; do all that you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together; there is one body and one Spirit, * — just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. V/. A servant of the Lord is to aim for holiness and faith, love, and peace, in union with all those who call on the Lord with pure minds; * — just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called.
The Second Reading Bk I, Ch 6
A reading from The Book of the Institution of the First Monks
Love your neighbor as yourself
The Lord says, “The man who hears My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” And the first of all commandments is: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. This is the greatest and first commandment.” This cannot be observed without love of neighbor, because “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen;” “and the second commandment is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” namely, in the things and for the reason that you love yourself. “His soul hates him who loves violence,” says the Psalmist. Therefore, love your neighbor as yourself in good and not in evil, and “whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” and “what you hate, do not do to anyone.” Thus, you must love your neighbor, and so act that he becomes just if he is wicked, or remains just if he is good.
Again you must love yourself, not because of yourself, but because of God. Whatever is loved because of itself is thus made a source of joy and a happy life, the hope of attaining which is comforting even on earth. But you must not place the hope of a blessed life in yourself or another man. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” Therefore, you must make the Lord the source of your joy and the happy life, as the apostle says: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If you understand this clearly, you must love God because of Himself, and yourself, not because of yourself, but because of God; and, since you must love your neighbor as yourself, you must love him, not because of himself, nor because of yourself, but because of God, and what else is this but to love God in your neighbor? “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandment.” In the preparation of your soul you do all of this if you love God because of Himself and your neighbor as yourself because of God. “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
R/. With all our hearts we desired nothing better than to share with you our own lives, as well as God’s gospel, * — so greatly had we learned to love you. V/. My little children, I am in travail over you afresh, until I can see Christ’s image formed in you, * — so greatly had we learned to love you.
You inspired in Your bishop St. Peter Thomas
an intense desire to promote peace and Christian unity.
Following His example
may we live steadfast in the faith
and work perseveringly for peace.
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 Zechariah
Ant. I am the good shepherd; I lay down my life for my sheep; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Canticle of Mary
Ant.May the peace of Christ fill your hearts with joy, that peace to which all of you are called as one body.
Today we live again in a time that urgently needs to be renewed at the hidden springs of God-fearing souls… It is not necessary that we experience the epiphany in our lives. We may live in confident certainty that what the Spirit of God secretly effects in us bears its fruits in the kingdom of God. We will see them in eternity.
St Teresa Benedicta (The Hidden Life and Epiphany)