Quote of the day: 30 March

Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this we were created.

“Pure love” for our Holy Father John of the Cross means loving God for his own sake, with a heart that is free from all attachment to anything created: to itself and to other creatures, but also to all consolations and the like which God can grant the soul, to all particular forms of devotion, etc.; with a heart that wants nothing more than that God’s will be done, that allows itself to be led by God without any resistance. What one can do oneself to attain this goal is treated in detail in the Ascent of Mount Carmel. How God purifies the soul, in the Dark Night. The result, in the Living Flame and the Spiritual Canticle. (Basically, the whole way is to be found in each of the volumes, but each time one or other of the stages is predominant.)

He will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do

Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this, we were created. [Perfect love] will be our eternal life, and here we have to seek to come as close to it as possible. Jesus became incarnate in order to be our way. What can we do? Try with all our might to be empty: the senses mortified; the memory as free as possible from all images of this world and, through hope, directed toward heaven; the understanding stripped of natural seeking and ruminating, directed to God in the straightforward gaze of faith; the will (as I have already said) surrendered to God in love.

The little — taken absolutely, is for us a great deal

This can be said very simply, but the work of an entire life would not attain the goal were God not to do the most essential. In the meantime, we may be confident that he will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do. The little—taken absolutely, is for us a great deal. And while we are about it, we have to be careful not to wish to judge for ourselves how far we have come. Only God knows that. That brings me to Psalm 18 (so simple, as I understand the phrase). What we recognize of ourselves, and of our faults and behavior, is only the illuminated surface. The depth they come out of is to a large extent hidden from ourselves. God knows that depth and can purify it. The ab alienis can probably be understood in different ways. I think of it principally as what burdens us through unknown faults. But one could also think of that in which we are implicated by others. Delictum maximum probably is not to be understood as anything definite. To me it seems to point far more to Divine Mercy’s immensity and Salvation’s almighty power, for to them nothing is too great.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 311 to Sister Agnella Stadtmüller, O.P. (Excerpts)
Written from the Carmel of Echt, 30 March 1940

Edith bust candle 21 july 18
Edith Stein shrine, St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Louisville, Kentucky

 

Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)
Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 8 January

With the greatest zeal, therefore, seek those things which draw you to the ardor of my love, such as the precepts of my law, and those things which I urged on you above, namely poverty and the crucifixion of bodily desires, obedience and the renunciation of your own will, continence and the solitude of the desert.

St Peter Thomas
The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites, I:7

Advent 15: Elijah

Elijah, our Father, leads,
In our self-denying we follow him
Strongly and zealously,
Nuns of Carmel.

9903473755_386b7cfa95_o
Carmel of Valladolid, 21 September 2013 | Ángel Cantero

Al Padre Elías siguiendo
nos vamos contradiciendo
con su fortaleza y celo,
monjas del Carmelo.

Poetry: 10. On the Way to Heaven; The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila 
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (unless otherwise noted)
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC 
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

Novena to St. John of the Cross – Day 9

Lord, I have given up my pride
and turned away from my arrogance.
I am not concerned with great matters
or with subjects too difficult for me.
Instead, I am content and at peace.
As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms,
so my heart is quiet within me.
Israel, trust in the Lord
now and forever!
(Psalm 131)

The soul is incapable of truly acquiring control of the passions and restriction of the inordinate appetites without forgetting and withdrawing from the sources of these emotions. Disturbances never arise in a soul unless through the apprehensions of the memory. When all things are forgotten, nothing disturbs the peace or stirs the appetites. As the saying goes: What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t want.

The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Book Three, Chapter 5

O St. John of the Cross
You were endowed by our Lord with the spirit of self-denial
and a love of the cross.
Obtain for us the grace to follow your example
that we may come to the eternal vision of the glory of God.

O Saint of Christ’s redeeming cross
the road of life is dark and long.
Teach us always to be resigned to God’s holy will
in all the circumstances of our lives
and grant us the special favor
which we now ask of thee
(mention your request).

Above all, obtain for us the grace of final perseverance,
a holy and happy death and everlasting life with you
and all the saints in heaven.
Amen.

Vision of Segovia - unidentified Quito artist - Carmelo Carmen Alto
Vision of Segovia
Unidentified Quito Artist (Ecuador, 18th c.)
Oil on canvas, 18th c.
Monasterio del Carmen Alto, Quito, Ecuador
More detail here | More images of St. John of the Cross from PESSCA here

Nota bene: We are grateful to Professor Michael Ogunu, O.C.D.S., of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Nigeria for sharing this novena.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 5

Here is the secret: forget self, give up self, ignore self, look at the Master

Intention

To share in the self-giving love of Christ: “Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” St. Paul wrote to the Philippians. [Phil 2:2] The union of believers in the Church was Paul’s one, great goal. How to achieve it? “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself…” [Phil 2:5-7] For the Carmelite, union with God is the one, great goal, and the means to achieve it are similar: the self-emptying, self-giving love of Christ. Saint Elizabeth said that to achieve this self-emptying, we must study Christ and concentrate on His devotion to accomplishing the will of the Father.  With Christ, we must learn to say “Here we are, O Father, we come to do your will.”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Speaks

“Here is the secret: forget self, give up self, ignore self, look at the Master, look only at Him, accept as coming directly from His love both joy and suffering; this places the soul on such serene heights!”

Meditation

Use St. Elizabeth’s quote to make a spiritual checklist for yourself. Resolve to practice one point on the checklist for one day, or one week, or one month. Review your progress with your confessor or spiritual director.

NOVENA PRAYER

O God of bountiful mercy,
you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
the mystery of your secret presence
in the hearts of those who love you,
and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth.
Through her intercession
may we also abide in the love of Christ,
that we may see what you see
and love in the way that you love
and thus merit to be transformed
into temples of your life-giving Spirit
to the praise of your glory.

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.

“雲屯霧集” / 寧 Serenity / 山東省泰山 Mount Tai, S
“雲屯霧集” / 寧 Serenity / 山東省泰山 Mount Tai, Shandong Province | See-ming Lee
Excerpt from Letter 333, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 6

SCRIPTURE READING
Mark 8:31-38

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 1.I.(6)

Content of the Message of the Cross

We have considered by what ways John penetrated the message of the cross. The following sections wish to show how this message was incorporated into the doctrine and life of the saint. To do so, it is necessary to set the content of the message before our eyes—for the time being, in a brief outline. We set it down here exactly as we find it expressed by the master of the science of the cross: “‘How narrow is the gate and constricting the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it’ (Mt 7:14). We should particularly note the exaggeration and hyperbole conveyed by the word how in this passage. This is like saying: Indeed the gate is very narrow, narrower than you think. . . . This path on the high mount of perfection is narrow and steep, it can only be trodden by wanderers who carry no burden that could drag them downwards. . . .  Since in this, God alone is the goal that one should seek and gain, then only God ought to be sought and gained. . . . Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted to us that wonderful teaching—I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced by spiritual persons—. . . . ‘If anyone wishes to be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life, will lose it but whoever loses it for my sake, will save it’ [Mk 8:34-35]. Oh, who can make this counsel of our Savior on self-denial understandable, practicable, and attractive! . . . Annihilation of all sweetness in God . . . dryness, distaste, and trial. . . . the pure spiritual cross and the nakedness of Christ’s poverty of spirit. . . . A genuine spirit seeks rather the distasteful in God than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God than toward possession, and toward dryness and affliction than toward sweet consolation, for it knows that in this consists the following of Christ and self-denial, while the other is nothing further than seeking oneself in God . . . Seeking God in God [sic] means. . . for love of Christ, to choose all that is distasteful whether in God or in the world.”

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

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

EDITH - Annihilation of all sweetness in God

 

The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.
EDITH - Seeking God in God
Jesus said, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.”

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