Quote of the day: 12 October

A long-time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins…

What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth… these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing.

This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough… I felt myself burning and crumbling, and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life: Chap. 32

 

Fire in a Sky Thomas Hawk Flickr 4564963763_39b579dfba_o
Thomas Hawk / Flickr

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

St. Teresa Novena 2019 — Day 6

From her writings

A long-time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it. 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.

What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth (for all my nerves were shrunken when I was paralyzed, plus many other sufferings of many kinds that I endured, and even some, as I said, caused by the devil), these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing. This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces. The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains. I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.

The Book of Her Life: Chapter 32, Nos. 1-2

 

Reflection by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm.

Teresa experiences the vision described above within the context of God’s salvific action, both universal and personal, in order that she might understand the torments from which she was freed because of His mercy, and also motivate her to realize her personal vocation of reform.

The theme of hell appears often in her writings and underlines humanity’s gift of free will and its natural consequences. The redemption wrought by Christ is intended for all, and the Divine plan is that all should be saved, but this does not preclude one’s possibility to choose. Hell is the result of a lifetime of choices made of separating oneself from God through sin, resulting in the suffocating experience of being completely bound in the darkness of God’s absence, without freedom and without hope.

Not wanting to see others end like this, Teresa exercised her own free will, dedicating her life to participating in Christ’s own saving action via her life of prayer. May we, like Teresa, give thanks to God for the truths revealed to us about eternal life, for our redemption through Christ’s blood, and for the gift of free will that allows us to choose and love him freely. Let us also pray for all those who most need our prayers for conversion of heart today.

 

We pray together

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. Holy Mother St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Father,
by your Spirit, you raised up
our Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show your Church the way to perfection.
May her inspired teaching
awaken in us a longing for true holiness.

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

 


Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. is a friar of the Saint Elias Province and the pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Tarrytown, New York, U.S.A.

View the entire novena on the website of the General Curia of the Carmelite Order.

Quote of the day: 9 October

The thought comes to me now that our good Jesus showed us the weakness of His humanity previous to the trials, and when He was in the abyss of His sufferings showed such great fortitude that He not only did not complain but did nothing that would make it appear He was suffering with weakness. When He went to the garden, He said: My soul is sorrowful even to death. 

Yet, while on the cross, for He was already suffering death, He did not complain. Nor did He do so when in the prayer of the garden He went to awaken His apostles. With greater reason might He have complained to His Mother and our Lady when she was at the foot of the cross, and not asleep but suffering in her most holy soul and dying a harsh death; it always consoles us more to complain to those who we know feel our trials and love us more.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Meditations on the Song of Songs: Chap. 3

 

Crucifixion_View From the Cross_Tissot_Brooklyn Museum
What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix), James Tissot (French, 1836-1902), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper, Brooklyn Museum | Download this image on the museum website and learn more here

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

St. Teresa Novena 2019 — Day 3

From her writings

The thought comes to me now that our good Jesus showed us the weakness of His humanity previous to the trials, and when He was in the abyss of His sufferings showed such great fortitude that He not only did not complain but did nothing that would make it appear He was suffering with weakness. When He went to the garden, He said: My soul is sorrowful even to death. Yet, while on the cross, for He was already suffering death, He did not complain. Nor did He do so when in the prayer of the garden He went to awaken His apostles. With greater reason might He have complained to His Mother and our Lady when she was at the foot of the cross, and not asleep but suffering in her most holy soul and dying a harsh death; it always consoles us more to complain to those who we know feel our trials and love us more.

Meditations on the Song of Songs: Chapter 3, No. 11

 

Reflection by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm.

Teresa desired to share her reflections on the Song of Songs, a rather daring act for her time. Her ponderings on Songs 1:2, led her to describe the peace and union granted the soul, opening the person to the possibility of accepting trials in the service of God, opportunities that also bring one’s weaknesses and limitations to the fore. Desiring to encourage her sisters, she looks to Christ’s own experience during his Passion.

Indeed, the humanity of Christ plays a crucial role in her doctrine on prayer. In his Incarnation, he expresses the profundity of God’s love for humanity, and is the perfect mediator between the two. Moreover, his earthly life serves as the example and guide for our spiritual growth. In this way, he leads us to discover our true selves.

Thus, as we continue to pray through the intercession of the saint, let us recognize that she invites us to be in love with Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, “God-with-us.”

 

We pray together

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. Holy Mother St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Father,
by your Spirit, you raised up
our Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show your Church the way to perfection.
May her inspired teaching
awaken in us a longing for true holiness.

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

 


Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. is a friar of the Saint Elias Province and the pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Tarrytown, New York, U.S.A.

View the entire novena on the website of the General Curia of the Carmelite Order.

Quote of the day: 1 October

Les Sacristines au jardin (5)
Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, November 1896 | Photo credit: © Office Central de Lisieux / archives-carmel-lisieux.fr

 

Cause of Beatification

Ordinary Process, Diocese of Lisieux
Deposition, Witness 3 (excerpts)

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie Martin)

 

I asked Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to write down what I called “her little way of trust and love,” which she did during her last retreat in September 1896, after having asked our Mother for permission. This letter is now a part of the printed manuscript  (Manuscript B).

After having read these impassioned pages, I told her it was impossible for me to reach such heights.

It was then that she wrote me the letter dated 17th September 1896 (Letter LT 197), in which, amongst other things, she said:

“How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him?. . . My desires of martyrdom are nothing; I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is seeing me loving my littleness and my poverty, and the blind hope that I have in His mercy . . . .That is my only treasure”.

One day when she had prayed to obtain the twofold love of angels and saints, as Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, (cf. 2 Kgs 2:9), she added,

“Jesus, I cannot fathom my request, I would be afraid of being overwhelmed by the weight of my bold desires. My excuse is that I am a child, and children do not reflect on the meaning of their words. However, their parents, once they are placed on a throne and possess immense treasures, do not hesitate to satisfy the desires of the little ones whom they love as much as they love themselves. To please them, they do foolish things, even to the extent of becoming weak for them. Well, I am the Child of the Church and the Church is Queen since she is Your Spouse, O divine King of kings. . . . O Jesus! Why can’t I tell all little souls how unspeakable Your condescension is? I feel that if You found a soul weaker and littler than mine, which is impossible, You would take pleasure in granting it still greater favors, provided it abandoned itself with total confidence to your infinite Mercy”.

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus loved God ardently and thought about Him constantly. One day, I said to her, “How do you manage to always think of God?”

“It’s not difficult,” she replied, “we naturally think of someone we love.”

“So, don’t you ever forget His presence?”

“Oh, no! I don’t think I’ve ever been three minutes without thinking of Him” (Conseils et Souvenirs, search for Oh ! non, je crois bien).

A few weeks before she died, she confided:

“If God were to say to me, ‘If you die right now, you will have very great glory. If you die at eighty, your glory will not be as great, but it will please Me much more,’ then I wouldn’t hesitate to answer, ‘My God, I want to die at eighty, for I’m not seeking my own glory but simply Your pleasure’” (Last Conversations, 16 July).

Recalling her memories of when she was five or six years old, she said:

“I loved God more and more as I grew older. . . I strove to please Jesus in everything I did, and I was very careful never to offend Him” (Ms A, 15v).

In the aforesaid letter written during her last retreat, this passage is also of note:

“Above all, O my beloved Savior, I would shed my blood for You, even to the very last drop. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me within the Carmel’s cloisters. But here again, I feel that my dream is a folly, for I cannot limit myself to desiring one kind of martyrdom. To satisfy me, I would need all of them” etc.

 

THERESE - Marie Therese sacristines

 


Note from the blogger . . .

Whereas the English translation of Sister Marie’s testimony provides written, in-text citations to her many references, we offer our readers the actual links to find the texts on the Archives website itself for the Carmel of Lisieux. Were Sister Marie to submit any portion of her deposition today in electronic format, she might include links to the various resources, also.

It is regrettable that Céline’s wonderful collection of words of advice and counsel that she gathered from her memories of novitiate, and which she later recorded in a volume called Conseils et Souvenirs, has not yet been translated into English. We will make an effort to share tidbits from her recollections in the month of October as time permits.

Quote of the day: 30 September

The Yellow Notebook

30 September

Thursday, the day of her holy death


In the morning, I was with her during the Mass. She didn’t speak a word to me. She was exhausted, gasping for breath; her sufferings, I thought, were indescribable. One moment she joined her hands and looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin.

“Oh! I prayed fervently to her! But it’s the agony, really, without any mixture of consolation.”

I spoke a few words of sympathy and affection and I added that she had edified me very much all through her illness:

“And you, the consolations you’ve given me! Ah! they are very great!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 263
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 263. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 262 and 263 here.

 

All through the day, without a moment’s respite, she remained, we can say without any exaggeration, in veritable torments.

She appeared to be at the end of her strength and nevertheless, to our great surprise, she was able to move, to sit up in her bed.

“You see the strength that I have today! No, I’m not going to die! I still have strength for months, perhaps years!”

“And if God willed it, ” asked Mother Prioress, “would you accept it?”

She began to answer in her agony: “It would really have to be . . .”

But checking herself immediately, she said with a tone of sublime resignation, falling back on her pillows: “I really will it!”

I was able to gather these exclamations, but it is impossible to ex­press the tone in which they were said:

“I no longer believe in death for me. … I believe only in suf­fering. . . . Well, so much the better! . . .” “O my God! . . .” “I love God!”

“O good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid! ” “If this is the agony, what is death?! . . .”

“Ah! my God! . . . Yes, He is very good, I find Him very good. . . .” Looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin: “Oh! you know I’m suffocating!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 264-5
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 264 and 265. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 264 and 265 here.

 

“God is going to aid you, poor little one, and it will soon be all over. “

“Yes, but when?”

“. . . My God, have pity on Your poor little child! Have pity on her!”

To Mother Prioress:

“O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim! …”

“But God is not going to abandon me, I’m sure. . . .”

“He has never abandoned me.”

“Yes, my God, everything that You will, but have pity on me!”

“Little sisters! little sisters! pray for me!”

“My God! my God! You who are so good!”

“Oh, yes, You are good! I know it. . . .”

After Vespers, Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her knees. She looked at it for a moment and said, when Mother Prioress assured her she’d be soon caressing the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus:

“O Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin; I’m a baby who can’t stand anymore! . . . Prepare me for death.”

Mother Prioress told her that since she had always understood humility, her preparation was already made. She reflected a moment and spoke these words humbly:

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart. . . . It seems to me I’m humble.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 266-7
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 266 and 267. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 266 and 267 here.

 

She repeated once more:

“All I wrote about my desires for suffering. Oh! it’s true just the same!”

“And I am not sorry for delivering myself up to Love.”

With insistence:

“Oh! no, I’m not sorry; on the contrary!”

A little later:

“Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! never! never! I cannot explain this except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 268 voir appendice
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 268. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink, the words of Mother Agnès are written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 268 and 269 here.
Note the penciled annotation: “X voir appendice”. This refers to materials that were found later and appended to the yellow notebook. On 28 August 1940 Mother Agnès swore to the authenticity of these newly-discovered words of Thérèse.

 

 

Towards five o ‘clock, I was alone by her side. Her face changed all of a sudden; I understood it was her last agony.

When the community entered the infirmary, she welcomed all the Sisters with a sweet smile. She was holding her Crucifix and looking at it constantly.

For more than two hours, a terrible rattle tore her chest. Her face was blue, her hands purplish, her feet were cold, and she shook in all her members. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. Her difficulties in breathing were always increasing, and in order to breathe she made little in­voluntary cries.

All during this time, so full of agony for us, we heard through the window—it made me suffer very much—the twittering of robins, and other little birds, but this twittering was so strong, so close, and so prolonged! I prayed to God to make them keep silent; this concert pierced my heart, and I feared it would tire out our poor little Thérèse.

At one moment, her mouth seemed to be so dry that Sister Geneviève, thinking to relieve her, placed on her lips a little piece of ice. She accepted it, giving her a smile which I’ll never forget. It was like a last farewell.

At six o’clock, when the Angelus was ringing, she looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin for a long time.

Finally, at a few minutes past seven, Mother Prioress dismissed the community, and she sighed:

“Mother! Isn’t this the agony! . . . Am I not going to die? . . .”

“Oh! I would not want to suffer for a shorter time!”

And looking at her Crucifix, the prioress replied: “Yes, my poor little one, it’s the agony, but God perhaps wills to prolong it for several hours. “

She answered with courage:

“Well . . . All right! . . . All right!”

“Oh! I love Him! …

“My God … I love you! . . .”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 270
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 270. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 270 and 271 here.

 

Suddenly, after having pronounced these words, she fell back, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress had the infirmary bell rung very quickly to call back the community.

“Open all the doors, ” she said at the same time. These words had something solemn about them, and made me think that in heaven God was saying them also to His angels.

The Sisters had time to kneel down around her bed, and they were witnesses to the ecstasy of the little, dying saint. Her face had regained the lily-white complexion it always had in full health; her eyes were fixed above, brilliant with peace and joy. She made certain beautiful movements with her head as though someone had divinely wounded her with an arrow of love, then had withdrawn the arrow to wound her again…

Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a candle to get a closer view of that sublime look. In the light of the candle, there didn’t appear any movement in her eyelids. This ecstasy lasted almost the space of a Credo, and then she gave her last breath.

After her death, she had a heavenly smile. She was ravishingly beautiful. She was holding her Crucifix so tightly that we had to force it from her hands to prepare her for burial. Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I performed this office, along with Sister Aimée of Jesus, and we noticed she didn’t seem any more than twelve or thirteen years old.

Her limbs were supple right up to her burial, on Monday, October 4, 1897.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, r.c.i.

(unworthy Carmelite religious)

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 272
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 272. The commentary of Mother Agnès is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 272 and 273 here.

 


APPENDIX

Words
that I found
in my notes

30 September

 

… All my little desires have been fulfilled… Now this great one (to die of love) should be fulfilled!

In the afternoon:

Ah! I have such strength today!… I’ve got enough for months! And tomorrow, every day, it will still be worse!…

… Oh well! So much the better!

I can’t breathe, I can’t die!…

(Mother Agnès adds in the margin, “she never had oxygen, I believe that it wasn’t popular back then.”)

…I will never know how to die!. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 280 oxygen
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 281. The footnote of Mother Agnès concerning the fact that Thérèse never used oxygen is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 280 and 281 here.

 

… Yes, my God!… Yes! . . . . . . . . . .

… I really want to keep suffering … ………….

Toward 5 o’clock, Mother Marie de Gonzague had the relics of Bl. Théophane and Mother Anne of Jesus brought down, that had been pinned to her curtain on the right-hand side. They brought them to her and she gave them a little caress.

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 289 remarque

 

Important point.

 

When my holy little Thérèse told me 16 July 1897: “You know all the secret places of my soul, you alone…” I am sure that, in her mind, she wasn’t excluding Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart and Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face from that complete knowledge of her soul. Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, to whom she owed the smile of the Blessed Virgin, and who prepared her for her First Communion, to whom we owe even more the marvelous response of her goddaughter the 17th September 1896. Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, her Céline whom she sweetly called “the gentle echo of my soul.”

But she was inspired by the good God to say this to me in a very particular way so that later, because of the authority that would be given to me, one might rely entirely upon that which I would say and write about her.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, c.d.i.

(unworthy Discalced Carmelite nun)

28 August 1940

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 290 signature
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 290. The conclusion of the Appendix added by Mother Agnès containing additional words of St. Thérèse, which Mother found later in her notes. View the complete image of page 290 here.

 


Note from the blogger . . .

We present for our readers an idea of what Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook actually looks like. Neither Father John Clarke’s translation of the Last Conversations that was published by ICS Publications in 1977 (print edition out of stock) nor the same translation that appears on the English pages of the Archives website for the Carmel of Lisieux include these images of the notebook. Only the French version of the website provides photographic images of Pauline Martin’s months of note-taking and bedside companionship.

On the English pages of the Archives website, the Yellow Notebook ends with Mother Agnès’ comment concerning the body remaining supple until 4 October. The Appendix is not included.

The entire Appendixwith photographic imagesis found only on the French version of the Archives website. The translation of the Appendix for 30 September is our own. Thus, we encourage our readers to explore the links in the caption of each photo to see the complete pages of Mother’s Yellow Notebook, or to view the images for the entire month of September here. For further, in-depth analysis of St. Thérèse’s last conversations with her family and community at her bedside, as well as Mother Agnès’ record-keeping in her notebook, you can read an English translation of historian Claude Langlois’ commentary and analysis here. It is subdivided into 16 sections; click next at the bottom of each page or navigate back to the top of his analysis.

sainte petite Thérèse, pray for us!

de l'Enfant Jésus, T 1977, St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, translated from the French by Clarke, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

The English translation of the Appendix is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and proper attribution.

 

Quote of the day: 18 September

Never have I understood so well that suffering is the greatest pledge of love that God can give His creatures, and I did not suspect that just such sweetness was hidden at the bottom of the chalice for the one who drank it to the dregs… it is a fatherly hand, a hand of infinite tenderness that metes out suffering to us. Oh, may we know how to go beyond the bitterness of that suffering to find our rest in it.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 313 to Madame de Sourdon (excerpt)
18 September 1906

 

Pain Cuppini Flickr 2659817133_a321b7ca52_o
Pain | Riccardo Cuppini / Flickr

 

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2014, I Have Found God: Letters From Carmel, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 10 September

The Resolutions

Excerpts from the resolutions in captivity
drawn up by Blessed Hubert of Saint Claude
and his companions

 

They will never give themselves up to useless worries about being set free. Instead, they will make the effort to profit from the time of their detention by meditating on their past years, by making holy resolutions for the future, so that they can find in the captivity of their bodies, freedom for their soul.

If God permits them to recover totally or in part, this liberty nature longs for, they will avoid giving themselves up to an immoderate joy when they receive the news. By keeping their souls tranquil, they will show they support without murmur the cross placed on them, and that they are disposed to bear it even longer with courage and as true Christians who never let themselves be beaten by adversity.

From now on they will form but one heart and one soul, without showing distinction of persons, and without leaving any of their brothers out, under any pretext. They will never get mixed up in the new politics, being content to pray for the welfare of their country and prepare themselves for a new life, if God permits them to return to their homes, and there become subjects of edification and models of virtue for the people, by their detachment from the world, their assiduousness in prayer and their love for recollection and piety.

Blessed Hubert of Saint Claude
The Resolutions


Blessed Hubert of Saint Claude (Jacques Gagnot) was one of three Discalced Carmelite martyrs imprisoned on the slave ship Les Deux Associés in the bay of Rochefort, France in 1794. His companions died on board in July, but Blessed Hubert survived the summer. When the plague broke out on the ship, those remaining disembarked on Île Madame, where Blessed Hubert died and was buried on 10 September 1794. Learn more here from Catholic News Service about the conditions on the slave ship and at Île Madame. “Compared to the hell of the ships, the island seemed a veritable paradise.”

 

Rochefort_martyrs grave marker fosse commune Île Madame Jacques Gagnot
This simple marker is the only engraved monument on the island to the 254 priests buried on Île Madame in 1794. | View more photos of the island of Île Madame here | thierry llansades / Flickr 

 

pelerinage ile madame emmanuel bethoux flickr
Every August, the Diocese of La Rochelle et Saintes in the Department of Charente-Maritime, France organizes a pilgrimage to the tiny island of Île Madame. View photos of the 2015 pilgrimage here. | Emmanuel Bethoux / Flickr

 

Quote of the day: 16 August

It is clear that if someone is a true religious or a true person of prayer and aims to enjoy the delights of God, he must not turn his back upon the desire to die for God and suffer martyrdom.

For don’t you know yet, Sisters, that the life of a good religious who desires to be one of God’s close friends is a long martyrdom?

A long martyrdom because in comparison with the martyrdom of those who are quickly beheaded, it can be called long; but all life is short, and the life of some extremely short. And how do we know if ours won’t be so short that at the very hour or moment we determine to serve God completely it will come to an end? This is possible.

In sum, there is no reason to give importance to anything that will come to an end. And who will not work hard if he thinks that each hour is the last? Well, believe me, thinking this is the safest course.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Way of Perfection, Chapter 12

 

 

Maria-Sagrario_palma y frascos
Blessed Maria Sagrario of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day we celebrate on 16 August, was martyred 15 August 1936 in Madrid. She was beatified 10 May 1998 by St. John Paul II in Rome.

 

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

August 16: Blessed Maria Sagrario

August 16
BLESSED MARIA SAGRARIO
OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA
Virgin and Martyr

Optional Memorial

Maria Sagrario was born at Lillo (Toledo) on 8th January 1881. A pharmacist by trade, she was one of the first women in Spain to be admitted to this qualification. In 1915 she entered the Carmel of St. Anne and St. Joseph in Madrid. Through her spirit of prayer and her love for the Eucharist, she was a perfect embodiment of the contemplative and ecclesial ideal of the Teresian Carmel. She was Prioress of her community when she was martyred on 15th August 1936. It was a grace she longed for and accepted in perfection of faith and ardent love for Christ.

From the common of martyrs or of virgins

THE SECOND READING

From the letters and writings of Blessed Maria Sagrario

Following Christ by way of humility and the cross

May Jesus reign always in my heart! The Lord asks me to be humble, to weep over my sins, to love him much, to love my sisters much, to mortify them in nothing, not to mortify myself uselessly, to live recollected in him wanting nothing for myself, completely surrendered to his divine will.

In this vale of tears, suffering will not be lacking, and we should be content to have something to offer to our most beloved Jesus who wanted so much to suffer for love of us. The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it. May the Lord not permit that I be separated from his divine will.

Blessed be God who gives us these ways of offering ourselves up to his love! The day will arrive when we will rejoice for having suffered in this way. Meanwhile, let us be generous, suffering everything, if not with happiness, at least in close conformity to the divine will of him who suffered so much out of love for us. However great are our sufferings, they come nowhere near his. If you wish to be perfect, seek first of all to be quite humble in thought, word, deed and desire; learn well what this means and work tenaciously to carry it out. Keep your gaze always on our most beloved Jesus, asking him in the depths of his heart what he desires for you, and never deny him anything, even if it means going strongly against the grain for you.

Blessed be he who arranges everything for our good! In possessing him, we possess everything.

RESPONSORY

I have fought the good fight to the end;
I have run the race to the finish. I have kept the faith;
all there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

Because of the supreme advantage
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
I count everything else as loss,
that I may partake of his sufferings
by being molded to the pattern of his death.
All there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness.

PRAYER

O God,
who by a spirit of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist
prepared Blessed Maria Sagrario to suffer martyrdom,
grant that we, through her example,
may freely spend our lives for you
by faithfully and constantly fulfilling your will.

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

Maria-Sagrario_cadaver
“The most direct way to unite ourselves to God is that of the cross, so we should always desire it.”

27 July: Blessed Titus Brandsma

July 27
BLESSED TITUS BRANDSMA
Priest and Martyr

Optional Memorial

Born in Bolsward (The Netherlands) in 1881, Blessed Titus Brandsma joined the Carmelite Order as a young man. Ordained a priest in 1905, he earned a doctorate in philosophy in Rome. He then taught in various schools in Holland and was named professor of philosophy as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone. He was a professional journalist, and in 1935 he was appointed the ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both before and during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands he fought, faithful to the Gospel, against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of Catholic education and of the Catholic press. For this, he was arrested and sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners and did good even to his tormentors. In 1942, after much suffering and humiliation, he was killed at Dachau. He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on Nov. 3, 1985.

From the Common of One Martyr, except the following:

Office of Readings

The Second Reading (Alternative 1)

Introduction to Het lijden vergoddelijkt

From the writings of Blessed Titus Brandsma

The mysticism of the Passion

Jesus called Himself the head of the Mystical Body, of which we are the members. He is the vine, we are the branches. He laid Himself in the winepress and Himself trod it. He handed us the wine so that, drinking it, we might lead His life, might share His suffering. Whoever wishes to do My Will, let him daily take up his cross. Whoever follows me has the light of life. I am the way, He said. I have given you an example, so that as I have done so you may do also. And when His disciples did not understand that His way would be a way of suffering, He explained this to them and said, “Should not the Christ so suffer, in order to enter into His glory?”

Then the hearts of the disciples burned within them. God’s word had set them on fire. And when the Holy Spirit had descended on them to fan that divine fire into flame, then they were glad to suffer scorn and persecution, whereby they resembled Him Who had preceded them on the way of suffering.

The prophets had already marked His way of suffering; the disciples now understood that He had not avoided that way. From the crib to the cross, suffering, poverty and lack of appreciation were His lot. He had directed His whole life to teaching people how different is God’s view of suffering, poverty and lack of human appreciation from the foolish wisdom of the world. After sin, suffering had to follow so that, through the cross, man’s lost glory and life with God might be regained. Suffering is the way to heaven. In the cross is salvation, in the cross is victory. God willed it so. He Himself assumed the obligation of suffering in view of the glory of redemption. St. Paul makes it clear to us how all the disasters of this earthly life are insignificant, how they must be considered as nothing and passing, in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us when the time of suffering is past, and we come to share in God’s glory.

Mary, who kept all God’s words in her heart, in the fullness of grace granted her, understood the great value of suffering. While the apostles fled, she went out to meet the Savior on the way to Calvary and stood beneath the cross, in order to share His grief and shame to the end. And she carried Him to the grave, firmly trusting that He would rise.

We object when He hands us the chalice of His suffering. It is so difficult for us to resign ourselves to suffering. To rejoice in it strikes us as heroic. What is the value of our offering of self if we unite ourselves each morning only in word and gesture, rather than in thought and will, to that offering which we, together with the Church, make of Him with whom we are in the one body?

Jesus once wept over Jerusalem.

Oh, that this day you had known the gift of God!

Oh, that this day we might realize the value God has placed on the suffering He sends: He, the All-Good.

Responsory

R/. God forbid that I glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
V/. We preach Christ crucified, to others a stumbling block and a folly, but to us the power and the wisdom of God, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Prayer

Lord our God, source and giver of life,
you gave to Blessed Titus the Spirit of courage
to proclaim human dignity and the freedom of the Church,
even in the throes of degrading persecution and death.
Grant us that same Spirit
so that in the coming of your kingdom of justice and peace
we might never be ashamed of the Gospel
but be enabled to recognize your loving-kindness
in all the events of our lives.

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.

 

Titus-Brandsma_Rector-Magnificus
Blessed Titus Brandsma, Rector Magnificus of the Catholic University of Nijmegen

 

Titus Brandsma_Word has been received_Wichita Cath Advance 11sept42
Wichita Catholic Advance, 11 September 1942

Quote of the day: 18 July

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 300 to her mother

[ July 18, 1906]

J. M. + J. T.

Darling little Mama,

I’m expecting you on Saturday at the time we arranged; I will go to receive you on foot, without a cane. I’m delighted about it! I was expecting you today, and here I see my Master wants to unite mother and child in suffering, since your dear health is the reason for the delay of your visit; I love you too much to be sad about it, for I understand better than ever how much God loves us when He tries us. What a relief for me to think of you looked after by our dear Guite; let yourself be cared for by her, obey her completely, won’t you, little Mama.

The Blessed Virgin has not performed the miracle you desired. When, as you tell me in your dear, kind letter, you’re afraid that I might be a victim marked out for suffering, I beg you not to be sad about it, that would be so beautiful; I don’t feel worthy of it; think now, to have a share in the sufferings of my crucified Bridegroom, and to go with Him to my passion to be a redemptrix with Him. . . . Saint Paul says that those whom God foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.  Rejoice in your mother’s heart when you think that God has predestined me and has marked me with the seal of the Cross of His Christ.

My legs, however, are getting better; I can walk without a cane. I’ve been given a very light robe, and this is what I wear when I make my little comings and goings, which consist in going out on the terrace and to the little tribune [small second-story prayer chapel overlooking the tabernacle]; can you imagine what a joy this is for my soul? Several times a day I make long visits to my Master, and I thank Him for having given me the use of my legs to go to Him. I am reading your dear book,  which is magnificent; you’ve made me a very precious gift, my dear Mama; I have it beside me on the little table that is so useful to me.  If you knew how well set up I am. . . . I think up something new every day, and my dear Mother smiles at my “comforts.” How she cares for me and anticipates my every need; I had told her I had a bad taste in my mouth and she got some new candy for me to bring me more relief, and it’s like that with everything; she has the intuitions of a mother. If you knew how she loves you; it was she who told me to write you right away, and I didn’t have to be begged, as you can imagine. We’ve had a very beautiful feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel,  I’ll tell you all about it on Saturday. I’m giving you all my best wishes for my Guite; tell little Sabeth to give her this holy card and to kiss her for Tata. A Dieu, darling Mama, I gather all of you together to kiss you as I love you. Be very reasonable, listen well to your Guite to please me. Your daughter who loves you more than she can say.

M.E. of the Trinity r.c.i.
26 years old today.


This would be the last birthday letter that Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity would write to her dear mother, Madame Catez. Less than four months later, she would die of acute adrenal failure, directly attributable to her years-long battle with Addison’s Disease.

 

bl-e-of-t-very-ill-near-death
One of the last photos taken of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity | Photo: Discalced Carmelites

 

Letter 300 to her mother, on 18 July 1906 The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (p. 309-310)
ICS Publications, Washington DC © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

Flos Carmeli: Novena 9

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. It wearies me now to see and think that I was not constant in the good desires I had in my childhood.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life: Chapter 1


Acuérdome que cuando murió mi madre quedé yo de edad de doce años, poco menos. Como yo comencé a entender lo que había perdido, afligida fuime a una imagen de nuestra Señora y supliquéla fuese mi madre, con muchas lágrimas. Paréceme que, aunque se hizo con simpleza, que me ha valido; porque conocidamente he hallado a esta Virgen soberana en cuanto me he encomendado a ella y, en fin, me ha tornado a sí. Fatígame ahora ver y pensar en qué estuvo el no haber yo estado entera en los buenos deseos que comencé.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
El Libro de la Vida: Capítulo 1

 

1991.48
The Virgin Placing St. Teresa of Avila Under the Protection of St. Joseph
François Guillaume Ménageot (French, 1744–1816)
Oil paint over pen and brown ink, on paper, mounted on canvas, ca. 1787
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

SEQUENCE HYMN
Flos Carmeli

Flos Carmeli,
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera
singularis.

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
esto propitia
stella maris.

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium
tutelaris.

Armatura
fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium
scapularis.

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium
largiaris.

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

Paradisi
clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
coronaris. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.”

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

 

Many of the images of St. Teresa are found in the Iconografía Teresiana online collection of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes; other works are found in the PESSCA online collection of Spanish Colonial Art
Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

Per Adversa: Novena 8

The way of suffering and love

1. On another day the Lord told me this: “Do you think, daughter, that merit lies in enjoyment? No, rather it lies in working and suffering and loving. Haven’t you heard that St. Paul rejoiced in heavenly joys only once and that he suffered often. Look at my whole life filled with suffering, and only in the incident on Mount Tabor do you hear about my joy. When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. The great saints who lived in deserts, since they were guided by God, performed severe penances; and besides this, they waged great battle with the devil and with themselves. They spent long periods without any spiritual consolation. Believe, daughter, that My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these. How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point. Suffering is the way of truth. By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

2. When I had begun prayer I had such a bad headache I thought it would be almost impossible to pray. The Lord said to me: “In this way, you will see the reward that comes from suffering, for since you did not have the health to speak with Me, I have spoken with you and favored you.” And so it is certain that I must have been recollected about an hour and a half. During that time He spoke the above words to me and all the rest. I was not distracted, but neither did I know where I was; and I was so happy I don’t know how to describe it. My headache went away — which surprised me — and I was left with a great desire for suffering.

It is true, at least I haven’t heard otherwise, that our Lord didn’t have any joy in life other than this once, nor did St. Paul. The Lord also told me I should keep very much in mind the words He spoke to His apostles, that the servant must not be greater than the Lord.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 32


1. Esto me dijo el Señor otro día: “¿Piensas, hija, que está el merecer en gozar? No está sino en obrar y en padecer y en amar. No habrás oído que San Pablo estuviese gozando de los gozos celestiales más de una vez, y muchas que padeció, y ves mi vida toda llena de padecer y sólo en el monte Tabor habrás oído mi gozo. No pienses, cuando ves a mi Madre que me tiene en los brazos, que gozaba de aquellos contentos sin grave tormento. Desde que le dijo Simeón aquellas palabras, la dio mi Padre clara luz para que viese lo que Yo había de padecer. Los grandes santos que vivieron en los desiertos, como eran guiados por Dios, así hacían graves penitencias, y sin esto tenían grandes batallas con el demonio y consigo mismos; mucho tiempo se pasaban sin ninguna consolación espiritual. Cree, hija, que a quien mi Padre más ama, da mayores trabajos, y a éstos responde el amor. ¿En qué te le puedo más mostrar que querer para ti lo que quise para Mí? Mira estas llagas, que nunca llegaron aquí tus dolores. Este es el camino de la verdad. Así me ayudarás a llorar la perdición que traen los del mundo, entendiendo tú esto, que todos sus deseos y cuidados y pensamientos se emplean en cómo tener lo contrario”.

2. Cuando empecé a tener oración, estaba con tan gran mal de cabeza, que me parecía casi imposible poderla tener. Díjome el Señor: “Por aquí verás el premio del padecer, que como no estabas tú con salud para hablar conmigo, he Yo hablado contigo y regaládote”. Y es así cierto, que sería como hora y media, poco menos, el tiempo que estuve recogida. En él me dijo las palabras dichas y todo lo demás. Ni yo me divertía, ni sé adónde estaba, y con tan gran contento que no sé decirlo, y quedóme buena la cabeza -que me ha espantado- y harto deseo de padecer.

Es verdad que al menos yo no he oído que el Señor tuviese otro gozo en la vida sino esa vez, ni San Pablo. También me dijo que trajese mucho en la memoria las palabras que el Señor dijo a sus Apóstoles, “que no había de ser más el siervo que el Señor”.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 36

 

The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila_Alonso Cano_Museo del Prado
The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila, Alonso Cano, Oil on canvas, 1629, Museo del Prado, Madrid

 

SCRIPTURE
Colossians 1:24-2:5

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face. It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. I say this to make sure that no one deceives you with specious arguments. I may be absent in body, but in spirit I am there among you, delighted to find you all in harmony and to see how firm your faith in Christ is.

NOVENA PRAYER

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me
herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause
in your hands!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

12 July: Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin

July 12
SAINT LOUIS MARTIN AND ZELIE GUERIN

Optional Memorial

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux, on August 22, 1823. While he was master-watchmaker in Alençon, he met Marie Azelie (Zelie) Guerin, a lace maker, born in Gandelain (St-Denis-sur-Sarthon), on December 23, 1831. They were married on July 13, 1858,and had nine children, including the future Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus. Model spouses, devoted parents, workers, attentive to the poor, always nourishing a missionary spirit, they found their strength and hope in regular attendance at Holy Mass and in a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. After a long illness Zelie died in Alençon on August 28, 1877. Louis, in retirement, went to Lisieux near his in-laws to ensure a better future for his five children (the other four having died in infancy). This patriarch of the family, after offering all his children to God, knew suffering and illness. He died near Evreux on July 29, 1894.

From the Common of Holy Men, with the psalms of the day.

Office of Readings

The Second Reading
(Zelie et Louis Martin, Correspondance Familiale [1863 – 1885].  Paris, 2004, L1, 72, 130, 81, 110, 147, 179, 204)

From the Letters of St. Zelie Martin

We must be willing to accept generously the will of the good God

My dear friend, I am really worried about you.  Every day my husband makes sad prophecies. He knows Paris and told me that you will be exposed to temptations that, because you are not pious enough, you will not be able to overcome.  He told me that he experienced them himself, and that he needed a lot of courage to come out victoriously from all the battles. If you only knew what trials he had to go through … I beg you, my dear Isidore (Zelie’s brother), to do as I did; pray, and you will not be carried away by the current.  If you succumb once you will be lost. On the road to perdition as on the road to salvation the first step is all important; afterwards you will be carried away by the current.

When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I really felt the pain.  It is a pain to which I have always been resigned. I do not regret the pains and the anxieties I have had to endure on their account.  Many people have said to me: “It would have been better if you had never had them.” I cannot tolerate these words.  The pains and anxieties of this life cannot be compared to the eternal happiness of my children.  After all, they have not been lost forever, life is short and full of suffering, we shall find them in heaven.

Little Therese is always well and looks very healthy.  She is very intelligent and we have very amusing conversations.  She already knows how to pray to God. Every Sunday, she goes for some part of Vespers and if, by mistake, the family forgets to bring her there she cries uncontrollably.

My sister has spoken to me a great deal about your business… I told her not to break her neck because of this, that there is only one thing to do, pray to God, because neither she, nor I, can help you in any other way.  However, He, who is never embarrassed, will rescue us from all this when He sees that we have suffered enough, and then, you will recognize that your success is not due either to your ability or to your intelligence, but to God alone, as it happens with my lace making; this conviction is very beneficial, I have experienced it myself.  You know that we are all inclined to be proud and I notice often that those who have made their fortune are, for the most part, unbearably self-important. I am not saying that I would have been like this, nor you either, but we would have been somewhat tainted by pride; it is a fact that constant prosperity leads one away from God. He never led his chosen ones along this path, they had to pass first through the crucible of suffering in order to be purified.  You are going to say that I am preaching, but no matter I don’t wish to. I think of these things very often and I share them with you; now, call that a sermon if you like!

My dear children, I must go to Vespers to pray for the intention of our dear deceased relatives.  The day will come when you will do this for me, but I must make sure that I do not have so great a need of your prayers.  I would like to become a saint but this will not be easy; there is a lot of wood to burn but it is as hard as stone. It would have been better if I had begun earlier, when it was less difficult, but anyhow “it is better late than never.”

Today is then Wednesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is a great feast for me!  On this day, the Blessed Virgin truly gave me many very special graces… This year, I will go again to find the Blessed Virgin early in the morning… my only prayer will be that those that she has given me will all be saints and that I shall not be too far behind, but they must be much better than me.

Doctor Notta is very sorry that they did not operate at the beginning, as by now it is too late.  However, he seems to be saying that I can go on for a very long time like this. But more than that we put ourselves in God’s hands, who knows better than us what we need, “it is He who wounds but also heals.”  I will go to Lourdes on the first pilgrimage, and I hope that the Blessed Virgin will heal me, if that is what is needed. Let’s remain calm while we wait.

Before leaving, I will assist at the first Mass here, arriving in Le Mans at nine o’clock, still in time to attend the High Mass, after that I will come for you… At the beginning, your father was not happy that I took all three of you, but he wishes it now, and says that we cannot make enough sacrifices to obtain so great a miracle.  Even if I do not obtain it, I will never regret taking you there. We must be willing to accept generously the will of God, whatever it is, because it will always be what is best for us.

Responsory

R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.
V/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.

Prayer

O God,
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 


Discover more from the letters of Saints Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin on the website of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

 

Official-Vatican-Portrait
Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin, banner for their canonization (courtesy Discalced Carmelites)

26 June: Blessed Mary Josephine of Jesus Crucified

June 26
BLESSED MARY JOSEPHINE OF JESUS CRUCIFIED
Virgin

Optional Memorial

Josephine Catanea was born in Naples on February 18, 1894. She entered the Carmelite community of Santa Maria Ponti Rossi and made her solemn profession August 6, 1933. In 1945 was elected prioress, an office she held until her death. She endured the painful trials of illness and persecution by abandoning herself to the will of God. All who sought her help were inspired by her deep spirituality, humility and simplicity, as she inspired hope and faith in God and in the Blessed Virgin Mary. She died in Naples on March 14, 1948.

From the Common of virgins, with the psalms of the day

Office of the Readings

Second Reading

From the writings of Blessed Mary Josephine of Jesus Crucified
(Autobiography, pp.159, 296, 202; Diary, pp. 2-3, 109, 121, 126)

I offered myself to Jesus Crucified to be crucified with Him

It has always been my heart’s burning desire to fulfill the will of God; I have never wanted anything else. I have lived and am living the divine will. It is something I need more than the food I eat and the air I breathe. I would not know how not to do His will even for a moment! I have always wanted to live and to die conforming to the will of God. I wanted God’s will to always be in my thoughts, in my words, in everything I do and in every step I make. It was only through following God’s will that I was able to transform my pains into joy, transforming my life from Mount Calvary to Mount Tabor.

God’s will is a kiss of His love, it is an embrace of His goodness which lifts the soul out of its own misery in order to be comforted in His arms. The will of God is an act of tenderness which should make the soul want to abandon itself in love.

Oh will of God, infinite love, take away my will in the flame of your love! I want to unite myself to you, my God who are my all. I want only to do whatever pleases you. I want my life to be a continuous adoration, a continuous hymn of love for you, O God who are One and Three. Even if I were a seraphim of love, would I be worthy of the Lord? If I had consumed myself with sacrifices and penances for God and my life had been a holocaust, what would I have done for you, my God and my all?

I desire to love God with the same ardour as His divine Spirit, with fervent unction of his love, to the point of living only for Him and becoming one with Him; one will, one desire and one spirit.

There is only one thing necessary in life: to know God, our supreme Good, in order to be able to love Him with all one’s heart. This knowledge of God makes our spirit disappear like a drop of water in the ocean or like a spark in a fire. 

Contemplate this infinite God, one in essence but three in Persons. Try to see in the Trinity the unique principle, the wisdom existing in infinite love, and in the Trinity see the activity of tiny creatures that live in God and love Him.

I think that one day my small voice will become like a giant’s, because it is a voice that glorifies God thanks to the means He has given me on earth: the pains, suffering, prayer and the sacrifices we encounter in life. Let us submerge ourselves in God, let us found ourselves in Him, let us lose ourselves in Him alone and try to live joyfully for He is calling us: ‘Come Bride of Christ.’

Suffering is a sweet and precious kiss from our crucified Lord. I desire only the cross, which is light and love.

Lord, you told me that I would have to suffer more each day, that you would place me on the cross and there you would give me a kiss of eternal union. I pine for this moment and pine for this happy meeting even if it means I have to live a life of agony.

Our holy mother, Teresa of Jesus, wants us to be crucified with Christ, this is the task of our lives. When I think that Jesus has placed me on the cross with Himself I feel in myself a spiritual motherhood, a tenderness for souls, a great and profound joy that I cannot explain.

How many tribulations on earth there are, how many lamentations, how many sighs and tears! I am far from all, but here I share the pain of every heart. I present to God all the sighs, the tears which water this place of exile. I am living with suffering humanity.

What consolation I felt today in my poor heart.

These words at Holy Communion gave me comfort: “Daughter, you are mine but you will be mine even more.” This is exactly what my soul ardently desires. Oh how great is the love of my Lord! Oh indescribable goodness! Oh loving Jesus I thank you and I love you! 

I want to write with my blood a countless number of times: ‘I love you, Jesus, save souls!’

Responsory
Song 2: 3, 14

R. With great delight I sat in his shadow,* and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
V. Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
R. and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God,
who willed to conform to Christ crucified
the virgin Blessed Mary Josephine,
as a victim for sinners,
grant that we, through her intercession and example,
may always embrace our own cross
and humbly fulfil your will.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 

Maria-Giuseppina-Catanea_cloister
Blessed Mary Josephine of Jesus Crucified with one of her nuns kneeling before her
Photo: Discalced Carmelites

Quote of the day: 29 May

My life is love

This sweet nectar surrounds me, this merciful love penetrates me, purifies me, renews me, and I feel it consuming me. The cry of my heart is: “Love of my God, my soul searches for You alone. My soul, suffer and be quiet; love and hope; offer yourself but hide your suffering behind a smile, and always move on. I want to spend my life in deep silence, in the depths of my heart, in order to listen to the gentle voice of my sweet Jesus.

Blessed Elia of St. Clement
Office of Readings, Optional Memorial of Blessed Elia (excerpt)

 

brown hummingbird selective focus photography
Photo by Philippe Donn on Pexels.com

29 May: Blessed Elia of St. Clement

May 29
BLESSED ELIA OF SAINT CLEMENT
Virgin

Optional Memorial

Blessed Elia of St. Clement was born in Bari, 17th January 1901, to deeply Christian parents. At her baptism, she was given the name Theodora, gift of God. In the brief course of her life on earth, she lived up to her name. On 8th April 1920 (then Feast of St. Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule), she entered the Carmel of St. Joseph in Bari. She received the habit on 24th November of the same year, the feast of St John of the Cross. On 8th December 1924, she wrote in her own blood her act of total and definitive offering to the Lord with the vow to embrace the “most perfect”. She died on Christmas day 1927. On 19th December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI signed the Decree of Beatification. She was proclaimed Blessed in Bari Cathedral on 18th March 2006.

From the Common of Virgins

Office of Readings

Second Reading

From the Writings of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement
(Ed. O.C.D. 2001: pp. 282, 295, 322)

The desire to lose herself in God and her apostolic zeal

O sweet hiddenness, I love to pass my days in your shadow and to consume thus my existence, for love of my sweet Lord. At times, thinking of those eternal rewards, so great compared to the slight sacrifices of this life, my soul remains in wonder, and seized by an ardent longing, it throws itself on God, exclaiming: “Oh my good Jesus, I want to reach my goal, the gates of salvation, no matter what the cost. Do not deny me anything; give me suffering. May this be the most intimate martyrdom of my poor heart, hidden from every human glance: a rugged cross is what I ask of you. I want to pass my days here below hanging from this cross.”

When we suffer with Jesus, the suffering is delightful; I long to suffer with all my heart, beyond this I no longer want anything.

My Delight, who could ever separate me from You? Who could be capable of breaking these strong chains that keep my heart attached to yours? Perhaps the abandonment of creatures? It is precisely this that unites the soul to its Creator. Perhaps tribulations, suffering, crosses? It is in these thorns that the canticle of the soul that loves you is freest and lightest. Perhaps death? But this will be nothing other than the beginning of true happiness for the soul. Nothing, nothing can separate this soul from You, not even for a brief moment. It was created for You and is lost if it does not abandon itself to You.

My life is love: this sweet nectar surrounds me, this merciful love penetrates me, purifies me, renews me, and I feel it consuming me. The cry of my heart is: “Love of my God, my soul searches for You alone. My soul, suffer and be quiet; love and hope; offer yourself but hide your suffering behind a smile, and always move on. I want to spend my life in deep silence, in the depths of my heart, in order to listen to the gentle voice of my sweet Jesus.

“Souls, I will search for a way to cast you into the sea of Merciful Love: souls of sinners, but above all souls of priests and religious. To this end, my existence is slowly disappearing, consumed like the oil of a lamp that watches near the Tabernacle.”

I sense the vastness of my soul, its infinite greatness that the immensity of this world cannot contain: it was created to lose itself in You, my God, because you alone are great, infinite and thus You alone can make it completely happy.

RESPONSORY

R/. An unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs.
* Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit (alleluia).
V/. God is the strength of her heart, he is hers forever:
* Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. O Lord, how gentle is your love! Lost in your embrace I shall be blessed forever (alleluia).

Prayer

O Lord,
who were pleased to accept the self-offering
of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, virgin;
grant through her intercession,
that, sustained by the Eucharist
we may be able faithfully to do your will.

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

Evening Prayer

Canticle of Mary

Ant. Your love, O Lord, is like a fire consuming me in the ardent furnace of your Heart (alleluia).

 

Elia-di-San-Clemente
Blessed Elia of San Clemente (Teodora Fracasso, 1901-1927)

Quote of the day: 26 May

The foundation of St. Joseph of Carmel in the city of Seville

Preparations were immediately begun for the journey because it was beginning to get very hot… We journeyed in wagons well covered, which was our mode of traveling… Although we hurried along on our journey, we did not reach Seville until the Thursday before Trinity Sunday, [26 May 1575] after having endured scorching heat.

Even though we did not travel during siesta time, I tell you, Sisters, that since the sun was beating on the wagons, getting into them was like stepping into purgatory.

Sometimes by thinking of hell, at other times by thinking that something was being done and suffered for God, those Sisters journeyed with much happiness and joy.

The six souls who were with me were of the kind that made me think I was daring enough to go off with them to the land of the Turks and that they had the fortitude, or better, our Lord gave them the fortitude, to suffer for Him; for this was the subject of their desires and conversations. They were very experienced in prayer and mortification.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 24

 

En route to Beas 1575
Scene from the 1984 TV series drama, Teresa de Jesús, produced by RTVE (Spain) starring Concha Velasco as St. Teresa

 

The Book of Her Foundations: Chapter 24; 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.

Quote of the day: 17 April

I sought relief in the scriptures

You will find that the reading of sacred scripture is a great and powerful remedy against bodily suffering and depression of mind. In my opinion, there is no other writing, no matter how eloquent and stylish it may be, that can bring such peace to our minds and so thoroughly dissolve our cares as sacred scripture can.

I speak from personal experience: for there have been times when I was beset with anxieties, the worst of which came from the experience of my own weakness, and if on such occasions I sought relief in the scriptures, the hopes and desires that led me there were never disappointed. The word of scripture proved to be a solid bulwark against my anxieties and a relief to my troubled spirit.

Blessed Baptist Spagnoli of Mantua
From the treatise of Blessed Baptist Spagnoli “On Patience”

lake
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Born in Mantua on April 17th, 1447, as a youth Blessed Baptist Spagnoli joined the Carmelites of the Congregation of Mantua at Ferrara. He made his religious profession in 1464 and served in many positions of responsibility in the community; he was vicar general of his congregation six times, and in 1513 was elected prior general of the whole Order. In his own time, he was a renowned humanist ‘who brought his richly varied poetry into the service of Christ’. He used his friendships with scholars as an opportunity of encouraging them to live a Christian life. He died in Mantua on March 20th, 1516.

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