St. Teresa Novena 2019 — Day 4

From her writings

Today while beseeching our Lord to speak for me because I wasn’t able to think of anything to say nor did I know how to begin to carry out this obedience, there came to my mind what I shall now speak about, that which will provide us with a basis to begin with. It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places. [Jn 14:2]  For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight. [Pr 8:31] So then, what do you think that abode will be like where a King so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of all good things takes His delight? I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity. Indeed, our intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God; but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness. [Gen 1:26-27]

Well if this is true, as it is, there is no reason to tire ourselves in trying to comprehend the beauty of this castle. Since this castle is a creature and the difference, therefore, between it and God is the same as that between the Creator and His creature, His Majesty in saying that the soul is made in His own image makes it almost impossible for us to understand the sublime dignity and beauty of the soul.

The Interior Castle: I:1

 

Reflection by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm.

Teresa uses a variety of images to describe the soul, likening it to a beehive, a garden, and in this case, a castle. In doing so, she attempts to explain its innate fecund richness brought about through its creation.

Made in the image and likeness of God, our souls mirror the Divine in our natural interior profundity and in our capacity to do His loving and saving will. Moreover, our souls are where Christ resides and interacts with us, and desires to permeate with his light. The experience of God, therefore, is not something beyond the human experience, but intimately connected to it. Indeed, the work of personal transformation takes place in this interior environment.

May we learn from Teresa how to appreciate and care for our souls, that we may radiate Christ to others and give thanks to God for making us his home.

 

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.

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: 8 October

Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good. There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire…

For mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life, Chapter 8, No. 5

 

prayer market fruit colombia Cindy Muñoz Flickr 8518107982
A vendor pauses to pray in the market in Cali, Colombia | Cindy Muñoz / 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.

Quote of the day: 29 June

Being in prayer on the feastday of the glorious St. Peter, I saw or, to put it better, I felt Christ beside me; I saw nothing with my bodily eyes or with my soul, but it seemed to me that Christ was at my sideI saw that it was He, in my opinion, who was speaking to me.

I immediately went very anxiously to my confessor to tell him. He asked me in what form I saw Him. I answered that I didn’t see Him.

He asked how I knew that it was Christ.

I answered that I didn’t know how, but that I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me, that I saw and felt Him clearly, that my recollection of soul was greater, and that I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet, that the effects were much different from those I usually experienced, and that it was very clear.

 

Contemplation Mathieu Jarry Flickr
Contemplation | Mathieu Jarry / Flickr

 

Then the confessor asked me, “Who said it was Jesus Christ?”

“He told me many times,” I answered.

But before He told me He impressed upon my intellect that it was He, and before doing this latter He told me He was present — but I didn’t see Him.

 

Darkness olitaillon Flickr
Darkness | O.Taillon / Flickr

 

If a person whom I had never seen but only heard of should come to speak to me while I was blind or in the pitch dark and tell me who he was, I would believe it; but I wouldn’t be able to assert as strongly that it was that person as I would if I saw him.

In the case of this vision, I would; for, without being seen, it is impressed with such clear knowledge that I don’t think it can be doubted.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chapter 27

TERESA signature Blogfeatureimage
Signature of St. Teresa conserved in the general archives of the City of Burgos 

 

The Book of Her Life, 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, Inc.

 

 

On Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday after Communion, my faculties remained in such deep suspension that I couldn’t even swallow the host; and, holding it in my mouth, after I returned a little to myself, it truly seemed to me that my entire mouth was filled with blood. I felt that my face and all the rest of me was also covered with this blood, as though the Lord had just then finished shedding it. It seemed to me warm, and the sweetness I then experienced was extraordinary. The Lord said to me: “Daughter, I want my blood to be beneficial to you, and don’t be afraid that My mercy will fail you. I shed it with many sufferings, and you enjoy it with the great delight you are aware of; I repay you well for the banquet you prepare me this day.”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 22 Eucharistic experience
(Probably Avila, March 30, 1572)

Entry into Jerusalem_NESTEROV_1900
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Mikhail Vasilevich Nesterov, (Russian, 1862 – 1942)
Painting – gouache, 1900
The State Russian Museum – Saint Petersburg

 

Spiritual Testimonies: Number 22
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, Inc.

 

 

St. Joseph Novena 2019 – Day 3

Today we continue the novena to St. Joseph. Joseph is so silent in the Gospels, so ordinary, that it took many years for the Church to give him due importance. St. Joseph is special because he reflects in a unique way the love of the Eternal Father for his only begotten Son.

Reading
Psalm 15

1 Lord, who shall be admitted to your tent
and dwell on your holy mountain?

2 He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart;
3 he who does not slander with his tongue;

He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbor,
4 who holds the godless in disdain,
but honors those who fear the Lord;

he who keeps his pledge, come what may;
5 who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm forever.

Reflection

In imitation of the silence of Saint Joseph, spend three to five minutes (or more!) in silent prayer before the Lord. If you don’t think you can calm yourself for that long, set a timer and let the timer tell you when the time is up. If you need an image to meditate on, imitate St. Teresa of Avila’s method of prayer and picture St. Joseph with the Child Jesus.

Prayer

Lord God, in your loving providence you chose St. Joseph to be the spouse of your holy Mother, grant that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy patron, Amen.

Hymn to St. Joseph 

Your love I’ll sing for ever
Through ev’ry age, O Lord!
Your love endures for ever,
Your covenant and word.
For you have sworn to David:
“His throne shall e’er endure!
My covenant is endless,
My promises are sure!”

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
76 76 D
AURELIATHAXTED

Source: Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa 
Hymn used with the kind permission of the composer

Quote of the day: 10 March

Free me beggar girl
restless_mind / Flickr

You are telling me nothing new, and you are not the only one who experiences distractions. The mind is extremely flighty, but the will, mistress of all our powers, must take hold of it and bring it back to God as to its final end…

Remain before God like a poor, mute paralytic at the door of a rich man

I think the answer to our problems is to confess our faults and to humble ourselves before God. I advise you against long discourses during mental prayer, for they often foster distractions. Remain before God like a poor, mute paralytic at the door of a rich man. Strive to be attentive to God’s presence. If your mind wanders or withdraws occasionally, don’t get upset. Since these disturbances tend to distract the mind rather than focus it, we must use the will to gently collect our thoughts. If you persevere in this manner God will have mercy on you.

If your mind wanders or withdraws occasionally, don’t get upset

An easy way to keep the mind from wandering during the time of mental prayer is to keep it as still as possible—not to let it take flight—during the day. You must keep it faithfully in God’s presence; and once you are accustomed to think of him from time to time, it will be easy to remain calm during prayer, or at least to bring the mind back when it wanders…

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Letter to a nun [no date], excerpts
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God

 

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Edited by Conrad De Meester, OCD, Translated by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

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