St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 1

Those who trust in themselves are worse than the devil.

Sayings of Light and Love, 166

 

SCRIPTURE

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

 

MEDITATION

“Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,” the Gospel tells us. And let’s notice that the conclusion of the parable is a mirror image of the song that Jesus’ own Mother sang in the home of her cousin Elizabeth: Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles (“He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate,” Lk 1:52).

Another interesting item to note in the parable is the conscience of the tax collector, who was painfully aware of his sinfulness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that a “well-formed conscience is upright and truthful”, thus the “education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.” (CCC 1783) This education is “a lifelong task.” (CCC 1784)

So how is the conscience formed?

In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. (CCC 1785)

If self-trust is worse than the devil, i.e. “Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God…. the one who ‘throws himself across’ God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ” (CCC 2851) then the virtue to conquer that vice would be to trust in God.

When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? (CCC 2086)

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of St. John of the Cross’ foremost disciples responds to these rhetorical questions in these, her last written words:

It is not in the first place, but in the last place that I start out; instead of getting ahead with the Pharisee, I repeat, full of trust, the humble prayer of the tax collector; but especially I imitate Magdalene’s attitude, her amazing or rather her daring love that charms the Heart of Jesus, captivates my very own heart. Yes, I feel it, even if I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, heartbroken with repentance, and throw myself into Jesus’ arms, because I know just how much He cherishes the prodigal child who has returned to Him. It is not because God, in His gracious, prevenient mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I stand up and go to Him in trust and love… (Ms C 36v-37r)

 

NOVENA PRAYER

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 you:

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.

 

Jean-de-la-croix_peinture-de-celine-martin
Image of St. John of the Cross painted by Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face, OCD (Céline Martin) | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

All Scripture references in this novena are found on the Bible Gateway website, with the exception of texts drawn from the 1968 Reader’s Edition of the Jerusalem Bible.

The novena prayer was composed from approved sources by Professor Michael Ogunu, a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Nigeria.

Quote of the day: 1 August

We must carefully examine which virtues are the most essential, which are the most difficult to acquire, which sins we commit most often, and which are the most frequent and inevitable of our falls.

We must have recourse to God with complete confidence at the moment of combat, remain firm in the presence of his divine majesty, adore him humbly, bring him our miseries and weaknesses, and lovingly ask for the help of his grace.

In this way, we will find every virtue in him without our having any of our own.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Practices Necessary to Attain the Spiritual Life, No. 11
The Practice of the Presence of God

 

End of the day Now I lay me - stereograph - Boston Public Library - Flickr
‘Now I lay me’ – At the End of Day
Color photomechanical print on stereo card, ca. 1850-1920
Boston Public Library / Flickr

 

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God.
(Practices Necessary to Attain the Spiritual Life, p. 39; Chapter 2)
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 22 July

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

The last words of Manuscript C

Manuscript C, folios 36 verso and 37 recto


My dear Mother, now I would like to tell you what I understand by the fragrance of the perfumes of the Beloved.

Since Jesus has re-ascended to Heaven, I can only follow him through the footprints that he left, but how illuminated are these footprints, how aromatic they are! I only have to cast my eyes on the holy gospel; all of a sudden I’m breathing in the perfumes of the life of Jesus and I know on which side to run…

It’s not the first place, but the last place that I aim for; rather than moving forward with the pharisee, I repeat, full of trust, the humble prayer of the tax-collector;

but above all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene: her astonishing—or rather her loving audacity—that charms the Heart of Jesus, seduces mine.

Yes, I feel it, even if I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go—my heart, broken in repentance—throw myself in the arms of Jesus because I know how much he cherishes the prodigal child who comes back to Him.

It’s not because the good God, in his prevenient mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I raise myself to Him through trust and love…

 

MsC36v j'imite la Madeleine (crop)
But above all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene: her astonishing—or rather her loving audacity—that charms the Heart of Jesus, seduces mine. | Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux (used by permission)

 


Renowned Discalced Carmelite scholar Father François-Marie Léthel concluded Meditation 8 of the 2011 Lenten Exercises for the Roman Curia by citing this final paragraph from Manuscript C. He also notes that, at the same moment, Thérèse writes to her spiritual brother Bellière:

You love St. Augustine, St. Magdalene; these souls to whom “many sins were forgiven because they loved much”. Me too, I love them; I love their repentance, and especially… their loving audacity! When I see Magdalene come forward in the midst of the numerous guests, showering the feet of her adorable Master with her tears, that she’s touching for the first time, I sense that her heart has understood the abysses of love and mercy of the Heart of Jesus and that, total sinner that she is, this Heart of love is not only disposed to pardon her but still more to lavish upon her the benefits of his divine intimacy, to lift her up to the highest summits of contemplation. Ah! my dear little Brother, since it was given to me also to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus, I admit to you that has chased away all fear from my heart. The memory of my faults humiliates me, it brings me to never learn on my strength, which is only a weakness, but even more this memory speaks to me of mercy and love. How—when you throw your faults with total, filial trust in the burning all-consuming brazier of love—how wouldn’t they be consumed without coming back?”

Read Father John Clarke’s translation of Letter 247 from Saint Thérèse to Abbé Maurice Bellière (21 June 1897) here.

 


Nota Bene: We have elected to be as faithful to the original text as possible in our translation, avoiding a re-cast into contemporary idioms. There is the age-old question among translators of French: does avoir confiance mean to be confident, to have confidence, or does it mean to trust? As an example, again and again today, theological translators agree: the best and truest translation of Jésus, j’ai confiance en toi is, Jesus, I trust in you.

 

Lethel, François-Marie. (2011) La Lumière du Christ dans le Coeur de l'Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints. 
© 2011, Librairie Éditrice Vaticane. Pour la langue française: © Éditions Parole et Silence, 2011.
Translations from the French are the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

 

JUANdelaCRUZ - It is our anxiety IGsize
I would desire that you not be so solicitous for the temporal things of the house because God will gradually forget you and you will come to a state of great spiritual and temporal need; for it is our anxiety that creates our needs. Cast your care on the Lord, daughter, and he will sustain you [Ps. 55:22], for he who gives, and wants to give, the highest cannot fail to give the least. Be careful that you do not lack the desire to be poor and in want; for if you do, at that very hour devotion will fail you and you will gradually weaken in the practice of virtue. If previously you desired poverty, now that you are superior you ought to desire and love it much more. You ought to govern and provide the house with virtues and ardent desires for heaven rather than with worries and plans about temporal and earthly things. The Lord tells us not to be thinking about food or clothing or tomorrow [Mt. 6:31-34].

 

Letters: Letter 21 to Madre María de Jesús
The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
ICS Publications
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

Marie du jour: 30 May

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Gospel — John 2:1-5

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”

His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 


 

Commentary

The Mother of the Lord shows us the way: whatever he tells you, do it. Do what he says, put his gospel into practice, make it a body in motion, of flesh and blood. The huge, empty water jars in your heart will be filled he will transform your life, from empty to full, from dull to happy.

 

The attitude of Mary
must be our attitude as a Church:
trust-filled but active.

 

This involves not only Jesus’ action but it involves our action, as well. “Truly, a New Covenant is pledged at this wedding. And a new mission is entrusted to the servants of the Lord, namely, the entire Church: ‘Do whatever he tells you’. To serve the Lord means to listen and to put his Word into practice. It is the simple, essential recommendation of Jesus’ Mother. It is the program for a Christian’s life” (Pope Francis).

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

 

Cana stone water jars Israel museum
Typical stone water jars displayed in the Israel Museum | Seetheholyland.net / Flickr

 

Quote of the day: 15 May

I only have to cast my eyes on the holy gospel, all at once I breathe in the fragrance of the life of Jesus and I know where to run… It isn’t the first place, but the last place that I aim for; instead of moving ahead with the Pharisee, I repeat, full of trust, the humble prayer of the tax collector; but above all I imitate Magdalene’s behavior, her astonishing or rather her loving audacity that charms the Heart of Jesus seduces my own. Yes, I feel it, even if I’d have on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I’d go — my heart,  broken from repentance — to throw myself in the arms of Jesus because I know how much he cherishes the prodigal child who comes back to him. It’s not because the good Lord in his prevenient mercy has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I rise up to him through trust and love…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Manuscript C 35 recto – 37

 

Child and Tears_coolbite1_Flickr
Child and Tears
“When a child can be brought to tears, and not from fear of punishment, but from repentance he needs no chastisement. When the tears begin to flow from the grief of their conduct you can be sure there is an angel nestling in their heart.” — Horace Mann
Photo: coolbite1 / Flickr

 

Learn more about St. Thérèse’s boundless trust in God’s merciful love here

Manuscript C translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission

 

 

 

 

Marie du jour: 14 May

O loving Queen, Mother of might most holy,
O deign to place us all within thy breast!
For in thy power, thy children all, though lowly,
Do set their hope, trusting in thy behest.

Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine
Excerpt from a Christmas carol


Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of the martyred Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, France, was born Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine in Paris, 22 September 1752.  When she introduced herself as a candidate for formation in the Carmel of Compiègne, she was unable to raise the funds for the necessary dowry that postulants were expected to bring with them to support the financial needs of the community. The prioress of the Carmel of Saint-Denis, Venerable Mother Teresa of Saint-Augustine — lovingly remembered by her baptismal name, Madame Louise — was the daughter of King Louis XV. When she learned of the difficulty the promising candidate faced in acquiring the francs needed for her dowry, Madame Louise supplied the balance of the funds required for the young Madame Lidoine’s admission to formation. In recognition of her benefactor’s great generosity, the Discalced Carmelite novice took the same religious name as her benefactor: Teresa of Saint-Augustine. Madame Louise’s generosity was well repaid when her protégée, now prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, led her nuns bravely and joyfully to the scaffold in revolutionary Paris on 17 July 1794.

 

Virgin and Child with a Rose - BOUCHER Francois - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Legion of Honor
Virgin and Child with a Rose
François Boucher (French, 1703 – 1770)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1765-1770
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – Legion of Honor

François Boucher was the court painter to King Louis XV

Excerpt from William Bush, To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne Guillotined July 17, 1774 
Copyright © 1999, 2013 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
 Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 22 April

It’s not easy to let yourself  be surprised by God

We must accept that God surprises us, that he intervenes in our lives producing unexpected changes, opening unprecedented horizons, removing insurmountable obstacles. They are changes that surprise us and the newness is disconcerting and makes us afraid, as well as the changes that God brings us and the innovation that God asks of us. Sometimes they are such drastic changes in life that we feel disoriented; sometimes they are risks that we have to take – and from which we would like to flee. They are God’s surprises. Although we cannot explain some situations that we experience – and with our limited understanding, we don’t find any logical explanation – we always trust in the God who surprises us by acting unexpectedly. It’s not easy to let yourself be surprised by God. It requires a high dose of trust in his love. But it is better to abandon ourselves into his hands, even without understanding, than to be paralyzed by fear or enslaved to security and nostalgia that deceive us.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homily for the Easter Vigil
21 April 2019

EasterVigil2019_01_withkiddies
Vigilia Pascual | Esquipula, Managua | Easter Vigil
Photo: @sj.baez

No es fácil dejarse sorprender por Dios

Hay que aceptar que Dios nos sorprende, que interviene en nuestra vida produciendo cambios inesperados, abriendo horizontes inéditos, quitando obstáculos insalvables. Son cosas nuevas que nos sorprenden y la novedad disconcierta y nos da miedo, también la novedad que Dios nos trae, la novedad que Dios nos pide. A veces son cambios tan drásticos en la vida que nos sentimos como desorientados, a veces son riesgos que hay que correr de los que quisiéramos huir. Son las sorpresas de Dios. Aunque no logremos explicar algunas situaciones que vivimos y con nuestra limitada razón no le encontremos lógica alguna, tengamos confianza siempre en el Dios que nos sorprende actuando inesperadamente. No es fácil dejarse sorprender por Dios. Se requiere una alta dosis de confianza en su amor. Pero es mejor abandonarnos en sus manos, aun sin comprender, que quedarnos paralizados por el miedo o esclavizados a seguridades y nostalgias engañosas.

Monseñor Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homilía de la Vigilia Pascual
20 de abril de 2019


On Easter Sunday 21 April 2019, Silvio José Báez, O.C.D., who is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, said goodbye to the faithful as he moves to Rome at the request of Pope Francis to assume a new ministry. The Discalced Carmelite friar explained that he knows from personal experience in this transition that it is better to choose the path of abandonment than to cling to false security and nostalgia that does nothing but deceive and disappoint. He does not know yet what his new post will be, nor for how long he will be away from the archdiocese.

The blogger serves as the English translator for Bishop Báez in social media. This translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission. 

Quote of the day: 13 March

“When I have a problem, I entrust it to her. I don’t ask her to solve it, only that she should hold it in her hands and help me. I almost always receive a rose as a sign.”

Pope Francis
Una rosa bianca da Santa Teresa
Avvenire, 24 March 2013

Pope Francis Red Roses
On the 13th March 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. He is a great devoté of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and states that she often, almost always, sends him a rose as a sign that she is handling a problem when he asks for her help.
BAEZ - The priesthood is not IGsize
“The priesthood is a mission received from God; it isn’t a job, it’s a loving surrender to others in the name of God. This means being ministers – not performing functions, but serving with joy – without depending on things that happen and without relying on worldly powers.”
(Bishop Silvio Báez, Homily for the Ordination of Oscar Martínez, C.Ss.R., 29 December 2018)

Abandonment, trust, and joy

We can abandon ourselves to God and totally trust him even without fully comprehending his ways; it’s a source of inexhaustible joy. This is a personal conviction that flows from my heart and from my life in tune with the experience and the message of both Holy Carmelites.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Therese and Teresa de los Andes

TERESA AVILA - Let us do our part
“Let us do our part, and God will then do what he wills. This is God’s cause, and all will end well. My hope is in him; do not be distressed.” (Letter 270 To Roque de Huerta, Madrid)  

A prayer of comfort in time of mourning

We seem to give them back to Thee, O God

We seem to give them back to Thee, O God, who gavest them to us. Yet as Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return. Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O lover of souls. What Thou givest, thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours also, if we are Thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; draw us closer to Thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer our loved ones who are with Thee. And while Thou dost prepare a place for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where Thou art we may be also forevermore.

1929.6.127_1.tif
Stevenson Memorial, Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1903, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum

“As Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return.”

Prayer attributed to Bede Jarrett, O.P.

 

BAEZ - Religion that ignores evil
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith” (Mt 23:23)
EDITH - The even if around us
In her poetic discourse, “Three Dialogues: I Am Always in Your Midst” (1939), St. Edith Stein writes, “One thing alone is certain: that God is and that his hand holds us in being.” Professor Tommy Akira Goto discusses how German theologian Paul Tillich united Edmund Husserl‘s ‘pure’ phenomenology with Martin Heidegger‘s ‘hermeneutic’ phenomenology to create a ‘critical’ phenomenology in: Fenomenologia e experiência religiosa em Paul Tillich. Rev. abordagem gestalt. [available online here]. 2011, vol.17, n.2  (English and Spanish translations available). Well-known for his writings on God as “ground of our being“, his significant work on the ontology of courage, The Courage to Be (Yale University Press) received wide critical and popular acclaim.

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 1

Scripture  –  Acts 27:23-25

For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before the Emperor. And God in his goodness to you has spared the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ So take courage, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told.

Reading  –  Saint Teresa of Avila, Spiritual Testimonies: 50 – Father Gracián’s health

(Seville, probably 1575)

Father Gracián’s health

1. Having been so distressed over our Father’s health that I couldn’t be at peace, and begging the Lord very emphatically one day after Communion that since He had given our Father to me He not allow me to be without him, the Lord told me: “Don’t be afraid.”

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!

Excerpt from the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
Copyright © 1976, 1980, 1985 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

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