Quote of the day: 9 September

The Greatness of Our Vocation (excerpt)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

It seems to me that the soul that is aware of its greatness enters into the “holy freedom of the children of God” of which the Apostle speaks (Rom 8:21), that is, it transcends all things, including self.

The freest soul, I think, is the one most forgetful of self.

If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say it is to no longer think of ourselves; well, love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love.

 

Augustine writing De Civitate Dei British Museum AN00045163_001_l (2)
St Augustine writing; the city of God and the city of Satan; Abel and Cain; cutting from “Augustinus de Ciutate dei cum commento”, printed by Johannes von Amorbach, Basle. 1489-90 Woodcut
© The Trustees of the British Museum / Creative Commons License

 

St. Augustine says we have two cities within us, the city of God and the city of SELF (cf. De Civitate 14:28). To the extent that the first increases, the second will be destroyed.

A soul that lives by faith in God’s presence that has this “single eye” that Christ speaks of in the Gospel (Matt 6:22), that is, a purity of “intention” that seeks only God (Rusbrock l’Admirable 34); this soul, it seems to me, would also live in humility: it would recognize his gifts to it—for “humility is truth” (Interior Castle VI:10)—but it would attribute nothing to itself, referring all to God as the Blessed Virgin did.

 

white doves waikato new zealand peter_from_wellington flickr 16289388796_b778a4e0eb_o
Two white doves pause for a moment in the serene stillness of the Japanese Garden of Contemplation in Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand | Peter Kurdulija / Flickr

 

Catez, E 2014, I Have Found God: General Introduction, Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

 

Interior_Castle_1205 LIBRIVOX cover art

Listen to the LibriVox recording of The Interior Castle read by Ann Boulais below

Quote of the day: 9 August

Passion Sunday, 26 March 1939

Dear Mother, please, will Your Reverence allow me to offer myself to the Heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of propitiation for true peace: that the dominion of Antichrist may collapse, if possible, without a new world war, and that a new order may be established? I would like it [my request] granted this very day because it is the twelfth hour. I know that I am a nothing, but Jesus desires it, and surely He will call many others to do likewise in these days.

Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
A stained glass window in Eindhoven, Netherlands seems to offer a fitting tribute to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein. Her lifelong journey with God from the family’s Jewish hearth to the heart of God by the path of total immolation for Christthrough the bonds of the Teresian Carmelprovides a stirring witness to the Church today. May we be inspired by her example and aided by her intercession. | pedrocaetano / Flickr

 

Edith Stein addressed Letter 296 to her prioress in the Carmel of Echt, Mother Ottilia a Jesu Crucifixo, O.C.D. (Maria Margaret Thannisch) on Passion Sunday, 1939. In her letter, we see profound continuity with Teresian spirituality; we offer for your reflection a few salient points.

Obedience

Edith’s obedience to her prioress prompts her to seek permission to make this solemn offering, rather than to enter into such a life-changing commitment by herself, a decision that could have consequences for her entire community.

Obedience is a cornerstone of all Carmelite life, beginning with the Rule of St. Albert of Jerusalem, which states, The first thing I require is for you to have a prior, one of yourselves, who is to be chosen for the office by common consent, or that of the greater and maturer part of you; each of the others must promise him obedience — of which, once promised, he must try to make his deeds the true reflection…” (Rule, 4)

St. Teresa of Avila takes up the refrain when she writes, “in matters touching on obedience He doesn’t want the soul who truly loves Him to take any other path than the one He did: obediens usque ad mortem” (Ph 2:8). (Foundations, 5:5)

 

Notting Hill Profession 2019
On 4 August 2019 Sister Sarah of Notting Hill Carmel made her First Religious Profession, and pronounced her vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience during Mass, in the presence of witnesses of the Church. This photo shows her pronouncing her vows as she kneels before her prioress, who receives them as God’s representative. | Photo: Carmelite Nuns in Britain / Facebook (used by permission)

 

Self-Offering

In comparison with the Discalced Carmelite martyrs of Compiègne and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus who preceded Edith in choosing a life of radical, holocaust offering to God, we note the following similarities and differences:


🞧  The Discalced Carmelites of Compiègne made their offering after their prioress proposed making an act of consecration “by which the community would offer themselves in holocaust to appease the wrath of God and to obtain that, through the sacrifice of their very selves, peace may be restored to the Church and to the State.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

 

🞧  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus was motivated by “ardent desires… to save souls” when she made her holocaust offering to merciful love on 9 June 1895. (CJ, 30 Sep 97) She wrote, 

“O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love you and make you loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory you have prepared for me in your kingdom… In order to live in one single act of perfect love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to your merciful love, asking you to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within you to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of your love, O my God!” (Pri 6)

 

🞧  St. Teresa Benedicta offered herself to the heart of Jesus, a gesture of self-immolation in the furnace of the infinite love of Christ. Like St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of Compiègne, St. Benedicta understood that a holocaust is consumed in the flames that spring forth from the Sacred Heart, echoing the sentiment of Thérèse: “O my Jesus! let it be me this happy victim, consume your holocaust through the fire of your Divine Love.” (Ms A, 84r)

Further, the propitiatory nature of St. Benedicta’s self-offering aligns with the consecration of the proto-martyrs of Discalced Carmelite nuns, Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine and her companions “so that peace may be restored to the Church and to the State.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

 

Adoration_of_the_Kings_Cologne Cathedral window_Robyn Fleming Flickr
This stained glass window depicting the adoration of the three kings in the Cathedral of Cologne would have been familiar to Edith Stein; the cathedral holds a reliquary which, according to tradition, contains the bones of the magi, seen here. Did Edith see her self-sacrificial offering in reference to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offered by the travelers from the East? | Robyn Fleming / Flickr

 

Nothingness

“I know that I am a nothing,” Edith wrote. This is an ancient tune in the Teresian Carmel, beginning with St. Teresa of Avila herself: “I realized I was a woman and wretched and incapable of doing any of the useful things I desired to do in the service of the Lord.” (Way, 1:2)

Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine counseled abandonment as a remedy to her daughters and directees: “I’m speaking of perfect abandonment to the divine wishes of our good Master. We are in his hands like children in the arms of a tender Father, who knows well what we need” (Letter 4 from Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine to Mademoiselle de Grand-Rut, Holy Thursday, April 1790). (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 137)

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, immersing herself within her own Carmelite identity“of the Child Jesus”through spiritual childhood,  explores the frontier of nothingness through love. While she stated in Manuscript A that it is “the property of love… to lower itself,” (Ms A, 2v) in her magisterial Manuscript B, she plumbs the abyss: “So that Love may be fully satisfied, it must lower itself, lower itself all the way to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire.” (Ms B, 3v)

Are these three Carmelite martyrs exaggerating? No, insists the Discalced Carmelite friar who is the foremost expert on the theology of the saints, François-Marie Léthel, OCD—professor of the same at the Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”. His teaching is crystal clear:

It is “a rule in the theology of the saints: the saints never exaggerate, but simply tell the truth in dimensions that always seem exaggerated to us as they do for all those who aren’t yet saints!” (Léthel 2011, p. 144)

 

Star Cluster NGC 6611 Hubble star clusters NASA Hubble Flickr
This collection of dazzling stars is called NGC 6611, an open star cluster that formed about 5.5 million years ago in the well-known Eagle Nebula (or Messier 16). It is a very young cluster, containing many hot, blue stars, whose fierce ultraviolet glow make the surrounding Eagle Nebula glow brightly. Astronomers refer to areas like the Eagle Nebula as HII regions. This is the scientific notation for ionized hydrogen from which the region is largely made. Extrapolating far into the future, this HII region will eventually disperse, helped along by shockwaves from supernova explosions as the more massive young stars end their brief but brilliant lives. In this image, dark patches can also be spotted, punctuating the stellar landscape. These areas of apparent nothingness are actually very dense regions of gas and dust, which obstruct light from passing through. Many of these may be hiding the sites of the early stages of star formation, before the fledgling stars clear away their surroundings and burst into view. For more information, visit: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1101a/ |ESA/Hubble & NASA / Flickr

 

Divine Will

St. Teresa Benedicta minced no words when she declared her firm belief that God was calling her to make this radical self-sacrifice: “Jesus desires it.”

St. Thérèse was more poetic:

Divine Word! You are the Adored Eagle whom I love and who draws me! It is you who, soaring toward this land of exile, willed to suffer and die in order to draw souls into the heart of the Eternal Home of the Blessed Trinity. It is you who, ascending once again to the inaccessible Light, which will be henceforth your abode, still remain in this vale of tears, hidden beneath the appearance of a white host.

Eternal Eagle, you desire to nourish me with your divine substanceme, poor little creaturewho would return to nothingness if your divine gaze did not give me life each and every moment.

O Jesus, in the excess of my gratitude, let me tell you that your love is crazy. Given this craziness, how can you not want my heart to soar to you? How can my trust have any limits? 

Ah! For you, I know, the saints have done some crazy things, they’ve done some great things because they were eagles… Jesus, I’m too little to do great things… and my own craziness is to hope that your Love will accept me as a victim… My craziness consists in begging the Eagles my brothers, to obtain for me the favor of flying toward the Sun of Love with the Divine Eagle’s own wings… (Ms B, 05v)

For Blessed Thérèse of Compiègne, the divine inspiration to make the act of consecration came to her during mental prayer, those moments in the life of every Discalced Carmelite nun where even in the midst of dryness and darkness, she communes with God alone.

Mother Thérèse shared an apartment with the most senior members of the monastic community in Compiègne city after they were expelled from their cloister by the secularizing legislation of the French revolutionary government. It was to these most mature members of the community that one morning she first proposed a community act of holocaust consecration (probably in 1792); but their immediate reaction was to recoil in fear.

Historian William Bush notes that their reaction startled the prioress and she immediately regretted the proposal. Yet, after an entire day of contemplation, here were “two tearful 76-year-old nuns coming to ask forgiveness of their prioress for their lack of courage.” (Bush 1999, p. 107)

Again, what did Edith say? “Jesus desires it.”

 

Ratgeb martyrdom of the Carmelites
“Deus Vult” (God wills it) was the rallying cry associated with the Crusades, in particular the first crusade in the 11th century. The first Carmelite hermits, for whom St. Albert of Jerusalem wrote his Rule of Life, were believed to be crusaders who chose to lead a life of penance and prayer on the Mediterranean slope of Mount Carmel, rather than return to their homes in Europe. Ultimately, many of them gave their lives as witnesses to Christ when they were martyred at the hands of the Saracens in 1291.
Martyrdom of the Carmelites
Jörg Ratgeb (German, 1480-1526)
Wall painting, 1517
Carmelite Cloister, Frankfurt

 

Universal Call

When Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine proposed the act of consecration to the entire community, she reminded her nuns in Compiègne to “note well, my Sisters, that we didn’t enter religious life except to put ourselves to work on our sanctification through the total immolation of our selves, which are so precious to us.  It shouldn’t cost us much to do this.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

With her typical audacity, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus dared to ask this of the Lord: “I beg you to lower your divine gaze upon a great number of little souls. I beg you to choose a legion of little victims worthy of your love!” (Ms B, 5v)

Yes, St. Thérèse begged for holocaust victims; and, St. Benedicta felt certain that Christ would call others to follow such a rugged path that she trod: “surely He will call many others to do likewise in these days.” (Stein, E 1939, Letter 269)

 

OLMC Haifa 2019 Procession photo OCDinform 01
Thousands of pilgrims accompanied the Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the slow, arduous climb from Saint Joseph Latin Catholic Parish in the City of Haifa up to the Stella Maris Church and Monastery of the Discalced Carmelite friars on the promontory of Mount Carmel on 5 May 2019. It was the 100th anniversary of the procession, which began as an act of gratitude for the liberation of the city from Turkish rule at the end of the first World War. | Discalced Carmelite General Curia / Facebook (used by permission)

 

“In these days…”

In our time, self-sacrifice and courage never must be lacking. “Jesus desires it” still today. What time is it now? Is it still “the twelfth hour”? Are we too late to respond to his call? In the words of a meditation written for the Elevation of the Holy Cross, 14 September 1939, Saint Edith Stein still speaks to us today:

The world is in flames. Are you impelled to put them out? Look at the cross. From the open heart gushes the blood of the Savior. This extinguishes the flames of hell. Its precious blood is poured everywhere—soothing, healing, saving.

The eyes of the Crucified look down on you—asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness? What will you answer him?

“Lord, where shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”

Ave Crux, Spex unica!

 


Reference List

Agnès of Jesus, 1897, The yellow notebook of Mother Agnès, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/carnet-jaune/2385-carnet-jaune-septembre>.

Albert of Jerusalem, c. 1206-1214, The Rule of St. Albert, Carmelnet, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://carmelnet.org/chas/rule.htm>.

Bush, W 1999, To Quell the Terror: The True Story of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Foley, M., & Teresa. 2012, The book of her foundations: a study guide, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C.

Gelber, L, Linssen, M & Stein, E 1992, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essay, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O & Teresa 2000, The Way of Perfection, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Léthel, F-M 2011, La Lumière du Christ Dans le Coeur de l’Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints, Éditions Parole et Silence, Les Plans-sur-Bex.

Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, Histoire des religieuses carmélites de Compiègne conduites a l’échafaud le 17 juillet 1794, Ouvrage posthume de la soeur Marie de l’Incarnation, Thomas-Malvin, Sens.

Stein, E. 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1895, Manuscript A 02v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/02-10/02/02-verso>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, 1895, Manuscript A 84r, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/81-86/84/84-recto>.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1896, Manuscript B 03v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/b03/b03v>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1896, Manuscript B 05v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/b05/b05v>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, 1895, Prayer 6 from Thérèse of Lisieux, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/pri-6>.

 


Sine qua non

The blogger wishes to acknowledge the invaluable guidance, instruction, example, encouragement, and friendship of the following Discalced Carmelites:

Bishop Silvio José Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Sister Marie Josephine Fagnoni, Carmel of Haifa
Father Emilio José Martínez González, Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”
Father François-Marie Léthel, Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”
Sister Thérèse Wilkinson, Thicket Priory

Quote of the day: 26 July

While reading a book on the life of St. Anne, the child, when a little more than twelve years old, became very devoted to the saints of Carmel. For the author of the book says that St. Anne’s mother — I believe her name is Merenciana — often went to speak to those saints. The effect this reading had on the girl was one of great devotion to the order of our Lady, for she then promised to become a nun in that order and also made a promise of chastity.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 26
Commenting on the vocation of Beatriz de la Madre de Dios

 

Joachim and Anne, Cuzco artist, Convento de Sta Teresa, Arequipa Peru
The young Virgin with Saints Joachim and Anne
Unidentified Cuzco Artist (Peru, 18th c.), 
Oil on canvas, 18th c.
Convento de Santa Teresa, Arequipa, Peru

 

Jacob did not become less a saint for tending his flock, nor Abraham, nor St. Joachim. When we try to avoid work, everything tires us. That’s the way it goes for me, and for this reason God wills that I be always loaded down with many things to do.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Letter 172 to her brother, Don Lorenzo de Cepeda
2 January 1577

 

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.

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)

Quote of the day: 8 March

When the Lord wants a soul for Himself, creatures have little strength to prevent this.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Foundations, Chapter 10, No. 8

TERESA Way of Perfection autograph manuscript Valladolid
As she writes the account of the founding of the Discalced monastery of the Conception of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Valladolid, Saint Teresa mentions Antonio Manrique de Padilla, the son of the governor of Castile and his widow, Doña María de Acuña. At an early age Don Antonio perceived his call to the priesthood and religious life; his mother prayed faithfully for his vocation. Despite pressure from the rest of the family and “after having been delayed for three years and strongly urged to change his mind, he entered the Society of Jesus.” Don Antonio entered the Jesuits March 8, 1572, and was a novice under the direction of Baltasar Alvarez, the former confessor of Saint Teresa. [Source: Kavanaugh and Rodriguez] | Photo: Original autograph manuscript of the Way of Perfection preserved in the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Valladolid. The photographer has focused on this sentence from Chapter 21: “They must have a great and very resolute determination to persevere until reaching the end, come what may, happen what may, whatever work is involved, whatever criticism arises, whether they arrive or whether they die on the road, or even if they don’t have courage for the trials that are met, or if the whole world collapses.” | Ángel Cantero / Iglesia en Valladolid

Called to Carmel

On 24th February 1922, Father Henri Grialou entered the Discalced Carmelite novitiate at Avon, France, only 20 days after his priestly ordination; he took the name Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus.

Marie-Eugene-de-l'Enfant-Jesus

Today, holiness needs to overflow, it needs to reach everyone, permeate all walks and states of life. This is a necessity not only for the consecrated life, the state of perfection but also for any way of life in the world. 

There, too, we have to be saints, just to be saved. Mediocrity is no longer an option.

Learn more about Blessed Marie-Eugene

 

Discovering your vocation: Laudem Gloriae

Let us unite to make Him forget everything by the strength of our love, and let us be, as Saint Paul says, “the praise of His glory”.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
(Letter 191, January 25, 1904)
beatification-banner
Elizabeth of the Trinity
Her beatification banner

 

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)

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 9

When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you!

Intention

For the grace to give everything to the Master: It was the end of October when St. Elizabeth wrote the letter that has served as the prayerful foundation for our novena meditations. She was certain that she would die soon, and this letter to a dear friend served as her “spiritual testament.” At the head of the letter, she wrote this inscription: “Deus charitas est (God is love),” [I Jn 4:16] and she continued: “the hour is drawing near when I am going to pass from this world to my Father…” Totally surrendered to God, in an attitude of complete abandonment and self-giving to the Lord, she was prepared to meet her Spouse, the Bridegroom of her soul. Emptied of self, she was overflowing with divine love. She describes this as she writes: “Never was the heart of the Master so overflowing with love as at the supreme moment when he was going to leave his own! It seems to me as if something similar is happening in His little bride at the evening of her life, and I feel as if a wave were rising from my heart to yours! Dear Antoinette, in the light of eternity, the soul sees things as they really are.” And so, our novena comes full circle. Like St. Paul at his farewell to the elders of Ephesus, [cf. Ac 20:17-37] St. Elizabeth knows that what is essential counts. And, the example of self-giving and abandonment to Christ that she offers to us is the same example that we are called to offer to others. This is our vocation: to become great saints like Elizabeth of the Trinity. And to ensure that we are on the path to sainthood, she wants to help us in her own Totus Tuus way. Why not say yes? Say yes to holiness, yes to Elizabeth, say yes to Christ!

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Speaks

“When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you! … May He keep you wholly His, wholly faithful; in Him I will always be WHOLLY YOURS.”

Meditation 

In silent prayer, turn to Saint Elizabeth in your need. She is up above, ready to help you because she loves you. Ask her to show you how to give everything to the Master, Jesus Christ, in trust and love. Entrust yourself entirely to him as she did – he will keep you entirely his own!

NOVENA PRAYER 

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home, and the place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer, and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him a super-added humanity wherein he renews his mystery; and you, O Father, bestow yourself and bend down to your little creature, seeing in her only your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased.

O my ‘Three’, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to you as a prey to be consumed; enclose yourself in me that I may be absorbed in you so as to contemplate in your light the abyss of your Splendour!

Trinity Flower
trinity flower | Marilylle Soveran
Excerpt from Letter 333, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Closing Prayer from the official St. Elizabeth of the Trinity website

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 5

SCRIPTURE READING
Psalm 68

.2 Let God arise, let his foes be scattered.
Let those who hate him flee before him.
.3 As smoke is blown away so will they be blown away;
like wax that melts before the fire,
so the wicked shall perish at the presence of God.

.4 But the just shall rejoice at the presence of God,
they shall exult and dance for joy.
.5 O sing to the Lord, make music to his name;
make a highway for him who rides on the clouds.
Rejoice in the Lord, exult at his presence.

.6 Father of the orphan, defender of the widow,
such is God in his holy place.
.7 God gives the lonely a home to live in;
he leads the prisoners forth into freedom;
but rebels must dwell in a parched land.

.8 When you went forth, O God, at the head of your people,
.9 when you marched across the desert, the earth trembled:
the heavens melted at the presence of God,
at the presence of God, Israel’s God.

.10 You poured down, O God, a generous rain;
when your people were starved you gave them new life.
.11 It was there that your people found a home,
prepared in your goodness, O God, for the poor.

.12 The Lord gives the word to the bearers of good tidings:
“The Almighty has defeated a numberless army
.13 and kings and armies are in flight, in flight
while you were at rest among the sheepfolds.”

.14 At home the women already share the spoil.
They are covered with silver as the wings of a dove,
its feathers brilliant with shining gold
.15 and jewels flashing like snow on Mount Zalmon.

.16 The mountains of Bashan are mighty mountains;
high-ridged mountains are the mountains of Bashan.
.17 Why look with envy, you high-ridged mountains,
at the mountain where God has chosen to dwell?
It is there that the Lord shall dwell for ever.

.18 The chariots of God are thousands upon thousands.
The Lord has come from Sinai to the holy place.
.19 You have gone up on high; you have taken captives,
receiving men and women in tribute, O God,
even those who rebel, into your dwelling, O Lord.

.20 May the Lord be blessed day after day.
He bears our burdens, God our savior;
.21 this God of ours is a God who saves.
The Lord our God holds the keys of death.
.22 And God will smite the head of his foes,
the crown of those who persist in their sins.

.23 The Lord said: “I will bring them back from Bashan;
I will bring them back from the depth of the sea.
.24 Then your feet will tread in their blood
and the tongues of your dogs take their share of the foe.”

.25 They see your solemn procession, O God,
the procession of my God, of my king, to the sanctuary:
.26 the singers in the forefront, the musicians coming last,
between them, maidens sounding their timbrels.

.27 “In festive gatherings, bless the Lord;
bless God, O you who are Israel’s sons.”
.28 There is Benjamin, least of the tribes, at the head,
Judah’s princes, a mighty throng,
Zebulun’s princes, Naphtali’s princes.

.29 Show forth, O God, show forth your might,
your might, O God, which you have shown for us.
.30 For the sake of your temple high in Jerusalem
may nations come to you bringing their tribute.

.31 Threaten the wild beast that dwells in the reeds,
the bands of the mighty and rulers of the peoples.
Let them bow down offering silver.
Scatter the peoples who delight in war.
.32 Envoys will make their way from Egypt;
Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.

.33 Kingdoms of the earth, sing to God, praise the Lord
.34 who rides on the heavens, the ancient heavens.
He thunders his voice, his mighty voice.
.35 Come, acknowledge the power of God.

His glory is on Israel; his might is in the skies.
.36 God is to be feared in his holy place.
He is the Lord, Israel’s God.
He gives strength and power to his people.

Blessed be God!

MEDITATION
Three Dialogues: I Am Always in Your Midst

Mother Ursula’s dialogue with Saint Angela Merici

How foolish now this doubt appears to me!
If God’s call sounds within a soul,
When he leads it to our house’s door
And to knock hard—why should we not open
The door wide, our arms and our heart?
If he shows the way, then he also knows
That it is not a wrong track where people suddenly get lost;
No spurious way that ends in desert sands.
That step by step the road will be revealed, I firmly believe.
And in fact what is certain?
Where is “certain fate”? Yes, we see—
And it’s good that we are so confronted—
How around us structures are becoming ruins
That seemed to us to have been raised for eternity.
One thing alone is certain: that God is
And that his hand holds us in being.
Then even if around us the whole world falls to wrack and ruin,
We are not ruined if we hold ourselves to him.

PRAYER

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

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

wellington-rodrigues-574975-unsplash
If he shows the way, then he also knows
That it is not a wrong track where people suddenly get lost;
No spurious way that ends in desert sands.
The Hidden Life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts
Edited by L. Gelber and Michael Linssen; translated by Waltraut Stein
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 4 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Jesus to Teresa: “I have chosen you”

While I was on earth, I took her for my friend; but now that I am in heaven, I have chosen you.

(Avila, Incarnation, July 22, 1572)

A favor on St. Mary Magdalene’s feast

1. On the feast of St. Mary Magdalene the Lord again confirmed in me a favor He had granted me in Toledo, choosing me in the place of a certain person who was absent.[1]

Día de la Magdalena, me tornó el Señor a confirmar una merced que me había hecho en Toledo, eligiéndome en ausencia de cierta persona en su lugar.
[Las Relaciones: Capítulo 32]

Teresa-de-Jesus_contempo_Look-at-Him

[1] This is a probable reference to an event reported by Diego de Yepes in his life of St. Teresa (1615, Madrid). One day in Toledo, Teresa was envying St. Mary Magdalene for the love our Lord had for her. The Lord then appeared to Teresa and said: While I was on earth, I took her for my friend; but now that I am in heaven, I have chosen you.

Spiritual Testimonies: Number 28
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.

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 9

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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 8

although our family is very humble,
we have the honour of being among
our adorable Creator’s chosen ones

READING

I want to tell you, my dear children, that I’m pressed to thank and have you thank God, because I feel that although our family is very humble, we have the honour of being among our adorable Creator’s chosen ones.

From Mr. Martin to his Carmelite daughters – June after 15, 1888

RESPONSORY

R/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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

 

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 6

through my tears,
my heart abounds with joy

READING

April 10, 1888

… Thérèse, my little Queen, entered Carmel yesterday! God alone could demand such a sacrifice, but He’s helping me so powerfully that through my tears, my heart abounds with joy.

One who loves you,

Louis Martin.

From Louis Martin to the Nogrix family – April 10, 1888

RESPONSORY
R/. 
You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 1

Your husband and true friend, who loves you for life.

READING

October 8, 1863

My dear Friend,

I won’t be able to arrive in Alençon until Monday. It seems like a long time to me, and I’m longing to be with you.

Needless to say, your letter made me very happy, except I see that you’ve tired yourself out far too much. So I strongly recommend calm and moderation, above all in your work. I have some orders from the Compagnie Lyonnaise; once again, don’t worry so much. We’ll manage, with God’s help, to build a good little company.

I had the happiness of receiving Communion at Notre-Dame des Victoires, which is like a little heaven on earth. I also lit a candle for the intention of our entire family.

I kiss you with all my heart, while waiting for the happiness of being with you again. I hope that Marie and Pauline are being very good!

Your husband and true friend, who loves you for life.

Correspondence from St. Louis Martin to his wife, St. Zélie Guérin

RESPONSORY
R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
V/.  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

The Marie du jour – May 23

The image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to woman’s natural vocation; her relation to her husband is one of obedience, trust, and participation in his life as she furthers his objective tasks and personality development; to the child she gives true care, encouragement, and formation of his God-given talents; she offers both selfless surrender and a quiet withdrawal when unneeded. All is based on the concept of marriage and motherhood as a vocation from God; it is carried out for God’s sake and under His guidance.

Saint Edith Stein

Gentileschi, Orazio, 1563-1639; The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639)
Oil on canvas, 1615–1620
Birmingham Museums Trust 

to the child she gives true care

Essays On Woman
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 2 (p. 48)
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

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