Now let us speak about the type of soul that enters the second dwelling places and what such a soul does in them.
This stage pertains to those who have already begun to practice prayer and have understood how important it is not to stay in the first dwelling places. But they still don’t have the determination to remain in this second stage without turning back, for they don’t avoid the occasion of sin.
O Jesus, what an uproar the devils instigate here!And the afflictions of the poor soul: it doesn’t know whether to continue or to return to the first room. Reason, for its part, shows the soul that it is mistaken in thinking that these things of the world are not worth anything when compared to what it is aiming after. Faith, however, teaches it about where it will find fulfillment. The memory shows it where all these things end, holding before it the death of those who found great joy in them.
Ah, my Lord! Your help is necessary here; without it, one can do nothing.
It will seem to you that you are truly determined to undergo exterior trials, provided that God favors you interiorly. His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us. There’s no need for us to be advising Him about what He should give us, for He can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for.
The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer—and don’t forget this, because it’s very very important—should be that he work and prepare himself with determination and every possible effort to bring his will into conformity with God’s will.
Don’t think that in what concerns perfection there is some mystery or things unknown or still to be understood, for in perfect conformity to God’s will lies all our good.
Thus, if you should at times fall don’t become discouraged and stop striving to advance.
There is no other remedy for this evil of giving up prayer than to begin again; otherwise, the soul will gradually lose more each day—and please God that it will understand this fact.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Interior Castle The Second Dwelling Place Chapter One (excerpts)
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.
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
of the Holy Father John Paul II
On the consecrated life and its mission in the Church and in the world
The prophetic character of the consecrated life
84. The prophetic character of the consecrated life was strongly emphasized by the Synod Fathers. It takes the shape of a special form of sharing in Christ’s prophetic office, which the Holy Spirit communicates to the whole People of God. There is a prophetic dimension which belongs to the consecrated life as such, resulting from the radical nature of the following of Christ and of the subsequent dedication to the mission characteristic of the consecrated life.
The sign value, which the Second Vatican Council acknowledges in the consecrated life, is expressed in prophetic witness to the primacy which God and the truths of the Gospel have in the Christian life. Because of this pre-eminence, nothing can come before personal love of Christ and of the poor in whom he lives.
The Patristic tradition has seen a model of monastic religious life in Elijah, courageous prophet and friend of God. He lived in God’s presence and contemplated his passing by in silence; he interceded for the people and boldly announced God’s will; he defended God’s sovereignty and came to the defense of the poor against the powerful of the world (cf. 1 Kg 18-19).
In the history of the Church, alongside other Christians, there have been men and women consecrated to God who, through a special gift of the Holy Spirit, have carried out a genuinely prophetic ministry, speaking in the name of God to all, even to the Pastors of the Church.
True prophecy is born of God, from friendship with him, from attentive listening to his word in the different circumstances of history. Prophets feel in their hearts a burning desire for the holiness of God and, having heard his word in the dialogue of prayer, they proclaim that word with their lives, with their lips and with their actions, becoming people who speak for God against evil and sin.
Prophetic witness requires the constant and passionate search for God’s will, for self-giving, for unfailing communion in the Church, for the practice of spiritual discernment and love of the truth. It is also expressed through the denunciation of all that is contrary to the divine will and through the exploration of new ways to apply the Gospel in history, in expectation of the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, O.C.D. was one of the group of religious who served as experts and auditors at the 1994 Ninth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that convened in Rome from 2 – 29 October 1994. The topic of discussion among the synod members was “The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World”.
In 1995 at the international Encuentro for the Familia Teresiana of Saint Enrique de Ossó, Father Jesús Castellano shared a few of his impressions of the 1994 Synod from the Carmelite perspective. We are grateful to Father Iván de Jesús Mora Pernía, O.C.D. for transcribing Father Castellano’s remarks so that we might share them with our readers. The Spanish translation is our own.
We were able to note from within the Synod the presence of Carmel in the Church through the resonance of our figures who frequently were called exemplary witnesses and models of consecrated life in history. Thérèse of Lisieux was in first place among our most remembered saints. There were those who officially requested in the synod hall that she should be declared a Doctor of the Church. Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross and other saints of ours were named very frequently. From the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches came a word of thanks for the history of Carmel in their Churches and for the patient presence that is still alive in the regions of the Middle East such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt. The Secretary-General of the Synod at the end had a very special memory for St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, “that woman who has been an excellent witness of consecrated life in the mission of the Church” and made her famous texts resonate in the Synod hall: “In the heart of the Church I will be love”. John Paul II in the final homily of the Synod wanted to remember how our three best-known saints are present in the history of the holiness of the Church written by the religious: Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross at the time of the Protestant Reformation, and Thérèse of Lisieux, closest to us.
O Eternal Father! How much this humility deserves! What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son? The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver. [Mt 26:15]But to buy Him, no price is sufficient. Since by sharing in our nature, He has become one with us here below—and as Lord of His own will—He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him, the Father, in turn, can give Him to us. And so He says, “our bread.” He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Way of Perfection: Chap. 33
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.
Remember that your holy will
Is my rest, my only happiness.
I abandon myself and I fall asleep without fear
In your arms, O my divine Savior.
If you also fall asleep when the storm rages,
I always want to stay in deep peace.
But, Jesus, while you are asleep,
For the awakening!
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Jesus, My Beloved, Remember!… “Rappelle-toi” (PN 24), Stanza 32
Read the full text of the poem in French here and in English here. Read this and more entries from Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook of her last conversations with Saint Thérèse during July 1897 here. You can explore the English website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux here.
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 Matthew 1:18-25
18 This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David’s family. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God’s Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding.
20 While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21 Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 23 “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
24 After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord’s angel had told him to do. 25 But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus.
The intervention of the angel in the Gospel is not only to reassure Joseph but to inform him of his role in the plan of God. You shall call him Jesus and you will receive him as your Son. How deep is my faith to see the hand of God in the daily events of my life?
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
In Joseph’s care were Jesus
And Mary guarded well,
Provided for and cherished,
As all the stories tell;
And when he died, his spirit
Went forth from them in peace;
Within their arms so loving,
He found his soul’s release
Oh, my soul! Let the will of God be done; this suits you. Serve and hope in His mercy, for He will cure your grief when penance for your faults will have gained some pardon for them. Don’t desire joy but suffering. O, true Lord and my King! I’m still not ready for suffering if Your sovereign hand and greatness do not favor me, but with these, I shall be able to do all things.
Soliloquies 6: Painful Longing For God
¡Oh ánima mía! Deja hacerse la voluntad de tu Dios; eso te conviene. Sirve y espera en su misericordia, que remediará tu pena, cuando la penitencia de tus culpas haya ganado algún perdón de ellas; no quieras gozar sin padecer. ¡Oh verdadero Señor y Rey mío!, que aun para esto no soy, si no me favorece vuestra soberana mano y grandeza, que con esto todo lo podré.
There are many who pray: “Give us more blessings, O Lord. Look on us with kindness!” But the joy that you have given me is more than they will ever have with all their grain and wine. When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safe.
Reading – Saint John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Book 2, Chapter 13
The third and surest sign is that a person likes to remain alone in loving awareness of God, without particular considerations, in interior peace and quiet and repose, and without the acts and exercises (at least discursive, those in which one progresses from point to point) of the intellect, memory, and will. Such a one prefers to remain only in the general loving awareness and knowledge we mentioned, without any particular knowledge or understanding… Although the interior peace is more abundant, the individual allows no room to experience and enjoy it. But the more habituated persons become to this calm, the more their experience of this general loving knowledge of God will increase. This knowledge is more enjoyable than all other things because without the soul’s labor it affords peace, rest, savor, and delight.
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!