Teresa Linda, ocds: the wall

Avila, 2015. Photo credit thespeakroom.org
Avila, 2015. Photo credit thespeakroom.org

THE WALL                                       Avila, Spain (8/15/15)

In my heart,
Dwells my King,
Along with His court of angels, saints, and principalities.

It is a sacred inner dwelling place,
Attacked a thousand times a day,
By arrows of pride, anxiety, and unforgiveness
Arrows that are meant to be an attack
On the God of Peace.

With prayer,
The mercy of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
And a thousand acts of the will,
The fortress of my soul is built and strengthened,

That I may be alone with my All,
Free to gaze into His loving eyes,
To touch the wounds on His hands, His side, and His feet,

With total abandonment.

SOURCE: St. Teresa’s 5th Centenary Spain Pilgrimage.  Avila, 2015

Copyright 2017, TL. All Rights Reserved

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: August 26 – the transverberation of Saint Teresa of Avila II

 

The Transverberation of Saint Teresa (Sevilla) Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Transverberation of Saint Teresa (Sevilla) Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

NOTE: If you would like to get a virtual tour of the sepulcre where St. Teresa’s heart is kept, click on this Alba de Tormes link

St. Teresa was so profoundly the temple of the Holy Spirit. She was so filled with the zeal and spirit of Saint Elijah, that God’s love in her heart was confirmed through the Transverberation. The Transverberation is a special grace that is typical of souls whom God has exalted and elevated to the sixth mansion predominantly, but slightly overlapping with the seventh mansion. St. Teresa is famous to have received this grace.

She wasn’t the only one, of course. St. John of the Cross probably experienced it, but he just didn’t say it, which was very typical of St. John. He knew and expressed the grace so well that it’s likely that he also received the same grace. St. Thérese received something very similar to the Transverberation in the Choir of her convent. Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified, we know for a fact, received that grace, as did the most wonderful and illustrious St. Father Pio, in the confessional.

These special graces are insignias; they are signs of what God has done in a person’s soul already, but is manifesting in a special and specific way. In St. Teresa’s case, the Transverberation was such a profoundly spiritual experience that it had a physical effect, as the doctors found out when examining the mortal remains of St Teresa’s actual, physical heart. This is kind of perplexing and paradoxical because when we speak of the heart like the Sacred Heart of Jesus or when we speak of God dwelling in our “heart” we don’t necessarily mean specifically, the physical organ of the heart, but the center of the person’s soul. Nevertheless, St. Teresa’s physical heart did receive the effect of that spiritual manifestation.

These graces are accidentals in the lives of the saints. St. Teresa wasn’t declared or made a saint because she had these spiritual experiences. She was declared and made a saint because she had the infused virtues of what unites us to God: Faith, Hope, and Love! That’s what made her a saint! This is what is necessary. This is what is essential to be united with the splendor of God’s truth.

These infused virtues are most beautiful. They bestow the transfiguring love of God’s eternal life, enlarge our lives and enable us to share in His holiness. It was Saint Teresa’s cooperation with the grace of God’s inspirations, in obedience to His divine will that allowed the kingdom of God to make in her, His temple. That’s what made her a saint! Her ‘Yes,’ her fiat, her agape, her ‘Be it done unto me according to thy will. Here I am I was born for you! What do you want of me? I am yours!!’

That fundamental disposition is what led to St. Teresa’s transformation, and as the book of Hebrews says, ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God.’ In other words, without faith we’re not open to friendship with God. Our Lord says in so many ways in the gospels that it’s not enough to be religious. Being religious isn’t what saves us; it is obedience to His will and uniting our hearts to His, according to how He wants us to love – not in the way we want, in conformity to our comforts.

Jesus expresses this truth in the gospels when He says, ‘Not everybody who says Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my heavenly Father.’ In other words, we can be very religious, have statues and pictures, and even pray rosaries, but if we’re not living what we believe by aligning our lives with the love of God and how He asks us to love in our daily circumstance, then according to God, our talk is cheap. We need to live what we believe. When we say, ‘Yes,’ when we live what we believe and make that sacrifice, that death to self in order to be lifted up in Him – then that transformation can begin. Otherwise, our faith is superficial and only on the surface.

The saints show us what is beyond the surface, the depths of our own identity, the depths of who we are each called to be in His divine mercy. The saints reveal to us the glory of God’s love for everyone, for it is the saints who have the courage to say, ‘Yes’ to the maximum. The saints had the courage to let themselves be loved to the full. That’s all God wants of us – to let ourselves be loved to the full. This is a gift and the greatest gift we could possibly have – more than our physical life, more than our jobs, more than our own family, more than all the physical necessities of our daily life, or of what makes life pleasurable. Our greatest gift is faith! Without faith we have Nada! Nada! Nada! — Nothing!!

Without faith, even the beauty of the most magnificent churches passes away, for that beauty is only meant to point us to Him. It is meant to point us to Him in friendship. It is meant to inspire this ‘Yes Lord, live in me. Be it done unto me according to your will.’ Salvation began with the ‘Yes’ of Mary. God’s mission of the Messiah, Emmanuel, began to embrace the world with the simple ‘Yes’ of a woman so humble, with Mary just saying ‘Yes’ to Him.

Amidst this invitation and this beauty of what we are called to and who we are called to be in His love, there will be a battle. We hear in scriptures, in the reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians, that there is a battle; there is a spiritual world behind the material scenes of the world.  Our world is the stage where we will each decide whether we will be a winner or a loser; whether we will be victorious by saying ‘Yes’ to God’s love and allowing that to transform our lives; whether we are able to share in the only love that overcomes death and sin that cleanses us from within. And this decision will determine our ultimate destiny.

In order to be faithful to this love, we need to put on God’s armor in the midst of the battle. We need to be protected; we need to fight to defend this dignity. We need to fight a spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our primary General is Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent, who is full of grace and conceived without sin. It is she who can help us to be united to the victory of her Son.

As we prepare the stage of our lives, we ask Jesus for the grace to grow more and more in His love, in holiness and the perfection of charity. We ask that God’s love be brought to maturity in the whole of our identity and personality. In St. Teresa – this illustrious human being , in all of her warmth, intelligence, and humor of her personality – shines a love that is larger than life and out of this world. She points us to God’s love, as God draws us to Himself. Through the intercession of St. Teresa, may we receive the grace to be faithful to the end that our faith may be set fully on fire. Saint Teresa, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Alba de Tormes, Spain, 2014)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

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Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: the transverberation of Saint Teresa of Avila I

Bernini-Teresa

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  (circa 1650)

This week we celebrate a wonderful occasion! We celebrate one of the most exquisite graces, one of the most special gifts that God did in Saint Teresa’s soul. We refer to that gift as the Transverberation. Saint Teresa is the seraphic doctor of the Church…seraphic meaning, that she is full with fire. Her greatest virtue, her greatest gift was the love of God.

In First Corinthians 13, Saint Paul writes, ‘If I have all of these things, and have not love, what does it amount to? It is useless, it is nothing.’ What does he use as examples? He doesn’t say, ‘If I have the latest pleasure in terms of a worldly treasure’, he doesn’t say, to use common terms, ‘If I have the latest Lexus, and have not love, I will be an empty dog,’ or ‘If I have all of these other legacies and luxuries, but have not love, I have nothing.’

Instead, as examples, Saint Paul uses the most amazing qualities of God’s grace in a soul! He refers to the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of tongues, and working mighty deeds through the power of faith, and miracles. If I have all these extraordinary gifts of God, to be such a warrior for the Lord…and yet have not love—nada…it amounts to nothing.

Saint Teresa’s greatest attribute, quality, and gift, were not the extraordinary mystical experiences she had. It was her love of God…and it was this love of God that was sealed; it was consummated through the experience of the Transverberation of her heart. We can date this with confidence to the year 1559. That’s important because she experienced the Transverberation, this mystical grace, three years before her first foundation of the renewed Carmel of St. Joseph, the first of her seventeen foundations.

It was not, as it was generally supposed, a single vision, as what many might assume from Bernini’s artwork and depiction of this experience. Rather, the vision was repeated several times over a period of days.

What happened? Saint Teresa describes what happened to her in her Life when she writes her autobiography under obedience to her spiritual director. In the 29th chapter of her Life, about halfway through it, she writes:

I saw in the hands of this beautiful cherubim angel a large golden dart and at the end of the iron tip there appeared to be a little fire. It seemed to me this angel plunged the dart several times into my heart that it reached deep within me [in Spanish she says, “it reached into my entrañas”]. When he drew it out, I thought he was carrying off with him the deepest part of me; and he left me all on fire with great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan, and the sweetness this greatest pain caused me was so superabundant that there is no desire capable of taking it away; nor is the soul content with less than God. The pain is not bodily but spiritual, although the body doesn’t fail to share in some of it, and even a great deal. The loving exchange that takes place between the soul and God is so sweet that I beg him in his goodness to give a taste of this love to anyone who thinks I am lying.

The entrañas… What is that depth of her being that was touched so intimately by God? Saint John of the Cross describes this as the intimate center of the substance of the soul; in common terms -the heart of hearts, the spirit, and the depth of one person’s being. Saint John of Cross says that God’s purpose in granting this kind of deep communication of Himself to someone else’s depth ‘is to exalt the soul, to enlarge it, and enrich it.’

Saint Teresa’s mystical experience must not be confused with mysticism, as it is popularly known on the level of cultural or television mysticism. On that secular level, mysticism is often associated as a grandiose or paranormal psychic adventure, and that’s not the point of this experience at all. For our holy mother, Saint Teresa, authentic mysticism always had an ecclesial dimension, in other words, genuine mysticism always involved mission for others; it wasn’t just for herself.

One of our Carmelite opening prayers expresses this aspect of mysticism leading to mission. ‘Almighty God, you filled the heart of Saint Teresa, our mother, with the fire of your love and gave her strength to undertake difficult tasks for the honor of your name.’

This is really important because Saint Teresa experienced the Transverberation before all of the marvels of her foundations…and before all that God did through her. Saint Teresa says about her mission in Carmel:

 ‘If our Lord hadn’t granted me the favors he did, it doesn’t seem to me that I would have had the courage for the works that were done or the strength to support the trials suffered and the statements and judgments made against me.   So after the foundations were begun, the fears I previously had in thinking that I was deceived, left me. I grew certain the work was God’s and so I threw myself into difficult tasks, although always with advice and under obedience. As a result, I understand that since our Lord desires to revive the original spirit of this order, and in His mercy he took me as a means, His majesty had to provide me with what I was lacking, which was everything, in order to get results and better manifest His greatest through so wretched a thing’ (referring to herself).

This grace was a catalyst, a turning point in her life, just like the Transfiguration was to the Apostles. The mystical experience that the three Apostles had on Mount Tabor of seeing Jesus transfigured, left a special mark on their souls and it prepared them for their mission…but more so, it prepared them to endure the crisis of the Cross before they were endowed and equipped for their mission. It was a special turning point.

In the life of Saint Teresa, Allison Peers writes, “At the time of the Transverberation, though she could not have known it, she was nearing the end of the quarter century during which she had been an obscure daughter of Carmel, and she was standing on the threshold of the lifework which was to make her be immortal.”

The Transfiguration in the lives of the Apostles, and the Transverberation in the life of Saint Teresa, show that God communicates Himself in times that we need Him most, and in the times that we need it most. An authentic relationship with God is always going to have an impact on our relationships with others. God’s grace, in granting us an extraordinary experience of His love, is always…that we may have an extraordinary love for others and be willing to share in His mission for the salvation of souls.

To use one Mass Offertory Prayer, ‘Lord God, we offer you this victim of charity, may He kindle in us a love as intense as that which let Saint Teresa of Ávila to offer herself a living sacrifice for the Church.’

May we, like our holy mother, Saint Teresa, have a generous, determined, and courageous spirit to endure all things for Christ who strengthens us…that we may be filled with the infinite fire of His divine love!  Saint Teresa, pray for us.

(SOURCE: San Jose, Mt. Saint Josephs Monastery Homily, STJ 500, 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

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Mercy in Today’s New Political and Social Era

 

A local rally. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

NOTE: I wrote this piece in November 2016, but I am reposting it for those who didn’t read it before. It seems even more relevant today,  in light of this week’s events in Charlottesville, VA.

by Teresa Linda, ocds

As a Catholic trying to live faithfully in the secular world, I could not let this election pass like any other. During my evening class, I asked my students to respond to the prompt, “I am hopeful/concerned about the results of the election.” The students in this class are representative of the diversity of our nation. They range in age from eighteen to over fifty years old. Three served in the wars in the Middle East. They are both immigrants and native-born Americans. They are multi-racial and cross socio-economic lines.

I shared with them that personally, I was hopeful because the process was making everyone in individual, institutional, and even in systemic levels question themselves in ways that were not so obvious before. Those who are reeling are asking, “What was it that we did not see? What blinded us? Why were we blinded?” Those questions are starting points for developing humility and healing.

Then my students shared their responses. Some students were hopeful because they believed that America could become great again, for they had seen too many family members lose jobs and homes.

Other students were fearful. One of my Latino students admitted that the lives of the people he loved would most likely be up-ended by deportations in the coming months. Another student said that the previous night, a group taunted her and her older brother to go back to “where they came from” and threw rocks at them. Though she knew the suffering of war and poverty first-hand, she could barely hold back her tears of humiliation; it didn’t matter at all to the young men demanding that she leave the country, that she was a veteran who had recently returned home from defending our nation’s freedoms.

I am a Filipina and in the last two months, I too have been yelled and leered at on three separate occasions for taking too much space on the sidewalk, at the parking lot, and in a restaurant. That has never happened before.

The hidden biases that lay dormant for decades have risen to the surface, and our national woundedness is being revealed. The Catholic Bishops have recently gathered to show support for refugees and immigrants. Yet despite the rampant acts against human dignity and the multitude of opportunities to stand up against it, very, very few voices of national leadership have taken a strong moral position against the rising acceptance of hate as a new norm.

As Secular Carmelites and a people who believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, we cannot be complacent or allow ourselves to participate and feed on these divisions.

As a Catholic I am greatly relieved and thrilled that the tides are turning and that the value of the life of the unborn will be recognized more than it has been in the past decades, for the Church teaches that abortion is a ‘grave evil.’ However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also states that “sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the greatest” (1860 CCC). Jesus says, “from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy” (Matthew 15:19).

Therefore, the willful choice of hate with malice from the heart is among the greatest evil. In Uganda, the location of one Carmelite mission, evil is defined as anything that doesn’t preserve life, which I would posit, includes acts that diminish an individual’s personhood.  People are certainly experiencing deliberate malice against their personhood in their daily lives, at work, through social media, and in their schools.

Thus, though I value the life of the unborn, I cannot overlook the suffering and the trampled human dignity of the living. When asked about his thoughts on the results of the election, Pope Francis replied, “I do not give judgments on people or politicians, I simply want to understand what are the sufferings that their approach causes to the poor and the excluded.”

In Matthew 25, Our Lord separates his own sheep from the goats based on actions that illuminated the true character of His followers and their attitudes toward the vulnerable: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” We must be compassionate, empathize and pray for America’s urban poor, the displaced homeless, the immigrants, and the marginalized. We must be wary and alert, not only of the rise of hateful attitudes against the vulnerable, but our own tendencies to keep the reality of those wounds invisible to ourselves.

God can only work if we are aware of both our own woundedness and the woundedness around us so that we can bring these before Him in prayer and healing. “To receive His mercy, we must admit our fault.” For grace to abound it must “uncover sin” and “probe the wound before treating it” (CCC 1848). We must keep our hearts open and avoid any support of a mentality that destroys, wounds, or offends charity and love and turns us away from God (CCC 1855).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mocking…at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice, Christ secretly becomes the source from which forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly” (CCC 1851). All year the faithful have been walking through Doors of Mercy throughout the world. Today, Jesus is knocking at the other side of that door, waiting for us to respond to Him so that He can reveal His Mercy.

We are living in a new era. Our daily lives and choices is a walk with Jesus among the crowds in His Passion. Will we stay and walk with Him, or will we run away and cower? Remaining faithful in love and prayer against “murderous hatred” toward the poor and marginalized, Christ incarnate in this world, in this “hour of darkness” can open inexhaustible graces. This is especially true as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy draws to a close. God’s graces are waiting to be poured out on mankind a thousand times more generously than when Mary Magdalene poured perfumed spikenard over the foot of Christ.

But to close our eyes to the reality of Christ incarnate, to encourage any form of division in Christ’s One Body, One Church “makes men accomplices of one another and causes …violence and injustice to reign among them…They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a ‘social sin’” (CCC 1869). Immigrants and refugees do not leave the land of their ancestors on a whim. Children living in violent neighborhoods and difficult family situations do not aspire to be homeless, drug addicts, gang members, or prostitutes.

When we come before Christ, will He address us as He did the Church of Ephesus in Revelations?  –“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked…Yet you have lost the love you had at first” (Revelations 2:2-4). Or will we share in the Mystical love in Song of Solomon when the Lover pours fragrant oils and spices upon His beloved and proclaims, “There is no blemish in you…Your head rises upon you like Carmel… How beautiful you are, how fair, my love, daughter of delights!” (Song of Solomon 7:6-7)

As Secular Carmelites and Christians, let us be like Our Lady, who never turned her eye away from Jesus in His Passion. Let us be mindful and prayerful of our apostolic call to love, unity, and holiness.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. All our Carmelite Saints, pray for us.

Copyright 2016. Teresa Linda @thespeakroom.org. All rights reserved.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

On this Solemnity, Father Robert Barcelos explains the victory over death that already belongs to those who follow Christ in Mary, and exhorts us to embrace that victory even when sometimes, it appears that we are without hope.

SOURCE:  Homily, 8/15/17, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Copyright 2017. Father Robert Barcelos, OCD.

Gospel:  Lk 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me,that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima and holy audacity

NOTE: I am reposting this talk with much better audio, so you can learn more about Jacinta’s beautiful soul. Big thanks to Jackie Johnson OCDS of St Therese, Alhambra for providing this recording for us!

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left.

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Fatima Pilgrimage, June 2017. All Rights Reserved

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Reading 1 – 2 Cor 3:4-11
Brothers and sisters:
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit
for anything as coming from us;
rather, our qualification comes from God,
who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant,
not of letter but of spirit;
for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious
that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses
because of its glory that was going to fade,
how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious,
the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.
Indeed, what was endowed with glory
has come to have no glory in this respect
because of the glory that surpasses it.
For if what was going to fade was glorious,
how much more will what endures be glorious.

Blessed Alexandrina: The Fourth Fatima Seer

 

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org. Blessed Alexandrina, Balasar Portugal 2017

Here is a short video with Father Robert standing in front of Blessed Alexandrina’s house. He explains how she hurt her spine, the paralyzing injury that she offered as a sacrifice in reparation for souls in need of God’s mercy. Thank you, Jackie Johnson, OCDS (Alhambra Community) for this video clip.

Click on the links below for more information on Blessed Alexandrina:

Mystics of the Church: Blessed Alexandrin da Costa – Mystic and Victim Soul

A Tribute to Blessed Alexandrina – a miracle of the Eucharist.

 

August News

Carmelite House of Prayer, Oakville – 39th Annual Benefit Dinner & Auction

WHEN: Sunday September 10, 2017, 2-6 pm
WHAT: $50 Individual Ticket – Buffet Style Dinner (BBQ Tri-tip & Chicken, Side Dishes & Wine Cakes, Napa Valley Wines)
RSVP: by September 1 to Carmelite Benefit, PO Box 347 Oakville CA 94562

Carmelites Welcome 10 new nuns to monastery

This summer, during my recent trip to the Philadelphia, I was fortunate enough to attend a Solemn Extraordinary Mass welcoming Carmelite nuns  into the Philadelphia Monastery (click on the link above for the write-up).

Very few people know that the Philadelphia Carmel was largely responsible for spreading the devotion to Saint Therese throughout the world.  For more online scholarship on the Philadelphia Carmel and St Therese, visit Maureen’ O’Riordan’s blog.

Intercessory Prayer Hour Conference Call:

Please join Respect Life for this prayer hour for all matters pro-life.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 9th at 9 AM (Pacific time)
CALL: (515) 739-1515
ACCESS CODE: 908105#

The hour consists of prayer, devotion, petitions, and a rosary. Simply dial in at the date and time. Feel free to invite family and friends. If you have petitions that you want included during the hour, submit the petitions to achrisoulis@DSJ.org by Tuesday, August 8th.

Pilgrimages

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico

WHEN: December 8-13, 2017
HOW: Click here for registration materials

Ugandan Pilgrimage

WHEN: October 24-November 7, 2017
CHAPLAIN: Father Stephen Watson, OCD
HOW: Click here for registration materials

Other Pilgrimages can also be found on  Syversen Touring, the tour company who organized my recent trip to Fatima, Portugal.