Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Saint Teresa of Avila 4

The Purgative Way (1-3)

The Third Mansion – the majority of Christians stay in this mansion because of too-human prudence.  Prayer in this stage includes active recollection, simplified mental prayer, and becomes more the work of the heart – St.Teresa calls this the Prayer of Simplicity. The prominent Gift of the Spirit is Fortitude.  Ascetic exercise, penance, and meditative prayer are essential, for we must do everything we can to get to know the humanity of Christ, using our imaginations so that we grow in our love for Jesus as we understand His love for us.

The life of prayer in the Purgative Way is what Saint Teresa calls, ‘the first water.’ To grow in prayer, we must desire it, and have ‘determined determination.’

Many enter the Third Mansion, but very few leave it.

CLICK ON THE TRIANGLE ON THE LEFT TO PLAY

SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Meeting, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Novena to Saint Teresa of Avila (written by St. Alphonsus of Liguori)
O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.


Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Saint Teresa of Avila 3

The Purgative Way (Mansions 1-3)

The Third Mansion – a mature friendship with God. We have a well-regulated spiritual life, a conscientious moral life, and an active life of charity. Prayers move from simple petitions to a necessity and longing of the soul. We consecrate ourselves to God in a new way. The predominant faults in this stage are in the thought life of the person: criticism, harsh judgment, easily scandalized, complaining, phariseeism, and egoism.

CLICK ON THE TRIANGLE ON THE LEFT TO PLAY

SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Meeting, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Novena to Saint Teresa of Avila (written by St. Alphonsus of Liguori)
O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Saint Teresa of Avila 2

The Purgative Way (Mansions 1-3)

The Second Mansion – This stage requires great battle and we experience increased temptations to turn back, especially through False Humility. It is crucial that we renounce temptations immediately before they grow and take root.  We must willfully and voluntarily mortify our senses so that we discipline and cultivate virtues in our lower faculties.  Spiritual readings, spiritual direction, spiritual friendships, and holy meditation, are helpful in overcoming these new trials.  The primary Gift of the Spirit here is Piety and Reverence.

CLICK ON THE TRIANGLE ON THE LEFT TO PLAY

SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Meeting, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Novena to Saint Teresa of Avila (written by St. Alphonsus of Liguori)
O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St Teresa of Avila 1

The Purgative Way (Mansions 1-3)

In this conference Father Robert discusses the stages of the Prayer and Love relationship with God.

The First Mansion – is friendship with God, but not a deep personal relationship. The common form of prayer in this stage is Vocal Prayer – communal prayers, the rosary, and Mass prayers. The primary gift of the Spirit is Fear of the Lord

The Second Mansion – is an active life of friendship with God, the beginning of a personal relationship with Jesus, and the first desires to grow spiritually. The true self begins to emerge, and we begin to genuinely examine our conscience. We enter the beginnings of a new form of Prayer, Recollection/Meditation. Spiritual pride is prevalent in this stage, and so are dryness, trials, and discouragement.

SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Meeting, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Novena to Saint Teresa of Avila (written by St. Alphonsus of Liguori)
O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Fatima 100th, Consecration to Our Lady – October 7, 2017

1) To mark the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s Apparitions at Fatima, Father Robert Barcelos will give a reflection, lead us in prayer, and consecrate our families and the Carmelite Monastery to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Please join the Carmelites in Adoration, a 15-decade Rosary Procession, and Consecration at Mount Saint Josephs Monastery (12455 Clayton Road, San Jose, CA) starting at 7:30 PM, Saturday,  October 7.  Bring a flashlight.

2) The San Francisco Archdiocese will also be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Archbishop Cordileone on October 7 at 9:00 AM at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Click here for more details.

Father James Geoghegan, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 9: Her Path of Prayer

IMG_6472
Relics located at The Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.  

Also, as we approach the Feast Days of three great Carmelite saints,  please keep the intentions of the readers of this blog in your hearts.

Thérèse devised a daring new path in life, her little way of spiritual childhood – one that she lived in prayer. Her approach to God was intensely personal and creative, but it was balanced by a deep liturgical life. She tells us how she loved the Divine Office. Her First Holy Communion was a major turning point in her life of prayer. From her childhood she loved daily Mass.

She speaks of her preparation for the Sacraments of Penance and Confirmation. Through the daily family reading of Dom Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year, she prepared for the great feasts and actively participated in them. She situates some of the marvelous graces of her life in the context of the liturgical feasts: her conversion occurred after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve; she revealed her desire to enter Carmel after Vespers on Pentecost Sunday; she entered on the Feast of the Annunciation, made her profession on Mary’s Birthday; offered herself to God’s merciful love on Trinity Sunday; she received the call to join her Bridegroom and began her dark night of faith during the Sacred Tridium of Holy Week. Thérèse was very aware of the graces of these liturgical feasts. This balance of personal and liturgical prayer is also seen in her relationship to the Church. As she developed, she became more aware of God’s infinite love for her and also of her place in the Church. Her prayer is not only her own; it is the prayer of the Church. As she began mature prayer after her conversion, she prayed for Pranzini (a known criminal); her prayer was answered. After her pilgrimage to Rome her zeal extended to priests. Eventually, united in prayer with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the whole world is the area of her love and concern. She found the lever and fulcrum to raise the world.

Thérèse’s prayer is deeply personal, united simply with God in the very depths of her soul where she is unique and totally herself. There, too, she is open to the Church and to the whole world. She teaches us, as does St. Teresa in the Seventh Mansions, that the gift of contemplation expands into love for the Church; that it is apostolic.

In St. Teresa of Lisieux, A Spiritual Renaissance, Father Petitot says that Thérèse freed us from a method. This can be an oversimplification. She used vocal and formal prayers all her life. She offered herself to God in a formula her mother taught her. The “Our Father” and “The Lord is my Shepherd” sustained her in her agony.

As a child she was deep and intuitive. Through reflecting on nature, she got valuable insights and practical ideas. Thus a storm or the sea at Trouville show her God’s power; stale bread, a dead lamb, friendship unreturned, loneliness, led her to thoughts of God, life and eternity. This was prayer; yet we find her seeking a method. She asked Sister Henrietta of the Abbey to teach her how to pray. The Sister explained that for her praying meant opening her heart to God and talking to Him like a child with its father. From Sister Henrietta Thérèse learned simplicity and openness with God in prayer of the heart.

Having entered Carmel Thérèse found dryness and insipidity in prayer. She sought a method to help her during the formal hours of prayer. These two hours daily, faithfully observed, were difficult times – she got her insights at other times. The method she adopted was that of reflective reading with outbursts of prayer of the heart. It seems that this was the source of her extraordinary knowledge of St. John of the Cross’ works. While she was 17 and 18 years of age, she read his works prayerfully. This deep personal knowledge will later save her sanity, for St. John gave her a map of the terrain she will travel in her fearful and terrible dark nights.

It was especially by meditative reading of Sacred Scripture, in particular the Gospels, that she prayed. She would savor the words, penetrate their meaning and act on the lights received. She slowly prayed the words of the Our Father, the Hail Mary and some of the Psalms.

Thus we see that Thérèse does teach us the value of a method, one that gives stability to prayer. It is not complicated, composed of divisions and subdivisions. It is simple, the way of a child who uses all the help it can get. As a young girl she used the formula taught her by her mother or Pauline; later she used prayers of holy people; finally, she responded with love to the infinite love of God revealed in Sacred Scripture, like Mary hearing the Word of God and treasuring it in her heart

Thérèse’s prayer is inescapably linked with her life. Here she is a true daughter of Teresa of Avila. You cannot live one way and pray another. “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go,” said Claudius in “Hamlet.” Prayer is communicating with God, being in His presence in all the naked truth of ourselves. We are most ourselves when we pray. In prayer we hear God say, “I love you as you are” and we listen and respond, “I love you.” If our life is not a life of love we cannot say that. Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

SOURCE: Seattle OCDS Congress, date unknown

Copyright 2016, Fr. James Geoghegan. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

Father James Geoghegan, OCD: Feast Day of Saint Thérèse – Her Path of Prayer

img_3475

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.   She is a dear friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.

As a child Thérèse lived in a family atmosphere of prayer. She prayed for her friends, for an enjoyable holiday for her dad, for good weather for her cousin at the seaside, and she asked others to pray for her.

She was an intuitive and reflective person like her father. Through reflective prayer she gained insights into God (His power and beauty), into life (especially its transitory nature), and into eternity.

At her First Holy Communion Jesus became more than ever the center of her prayer. She longed to be alone with Him, above all during her own lonely hours. She learned to meditate in simple heart-to-heart conversations with Him.

At 14 under the grace of Christmas her mind matured. Her Prayer broadened and strengthened under the influence of solid reading. She writes of her experiences of God in the Belvedere, the top floor the Martin home.  These seem to be mystical experiences for she writes of advancing in virtue “under divine impressions” and “He taught me in silence the secrets of His love.” Through Pranzini, a notorious murderer at that time, she experienced the power of prayer and became an apostle of prayer.

She had been purified through her excessive sensitivity, scruples, illness, mother’s death, Pauline’s and Marie’s entrance to Carmel. This was a dark night of sense. By the time Thérèse entered Carmel she was a mature woman deeply in love with God, who prayed by reading solid books and reaching out to God in prayer in acts of love.

She entered the Carmel of Lisieux at 15 years of age. From that time she tells us her prayer was full of dryness and dereliction. Seven years later she was still concerned about dryness and drowsiness. She found it heartbreaking that she was so dry and full of distractions after Holy Communion. “I don’t know of any moment at which I experience less consolation.” God’s love was purifying her love. No longer did she find sensible joy in prayer and the Eucharist. She experienced the dark night (Saint John of the Cross). She suffered from the harshness of Mother Gonzague, from the trials regarding her vocation and the questioning whether God loved her. The thought of heaven – which once was her great consolation, giving meaning to her life and strength to bear her father’s insanity – now no longer helped her. It hurt; mocking voices became torture. A wall descended; what gave joy now gave pain – a characteristic of the night. Yet she said, “Aridity increased; no comfort in heaven or on earth, yet I was the happiest of mortals.”

During her illness she told Mother Gonzague that all she wanted was that God’s will be fulfilled in her. In her dark night her will was purified (e.g., by the postponement of her profession). In her aridity she became detached from creatures, and lived humbly in God. She grew in facility in the practice of the virtues and in trust in God.

We note that when she had her first hemorrhage that she felt joy and was thrilled at the thought of being with her beloved. Very soon her soul was plunged in darkness. She understood atheism, for she experienced the void, loneliness and suffocation of a godless life. Father Godfrey tells that at 18 Thérèse believed she was damned by God – but this led her to trust Him and abandon herself more totally to Him.

She suffered pain of body and of soul. She likened it to purgatory as does St. John of the Cross – a purification by love, not by fire. She experienced deep peace and joy and tells us that in the temptations against faith she made more acts of faith than at any other time in her life. “He knows I try to live by faith even though it affords me no consolation. I ask no other favor beyond that of never offending Him.” Her faith, love and trust were purified and strengthened in this dark night of the spirit.

In her we see the effects of this dark night as described by St. John of the Cross:

1. Her intelligence is purified as she receives clear insights.
2. Her will is purified in a growth of love.
3. Her security in God develops as she grows in trust and confidence.
4. Her faith is purified as she makes more acts of faith and the Creed, written in her blood, becomes her guideline.
5. She becomes more apostolic.

Her apostolic spirit reached out to sinners because she experienced their pain. She also experienced God’s love and wanted to share it. Her love grew. She chose all, and in her prayer finds all her desires fulfilled. “In the heart of my mother the Church I will be love” – a love that goes beyond the confines of space and time, Like the Crucified Christ with His arms open to embrace the world, Thérèse on her cross of physical pain, of loneliness, of spiritual darkness, opened her heart to embrace the world.

On her deathbed Celine went to visit her and scolded her, “You should be trying to sleep.”

“I cannot,” said Thérèse, “I’m praying.”

“What are you saying to Jesus?”

“I say nothing . . . I just love Him.”

St. Thérèse, pray for us.

SOURCE: Seattle OCDS Congress, date unknown

Copyright 2016, Fr. James Geoghegan. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

‘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.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons.  And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 8

Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery PhotoCredit:thespeakroom

Editor’s note: As we move closer to the Feast Days of three great Carmelite Saints (St. Teresa, St. Thérèse , and  Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity), please keep the needs and intentions of the readers of this blog in your heart.

Reminder: The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen  O’Riordan, a scholar of St. Thérèse, as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

Thérèse explains prayer in two marvelous ways: she expresses her desire for Jesus to draw her, and she compares prayer to a fulcrum. She says, “He made me understand these words of the Canticle of Canticles, the Psalm of Psalms. ‘Draw me. We shall run after You in the odor of Your ointments.’ Oh Jesus, it is not even necessary to say when drawing me, draw the souls that I love. This simple statement, ‘Draw me,’ suffices. I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of Your ointments, she cannot run alone. All the souls whom she loves follow in her train. This is done without constraint. For simple souls, there must be no complicated ways. This is done without effort. It is a natural consequence of her attraction for You.

She then explains the power of this attraction when she writes, “Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, oh Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your love draws with her all the treasures she possesses.”

We need to stop and chew on the meaning of this passage, to digest and allow it to sink in our heart of hearts, so that the meaning enters into our very bones, our marrow, and our inner beings.

What are the treasures she possesses that are drawn to God’s ocean of love? She says, “Lord, You know that I have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased You to unite to mine.” For you who are parents, your greatest treasures are your children. Saint Thérèse says something very similar. “It is You who entrusted these treasures to me.

She continues, “Yes, Lord, this is what I would like to repeat after you before flying into Your arms.” She then quotes John 17, where Jesus before His Passion says, “I have glorified you on earth. I have finished the work you have given me to do, and now, do You, Father, glorify me with yourself that those you have given me may be with me where I am.”

She says, “You have said to me, Lord, as the father of the prodigal son said to his older son, ‘Everything that is mine is yours,’ your words, oh Jesus, are mine. Then as I can make use of them, to draw upon the souls united to me the favors of the heavenly Father.” These words are the makings of a blockbuster, a powerhouse. In other words, she says, ‘Since you said that everything you have is mine, I will make use of your words to draw the souls united to me – to God.’

Pope Francis says something very similar to Thérèse. Anybody who thinks that Pope Francis is not orthodox enough, or that he is a little bit liberal, would think that Jesus was too liberal too because Pope Francis is in the spirit of Jesus. He has the radical folly, the holy audacity and daring of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is the ‘wild madman,’ completely out of the box, and yet still orthodox. This is Pope Francis and he loves the Little Flower. He expresses the wisdom and the spirit of Saint Thérèse, so don’t be afraid of Pope Francis. He is the real deal holy field!

Pope Francis says, “We have to take Jesus at His word and use his word.” In other words, the Word of God doesn’t work until we work it, just like dough.

My grandmother used to make bread from scratch; she was a tough lady from the old country. She would put everything in her silver pot, and work that dough so strongly with these big wooden spoons that you could see the muscles in her biceps. She’d work it, and she’d punch it, to get all the bubbles out in order for the dough to develop.

We have to work on the Word of God, let the Word of God work in us, and use that Word with Jesus. Pope Francis says we must lift up the Word and say ‘Look Lord, you said it. You said you would do it. Come on now, let’s get down to work. Let’s get to business. Make it happen. Do what you do best. Take action.’

Thérèse takes it further when she writes, “Oh my God, I have never desired anything but to love you and I am ambitious for no other glory. Your love has gone before me and it has grown with me, and now it is an abyss whose depths I cannot fathom. Love attracts love and my Jesus, my love leaps towards you. It would like to fill the abyss which attracts it. But alas, it is not even like a drop of dew lost in the ocean. Oh my Jesus, it is perhaps an illusion, but it seems to me that you cannot fill a soul with more love than the love with which you have filled mine.”

That is humility.

It is for this reason that I dare to ask you to love those whom you have given me with the love with which you have loved me.” That captures the mission and charism of Saint Thérèse, who received a two-fold spirit from Saint Teresa, Saint John of the Cross, and Saint Elijah.

Here on earth, I cannot conceive a greater immensity of love than the one with which it has pleased you to give me freely without any merit of mine.” In other words, ‘It hasn’t been my perfect performance as an all-star spiritual athlete that has made me experience these great things. On the contrary, because I have allowed myself to become so little, so small, and embrace and rejoice in that nothingness, that God has lifted me up on His eagle’s wings.’

“I ask you Jesus, to draw me into the flames of your love to unite me so closely to you that you may live and act in me.

Finally, Saint Thérèse talks about the fulcrum of prayer. She says, “All the saints have understood this, and more especially those who fill the world with the light of the gospel teachings.” Jesus says, ‘a disciple will eventually become like their master.’ She became also, as those whom she was inspired by. Saint Thérèse mentions, “I have only to cast a glance in the gospels, and immediately, I breathe in the perfumes of Jesus’s love. Was it not in prayer that St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Dominic, and so many other famous friends of God have drawn out this divine science which delights the greatest geniuses?” She’s rockin’ it now. She’s like a whistling kettle that’s piping hot. She’s on fire!

A scholar has said, give me a lever and a fulcrum, and I will lift the world. What Archimedes was not able to obtain, for his request was not directed by God, and was only made from a material viewpoint, the saints have obtained, the almighty has given them as fulcrum, Himself alone and as lever, prayer, which burns with a fire of love, and it is in this way that they have lifted the world.”

What’s the fulcrum? God Himself. God’s Word. God’s Spirit.

Saint Thérèse adds, “In this way, the saints still militant lift it [the Christians on earth] and that until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.

What’s the lever? Our prayer, burning with the fire of love, which means the Holy Spirit praying in us in order to lift up the world in intercession for salvation, in companion with the saints in heaven.

Finally, to conclude her Autobiography, Saint Thérèse says this, “I repeat, filled with confidence the publican’s humble prayer [‘Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner’]. Most of all, I imitate the conduct of Magdalene. Yes, I feel it. Even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow and throw myself into Jesus’ arms for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him.

As we prepare ourselves for the eucharist of our lives, let us follow Saint Thérèse ’s lead to take God Himself as a fulcrum, and through prayer, confidence in the Holy Spirit, based on His Word, lift up our needs and our intentions to the Lord with hopeful expectation that God will answer, according to what is best for us and our families – not necessarily according to our expectations, but according to what is best in bringing out a greater good – and in the timing that He sees fit, according to a particular season that His providence ordains.

In other words, have hopeful expectation with no strings attached. Know that God will answer when it is good for you. He will answer. Our prayers in this Novena are not ever at all in vain because they are done in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.   She is a dear friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.

‘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.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons.  And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 7

Painting by Father Robert Barcelos, all rights reserved 2016
Painting by Father Robert Barcelos, all rights reserved 2016

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

I am struck by how indebted I personally am to St.Thérèse for all the many, many ways she has helped me in my littleness as I’ve strived to grow as a Christian. From the infancy of my coming to know Jesus personally, she has assisted me in many marvelous ways and in all its simplicity. That indebtedness to Saint Thérèse pointed me to the indebtedness we all have to Our Lord.

It’s such a grace, truly a gift from God, to realize how great He is, how much we owe Him, and how deserving He is of all of our love; to really be awakened and be aware of that truth – that reality which is at the core of the cosmos of our creation, of our existence – is a great gift. To have faith in Him and to know how much we owe Him, how deserving He is of all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, of all of our life and love – is such a grace.

God has done something so wonderful through Saint Thérèse, and He’s done it for all of us. Of course, He loved Saint Thérèse, but He also loves each of us as if we are the only one in the world to love. God is so large and magnanimous, beyond our wildest dreams. When God draws one soul, He does so with the intention of maximizing what He is putting into action and allowing that person to be magnetic for many others.

In our Novena journey, we must try to come to grips with Saint Thérèse’s humanity, her genius, and her sanctity. Hopefully, we realize that she was as normal, as human, with real-life problems as any one of us. Yet what God had accomplished in her soul was amazingly wonderful. If He could do it for her, He could do it for us. One of Saint Thérèse ’s messages is that none of us are excluded from this dazzling and adventurous embrace of love. None of us are disqualified because of our littleness, our significance, our ordinariness, or our poverty. On the contrary, our smallness makes us more fit for the transformation of God’s friendship.

Saint Thérèse ’s autobiography, this sacrament of her soul, displays the audacity of her spirit and brings us into a dialogue that allows her to become a teacher who schools us in the science and knowledge of Divine Love. Saint Thérèse is a wise warrior, a wonder woman, truly filled with Flower Power to a remarkable degree, more than anything you’ll see on Haight and Asbury.

For Saint Thérèse, prayer is the weapon of the spiritual warrior. She says that prayer and sacrifice together are the invisible and invincible weapons that Jesus gives us. “It is these that give me all my strength. They can touch souls much better than words, as I have experienced.”

Saint Thérèse’s teaching on prayer is very simple. She explains, “For me prayer is an aspiration of the heart, a longing. It is a simple glance directed to heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.” In other words, prayer is an act of thanksgiving and love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and for better or for worst.

That prayer, she continues, “is something great, supernatural which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.” Thérèse is so transparent, truthful, and realistic that she can admit that as much as she cherishes the Virgin Mary, she nevertheless struggled to pray the rosary because she often fell asleep. She admits that she didn’t have a lot of prayers. She didn’t recite them from a big stack of prayers. Outside of the honor of being able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the Divine Office, she simply prayed to Jesus as a child.

Going through different prayers exhausted her because “One is as more beautiful as the other, and there’s no end…What suffices for me is just expressing my sentiments to Jesus as a child,” she says, “and He listens, and He answers me.(to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

‘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.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons.  And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 6

by Raul Berzosa raulberzosa.com

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.   She is a friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

Saint Thérese then transitions and talks about transcendent image of the eagle. “Why do you not reserve these great aspiration for great souls, for the eagles that soar in the heights? I look upon myself as a weak little bird. I’m not an eagle. I have only an eagle’s eyes and heart.

In spite of my extreme littleness, my heart feels within it all the aspirations of an eagle, climbing up toward the divine furnace of the Holy Trinity. But to fly is not within my little power. What will then become of it? Will it die of sorrow at seeing itself so weak? No way. The little bird will not even be troubled. With bold surrender, it wishes to remain gazing at its divine sun. Nothing will frighten it. Neither will wind nor rain, and if dark clouds come and hide the sorrow of love, the little bird will not change its place because it knows that beyond the clouds, its bright sun still shines on, and its brightness is not eclipsed for a single instance.”

Here, we hear the boldness of St. Thérèse ’s spirit. Though she is the little flower, she was truly larger than life. She continues to say, “At times, that little bird’s heart is assailed by the storm, and it seems it should believe in the existence of no other thing except the cloud surrounding it.” Notice how raw and human she is. She expresses that ‘Sometimes, my soul is in such suffering. My soul is so darkened, not by sin of course, but darkened by the sense that God is very far away. I am tempted to believe that God doesn’t even exist because He feels so distant.’

Though Thérèse is being tempted by her suffering and purification, notice her greatness. She is just like Jesus in the agony of the garden when His humanity says, ‘Lord, let this cup pass.’ But in His divinity, He rises above His humanity and says, “Yet not my will but Your will be done.” Similarly, Thérèse says, “This is the moment of perfect joy for the poor, little weak creature. And what joy it experiences when remaining there, just the same and gazing at the invisible light which remains hidden from its faith. While remaining in its place under the rays of the sun, at times, the little bird finds itself somewhat distracted from its sole occupation.”

Thérèse then admits how imperfect she is. Her faith, will, and intention is to give herself completely to God, even if she doesn’t feel God. Nevertheless, she says, ‘ I don’t get it right. I’m not flawless. I’m not a perfectionist.’

She writes, “Being distracted from its soul occupation, it picks up a piece of grain on the right or on the left. It chases after a little worm, then coming upon a little pool of water it wets its feathers, still hardly formed. It sees an attractive flower and its little mind is occupied with this flower. In a word, being unable to soar like the eagles, the poor little bird is taken up with the trifles of earth.”

She speaks in metaphor and imagery to express that like us, distractions and trifles of earth derail her from her sole focus, her one love. Yet instead of hiding away in a corner and feeling sorry for itself, to weep over its misery, to die of sorrow, to lick ones wounds after all these misdeeds and imperfections, “the little bird turns toward its beloved sun, presenting its wet wings to its beneficent rays. It cries like a swallow and in its sweet song, it recounts in detail all its infidelities, thinking in the boldness of its full trust, that it will acquire in ever greater fullness the love of Him who came to call not the just, but sinners.”

Rather than allowing her faults and failures to be a source of discouragement, St. Thérèse turned them around and allowed them to be a source of strength, in light of the truth that Jesus came to save the lost and the sinners, not the righteous and virtuous who are not in need of conversion. She uses her weaknesses, faults, and her imperfections as a source of strength. She says, ‘You came for people like me, the needy. And I clearly need you because look what happens when I’m left to my own devices. I make a mess of things. I make a mess of myself. But You came for the black sheep, for people like me.’

She takes God by the heart, based on the truth of the heart He reveals to us in the gospels. She says, ‘Look, I’m putting myself in their shoes. I’m just like the prodigal son. I’m no better. And because I am so poor, I have rights to Your riches. I have rights to Your redemptive love because I need You, and You came for people like me.’

This faith is part of her daring audacity. “Oh Jesus, your little bird is happy to be weak and little.” Part of the genius and the revolution of St. Thérese is her happiness in being weak and little. She asks, “What would become of [the bird] if it were big?”

In other words, ‘If God were to leave me to all of my imagined strengths, left to myself, my pride would take over, and I would distance myself from God, thinking that I don’t need Him anymore. If were big and full of myself, and I didn’t experience my vulnerabilities, my own need for Him, my own poverty, then left to myself, I would distance myself and probably get in trouble. I would make choices that aren’t for my own good. I would be blinded by my own pride.

Therefore, to be little and aware of my poverty is the biggest blessing I have because it keeps me closer to You. This understanding is a cause for rejoicing then, and not discouragement.

Finally, she writes that the little bird “calls upon the angels and saints who rise like eagles before the consuming fire. And since this is the object of the little bird’s desire, the eagles take pity on it, protecting and defending it, and putting to flight at the same time the vultures who want to devour it. These vultures are the demons whom the little bird does not fear. For it is not destined to be their prey, but the prey of the eagle who contemplates at the center of the sun of love.”

She who knew so well afflictions and temptations by the devil, knew that he would not prevail over her. She knew that she was meant for Jesus alone, the divine eagle, and Jesus would bring light over every darkness. The greatest light she points to is in the white Host. The eternal eagle desires to nourish us with His divine substance. She says, “Though I am nothingness itself, I am nourished by the bread of heaven.”

We are all nourished with the substance of the eternal eagle, Jesus, the Word of God, so that we may soar to the heights of heaven. May Saint Thérèse ’s teaching be contagious. May we catch the fire that she expresses and allow our faith to help us to overcome all discouragement, that Christ may conquer all that needs conquering in us, that we may share more vigorously in His victory.

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen