Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Saint Teresa of Avila 9: October 15, St. Teresa’s Feastday

img_5653
Photo credit:thespeakroom.org

Teach me your ways, oh Blessed Trinity

Teach me your ways, oh Creator of earth,
Born before the beginning of time.
In your cavernal womb,
Envelop me in loving secrecy.
Breathe into me the cool breath of life
From walls that have carried waters and springs eternal.
That I may never forget,
In the beginning, I was dust,
Formed into beauty by the Word,
Hidden beneath the stillness of Grace.

Here am I, Lord.
For I am nothing,
and You are everything
In all that I am,
and in all that I will be.- TL

Editor’s note: Saint John of the Cross’s sepulcre is located on the grounds of the Segovia Carmelite Friars Monastery.  St. John spent his later years praying in caves like the one in this photo, which is the same as mentioned in Father Robert’s homily below.  This homily was Father Robert’s final talk of the 2015 Pilgrimage to Spain in celebration of Saint Teresa’s Centenary. I wrote the prayer above after spending an extended time of silence in this cave.

Saint Teresa’s soul was prepared and marinated, like the meat Wisdom speaks of at the beginning of Proverbs, by the gifts of the Spirit. What does it mean to marinate meat? Those of you who have had more experience than I have know all the different spices that have to come in – oregano, the wine to receive the juices. Then it has to be refrigerated overnight to allow the meat to marinate, to soak up the juices of all the spices and flavors of the choice wines.

This is how our soul must be. Carmelites [pray novenas and] go to pilgrimages so as to marinate our souls in the spirit of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila. We haven’t yet begun to fully see the effects these experiences can have on us. The fruits are still concealed when we return home and to our daily lives. The effects of how, our prayerful experiences in some way have imprinted itself upon us in order to shape us in some fashion will not be obvious. That spiritual growth and change usually takes place as an experience of God, but that encounter and experience is not necessarily going to be something overwhelming, something that can be fully grasped by our senses. That experience and encounter can be very subtle, very gentle, and even hidden from ourselves. Nevertheless, it is real, living and active in our spirits.

In Segovia, there is a large cave with a curtain at its entrance, and if you go into that cave, it is very dark. You don’t see anything that would really engage the senses. It doesn’t have all the baroque, gorgeous displays of the grandeur of God, as can be seen in many churches. In fact, the cave is the opposite; it’s poor, it’s barren, it’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s empty. Yet in the midst of that emptiness is a plump Presence and a supernatural peace. In that darkness, is the center of where God dwells. Hidden, unseen, and yet living and active, and ever so present.

When God speaks in the depths of our spirit, our senses cannot perceive how He is present, but He is certainly present. In the midst of His hiddenness, God is marinating us. He is planting seeds and the change, the effects, the fruits of the conversion that this encounter is meant to have isn’t necessarily going to be something extreme or clearly radical. It’ll be very subtle as well. We will see it in the subtlety of our choices, the subtlety of our drive, in the orientation of our desires, the subtlety of all the decisions that we make, in all the different opportunities, in how we move our senses, and in what we allow our eyes to look at and to not be engaged in; the subtlety of our choices on what we choose to respond to, and to hold back our tongue; the subtlety of our choices when we have a variety of options and we choose not simply what is good, but what is best. We choose to go from good to better and not settle for less.

This is conversion. This is the kind of change and transformation that is more common and more realistic when conversion takes place. Conversion happens in three primary stages and St. Teresa talks about this in The Interior Castle. There are always different degrees of conversion. St. Teresa herself experienced the fullness of conversion. She is a great theologian of the heart, the theologian of love, a teacher of love and life, a great master of wisdom. She teaches us the way of love, the way of the heart as a way to God through faith, hope, and love. Saint Teresa, pray for us.

Toledo, Spain 2015 (Last Pilgrimage Homily) – transcribed by TL

Copyright 2016, Father Robert Barcelos

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.

‘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.’

Dr. Anthony Lilles: Way of Perfection Overview, Saint Teresa of Avila 8

Painting by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2014
Painting by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2014

BTP-WP4 A broad overview of first 18 chapters – The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray w/Dr. Anthony Lilles

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.

‘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.’

 

Dr. Anthony Lilles: Way of Perfection 3-4, Saint Teresa of Avila 7

Bernini's The Transverberation of Saint Teresa
Bernini’s The Transverberation of Saint Teresa

BTP-WP3 Chaps 3 – 4: The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray w/Dr. Anthony Lilles

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.

 

Dr. Anthony Lilles: Way of Perfection 1-2, Saint Teresa of Avila 6

BTP-WP2 Chap 1 – 2: The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray w/Dr. Anthony Lilles

CLICK ON THE TRIANGLE ON THE LEFT TO PLAY

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.

Dr. Anthony Lilles: Way of Perfection Intro – Saint Teresa of Avila 5

img_2604

 In this podcast, Dr. Anthony Lilles provides an “introduction to the life of Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582).  This opening conversation discusses 16th century Spain, events taking place in the world and the people who associated with Teresa. Dr. Lilles also gives introductions to her various spiritual works and the importance of The Way of Perfection.

CLICK ON THE TRIANGLE ON THE LEFT TO PLAY


Introduction –  Way of Perfection, Dr. Anthony Lilles

SOURCE:  http://www.discerninghearts.com/catholic-podcasts/btp-wp1-introduction-way-perfection-st-teresa-avila-beginning-pray-wdr-anthony-lilles/

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 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.

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