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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The First Call: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22

797px-Alexander_Ivanov_-_Christ's_Appearance_to_Mary_Magdalene_after_the_Resurrection_-_Google_Art_ProjectChrist’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene,  Alexander Ivanov (1835)

Mary Magdalene, with her eyes of love and faith, was the first to be called by Christ to share the good news of His resurrection.  Mary Magdalene, with her utmost confidence in Jesus, was the first to testify and bear witness to His glorified body, despite opposition and ridicule from the apostles.  She was the first evangelizer. When the men who were closest to Jesus had given up hope, she called them back to Him, and they responded.   St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

We, like Mary Magdalene, are called to share and live in the joy of Christ’s resurrected body, though some are called to a consecrated life. Do you know anyone who might have this particular call?

The Call: Discalced Carmelite Friars – Western Province

http://discalcedcarmelitefriars.com.  “As Teresian Carmelites we strive to live a zealous life of allegiance to Jesus for the salvation of souls, in the contemplative and missionary spirit of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.”

Source: Discalced Carmelite Friars, Western Province (May 2015)

 

The Call: Discalced Carmelite Nuns

“These are Movie Clips compiled to reach out to the modern viewers about the Carmelite Vocation, Carmelite Saints, and Carmelite Spirituality. Featuring Carmelite entrance, investiture, solemn vows. I wanted to depict Contemplative life as a powerhouse of prayer and sacrifice, love of God and the world, and interior joy. The Video Clips are taken from the movies of the following carmelite saints: St. Teresa De los Andes, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Edith Stein.

There are several movies that the clips are showing. You can buy these movies at any Catholic Bookstore or Amazon online: (1) Thérèse with actress Catherine Mouchet (2) Edith Stein: The Seventh Chamber (3) St. Teresa of the Andes Miniseries (4) The Passion of the Christ (5) Therese with actress Lindsay Younce. Also recommended Carmelite movies: Saint Teresa of Avila with actress Concha Velasco” (MaryVeronica JMJ).

Source: MaryVeronica JMJ Discalced Carmelite Nuns (2011)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD, Feast of Saint Elijah: July 20

elijahs-cave

The entrance to a cave on Mount Sinai

(1 Kings 19: 10-14 )

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

———–

Our faith is tested to really see the reality of who it is we believe in. In other words, we have to go before the mouth of the cave, as Saint Elijah did, when he was on Mount Sinai. The Lord told him to go out before the mouth of the cave because He would be passing by. The Lord did not pass by in the many ways Elijah expected, not in the same ways that the eternal Lord and God manifested to Moses in Sinai, those magnificent ways, through the power of the elements of creation. All that took place before Elijah, but God wasn’t present there. He was present in an unexpected manner, in a way that surprised him; in a way that was utterly simple and ordinary, and yet the fullness of His presence was there, concealed and hidden.

The Spirit told Elijah inside of his soul to go out before the mouth of the cave, and there it was — God’s silent breeze. The breath of God passed by, and Elijah recognized whose presence he stood, and he bowed down in worship and adoring silence.

When we come to Carmel, oftentimes, there are a series of steps and graces that God gives us to be able to experience His call and to be convinced of it. Definitely, certain blessings accompany the graces, to build up our confidence, and our faith, hope, and love, to be able to abandon ourselves to that extent.

And then, when we finally enter, we might expect God to manifest in certain ways. We might expect certain things to happen, but sometimes, it doesn’t. Part of the spiritual life, inevitably, is that we become entirely aware – we thought and expected ecstasy. Instead, we are immersed in our own poverty, and so aware of the reality of our need for healing, in respect to what it means to be whole and holy in the Lord. That can be such a scandal to ourselves because we thought we were so much better than that!

Yet, God knew exactly who you were, better than you knew yourself, when He called you. You’re just starting to figure it out now. He knew who you were from the beginning, but He loved you anyway. Our weaknesses don’t get in His way, and neither does our poverty. Quite the contrary. Our weaknesses are where He wants to be born. That’s the manger. That’s the Bethlehem.

He doesn’t want the palace. He didn’t come for the perfect. He came for those who were lost and in need of Him, and who recognized their need for Him. He wants to be born in the mess of the manger. When He is born there, that mess can gradually become immaculate, amidst the messiness of it all. We can become so changed that what makes our lives most radiant, is the way God has touched us in our wounds, in the way God has transfigured us in our weakness. St. Elijah, pray for us.

(SOURCE: “Transforming Union With God” Retreat, 2013)

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Click here for the Office of Readings, Feast of Saint Elijah, (St. Louis OCDS)

Father Jose Luis Ferroni, OCD: The Feast Day of Saint John of the Cross

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The Sepulcre of Saint John of the Cross. Segovia, Spain. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

On December 14, 1591, at the age of 49, Saint John of the Cross passed to Heaven and joined with the choirs of angels to sing the mercies of the Lord.

In the months before his death, Saint John headed  for the monastery of La Peñuela, which belonged to the Province of Andalucia. It was a simple community. He arrived in August and during this time, the community worked in the fields tilling chick peas (garbanzo beans). John spent many hours in his cell, likely using his time to revise The Living Flame of Love, or making copies of The Spiritual Canticle.

After about a month in La Peñuela, he began to experience small episodes of fever. As the fever intensified, the superior thought it best to take him to the monastery in Ubeda, where he could be placed under the care of a doctor. St. John himself thought that his stay in Ubeda would be short and that he would be back in La Peñuela, to his assigned monastery.

He arrived in Ubeda on the evening of September 28, 1591. The community was small, simple, and deprived of many commodities. The attending doctor, Amobrosio de Villarreal, diagnosed St. John of the Cross as having a cellulitis infection diffused in his right leg. The illness caused him extreme pain. The pain intensified as the infection spread from his leg to the foot, but the Saint patiently dealt with this excruciating pain with serenity.

The doctor treated the infection by performing surgery and cauterization to prevent further infections, procedures that only added to the anguish and pain, to say the least. Yet the doctor attested to the peacefulness in which John bore his medical treatment. Saint John did not have rest from his pain, except for a small cord that hung from the ceiling to his bed; he would clutch it with his hands to distract himself from the pain in order to speak to visitors.

The treatment, needless to say, did not work. The early weeks of December were for John, days to prepare for death. In the last hours of his life, eyewitnesses recount how  St. John of the Cross directed his gaze of faith on the Love of the Lord. The friars gathered in his cell and recited the prayers of dying, in which John devotedly responded. At about midnight on the clock church, Brother Francisco Garcia, the bell toller, came out of John’s cell to toll the bell for Matins. As he finished ringing the bell, St. John gave his last breath on earth.

A painting in the Museum of Saint John of the Cross, Ubeda, Spain. Photo Credit:thespeakroom.org
A painting in the Museum of Saint John of the Cross, Ubeda, Spain. Photo Credit:thespeakroom.org

It is said that in his final hours, Our Holy Father St. John of the Cross asked for three graces which the Lord granted: 1) the grace to die where nobody knew of him so that neither in life, nor in death should anyone honor him. This was the grace to be small and unnoticed. 2) He asked that he would die without ecclesiastical honors (such as a prelate or superior) in order to exercise humility. 3) Finally, he asked that the Lord grant him a purgatory while on earth.

A friend of St. John of the Cross, Ana del Mercado Y Penyalosa, obtained from the Provincial, Nicolas Doria, permission to bring the body from Ubeda to Segovia. Nine months after the Saint’s death, Ana and her brother enacted the transfer. Almost two years later, the coffin was opened, only to find St. John incorrupt.

The body finally arrived in Segovia on May 1593 for its final resting place in a niche on the wall near the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The remains of the Saint continued to call pilgrims from all parts of Spain, as they were experiencing healings and various miracles. Around the body, witnesses recalled smelling sweet fragrance.  After the death of the Provincial Nicolas Doria, the new provincial moved the remains out of the wall and placed it in a large urn in the shape of sarcophagus in the center nave for the proper veneration of all.

Pope John Paul II, who wrote his doctoral thesis on St. John of the Cross, visited his body in Segovia on November 4, 1982. In 1993, he named Saint John of the Cross patron of all Poets.

Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Homily, Solemnity of Saint John of the Cross, 12/14/2016. San Jose, CA)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Jose Luis Ferroni. 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.’

 

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Canonized October 16, 2016

elizabeth1elizabeth-3elizabeth-4elizabeth-6

The images above, along with other relevant information, were recently shared on the OCDS of the California-Arizona website by Father Donald Kinney. He writes: I’m sending you a wonderful gift from the prioress of the Dijon-Flavignerot Carmel, Sr. Marie-Michelle of the Cross:  She sent these seven files with the banners the nuns had made for St. Michael’s Church in Dijon,…where Elizabeth worshiped until she entered Carmel and where her major relics now are.  The nuns had these banners printed on canvas in a large size (2 m x 80 cm).  Sr. Marie-Michelle said that they could also be printed in any size, as well as on paper and as posters.  She gives permission for them to be used far and wide.  She wrote enthusiastically, “We hope that they will help make known Elizabeth and her ‘God who is all Love.'”

If you would like to learn more about Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, Father Donald Kinney also gave a wonderful talk on Saint Elizabeth and her sister Guite, titled Make my soul your heaven, given during the 2016 Congress .

Holy Trinity, Whom I Adore -A Prayer by Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

September 4: the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Painted by Cecile B. at Designxcecile.com
Painted by Cecile B. at Designxcecile.com

In 1989, Edward W. Desmond interviewed Mother Teresa for Time Magazine.   It was one of the last interviews of her lifetime. The full text of was published in The National Catholic Register.  Here is an excerpt:

Time: What did you do this morning?

Mother Teresa: Pray.

Time: When did you start?

Mother Teresa: Half-past four

Time: And after prayer

Mother Teresa: We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us to put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved they are Jesus in disguise.

Time: People know you as a sort of religious social worker. Do they understand the spiritual basis of your work?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. But I give them a chance to come and touch the poor. Everybody has to experience that. So many young people give up everything to do just that. This is something so completely unbelievable in the world, no? And yet it is wonderful. Our volunteers go back different people.

Time: Does the fact that you are a woman make your message more understandable?

Mother Teresa: I never think like that.

Time: But don’t you think the world responds better to a mother?

Mother Teresa: People are responding not because of me, but because of what we’re doing. Before, people were speaking much about the poor, but now more and more people are speaking to the poor. That’s the great difference. The work has created this. The presence of the poor is known now, especially the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, the loved, the uncared-for. Before, nobody bothered about the people in the street. We have picked up from the streets of Calcutta 54,000 people, and 23,000 something have died in that one room [at Kalighat].

Time: Why have you been so successful?

Mother Teresa: Jesus made Himself the bread of life to give us life. That’s where we begin the day, with Mass. And we end the day with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t think that I could do this work for even one week if I didn’t have four hours of prayer every day.

Time: Humble as you are, it must be an extraordinary thing to be a vehicle of God’s grace in the world.

Mother Teresa: But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness.

Time: You are nothingness?

Mother Teresa: I’m very sure of that.

Time: You feel you have no special qualities?

Mother Teresa: I don’t think so. I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. In human terms, the success of our work should not have happened, no? That is a sign that it’s His work, and that He is using others as instruments – all our Sisters. None of us could produce this. Yet see what He has done.

Time: What is God’s greatest gift to you?

Mother Teresa: The poor people.

Time: How are they a gift?

Mother Teresa: I have an opportunity to be with Jesus 24 hours a day.

Time: Here in Calcutta, have you created a real change?

Mother Teresa: I think so. People are aware of the presence and also many, many, many Hindu people share with us. They come and feed the people and they serve the people. Now we never see a person lying there in the street dying. It has created a worldwide awareness of the poor. Time: Beyond showing the poor to the world, have you conveyed any message about how to work with the poor?

Mother Teresa: You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me. I believe in that much more than doing big things for them.

Time: What’s your greatest hope here in India?

Mother Teresa: To give Jesus to all.

Time: But you do not evangelize in the conventional sense of the term.

Mother Teresa: I’m evangelizing by my works of love.

Time: Is that the best way?

Mother Teresa: For us, yes. For somebody else, something else. I’m evangelizing the way God wants me to. Jesus said go and preach to all the nations. We are now in so many nations preaching the Gospel by our works of love. “By the love that you have for one another will they know you are my disciples.” That’s the preaching that we are doing, and I think that is more real.

Time: Friends of yours say that you are disappointed that your work has not brought more conversions in this great Hindu nation.

Mother Teresa: Missionaries don’t think of that. They only want to proclaim the Word of God. Numbers have nothing to do with it. But the people are putting prayer into action by coming and serving the people. Continually people are coming to feed and serve, so many, you go and see. Everywhere people are helping. We don’t know the future. But the door is already open to Christ. There may not be a big conversion like that, but we don’t know what is happening in the soul.

Time: What do you think of Hinduism?

Mother Teresa: I love all religions, but I am in love with my own. No discussion. That’s what we have to prove to them. Seeing what I do, they realize that I am in love with Jesus. Time: And they should love Jesus too?

Mother Teresa: Naturally, if they want peace, if they want joy, let them find Jesus. If people become better Hindus, better Moslems, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer and closer to God. When they come closer, they have to choose.

Time: You and John Paul II, among other Church leaders, have spoken out against certain lifestyles in the West, against materialism and abortion. How alarmed are you?

Mother Teresa: I always say one thing: If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed? It is difficult to explain , but it is just that.

Time: When you spoke at Harvard University a few years ago, you said abortion was a great evil and people booed. What did you think when people booed you?

Mother Teresa: I offered it to our Lord. It’s all for Him, no? I let Him say what He wants.

Time: But these people who booed you would say that they also only want the best for women?

Mother Teresa: That may be. But we must tell the truth.

Time: And that is?

Mother Teresa: We have no right to kill. Thou shalt not kill, a commandment of God. And still should we kill the helpless one, the little one? You see we get so excited because people are throwing bombs and so many are being killed. For the grown ups, there is so much excitement in the world. But that little one in the womb, not even a sound? He cannot even escape. That child is the poorest of the poor.

Time: Is materialism in the West an equally serious problem?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I have so many things to think about. I pray lots about that, but I am not occupied by that. Take our congregation for example, we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.

Time: How do you find rich people then?

Mother Teresa: I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don’t say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

Time: What is the saddest place you’ve ever visited?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I can’t remember. It’s a sad thing to see people suffer., especially the broken family, unloved, uncared for. It’s a big sadness; it’s always the children who suffer most when there is no love in the family. That’s a terrible suffering. Very difficult because you can do nothing. That is the great poverty. You feel helpless. But if you pick up a person dying of hunger, you give him food and it is finished.

Time: Why has your order grown so quickly?

Mother Teresa: When I as young people why they want to join us, they say they want the life of prayer, the life of poverty and the life of service to the poorest of the poor. One very rich girl wrote to me and said for a very long time she had been longing to become a nun. When she met us, she said I won’t have to give up anything even if I give up everything. You see, that is the mentality of the young today. We have many vocations.

Time: There’s been some criticism of the very severe regimen under which you and your Sisters live.

Mother Teresa: We chose that. That is the difference between us and the poor. Because what will bring us closer to our poor people? How can we be truthful to them if we lead a different life? If we have everything possible that money can give, that the world can give, then what is our connection to the poor? What language will I speak to them? Now if the people tell me it is so hot, I can say you come and see my room.

Time: Just as hot?

Mother Teresa: Much hotter even, because there is a kitchen underneath. A man came and stayed here as a cook at the children’s home. He was rich before and became very poor. Lost everything. He came and said, “Mother Teresa, I cannot eat that food.” I said, “I am eating it every day.” He looked at me and said, “You eat it too? All right, I will eat it also.” And he left perfectly happy. Now if I could not tell him the truth, that man would have remained bitter. He would never have accepted his poverty. He would never have accepted to have that food when he was used to other kinds of food. That helped him to forgive, to forget.

Time: What’s the most joyful place that you have ever visited?

Mother Teresa: Kalighat. When the people die in peace, in the love of God, it is a wonderful thing. To see our poor people happy together with their families, these are beautiful things. The real poor know what is joy.

Time: There are people who would say that it’s an illusion to think of the poor as joyous, that they must be given housing, raised up.

Mother Teresa: The material is not the only thing that gives joy. Something greater than that, the deep sense of peace in the heart. They are content. That is the great difference between rich and poor.

Time: But what about those people who are oppressed? Who are taken advantage of?

Mother Teresa: There will always be people like that. That is why we must come and share the joy of loving with them.

Time: Should the Church’s role be just to make the poor as joyous in Christ as they can be made?

Mother Teresa: You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me. Clear.

Time: If you speak to a political leader who could do more for his people, do you tell him that he must do better?

Mother Teresa: I don’t say it like that. I say share the joy of loving with your people. Because a politician maybe cannot do the feeding as I do. But he should be clear in his mind to give proper rules and proper regulations to help his people.

Time: It is my job to keep politicians honest, and your job to share joy with the poor.

Mother Teresa: Exactly. And it is to be for the good of the people and the glory of God. This will be really fruitful. Like a man says to me that you are spoiling the people by giving them fish to eat. You have to give them a rod to catch the fish. And I said my people cannot even stand, still less hold a rod. But I will give them the fish to eat, and when they are strong enough, I will hand them over to you. And you give them the rod to catch the fish. That is a beautiful combination, no?

Time: Feminist Catholic nuns sometimes say that you should pour your energy into getting the Vatican to ordain women.

Mother Teresa: That does not touch me.

Time: What do you think of the feminist movement among nuns in the West?

Mother Teresa: I think we should be more busy with our Lord than with all that, more busy with Jesus and proclaiming His Word. What a woman can give, no man can give. That is why God has created them separately. Nuns, women, any woman. Woman is created to be the heart of the family, the heart of love. If we miss that, we miss everything. They give that love in the family or they give it in service, that is what their creation is for.

Time: The world wants to know more about you.

Mother Teresa: No, no. Let them come to know the poor. I want them to love the poor. I want them to try to find the poor in their own families first, to bring peace and joy and love in the family first.

Time: Malcolm Muggeridge once said that if you had not become a Sister and not found Christ’s love, you would be a very hard woman. Do you think that is true?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I have no time to think about these things.

Time: People who work with you say that you are unstoppable. You always get what you want.

Mother Teresa: That’s right. All for Jesus.

Time: And if they have a problem with that?

Mother Teresa: For example, I went to a person recently who would not give me what I needed. I said God bless you, and I went on. He called me back and said what would you say if I give you that thing. I said I will give you a “God bless you” and a big smile. That is all. So he said then come, I will give it to you. We must live the simplicity of the Gospel.

Time: You once met Haile Mariam Mengistu, the much feared communist leader of Ethiopia and an avowed atheist. You asked him if he said his prayers. Why did you risk that?

Mother Teresa: He is one more child of God. When I went to China, one of the top officials asked me, “What is a communist to you?” I said, “A child of God.” Then the next morning the newspapers reported that Mother Teresa said communists are children of God. I was happy because after a long, long time the name God was printed in the papers in China. Beautiful.

Time: Are you ever been afraid?

Mother Teresa: No, I am only afraid of offending God. We are all human beings, that is our weakness, no? The devil would do anything to destroy us, to take us away from Jesus.

Time: Where do you see the devil at work?

Mother Teresa: Everywhere. When a person is longing to come closer to God he puts temptation in the way to destroy the desire. Sin comes everywhere, in the best of places.

Time: What is your greatest fear?

Mother Teresa: I have Jesus, I have no fear.

Time: What is your greatest disappointment?

Mother Teresa: I do the will of God, no? In doing the will of God there is no disappointment.

Time: Do your work and spiritual life become easier with time?

Mother Teresa: Yes, the closer we come to Jesus, the more we become the work. Because you know to whom you are doing it, with whom you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. That is very clear. That is why we need a clean heart to see God.

Time: What are your plans for the future?

Mother Teresa: I just take one day. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today to love Jesus.

Time: And the future of the order?

Mother Teresa: It is His concern.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

 

 

 

August 9: Feast of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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Translated from Italian and published

by Carmel of Maria Regina, Eugene OR

According to The Discalced Carmelite Proper Offices Supplement (2012), “Edith Stein was born of a Jewish family at Breslau on October 12, 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy she searched after the truth and found it in reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus. In 1922 she was baptised Catholic and in 1933 she entered the Carmel of Cologne where she took the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was gassed and cremated at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942 during the Nazi persecution and died a martyr for the Christian faith after having offered her holocaust for the people of Israel” (157).

Editor’s note:  In honor of yesterday’s Feast Day, here are some selected quotes from a booklet of Edith Stein’s ‘Thoughts’. If you haven’t yet read yesterday’s post by Father Robert Barcelos, ‘holiness means being whole,’ make sure you click on it below.

11. Divine spirit, divine life, divine love means this: he who does the will of God, knows God and loves Him. In fact, at the moment in which we do what God asks, with interior dedication, divine life becomes our life, God is found within ourselves. (Letter 21)

12. The more a person lives recollected in the interior of his soul, the stronger is that radiation which he sheds around him and which draws other souls into his circle. (Letter 21)

14. We have to learn to see others carry the cross and not be able to remove it from them. It is more difficult than to carry our own, but we cannot avoid it. (Letter 45)

20. God leads each one by a particular way; one person arrives more easily and sooner at the goal than another. What we can do, in comparison with what we are given, is always little. But the little we must do: that is, we must pray insistently so that when the way does happen to be indicated, we will be able to follow the grace without resisting. (Letter 56)

114. To belong wholly to God, to give oneself to Him, to His service, for love, this is the vocation, not only of all the elect but of every Christian; whether consecrated or not, man or woman. Everyone is called to follow Christ, and the more each one advances along the way, the more like Christ each one becomes. And since Christ personifies the ideal of human perfection free from every defect and one-sidedness, rich with characteristic traits be they masculine or feminine, free from every earthly limitation, His faithful followers rise ever higher above the confines of nature. (Woman 98)

136. In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds anything that might cause him to look down on others. (Science of the Cross 76)

155. The cross serves as a walking-stick to speed one’s march toward the summit. (Science of the Cross 141)

159. Contemplation is perceived more frequently in the will under the form of love, than in the intellect under the form of knowledge. (Science of the Cross 156)

The desire of our hearts and prayers rise to God for the salvation of all. For those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks, we preach Christ Crucified, a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the pagans. But for those who are called, we preach Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God  (Divine Office Supplement 159)

Father Matthew Williams, OCD: Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16

San Jose Mercury News (7/15/16) – Three Berkeley students missing, a fourth dead after a terror attack in France

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John 19 26-27

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag’dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”

It is with great joy that we gather to praise this woman of faith, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We thank her for her protection over the Carmelite Order, and over all peoples, as we look to her as our example of discipleship that we are called to follow.

We know that from the very first, the original founders of Carmel had a deep, abiding love and devotion to Our Lady. History tells us that the first chapel of the Carmelites on Mount Carmel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was her who provided inspiration to the first hermits; it was she who watched over these men of faith as her own sons, guiding them to Jesus.

As we come to this mass, under the protective mantle of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the gospel account of Mary and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross, gives us two insights on how we can imitate the Virgin Mary in our own walk as disciples.

The first insight is this: As the Virgin Mary followed Jesus, her son, we are to do the same. If there is one characteristic that is clear from the gospel accounts of Mary, it is that she follows Jesus every step of the way in His journey to His passion, death and resurrection. She is there, of course, at the Annunciation, when the Holy Spirit overshadows her. She is there at the Presentation of Jesus, where Simeon prophecies of Jesus being the Savior of the world, while at the same time telling Mary about the sword of sorrow that will pierce her heart. She is there at the first miracle of Christ, the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns the water into wine, and thus saves a young couple’s wedding feast. Mary follows Jesus as he journeys throughout Galilee and Judah, proclaiming the kingdom of God. Finally, the Virgin Mary is here, at the foot of the cross, where she is witnessing the death of her son.

This image of Mary, at the foot of the cross, is so important for us in today’s world. We live in a time of tremendous violence. Week after week we see examples of death coming suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically. A truck drives into a crowd, and eighty-four innocent people lose their lives. Policemen killed because of hatred. Seemingly innocent people, gunned down. Not only that, but we continue to see and feel in our world hatred, injustice, racism, intolerance, and it is overwhelming, it is distressing, we experience our seeming helplessness, and we wonder: how do I live my faith in the midst of so much violence?

How to live my faith? By doing what the Virgin Mary did: follow Jesus. St. Paul tells us to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2Cor. 5:7), and that is what she did. With the eyes of the world, Mary can see violence committing evil upon her son. With the eyes of the world, she can see that her son lost the battle, and Jesus will die and be forgotten. But Mary walked by faith, not by sight. By faith she knows that death, sin, evil, the forces of darkness cannot overcome the power of her Son, Jesus our Lord. In the depths of her Immaculate Heart, she knows that victory belongs her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This our invitation to imitate Our Lady of Mount Carmel, by following Jesus as she did, even unto the cross, and by faith, know that victory belongs to God. So, we, like the Virgin Mary can see and experience the violence around us in our world, but we, like Mary, continue to walk by faith, following wherever Jesus leads us, for we know that it is only in Jesus, only through the power of His resurrection, that we and the world will be saved. Evil can never have the last word; rather it is our crucified Savior, who gains victory over all evil, that has the last word. We might not see it now, but like the Virgin Mary, we walk by faith and not by sight, and by faith we know that when we follow Jesus as Mary did, the forces of sin, death, and darkness will never have final victory over us.

Our second insight is this: like the Beloved Disciple, we need to make a home for the Virgin Mary. This is what the first hermits did on Mount Carmel; they made a home for Mary, where she is welcomed and treasured. We are being invited by Jesus to do that very thing today – make a home for Mary.

The first place where we need to invite Mary is in our hearts. The problems and violence of today’s world is not so much a problem of laws (though they are important), but a heart problem. Jesus tells us: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Mt. 15. 19-20)

The heart is where true discipleship takes place; it is where we focus upon Jesus, the mystery of Jesus in us, Jesus in our hearts, and this is where the Carmelite life is lived. To have our hearts centered upon Christ, as is that Immaculate Heart of Mary, is what we strive for as Carmelites; this intention is ever before us, for as Jesus becomes the center of our hearts, we are able to share with others the great wonder that is faith in Christ.

Secondly, we become welcoming in our relations with others, for that is what the Beloved Disciple did when commanded by Jesus to make a home for Mary – he welcomed her. This welcome to Mary is extended by us to all those that we encounter in the church and in the world. The Beloved Disciple welcomes the Mother of all the faithful, and he did that at the foot of the cross. The violence of the cross did not harden the heart of either Mary, nor of the Beloved Disciple, but enlarged them – this is our vocation in today’s world, to realize that at the foot of the cross, and new family of humankind is being formed by Jesus, a family that is led by a holy mother, where her sons and daughters imitate her, with enlarged hearts, as they welcomed each other through the power and glory of Jesus from the cross.

These two invitations, imitating the Virgin Mary by following Jesus as she did, and taking Mary into our very lives, is what marks Carmelite devotion to Our Lady. We give our lives to Jesus, as did Mary. We invite Mary into our very lives, as Mary did, and have our hearts become like her Immaculate Heart. When we do this, we will truly become like those first hermits that lived on Mount Carmel, we will be like that great cloud of Carmelite witnesses, like St. Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, like all those great men and women of Carmel whose names we do not know, like living saints, disciples of Jesus, following the example of the Virgin Mary.

We ask Our Lady of Mount Carmel to pray for us, so that the Holy Spirit will come upon us and overshadow us, like it did her. That our hearts will be like hers, so that we can live in the presence of her son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, worshiping and praising the Holy Trinity, in the company of all saints, for all eternity.

Copyright Fr. Matthew Williams, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Feast Day: June 12, Saints Zélie and Louis Martin

The Family Reliquary of Saints Therése, Louis, and Zélie, located at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia

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God of eternal love, You give us Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérese, as an example of holiness in marriage. They remained faithful to you in all the duties and trials of life. They desired to raise their children to become saints. May their prayers and example help Christian family life blossom in our world today.

If it be Your will, grant me the grace I know ask of You, through the intercession of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, and through Jesus Christ,our Lord. Amen.