Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s Bookmark

St. Teresa of Avila, Our Holy Mother, a mystic, and Doctor of the Church, wrote this poem in the 16th century. It’s called St. Teresa’s Bookmark because, according to tradition this great Saint carried it around in her prayer book, where it was found after her death.

Nada te turbe,

Nada te espante

Todo se pasa:

Dios no se muda.

La paciencia todo lo alcanza:

Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta;

Solo Dios basta.

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:God never changes.Patience obtains all things,

Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa of Avila

Sometimes you may find this poem referred to as a prayer. Why is it not a prayer? Do you see how this simple poem represents the foundation of Carmelite prayer and spirituality? How? It provides an essential outline for living a spiritual life.

As mentioned, it was placed in Saint Teresa’s breviary where several times a day it was a reminder for her reflection her focus on Jesus Christ and living His joy, free from anger, resentment, fear and worry, and the needless suffering that results. Let’s look more closely at each line.

Let nothing disturb you.

When we are disturbed it is caused by clinging to disordered cravings and desires. The lives of Carmelite seculars [and anyone else who long to follow Jesus] are characterized by living for God in the world. It is a balancing act; giving to God what belongs to God and to Caesar, the demands the world makes of us.

Most of us need some form of employment to pay rent or mortgage, and to provide for the needs of our families. Living in the world, we are constantly facing the temptation of how much is enough? At what point do our desires for …money, security, relaxation (pleasure), status, power, prestige, etc., become less about serving God and neighbor (ordered) and more about serving ourselves and our egos (disordered)?

Saint Teresa’s poem suggests it may be when we become emotionally invested in the outcome. Where the balance begins to shift from ‘Thy will be done’ to ‘My will be done.’ In the language of Saint John of the Cross, when we start to have these emotionally backed demands, we are forming inordinate attachments.

Saint John observes that anyone serious about loving God, must not voluntarily entertain self-centered pursuits of finite things sought for themselves. That is, devoid of honest association to God, our sole end and purpose.

Saint Paul makes the same point to the Corinthians that, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31) The issue for Saint John is not whether we use and enjoy created goods, but rather our desire for them and our attachment to them that does harm to our spiritual life. He explains, “…it is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them.” (Assent: Book 1,Chap. 3)

He clarifies that he is speaking of voluntary desires and not natural ones‚ for the latter are little or no hindrance to advanced prayer, as long as the will does not intervene with a selfish clinging. By natural desires the Saint has in mind, for example, a desire for water when thirsty, for food or the means to purchase food when hungry, for a habitable shelter, meaningful work, and for rest when fatigued. There is no necessary disorder in these attachments. To eradicate these natural inclinations, and to mortify them entirely is impossible in this life.

Of course, even natural desires can become unruly and exaggerated, wherein we seek to overly satisfy them, and they become ends in themselves.  This provokes Saint Paul to lament, “For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things.” (Phil 3:18-19)

(to be continued)

Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds

About the author: Erin Foord has been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for 40 years.  He served as President of the California-Arizona Provincial Council from 2014-2017. He gave this conference as part of an Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

Teresa Linda, ocds: they are Christ crucified

NOTE:  Here is the text from a brief conference I was asked to give in my children’s school for a Lenten Retreat focusing on Who is my neighbor? Cultivating a heart of mercy.

One of the goals of our school’s Mission Statement is “A social awareness that impels to action.” Or as I like to translate it – a faith-life that impels to action.

Impel. This is exactly what happened  while Mark and I lived in West Philadelphia. As UPenn graduates, we saw privilege, surrounded at all sides by poverty, but once we walked among the people who lived that poverty, we couldn’t turn our backs on them. We were impelled to act.

As newly weds and new college grads, Mark and I owned the only home we could afford, a beautiful three-story house in a “condemned neighborhood” as one African-American woman said to the realtor when we were trying to sell it, before our move to California.

During the eighties and nineties, drugs poured into urban cities throughout the United States. Nobody really knew it back then, but the United States government was arming the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and profits somehow got in the hands of powerful drug cartels in Colombia. The result was the crack epidemic and we lived in a house in West Philadelphia during its height.

On the news, we saw our neighborhood being portrayed as a place of death, crime, violence – perpetrated predominantly by African-Americans. The war on drugs had started and a whole generation of young black men were criminalized and jailed.

Yes, there were drug dealers on every street corner and we feared for our lives because of the random violence, but we saw more than that. As West Philly community members who lived in the ‘hood’ we saw beautiful people who valued real friendships. We saw a community trying to hold itself together despite all odds and loving one another authentically.

I often chatted on the front porches with grandmothers who were waiting for their sons to get out of jail and others who watched their children succumb to crack addiction; I sat on rowhome steps early in the morning with a prostitute who spoke with a German accent, after she had just finished her evening shift.

I would also talk with schizophrenics who lived in a nearby group home, for as long as I could follow the string of their confused thoughts. And I spent many evenings trying to convince thirteen-year-old girls from the projects that love wasn’t about handing our bodies over to any boy with empty words.

In this invisible war zone in plain site, people tried to help one another any way we could. I was once pushed out of three feet of snow by a man with scars that ran down his cheek and who once led the Junior Black Mafia. A drug dealer protected Mark from teens who weren’t part of the neighborhood, and who seemed ready to shoot him after he tried to stop them from tagging a wall.

And when the main water pipe from the third floor in our house broke, ruining our  first floor walls and  ceilings while Mark was away on a trip abroad, it was a young man who had just been released from jail, who spent three days replacing the plaster. He wouldn’t take any more than $50 from me.

A personal encounter with the suffering of Christ in the suffering of people changes a person, and once we came face to face with this wholly different narrative, we couldn’t turn our backs.

We lived in West Philadelphia for fifteen years and in that time until now, I’ve willfully chosen to work with urban communities in my teaching. It’s a job that has terrible pay, earns me absolutely no social capital, and requires many weekend hours of grading.

Because of my teaching schedule, I can’t be involved very much in the school community, where meetings often happen early in the morning, when I am teaching. But I know that with my parenting support at home, that my now four children will be fine.

So yes, there have been many sacrifices. Yet I do it because I want to give young people who have so much stacked against them a chance of pulling their lives together through an education that can lead to a financially stable career.

As  parents, we give our children every single kind of advantage we are able to give . We give them financial support, emotional support, tutoring instructors, summer camps and international travel.

At-risk students who live in poor communities are just as capable and deserving of those opportunities as our own children. The only difference is that they do not have the kinds of support we are able to provide.

A poem I wrote a few years ago captures why I am impelled to work with marginalized communities:

THEY ARE CHRIST

Crucified by human weakness, yet they still appear through the classroom doorway each day.

Young people who care for dying family members,
Squeezing studies between a forty-hour work week
And visits to the hospital,
Barely adults themselves, they are thrust forcefully into adulthood

And overnight, after a parent has suddenly died or disappeared,
Must become from brother to father; daughter to mother.

The virility of youth, stolen,
Without warning
By brain disease, cancer, blindness.
A stray bullet. Intentional gunfire. Knife wounds.

Hopes shattered,
By an American Dream that must be delayed, seemingly into eternity,
For families who trekked hundreds of miles on foot,
To a land that held twisted, broken promises.

The poor, the misunderstood, the invisible.
The scapegoats of the failures of society.

Everyday,
The eyes of these beautiful souls
Look up at me from their seats,
And I am deeply humbled.

They… they are Christ crucified.
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

 

Deacon Charles Seagren, ocds: Lent – Here I am

ISAIAH 58: 2-6

2They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the judgment of their God; They ask of me just judgments, they desire to draw near to God.

3“Why do we fast, but you do not see it? afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.

4See, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to strike with a wicked fist! Do not fast as you do today to make your voice heard on high!

5Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself? To bow one’s head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

6Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?

Jesus Heals a Mute Posssesed Man by James Tissot

Will we fast in heaven?
It’d be rude wouldn’t it
to fast there at the heavenly wedding feast,
in the presence of Love Himself?

But when He’s taken away
then we fast.
Not that He’s ever absent —
but we can be absent from Him
through sin or forgetfulness or distraction.

That’s when He calls,
Where are you?
and like Adam and Eve
we hide in the Garden
or like Peter, James and John
we fall asleep.

That’s why we fast:
To stand before God
just as we are,
trusting in His love,
in all our hunger and nakedness and need.
To wake up and see
as God sees,
with eyes of mercy.

That’s when we understand His call
to love in deed and in truth,
to love Christ concretely
in the prisoner, the oppressed,
the hungry, the homeless, the stranger,
even the person we like the least.

And in that love we hear His voice –
not Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s or Samuel’s or any other prophet’s –
but God Himself says,
Here I am.

Deacon Charles Seagren, ocds: Lent – Joseph’s robe

Joseph Sold into Egypt. Genesis 37:1-4

1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.

2This is the story of the family of Jacob. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was tending the flocks with his brothers; he was an assistant to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, and Joseph brought their father bad reports about them.

3 Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long ornamented tunic.

4When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him.  Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more.

The Selling of Joseph
Rabbi Reuven Mann

Jacob gave Joseph
a long ornamented robe.
It’s a symbol of enthronement.
Joseph is the well-beloved son,
favorite of his father.

Later he’s stripped of that robe.
His brothers soak it in blood
to convince their father he’s dead.
Then they sell him into slavery:
why not make a profit?
He’s finished,
he won’t come back to bother us.

Jesus too is dressed in a robe,
a purple robe meaning kingship.
He’s crowned with thorns
and beaten,
and the bloody robe sticks to His skin.
Then He’s stripped of it
and led to the cross.

Over and over we reject the messengers
and finally the Son Himself.

But the light shines in darkness
and can’t be conquered.
No matter what
the Dream is true,
the Promise kept.

Joseph forgave his brothers.
and many were saved from famine.
Jesus forgives us from the cross
and all the world is saved.

God works marvels
using even our sins
to work for the good.

In Mass
by His providence
we gather in Holy Communion.

The famine is over.

Deacon Charles Seagren, OCDS: Lent – Jonah

Luke 11: 29-32: The Demand for a Sign

29While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.

30Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

31 At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.

32 At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.

Pieter Lastman, Jonah and the Whale

The word of God came to Jonah a second time.

Well, we know what happened the first time:
when the call came, Jonah hung up.
He ran as far as he could in the opposite direction,
thrown into the sea, swallowed by a great fish,
spewed out on a beach.
He did everything he could to escape God’s word.

But God gives him – and us – a second chance.
Maybe that’s what the sign of Jonah is:
the miracle of another chance.

That’s what Lent is too:
another chance to remember
in a special way
what’s always true:
the need to repent,
to draw closer to God and our neighbor,
the constant need for conversion of heart.

Like the king of Nineveh
we lay aside our robe
of pride and power
and kneel before the true King
in contrition,
in prayer and fasting and almsgiving.

Today we’re in the presence of Someone
greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon.
greater than anything we can imagine.
Bend your knee,
open your heart
and follow where He leads.

Deacon Charles Seagren, OCDS: Lent – Listen to Him

Matthew 17:1-9 The Transfiguration of Jesus.

1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

2 And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

4Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.

7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

8And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

Sunset at Mt. St. Josephs Monastery. San Jose, CA. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Listen to Him

Listen

Listen to Him.

It’s not easy to listen
even if the Voice does come from a cloud
up on Mount Tabor.

It’s easier to get busy and put up three tents
or fall to the ground in fear
or talk among ourselves:
what does He mean?

Listen to Him.

Listening is more than just hearing.
It’s not the idle listening of everyday life
with the TV in the background.
It’s not to nod your head while your eyes glaze over.

Listening to Jesus is to pay attention,
to try to understand, and to follow.
Listening is to be a disciple.

We see it in Abram
when God asks Him to leave his home and family
and go who knows where.
God doesn’t tell him.

But Abram pulls up his tent pegs and goes anyway.
He becomes Abraham our father in faith.
That’s spiritual life:
we leave behind what holds us back
and go somewhere we don’t know yet.

And we see it in Peter James and John
when Jesus passes by on the seashore
and says, Come, follow Me
and they go.

They leave their nets behind.
And they will need that reminder
for the great test of His trial and crucifixion and death:
Listen to Him.

 

 

Teresa Linda: Our Lady of Fatima 100th

“Triumph of the Immaculate Heart” by Brother Frank Sharma, Mount Saint Josephs Monastery 2017. All Rights Reserved

Finally and most importantly Our Lady of Fatima teaches us how to pray. With both her arms and her Immaculate Heart extended to mankind, in one instant, the image above the basilica spoke of a three-fold movement of prayer: adoration, personal offering and thanksgiving, and supplication.

More specifically, she helped me to understand the message of Fatima and that the prayers she requested of the children were not to be taken lightly. Our Lady’s simple requests, given to three shepherd children before the outbreak of World War I and World War II, are even more relevant and pressing today.

Simply put, she requested that:

1) we pray the rosary daily for peace in the world

2) we offer the difficulties of our daily responsibilities as a spiritual sacrifice for the conversion of unbelievers and to make reparation for the offenses against Christ

To establish peace in the world, Our Lady specifically asked Sister Lucia in a vision – to ask the pope, in union with the bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

According to a letter written by Sister Lucia on November 8, 1989, the consecration was completed by Pope John Paul the II on March 25, 1984 and accepted by Our Lady (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Part I, 204). However, in 1929, Sister Lucia explains that though the conversion of Russia is certain and that the consecration would be complete, the consecration would happen very late; the world in the meantime – would go far, far astray.

She says, “Our Lord complained to me, saying: ‘They did not wish to heed my request! Like the King of France [In 1689, Louis XIV was asked by Saint Margaret Mary to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ], they will repent and do it, but it will be late” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words Part I, 196).

The countless upheaval of human lives by violence and the rising hatred in our present time, make it evident that the consecration was indeed late in coming; yet the answer to the confusions of today’s world can be found Our Lady’s two simple requests.

Admittedly, it is easy to lose the essence of Fatima in questions with answers that lead to nowhere. What do the Three Secrets reveal about the end of time? Is the apocalypse close by? Did the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart really happen?

Yet, everything that is needed is contained in Our Lady’s requests, and the three Fatima children knew it. After the 1913 apparitions in Fatima, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia spent every moment of their lives doing two things: they prayed the rosary for peace and they offered spiritual sacrifices for the conversion of unbelievers.

I don’t recall ever learning how to pray the rosary, but I always knew how to pray it. As a child in the Philippines, I wore the rosary around my neck and prayed it into the late hours of the night to ward off spirits.

When my husband and I moved to California with our children, I would pray the rosary as an act of nostalgia, and as a way of keeping the bond between me and my relatives on the east coast alive. Using St. Louis de Montfort’s formula I consecrated my life to Our Lady, and slowly learned to pray through the decades as instructed by St. Teresa of Avila, as a means of mentally walking with Jesus and Mary.

As the years progressed, I found myself neglecting the daily rosary, though I prayed it regularly. But in Fatima, our Lady reminded me again to pray the rosary daily and specifically for peace: in my heart, in my husband and in each of my children, in America, among our leaders, in our priests, among refugees, among warring factions, in Israel and the Middle East…each decade of each mystery of the rosary could be offered for a different need for peace.

Secondly, our Lady asked the children to offer spiritual sacrifices for the conversion of people who do not believe in her Son and as an act of reparation for the offenses against Him. Holiness is not about being ‘spiritual’ but about being completely incarnate in the world, as Our Lady and Jesus were.

This understanding came clearly to me on our last day in Fatima. The group had just sat through a Mass commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The experience was powerful, supernatural, and difficult at the same time. We sat in the open heat and I had to regularly make sure that my mom was drinking enough water or had a fan to cool herself. When the heat got overwhelming, I showed her how to drape the white handkerchief we would later wave at the end of the Mass, over her head so that it would shade her face. Though she usually easily gets headaches, she made it through three hours with very little trouble.

By the end of the Mass, I was feeling elated, unable and not wanting to speak to anyone. All I wanted to do was listen to the bells toll and withdraw into my hidden place with God, as I filmed everything around me. Just as I finished circling the plaza with the camera to focus on the bells and the statue of Our Lady on the Basilica, my mother started calling me.

“Linda! Teresa! Teresa Linda!”

At first I ignored her, wanting to keep my interior peace untouched for as long as possible. I saw the white tail of handkerchief that was draped over her head just minutes before, flying through the camera’s view. She was swinging it back and forth to get my attention.

I sighed, offered my impatience to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, said a quick good-bye to the image of Our Lady on the Basilica, turned off my camera, and walked toward my mother. The heat had affected her blood pressure and she needed to get back to our room immediately.

Every moment of our daily life is an opportunity to make a spiritual sacrifice of love. I was being more faithful in attending to my mother’s needs and spiritually offering my will, than in feeling spiritually renewed and believing that I was in contact with God. The more authentic experiences of God are through our faithfulness in our relationships in our daily lives.

I later learned that the statue of Our Lady that mesmerized me was one that Sister Lucia oversaw meticulously and with constant attention. In Visions of Fatima (2017), Father Thomas McGlynn, explains how Sister Lucia would even make changes herself on the priest-artist’s model just so every detail would be as accurate as possible, as she had remembered it.

No wonder the image above the Basilica spoke to me so powerfully.

Copyright 2017 Teresa Linda, thespeakroom.org

 Living the Marian Consecration

In an interview with Catholic San Francisco following the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Archbishop Cordileone invited the faithful to continue to bring the Blessed Virgin into their lives in “very concrete ways,” including the following.

  • Individuals praying the rosary daily
  • Families praying the rosary weekly
  • Frequently making a good confession
  • Frequently participating in adoration
  • Fasting and abstinence
  • Accompaniment of immigrants

Teresa Linda: Our Lady of Fatima 100th

Fatima 2017, Photo Credit: thespeakroom.org

This October marks the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition to the children at Fatima, and last May, I was fortunate to be able to go on pilgrimage to this holy site with my mother and a tour group organized through Syversen Touring, a fabulous family-owned company.

At Fatima, my mom and I shared a small room in a modest hotel run by Dominican nuns. Our window faced the back courtyard, and when we opened it in the morning to keep the room cool for the rest of the day, we would be greeted by the coo-ing of pigeons and doves and the flutter of their wings as they flew from one rooftop to another. Though my mom and I were always together, from the time we landed in Portugal, God would take each of us in our own separate, private journeys of healing.

Every night at Fatima, pilgrims from throughout the world say the Rosary in multiple-languages and parade slowly around the square. During the first evening, like most pilgrims, I was drawn to the statue of Our Lady that stands all day in the small outdoor chapel, at the site of the holm-oak tree, where she first appeared – the image was being carried on a small platform. She wore a crown, her hands folded in prayer, after Our Lady of Victory, for whom the Portuguese owe gratitude for a miraculous wartime victory.

Since it was our first night, nobody in our tour group carried the cupped candles held by most of the pilgrims. A Portuguese child, seeing that a priest in his brown cloak had no candle to raise up when it was time to honor Our Lady, gave her own to Father Robert Barcelos, our spiritual leader for the pilgrimage. I looked at my mother and my heart was content.

On the second night at Fatima, Our Lady made herself known to me. The air was cool and when the crowd rounded a bend, my gaze fell on the stone statue on the Basilica’s façade. It was easy to miss her. When facing the Basilica, Our Lady is hidden behind the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She also stands between the striking grand-sized, imposing images of Saints Jacinta and Francisco. Always present, rarely seen – that is the way Our Lady moves.

But once I saw her, immediately, I understood so much of what I didn’t know before.

Our Lady of Fatima reveals her love to us. I saw her heart and for the first time in my life, I understood clearly that Our Lady was constantly offering her heart to mankind, and that in staying close to her Immaculate Heart, she desired to lead and guide us directly into the Sacred Heart of Christ.

In the Philippines the images of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are ubiquitous. They hang side by side on window-sills, car mirrors, and especially as part of the front walls of homes. In America, many of my extended family and friends have posters somewhere in their homes of Jesus and Mary, their hearts at the center of their breasts, crowned with thorns and burning with fire.

Unlike the images of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus that I had grown up with, the heart on the statue of Our Lady above the entrance of the Fatima Basilica, was on her left, and was a three-dimensional image outside of her body. From this, I understood something else.

As a Mother, Our Lady of Fatima shares in and experiences the pains and joys of the world. I saw the thorns that pierced her heart and I understood that she suffered greatly for her loving concern for mankind and for the offenses against her Son. There have been so many countless moments in my motherhood when I have had to bear the pain in my heart for my children, and at times, it has been excruciating. It is a pain that every mother, often times, suffers hidden and alone.

Our Lady has carried the pain of watching her son suffer on Calvary and the joy of being the first to witness His resurrection – in her Immaculate Heart. And in so doing, she carries all our pains and joys.

As our Mother, Our Lady of Fatima yearns for us to enter her embrace. Most images of Our Lady of Fatima, have her hands folded together in prayer, but the statue above the Basilica is that of Our Lady holding her right hand up with the left-hand slightly bent downward. I have used that same position countless times to support my children as they learned to walk, to lift them up into my arms when they needed comfort, and to embrace them.

Our Lady constantly holds the world in her love and prayers of intercession and desires for us as her children to stay close to her

As a Mother, Our Lady of Fatima teaches us how to love ourselves. She helped me to understand that I didn’t have to be the perfect daughter to be loved by God, and that the world was held together by Him and not my efforts.

With a Mother’s gaze, Our Lady looked down from the façade of the Basilica so that I could understand the unconditional love of her Immaculate Heart, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a love that touched me despite of all my imperfections. (to be continued)

Copyright 2017 Teresa Linda, thespeakroom.org. All Rights Reserved

 Living the Marian Consecration

In an interview with Catholic San Francisco following the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Archbishop Cordileone invited the faithful to continue to bring the Blessed Virgin into their lives in “very concrete ways,” including the following.

  • Individuals praying the rosary daily
  • Families praying the rosary weekly
  • Frequently making a good confession
  • Frequently participating in adoration
  • Fasting and abstinence
  • Accompaniment of immigrants

Teresa Linda, ocds: the wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

With total abandonment.

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

Copyright 2017, TL. All Rights Reserved

Mercy in Today’s New Political and Social Era

 

A local rally. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

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

by Teresa Linda, ocds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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