Teresa Linda, ocds: motherhood

Photo credit: The Speakroom, Toledo Spain 2015

During Holy Week, my mother, who is in her late seventies, had her sixth ischemic attack, her worse one yet. This time, rather than simply forgetting a conversation just five minutes beforehand, she could not recognize anyone in the family, not even my father.

Everyone thought that this would be her last battle. But one morning, she came to – repeating the words, “Everything is nothing, except God.” Saint John of the Cross, with his  doctrine ‘nada, nada, nada’ (nothing, nothing, nothing) must have been teaching her spirit.

As Mother’s Day approaches, after having almost lost my mother to an instant emptying of all her memories, I contemplate what these words mean for my own motherhood.

Mothers cannot help but cling to their children. How can we not?

My clearest memories are of those first moments after my children were born – the smell of their foreheads mixed with that of the hospital bed, the size of their toes next to my thumb nail, and the way each of them instinctively tightened their grip around my pinky, when I applied the slightest pressure against their small palms.

As I embraced each of them, with all their fingers wrapped around one of mine, I wanted the moment to last forever. But of course, it couldn’t.

I spent most of my motherhood believing that I was learning to let go of my children, but instead, I was finding ways to hold on to them as tightly as they held on to me when they were newborns.

Almost twenty years ago, my husband and I flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco on a one-way ticket. He had a new job, but that was it. We had no long-term housing, and all our belongings, except for what we carried in our suitcases – were in storage.

It felt liberating to finally leave what was then the crack-ridden streets of Philadelphia and the limited education options of an urban neighborhood that had just been red-lined – for the dreams and possibilities that were open to my husband and my children in California.

I knew I was walking away from a Pennsylvania teaching credential – something that required $30,000 in student loans and included seven years of being a tenured middle-school and high school teacher. I also turned down a teaching position in a Main Line Philadelphia private school. I thought that I was letting go of my own dreams – so that my husband and children could follow theirs.

It took me a long time to realize it, but what I was really doing was holding on even tighter, replacing the ambitions and expectations I had for myself – upon them. In those moments when I would see that anyone in my family might fall short, I did everything in my power to fill the gap – often times at great personal expense.

Of course, none of this was helpful to anyone.

For “whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly,” writes Saint John of the Cross.

Because ‘Everything is nothing, except God’ – then the best way to be a mother, or for that matter, for anyone to grow in holiness, is to let go of everyone and everything – except God.

How do we do this?

On the day of His resurrection, Jesus tells Mary Magdala, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

Our Lady is a Mother who knew how to let go of her son,  even through the terror of witnessing His crucifixion, so that God the Father could complete His work in Him, with Him, and through Him.

I’ve always wondered why, although our Lady was present as one among those who “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer” (Acts 1:14) after Jesus’ Ascension, she is not present with the disciples in any of the gospel accounts of His Easter resurrection. Where was she?

She must have been alone, pondering in her heart.

The most important conversations I have had with my children have been hidden behind closed doors. I picture Our Lady in a room with a closed door, being greeted with love beyond all-telling, by Jesus  in His glorified state, on the day of His resurrection. Their encounter is one of immense joy and intimacy, one deserving of a mother who gave her son over completely to the will of God the Father.

But she kept all these things in her heart.

I have always been ambitious for myself, my husband, and my children, but I know now that this is a clinging to straws.

As a mother, I have to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to God – and that’s it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you beautiful women who have and are raising children! May God grant you the grace to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to Him in your motherhood!

About the author: Teresa Linda is the Formation Director of the Santa Clara, CA Order of Secular Discalced Carmelites (OCDS). She has four children, ages 15-26, has been married for 28 years, and is a community college English professor.

Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s Bookmark-healing of our disordered desires

Photo credit: Lorelei Low, ocds

Stay in your own incarnation!

This means we take full responsibility for our feelings and for everything else that happens to us. We realize the futility of trying to control and manipulate the world of people and situations to fit our disordered desires and cravings.

And we refrain from blaming people and situations for our unfulfilled expectations. Rather, we thank God for everything that happens to us, the things we judge as wanted and the ones we judge as undesirable, trusting in faith “…that all things work for good for those who love God”. (Rom.8:28)

The spiritual person, seeks internal power and creates happiness and security by looking inward to identify the causes of unhappiness and insecurity and heal them. We can never be free or at peace until we learn to identify our disordered desires and heal their root causes.

Recognizing the various life situations that disturb and trigger us to feel upset, fearful, worried, anxious, resentful, uptight, angry, bored, etc. help identify what attachments and disordered desires we need to work on.

Using every uncomfortable emotion as an opportunity for spiritual growth, we examine the triggers underlying the emotions to understand and heal the desires and attachments that are disordered and incompatible with the love of God and neighbor.

The healing of our disordered desires comprise the active dark nights of sense and spirit. They involve our own efforts of self-denial, detachment, prayer, and growth in virtue supported by God’s grace. All the things we outwardly or secretly love and desire, which prevent us from setting our hearts completely on God, need to be put to rest, as if entering a dark night where they no longer hinder the soul from advancing towards the love of God and neighbor.

What you love is what you will become as Jesus confirms, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). So along with the imperfections of the lower faculties of sense, the spiritual faculties of the understanding, memory and will must also be healed.

Father Garrigou LaGrange explains, “The stains of the old man still remain in their spirit like rust that will disappear only under the action of a purifying fire”.

(to be continued)

Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds

AAbout 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 the Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s bookmark: disordered attachments

by Madrazo 1803

A disordered attachment can often be difficult to recognize or admit in ourselves. They can be seductive and masquerade as “needs” essential to life. But there are definite fruits where we can distinguish disordered attachments from ordinary and proper desires referred to above.

The identifying characteristic of a disordered attachment is that it triggers an adverse emotional response when our desired expectations are threatened or denied. At such point we have become subjugated to creation rather than our Creator for our life, happiness, and joy. The triggering of our negative emotions is a warning sign that we are overly attached to someone or something.

Also, that which we emotionally avoid and resist is just as much an attachment as is something we crave and desire. The attachment is to the fulfillment of our disordered expectations. Since it is backed by the full rush of our emotions, each attachment has the potential to put us in a state of emotional warfare with our self, others, and God.

When our disordered cravings and desires are threatened or unrealized, as will always be the case to one degree or another, it can engender a host of negative emotions that preoccupy, distract, and do us harm. Obviously, we attract fear, worry, and distress into our life when our disordered expectations are threatened. As this continues over time, fear can intensify to anxiety and paranoia.

When progress towards the fulfillment of our expectations is consistently less than desired we experience frustration, boredom, cynicism, and despair. These harmful emotions dominate our consciousness and keep us from perceiving clearly.

We become quick to blame others and adept at rationalizing the real or imagined impairments to our expectations. We lash out with feelings of suspicion, anger, resentment, and jealousy. In reality we bring this on ourselves when we first attempt to control and manipulate people and situations in our lives to comply with our disordered expectations.

A large part of this problem is the way we were taught to approach life reinforces the feelings and situations that result in failure and unhappiness. We are taught from an early age to seek external power through exploration and study of the physical world. We undergo years of education where we learn to satisfy our wants and desires through manipulation and control of what we discovered.

This way of achieving happiness can’t possibly work, because contrary to popular opinion, happiness is not obtained through the accumulation, manipulation, and control of people and situations.

(to be continued)

Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds

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

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:


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.

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 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