Friday, January 01, 2016

New Blog

EFFICATIOUS PRAYER  AND NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

available on my new blog
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Friday, October 16, 2015

THE TERESIAN JUBILEE YEAR WITH INDULGENCES GRANTED BY POPE FRANCIS TO ALL DIOCESES IN SPAIN, COMMENCING OCTOBER 25TH 2014 UNTIL OCTOBER 15TH 2015 - click for link

To read more click here
Audiobooks of St Teresa by LibriVox:
The Life of St Teresa HERE
Book of Foundations HERE
Conception of Divine Love HERE
The Way of Perfection HERE
Interior Castle HERE
Map of Teresian foundation in Spain HERE 
Map after BLOG

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Feast of the Pentecost


                  St Teresa of Avila's Vision of the Holy Spirit by Peter Paul Rubens


I desire nothing but to love You...In this love - besides everything else - there is greater security than with earthly loves; in loving God we are certain that he loves us. Remember here, my daughters, the gain there is in this love, and the loss in not having it.  
(St Teresa, Collected works, vol.2) 






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Monday, May 18, 2015

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD



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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bl Mary of Jesus Crucified canonized today by Pope Francis.

Today, Pope Francis canonized Bl Miriam Baouardy, Little Arab, also known for her religious name as Mary of Jesus Crucified. She was a Discalced Carmelite nun, professed at Carmel of Pau, France, in 1867. To read more about her life click here and here



"Lord, I adore your word. The earth will pass away, but Your word will never pass away. Mary, my mother, come to my help! Everyone cry out with me: Jesus, wake up! Lord, I accept all that You will. Love, O love, You are not known!" 

"I unite myself to Jesus when He was carrying His cross in the streets Of Jerusalem. May You be blessed my God. I unite my voice with that of Jesus in the garden of olives. May You be blessed, my God. I unite sufferings to those of Jesus betrayed by Judas. May You be blessed, my God. I unite myself to Jesus falling under the weight of the cross. May You be blessed, my God" 

"Holy Spirit inspire me. Love of God, consume me. Along the true road, lead me. Mary, my mother, look upon me. With Jesus bless me. From all evil, from all illusion, From all danger, preserve me."

After "Drink of the Stream, Prayers of Carmelites"


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St Simon Stock

Today is the Feast of St Simon Stock, who was an Englishman and lived in the thirteen century. He became the prior general of the Carmelite Order at Aylesford, Kent. Our Lady appeared to St Simon Stock on 15th July, 1251, and giving him the brown scapular she told him that "this shall be to thee and all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire". Carmelites always venerated St Simon Stock for his personal holiness and his great devotion to Our Lady. He died in Bordeaux in the mid-thirteen century.


Flos Carmeli is the prayer attributed to St Simon Stock: 

Flower of Carmel, 
Tall vine blossom laden; 
Splendour of heaven 
Child-bearing, yet maiden. 
None equals thee 

Mother so tender, 
Whom no man did know, 
On Carmel's childern
Thy favours bestow. 
Star of the Sea. 

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
Who serve thee there.

Purest of lilies,
That flower among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
And trusts in thee.

Strongest of armour,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle,
Hard press'd in the fight,
We called to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
Who turn to thee.

O gentle mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
And now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With the glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
True joy to see. 


After "Drink of the Streat, Prayers of Carmelites"

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Pentecost Novena starts today! - click to read


And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.Acts 2:1-4.

The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your paternity, mi padre. I hope that this Pentecost has brought you so many of his gifts and blessings that through them you may render His Majesty the service you owe him for having willed to come to the aid of his people, at so great a cost to yourself. May he be praised for everything. (On the vigil of the Pentecost Sunday, 7 June 1579, while praying in the hermitage of Nazareth, St Teresa received the four counsels for the discalced friars). From the letter 297 of St Teresa to Fr Jeronimo Gracian, written in Avila, 10th of June 1579.


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Ascension of Our Lord


Ascension is the feast of joyful hope, a foretaste of heaven. We are rising our hearts toward heaven, so that we may begin to dwell in spirit where Jesus had gone before us as we pray the beautiful prayer in the liturgy today: "Grant, O almighty God, that we, too, may dwell in spirit in the heavenly mansions" (Collect).  St Leo says: "Christ's Ascension is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day  being where its glorious Head has preceded it" (Roman Breviary). In fact, Our Lord had already said in His discourse after Last Supper: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself; that where I am, you also may be" (John 14:2,3). By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day for "in the person of Jesus, we have penetrated the heights of heaven" (St Leo RB). As in Christ Crucified we die to sin, as in the risen Christ we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. Our right to heaven has been given to us, our place is ready; it is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it some day, for Christ says: "Where thy treasure  is, there is thy heart also" (Mt 6:21).

Let us thank Our Lord for all He has done for us and love Him with our imperfect love as much as we can. Let us express our gratitude and love with beautiful words of St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi: "O my God, O my Jesus, You are going away and leaving us! Oh! what joy there will in heaven! But we have to remain here on earth. O eternal Word, what has Your creature done for You, that You should do so much for him and then ascend into heaven to glorify him even more? What has he given You? What do You look for in him? You love him so much that You give Yourself to him, You who are all things, and besides whom there is nothing. You want from him his entire will and intellect, because when he gives them to You, he gives You all that he has. O infinite Wisdom, O supreme Good, O Love, O Love so little known, little loved, and possessed by so few! Oh! our ingratitude, cause of every evil! O Purity, so little known and so little desired! O my Spouse, now that You are in heaven, seated at the right hand of the eternal Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me"


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday and Feast of St Teresa of the Andes


Let us listen today to St Teresa as she extols the blessings of the friendship that Christ offers to all (excerpts from the letter 150 written to her father):
I feel need to bring Him to you. I want Jesus to be your intimate friend, to whom you may entrust your heart, tired and filled with sorrow. Who…can fathom the intensity, the torrent of worries pouring over you as can Our Lord who delves into our deepest hearts and with delicate touch can touch those painful wounds whose depths even we ourselves don’t understand, Oh…how your life would change if you went to Him often as a Friend. Can you be thinking Jesus won’t to welcome you as a friend? If that’s what you thought, it would be a sign that you don’t know Him. Jesus is all tenderness, all love for his sinful creatures. He lives in the tabernacle with His Heart open to receive us, waiting for our arrival that He may console us. After ‘God the Joy of My Life. Saint Teresa of the Andes’

Divine Mercy photo after catholicinjapan.wordpress.com
St Teresa picture after lacasadelossuegnos.blogspot.com
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

St Joseph Novena Prayer, 10 -18 March - click for link


St Teresa of Avila devotion to St Joseph HERE

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

LENT and HOLY WEEK with St Therese


Why do we need the virtue of temperance and how is St Therese a model of temperance, read: HERE

"Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis - to read online click HERE

"Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis - to read online click HERE

Stations of the Cross with Carmelite Saints HERE

Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.  (Jn 19:41, 42)
When I saw the blood running from the wounds of Jesus, the thirst of all souls entered my heart.(...) Oh, each day since this special blessing [Pranzini's last minute conversion], my desire to save these souls grew. I felt I heard Jesus tell me "Give me something to drink!" (The Story of a Soul)
 
Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. (Jn 19:28, 30).
The cry of the Lord on the cross, "I am thirsty" sounded continually in my heart....I wanted to give my Beloved a drink, and felt myself devoured by the thirst of all souls... It was not the souls of priests that attracted me, but those of the big sinners. I burned with desire to pull them from the eternal flames (The Story of a Soul)

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (Jn 13:1)

At the Last Supper, when Jesus knew his disciple's hearts burned with devoted love after he had just given himself to them through the unfathomable mystery of the Eucharist, this gentle Saviour gave them a new commandment. (...) Love one another just as I loved you (The Story of a Soul)


Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (Jn 12:3)
Lord, at the twilight of this life, I will appear to you with empty hands because I do not ask you to keep count of my good deeds. All of our laws are flowed in your eyes. I would like, then, to clock myself with your law and from your love, receive you for eternity. I want no other crown than you (Prayer 6)

Palm Sunday
And they brought the colt to Jesus; and they lay their garments on him, and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And they that went before and they that followed, cried, saying: "Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh: Hosanna in the highest. " (Mk 11:7-10
After being exiled on earth, I hope to go and rejoice in your presence in our Father's house. However, I do not want to gain merits just for heaven. I want to work for your Divine Love for the sole purpose of pleasing you, consoling your Sacred Heart and saving souls who will love you for all eternity. (Prayer 6)

"It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed"(Jn 11:50)
My Lord, I thank you for all the blessings you have granted me, in particular, for having me pass the stringent test of suffering. On judgment day, i will think of you carrying the scepter of the cross. As you have judged me worthy to share this most precious cross with you, when I am in heaven, I hope to look like you and see my body glorified with the blessed wounds of your Passion (Prayer 6)

"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (Jn 11: 25-26)
Adored Face, since you are the only home for our souls, our hymns will not be sung on foreign soil. While we await eternity when we will gaze upon your infinite glory, our only desire is to enchant your Divine Eyes while hiding our faces so no one can recognize us...Your veiled glance, that is our heaven, Oh Jesus! (Prayer 12)


When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet. Never has anyone spoken like this! (Jn 7:40, 46)
I know from experience, "That the kingdom of God is inside us." Jesus, (...) the Doctor of all doctors, teaches without words,...I have never heard him speak but I know he is inside me. At each and every moment, he guides me to do what I must do. Just when I need it, I discover lights I had never seen before (Story of the Soul)

"In peace, in the self-same, that is in Thee, the one sovereign Good, I will sleep and I will rest. Amen (Ps 4)

"During Lent of last year I was feeling stronger than ever, and in spite of the rigorous fast my health kept up to the end, when, in the early hours of Good Friday, Our Lord gave me reason to hope that I would soon go to join Him in Heaven. 
I had not been given leave to spend the whole night before the altar of repose, and so I went up to our cell at about midnight on Thursday. No sooner had I laid my head on the pillow than I felt a warm flood rise suddenly to my lips. I felt as though I were dying, and rejoiced at the thought. As I put out the little lamp, I mortified my curiosity and fell asleep peacefully. When I was called at five o'clock, I remembered that there was a pleasant discovery to be made, and on going to the window I found our handkerchief all stained with blood. I was convinced that our loving Lord had given me a first warning on the anniversary of His death, a faint murmur which told me that His joyful coming was not far distant." (The Story of a Soul)

"The Pharisee, standing by himself was praying.... The tax collector  was standing far off..."God, be merciful for me, a sinner!"...Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted" (Luke 18:11, 13-14)
It seems to me that humility is truth. I don't know if I am truly humble, but I feel that I see the truth in all things (Advice and Memories, 19)


For the Feast of Annunciation
"O Lord, my God, my Creator and Redeemer, I desire to receive Thee today with such affection, reverence, praise and honour; with such gratitude, worthiness, and love; with such faith, hope and purity, as Thy most holy Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, received and desired Thee, when she humbly and devoutly answered the angel, who declared to her the mystery of the Incarnation: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word"(Luke 1: 38)". (Imitation, B 4:17)

When an angel offers you to be the Mother of the God who will reign for all eternity, what an astonishing mystery to see you prefer the unutterable treasure of your virginity! I understand that your soul, oh Immaculate Virgin, would be more dear to the Lord, than the Divine sojourn. I understand that your soul, humble and gentle valley, would contain my Jesus, the Ocean of Love (Poems, 54)

"You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit on my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father" (Mt 20:23)
Since it had been necessary for Christ to suffer so that he would enter thtough that into glory, you must also drink his same chalice if you want to have a place at his side (The Story of a Soul)

For the Feast of St Joseph
"Protect and defend the soul of Thy poor servant amidst so many dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him in the company of Thy grace, through the way of peace to the country of everlasting light. Amen" (Imitation Bk 3:59)
I had never come into contact with evil, but dreaded the thought of doing so, and I realized that I would come across many disturbing things on my journey. I had not yet learned that all things are clean to the clean (Tit 1:15), that evil is not in material things but in unclean minds. From my childhood my devotion to Our Lady and St Joseph had been one thing, and every day I said the prayer: St Joseph, father and protector of virgins. I therefore placed myself under his protection and felt safe from all danger. (The Story of a Soul)

Second Sunday of Lent
Later Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white (Matt 17:1,2)
Oh Holy Face, more beautiful than the lilies and spring roses! You are not hidden from us! The tears which come from your Divine Face are like diamonds...of infinite value. We want to gather them so we can buy back the souls of our brothers and sisters (Prayers, 12)

"If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? (Mt 5:46-47).
You say you want to be good with those who are good, gentle with those who are gentle. And when someone disagrees with you, you strike out against them...On the contrary: "Do good for those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you" (Advice and Memories, 103)

..when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconcile to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift (Mt 5:23-24)
If you always want to be right, you do this to the detriment of your soul. And to tell others what to do, even if you are truly right, still puts you in conflict. Yours is not to control other people's behaviour. You must not set yourself up as a judge - that is God's right alone - your only mission is to be an angel of peace (Advice and memories, 106)

First Sunday of Lent
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4:1)
The more you press forward, the less you have to fight, or rather, the easier you win because you see the good side of things. It is then that your soul rises above the humans. It is incredible how, in the end, everything anyone tells me doesn't even grave my soul because I have understand the weakness of human judgment (Advice and Memories, 186)

Saturday after Ash Wednesday
I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32)
When you are angry with someone, the way to find peace is to pray for that person and ask God to reward them for making you suffer. In spite of all their efforts to better themselves, God leave certain souls with weakness because it would be detrimental if they had  virtues others could in them (Advice and Memories, 150)


Friday after Ash Wednesday
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast (Mt 9:15)
We have heard loving complaints from your beloved mouth. Understanding that the thirst which consumes you is one of love, we want to quench it and possess an infinite love! Blessed Husband of our souls! If we had the love from all the hearts, all that love would be for you...Give us this love and quench your thirst through your humble brides. (Prayers, 12)

Thursday after Ash Wednesday
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:24)
There are certain souls who require regular payment. For me, I take my chances at the bank of Love...I go for the big win. If I lose, I will know, I don't concern myself with the ups and downs, Jesus takes care of them for me, I do not know if I am rich or poor but I will know this later (Advice and Memories 71

Ash Wednesday
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Mt 6:6)
Gratitude is the one thing which disposes God to grant his blessings. If we thank him for his graces, he is grateful and showers us with ten more. If we continue in this manner, with the same enthusiasm, imagine the incalculable multitude of blessings! I have done this. Try it and you will see. My gratitude is limitless for all he has given me and I show it to him in a thousand ways. (Advice and Memories ,72)



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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Christmas Epiphany prayer


O Infant Jesus
(Prayer revealed to Venerable Cyril of the Mother of God, OCD, by Our Lady)

O Infant Jesus! I have recourse to You
O beg of You by Your holy Mother, deliver me
from (mention your petition here) for
I firmly believe Your Divinity will protect me
I hope with all confidence to obtain Your holy grace

I love You with all my heart and soul
I repent of my sins and I beseech You
O Jesus, to pardon them.
I firmly resolve to correct myself and never more to offend You.

Therefore I offer myself to You,
In order to suffer much and patiently
Moreover, I wish to serve You patiently
And to love myself for Your sake.

O holy Infant Jesus!
O adore You, O powerful Child.
I beg of You to deliver me from
(here mention your particular need)
In order that I may enjoy You
With angels eternlly. Amen


Ven Cyril of the Mother of God (1590-1675) was born Nicholas Schockwilerg in 1590 at Luxemburg. He entered the Carmelite Order at an early age and was ordained a priest in 1624 and was later elected a prior. In 1628 he left monastery to join the more austere Discalced Carmelites at Prague. Fr Cyril is known chiefly for his work in promoting devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague. It was he who rescued the statue of Infant Jesus from the rubble of a church, after it had been ransacked by Saxons. The statue had been damaged and the hands broken off. One day when Father Cyril was praying in the oratory he heard the words: "Hve pity on Me and I will have pity on you. Give Me back my hands and I will give you peace. The more you honour Me, the more I will bless you." Father Cyril was able with much difficulty to have the statue repaired, and immediately the friars were blessed with relief from their financial difficulties. Many miracles have been received throughout the centuries through the intervention of the Divine Child. Father Cyril died in 1675 and is entombed in the catacombs beneath the church of Discalced Carmelites in Prague where the statue is enshrined.


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day


Nativity by Gerard van Honthorst 

My Isabel (Gracian's little sister) is getting better every day. When I go to recreation, which is not often, she sets aside her needlework and begins to sing: Mother Foundress Is coming to recreation; Let's all dance and sing And clap our hands in jubilation. But this is for a moment. Outside the time of recreation she remains in her hermitage so absorbed with the Infant Jesus, the shepherds, her work, and her thoughts (which she tells me about) that it is something to praise the Lord for. She sends her regards, and prays for you. (St Teresa, letter to Padre Gracian, Christmas, 1576)
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve, are we ready?


   Nativity scene with Angels - drawing attributed to Ludwig Richter
God, the divine Guest of our hearts, knows our poverty; all He asks, and expects to find, is an empty tabernacle (of our heart) 
St Therese (letters)
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Monday, December 08, 2014

St John of the Cross - Feast Day coming soon, 14th December

It is perhaps the best time now to meditate on the life of the greatest Saint of Carmel, who at the pick of his religious leadership and popularity preferred following Christ by choosing 'to suffer and to be looked down upon' instead of obtaining temporal rewards for his service to Christ. By meditating upon this example of extraordinary holiness we can better understand what does it really mean to love God above ourselves.


Storms clouds began to break over John's head when the Father General, Nicolas Doria, convened an Extraordinary Chapter in June 1590. John had a premonition that things would go badly for him. When one of the Segovian nuns said that she was sure he would return to them as their Provincial, he replied and with certainty, 'I shall be thrown into a corner like an old rag'. One source of disagreement went as back as 1581 at the Chapter at Almodovar del Campo. John had come into conflict (yes, even saints do this sometimes!) with Fr Ferome Gracian who had been a favourite and close collaborator of St Teresa. Gracian wanted the friars to be more active in the apostolate, whereas John insisted that they should be primarily contemplative, from which their apostolate would flow. He did not want their contemplative vocation to take second place and perhaps be squeezed out. This tension between the active and contemplative aspects of the Carmelite friar's life had a long history. The Order traces its origin back to the time of the Crusades, when some of the crusaders decided to settle in the Holy Land, on Mount Carmel, where Elija and Elisha had founded a 'school of prophets', living a life of community and contemplation. Ever since, Carmelites have looked on two great prophets as their spiritual forebears. When the Muslims defeated the crusaders and drove them out of the Holy Land, the friars fled to the West, where they took up an active apostolate, sometimes to the detriment of their contemplative base.
At the Madrid Chapter the problem was more a clash of personalities between Gracian, who represented the moderates and Doria who wanted more control. Although Teresa had not taken personality to Doria, a Genoese who had been a banker before entering the Discalced, she had prized Doria's organisational skills, but he was rigid and authoritarian. The younger Gracian had a brilliant mind, a distinguished scholar and organiser , and had a much more pleasing and charming manner, although his impetuosity and rashness made him powerful enemies - including Doria. Now, Doria put forward some proposals with which John adamantly disagreed. Doria changed the government of the Order, concentrating all power in the hands of a permanent committee. He also wanted to take revenge against the formidable Mother Ann of Jesus, who, supported by John of the Cross, opposed his plans for the nuns and wanted to seek papal approbation for their constitutions. In addition, he wanted to expel Gracian from the Order, seeing him as a dangerous rival to his own power. John of the Cross had already warned Gracian that this might happen. He had been horrified when Gracian had proposed that Doria should succeed him as Provincial: he was elected only by two votes. Now, he felt that Gracian was being unfairly treated, and said so. Although many of the other friars privately agreed with him, they were too cowed by Doria's dictatorial manner to speak out.


The moving story of St John of the Cross last years marked by his heroic love of God and the neighbour is to be continued.
Credit: on the basis of CTS little book 'John of the Cross' by Jennifer Moorcroft

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Mariology in writings of St John of the Cross - click for link


'Ordo Beatissimae Virginis Mariae de Monte Carmelo' - painting by Gregorio Fortis, Madrid. At the bottom of this painting it is written: "Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. The Lady of Carmel saves us from eternal wailing and under her mantel souls find protection."


 In the essay entitled 'MARY AND THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE WRITINGS OF JOHN OF THE CROSS' by Emmanuel J. Sullivan, O.C.D. (click on the post's title to read the whole text under Carmelite Studies 6) we find the list of references to Mary in the writings of St John of the Cross. The first is the Ascent of Mount Carmel, and is considered the most fundamental and significant of John's Marian texts: "God alone moves these souls [who have reached habitual union with God] toward those works that are in harmony with his will and ordinance, and they cannot be moved toward others. Thus the works and prayer of these souls always produce their effect. Such were the prayer and the works of our Lady, the most glorious Virgin Raised from the very beginning to this high estate, she never had the form of any creature impressed in her soul, nor was she moved by any, for she was always moved by the Holy Spirit." (Ascend of Mt Carmel 3:2, 10). John affirms that in the state of union: all the operations of the memory and the other faculties are divine. God now possesses these faculties as their complete lord because of their transformation in him. And consequently it is He who divinely moves and commands them according to His divine spirit and will. [In this state] the operations of the soul united with God are of the divine Spirit and are divine. For John, souls in this state "perform only fitting and reasonable works and none that are not so. For God's Spirit makes them know what must be known and ignore what must be ignored, remember what ought to be remembered with or without forms and forget what ought to be forgotten, and makes them love what they ought to love, and keeps them from loving what is not in God." Precisely because "God alone moves these souls" to do the works in harmony with his will and ordinance, they cannot be moved toward other works. "Thus the works and the prayers of these souls always produce their effect" (A, 3:2, 10).

In the Spiritual Canticle, on two occasions, John brings the example of Mary to our attention. In the commentary on stanza 2, he tells us that: "The discreet lover does not care to ask for what she lacks or desires, but only indicates this need, so that the Beloved may do what he pleases. When the Blessed Virgin spoke to her Beloved Son at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, she did not ask directly for the wine, but merely remarked: They have no wine [Jn 2:3]. (Spiritual Canticle 2:8). John then lists three reasons why it is better to merely show our need to the Lord, rather than tell him how to fulfill those needs: First, the Lord known what is suitable for us better than we do; second, the Beloved has more compassion when he beholds the need and the resignation of a soul that loves him; third, the soul is better safeguarded against self-love and possessiveness by indicating its lack, rather than by asking for what in its opinion is wanting (ibid.). Here Mary is presented to us as the perfect model of the prayer of petition. In stanza 20, John is treating of the preparation of the soul for spiritual marriage. Part of that preparation consists in the subduing of the passions, which John lists as joy, sorrow, hope, and fear. When the preparation is complete, sensible sorrow is no longer felt, though the effects of such sorrow are experienced on a higher level. John tells us: "Sometimes, however, and at certain periods, God allows [the soul] to feel things and suffer from them so she might gain more merit and grow in the fervor of love, or for other reasons, as he did with the Virgin Mother, St. Paul, and others" (C, 20; 21, 10).

While the experience of sensible sorrow would otherwise have been incompatible with our Lady's state of intimate union with God, John tells us that God allowed her to experience such sorrow, precisely that she might grow in love; and, we could add, that she might increase in her compassion for all of us. Thus Mary is presented to us as the Mother of Sorrows and as one who knows by experience what it means to endure intense sorrow.

Finally, in stanza 3 of the Living Flame of Love, John once again refers to Mary's intimate union with the Holy Spirit. He is describing the state of transforming union with God, and likens the graces God bestows on a soul in this state to an "overshadowing." For John: when a person is covered by a shadow, it is a sign that someone else is nearby to protect and favor. As a result the Angel Gabriel called the conception of the Son of God, that favor granted to the Virgin Mary, an overshadowing of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most High will overshadow you. (F, 3, 12). John goes on to tell us that when the Holy Spirit casts his shadow on a soul, he is so close that he not only touches but is united with it, and the soul understands and experiences the power, wisdom and glory of God (see F, 3, 15). Thus we gain further insight into what Mary's life must have been like, she being more closely united to the Holy Spirit than all other creatures.

In addition to the four Marian references in his major works, there is also a very significant reference to Mary in John's "Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love." John always manifested a deep awareness that he belonged totally to Mary, and in this very beautiful little prayer, he gives expression to his equally deep conviction that Mary belongs totally and completely to each one of us. In this prayer, John speaks for all of us as he says to our heavenly Father: "You will not take from me, my God, what you once gave me, in your only Son, Jesus Christ, in whom you gave me all I desire. Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. (Sayings of Light and Love, 26-27)

I find this reference to Mary, in a certain sense, even more significant than all the others. Here John isn't just recounting wonderful things about Mary, but is telling us she is ours, with us and for us, always and everywhere. He is telling us that we must realize and appreciate that Mary belongs totally and completely to each one of us. Our guide on the road to union with God is no distant stranger, but our very own Blessed Mother.



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Thursday, December 04, 2014

St John of the Cross abduction and imprisonment in Toledo

It is very fitting to read and reflect today upon the letter written by St Teresa to the King Don Philip II on 4th December 1577. During the previous night, St John of the Cross was taken prisoner and no one knew his whereabouts. The whole city was scandalized and Teresa is worried sick for his life. The situation was aggravated by the on-going oppression of the nuns at the Incarnation. St Teresa highly regarded Fray John of the Cross and considered him a saint. St John was taken prisoner on the night December 3rd 1577 and transferred to the Carmelite monastery in Toledo. He was horribly mistreated during nine months of imprisonment, suffered public lashes in front of a community of friars at least once a week, he was kept in a tiny cell with tiny window placed near the ceiling and his diet was of the strict penitential character. He managed to escape one night on August 15th 1578. During his imprisonment he wrote most of his famous ‘Spiritual Canticle’.


El Greco painting of the Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, where St John was kept prisoner.


The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your majesty, amen. I strongly believe that our Lady has chosen you to protect and help her order. So, I cannot fail to have recourse to you regarding her affairs. For the love of our Lord, I beg you to pardon me for so much boldness. I am sure your majesty has received news of how the nuns at the Incarnation tried to have me go there, thinking they would have some means to free themselves from the friars, who are certainly a great hindrance to the recollection and religious observance of the nuns. And the friars are entirely at fault for the lack of observance previously present in that house. The nuns are very much mistaken in their desire that I go there, for as long as they are subject to the friars as confessors and visitators, I would be of no help -- at least not of any lasting help. I always said this to the Dominican visitator, and he understood it well. Since God allowed that situation to exist, I tried to provide a remedy and placed a discalced friar (St John of the Cross) in a house next to them, along with a companion friar (German de San Matias). He is so great a servant of our Lord that the nuns are truly edified, and this city is amazed by the remarkable amount of good he has done there, and so they consider him a saint; and in my opinion he is one and has been one all his life. When the previous nuncio through a long report sent him by the inhabitants of the city was informed of the things that were happening and of the harm that the friars of the cloth were doing, he gave orders under pain of excommunication that the confessors be restored to their house (for the Calced friars had driven them from the city heaping abuse on them and giving much scandal to everyone). And he also ordered that no friar of the cloth under pain of excommunication go to the Incarnation for business purposes, to say Mass, or hear confessions, but only the discalced friars and secular clergy. As a result, the house was in a good state until the nuncio died. Then the Calced friars returned -- and so too the disturbance -- without demonstrating the grounds on which they could do so. And now a friar (Hernando Maldonado) who came to absolve the nuns caused such a disturbance without any concern for what is reasonable and just that the nuns are deeply afflicted and still bound by the same penalties I have been told. And worst of all he has taken from them their confessors (St John of the Cross and German de San Matias). They say that he has been made vicar provincial, and this must be true because he is more capable than the others of making martyrs. And he is holding these confessors captive in his monastery after having forced his way into their cells and confiscating their papers. The whole city is truly scandalized. He is not a prelate nor did he show any evidence of the authority on which these things were done, for these confessors are subject to the apostolic commissary. Those friars dared so much, even though this city is so close to where your majesty resides, that it doesn't seem they fear either justice or God. I feel very sad to see these confessors in the hands of those friars who for some days have been desiring to seize hold of them. I would consider the confessors better off if they were held by the Moors, who perhaps would show more compassion. And this one friar (St John) who is so great a servant of God is so weak from all that he has suffered that I fear for his life. I beg your majesty for the love of our Lord to issue orders for them to set him free at once and that these poor Discalced friars not be subjected to so much suffering by the friars of the cloth. The former do no more than suffer and keep silent and gain a great deal. But the people are scandalized by what is being done to them. This past summer in Toledo, without any reason, the same superior took as prisoner Fray Antonio de Jesús -- a holy and blessed man, who was the first discalced friar. They go about saying that with orders from Tostado they will destroy them all. May God be blessed! Those who were to be the means of removing offenses against God have become the cause of so many sins. And each day matters will get worse if your majesty does not provide us with some help. Otherwise, I don't know where things will end up, because we have no other help on earth. May it please our Lord that for our sakes you live many years. I hope in him that he will grant us this favour. He is so alone, for there are few who look after his honour. All these servants of your Majesty's, and I, ask this of him continually. Your Majesty's unworthy servant and subject, Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Anniversary of the first Discalced Friars foundation in Duruelo, on 28th November 1548


Having the permission of these two provincials, I now figured that nothing was lacking. We arranged that Father Fray John of the Cross would go to the house and get it ready so that, in spite of all, it could be lived in. For me, what was most urgent was that the friars begin, for I was very fearful lest some obstacle would come along our path. And this they did. Father Fray Antonio had already gathered some of the things necessary. Insofar as we could, we helped him; although our help amounted to little. He came to Valladolid with great happiness to speak to me and told me what he had collected, which was very little. It was only with clocks that he was well provided, for he had five of them; this greatly amused me. He told me they were meant as a help to follow the daily schedule, which he wanted well fixed; I don't think he even had any bed yet to sleep in.
On the First or Second Sunday of Advent (I don't remember which of these Sundays it was), in the year 1568, the first Mass was said in that little stable of Bethlehem, for it doesn't seem to me the house was any better (It was the First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 1568)... When I entered the little church, I was astonished to see the spirit the Lord had put there. And it wasn't only I, for the two merchants, my friends from Medina who had accompanied me there, did nothing else but weep. There were so many crosses, so many skulls! I never forget a little cross made for the holy water fount from sticks with a paper image of Christ attached to it; it inspired more devotion than if it had been something very expertly carved….The choir was in the loft. In the middle of the loft the ceiling was high enough to allow for the recitation of the Hours, but one had to stoop low in order to enter and to hear Mass. There were in the two corners facing the church two little hermitages, where one could do no more than either lie down or sit. Both were filled with hay because the place was very cold, and the roof almost touched one's head. Each had a little window facing the altar and a stone for a pillow; and there, too, the crosses and skulls. I learned that after the friars finished Matins they did not leave the choir before Prime but remained there in prayer, for their prayer was so deep that when it came time to say Prime their habits were covered with snow without their having become aware of the fact. The two Fathers recited the Hours with another Father from among those of the cloth who went to stay with them (although he didn't change his habit because he was very sickly) and another young, unordained brother who was also there. These two were Father Lucas de Celis and Brother José de Cristo, a deacon. (St Teresa - Book of Foundation, Ch 4)

Book of Foundation audio by LibriVox HERE

Map Of St Teresa foundations in Spain HERE

Picture after 'Rumbo al V centenario Teresiano'
Map after this blog

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Novena for the Immaculate Conception 29th November to 7th of December


O IMMACULATE Virgin! Mary, conceived without sin!
Remember, thou wert miraculously preserved from
even the shadow of sin, because thou wert destined
to become not only the Mother of God, but also
the mother, the refuge, and the advocate of man;
penetrated, therefore, with the most lively confidence
in thy never-failing intercession, we most humbly implore
thee to look with favor upon the intentions of this novena,
and to obtain for us the graces and favors we request.
(Here form your petitions.)
Thou knowest, O Mary, how often our hearts are the
sanctuaries of God, Who abhors iniquity. Obtain for us,
then, that Angelic purity which was thy favorite virtue,
that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, and
that purity of intention which will consecrate every thought,
word, and action to His greater glory. Obtain also for us a
constant spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we may recover
by penance that innocence which we have lost by sin,
and at length attain safely to that blessed abode of the
Saints, where nothing defiled can enter.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

EWTN version of the Novena HERE


The picture represents masterpiece by Francisco de Zurbaran

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christ the King Solemnity


On one occasion when I was in prayer I had a vision in which I saw how all things are seen in God. I cannot explain what I saw, but what I saw remains to this day deeply imprinted on my soul. It was a great act of grace in God to give me that vision. It puts me to unspeakable confusion, shame, and horror whenever I recall that magnificent sight, and then think of my sin. I believe that had the Lord been pleased to send me that great revelation of Himself earlier in my life, it would have kept me back from much sin. The vision was so delicate, so subtle, and so spiritual, that my hard understanding cannot, at this distance of time, close with it; but, to make use of an illustration, it was something like this. Suppose the Godhead to be a vast globe of light, a globe larger than the whole world, and that all our actions are seen in that all-embracing globe. It was something like that I saw. For I saw all my most filthy actions gathered up and reflected back upon me from that World of light. I tell you it was a piteous and a dreadful thing to see. I knew not where to hide myself, for that shining light, in which was no darkness at all, held the whole world within it, and all worlds. You will see that I could not flee from its presence. Oh that they could be made to see this who commit deeds of darkness!  Oh that they but saw that there is no place secret from God: but that all they do is done before Him, and in Him!  Oh the madness of committing sin in the immediate presence of a Majesty so great, and to whose holiness all our sin is so hateful.  In this also I saw His great mercifulness in that He suffers such a sinner as I am still to live. (Santa Teresa an Appreciation: On the Godhead). 

The picture of 'Christ Blessing' painting was taken in El Greco Museum in Toledo, Spain


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