Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mary's Immaculate Heart

Today is the anniversary of the visions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima. We are all familiar with these and the three shepherd children. However, let us not forget the main point of Our Lady’s messages and pray the Rosary everyday, wear the Brown Scapular and to remember that no matter what happens…and it seems like things are happening in spite of it all… that the most important thing that Mary said was that “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Her Immaculate Heart is a heart of love, filled with love for God and neighbor; let this be the same sentiments of our hearts. Mary is our example of the interior life, and the heart is the center of this interior life, which is all about love. It is love that really matters.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Contemplation is a simple, loving gaze on God and divine things. Mary, who was influenced by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is our model of contemplative prayer. "My eyes are ever upon the LORD" (Psalm 25). This describes Mary and her purity. Mary's purity was of heart, mind and intention. Souls aspiring to contemplation should strive for this kind of purity in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

A pure heart that is detached from all that can lead to sin or trouble the soul.
A pure mind that puts to death curiosity, which only troubles and distracts the soul, scattering its attention in all different directions.
Purity of intentions that have only one aim in mind, to please God.

The fruit of this purity is a great mastery over self and opens the way to constantly thinking of God, conversing with Him, performing all actions with Him in mind and desiring only to please Him. Then, like Mary, His presence is always in mind and the soul is constantly turned toward Him.

Friday, May 7, 2010


The virtue that "moderates and regulates all our actions, both interior and exterior, according to our vocation. St. Paul recommends this virtue to all Christians: "Let your modesty be know to all men" (Phil 4: 5). (Divine Intimacy, # 89, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

The Blessed Mother teaches us how we should live. We should live a life modeled after her conduct which was a life of mortification where the senses were kept in check and her soul was always sober and alert. Her conduct was imbued with modesty: in her countenance, the way she walked, her manners, gestures and even her speech. "Be modest in every action or conversation" St. Teresa of Jesus would instruct her daughters.

Modesty of our senses will aid recollection and help us to live an interior life of intimacy with God using our senses to His glory. The senses will need to be regulated and guarded, particularly to curiosity, if the soul is to remain recollected with God. Many images and impressions come to us which are not pure or wholly directed to God; therefore, since all these enter by means of the senses, custody of the senses will be necessary.  Due to our fallen nature our senses tend to sensible pleasures and will have to be regulated and mastered.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Mary's humble dependence on God and His will is reflected beautifully in her reply, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." (Lk 1: 38) This interior attitude of Mary's is equal to that of Jesus: "Behold, I come to do your will." (Heb 10:9) This deep interior disposition was constant throughout the Blessed Virgin's life. Her life was one of docility which is expressed in this attitude of "handmaiden". We too can make this our attitude of being easily led by God when we accept all that He permits in our lives. God wills the inconveniences, poverty (spiritual and material), privations, separations, persecutions, insults, and hardships as grace. Let us, like Mary, humbly depend on God for everything.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Humility of the Blessed Mother

The higher God elevated her, the lowlier she became because of her humility. “The Angel called her “full of grace” and Mary “was troubled” ”(Lk 1: 28-29) Because of Mary’s humility, she disliked praise. Her desire was that only God should be praised. “The more she understood the grandeur of the mystery, the immensity of the divine gift, the more she humbled herself, submerging herself in her nothingness. Her attitude was the same when Elizabeth greeted her, “Blessed are thou among women”. (Lk 1:42) (cf. Divine Intimacy #176)

Our Blessed Mother models for us the effects that graces and divine favors should generate in us – an increase in humility and a consciousness of our nothingness.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Month of Mary

St. Therese in her Last Conversations pointed out that the Blessed Mother is someone to imitate. “She is spoken of as unapproachable, whereas she should be represented as imitable.” Of course, the Virgin has been graced with special privileges: Mother of God, perpetual virginity, conceived without sin; but she is a model for us to try to be like. That is, imitable in the concrete picture of her earthy life: to imitate her virtues.

May is the month of Mary. During this month while meditating on her virtues, she will show us the secret of her interior life. She is our model in this respect, the model and norm of our own interior life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

To Jesus Living in Mary

O Jesus, living in Mary,
come and live in Thy servants.

in the spirit of Thy holiness,
in the fullness of Thy power,
in the perfection of Thy ways,
in the truth of Thy virtues,
in the fellowship of Thy mysteries,

rule Thou over every adverse power
in Thy spirit, for the glory of the Father.

This efficacious prayer sums up living the interior life. If a soul desires to live a holy life and to profit from the means of sanctification offered by the Church, then it must draw into the interior dispositions of Jesus. What better way to do this than to do it with, through and in Mary, the most perfect living image of Christ.

The object of this prayer is the interior life, a life that is a participation in the life of Jesus.

"Because Jesus is the source of all holiness, we ask Him to live and to act in us, in order that He may communicate to us His Own sanctity: In the spirit of thy holiness."

"Since we are unable to acquire such an exalted sanctity through our own efforts, we beg Him to come to us in the fullness of his power."

"Since holiness cannot be attained without the imitation of Our Divine Model, we beg Him to make us walk in the perfection of His ways, that is to say, to make us able to imitate His conduct, His exterior and interior actions, in all their perfection."

"In the truth of thy virtues. The virtues we ask for are real virtues...What Jesus comes to bring us therefore are interior virtues, crucifying virtues: humility, poverty, mortificaton, perfect chastity of mind, heart and body; and unifying virtues; the spirit of faith, of confidence and of love."

"Jesus practices all these virtues especially in His mysteries, and on this account we pray Him to make us partake in the grace of His mysteries: in the fellowship of thy mysteries....
---the Incarnation, which invites us to put off all self-love in order to consecrate ourselves entirely to the Father in union with Jesus.
---the Crucifixion, Death and Burial which express so many degrees of the total immolation of self by which we crucify our disordered nature and seek to put off and bury our evil inclinations
---the Resurrection and the Ascension, which are the symbols of a perfect detachment from creatures and of the altogether heavenly life which we desire to lead in order to reach heaven."

"We can not assuredly attain such perfection unless Jesus comes to vanquish our powerful enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil: to rule over every adverse power."

"Lastly, in order to obtain this grace more readily, we proclaim the with Him we have but one end in view, to procure the glory of the Father under that action of the Holy Ghost: by the spirit unto the glory of the Father."

(The Spiritual Life by Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.. Tan Publishers)

Friday, April 30, 2010


"Unite me to Yourself, O good Jesus, draw me into Your sacrifice, so that I may be sacrificed with You and by You. Since the victim must be sacrificed, slaughtered, and consumed by fire, make me die to myself, that is, to my vices and passions, to all that is displeasing to You." (St. John Eudes)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Joy vs. Sadness

It is difficult for people to be joyful. Life isn’t easy. We are often weighed down with problems. Yet we were made for joy!

The opposite of joy is sadness. My last post was titled “sadness” and I receive more visits to my blog that day than on any other since I began to blog. So today I am hoping to raise awareness to this fact: that God is the God of joy and wants His children to be happy.

We have a soul and this is what is in us that tunes us to the inner life of the joyfulness of God. It is our soul that enables us to enjoy God in prayer. Did anyone ever teach you that you were to enjoy God in prayer? Enjoying God in prayer- seems like the concept should be self evident, but for some reason it isn’t. The little known secret of discovering enjoyment in prayer is that God is present to us; He is the God of love and joy. If we truly believe and understand this then prayer will not be just a duty, but a joy!

Do you think of prayer as drudgery or perhaps as something altogether boring? True joyfulness, that joyfulness that is seen in the saints, comes from being rooted in and nourished by a deep prayer life. This is the grace-filled secret to joyfulness.

“To live always joyfully. God is infinite joy”

“When one loves, everything is joy. The cross doesn’t weigh down. Martyrdom isn’t felt. One lives more in heaven than on earth.” (St. Teresa of the Andes)

Monday, April 19, 2010


The greatest enemy of spiritual joy is sadness. It is so easy to serve God fervently, to spread goodness and practice virtue when we are aware of God's presence in our lives. However, when we experience feelings of sadness and despondency we act in the opposite manner. We have no inner peace, we are troubled and down-hearted. We go about weak and all our good resolutions have diminished. We may even avoid praying. Yet prayer is what we really should do.

"Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray." (James 5:13)

When we are suffering from sadness we should turn to prayer so that our hearts can be strengthened. Prayer puts us into God's presence and this will lift our spirit and fill our souls with confidence.Our awarenss of God's joyful presence will bring peace, the peace for which our hearts long.

Rejoice in the Lord! We celebrate this season of Easter for fifty days! We have reasons for joy...

Beloved brethren and sons and daughters, is it not normal that joy should dwell in us, when our hearts contemplate or rediscover, in faith, the fundamental and simple reasons for joy? God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; through His Spirit, God's presence does not cease to enfold us with His tenderness and to fill us with His life; and we are journeying towards the blessed transfiguration of our life in the path of the resurrection of Jesus. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)

We as Chrsitains should always be filled with joy, even in our sufferings, because of Christ. He is the source of our joy, the cause of our joy. St. Paul tells us in several places in his Epistles to rejoice in the Lord always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks to God for everything, counting all to be pure joy.

The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)

The fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Meditation - Psalm 119

I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths. (Psalm 119:15)

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your laws (Psalm 119:12)

Your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:24)

I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life in accord with your word. (Psalm 119:25)

I disclosed my ways and you answered me; teach me your laws. (Psalm 119:26)

Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 119:27)

LORD, teach me the way of your laws; I shall observe them with care.  Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart. (Psalm 119:33-34)

How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long. (Psalm 119:97)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Teach me, O Lord!

"Teach me, O Lord, how to meditate; teach me to pray, for I can do neither the one nor the other as I should, and You alone can teach me. Give me ears to hear You in the reading and in the meditation; give me a tongue to speak with You in prayer. Inspire me with your divine Spirit, so that He may enable me to know the subject on which I should reflect, what I should say and ask, and how I should ask in order to obtain it. Let the Holy Spirit teach me to groan in Your presence; or rather, may He Himself form in me those holy groanings which You always hear and never reject. Inspire me, O Lord, with a great love for Your divine truths and doctrines, so that when I read of them, I shall understand and relish them. Open my mind and my heart; make me faithfully believe what You teach and practice what You command."  (an ancient author)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aridity and Praying with a Book

During periods of aridity and excessive activity of the imagination the soul can turn to meditative reading. When the soul is unable to meditate it can turn to a book to help collect the wandering thoughts and bring its soul in touch with God. St. Teresa of Jesus confesses to not being able to meditate without a book for many years and recommends this practice.

The choice of book should be one that is devout and will help in time of prayer. The Gospels are always a good choice and are of great assistance in this matter. The book can also be one of the writings of the saints. It should be one that is practical and affective, not too speculative or intellectual. This is to foster love, a work of the heart, rather than that of the mind.

The purpose of reading is to put the soul in a proper disposition for conversation with God. Read until enough has been read to arouse good and holy thoughts. Then when devote affections occupy the mind, stop reading and with the attention directed to God, meditate on the thoughts that have been read; speaking to Him or silently savoring the sentiments inspired by what was read.

“Like birds, who, when they drink, bend their heads toward the water, take a few drops, and raising their beaks toward the sky, swallow gradually, and then begin again, let us also bend our heads toward the devout book to gather a few drops of devotion, and then let us raise them to God, so that our minds may be fully impregnated with these thoughts. In this way, it will not be difficult to finish the prayer which we have begun by reading in an intimate colloquy with God.” (Divine Intimacy, #149 by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Degrees of Contemplation

St. Teresa of Jesus compares contemplation as water from a fountain: “rivers stream from this overflowing fount, some large, others small; and sometimes little pools”. (Way 20:2)

Some souls drink abundantly from this fountain, other partake only of a small rivulet. There are many forms of contemplation. This kind of prayer can be sweet, giving clarity, or dry and obscure, even painful. However, all forms of contemplation are useful to the soul. Contemplation, like water, if live-giving and opens the soul to intimacy with God. It can give the soul light into the mysteries of God. It can make the soul understand that God is everything and creatures are nothing.

All should seek contemplation because all are called to it. “Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: 'Rivers of living water will flow from within him." (John 7: 37) Keep in mind that God gives to whom He wishes, when He wishes and as much as He wishes. God never refuses this life-giving water to anyone who seeks it. The soul should seek it in the right way, however. We must do our part by disposing ourselves in such a way as to be worthy of this gift.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sorrowful Mother

"You are there, O Mary, at the foot of the Cross, standing, in strength and courage; and my Master says to me, "Ecce Mater Tua," Behold your Mother. He gives you to me for my Mother! And now that He has returned to His Father, and has put me in His place on the Cross so that I may fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the Church, you are still there, O Mary, to teach me to suffer as He did, to let me hear the last song of His soul which no one but you, O Mother, could overhear". (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity- Last Retreat)

Prudence in Action

Do not yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.

Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.

Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the advice of your betters in preference to following your own inclinations.

A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things.

(Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 4 by Thomas a Kempis)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Virtues of the Annunciation

Ave, gratia plena, Dominus tecum

In today’s feast, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church celebrates the Incarnation of Our Savior. Recorded in Luke’s Gospel, is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (Lk 1:28). The Word is made flesh in the womb of His mother, Mary.

Inspired by this narrative of St. Luke, let us enter into the dispositions of Mary. She is recollected in solitude when the angel approaches and says to her the words repeated in every Hail Mary. Mary’s reaction to this angelic visitor is one of humility. She is ‘troubled’, that is, astonished at such an unusual greeting addressed to her.

fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum

Then Mary gives her ‘fiat’: "Let it be done to me according to thy word" (Lk 1:38). This is the only proper response to God’s will.

The Angelus is a devotion that commemorates the Annunciation. This beautiful prayer is traditionally said three times a day: in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. In the past, this corresponded to the sound of a bell. The prayer consists of three Hail Mary’s and verses that come from the Gospel narrative. The prayer gets its name from the first word of the verse: “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary”.

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh:
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Into Solitude

"We are going into solitude."

"I'll lead her into solitude and there I'll speak to her heart"
(Hosea 2:14).

"I'll retire with Him into the intimate depths of my soul and there, as in another Nazareth, I'll live in His company with my Mother and Saint Joseph. Jesus told me He will search through His little house to see what's lacking so that He can purify it."

(Retreat of 1917, St. Teresa of the Andes, God the Joy of My Life, Ignatius Press)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Go to Joseph

The just man, St. Joseph, is an example for all of us. He is especially a model for young men to answer the challenges in all walks of life. St Joseph is the patron of workers and of families. He is also the special patron of priests. Priests are married to the Church in a virginal life; they are the special guardians of the Eucharist and have this holy saint as their special patron. During this Year of the Priest, ask for the intercession of St. Joseph for our priests. Ask him to aid those young men whom God is calling to the priesthood, to respond to that call with courage and generosity.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Misery and Imperfection of Every Good Desire

More on virtue... Can I really admit how miserable my deeds are as St. Teresa so readily does?

"He does not fail to repay, even in his life, every good desire. As miserable and imperfect as my deeds were, this Lord of mine improved and perfected them and gave them value, and the evils and sins He then hid. His Majesty even permitted that the eyes of those who saw these sins be blinded and He removed these sins from their memory. He gilds my faults; the Lord makes a virtue shine that He himself places in me – almost forcing me to have it."

(The Book of Her Life, chapter 4) (The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, ICS Publications, Vol. 1)

Truly, if there is anything good that I have done, it is really not me, but God who has done them through me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Praying for Virtue

How often do we ask for virtue when we pray? Virtue is not something that we possess; it is really only borrowed.

St. Therese’s Prayer to Obtain Humility

“O Lord, You could not humble Yourself any more in order to teach me humility. That is why I want to respond to your love by putting myself in the lowest place and by sharing Your humiliations, so as to be able to share the kingdom of heaven with You hereafter. I beg You, divine Jesus, send me a humiliation every time I try to put myself above others. But Lord, You know my weakness; every morning I make resolution to practice humility and every evening I acknowledge that I still have many failures. I am tempted to be discouraged by this, but I know that discouragement also has its source in pride. That is why I prefer to put my trust in You alone, O my God. Since You are all–powerful, deign to create in my soul the virtue for which I long.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Envy and the Lowest Place

“The only thing for which you will not be envied is the lowest place; therefore, the lowest place is the only one where there is no vanity and affliction of spirit.”

~St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Knowledge of God

Self-knowledge is important. The saints have all told us this. However, this knowledge of 'self' should never be separated from the knowledge of God.

St. Teresa of Jesus wrote in The Interior Castle that, "The soul must sometimes emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God. Doing this will help it to realize its own baseness better than thinking of its own nature, and it will be freer from the reptiles which enter the first rooms, that is, the rooms of self-knowledge."
(Interior Castle I, 2)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Examination of Conscience

The examination of conscience is defined in the Catechism as “the prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God.” Lent is a penitential season where we are called to repentance of our sins and to a deeper conversion. For Secular Carmelites, these penitential days in the liturgical year are of particular importance and the Sacrament of Penance is important in assisting our on-going conversion. (Constitution #22 & 24)

The examination of conscience should be faithfully practiced. A good time for this is each night before Night Prayer. During this examination consider:

weak points
evil tendencies
progress that has already been made
favorable results that have been attained
inclinations to good

Self-knowledge is important for everyone and St. Teresa of Jesus often exhorts the necessity of this for those who pray. In the Interior Castle she writes, “Knowing ourselves is something so important that I wouldn’t want any relaxation ever in this regard, however high you may have climbed into the heavens. While we are on this earth nothing is more important to us than humility.” (I, 2:9)

After considering the points above in the examination of conscience each of us can say to ourselves:

-These are the inclinations I must watch more carefully to
avoid falling into sin:

-These are the weak points which I must strengthen:

-These are the virtues that I must practice most of all:

Faults against charity, patience, obedience and sincerity should also be the focus of our examination. There is a struggle in all this, because we are striving to work against our predominant fault. And none of us is any better than our worst fault! Therefore, “Let us look at our own faults and leave aside those of others” (III, 2:13)

Let also practice the virtues for St. Teresa says, “It is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation. If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs. And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases.” (VII, 4: 9)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gratitude for the Gift of the Priesthood

We are still in the Year of the Priest, so some thoughts to help remember this special year are in order.

Our shepherds, the priests, are appointed by Christ to guide souls. All the powers given to His Church He has placed in the hands of His priests. He chooses these men, His priests, from among the people. Priests are called and sent to minister to the people. “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” (Lk 10:16) The dignity of our priests comes from Christ who appoints them as His representatives.

We, as the lay faithful, should see Christ Himself in our priests and try our best to overlook any faults we might notice in them. After all, a priest is a man and still is fallible and capable of making mistakes (who isn’t?). Nevertheless, this shouldn’t prevent us from seeing him as anointed by the Lord.

This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king. (Catechsim of the Catholic Church paragraph 1581)

“Without the priesthood we would be deprived of the Holy Eucharist; we would never have the consolation of hearing in the name of God, “Thy sins are forgiven thee” (Mt 9:2). If there were no priests, the churches would be deserted, schools would become secularized, there would be no nuptial blessings, the dying would be deprived of final consolation, children would be abandoned to evil; all men would become totally immersed in misery, with no one to raise them up and lead them to God, with no one to pray to Him in their name and for their welfare.” (Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD)

Think of all the times in our lives that our priests accompany us in our lives: soon after our birth at the baptism font; in the confessional when we have failed in charity; when we get married, he is there; when we need to understand some truth, or when we need to know how to live a good life, he is there to instruct and give example; he is there to bless us in our efforts and in our last moments he is there to offer strength.

Many priests work in ways unseen and unknown to us, they are often misunderstood, and never really fully appreciated. And yet what he does for us is priceless and indispensable.

“Every Christian ought to be grateful for the gift of the priesthood: in the first place, we should be grateful to Jesus who instituted it, and then to those who perform its sublime duties. We must express this gratitude, not only in showing reverent respect and filial docility to God’s ministers, but also by assiduously offering our prayers and good works for priestly vocations.” (Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD)

Pray for Priests.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spoiled by All

“Jesus did not desire me to be born poor like Himself; I was born in the midst of riches, spoiled by all.”

(St. Teresa of the Andes)

In a secularized society which turns its back on God, this Chilean Carmelite whom to my great joy I present as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, gives the shining witness of a life which proclaims to the men and women of our day that it is in loving, adoring and serving God that the human person finds greatness and joy, freedom and fulfillment. The life of Blessed Teresa cries out continually from within her cloister “God alone suffices.”

She shouts it out particularly to the young people who hunger for the truth and seek a light which will give direction to their lives. To young people who are being allured by the continuous messages and stimuli of an erotic culture, a society which mistakes the hedonistic exploitation of another for genuine love, which is self-giving, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and happiness that comes from a pure heart.

(Homily of Pope John Paul II for the Canonizationf of St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, March 21, 1993)

St. Tesesa lived a brief life, dying a teenager at the age of 19 years old. She lived as a Discalced Carmelite nun for 11 months in the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Los Andes, Chile. Juana Henrietta Josephine was born in 1900, into a wealthy, aristocratic family. She was surrounded by the love of a large extended family and every possible comfort. She was a good student and musically gifted. She played the piano and had a pleasing voice. St. Teresa also loved sports; she was an excellent swimmer and loved horsback riding.

St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes has been proposed as a model for young people today by our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. St. Teresa....pray for us!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scandal in the Convent

St. Teresa wrote her autobiography for her confessors. They gave their approval of this work along with St. John of Avila. St. Teresa highly valued his opinion since he was one of the most qualified persons at that time to judge the spiritual matters that were contained in this work. St. John of Avila, studied the manuscript, gave his praise and wrote a letter of approval in 1568.

Later, other confessors of St. Teresa read the work and word began to spread of this secret manuscript. Many people urged St. Teresa to allow copies to be made. The Bishop of Avila and the Duchess of Alba were among those requesting a copy.

When the Princess of Eboli heard of the secret work she insisted on reading it. St. Teresa was forced to give in to her wishes; however the princess made no effort to keep the manuscript out of the hands of her servants and soon everyone in the house knew of its contents. This deeply personal and spiritual account of St. Teresa’s life soon became the object of gossip and ridicule.

This domineering and self-centered princess entered the Carmel of Pastrana to become a nun after her husband’s death. She caused the nuns there so much grief and disquiet that the nuns had to leave the monastery in the middle of the night. The princess was deeply wounded by this and to get even with St. Teresa she denounced the saint’s work as heretical and containing dangerous doctrines. The Inquisition without delay began their investigation. Fortunately, the manuscript was placed in the hands of Fr. Banez who had been one of St. Teresa’s confessors. His judgment of the matter fell in favor of St. Teresa’s good intentions and that the work contained no errors of any significance.

There is a price to be paid. Jesus paid with His Body and Blood. St. Teresa paid with accusations and rejection.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


The Gospel (Mt 13:24-30) shows us the practical way to live the Christian life.

He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

"God has sown good seed generously in His field, the world; He has sown grace and love, and the desire for total oblation, the ideals of an apostolic, religious, saintly life. But, in the midst of all this good, the enemy comes to sow evil. Why does God, permit this? To sift His servants as we sift grain, to test them.

Sometimes we are scandalized, seeing evil working its way even into the best places, seeing that even among God’s friends, among those who should be a source of edification to others, there are some who behave unworthily. Then we filled with zeal, like the servants in the parable. We want to remedy this evil and root up the cockle.

The cockle is spared, not because it is good but in order to save the wheat. In the same way God spares the wicked and does not destroy them, for the sake of the elect. When God asks us to endure with patience certain situations, as inevitable as they are deplorable, He asks for one of the greatest exercised of charity, compassion, and mercy.

He does not tell us to fraternize with evil, to make a league with the cockle, but He tells us to endure it with the longanimity with which He Himself endured it. Was there not a traitor among the Apostles? Yet Jesus wanted him among His intimates — and with how much love He treated him! Indeed one of the greatest opportunities for the practice of charity is offered us by those who by their conduct give us so many occasions for forgiving them, returning good for evil, and for suffering injustice for the love of God. Moreover, we should consider that, whereas cockle cannot be changed into wheat, it is always possible for the wicked to be converted and become good. Were not Magdalen, the good thief, and Peter, who denied Jesus, converted? "
(Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Psalm 147: 16-20

The LORD sends a command to earth; his word runs swiftly!
Thus snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash,
Hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze.
Again he sends his word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow.
The LORD also proclaims his word to Jacob, decrees and laws to Israel.
God has not done this for other nations; of such laws they know nothing. Hallelujah!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Root

We all have this tendency to enjoy (or seek satisfaction) in ourselves, in our pride or in other people and things. St. John of the Cross teaches that these tendencies are the root of our attachments. Attachments are those “inordinate appetites”. Basically, they are those desires we have for things that are not rightly ordered in our lives and lead us into sin, mortal and venial, and imperfections. It is important to get to the root of these inordinate desires if one desires union with God. To get to the root of these, which are the inclinations of our nature, we must oppose them and make ourselves do what is repugnant to our nature. This would mean ‘going against the current’ and requires strength of will. St. John of the Cross, in the Ascent to Mount Carmel, gives us “rules” for detachment. He tells us the soul must always be inclined:

not to the easiest thing ~ but to the hardest
not to the tastiest ~ but to the most insipid
not to things that give greatest pleasure ~ but to those that give the least
not to the restful things ~ but to painful ones
not to consolation ~ but to desolation
not to more ~ but to less
not to the highest and dearest ~ but to the lowest and most despised
not to the desire for something ~ but to having no desires.

So all that is difficult, disagreeable or wearisome to us needs to have our attention. These are the things to work on! These reveal to us our desires. Our saint says we are to oppose these inclinations with order and discretion. In other words, we need to train ourselves to not shrink back from something we find disagreeable or that requires effort or that we find difficult or challenging. In order to strengthen the will we can put into practice the above rules starting with little things in order to gain strength of will and then be strong enough to tackle the bigger attachments. For instance, being inclined to “restful things” like not getting out of bed when the alarm clock first goes off. The tendency is to hit the snooze and rest ten more minutes! It is a bit painful to jump right out of bed at the first call; it will require strength of will. “I will!” “I will get up right away when the alarm sounds off.” Or how about the inclination to the highest and dearest . . . a promotion, recognition, a word of praise? Can we train the will to not desire these and rather hope to be despised, past over and unnoticed? All this may sound harsh, but there is a purpose to this and it is to bring us to union with God. As we practice detachment from our desires this end is always to be kept in mind. Our desires should always be for God.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Kings and the Carmelite Vocation

The kings at the manger represent seekers from all lands and peoples. Grace led them before they ever belonged to the external church. There lived in them a pure longing for truth that did not stop at the boundaries of native doctrines and traditions. Because God is truth and because he wants to be found by those who see him with their whole hearts, sooner or later the star had to appear to show these wise men the way to truth. And so they now stand before the Incarnate Truth, bow down and worship it, and place their crown at its feet, because all the treasures of the world are but dust compared to it.

And the kings have a special meaning for us, too. Even though we already belong to the external church, an interior impulse nevertheless drove us out of the circle of inherited viewpoints and conventions. We knew God, but we felt that he desired to be sought and found by us in a new way. Therefore we wanted to open ourselves and sought for a star to show us the right way. And it arose for us in the grace of vocation. We followed it and found the divine infant. He stretched out his hand for our gifts. He wanted the pure gold of a heart detached from all earthly goods; the myrrh of a renunciation of all the happiness of this world in exchange for participation in the life and suffering of Jesus; the frankincense of a will that surrenders itself and strains upward to lose itself in the divine will. In return for these gifts, the divine child gave us himself.
(The Hidden Life and Epiphany –from The Collected Works of Edith Stein: The Hidden Life, ICS Publications)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mary, Mother of God

Receptivity, trust and surrender. These describe Mary, the Mother of God and our mother. Today's feast in honor of Mary calls us to reflect on her virtues particularly her receptivity, complete trust and surrender to God. Mary teaches us so much about obedience and submitting to God's will, no matter what it demands or what sacrifice it requires. As another year begins we can like Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D. -

"think of this new year as a white page given to me by Your Father, on which He will write, day by day, whatever His divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page, with complete confidence: Domine, fac de me sicut vis, Lord, do with me what you will, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of Your divine will."

May we say Yes Lord, to all that he sends our way. Yes to all the sorrows, joys, trials and hardships. And in so doing imitate our Blessed Mother.

With God's love and grace we will be rich enough.
(Taken from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

About today's Feast:
In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season, we should all turn with one mind to the restored solemnity of the Mother of God. This feast was entered into the calendar in the liturgy of the city of Rome for the first day of January. The purpose of the celebration is to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to "the Holy Mother...through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life." This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year's Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974, no.5).