Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity A praise of glory is someone rooted in God by faith and simplicity; she reflects everything he is. She is a deeply quarried abyss into which he can flow and pour himself out. She is like a crystal through which he can shine and which he can see his own splendour. Someone who lets the divine Being satisfy his need to communicate all that he is and all that he does to her in this way is truly the praise of glory of all his gifts.
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, known as Elizabeth Catez in the world, was born of a military family and died at the age of 26 as a cloistered Carmelite nun in Dijon, France. As a young woman she was known for her beauty and was a gifted pianist. She described her mission shortly before her death: "...my mission will be to draw souls to interior recollection, by helping them to renounce self in order to adhere to God in all simplicity and love." She was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is Nov. 8
The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent, outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer in Honor of the Sorrowful Mother
Grant, we beg you, O Lord, that the Blessed Virgin Mary your Mother, may intercede for us at the throne of your mercy, now and at the hour of our death, whose most holy soul was pierced with the sword of grief in the hour of your own passion, through you, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns one God world without end. Amen.
The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus. For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church. As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.
A Prayer of Trust
Response: Jesus, I place my trust in you
In all my temptations,
In all my weaknesses,
In all my difficulties,
In all my trials,
In all my sorrows,
In every failure,
In every disappointment,
In every discouragement,
In all my undertakings,
In life and in death,
In time and eternity.
O Jesus my prayer shall ever be: May Your holy will be done in all things, because I trust in You.
I will accept the crosses of life as I accept the joys, with a grateful heart, because I trust in You.
I will not be worried or anxious about anything, because I trust in You.
I will never lose heart in my efforts to be good, because I trust in You.
I will never doubt Your mercy or Your love, because I trust in You.
If you will have me be in darkness, may you be blessed.
If you wish to comfort me, may you be blessed.
If you wish that I be afflicted, may you be blessed.
(A Thank you to Fr. Kaylor, pastor of St. Therese parish, Brewster, Ohio for greeting me after mass and allowing me time afterward to take photos. The stained glass window and statue of St. Therese are from his church).
Let us consider that the entire Church is on retreat during this holy season of Lent. And the theme of this retreat is the life, passion, death, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Even for those members of the Body of Christ who are not inclined to focus their minds and hearts on the spiritual, the Church in a gentle way, during Lent, forces all of its members to reflect on the Passion of Christ. A subject not for the faint of heart.
It takes courage to look at the Cross, to embrace it, to lift it and carry it and hold it high and proclaim it to the world in our daily life. It also takes courage to carry our cross with great joy.
I recently heard someone say, "Lent is too long!" Is it too long because we miss our worldly attachments? Is it too long, because it hurts? Is it too long because it reminds us of death, and we may not be ready? St. John of the Cross would tell us it hurts because we are still attached to our senses-living for the body and not living in the Spirit.
For the Secular Carmelite, Lent becomes a season of joy. Of course, it is solemn and penitential, but we know that we must take up our cross, as we have promised to do, and follow the crucified and risen Lord-follow him to Calvary--follow him to the joy of the Resurrected life!
St. Therese is a Saint that we can count on to help us find the joy amid the cross. She, the one who promised to strew her flowers amid thorns, and promising that the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter would she sing.
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) said she would run a hundred miles from a sour-faced saint. She only said in a different way what the Gospel tells us each Lent, "wash your face and groom your hair..." Do not be like the hypocrites..." In other words, go about your business of praying and fasting, and why not do it with joy?
Our Lady sang the Magnificat in the company of Elizabeth. Her song of praise was not a one-time event. The Church asks us to remember her great joy every day as we complete Evening Prayer and sing the Magnificat. As I have written before, sometime when you think of it, stand before a crucifix and sing the Magnificat. "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior....". God my Savior...
Our Lady, Mother of Our Savior, pray for us. May the world see that we are Christians by our love and by our joy!
Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Heart of the Divine Christ Child whom you hold in your arms so close to your heart all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore (Pause, mention your request). Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I am confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.
The early Church fathers have written that the gift of tears is likened to another baptism, for true tears from the Spirit are cleansing, healing and refreshing to the soul. These early fathers speak of different gifts of tears such as tears of repentance, compunction and sorrow for one's sins. Today we are mainly speaking of the gift of tears that the soul experiences in the prayer of the quiet. In her writings, St. Teresa helps us to discern the true gift of tears. She warns her nuns that there are certain persons whose weakness causes them to cry over every little trouble. This is not the gift of tears. "It is easy to know when tears come from this source (God), for they are soothing and gentle rather than stormy and rarely do any harm." She also warns that this gift does not mean one has true virtue. "Let us not fancy that if we cry a great deal we have done all that is needed-rather we must work hard and practice the virtues: that is essential--leaving tears to fall when God sends them, without trying to force ourselves to shed them." We must also keep in mind that the tears she is describing take place when the soul is experiencing the prayer of the quiet, an advanced state of prayer that is infused. This type of prayer brings delight that can spill over into the senses. This prayer, as she states, requires no effort on our part because it is total gift of God. If God gives the gift of tears, one must not dwell on it, because she warns if you dwell on it, the gift will surely disappear as quickly as it was bestowed on the soul. Her final thoughts on the subject: Therefore, sisters, I think it best for us to place ourselves in the presence of God, contemplate His mercy and grandeur and our own vileness and leave him to give us what He will, whether water or drought, for He knows best what is good for us; thus we enjoy peace and the devil will have less chance to deceive us. If the Lord has brought us to the blessed state of the prayer of the quiet, let us thank Him and humble ourselves before Him. May he bestow on us the highest gift of all: perfect charity. All quotes taken from the Interior Castle, Sixth Mansion
Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. " The Virgin Mary...is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer...She is clearly the mother of the members of Christ'...since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head. Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.
Six days ago, while I was making my thanksgiving after communion, I felt such love so great for Our Lord that it seemed to me my heart could not resist it. Yet at the same time--believe me, Father, I don't know how to express what happened to me--I felt kind of stunned, throughout those days I've been as though I were outside myself. I spent all those days as though I were not in myself. I would do things, but without realizing it. Later, in prayer, God would present Himself to me, but immediately my soul seemed to go out of itself. This happened with such violence that I nearly fell to the ground.
In 1769, Mother Magdalen Theresa of St. Francis de Sales was so gravely ill from a fistula in one of the lacrimal glands that she had to undergo an operation. She was no better after the operation, and could rest neither day nor night. Stricken to the heart at the sight of her sufferings, Sister Theresa Margaret took from under her scapular one day a little parchment picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel and applied it to the sick nun's head, saying, " I am sorry that you suffer so...if you have faith, this will help." There was immediate relief and, in a few days, absolute cure.
Through Mary, with Mary, and in Mary, the Holy spirit brought forth the God-man, and in like manner He brings forth, every day, to the End of Time, the elect children of God. St. Louis de Montfort says: "The Holy Spirit imparted to Mary His immeasurable gifts, and has made her the dispenser of all His graces, so that she distributes His gifts and graces to whom she will, as much as she wills, and how and where she wills. No grace is given by Heaven to man except through her virginal hands." St. Bernard and St. Alphonsus and many other theologians hold the same opinion. (Source: Devotion to the Holy Spirit, Tan Books) During this season of Lent, let us call upon our Holy Mother and ask her to send the Holy Spirit to help us in our resolve to pray and do penance. Let us remember Our Lady each day with that beautiful prayer that recalls the moment she became the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the holy dwelling place of God.
V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit Hail Mary... V. Behold the Handmaid of the Lord R. Let it be done to me according to your word Hail Mary... V. And the Word was made flesh R. And dwelt among us Hail Mary... Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our heart, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by a message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace be with you!
The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stand at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished "once for all" by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.
Prayer Before a Crucifix
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Your face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech You to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Your five wounds, pondering over them within me, and calling to mind the words which, long ago, David the prophet spoke in Your own person concerning You, my Jesus: "They have pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."
The Carmelite is called to live a life of Beatitude. Our Lord tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: thekingdom of heaven is theirs.” Let us ask ourselves, do I desire anything other than the Kingdom, the life of the Blessed in heaven? Jesus tells us that if we are poor in spirit, then not only will we be happy in heaven, but he will take care of our temporal needs now. So, why do we worry and try to accumulate material things? We are spiritually insecure when we do not have the confidence that our heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide for them.
What is the key to spiritual poverty? It can be summed up in one word: detachment. And who better to learn about detachment than from our holy father, St. John of the Cross? St. John of the Cross teaches us that not only should we be detached from material possessions, but we should also be detached from spiritual consolations and even from our very selves and our senses. He explains:
Some are content with a certain degree of virtue,perseverance in prayer, and mortification, but never achieve the nakedness, poverty, selflessness, or spiritual purity (which are all the same) about which the Lord counsels here. For they still feed and clothe their natural selves with spiritual feelings and consolations instead of divesting and denying themselves of these for God's sake. They think denial of self in worldly matters is sufficient without annihilation and purification in the spiritual domain. It happens that, when some of this solid perfect food ( the annihilation of all sweetness in God—the pure spiritual cross and nakedness of Christ's poverty of spirit) is offered them in dryness, distaste, and trial, they run from it as from death and wander about in search only of sweetness and delightful communications from God. Such an attitude is not the hallmark of self-denial and nakedness of spirit but the indication of a spiritual sweet tooth. Through this kind of conduct they become, spiritually speaking, enemies of the cross of Christ.Ascent of Mt. Carmel Book II, Chap. 7, No. 5
Our family of Carmel is a holy and penitential family. We bind ourselves to holy poverty in a spiritual marriage to the Order when we profess our vows. We promise to seek the face of God in prayer. The Beatitudes are the portrait of Jesus. We seek the face of Jesus, his holy face, not only his wounded and sorrowful face, but his joyful face, as he proclaims the kingdom of heaven to the poor.
The promises of chastity, poverty, and obedience work together in the spiritual life, we cannot have one without the other. If we are sincere in our quest to reach the summit of Mt. Carmel, we will be single-hearted for the Lord in our love for him (Chasity), we will be single-hearted in our desire for the kingdom and not worldly possessions (poverty), we will be single-hearted in carrying out his holy will (obedience).
Peace be with you!
Answers to yesterday's quiz:
1. St. John of the Cross
2. Her autobiography (The Life), The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle; written in this order.
3. The autobiography of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Our Lord spoke to me and made me understand how lonely and abandoned He is in the Tabernacles. He asked me to keep Him company. Then He gave me my vocation, and said that He wanted my heart for Himself. He also told me I would become a Carmelite. From that moment I spent entire days in intimate conversation with Our Lord and felt happy to be alone. I was not living at this time my own life, but Jesus was living in me. I got up at seven. I did everything with Jesus and for Jesus. Our Lord showed me what holiness is. I would attain it by doing everything as well as possible.
St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes (from her diary written at about the age of 14) We can see in St. Teresa's writing her simplicity and purity of heart. What a simple rule for holiness Jesus taught her: "Our Lord showed me what holiness is. I would attain it by doing everything as well as possible." We know that the saints are filled with the Holy Spirit and not only do everything "well" but with great love. Fr. Thomas Dubay, who has written extensively on Carmelite spirituality has mentioned more than a few times that Saints do not "cut corners." Let us learn from St. Teresa to do everything well. This may present a challenge at times when we want to take a short-cut on the spiritual road, but let us keep close to Jesus and spend time with him in the Blessed Sacrament. He will give us the grace we need to do everything with love.