Hail, most gracious Mother of mercy, hail, Mary, for whom we fondly yearn, through whom we obtain forgiveness! Who would not love thee? Thou art our light in uncertainty, our comfort in sorrow, our solace in the time of trial, our refuge from every peril and temptation. Thou art our sure hope of salvation, second only to thy only-begotten Son; blessed are they who love thee, our Lady! Incline, I beseech thee, thy ears of pity to the entreaties of this thy servant, a miserable sinner; dissipate the darkness of my sins by the bright beams of thy holiness, in order that I may be acceptable in thy sight.
It often happens that our Lord draws souls away from serious sin and also that He leads others to greater perfection because of my beseeching Him. The Lord has granted me so many favors by freeing souls from purgatory and doing other noteworthy things that I would tire myself and tire whoever reads this if I mentioned them all. He has granted much more in regard to the health of souls than He has in regard to the health of bodies. This has become something well known, and there are many witnesses to it. At the beginning it made me very scrupulous because I couldn't help believing that the Lord granted these favors because of my prayer--setting aside the main fact of His doing them solely out of His goodness.But now there are so many cases, and they are so obvious to other persons, that it doesn't bother me to believe this. I praise His Majesty...
The Book of Her Life Chapter 39, No. 5
In these years of preparation to 2015 when the Carmelite Order will celebrate the 500 anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa, let us pray for her intercession for our needs and the needs of our families. If the Lord granted her many favors while she was living in this world, imagine what he will do for her now that she is with him face to face in heaven! Let us pray for many graces to be poured out on the Carmelite Order during this time of preparation. Let us pray for the conversion of sinners and that many many souls will come to love His Majesty!
Envy is a tendency to be saddened by another's good as if that good constituted an affront to our own superiority. Often it coincides with a desire of seeing the neighbor deprived of the particular good that offends us.(Spiritual Life, A.Tanquerey, #845)
In itself, envy is by nature a mortal sin, because it is directly opposed to the virtue of charity which requires us to rejoice in the good fortune of others. The more important the good we envy, the graver is our sin. (SL, Tanquerey, #848)
St. John of the Cross teaches us that beginners, who are lacking in humility, may suffer from this type of envy because they do not like to hear others praised, while they themselves are ignored. They also desire to be the favorite of their spiritual director. This spiritual infirmity of envy stems from the capital sin of Pride.
Perhaps we have witnessed envy, which manifests itself by tearing down others verbally in order to build ourselves up in the eyes of others. If someone is complimented in the presence of an envious person, he or she will make critical remarks about the person being complimented.
However, there is some good news for us: It is possible to possess holy envy. According to St. John of the Cross, in his work the DarkNight of the Soul, he describes the traits of holy envy. Here are the traits that I have paraphrased:
*The soul is sad that it does not possess virtue they see in others. *The soul rejoices in the virtues they see in others. *The soul is happy that others are ahead of them on the road of perfection and in the service of God.
The wisdom of humility from The Imitation of Christ:
...Other people's interests will prosper, but your own will not succeed; others will be listened to, but people will pay no attention to what you say. Others will ask and shall receive, but your requests will be refused.
Often people will say nice things about others, but never a good word about you. Others will be promoted to positions of trust, but you will be judged unfit.
Naturally, this kind of thing goes against the grain; but if you bear it in silence, you will advance considerably. For these--and many like things--are means by which the faithful servant of the Lord is tried, in order to determine how far he can deny and break his own will in all things.
(Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 49, No. 4-5)
The Holy Spirit can cure us of the deadly sin of spiritual envy. We must pray for humility and see Jesus Christ as the source of all holiness and virtue we see in others, and give all honor and glory to him. We must guard the gate of our heart and renounce any temptation to envy at the first moment we become aware of it.
Remaining faithful to prayer and having an earnest desire of being purified from all sin, will cause the Holy Spirit to help us in our interior struggle to die to self. As Secular Carmelites we help each other in this struggle by encouraging one another, let us not sin by envying the good work of the Holy Spirit that is being poured out on a brother or sister in Christ.
May the Holy Spirit give us the true and pure gift of holy envy that will cause us to rejoice when we observe the good we see in other people.
Peace be with you!
...He went down with them then, and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. (Luke 51)
#2214 The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; that is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God's commandment.
#2217 ...As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
#2218 The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress...
As Secular Carmelites who are seeking the way of perfection, we must not only respect our biological parents, but we must respect our spiritual parents of the Carmelite Order: St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. We must respect their teachings and their holy counsel through their writings. We must make every effort to obey the points of the Rule they have laid out for us.
We can have confidence that we are obeying our Heavenly Father, if we are respecting our parents, if we are obeying Church teaching, as set forth by our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and if we are being faithful to our Carmelite promises of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience.
Let us pray for each other that we will follow the example of the one who said "Yes" in obedience to God's will: TheBlessed Virgin Mary.
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; look with mercy on me. By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. I come, therefore, with complete confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain , O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for your favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that I may one day share your glory. Amen.
Requiring little sleep, he spent much of the night in prayer, sometimes kneeling at the altar steps before the Blessed Sacrament; at other times he knelt beneath the trees in the garden, and sometimes at the window of his cell, from which he could look out at the heavens and all the countryside...His greatest suffering during the imprisonment in Toledo was being deprived of the Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament was "all his glory, all his happiness, and for him far surpassed all the things of the earth. The one privilege he accepted when major superior in Segovia was the cell closest to the Blessed Sacrament.
An Excerpt from the Biographical Sketch of St. John of the Cross
from the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
Translated by Kieran Kavanugh, OCD
The "practice of the presence of God" is a technique one uses to remember God throughout the day. It is a very useful technique for beginners who wish to undertake quiet prayer. However, one must pray for the grace to persevere, because this technique requires discipline. But as Brother Lawrence describes below, the soul to whom God blesses with this interior prayer; he enjoys continual interior union with Him.
By the presence of God and by this interior gaze, the soul comes to know God in such a way that is passes almost all its life in making continual acts of love, adoration, contrition, trust, actions of grace, offering, petition and of all the most excellent virtues; and sometimes it even becomes one endless act because the soul is always engaged in staying in this divine presence.
I know you will find few persons attain this state; itis a grace which God grants only to certain chosen souls... Excerpt from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection,Translated by John J.Delaney
These words of Brother Lawrence should not let us lose heart. Because he goes on to say that if God does not freely give this gift to us, we can still practice the presence of God and acquire a state of prayer that is similar to this exalted state. So, keep in mind there is hope for the soul who desires the heights of mystical union with God.Let us pray for each other!
Here is the prayer of a holy Carmelite who has reached that exalted state: May my life be a continual prayer, a long act of love. May nothing distract me from You, neither noise nor diversions. O my Master, I would so love to live with You in silence. But what I love above all is to do Your will, and since You want me to still remain in the world, I submit with all my heart for love of You. I offer You the cell of my heart; may it be Your little Bethany. Come rest there; I love You so...I would like to console You, and I offer myself to You as a victim, O my Master, for You, with You. Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
O Mary, Virgin and most powerful Mother of Mercy, Queen of heaven and Refuge of sinners, we consecrate ouselves today to your Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to you our very being and our whole life, all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To you we give our bodies, our hearts and souls, to you we give our homes, our families and our country.
Mindful of this consecration we now promise to imitate you by the practice of Christian virtues without regard for human respect. We resolve to receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of every month when possible, and to offer daily five decades of the Rosary with all our sacrifices, in the spirit of penance and reparation. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, I want to give myself to you completely. When I see your Sacred Heart, I reflect upon your love. You came from theFather taking a human body with a human heart. You taught us to love God with all our hearts. You suffered and died to save us from sin and death. As you hung on the cross, your Heart was pierced by a lance. Out of it poured blood and water to signify the birth of your Church.
You rose from the dead, Jesus, to live forever with your Father in Heaven. But your Heart is still full of love for us. You still feel pain when people reject or ignore your love. You want us all to live forever with God.
I now consecrate myself to your Sacred Heart, Jesus. You are the Son of God whom I love with all my heart. I offer you my body, my soul, my mind, and my heart. Receive me, make me holy, make my heart like your Heart, and guide me in the way of perfect love today and every day of my life. Amen.
Ana Garcia was born at Almendral, Castille, in 1549. In 1572 she made her profession as a Carmelite in the hands of St. Teresa, at St. Joseph's, Avila. The saint later chose her as her companion and nurse, and she subsequently brought the Teresian spirit to France and Belgium, where she proved herself, like Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for the salvation of souls. She died at Antwerp in 1626.
As all the Cure's clients had become accustomed to the permanent miracle of his life, no one even dreamed that the end was approaching. But he had no illusions about it. There can be no doubt that he had presentiments of death. When he was given a beautiful ribbon to be used in the procession of Corpus Christi in 1858, he expressed his thanks and added: "I shall not use it twice." As it happened, in June 1859, he did not have the strength to carry the monstrance. And when he sent Catherine to the chateau of Cibeins to collect his small annuity, he said to her: "This will be the last time!"
On Friday, July 29, Father Vianney carried on his "ordinary" activities. He spent sixteen or seventeen hours in the confessional, taught his catechism class, said the evening prayers. When he returned to the rectory in a state of total exhaustion he collapsed on a chair saying: "I cannot go on any more!"
...at one o'clock the next morning when Father Vianney tried to get up to go to the church, he found he was unable to move...I think this is the end of my poor life, " he said in a whisper.
From The Remarkable Cure of Ars, by Michele de Saint Pierre
In one sentence, spiritual gluttony can be defined as an excessive craving for consolations.
From Fr. Tanquerey in his classic work, The Spiritual Life:
a)One seeks them (consolations) even in the practice of austerities, in the discipline for instance, and one importunes one's director for permission to practice mortifications with the hope of thus obtaining consolations.
b)For the same reason, some persons make forced efforts during meditation or at the time of communion, in order to procure a feeling of devotion, or they wish to go frequently to confession with a view of finding some comfort in this exercise. Often these efforts and longing remain sterile, and then discouragement takes hold of these souls, who are more attached to consolations than to God Himself.
We can learn many things from Fr. Tanquerey who bases his writings on the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus.
Spiritual Gluttony is just one of the capital sins of the spiritual life. I hope to cover the others in future posts. This sin is very easy to succumb to because spiritual consolations can be so deeply enjoyable. However, we must strive to love God for himself and not the spiritual sweetness he sends. As we learn in the writings of our Carmelite doctors of the church, we must go beyond the consolations and embrace the cross, where there is no consolation, only the dying to self.
We can look to the saints, especially the Carmelite saints, who found a type of joy in suffering that is hard for us to understand. A type of joy given in the interior of the soul that helped them suffer with love for Christ.
We can ask ourselves, what is our response when God withdraws consolations? Do we become like spoiled little children who sulk and grow irritable? Do we think we deserve consolations? Is there a certain pride or vanity attached to them-thinking that we have become holy and that is why we enjoy them?
God's mercy rescues us when he sends us the experience of the night of the senses, for this is when he begins his real work in us, by purifying us of attachments to sensible consolations. Do not lose heart, but be very grateful, for if the Lord is purifying us, it is because he desires a greater union with us. Purification leads to holiness!