Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION WITH ST. TERESA OF JESUS



In this excerpt from the writings of St. Teresa, she instructs us to be on guard against the false experience of peace that comes from a conscience that has no sense of sin and no remorse when it has fallen into sin. It is the awful predicament of a soul without self-knowledge. St. Teresa teaches us that prayer and contemplation bring us to self-knowledge. In this blessed state, we have the light of the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us when we have fallen into sin. 

St. Teresa is also wary of souls who never seem disturbed or suffer trials. In these cases, with her nuns, she tested them to see if this was the fruit of prayer or due to spiritual carelessness.

In this excerpt, look for St. Teresa's distinction between the false peace and the false sense of quiet of those in sin and the genuine peace and quiet of the soul who has reached the place of perfect contemplation. Perfect contemplation and peace of soul are the gifts that the Lord bestows on the soul who has been faithful to prayer.

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila):
God deliver you from the peace of many kinds that worldly people have. May He never allow us to try it, for it brings perpetual war. When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don't feel remorseful about anything, their peace, you have read, is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them. For bad as they are they would then return to God somewhat, not out of love for Him but so as to flee from this war. Those who would act in such a way would never persevere in serving God. Soon, since the devil understands this, he would again give them delight in their pleasure and they would return to their friendship with him until he has them in that place where he shows them how false their peace was. There is no reason to speak of these persons here; let them worry about it, for I hope in the Lord that so much evil will not be found among you. But the devil could begin to offer you another peace in small things and always, while we live, daughters, we must fear...

I tell you that even though in prayer the Lord grants you favors and gives you what I shall speak of later, when you leave prayer you will meet with a thousand little obstacles, a thousand little occasions to break one rule carelessly, or not to carry out another well, interior disturbances and temptations. I don't say that this war must be going on always or habitually; but it is a wonderful favor from the Lord. By this means the soul advances. It's impossible for us to be angels here below because such is not our nature. In fact, a soul doesn't disturb me when I see it with great temptations. If love and fear of our Lord are present, the soul will gain very much; I'm certain of that. If I see a soul always quiet and without any war--for I've run into some like this--I always fear even if I do not see it offending the Lord. Never do I finish seeking to assure myself; and trying and tempting such persons, if I can, since the devil doesn't do so, in order that they may know themselves. I have met a few; to be without war is possible, once the Lord has brought the soul to an abundance of contemplation.
Meditations on the Song of Songs, Chap. 2, No. 1-3.

It takes great wisdom to discern the gifts of the Spirit in our lives. Let us be very careful not to enjoy a false sense of peace when we know we have become careless and lazy in our spiritual life and in charity with others. If we are not experiencing any type of interior trial for a long period of time, this could be a warning sign that we are not growing in virtue. Let us be mature Christians, not always looking for the sweetness of consolation but ready to be purified by the crosses and trials the Lord wishes to send us. He is very merciful to allow us to be purified and made holy in this life. 

Let us pray for each other, that we be constantly on guard against the lion who wishes to devour our soul. Let us be faithful to prayer that brings self-knowledge through the light and intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit. The Bridegroom of our soul is on guard to keep our hearts set on Him. He is the One who offers the genuine peace and quiet of soul that the world cannot give.


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds


Sunday, July 27, 2014

THREE WORDS OF WISDOM

REFUGE OF SINNERS

Photo Source: Wikipedia

As Catholics, we honor Mary, the Mother of God, under many beautiful titles. One of my favorite titles is "Refuge of Sinners." Her feast day under this title is August 13th.  

I love this title because this devotion reflects the mercy of God manifested through Our Blessed Mother. As fallen children of Eve, we can all run to her, the new Eve, and be embraced by her.  Through this devotion, we can see the similarity of "Refuge of Sinners" and the beautiful biblical story of the Prodigal Son. Mary leads all her prodigal children to the throne of God, where she rejoices with us that the sinner has come home!

Beginning as early as the second century in the writings of St. Justin, Martyr, the Church teaches us that Mary is a powerful intercessor for us before God the Father. Later, St. Alphonsus Liguori who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 writes of Mary as Refuge of Sinners:

One of the titles by which the holy Church teaches us to invoke the divine mother, and which most encourages poor sinners, is the title of "Refuge of Sinners," with which we invoke her in the Litanies. There were anciently, in Judea, cities of refuge ; and criminals, who sought protection in them, were free from the penalty of their offences. Now, there are not so many cities of refuge, but instead of these there is one only, Mary ; of whom it was spoken : Glorious things are said of thee, oh city of God Gloriosa dieta sunt de te civitas Dei. But with this difference, that not all criminals could find refuge in those ancient cities, nor for all sorts of crime ; but under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection, what ever crimes they have committed. It is sufficient for any one to have recourse to her for protection. "I am the city of refuge for all those who flee to me," as St. John of Damascus says, speaking in her name...Read more

As Secular Carmelites, we have a great devotion to Our Lady. We wear her Scapular, her mantle. As St. Alphonsus writes, "...under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection..." The scapular should be a constant reminder to us that she is ever with us. She helps us poor sinners as we strive to overcome our faults and failings. She is with us as we journey to the summit of Carmel- spiritual perfection and union with her Son.

We only have to read the lives of the saints to see that they considered themselves poor sinners. St. Bernadette, to whom Our Lady appeared at Lourdes, was a saint who considered herself a "poor sinner." In fact, these were her last words, "pray for me, a poor sinner."  

If we don't see ourselves as sinners in need of God's mercy, there is not much room for spiritual perfection, there is no need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we don't see ourselves as sinners, there is no compassion and mercy for others. 

If we love God and are seeking spiritual perfection, we are called to be a refuge of sinners to our neighbor. We are called to be servants of God's mercy to others. We are called to serve with open arms and to welcome all those who have hurt us in life. Many times our human nature rebels against forgiveness and mercy, we want to hold a grudge. We want to let the other person know how they have hurt us. If we want to be holy, we cannot go this route. We must show the attributes of God; let us be slow to anger and quick to forgive. These spiritual qualities are proof that the Spirit lives and reigns in us. Let us strive to have the heart and mind of a saint. A heart that reflects the love and mercy of God!

In the rosary we say, "...pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death..." As sinners, let us turn to Mary, our mother and sure refuge. At the hour of our death she will be with us and lovingly defend us before the Throne of God. 

Mary, Daughter of the Eternal Father, pray for us.
Mary, Mother of the only-Begotten Son, pray for us.
Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us. 



Mary, Intercessor for All Mankind. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

Prayer to Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners:

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.



THE TITLES OF MARY-THE LITANY OF LORETO






Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

CARMELITE QUOTE

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila):

I have often told you, Sisters, and now I want to leave it in writing here so that you will not forget it, that in this house--and even in the case of any person seeking perfection--you should run a thousand miles from such expressions as: "I was right." "They had no reason for doing this to me." "The one who did this to me was wrong." God deliver us from this poor way of reasoning. Does it seem to have been right that our good Jesus suffered so many insults and was made to undergo so much injustice? I don't know why the nun who doesn't want to carry the cross, except the one that seems to her reasonable, is in the monastery. Let her return to the world, although even there they will not respect such reasonings. Could you by chance suffer as much as you deserve? What kind of reasoning is this? I certainly don't understand it.

Let us reason in such a way when some honor is paid to us, or when we are given some comfort or receive good treatment; for certainly it isn't right that we be so treated in this life. When wrongs are done--that's what they call them without there being any wrong done to us--I don't know what there is to talk about. Either we are brides of so great a King or we are not. If we are, what honorable woman is there who does not share in the dishonors done to her spouse even though she does not will them? In fact, both spouses share the honor and the dishonor Now, then, to enjoy a part in His kingdom and want no part in His dishonors and trials is nonsense.
The Way of Perfection Chap. 13, No. 1-2


VIDEO:
CARMELITE SISTERS  OF WASHINGTON
PILGRIMAGE TO AVILA







Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
Solemnity for all Discalced Carmelites
Photo: R. Massaro-Carmelite Monastery Cleveland, Oh



It was through the blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world.                                                        St. Louis de Montfort



From the Carmelite Proper:

The sacred scriptures speak of the beauty of Mount Carmel where the prophet Elijah defended the faith of Israel in the living God. There, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, under the title of "Saint Mary of Mount Carmel, " the Order of Carmelites had its formal beginning. From the fourteenth century this title, recalling the countless blessings of its patroness, began to be celebrated solemnly, first in  England and then gradually throughout the whole Order. It attained its supreme place from the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the General Chapter declared it to be the principal feast of the Order, and Paul V recognized it as the feast of the Scapular Confraternity.

From the Mystical Institutions of Michael of Saint Augustine:

...Put yourself completely in her care; acknowledge her your best teacher, call upon her, the truly wise virgin; make every effort to prepare for and celebrate her different feasts worthily, in a word, act always as becomes a worthy son. In return you will learn how truly she is the mother of fair love and godly hope, overflowing with every grace of life and truth for you, radiating every hope of life and holiness. She never ceases to entreat for you those graces necessary for your perseverance in true holiness. At all times she acts as your well of living waters.
At the hour of your death she will not hesitate to proclaim herself your sister--indeed, your mother--so that she will be your greatest help at that hour. Then indeed will her assistance secure your salvation. Your life of devotion and attachment to her will gain for you a holy peaceful death in her love. She will carry you in her gentle motherly arms to the gate of Heaven. Truly those who love Mary will be blessed at their last hour.



Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, July 6, 2014


OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
FEAST DAY: JULY 16

Photo: R. Massaro-St. Rose Church Girard, Ohio



The Ten Books on the Way of Life
and Great Deeds of the Carmelites 
A medieval history of the Carmelites written c. 1385 by Felip Ribot, O. Carm

Why the members of this Order are called the brothers of the blessed virgin Mary and Why they serve this Virgin with especial zeal.

The members of this Order were mindful, therefore, that God had especially revealed to their predecessors through the above vision that a certain baby girl would be born, who from her mothers' womb would be free from all stain of sin, who like them would embrace voluntary virginity, and from her, though a virgin, the God-man would be born...

For, as vowing voluntary virginity to God was first inaugurated by the early members of this Order and thus introduced among men, so the same virginity for God was afterwards first introduced and inaugurated among women by the Mother of God, as we have noted above.

Thus, as the Carmelites were the first among men to undertake voluntary virginity, so was the blessed Mary the first among women to vow virginity. This unique conformity from the beginning between the Mother of God and the Carmelites over voluntary virginity, prophesied long ago and afterwards fulfilled, was the reason why the Carmelites, already in the time of the apostles, called the Virgin Mary their sister, and following this unique conformity, they called themselves the brothers of the blessed virgin Mary.



Carmelite Monastery-Haifa, Israel



Carmelites in the Holy Land (click on photo to visit their website)



Mary, Mother of the « Yes »

Mary, Mother of the "Yes," you have listened to Jesus,
And know the tone of his voice and the beating of his heart.
Morning Star, speak to us of him,
And tell us about your way following him on the path of faith.

Mary, who lived with Jesus in Nazareth,
Etch your sentiments in our lives,
Your docility, your listening silence,
And make the Word flourish in genuinely free choices.

Mary, speak to us of Jesus, so that the freshness of our faith,
Shines in our eyes and warms the heart of those who are with us,
As you did on visiting Elizabeth,
Who in old age rejoiced with you for the gift of life.

Mary, Virgin of the "Magnificat,"
Help us to take joy to the world and, as at Cana,
Lead every youth, committed to the service of brothers,
To do only what Jesus says.

Mary, look upon the agora [gathering] of youth,
So that it will be fertile terrain of the Italian Church.
Pray that Jesus, dead and risen, is reborn in us,
And transforms us into a night full of light, full of him.

Mary, Virgin of Loreto, Gate of Heaven,
Help us to raise our eyes.
We want to see Jesus, to speak with him,
And to proclaim his love to all.

(Holy Father’s prayer to Mary for the youth at the general Audience of St Valentine’s Day, 14 Feb 2007)









Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds




Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Imitation of Christ

Photo: R. Massaro-Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine-N. Jackson, Ohio

Book 3: Interior Conversation
Resting in God Above All Things

Chapter 21

Disciple:

Above all things and in all things rest, my soul, in the Lord, your God, for He is the eternal rest of the Angels and Saints. O most loving Jesus, give me this special grace to rest in You above all created things; above all health and beauty, above all glory and honor, above all dignity and power, above all knowledge and prudence, above all riches and talents, above all joy and gladness, above all fame and praise, above all sweetness and consolation, above all hope and promise, above all merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards that You may give or send--except Yourself--above all joy or happiness that the human mind and heart can grasp or feel; above Angels and Archangels, above all the heavenly hosts as well; above all things visible and invisible, and above all that is not You, my God...

Others may seek whatever they please, but there is nothing that pleases me--nor ever shall--but You, my God, my hope and my eternal salvation...


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds