Thursday, December 24, 2015



During this Christmas season I was thinking of the hymn, "O Holy Night" and it reminded me of St. John of the Cross and the lines in his writing we as Carmelites are so familiar with: O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn!Yes, the night of our dear Savior's birth is a night filled with light, joy, and hope. A night in our salvation history that is filled with loveliness!

This theme of finding joy amid the darkness of our spiritual quest, in faith, for union with Christ, is a theme that is found throughout the writings of our Carmelite doctors of the church and our Carmelite saints.  It is a theme that we can find throughout the writings of any saint.  Sometimes we want to avoid the darkness in our life, we want 
to avoid the cross, but if we truly long to be one with Jesus, we must embrace the cross, and even die to ourselves each day in a spirit of joy and rejoicing amid this journey of faith that is walked in darkness.

Our Savior came into this world in darkness, in poverty, in humility, in love. Let us follow him from birth to death in order to experience the resurrection and life with Him for all eternity, for this is our calling as Carmelites. 

As Carmelites, we experience the "radiant darkness" in our lives of quiet prayer in faith on behalf of the church. This radiant darkness of Christ in our life is a stumbling block to the world who find a false light and joy in the attachment of created things. 

Let us give thanks to God that he has called us to Carmel. Let us pray for each other that we always follow Christ, even in our darkest moments of trial and temptation. We will never be led astray if we follow the Crucified and Risen Savior who is the light of the world.

View previous posts of "Three Words of Wisdom"

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Photo: R. Massaro Regina Health Center, Richfield, Ohio

From the Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila):

(Speaking of her great illness)

...only the Lord can know the unbearable torments I suffered within myself: my tongue, bitten to pieces, my throat unable to let even water pass down--from not having swallowed anything and from the great weakness that oppressed me; everything seeming to be disjointed; the greatest confusion in my head; all shrivelled and drawn together in a ball. The result of the torments of those four days was that I was unable to stir, not an arm or a foot, neither hand nor head, unable to move as though I were dead; only one finger on my right hand it seemed I was able to move. Since there was no way of touching me, because I was so bruised that I couldn't endure it, they moved me about in a sheet...This lasted until Easter...the pains often stopped, and I considered myself already well...although the quartan fevers that remained with their accompanying severe chills were so harsh that I found them unbearable; the lack of appetite was very great.

Right away I was in a hurry to return to the convent...the state of my weakness was indescribable, for I was then only bones. I may add that the above condition lasted more than eight months. The paralysis, although it gradually got better, lasted almost three years. When I began to go about on hands and knees, I praised God...It seems to me that all my longing to be cured was that I might remain alone in prayer as was my custom, for in the infirmary the suitable means for this was lacking. I went to confession very often. I spoke much about God in such a way that I was edifying to everyone, and they were amazed at the patience the Lord gave me. For if this patience had not come from the hand of His Majesty, it seemed it would have been impossible to suffer so much with so great contentment.

The Book of her Life, Chap. 6, No. 1-2.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Photo: R. Massaro-Carmelite Monastery-Cleveland, Ohio
Carmelite Feast Day: St. John of the Cross-Dec. 14
Happy Feast Day to all Carmelites!

Song of the soul that rejoices 
in knowing God through faith.
A poem by St. John of the Cross

That eternal spring is hidden,
for I know well where it has its rise,
although it is night.

I do not know its origin, nor has it one,
but I know that every origin has come from it,
although it is night.

I know that nothing else is so beautiful,
and that the heavens and the earth drink there,
although it is night.

I know well that it is bottomless
and no one is able to cross it,
although it is night.

Its clarity is never darkened,
and I know that every light has come from it,
although it is night.

I know that its streams are so brimming
they water the lands of hell, the heavens, and earth,
although it is night.

I know well the stream that flows from this spring
is mighty in compass and power,
although it is night.

I know the stream proceeding from these two,
that neither of them in fact precedes it,
although it is  night.

This eternal spring is hidden 
in the living bread for our life's sake,
although it is night.

It is here calling out to creatures;
and they satisfy their thirst,
although in darkness,
although it is night.

This living spring that I long for,
I see in this bread of life,
although it is night.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Spiritual Direction With St. John of the Cross

Photo: R. Massaro Lourdes, France

Today's teaching comes from St. John's classic, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel. In this excerpt, St. John makes a seven-fold list of souls who take pleasure in their good works. 

First: Vanity and Pride.
These people brag about themselves and their accomplishments. Perhaps you have heard this type of soul in your parish community. They may go on and on about how they formed a prayer group, initiated an adoration program, started a soup kitchen, organized the choir, and on and on.  There is no humility in their good works. They boast for all the world to see. They love praise!

Second: Comparing people and their actions
These people love to judge and speculate on the motives of others who perform good works.  They infer that the work of another is not as perfect as their own. They do not esteem others or respect them, for they themselves are on the pedestal to which only they can ascend. They become angry when others are noticed and praised. This type of thinking can lead to the sin of detraction.

Third: Only perform good works if praise will be given
St. John teaches that these people resemble the Pharisees that Jesus spoke about. They only perform good works in order to be noticed. Their motive is not the love of God but the praise of men.

Fourth: They do not find their joy in God
These souls are an unhappy and confused people.  Since they perform works for human praise, they are confused, upset and angry when they do not receive it.  Since their motives are not pure, they find no pleasure in pleasing God alone and finding in Him the only reward necessary. These people are hard to work with, they complain constantly about the amount of work, their schedule, the management, etc.

Listen to this powerful statement of St. John regarding these souls: "There is so much misery among human beings as regards this kind of harm that I believe most of the works publicly achieved are either faulty, worthless, or imperfect in God's sight." He goes on to say, "It can be said that in these works some adore themselves more than God."

St. Therese desired to keep
her acts of charity hidden.

St. John teaches that a lack of detachment is at the heart of this illness. That is why he recommends that in order to avoid this spiritual illness we must strive to hide our good works, even from ourselves! We know from the life of St. Therese and her way of hidden love that she was a master at hiding her good works. Let us learn from her example. 

Fifth: Failure to advance in the way of perfection
Since these souls are attached to the consolations received by performing good deeds, they lack perseverance in actually carrying out these good works. When God tries them by removing the sweetness attached to the good works.  These souls are spiritually immature, and, in a way, they refuse to "grow up." They prefer  "infants milk" instead of the "bread of the perfect" as St. John puts it.

Sixth: They are under the illusion that works that bring satisfaction are better than those that do not
These souls cannot see that God esteems more the deed that requires self-denial than a deed that is easily done because of the consolation one receives. St. John states: "This evil arises when they seek to please themselves in their works and not God alone."

Seventh: Incapable of taking counsel and unable to be formed in the way of perfection
Because of this weakness and imperfection in the soul and of the pride involved, they refuse to believe that anyone can counsel them. St. John says these souls become slack in charity toward God and neighbor. Self-love makes the soul grow cold in charity.

Let us pray for each other, that we always strive to please God and not men when we are performing acts of charity. If we struggle with this, turn to God, who is able to give us the grace needed to purify our motives.

Excerpt from The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Book III, Chap. 28 No. 1-9, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Divine Mercy Litany

Photo: R. Massaro-St. Stephen Church Cleveland, Ohio

Divine Mercy, gushing forth from the bosom of the Father, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, greatest attribute of God,

 I trust in You
Divine Mercy, incomprehensible mystery, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, fountain gushing forth from the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, unfathomed by any intellect, human or angelic,

 I trust in You
Divine Mercy, from which wells forth all life and happiness,

 I trust in You
Divine Mercy, better than the heavens,

 I trust in You
Divine Mercy, source of miracles and wonders, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, encompassing the whole universe, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, descending to earth in the Person of the Incarnate Word, 

I trust in You
Divine Mercy, which flowed out from the open wound of the Heart of Jesus,

I trust in You

Peace be with you!