Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CARMELITE SAINT OF THE DAY

SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS
December 14

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing





A Poem by St. John of the Cross

The Soul That Suffers With Longing to See God

I no longer live within myself 
and I cannot live without God,
for having neither him nor
myself
what will life be?
It will be a thousand deaths,
longing for my true life
and dying because I do not die.

This life that I live
is no life at all,
and so I die continually
until I live with you;
hear me, my God:
I do not desire this life,
I am dying because I do not die.

When I am away from you
what life can I have
except to endure
the bitterest death known?
I pity myself,
for I go on and on living,
dying because I do not die.

A fish that leaves the water
has this relief:
the dying it endures
ends at last in death.
What death can equal my pitiable life?
For the longer I live, the more
drawn out is my dying.

When I try to find relief
seeing you in the Sacrament,
I find this greater sorrow:
I cannot enjoy you wholly.
All things are affliction
since I do not see you as I desire,
and I die because I do not die.

And if I rejoice, Lord,
in the hope of seeing you,
yet seeing I can lose you
doubles my sorrow.
Living in such fear
and hoping as I hope,
I die because I do not die.

Lift me from this death,
my God, and give me life;
do not hold me bound
with these bonds so strong;
see how I long to see you;
my wretchedness is so complete
that I die because I do not die.

I will cry out for death
and mourn my living
while I am held here
for my sins.
O my God, when will it be
that I can truly say:
now I live because I do not die?

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Stained Glass Scapulars-Reflections on the Secular Carmelite Rule

Please enjoy this post from the archives of Spirit Singing


Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2017 Spirit Singing


From Poustinia by Servant of God, Catherine de Hueck Doherty:


If we are to witness to Christ in today's marketplaces, where there are constant demands on our whole person, we need silence. If we are to be always available, not only physically, but by empathy, sympathy, friendship, understanding and boundless caritas, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflagging hospitality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.

True silence is the search of man for God.


True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temptation, the depthless precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.


True silence is the speech of lovers...


What wonderful words of wisdom from Servant of God, Catherine.  As Secular Carmelites,  we should exclaim, "spoken like a true Carmelite, Catherine."  Although her book was published in 1975, her writings are certainly prophetic in nature. She understands clearly the spiritual problems that can arise in a technological society. She understands the current age; the attachment to materialism, individualism, relativism and a deep lack of desire for solitude and prayer.  The first line of the excerpt above speaks right from the heart of St. Teresa of Jesus who teaches us that prayer and contemplation are gifts given to strengthen us for service.

She is also very Carmelite in nature when she writes of the desert and the poustinia as a state of being. She writes that poustinia is a condition of the heart and soul of a man or woman. How do we find this place of the heart where God dwells? Her teaching is that we need to stand still. "Stand still, and allow the strange, deadly restlessness of our tragic age to fall away like the worn-out, dusty cloak that it is...the restlessness was considered the magic carpet to tomorrow, but now in reality we see it for what it is: a running away from oneself..."


We can now turn to our Carmelite saints and their teaching for more on this "standing still" spirituality. Who, but Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, the holy Carmelite of the "indwelling of the Trinity," speaks of this "chapel of the heart" where we can enter anytime and find intimate friendship with God. It is the the chapel that is always available to us through prayer and contemplation.  It is the place where we enter to adore the living God present in our soul. 

She writes: I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.

"To keep them in this great silence..." this is the teaching of Catherine also, at first such silences will be few and far between. But if nourished with a life of liturgical prayer, mental prayer, with the sacramental life of the Church, slowly, slowly, like a seedling of a mighty tree, silence will grow and come to dwell in a soul more and more often. Then suddenly, it will come to stay one day.

Yes, this is what we are seeking: union with God. The union of Martha and Mary. The union of the active and contemplative life. We are called to be missionaries in the marketplace while possessing the silent heart of a contemplative. These two are joined by the Holy Spirit to go about their daily activities united with the Beloved, so that all things are done through Him, with Him, and in Him.

Secular Carmelites are called to a little "poustinia" each day. We are called to 1/2 hour of mental prayer. Many followers of Carmelite spirituality will confess that they have a difficult time being faithful to the time of prayer that is required of us.  We need to stop looking at this requirement as an obligation (although it is) and look at it as a joyful entrance into silence where God meets us face-to-face, where we can, in Catherine's words, "shed the cloak of restlessness" and experience the peace of heart that God offers to us in prayer.

Let us pray for each other, that we be faithful to our commitment to prayer. Remember, this gift is not for ourselves alone, but for the entire Body of Christ.  It is our gift to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, let us be generous givers of God's gifts.

Catherine Doherty is the founder of Madonna House.  Here is a movie about this foundation entitled "The People of the Towel and Water:






Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds



Friday, December 1, 2017

Spiritual Direction With St. John of the Cross

Please enjoy this post from the archives of Spirit Singing


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, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

STAINED GLASS SCAPULARS

Reflections on the Rule of the 
Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites




From the Statutes:

#19

In addition to the days of fasting and of abstinence proper to the Church of the USA and responding to the encouragement of our bishops "to prepare for each Church festival by a day of particular self-denial, penitential prayer and fasting" (NCCB Pastoral Statement "Penitent Discipline" to the US, Washington, DC, 1966) and to our Carmelite traditions, unless excused by reasons of illness or age, we will observe the following:

a)  Members will fast on the Vigils of the following feast days:

     St. Joseph the Worker
     May 1

     Our Lady of Mount Carmel
     July 16

     The Prophet Elijah
     July 20

     St. Therese
     October 1

     Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus
     October 15

     All Carmelite Saints
     November 14

     Holy Father St. John of the Cross
     December 14

b)  For a sufficient reason, the above special fast days may be
     anticipated.

c)  Anticipated fast days should never involve fasting on Sundays 
     or Holy Days.

The Order of Carmel is one of the most penitential religious orders in the Church.  As Secular Carmelites, we have a different vocation by living in the world, but we share in the same graces and spiritual heritage of our religious brothers and sisters.  Let us be resolved to be faithful to our Carmelite discipline of prayer and fasting.

Soon, we will celebrate All Saints of Carmel on November 14. Let us be faithful to our day of fasting and abstinence on November 13, so that we may celebrate with joy the Saints of Carmel who have gone before us.  

One only has to read the news to see that our world needs God's mercy! Let us draw down His mercy by offering Him our poor prayers and penance on behalf of sinners.

May all the Saints of Carmel, all those holy souls who were faithful to their Carmelite promises, intercede for us and for our world. 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS


Thursday, October 19, 2017

CARMELITE QUOTE





From the life of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

One night, being so ill that I wanted to excuse myself from mental prayer, I took my rosary in order to occupy myself in vocal prayer. I tried not to recollect my intellect, even though externally I was recollected in the oratory. When the Lord desires, these devices are of little avail. I was doing this for only a short while when a spiritual rapture came upon me so forcefully that I had no power to resist it. It seemed to me I was brought into heaven, and the first persons I saw there were my father and mother. I saw things so marvelous--in as short a time as it takes to recite a Hail Mary--that I indeed remained outside myself; the experience seemed to me too great a favor. I say it lasted a short time, but perhaps it took a little longer; the impression is that the time was very short. I feared lest the experience be some illusion, although it didn't seem so to me. I didn't know what to do, because I was very ashamed to go to my confessor about this. I don't think the shame was from humility, but I thought he would make fun of me and say: Oh, what a St. Paul you are, or a St. Jerome, that you see heavenly things! And that these glorious saints experienced similar things made me more afraid. I did nothing but weep a great deal, for I didn't think there was any basis for my having such an experience. Finally, however much I disliked doing so, I went to my confessor; I never dared to remain silent about such things--however much I regretted having to speak of them--on account of the great fear I had of being deceived. Since he saw I was so anxious, he consoled me from my troubled feelings.

As time went on, it happened--and continues to happen sometimes--that the Lord showed me greater secrets.
The Book of Her Life Chap. 38, No. 1


St. Teresa, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS