Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

When the time had come
for him to be born,
he went forth like the
from his bridal chamber,
embracing his bride,
holding her in his arms,
whom the gracious Mother
laid in a manger
among some animals
that were there at the time.
Men sang songs
and angels melodies
celebrating the marriage
of Two such as these.

St. John of the Cross
Excerpt from the Romances, No. 9.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Carmelite Quote

St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

If we long to find Jesus, the sure way is that of humility of heart and simplicity of soul, remembering, however, that we shall not obtain them without a struggle. Still, we must have courage, for there shall be wanting to us neither grace nor help of the Heart of Jesus which would have us all saints; let us lose no time...every second has its value!

We know what importance St. Teresa of Jesus placed on the virtue of humility. In fact, she tells her nuns in the Way of Perfection that she wishes to stress three things that they must practice if they are to advance in prayer. The three things they must practice are:

#1 Love for one another- St. Teresa says a great many annoyances that we find in our neighbor can be suffered if we practice fraternal charity.

#2 Detachment-She teaches us to have detachment from all created things. Detachment is at the heart of the teaching of St. John of the Cross in which he tells us not to be attached to even the consolations and sweetness from God.

#3 Humility-St. Teresa tells her nuns that although she places humility third, it is the most important of these three counsels and embraces the other two.

St. Teresa Margaret Redi lived these three counsels which helped her to reach the summit of Christian perfection: perfect love of God and neighbor.

In her quote she tells us, "lose no time..." yes, life is short! Let us strive to be saints now!

St. Teresa Margaret had a great devotion to the Heart of Jesus. The focus of her spirituality was "God is Love." In fraternal charity, let us pray for each other this intention:
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Monday, December 15, 2008

St. John of the Cross-Carmelite Solemnity

Solemnity of our Holy Father,
St. John of the Cross
Happy Feast Day to all Carmelites!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

St. John of the Cross-Sayings of Light and Love # 24

We will be celebrating the Feast of St. John of the Cross on Monday, Dec. 15 this year, because his Feast Day falls on Sunday, the 14th. In light of his upcoming feast let us continue our focus on his "Sayings of Light and Love."

The fly that clings to honey hinders its flight, and the soul that allows itself attachment to spiritual sweetness hinders its own liberty and contemplation.

After reading this, we could ask ourselves the question: "Do I have a spiritual sweet-tooth?"

In the writings of St. John of the Cross, he brings up this subject often, and one could say it is one of the main themes of his "Nada" spirituality. The subject he brings up often is, of course, detachment.

St. John of the Cross teaches us that the soul must detach itself from worldly pleasures through mortification, trials, and penance. But we must ask ourselves, do we take up these things on our own, or do we wait for them to come about?

The life of a Carmelite has a penitential aspect to it, and while our Holy Mother St. Teresa tells us that we should not go looking for crosses, that we should accept the cross of the trials of every day life, I believe we can mortify ourselves in little ways throughout the day.

Here are some ideas:

Conversation-Listen, instead of thinking of what you will say next. Do not seek to have the last word or to be right in a discussion.

Personal Time-Offer up some personal time to make a phone call or visit a loved one or friend in need.

Meals-Go without our favorite food, even if it is calling our name!

Sleep-Get up an hour early and pray the Rosary or chaplet of Divine Mercy for the poor souls, or the souls who will die that day.

Prayer-God may be calling us to contemplation-St. John of the Cross says we should not be attached even to our prayer life. We must be willing to let the Holy Spirit guide us into a deeper union with Christ, even if we are fearful of letting go of our regular way of praying.

Let's mortify ourselves by not complaining about people, situations, food, etc.

St. Teresa says that self-indulgence and poverty do not go together. As lay Carmelites, we have professed poverty. This holy poverty should include detachment from spiritual consolations and sweetness. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us not to give in to every whim of the senses.
May St. John of the Cross intercede for us for the gift of detachment and true poverty of spirit.

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

St. John of the Cross Sayings of Light & Love #20

God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known, than a thousand done with the desire that people know of them. Those who work for God with purest love not only care nothing about whether others see their works, but do not even seek that God himself know of them. Such persons would not cease to render to God the same services, with the same joy and purity of love, even if God were never to know of these.

St. Therese, a true daughter of St. John of the Cross, gives us spiritual insight into the above quote of St. John:

If God Himself could not see my good actions I would not be troubled. I love Him so much I would like to give Him joy without His knowing who gave it. When He sees the gifts being made, He is obliged, as it were, to make a return. I should wish to spare Him the trouble.

In the scripture reading from Matthew Our Lord clearly states how we should conduct ourselves when fasting, for example. He also teaches us to go to our room and "shut the door" and pray to Our Father in secret.

When you fast, you are not to look glum as the hypocrites do. They change the appearance of their faces so that others may see they are fasting. I assure you, they are already repaid. When you fast, see to it that you groom your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden: and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you. Matthew 6:16-18

St. Therese, a master of "hidden spirituality" taught the novices her "little way" of keeping suffering and acts of charity hidden from others.

For those who think St. Therese too simple and sweet, listen to the depth of her longing to be hidden with Christ and to be unknown to creatures:

It was through you, dear Mother, that I learned to know these treasures. Just as formerly you had preceded us to Carmel, so also you were the first to enter deeply into the mysteries of love hidden in the Face of our Spouse. You called me and I understood, I understood what real glory was. He whose Kingdom is not of this world showed me that true wisdom consists in "desiring to be unknown and counted as nothing (Imitation of Christ, 1,2:3). Ah! I desired that, like the Face of Jesus, "my face to be truly hidden, that no one on earth would know me." (Isaiah 53:3) I thirsted after suffering and I longed to be forgotten.
St. Therese of Lisieux, Her Last Conversations, pg. 12.

To obtain true holiness and purity of heart that St. John of the Cross, St. Therese , and all the saints experienced, we must have a burning desire for it. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit inspire us to keep our acts of kindness hidden from our neighbor and ourselves. May our holy deeds be lost in the mysterious ocean of God's Love and remain a secret shared only by Jesus and the Father.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

150th Anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes


"I am the Immaculate Conception"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Spiritual Life Dictionary

Today's Term:

A mystical touch is a deep , intimate contact-union- experience of God in one of His attributes such as power, light, goodness, beauty, or joy. It is not only a contact but also a union, and not only a union but also an experience.
Fire Within, Pg. 45 by Fr. Thomas Dubay,S.M.

St. John of the Cross describes the Divine Touch:
Some of these divine touches produced in the substance of the soul are so enriching that one of them would be sufficient not only to remove definitively all the imperfections that the soul would have been unable to eradicate throughout its entire life but also to fill it with virtues and blessings from God.

This description sounds like purgatory, only extremely delightful and perhaps of shorter duration. I have touched on this subject before-that we can experience our purgatory now-be purified now. According to St. Therese, if we love, love with a capital "L", the heroic type of love, we do not have to go to purgatory. And remember, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity reminds us that Heaven begins now-not when we die. We are in our "state of being" now. We can ask ourselves, In what state am I? Am I in the state of grace? Am I in a state of great imperfection that needs purifying? Let's keep our goal of holiness in mind and ask for God's mercy, because we are weak and sinful creatures.

St. John of the Cross continues on Divine Touches:

These touches engender such sweetness and intimate delight in the soul that one of them would more than compensate for all the trials suffered in life, even though innumerable.

This can give us great consolation to keep in mind that all our suffering will be worth an eternity with our Savior, Jesus.

St. John says God grants these divine touches when the soul leasts expects it. Sometimes God uses the memory to inflict the divine touch. Have you experienced this? Have you heard a word of scripture that produced a Divine Touch within your soul? What about a beautiful hymn or someone's kind word or gentle touch? Some of these touches can be so deeply felt to cause the body to tremble.
Kinds of Divine Touches:

*Of Knowledge

* Of Love

*Of Understanding

*Of Union

The Effects of Divine Touches:

*Purify the soul
*Strengthen the soul
*Produce tranquility in the soul
*Cannot be forgotten
*Produce heroic virtue in the soul

When God touches us we should respond in kind and reach out to our neighbor. A good example of one who brought the healing touch to the "poorest of the poor" was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I'm sure the souls who lay dying in her arms experienced the Divine touch of God through her tender love and compassion .
May God give us the grace and desire to reach out to the untouchables in our society and be living instruments of Christ's compassionate touch to all those we meet.

God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grows in silence. See the stars, moon and sun, how they move in silence.- Mother Teresa

As Fr. Dubay explained at the beginning of this meditation; A Divine touch is an experience of God in one of His glorious attributes. May you experience the love, joy, beauty, and goodness of God deep within your soul.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Be On Guard!

Death comes like a thief in the night, Our Lord tells us. Be on the watch for when your life may be required of you. In the spiritual life we could say: be on the watch for any opportunity to die to self!

There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials,:but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to the praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Anyone who is striving for spiritual perfection knows how painful it is to die to self.

Let's challenge ourselves to not only look at the "big picture" of being prepared for our bodily death, but be prepared each day to bury our ego six feet under.

Our own little Doctor of Love, St. Therese, went through the same excruciating process of dying to self. She knew what situations and people would "press her buttons" so to speak. And she prepared herself with prayer. She knew she would have to experience day after day the nun who rattled her rosary in the choir chapel. She probably wanted to turn around and give her a big stare. But she controlled herself and offered up the suffering of self.

I'm sure most of us are familiar with the story of the nun who splashed her with dirty laundry water when they gathered to do the wash. St. Therese found spiritual perfection in accepting these small sufferings. We know that since she was faithful in small things, Our Lord entrusted her with greater love and grace to suffer with love.

In the above scripture passage, St. Peter tells us there is cause for rejoicing here. Rejoicing? Amid trials? While many in the spiritual life simply resign themselves to accept the cross, listen to how St. Therese embraced the cross with joy:

I will sing. I will always sing, even though I have to pluck my roses from amidst the thorns; and the sharper and the longer the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song."

We know from her life that these were not mere words filled with romantic ideas on her part. She suffered horribly in the final stages of her illness.

Advent is a great time to work on our one particular weakness, and try with God's grace to improve on the corresponding virtue. So, if we are impatient, let us pray for the Holy Spirit to infuse us with patience.

Be on your guard! Whether you are waging battle with yourself or outside influences, know that the Lord is testing us. Like St. Therese, let us arm ourselves with prayer. And let us pray to the great Angelic Guardian, St. Michael. May he defend us in our daily battle of dying to self!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS