Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spiritual Life Dictionary

Today's Term: LOCUTIONS
A voice from heaven was heard to say: "You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests." Luke 3:22

This scripture passage concerning the baptism of Jesus describes an audible locution that was pronounced by the Father, about the Son, for all those present to hear.
Although we may pray earnestly many times for God to speak to us, to reveal his will to us, it usually does not take place in this grand manner. We, in the spiritual life, are seeking to listen to his still small voice in the quiet of our heats, to listen to the Father speak to us concerning his will for us.
St. John of the Cross teaches us that God communicates spiritual goods to us by way of the senses. He says:

When these senses are somewhat disposed, he is wont to perfect them more by granting some supernatural favors and gifts to confirm them further in good. These supernatural communications are, for example, corporeal visions of saints or holy things, very sweet odors, locutions, and extreme delight in the sense of touch. The senses are greatly confirmed in virtue through these communications and the appetites withdrawn from evil objects.1

St. Teresa says this about locutions and cautions us concerning these manifestations:

He does this by means of words addressed to the soul in many different ways; sometimes they appear to come from without;at other times from the inner depths of the soul;or again, from its superior part;while other speeches are so exterior as to be heard by the ears as a real voice.2

She warns us that false locutions may be caused by:
#1- Melancholy (depression, emotional problems)
#2- A lively imagination

Here are her three signs of a divine locution:
#1-The words carry power and authority. The words immediately calm or encourage the soul.
#2-The soul experiences a calmness of spirit and quiet recollection, which produces great love and praise of God.
#3-The words of the locution are never forgotten. In fact, many years may pass and the memory of the words are still fresh in one's heart and mind.

St. Teresa continues her teaching and tells us to resist locutions. However, when one resists and they are true locutions they will sometimes increase, because the soul is not seeking the divine favor.
There is another type of locution that flows from the depths of the soul. St. Teresa calls this type of locution an intellectual vision, which will be the subject of a future post.

As secular Carmelites, we are called to a life of quiet prayer. This prayer gives us the gift of waiting and being attentive to the Lord at all times. Let us pray that we be ready to respond in charity to God and our neighbor. When the Lord wishes to speak, let us be ready to hear and obey his word as did our Blessed Mother who responded with her "yes" to the will of God.

Let us echo Samuel's reply:"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."I Samuel 3:9

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

1Ascent of Mount Carmel,Chapter 17, #4. (collected works of St. John of the Cross, Kieran Kavanugh,O.C.D. 1979).
2Interior Castle, mans. 6,chap. 3, pp. 116-118 (Revised by Very Rev. Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., 2006).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Five Traits of Contemplation

Spirit Singing is experiencing technical difficulties. Please enjoy this post orginally published in 2008.

St. John of the Cross: Five Traits of Contemplation

This excerpt comes from The Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 15, #24. St. John is describing the light and heights of contemplation using the image of a sparrow based on Psalm 102:7. "I have kept watch and am become like a solitary sparrow on the housetop."

First, the sparrow ordinarily perches on the highest things. And so the spirit at this stage is placed in the highest contemplation.

Second, it always turns its beak toward the wind. Thus the spirit ever turns the beak of its affection toward the Spirit of Love, who is God.
Third, it is usually alone and allows no other bird close to it; when another perches nearby, it flies away. Thus the spirit in this contemplation is alone in regard to all things, stripped of them all, nor does it allow within itself anything other than solitude in God.

The fourth trait is that it sings very sweetly. And so does the spirit sing sweetly to God at this time, for the praises it renders him are of the most delightful love, pleasant to the soul and precious in God's eyes.

The fifth is that it possesses no definite color. So neither does the perfect spirit, in this excess,have any color of sensible affection or self-love; it does not even have an particular consideration in either of its lower or higher part, nor will it be able to describe the mode or manner of this excess, for what it possesses is an abyss of the knowledge of God.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, March 20, 2011



From the Interior Castle, Chapter 6:10

It will happen, when the Lord is pleased, that while the soul is in prayer and very much in its senses a suspension will suddenly be experienced in which the Lord will reveal deep secrets. It seems the soul sees these secrets in God Himself, for they are not visions of the most sacred humanity. Although I say the soul sees, it doesn't see anything, for the favor is not imaginative vision but very much an intellectual one. In this vision it is revealed how all things are seen in God and how He has them all in Himself. This favor is most beneficial. Even though it passes in a moment, it remains deeply engraved in the soul and causes the greatest confusion. The evil of offending God is seen more clearly...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds



From the Interior Castle, Chapter 6:10

It will happen, when the Lord is pleased, that while the soul is in prayer and very much in its senses a suspension will suddenly be experienced in which the Lord will reveal deep secrets. It seems the soul sees these secrets in God Himself, for they are not visions of the most sacred humanity. Although I say the soul sees, it doesn't see anything, for the favor is not imaginative vision but very much an intellectual one. In this vision it is revealed how all things are seen in God and how He has them all in Himself. This favor is most beneficial. Even though it passes in a moment, it remains deeply engraved in the soul and causes the greatest confusion. The evil of offending God is seen more clearly...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tabernacle of the Week

(photos: R.Massaro)

Prayer to St. Joseph
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.

This prayer was found in the fiftienth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, not shall posion take effect of them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy; or shall be burned in any fire, or shall be overpowered in battle.
(Photo: R.Massaro, St.Henry Church Nashville, Tn.)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stained Glass Scapulars-Reflections on the Secular Carmelite Rule

Photo: R. Massaro St. Anthony Church Akron, Ohio

From the Constitutions, Daily Life, #3:

Called to continual conversion, Secular Carmelites will seek to identify and place before God any obstacles and impediments to union with him. Confident in God's loving mercy, they will:

a)  Engage in a daily examination of conscience, ideally just before retiring or at the beginning of Night Prayer.

b)  Participate frequently in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This short statement is powerful in nature, and a point of obedience that we should be following each day.  Perhaps we have been skimming over this point, after all, doesn't the Rule state to pray Night Prayer if possible...? And why should we be getting all worked up examining our conscience before going to bed? Oh my, how will one ever get to sleep?

We do not need to get stressed out over this discipline that every Christian is called to each day.  If we are truly living the spiritual life and trying to avoid even venial sins because of the love we have for God, we will know when we have sinned or failed against charity in the smallest of matters.  As the Psalmist says, "My sin is always before me..." Those who have the smallest infractions on their hearts and minds do not need to take the "shopping list" into the confessional, they only need to say what is already overflowing in their heart-sorrow for having failed in charity or other matters.

The person of sincere humility will have no trouble sleeping in God's peace after this examination, because he has acknowledged his sin and trusts in God's mercy and forgiveness. The truly humble soul is hopeful of God's help to overcome his faults and failings, and never tires of starting over.

We can bring our sins, faults, and imperfections to the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis in order to perfect ourselves, to grow in holiness and to remove all obstacles that may hinder our intimate relationship with the Lord.

St. Teresa teaches us that with prayer comes self-knowledge. We know that the Lord brings to our heart and mind in these silent moments with him the faults we need to work on. It takes humility to respond, "yes, Lord." If we are in denial or put up road blocks in our heart when the Holy Spirit tries to bring to mind where we have failed-this can be a serious obstacle to growing in virtue and holiness.  We must be courageous souls willing to see ourselves as we are, unpleasant though it may be.  We can be consoled, however, because we only have to look at the lives of our Carmelite saints to know that they have travelled this same road of self-knowledge. Let us follow them, for they took up their cross and followed Christ.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday of Our Lady

The Brown Scapular of
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The word "scapular" indicates a form of clothing which monks wore when they were working. With the passage of time, people began to give symbolic meaning to it: the Cross to be born every day as disciples and followers of Christ.

In the Middle Ages many Christians wanted to be associated with the Orders founded at that time, Dominicans, Carmelites... All the religious Orders wanted to give these lay people a sign of affiliation and of participation in their spirit and apostolate. The sign was often a part of their habit: a cloak, a cord, a scapular. Among the Carmelites, the stage came when a smaller verson of the Scapular was accepted as the sign of belonging to the Order and an expression of its spirituality.

The Scapular finds its roots in the tradition of the Order, which has seen in it a sign of Mary's motherly protection. The Blessed Virgin teaches us:

*To be open to God, and to His will, shown to us in the events of our lives.
*To listen to the Word of God in the Bible and in life, to believe in it and to put into practice its demands;
*To pray at all times, as a way of discovering the presence of God in all that is happening around us;
*to be involved with people, being attentive to their needs.

 The Brown Scapular is not:
*a magical charm to protect you
*an automatic guarantee of salvation;
*an excuse for not living up to the demands of   the Christian life.
(From The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Catechesis and Ritual, prepared by the North American Provincials of the Carmelite Order.)

Learn more about the Brown Scapular-order one free

The Confraternity of the Brown Scapular

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, March 11, 2011


Pilate said to the crowd: Here is the Man...then he handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19,5,16)

The man Pilate-a symbol of the pride, wealth and power of the Roman Empire. A symbol perhaps of an ugly humanity which in pride only seeks domination, power and self-glory.

The man Jesus- His is another humanity, a divine humanity. Jesus is the fulfillment and promise of all that man can truly become: humble, dignified, full of peace, love and compassion.

In life we have a choice: to become the kind of man Pilate stands for, or to live the kind of divine humanity that Jesus invites us to live.

Lord, may you grant me the grace,
not to condemn love but to live love,
not to condemn life but to live life,
to condemn no one but to pardon all,
and to follow the way you show me,
the way you walked before me,
along the path of your divine humanity.
(From The Lourdes Way of the Cross)

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carmelite Quote

(click on photo)

St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
at the age of 9 years old to her father:

I have been thinking about the text that was preached on Sunday, the unforgiving servant. We come to the great King of Heaven with empty hands, in debt to Him for everything: life itself, and grace, and all the gifts He lavishes on us. Yet all we can say is, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all I owe," while all the time we could never pay anything towards the remission of our own debts, if God did not put into our hands the means to do so. And then, how often do we go away and refuse pardon for some slight fault in our neighbors, withholding our love, remaining aloof, or even nursing a grievance against them, and building up grudges that cool charity.

Photo: R. Massaro

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday of Our Lady

Mother Mary,
As you carried your Divine Child
In your womb you rejoiced
and glorified the Lord.

Touch with pity
the hearts of those women
pregnant in our world today
who think of murder,
not motherhood.

Help them to see
that the child they carry
is made in God's image--
as well as theirs--
made for eternal life.

Dispel the fear
and selfishness and
give them true womanly hearts
to love their babies
and give them birth
and all the needed care
that a mother alone can give.

MARY, Mother of Christ
and of us, show us all one day
the blessed fruit of your womb,
JESUS.  Amen.
From Queen of Heaven

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stained Glass Flowers-Little Accounts of the Miraculous

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) speaking from experience
about the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity.
From the Interior Castle, the Seventh Mansion:

By some mysterious manifestation of the truth, the three Persons of the most Blessed Trinity reveal themselves, preceded by an illumination which shines on the spirit like a most dazzling cloud of light.*
The three Persons are distinct from one another; a sublime knowledge is infused into the soul, imbuing it with a certainty of the truth that the Three are of one substance, power, and knowledge and are one God. Thus that which we hold as a doctrine of faith, the soul now, so to speak, understands by sight, though it beholds the Blessed Trinity neither by the eys of the body nor of the soul, this being no imaginary vision. All the Three Persons here communicate Themselves to the soul, speak to it and make it understand the words of our Lord in the Gospel that He and the Father and the Holy Ghost will come and make their abode with the soul which loves Him and keeps His commandments.

Deposition by Fr. Giles Gonzales, S.J. Provincial of Old Castile, afterwards Assistant-General in Rome: "While the holy Mother lived at the convent of the Incarnation of Avila, I often spoke with her, and once I remember she asked me: "What am I to do, Father? Whenever I recollect myself I realize that already in this life the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity may be seen, and that They accompany me and assist me in the management of my affairs."

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Carmelite Quote

From St. Therese's Act of Oblation
to the Merciful Love of God

I thank you, O my God! for all the graces you have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the scepter of Your Cross. Since you deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland,but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands,for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works, All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own justice and to receive from Your love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds