Monday, November 25, 2013

The Letters of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Note:  In 2013/2014 the entire Carmelite Order is studying the letters of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) in preparation for her centenary in 2015.  Here is a letter to one of the nuns at the Carmel of St. Joseph at Avila. Teresa always begins her letters by addressing Jesus. The letter was written in 1582.

St. Joseph Monastery at Avila

JESUS. The Grace of the Holy Spirit be ever with you, my daughter.

Your letter gave me great pleasure, and I am glad to hear that mine produced the same effect: this ought to comfort us both exceedingly, since we cannot live together.

With regard to the aridities you speak of, it seems to me that our Lord deals with you as if he considered you one of the strong, since he wishes to try you, in order to see how much you love him, and whether your love is the same in aridities, as when you abound in consolations. Consider, then, those aridities as very great favors from our Lord. Do not allow them to trouble you, for perfection does not consist in having delights, but in possessing virtue. And besides, your devotion will return when you least expect it.

Respecting what you say of the sister, endeavor to drive away such a thought from her mind, that so she may think no more about it. Do not suppose that when such a thought comes into the mind, it is always sinful; even should it be more evil than what you mention, still it would be nothing (unless wilfully indulged in.) I wish she had the same aridities that you have, because I doubt if she knows what she does, and we may desire such trials for her greater good. When any bad thought presents itself, make the sign of the cross, recite the "Our Father," or strike your breast, and try to turn your thoughts to something else: the more you resist, the more merit you will have.

I should have sent an answer to Isabel de San Pablo had I time to write. Giver her my kind regards, for she knows well you ought to be the most beloved. Don Francisco is well, and leads the life of an angel; he and all his household communicated yesterday. To-morrow we leave for Valladolid, and from there he will write to you: I have not as yet given him any information about the bearer of this letter. May God preserve you, my daughter, and make you a great saint: this is what I pray for. Amen. Remember me to all the sisters.

This is the Feast of St. Albert.


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, November 24, 2013


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

Since we have an all-powerful King and so great a Lord that he can do all and that He brings all under his subjection, there is nothing to fear, if one walks, as I have said, in truth in the presence of His Majesty and with a pure conscience.   
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Photo: R. Massaro-St. Michael Byzantine Church Akron, Ohio
How it was revealed to Elijah and his disciples that the Virgin Mary would be born pure and without stain of sin.

After the members of this Order were baptised by the apostles and taught the words of the holy gospels, they fully understood that the mystery which had been revealed to the prophet Elijah by God on Mount Carmel had been fulfilled. ...Now, from the place on Mount Carmel where the servant climbed up to the top of the mountain from where he could see the sea, there were ten terraces. The servant having climbed up once and looked toward the sea, Elijah commanded him, as was said, to return seven times up those same terraces and look towards the sea. And, on the seventh time,which, however, was the eighth time of looking, the servant saw " a little cloud like a man's foot, rising from the sea" to Carmel. And Elijah said to him: "Go and tell Ahab, harness your chariot and go down, lest the rain prevent you.' And while they turned themselves this way and that, behold the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and heavy rain began to fall.

What pledge of future events, apart from its historic occurrence, that vision intrinsically contained; and what great mystery God intended to convey through it to the prostrate Elijah, Elijah himself deigned to reveal, not openly to everyone, but secretly to his companions. From them, we hold that God revealed to Elijah through the details of this vision, at that time, four great mysteries, which I shall explain in order. First, that a certain baby girl would be born, who from her mother's womb would be free from all stain of sin. Second, the time when this would be fulfilled. Third, that this child would dedicate herself to perpetual virginity after the example of Elijah. Fourth, that God, joining his nature with human kind, would be born of that virgin.

The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites by Felip Ribot, O. Carm.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Tuesday, November 19, 2013



File:Czerna Monastery of Discalced Carmelites, Poland.jpg


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Fr. Deacon Michael Lee

I attended a wonderful retreat yesterday by one of the members of our Secular Carmelite community. The retreat was given by Fr. Deacon Michael Lee, OCDS, STL, a deacon of the Eparchy of Parma.  Deacon Michael makes some powerful statements concerning the noise in our daily lives that drown out the voice of God.  I hope the readers of Spirit Singing benefit from this retreat as much as I did.




Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, November 16, 2013



Photo: From the website of the Barnabite Fathers
Read more about this devotion at their website:


Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mother of Divine Providence, protect our life and sanctify us with the gift of grace. Obtain for us from the Father of mercy and the God of consolation pardon for our sins, reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, and comfort in the midst of afflictions.

Renew our hearts that they may be come worthy dwelling places of your Divine Son, Jesus. Help us in our struggles against mediocrity, self-seeking, and pride so we can generously serve our neighbor. We entrust ourselves to you, o Mary, in our pilgrimage in this world.

We invoke you as our guide and our defense against dangers. In the present tribulations, give us secure refuge. O sweet Mother of Divine Providence, turn your eyes to ward us, you who are our hope on earth. Grant that we may have you as our Mother in the glory of heaven. Amen.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, November 15, 2013


The De Profundis takes its name from the first two words of the psalm in Latin. It is a penitential psalm that is sung as part of vespers (evening prayer) and in commemorations of the dead. It is also a good psalm to express our sorrow as we prepare for the Sacrament of Confession.

Every time you recite the De Profundis, you can receive a partial indulgence (the remission of a portion of punishment for sin). In the modern numbering of the Psalms, the De Profundis is listed as Psalm 130, though you will often see it listed as Psalm 129, according to the traditional numbering.

De Profundis

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.
If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?
But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord,
For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous 
redemption; And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

Carmelite Prayer: 

Lord, you are the glory of those who serve you. Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters, united in following Christ and his Mother by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel. In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you, their Creator and Redeemer. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Peace be with you!
Rosmarie, ocds

Thursday, November 14, 2013



(Click on photo to enlarge)

The whole family of Carmel in the homeland, with Mary its Mother at its head, is the reason for our joy and praise to the Father on this day. We recall our brothers and sisters who once dedicated their lives to continual prayer on earth and now share in the worship of heaven. We unite ourselves spiritually to their glory, all the while journeying along the paths they traveled with courage, as they lived in obedience to Christ and followed in the footsteps of Our Lady.
(From the Carmelite Proper)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stained-Glass Scapulars-Reflections on the Rule of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites

The Rule: #16
The beatitudes are a plan of action for life and a way to enter into relationship with the world, neighbors and co-workers, families and friends. By promising to live the beatitudes in daily life, Secular Carmelites seek to give evangelical witness as members of the Church and the Order, and by this witness invite the world to follow Christ: 'The Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6).

In the above excerpt from the Rule our Superiors instruct us to have a "plan of action" for life: the beatitudes. A plan of action takes study, preparation, discipline and commitment. How many people plan and prepare for their day spiritually before they leave the door and enter the world: the spiritual battlefield?  Our one opponent, Satan, seeks to destroy the progress we are trying to make as we grow in charity.  This plan of action is the "marching orders" from the King: Jesus Christ!  He has given a Rule for every human being to follow:

*How blest are the poor in spirit: the rein of God is theirs.
  The Carmelite is called to live a life of detachment-seeking to abide in that blessed state of soul where Christ is all we have and all that we need.

*Blest too are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled.
  A life of prayer and contemplation bring self-knowledge, the painful truth of how we have sinned against God and neighbor. This knowledge should bring us to repentance of heart so that we have true sorrow for sin. Each day we must make the choice of turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel.

*Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land.
  The Carmelite is called to walk this earth in humility. St. Teresa is very stern when it comes to people (Carmelites) seeking to steal the honor and glory that belongs to God alone-seeking honor among people, by looking for affirmation and compliments and seeking credit for one's virtues.

*Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill. 
  In today's society, it seems difficult to find a soul that is truly desperate for God. Of course, we cannot discern someone's interior life, but how many people speak as if they were hungry and thirsty for God?  The person who is seeking the "Bread of Life and the "Living Water" is a rare creature, indeed. This person is the "voice crying out in the desert" of our wicked and depraved society.  His voice is drowned out by the world telling us to eat and drink and be merry!  Being faithful to prayer makes us desire the bread of holiness. Prayer with the Beloved, the Living Water, quenches our spiritual thirst.

*Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs.
  When we began this discussion on the Rule, we mentioned that these beatitudes are "plan of action." The Carmelite, by being faithful to prayer, creates an interior dwelling place for the Living God. When we go out into the world we take this most Merciful Savior with us. He is the bread of mercy that we offer to others. Mercy is not conditional, we do not dole it out when we feel like it.  A merciful person, is a blessed person. He is a person in a holy state of being-"not far from the reign of God."  This is the heart of all the beatitudes.  If you possess mercy, you will not find it hard to live a life of beatitude.

*Blest are the single-hearted for they shall see God.
   Carmelites are called to quiet prayer on behalf of the Church.  Many things distract us and keep us from our purpose and mission.  St. Teresa teaches us that self-indulgence and prayer do not go together. When we get "comfortable," when we start giving in to every whim of the body, little room is left for the difficult discipline of prayer. Our mind rebels, our body rebels, and our spirit rebels. We lose our focus of "God alone."  The heart that is divided is not in a blessed state of union that we are seeking as Carmelites.  This 
spiritual affliction reflects in our daily lives. We say one thing and do another. We profess to be merciful, but are far from it. We profess to be peacemakers, but within, we are far from it.  When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he said, "...There is no guile in him."  God is calling us to purity of heart, a state of being in which our thought, words, and actions are in a spiritual marriage pleasing to God.

*Blest too the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.
  Being a peacemaker requires great effort and the daily dying to our ego. Whether at work, home, or in the marketplace we have many opportunities to foster peace.  We can be peaceful people by the words we choose. We can be peacemakers by the tone of voice we choose. We can be peacemakers by having a peaceful countenance. True peace emanates from the heart. True peacemakers are known by their very presence.  Peace is not a matter of  an absence of conflict. It's the way we approach difficult situations; keeping charity in mind, keeping mercy in mind, keeping humility in mind. 

*Blest are the persecuted for holiness' sake; the reign of God is theirs.
How many of us are really persecuted for our faith?  Perhaps people don't agree with our chosen lifestyle: praying, attending Mass daily, performing works of charity. But these are things we can suffer and offer up.  Many people in our day are truly persecuted for their faith. Their churches are burned, the Gospel is burned, priests are silenced and imprisoned and martyred. Let us pray for all those who are persecuted and killed for the sake of the Gospel. 

*Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me... 
If you've ever been given a tongue-lashing because you were a Christian, well, you've suffered a little. Perhaps it was from a member of your own family!  Some Christians, some Carmelites, are insulted by the ones who claim to love them, simply because they want to live a godly life. Think of the person who goes to work faithfully each day and suffers the ridicule and comments from others because they know they are Catholic. Day after day they have to endure the comments. Think of the religious, the priest or nun who is falsely accused of some awful crime by someone who hates the Church. They are removed from ministry, they are falsely imprisoned...these are the martyrs of today.

Let us pray for each other, that we take our plan of action, the Beatitudes, seriously each day.  If we are faithful to prayer, they will become a part of us and flow from the heart-the heart of God dwelling within us.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Official Closing of the "Year of Faith"
November 24, 2013

It's not too late to read the Holy Father's document, "Lumen Fidei" (The Light of Faith)

The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness" (Jn 12:46). Read more...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, November 3, 2013


The Power of the Religious Habit: A True Story

Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, S.N.D., hails from a clan based in Ohio. I suppose that every Sister of Notre Dame deserves her personal Quasimodo, and for this one, I fit the bill.
Too many people are hesitant to relate to those enrolled in religious orders. True, nuns should be treated with reverence due to their special commitment and vows, and yet, like you and me, they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Unlike you and I, though, most of them are making great strides in sanctity because they usually keep Jesus Christ foremost in their minds—and rightly so, considering that eternity is forever, and this present life is short. Most of us are caught up in the distractions of the day.
We seem to be frightened of the idea of holiness. We get itchy and fidgety whenever we get close to it, as if suffering from an allergic reaction. We find it more comfortable to wallow in the muck of our fallen nature. This fright is silly when we stop to think about it, because we are invited by God, and to be as holy as he is. That’s why we call ourselves “Christians.” Read more...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds