Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 Christmas Letter from our Carmelite Father General,Saverio Cannistra, OCD

Photo: R. Massaro, Sorrowful Mother Shrine-Bellevue, Ohio

P. Saverio Cannistrà, Preposito General

In the mystery of Christmas, God asks man to receive him. He calls at the door of our home, our world, our daily tasks: he wants to enter, find a place where we are, our things, our thoughts, our affections; he does precisely what every human who comes
into the world does, every guest (expected or unexpected) who shows up at our doorstep. Man always asks the other man to make room for him, to give him time: without this, he cannot live. And the miracle of Christmas is this: if God makes himself man, it is because he needs man to take care of him. This, as paradoxical as it seems and contrary to any natural or philosophical idea about God, is nevertheless understandable. Perhaps what is more difficult to understand is that this welcoming defines man’s salvation. Man is saved the moment he cares for God. Receiving the God-made-man, man receives himself, he welcomes himself in the most authentic and radical way, and is able to love himself at last.

Yes, because the problem is that man does not love himself at all and does not take care of himself at all. When we read in the Gospel of Luke, “because there was no room for them [for us] in the inn,” or in the Gospel of John, “He came to what was his
own, but his own people did not accept him,” it is really about man himself that the Gospel is speaking. This is what Christmas primarily, fundamentally brings to light: we discover that in our lives and dwellings, in our minds and hearts, there is no place for
ourselves, for what we truly are, for that incessant dynamism that is man, for his infinite potential for love. Everything is already scheduled, the agenda is already full, a bit like our calendars at the beginning of the new year.

And of what is this man made, who bids enter and find lodging within us? I believe it is the Word of God, if we read between the lines, that gives us many elements to reconstruct his countenance and understand his nature.

The first element is time. He is a man made of time, who needs time. He needs almost a year to learn how to walk, and more than a year to learn to talk, and then more years to learn to read, write, work.... Jesus spends thirty years in Nazareth growing in years, wisdom, and grace. Many days, months, years, which are not consistently the same, but are steps that succeed each other and are consequences of each other. Time does not repeat itself, it continues, as we say, “inexorably”; yet, not: it evolves in a
beneficial manner, salvifically. I ask myself if we still have that same sense of time, of existence, of its “unfolding,” which is actually a making way, or on the contrary, if we are attached to the moment, to many moments, each identical to the other, without
progression, without direction, one piled upon or imprinted on the other. We are in a hurry to see results, to possess tangible goods which in reality are only ephemeral images, made of the same stuff as dreams. The God who becomes man asks us to welcome man in his temporalities, who grows and matures slowly.

The God who enters our life is also the man that contains inner spaces and landscapes. The birth of Jesus is surrounded by a series of experiences that happen in solitude and interiority. The gospels speak of angels, that is to say messages that envelope Mary in her awaiting, Joseph in his questioning, the shepherds in their nocturnal vigil. And we are told that all these people discovered a different reality, hidden from the eyes of the world, but that generates life, light, and new hope. “They were filled with joy and Spirit,” in the words of the Gospel of Luke. Joy and Spirit spring from within, like a fountain that issues from the depths of the rock. Man is made of this rock: in him there is something very solid, very resistant. But is there room for this solitude in our world, which we now sometimes qualify as “fluid”? Do we want to be solid? Do we really want to resist the winds and currents that beckon, distract, and tempt us? Are we not afraid to be anchored down, when everything seems to let itself be carried away by a sweet drifting? Yet faith is being steadfast, faithfulness is remaining steadfast, peace is being steadfast, not in the sense of being inert or like the peace of a cemetery, but a wanting to profoundly root ourselves in something that is true: constant and trustworthy despite everything. It is the Word, the Logos from which we come, but which “the world did not know.” Many words, too many senses, many paradises attract us.

And lastly, this man that bids us receive him and recognize him is made of flesh: the Word became flesh. This is what the Gospel of John tells us. It does not say: he became man, but rather, he became flesh, even knowing that in a certain way flesh suggests corruption, vulnerability, fragility. Flesh is subjected to cold and heat, hunger and thirst, tiredness and sleep. Flesh has desires and passions. Flesh undergoes shock, trembling, and bleeding. But it also receives caresses and embraces, it receives warmth from fire and enjoys ocean breezes, it is anointed with perfumed oils and covered in linens. Flesh is not a reality to be considered only from a medical point of view or erotic passion. Flesh am I: my feelings, my reactions to the world in which I live, my earthly condition from which we try to protect ourselves or gnostically flee. Therefore, we speak of post-human or post-mortal man or society, following the ideal of the man-machine whose parts can be replaced or transformed. Perhaps we don’t realize that this worldview is subtly overpowering our minds, daily drawing us further away from the body of flesh of which we are made and which contains and cares for our truest self. Because it is the body that is the true subject of the spiritual life and there is nothing better than the mystery of the Incarnation to remind us of that and cause us to meditate on it. Let us not disdain the body; let us not be gnostic, or else along with the body we will also lose the spirit. The body of Jesus is placed in our hands for us to welcome and, with him, also welcome our own bodies with their history, wounds, emotions, and weaknesses. Bodies that ask us to care for them, not only by going to doctors, but also by deeply listening to them, living and savoring to its marrow the reality of our being in the world.

For this did God come into the world, for us to learn to be in him, in truth and grace, without evading but also without chains: free as only men who have learned to be genuinely human can be.

Merry Christmas!
Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday with the Saints

DECEMBER 14 (Transferred to the 15 this year)
Happy Feast Day to all Carmelites!

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of strips of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include: Ascent of Mount Carmel , Dark Night of the Soul and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ .
(From Christian Classics Ethereal Library)

Some of the Literary works of St. John of the Cross include:

The Ascent of Mount Carmel

Dark Night of the Soul

The Spiritual Canticle

The Tomb of St. John of the Cross

Tomb of St. John of the Cross

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, of the hearts of Jesus and Mary ocds

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus

In this post we will consider the qualities of the person who has entered the third dwelling place of the interior castle. Keep in mind, that this is still far from the seventh mansion where the soul enjoys perfect contemplation and union with God as is attainable in this our earthly life with God.

Concerning souls in the third dwelling place, St. Teresa has this to say:

...They long not to offend His Majesty, even guarding themselves against venial sins; they are fond of doing penance and setting aside periods for recollection; they spend their time well, practicing works of charity toward their neighbors; and are very balanced in their use of speech and dress and in governing their households.
Way of Perfection, Chap. I, No. 5

Do you see yourself in this description?  Do you know someone who fits this description?  I certainly do, and I am humbled when I consider the holy lives they lead. They are true spiritual inspirations to help one keep the course on the way of perfection.

I attended a retreat once in which the priest said that most people who are trying to be good and please God are in the third dwelling place. He said many good Christians, many good Catholics are in this dwelling place. The problem is that most people remain in this dwelling place without seeking to advance in the spiritual life.  They become complacent and settled in their ways, settling for the spiritual life they enjoy at this point. They haven't yet embraced the cross and cultivated a desire to be united with the Crucified and Risen One in the spiritual marriage. 

The soul in the third dwelling place seems just about perfect. Right? They try to avoid venial sins, they perform works of charity, are very modest and balanced people; all this goodness in just the third mansion!  We can only imagine what it must be like to live with or know someone in the higher mansions. 

Let us get back to the lesson at-hand today and consider that the soul who is "stuck" in the third mansion is one who is afraid to leave their spiritual comfort zone. They enjoy a wealth of blessings from the Lord and are not eager to leave this dwelling place. St. Teresa teaches us that the soul in this state is like the rich young man whom the Lord disappointed when he said he must leave his wealth behind to follow him and be perfect. This is the comparison St. Teresa makes about the soul and the rich young man:

We all say that we want this good. But since there is need of still more in order that the soul possess the Lord completely, it is not enough to say we want it; just as this was not enough for the young man whom the Lord told what one must do in order to be perfect. From the time I began to speak of these dwelling places I have had this young man in mind. For we are literally like him; and ordinarily the great dryness in prayer comes from this, although it also has other causes. 
Way of Perfection, Chap. 3, No. 6

Now, St. Teresa begins to speak of the dryness that a soul may experience because one does not want to leave behind the spiritual consolation he is enjoying.  The soul in this state believes he is entitled to entry into the higher mansions. St. Teresa describes this person's attitude:

They cannot accept patiently that the door of entry to the place where our King dwells be closed to them who consider themselves His vassals.
Way of Perfection, Chap. I, No. 6

Then she instructs her nuns:

Enter, enter, my daughters, into the interior rooms; pass on from your little works. By the mere fact that you are Christians you must do all these things and much more. It is enough for you to be God's vassals...Behold the saints who entered this King's chamber, and you will see the difference between them and us.
Way of Perfection, Chap. I, No. 6

During this Advent season, when the entire Church is on retreat, let us take this opportunity to pray for ourselves and each other. Let us pray for the gift of humility that allows our heart to be satisfied with being true servants of the Lord without any desire for a reward. 

May he give us true self-knowledge that comes from prayer and recollection; self-knowledge that lets us see ourselves as we are before him. May he give us the desire to be one with him; to return love for love.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, November 23, 2014



Today, as we celebrate the end of the liturgical year in the church, we will now turn our attention to the season of Advent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. The Church helps us to prepare to celebrate Christmas by having the people of God enter into a time of retreat, the Advent season.  As a point of reflection we may ask ourselves, Do I look forward to Advent and the time of prayer and reflection it offers? If not, what do I look forward to?

We can tell something about a person when we find out what sorts of things they look forward to. I'm sure we all have relatives and friends who tell us they are looking forward to watching their favorite sports team, or some people look forward to a shopping trip or seeing the latest movie. Some look forward to seeing children and grandchildren. These can all be good things to look forward to.

Let's look at this desire on a deeper and spiritual level. Spiritually, what do we look forward to?  Do we look forward to going to Mass, Adoration, or Confession?  Or each Sunday, is it an effort to drag myself out of bed to go and worship the Living God?  Have I looked forward to spending one hour in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament? Or do I find myself attached to the tv and not able to pry myself from my comfort zone, to go and pray before the Living God? Do I look forward to Confession? Or do I find myself putting off, week after week after week, the opportunity to seek mercy and forgiveness from the Living God, present in the Sacrament of Confession?

As Secular Carmelites, we can examine our conscience by asking some questions about the desires of our heart:  

*Do I look forward to the daily period of meditation?
*Do I look forward to praying the Liturgy of the Hours?
*Do I look forward to attending Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist?
*Do I look forward to the next meeting and prepare by studying my formation materials?
*Do I look forward to the days of fast and the celebration of the Carmelite Saints?
*Do I look forward to making Temporary or Final promises?
*Do I look forward to going to Confession?
*Do I look forward to the crosses God will send me for my sanctification?

On a more general examine, we can ask ourselves:

*Do I look forward to helping someone, or performing acts of charity?
*Do I look forward to spending time with my spouse?
*Do I look forward to studying holy Scripture?
*Do I look forward to reconciling with someone I have hurt, or with someone who has offended me?

Each Sunday, at Mass, during the recitation of  the Creed, we state, as the Body of Christ, what we look forward to:

" I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come..." Do we really? Do we really look forward to meeting Christ face-to-face? Do we really look forward and desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If we really desired and looked forward to entering into the presence of God, our lives would reflect it. We would be more charitable, we would be more helpful, we would be less selfish, we would look forward to many other things instead of worldly pastimes, to sinful pastimes. 

Our world is in great need of prayer, for there are many people who look forward to hurting and even plotting to kill their neighbor. There are people who, each day beat, torture, and starve children and receive pleasure from it.  The enemies of the Church want to destroy our churches and kill in the name of God, and they look forward to this with great pleasure. God help us!...what sinful and evil things enter the mind and heart of man!

If we are truly on the road of perfection, we will look forward to the Holy Spirit's work in us to make us holy.  If we are truly looking forward to the the life of the world to come, we would be working to see the Kingdom reflected in our lives, now. We would look forward to being merciful instead of being easily offended and holding a grudge. We would look forward to being peacemakers instead of troublemakers. We would truly mourn over our own sins instead of looking for an opportunity to rejoice over the faults of others.

The Saints are the people God gives us as examples. They went through life always looking forward to His coming, always looking forward to the resurrection and the life to come...They always looked for an opportunity to forget themselves and serve their neighbor. But most importantly, they always looked forward to glorifying God in all that they did and to have others do the same.

Let us look forward to the coming of Christ in our lives at each moment of our existence. The time of quiet prayer and reflection in our Advent retreat helps us to be aware that Emmanuel, "God is with us." Let us look forward to meeting him each day and uniting ourselves with him so that we can be holy in thought, word, and deed.  Becoming Christlike is what prepares us for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Path of Light-A year on Pilgrimage with St.Teresa of Jesus

Words of Wisdom from St. Teresa:

In this excerpt, St. Teresa refers to her previous writings in which she tells us that she found more freedom to serve God by giving up friends and relatives which "tire me very much." She continues on this theme of spiritual freedom in a letter she wrote from St. Joseph's at Avila in 1563.  She tells us to attach ourselves to the Cross and to place our trust in God to prevent us from falling into sin.

It is a little more or less than nine months ago that I wrote the above, which is in my own handwriting. Since then, not turning back from the favors God granted me, it seems to me I have received again, insofar as I understand, much greater freedom. Up until now, I thought I needed others, and I had more trust in help from the world. Now, I understand clearly that all this help is like little sticks of dry rosemary and that in being attached to it there is no security; for when some weight of contradiction or criticism comes along, these little sticks break. So I have experience that the true remedy against a fall is to be attached to the cross and trust in Him who placed Himself upon it. I discover that He is the true friend, and through this friendship I find in myself a dominion by which it seems to me I could resist, providing God doesn't fail me, anyone who might be against me.

Though now I understand this truth so clearly, I used to be very fond of being liked. No longer does being liked matter to me; rather, it seems in part to weary me, except in the case of those with whom I discuss my soul or whom I am thinking of helping...

In the very severe trials and persecutions and opposition I experienced these past months, God has given me great courage; and the greater these trials were the greater was the courage, without my growing tired of suffering. Toward persons who spoke evil of me, not only did I feel I bore no harsh feelings but it seemed to me I gained new love for them. I don't know how this came about; it was a blessing given by the hand of the Lord.

Official Website of the 2015 Congress-Holy Hill, Wisconsin

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Path of Light: A year on pilgrimage with St. Teresa of Jesus

On October 15, 2014 the official year of preparation to celebrate the 500 anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) began.

The Vicar General said that the “Path of Light” pilgrimage will depart from Ávila on October 15, 2014 (feast day of the Saint), and traverse Teresian places throughout the world in the five continents –Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and Oceania– including active missions, until its return to Ávila on March 28, 2015. As of this date, “Path of Light” will be undertaken by the 17 Teresian foundations.
Father Emilio José Martínez announced that throughout the entire journey, Saint Teresa’s cane will be carried as a very symbolic relic-sign. “As its objective, this project invites everyone to walk along with Teresa. For that reason, we have chosen this relic. The Community of Carmelite Friars of Ávila permitted this with immense generosity. It will allow Saint Teresa to be very present on the five  continents,” explained the Discalced Carmelite Vicar General.

Father Antonio González, Secretary General of the Fifth Centenary, will head the project until January 7. The project also includes the creation of materials for a “Path of Light” photographic exposition, gathering the best images of the pilgrimage to make a pictorial background of Saint Teresa’s family and friends in the five continents.

A documentary to help us draw near to Saint Teresa and the Discalced Carmelite Order by means of this journey will also be made.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Next week, Discalced Carmelites throughout the world will be celebrating the solemnity of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) on October 15th. In light of her upcoming feast day here are some words of wisdom from our Holy Mother, St. Teresa. This excerpt is from her Way of Perfection.


What I would like to say a little about now is how this love for one another must be practiced. I would like to speak also of the nature of this virtuous love--which is the love I want practiced here--and how we know if we have this love; for our Lord recommended it so highly and so urgently to his apostles. What I say will be in conformity with my dullness of mind; and if in other books you find a detailed explanation don't take anything from me, for perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.

Two kinds of love are what I'm dealing with: One kind is spiritual, because it in no way seems to stir sensuality or affect the tenderness of our nature so as to take away purity. The other is spiritual mixed with our sensuality and weakness or good love, for it seems to be licit, as is love for our relatives and friends. I have already said something about it.

I want to speak now about the love that is spiritual, that which is not affected by any passion; where passion is present the good order is thrown into complete disorder. And if we deal with virtuous persons discreetly and moderately, especially confessors, we will benefit...

May it please God that I understand this love; and even more, that I know how to speak of it, for I don't think I know which love is spiritual, or when sensual love is mixed with spiritual love, nor do I know why I want to speak about this spiritual love...

The persons the Lord brings to this state are generous souls, majestic souls. They are not content with loving something as wretched as these bodies, however beautiful they may be, however attractive...All other affections wearies these persons, for they understand that no benefit comes from it and that it could be harmful...

Now, note well that when we desire love from some person, there is always a kind of seeking our own benefit or satisfaction, and these perfect persons have already trampled underfoot all the good things and comforts the world has to offer them. 

It will seem to you that such persons do not love or know anyone but God. I say, yes they do love, with a much greater and more genuine love, and with passion, and with a more beneficial love; in short, it is love. And these souls are more inclined to give than to receive. Even with respect to the Creator Himself they want to give more than to receive. I say that this attitude is what merits the name "love," for these other base attachments have usurped the name "love."
Way of Perfection, Chap. 6, 2-7

In these excerpts from St. Teresa's Way of Perfection, we can get a feel for her difficulty in describing the soul who possesses perfect, pure love.  In the last excerpt she gets to the heart of the matter with her statement that many times our attachments and affections are under the guise of real love.

I once knew a nun, now deceased, who told me , " I love you with the same love that Jesus loved us with on the Cross." Wow! has anyone said anything remotely like that to you lately or ever?  This statement from good Sr. Agnes reminds me of another holy person we all know: Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, or "Mother Teresa" as she was affectionately known.  She is on record as saying, "There is not two loves, or three loves, there is only one love. And God is love!"

As Catholics, as Christians, as Carmelites, we should be striving to become Christlike in thought, word and deed.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of perfect charity. A charity that manifests itself in holy conversations with others. 

Based on St. Teresa's writings and description of these majestic pure souls who love purely, here are some of the qualities I believe these holy souls possess if one were to converse with them:

*The truth would be spoken with charity and kindness.

*They would not criticize others "behind their back."

*They would not offer empty flattery.

*They would bring God into the conversation-praising him or his 
   gifts they see in others.

*They would be free of sentimentality or drama.

*They would have no interest in discussing things "of the world."

*They would refrain from gossip.

*They would refrain from bragging-would not boast about 
  themselves or their accomplishments.

*They would not complain.

*They would be genuinely concerned about you. 

*You would leave their presence feeling spiritually uplifted and 
   inspired to serve God better.

Did you see yourself in any of these items?  If we make the effort to love others when we speak to them, God will help us and purify our motives so that we are not self-seeking-seeking to be loved with a selfish and worldly affection from others. This takes time. It takes humility to not seek praise and affirmation from others. Because these attachments and desires are part of our human nature. When we constantly make the effort to forget ourselves and seek to console and strengthen others, when we strive to be loving and kind and merciful, then we know we are on the right track to becoming Christlike and to love others with the same love that he loved us with as he died on the Cross for us.

God is love!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Cell of St. Therese-The Carmel of Lisieux




(Don't forget to use your translate button) If you still have a problem, click on "Intentions de priere" on left side bar and then click on "Envoyer une intentions de prière"


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Buckeye Lake, Ohio

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Monday, September 8, 2014



Photo: R. Massaro-Our Lady of Fatima Shrine Lewiston, NY

In today's spiritual term we can see in its shadow the word "sanctus," which means holy.  However, in the Catholic Dictionary from which the following definition is taken, we get directly to the point of the meaning of this word: sanctity is purity of heart, obtained through the heroic gift of charity, bestowed on an individual by the Holy Spirit.

Sanctity: An eminent degree of "charity, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith." (I Timothy 1:5)
The Catholic Dictionary by Donald Atwater

One of the marks of the Catholic Church is that it is holy.  As members of the Church, the Body of Christ, we are called to personal holiness and purity of heart. And the Church is praying for our sanctification at each and every Mass.  I have been thinking about this lately, because I especially like the Eucharistic Prayer that entreats the Lord to bring us to the fullness of charity.

Eucharistic Prayer II states:
Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity...

And this beautiful phrase from Eucharistic Prayer III:
Be pleased to confirm in faith and charity your pilgrim Church on earth...

Let's go back to what the Letter of Timothy stated at the beginning of this post. He describes the one who is holy. They possess:

*An eminent degree of charity

*A pure heart
*A good conscience
*An unfeigned faith

We could do a meditation and examination of conscience on these spiritual qualities of a holy person.

Do I possess a high degree of charity? Do I go the extra mile, forgetting myself and my wants to help someone in need? Do I fast and pray for others?  Do I make sacrifices for others? Do I pray for my enemies?

Do I possess a pure heart?  Well, perhaps this is hard to determine. St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) teaches us that the truly humble and pure of heart don't even know they possess these gifts. They observe them in others and pray for these gifts to be bestowed on them.  But we could in some way tell if we have the makings of a pure heart-

* Is the initial movement of my soul-my "first response" towards 


*Am I saddened and mournful over my sins and the sins of the 


* Do I try to console the heart of God who is much-offended in the


*Do I have empathy for those who are suffering?

* Do I see the good in people who at first sight may be "written off"

   by society?

*Do I treat those who have hurt me differently than those who have

  been kind to me?

A good conscience. A good conscience is an informed conscience. It is a conscience that is formed according to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. A good conscience brings true peace to the soul. This person is at peace with God and his neighbor.

An unfeigned faith. Do I have a sincere and genuine faith?  Do I truly love God and his Church?  Do I go to church just to please my spouse or others? Do I have a desire to share my faith with others?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the Church is the universal Sacrament of Salvation. I would say we are in good hands!  For the Catechism states: "The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament--a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men. The Church's first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God..."

As Secular Carmelites, this is the heart of our vocation: union with God.  That is why we are called to attend Mass daily, if possible. We are to be Eucharistic people. This sacramental life opens the door to union with the Beloved. Then, fed by the Lord and strengthened and confirmed in love, we go out to be of service to our neighbor. Oh! The beauty and simplicity in the call of the Christian and the Carmelite! It's not complicated. The Church makes it very easy for us. 

As I stated in the beginning. The Church is praying for us, praying for us to be saints.

...The Church's structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured according to the great mystery in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom. Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church's mystery as "the bride without spot or wrinkle."

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 773.

Let us pray for each other.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


 A Poem by Bl. Titus Brandsma
Carmelite and Martyr

Photo Source:

Before a Picture of Jesus in My Cell

A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses my heart:
Sweet Jesus, I in Thee and Thou
In me shall never part.

No grief shall fall my way but I
Shall see Thy grief-filled eyes;
The lonely way that Thou once walked
Has made me sorrow-wise.

All trouble is a white-lit joy,
That lights my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.

If I have Thee alone,
The hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.

Stay with me, Jesus,only stay;
I shall not fear
If, reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near.


Lord our God,
source and giver of life,
you gave to Blessed Titus
the Spirit of courage
to proclaim human dignity
and the freedom of the Church
even in the throes of degrading
persecution and death.
Grant us that same Spirit
so that in the coming of your 
kingdom of justice and peace
we might never be ashamed 
of the Gospel
but be enabled to recognize 
your loving-kindness in all the
events of our lives.
We pray through Christ our Lord.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Celebration of the 5th Centenary of St. Teresa's birth

Photo: Public Domain

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


St. Therese of the Child Jesus

From The Story of a Soul:

At this time I was enjoying such a living faith, such a clear faith, that the thought of heaven made up all my happiness, and I was unable to believe there were really impious people who had no faith. I believed they were actually speaking against their own inner convictions when they denied the existence of heaven, that beautiful heaven where God Himself wanted to be their Eternal Reward. During those very joyful days of the Easter season, Jesus made me feel that there were really souls who have no faith, and who, through the abuse of grace, lost this precious treasure, the source of the only real and pure joys. He permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of heaven, until then so sweet to me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment. This trial was to last not a few days or a few weeks, it was not to be extinguished until the hour set by God Himself and this hour has not yet come. I would like to be able to express what I feel, but alas! I believe this is impossible. One would have to travel through this dark tunnel to understand its darkness...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Allegiance to Jesus Christ through Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Photo: R. Massaro-Carmelite Monastery Lourdes, France

Many people wonder about the life of a Secular Carmelite and the obligations of this vocation. This new feature, "The School of Carmel," will provide commentary on the vocation of the Secular Carmelite.  Let's begin with a description of a Secular Carmelite from our Constitutions:

Secular Carmelites are faithful members of the Catholic Church who are called by the Holy Spirit to "live in allegiance to Jesus Christ." They seek evangelical perfection and union with God in the Order of the Teresian Carmel for his greater Glory and the good of his Church. In response to that call, members willingly submit to the "gentle yoke" (Mt, 12:30) of obligations and commitments contained in the Rule of St. Albert, our Constitutions and our Provincial Statutes.
From the Constitutions of the OCDS

*Faithful members of the Catholic Church
  The person seeking to become a Secular Carmelite must be in 
  good standing with the Catholic Church.

  Must be at least 18 years of age.

  Provide documentation of Catholic sacramental history.

  Living the Catholic faith for a minimum of 18 months after 
  Baptism before being eligible to enter Aspirancy.

  A person with marriage issues (divorced and remarried without a
  declaration of nullity, etc.) that have not been resolved by 
  a Catholic Tribunal may not proceed in formation. 

  A person who has made promises in another secular order, who
  has not been released from their promises, may not proceed in


The Daily Obligations of a Secular Carmelite:
1/2 hour of mental prayer each day
Attend Mass daily if possible
Pray Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours
Daily devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Observe the Carmelite days of fast
Regular recourse to the Sacrament of Confession
Spiritual Reading
Wear the Brown Scapular


The period of formation is approximately five years for one to make final promises.  The discernment process is a combined effort between the candidate and the council.  Even if the candidate wishes to become a Carmelite, the council may vote otherwise if they discern that Carmel may not be the right spiritual path for that person.

Candidates in Carmel must be interviewed by the council during each stage of their formation. The candidate will be questioned about his or her effort to fulfill the obligations. They will be asked about their faithfulness to prayer. They will also be asked to reveal any struggles or challenges they are facing. Also, the candidates are asked if they have the support of their family members. It is very important that family members support the vocation, because it is not the intention of the Order to cause strife or discord in the household because of the obligations. 

The candidate will be observed to see how they respond in obedience to the president and the council. The council represents the provincial delegate in the province. If a member is disobedient or disrespectful of the local authority, then, in essence, that person is being disobedient to the provincial delegate. 

Disobedience in just one member of a community can create a host of problems. Therefore, candidates should be carefully scrutinized that they understand what they are going to profess in regards to the promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Just as in Catholic marriage, if a person makes a vow and doesn't understand what he is promising, it can make the marriage invalid, so, too, a person professing poverty, chastity and obedience when he doesn't understand what he is doing, may make that promise invalid. The council, and in particular, the formation director, have the serious responsibility of seeing that candidates are formed and understand the serious nature of the promises.

The Secular Carmelite vocation is an awesome gift of God in which a person is called to respond to the invitation of intimate friendship with God through quiet prayer on behalf of the Church.  Is God calling you to a deeper prayer life? Is God calling you to Carmel?

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes to Rev. Mother 
Sister Angelica Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament
September 18, 1918

Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
I had really wanted to write to you as soon as I received your affectionate letter, which I enjoyed so much, as I did the picture of Elizabeth of the Trinity you sent me.

You can't imagine how well your letters are attuned to my needs and the great joy they bring me, especially your latest one where you tell me that there's an "opening" for this poor and miserable girl in that very dear dovecote. How I thanked my Lord from the bottom of my soul when I read the lines that brought me this happiest of news. Believe me, I feel exiled here in the world, amidst so many dangers, and long to see myself already in that little convent, an eternal prisoner of Our Lord; and I have no other thought, desire or occupation that is not directed to Him.

St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes had a mystical experience in which she was given the knowledge that she would die soon; "within 30 days" as she explained it to her confessor. 

She contracted typhus and died at the age of 19-one month after she confided her experience to her confessor. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II on March 21, 1993. 

Here is a clip from the film on the life of St. Teresa of the Andes that has been shown on EWTN. In this scene, St. Teresa's sister Rebecca is filled with sadness as her dear sister enters Carmel. Later, Rebecca will experiences her own call to Carmel and enter the same monastery after the death of her sister.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, August 3, 2014


For the last five years of Teresa de Jesus' life (1577-82), Ann of St. Bartholomew served in the capacity of confidante, secretary, and inseparable companion. She is commonly referred to as Saint Teresa's nurse. One of the the three miracles used to prove Teresa of Avila's qualification for sainthood was Ann of St. Bartholomew's apparently instantaneous acquisition of the ability to write.  In her testimony supporting Teresa's beatification, Ann states that the impetus to write arose from Teresa's voluminous correspondence and need for a secretary: "If you knew how to write , you would help me answer these letters." Ann was anxious to please, but she insisted that she could learn only from Teresa's handwriting. After she refused to imitate a sample of an unknown nun's beautiful handwriting, St. Teresa gave her two lines in her own handwriting, and Ann learned to write that same afternoon.

Blessed Anne
As Ann of St. Bartholomew spoke, so she wrote. While Teresa de Jesus employed popular speech in her writing by choice and for a variety of purposes, including protection from accusations of meddling in theology and a desire to reach wide audiences, Ann of St. Bartholomew knew no other form of expression. Her writings exemplify the speech of peasant women of Castile...
Excerpt from Untold sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works, Electa Arenal and Stacey Schlau, Trans. Amanda Powell. (Reprinted in the Carmel Clarion Volume XXI No. 5)

After the death of St. Teresa, Blessed Ann played an important role in the advancement of Carmel throughout Europe. She was humble and bore her sufferings patiently. She was known for her deep spiritual mysticism and her strict adherence to St. Teresa's teaching on obedience. A steadfast obedience to her superiors that led to conflicts with other nuns. These conflicts caused her deep personal suffering. Throughout her life, like St. Teresa, she remained a true daughter of the Church. Her feast day is June 7.

From the writings of Bl. Anne:

According to St. Bernard it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults; but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, pray for us.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


In this excerpt from the writings of St. Teresa, she instructs us to be on guard against the false experience of peace that comes from a conscience that has no sense of sin and no remorse when it has fallen into sin. It is the awful predicament of a soul without self-knowledge. St. Teresa teaches us that prayer and contemplation bring us to self-knowledge. In this blessed state, we have the light of the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us when we have fallen into sin. 

St. Teresa is also wary of souls who never seem disturbed or suffer trials. In these cases, with her nuns, she tested them to see if this was the fruit of prayer or due to spiritual carelessness.

In this excerpt, look for St. Teresa's distinction between the false peace and the false sense of quiet of those in sin and the genuine peace and quiet of the soul who has reached the place of perfect contemplation. Perfect contemplation and peace of soul are the gifts that the Lord bestows on the soul who has been faithful to prayer.

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila):
God deliver you from the peace of many kinds that worldly people have. May He never allow us to try it, for it brings perpetual war. When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don't feel remorseful about anything, their peace, you have read, is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them. For bad as they are they would then return to God somewhat, not out of love for Him but so as to flee from this war. Those who would act in such a way would never persevere in serving God. Soon, since the devil understands this, he would again give them delight in their pleasure and they would return to their friendship with him until he has them in that place where he shows them how false their peace was. There is no reason to speak of these persons here; let them worry about it, for I hope in the Lord that so much evil will not be found among you. But the devil could begin to offer you another peace in small things and always, while we live, daughters, we must fear...

I tell you that even though in prayer the Lord grants you favors and gives you what I shall speak of later, when you leave prayer you will meet with a thousand little obstacles, a thousand little occasions to break one rule carelessly, or not to carry out another well, interior disturbances and temptations. I don't say that this war must be going on always or habitually; but it is a wonderful favor from the Lord. By this means the soul advances. It's impossible for us to be angels here below because such is not our nature. In fact, a soul doesn't disturb me when I see it with great temptations. If love and fear of our Lord are present, the soul will gain very much; I'm certain of that. If I see a soul always quiet and without any war--for I've run into some like this--I always fear even if I do not see it offending the Lord. Never do I finish seeking to assure myself; and trying and tempting such persons, if I can, since the devil doesn't do so, in order that they may know themselves. I have met a few; to be without war is possible, once the Lord has brought the soul to an abundance of contemplation.
Meditations on the Song of Songs, Chap. 2, No. 1-3.

It takes great wisdom to discern the gifts of the Spirit in our lives. Let us be very careful not to enjoy a false sense of peace when we know we have become careless and lazy in our spiritual life and in charity with others. If we are not experiencing any type of interior trial for a long period of time, this could be a warning sign that we are not growing in virtue. Let us be mature Christians, not always looking for the sweetness of consolation but ready to be purified by the crosses and trials the Lord wishes to send us. He is very merciful to allow us to be purified and made holy in this life. 

Let us pray for each other, that we be constantly on guard against the lion who wishes to devour our soul. Let us be faithful to prayer that brings self-knowledge through the light and intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit. The Bridegroom of our soul is on guard to keep our hearts set on Him. He is the One who offers the genuine peace and quiet of soul that the world cannot give.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds

Sunday, July 27, 2014



Photo Source: Wikipedia

As Catholics, we honor Mary, the Mother of God, under many beautiful titles. One of my favorite titles is "Refuge of Sinners." Her feast day under this title is August 13th.  

I love this title because this devotion reflects the mercy of God manifested through Our Blessed Mother. As fallen children of Eve, we can all run to her, the new Eve, and be embraced by her.  Through this devotion, we can see the similarity of "Refuge of Sinners" and the beautiful biblical story of the Prodigal Son. Mary leads all her prodigal children to the throne of God, where she rejoices with us that the sinner has come home!

Beginning as early as the second century in the writings of St. Justin, Martyr, the Church teaches us that Mary is a powerful intercessor for us before God the Father. Later, St. Alphonsus Liguori who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 writes of Mary as Refuge of Sinners:

One of the titles by which the holy Church teaches us to invoke the divine mother, and which most encourages poor sinners, is the title of "Refuge of Sinners," with which we invoke her in the Litanies. There were anciently, in Judea, cities of refuge ; and criminals, who sought protection in them, were free from the penalty of their offences. Now, there are not so many cities of refuge, but instead of these there is one only, Mary ; of whom it was spoken : Glorious things are said of thee, oh city of God Gloriosa dieta sunt de te civitas Dei. But with this difference, that not all criminals could find refuge in those ancient cities, nor for all sorts of crime ; but under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection, what ever crimes they have committed. It is sufficient for any one to have recourse to her for protection. "I am the city of refuge for all those who flee to me," as St. John of Damascus says, speaking in her name...Read more

As Secular Carmelites, we have a great devotion to Our Lady. We wear her Scapular, her mantle. As St. Alphonsus writes, "...under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection..." The scapular should be a constant reminder to us that she is ever with us. She helps us poor sinners as we strive to overcome our faults and failings. She is with us as we journey to the summit of Carmel- spiritual perfection and union with her Son.

We only have to read the lives of the saints to see that they considered themselves poor sinners. St. Bernadette, to whom Our Lady appeared at Lourdes, was a saint who considered herself a "poor sinner." In fact, these were her last words, "pray for me, a poor sinner."  

If we don't see ourselves as sinners in need of God's mercy, there is not much room for spiritual perfection, there is no need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we don't see ourselves as sinners, there is no compassion and mercy for others. 

If we love God and are seeking spiritual perfection, we are called to be a refuge of sinners to our neighbor. We are called to be servants of God's mercy to others. We are called to serve with open arms and to welcome all those who have hurt us in life. Many times our human nature rebels against forgiveness and mercy, we want to hold a grudge. We want to let the other person know how they have hurt us. If we want to be holy, we cannot go this route. We must show the attributes of God; let us be slow to anger and quick to forgive. These spiritual qualities are proof that the Spirit lives and reigns in us. Let us strive to have the heart and mind of a saint. A heart that reflects the love and mercy of God!

In the rosary we say, "...pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death..." As sinners, let us turn to Mary, our mother and sure refuge. At the hour of our death she will be with us and lovingly defend us before the Throne of God. 

Mary, Daughter of the Eternal Father, pray for us.
Mary, Mother of the only-Begotten Son, pray for us.
Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us. 

Mary, Intercessor for All Mankind. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

Prayer to Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners:

Hail, most gracious Mother of mercy, hail, Mary, for whom we fondly yearn, through whom we obtain forgiveness! Who would not love thee? Thou art our light in uncertainty, our comfort in sorrow, 
our solace in the time of trial, our refuge from every peril and temptation. Thou art our sure hope of salvation, second only to thy only-begotten Son; blessed are they who love thee, our Lady! Incline, I beseech thee, thy ears of pity to the entreaties of this thy servant, a miserable sinner; dissipate the darkness of my sins by the bright beams of thy holiness, in order that I may be acceptable in thy sight.


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds.