Sunday, August 30, 2015

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)


Photo: R. Massaro

In the Life of St. Teresa, she writes that after her conversion, she was so intent on pleasing the Lord that she did everything possible to avoid venial sin.  For most people in the spiritual life, who are striving to be perfect, we usually find ourselves in the territory of committing venial sins, the same venial sins, over and over again. 

Perhaps we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and repeat the same sins month after month, even though we have a firm desire to overcome even these venial sins. St. Teresa exhorts us to overcome these sins, so that we don't repeat the same sins to our confessor, she writes:

There are some persons who have already attained friendship with the Lord because they have confessed their sins well and have repented, but two days don't pass before they return to them. Indeed, that is not the friendship the bride is asking for. Always strive, O daughters, so that you don't go to the confessor each time to confess the same fault.

We must be careful and not be alarmed by the words of St. Teresa. We shouldn't be alarmed if we, at times, confess the same sin over and over again.  Did not Our Lord tell St. Peter that we should forgive seventy times seven times?

Then Peter came up and asked him, "Lord, when by brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?" "No," Jesus replied,  "not seven times; I say, seventy times seven times."
(Matthew 18:21)

If we, as his lowly creatures are called to such mercy, will not the Lord be very merciful toward us who are struggling with the same sins? And forgive us over and over again, if we are truly sorry? Pope Francis has said in his teaching, that the Lord never tires of forgiving us: 

“God never tires of forgiving us; 

we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”

(Pope Francis)

St. Teresa, in her Meditation on the Song of Songs is speaking to the "bride-to-be." She is speaking to the soul who desires spiritual perfection so that she can be joined with the Bridegroom.  She writes:

It's true that we cannot live without faults, but at least there should be some change so that they don't take root. If they take root, they will be harder to eradicate and even many others could arise from them. If we plant an herb or small tree and water it each day, it grows so strong that afterward you need a shovel and a pickax to get it out by the roots. Committing the same fault each day, however small, if we do not make amends for it, is like watering a plant each day. And if one day it is planted and ten more pass by, it can still be easily rooted out. In prayer you must ask help from the Lord, for we of ourselves can do little; rather, we add faults instead of taking them away. Reflect that in that frightful judgment at the hour of death we shall see that this was no small matter especially for those the Judge took for His brides in this life.  (Meditation on the Song of Songs, Chap. 2, No. 18)

Our Statutes state the importance of the member receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a frequent basis:

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 (Penance).                  
(Daily Life, No. 5)

Let us pray for each other that the Holy Spirit inspire us to desire to please the Lord in all things. Let us guard the door of our heart, to prevent even the smallest sin from entering it. 

Most Pure Heart of Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel, pray for us!

Rosemarie, OCDS

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Photo: R. Massaro-St. Peter Church Mansfield, Ohio

 If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ's face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist.102 Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.

St. Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia

While meditating on the great gift of the Eucharist, and reading the account of the Last Supper, I've often wondered about the bread that Jesus provided on that last night with his Apostles. I wonder and secretly hope that Our Lady herself provided the bread.

There is no definitive teaching on this subject, but to this devoted Catholic and lover of the Holy Eucharist, it makes perfect theological sense to me that Mary herself could have provided the bread for the Last Supper. It makes sense that She, who was chosen as the pure vessel in which our Lord was formed in her womb, would then, later, lovingly and with pure hands and heart, form the bread to be used by Our Lord to institute the Holy Eucharist, his very body and blood. 

Our Blessed Mother was the mediator in that first public miracle of her Son,when, at Cana, she stated, "they have no more wine."  And Jesus responded and turned the water into wine, and not just any wine, but the choicest wine.  And, again, it makes sense that Our Lady becomes mediator for the greatest of miracles, by providing the bread that will become the Lord's body and blood: The Most Holy Eucharist, the awesome miracle in our life in which he remains present with us in all the tabernacles throughout the world. He promised not to leave us orphans, and I like to believe that our Lady, Mother of the Church, provided that first bread of offering for her children.

Scripture is clear that Our Lord asked Peter and John to prepare the Passover supper. Details about the food and wine are a mystery. This leaves room for speculation in which we have to be most careful. Again, I am only offering here my thoughts and meditations on this subject.

Photo: R. Massaro-St. Albert the Great Church North Royalton, Ohio

Our Lady has a devotional title concerning the Eucharist, "Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament," I humbly propose a new title, Our Lady, "Mother of the Bread of Life!" Just as Our Lady has titles reflecting the Eucharist, the Church has various names for the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives descriptions of these beautiful titles:


The Lord's Supper

The Breaking of the Bread

The Eucharistic Assembly

The Memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection

The Holy Sacrifice

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, 

Holy Communion

Holy Mass
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pg. 335, 1328-1332.)

The Church teaches us that Mary is the new Eve. In light of this, it makes sense that she provides the "manna" in which Our Lord will transform this earthly bread of the Old Covenant into his very self-the New Covenant: The Living Bread that comes down from heaven.  

Let us pray for each other, that we have a great love, devotion and reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist.  Let us be ever-grateful to Our Lady for her total Yes to God, for giving birth to Christ, our Savior, the Bread of Life.

May the most blessed Virgin Mary, from whom Christ the Lord took the flesh that "is contained, offered, received" (81) in this Sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine, and may all the saints of God and especially those who were more inflamed with ardent devotion toward the divine Eucharist, intercede with the Father of mercies so that this common belief in the Eucharist and devotion to it may give rise among all Christians to a perfect unity of communion that will continue to flourish
 Pope Paul VI Mysterium Fidei

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS