Sunday, February 28, 2016

How St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) performed a spiritual work of mercy: praying for the living and the dead.

St. Teresa pleading the cause of the sinners in purgatory-Image: Public Domain

In this excerpt from the Book of Her Life, look for the ways in which St. Teresa prayed for the dead:

*She went to church to pray for the soul
*She offered up all the good she had done in her life for the soul
*She prayed earnestly and intensely (beseeched the Lord) for the 
*She asked others to pray for the the departed soul
*She prayed the Office of the Dead for the soul
*She attended Mass for the soul (in other accounts of Chap. 38)

St. Teresa was blessed with many visions and mystical experiences. In this excerpt, she explains the visions she received of departed souls. 

I was told that someone who had been our provincial was dead (although when he died he was in another province). I had had some dealings with him and was indebted to him for some good deeds. He was a person of many virtues. As soon as I learned he was dead, I felt much disturbance because I feared for his salvation in that he had been a superior for twenty years. Being a superior is something I am indeed very afraid of since I think having souls in one's charge involves a lot of danger; with much anxiety I went to an oratory. I offered up for him all the good in my life, which must in fact amount to little, and so I asked the Lord to supply from His own merits what was necessary for that soul to be freed from purgatory.

While beseeching the Lord for this as best I could, it seemed to me that person came out from the depths of the earth at my right side and that I saw him ascend to heaven with the greatest happiness. He had been well advanced in years, but I saw him as only about thirty, or even less I think, and his countenance was resplendent. This vision passed very quickly; but I was so extremely consoled that his death could never cause me any more sorrow, although I saw persons who were filled with grief over his loss since he had been generally highly esteemed. The consolation my soul experienced was so great I couldn't worry about him, nor could I doubt that it was a vision; I mean that it was not an illusion. No more than fifteen days had passed since his death. However, I didn't neglect to get others to pray for him and to pray myself, except that I couldn't do so with the eagerness I would have if I hadn't seen this vision. When the Lord shows some persons to me in this way and afterward I desire to pray for them to His Majesty, it seems to me without my being able to help it, that doing so is like giving alms to the rich. Afterward I learned--for he died quite far from here--of the death the Lord had given him; it was so greatly edifying, because of the knowledge, tears, and humility with which he died, that it left everyone amazed.

Again, she tells of another experience with a departed soul:

One of the nuns in the house who had been a great servant of God had been dead a little more than a day and a half. A nun was reciting a reading in the choir from the Office of the Dead, which was being said for the departed soul, and I was standing so as to recite the verse with her. When she was half through the reading, I saw the nun who had died; it seemed to me her soul had come out at my right side just as in the previous case and was going to heaven. This was not an imaginative vision as was the former one, but like the others I mentioned; yet this kind is a certain as the imaginative visions
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1987, Print.

St. Teresa tells us that the Lord was pleased to show her the degrees of glory these souls possessed. After experiencing these visions, she states, "Great is the difference that lies between the glory of some and that of others."

St. Teresa recounts several other visions of the dead in her writings. You can read them in Chapter 38 of the Book of Her Life. Let us remember that we are not to seek out these experiences. We must travel the road of pure faith in which there are no signs and knowledge of the state of a departed soul. This is part of the cross that we bear in life; that we continually pray for the living and the dead. Saint Teresa herself continued to pray for these souls even after she witnessed them going to heaven, because she still had a desire in her heart to pray for them, she states:

When the Lord shows some persons to me in this way and afterward I desire to pray for them to His Majesty, it seems to me, without my being able to help it, that doing so is like giving alms to the rich.

In the Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us increase our efforts to pray for our departed brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church Suffering, who have gone before us. Let us continue to pray for all the souls in purgatory, remembering especially those who are in most need of God's mercy.

The season of Lent is a wonderful time to begin a devotion to the holy souls in purgatory. One can pray the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, make a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, etc. Remember, too, that one can gain an indulgence for the Holy Souls by praying for the intentions of the Holy Father after you complete your devotion. 

Learn more about gaining a plenary indulgence during the year of mercy:

May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Prayer by St. Claude Colombiere
Feast Day: February 15

Photo Source: Wikipedia

My Jesus, you are my true friend,
my only friend,
you take part in all my misfortunes;
you know how to change them into blessings.

You listen to me
With the greatest kindness
When I tell you all my troubles
And you always have something
With which to heal my wounds.

I find you at any time of the day or night
For I find you wherever I happen to be
You never leave me;
If I change my dwelling place
I find you wherever I go
You never weary of listening to me;
You are never tired of doing me good.

I am certain of being loved by you,
If I but love you.
My worldly goods are of no value to you
But by bestowing yours on me
You never grow poorer.

However miserable I may be,
No one more noble or cleverer or even holier
Can come between you and me
And deprive me of your friendship;
And death,
Which tears us away from all other friends,
Will unite me forever to you.

All the humiliations attached to old age
Or the loss of honour
Will never detach you from me;
On the contrary
I shall never enjoy you more fully
And you will never be closer to me,
Than when everything seems to conspire
Against me to overwhelm me,
And cast me down.

You bear with all my faults
With extreme patience,
And even my want of fidelity
And my ingratitude
Do not wound you to such a degree
As to make you unwilling to receive me back
When I return to you.

O Jesus,
Grant that I may die loving you,
That I may die for the love of you.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Photo: R. Massaro Loyola Retreat House Clinton, Ohio

Here is an excerpt from one of my all time favorite books: Poustinia (desert) by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Often people say that they have no time for prayer. Where is the place for prayer? Prayer is inside. I am a church. I am a temple of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They came to me. The Lord said that he and his Father would come and make their dwelling with me. I don't have to go anywhere. Neither does this mean that you shouldn't render glory to God in church where everybody else comes to pray, but it means that you should pray constantly. There should be no break in our prayer. There is a poustinia of the heart. Why should my heart be removed from God while I am talking to you? When you are in love with someone, it seems that the face of the beloved is before you when you drive, when you type, when you are taking out insurance, and so on. Somehow or other we can encompass these two realities, the faces of the beloved and whatever we happen to be doing. 

My friends, prayer is like that. If you fall in love then it's impossible to separate life and breath from prayer. Prayer is simply union with God. Prayer does not need words. When people are in love they look at each other, look into each other's eyes, or a wife simply lies in the arms of her husband. Neither of them talks. When love reaches its apex it cannot be expressed anymore. It reaches that immense realm of silence where it pulsates and reaches proportions unknown to those who haven't entered into it. Such is the life of prayer with God. You enter into God and God enters into you, and the union is constant.

The day I was baptized my little feet made the first step toward that union with God for which I was born. I can walk through my life and never remember. Such will be an arid life. It will be an unhappy life. But no matter what happens to me, if I remember that I exist to be united with God, and that I am united with God every minute, all I have to do is think about it. In fact, I don't even have to think. His face is always before me.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Photo: R. Massaro Christ the Servant Parish Canton, Ohio

From The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort

THE EIGHTEENTH ROSE: The Hail Mary--Blessings

The heavenly salutation draws down upon us the blessings of Jesus and Mary in abundance, for it is an infallible truth that Jesus and Mary reward in a marvelous way those who glorify them. They repay us a hundredfold for the praises that we give them...

Now, if we say the Hail Mary properly, is not this a way to love, bless and glorify Jesus and Mary?

In each Hail Mary we bless both Jesus and Mary: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus."

By each Hail Mary we give Our Lady the same honor that God gave her when He sent the Archangel Gabriel to greet her for Him. How could anyone possibly think that Jesus and Mary, who often do good to those that curse them, could ever curse those that bless and honor them by the Hail Mary?

Both Saint Bernard and Saint Bonaventure say that the Queen of Heaven is certainly no less grateful and conscientious than gracious and well-mannered people of this world.  Just as she excels in all other perfections, she surpasses us all in the virtue of gratitude; so she would never let us honor her with love and respect without repaying us one hundredfold. Saint Bonaventure says that Mary will greet us with grace if we greet her with the Hail Mary.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Photo: R. Massaro-St. Luke Church Danville, Ohio

St. Teresa's Prayer from Chapter 4 
on the Meditation on the Song of Songs:

Oh, my Lord, my Mercy, and my Good! And what greater good could I want in this life than to be so close to You, that there be no division between You and Me? With this companionship, what can be difficult? What can one not undertake for You, being so closely joined? What is there in me to be grateful for, my Lord? Rather, I must blame myself very much for my failure to serve You. and thus I beg You, with St. Augustine, and with full determination, that You give me what you command and command what You will. Never, with Your favor and help, will I turn my back on You.

Now I see, my Bridegroom, that You are mine. I cannot deny it. You came into the world for me; for me you underwent severe trials; for me you suffered many lashes; for me You remain in the most Blessed Sacrament; and now You grant me so many wonderful favors. Well then, O most holy bride, with what ardor I have said what you say: What can I do for my Spouse?

Editor's Note:
This class was recorded at one of our monthly Carmelite Meetings in which we were studying St. Teresa of Avila's Meditation on the Song of Songs.  This is the class I presented on Chapter 4 in which St. Teresa speaks of the Prayer of Union and the Prayer of Quiet. These gifts of mystical prayer are given to the bride (the soul) who has been faithful to vocal prayer and meditation.  I hope you are blessed by this lesson.

Let us pray for each other!

Rosemarie, ocds