Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing-Regina Health Center Richfield, Ohio

Editor's Note: St. Teresa experienced an awakening in her soul that planted a desire in her heart to never again offend "His Majesty." She was desperate and tearful and resolved to not leave prayer until the Lord answered her.

In this excerpt from her life, she speaks of how she struggled to pray in her new resolve to gain virtue and serve the Lord more faithfully and the method she used at this difficult time. She explains how she used her imagination to pray.  Later, in her classic work, The Interior Castle, she will instruct us that in advanced prayer, one does not use the imagination in prayer, for the gift of contemplation frees the mind from working so that the heart may experience the love, joy, and peace God wishes to give the soul.

From the Book of Her Life:

Beseeching Him to strengthen me once and for all that I might not offend Him, I threw myself down before Him with the greatest outpouring of tears.

I was very devoted to the glorious Magdalene and frequently thought about her conversion, especially when I received Communion...I think I then said that I would not rise from there until He granted what I was begging Him for. I believe certainly this was beneficial to me, because from that time I went on improving.

This is the method of prayer I then used...I strove to represent Christ within me, and it did me greater good--in my opinion--to represent Him in those scenes where I saw Him more alone. It seemed to me that being alone and afflicted, as a person in need, He had to accept me. I had many simple thoughts like these.

The scene of His prayer in the garden, especially, was a comfort to me; I strove to be His companion there. If I could, I thought of the sweat and agony He had undergone in that place. I desired to wipe away the sweat He so painfully experienced, but I recall that I never dared to actually do it, since my sins appeared to me so serious. I remained with Him as long as my thoughts allowed me to, for there were many distractions that tormented me. Most nights, for many years before going to bed when I commended myself to God in preparation for sleep, I always pondered for a little while this episode of the prayer in the garden. I did this even before I was a nun since I was told that one gains many indulgences by doing so. I believe my soul gained a great deal through this custom because I began to practice prayer without knowing what it was; and the custom became so habitual that I did not abandon it, just as I did not fail to make the sign of the cross before sleeping.
The Book of Her Life, Chap. 9, No. 4

Let us follow the example of St. Teresa, who, after resolving to never again give up the practice of prayer, tried every means possible to unite herself to the Lord. As she teaches us, we must all begin with vocal prayer, advance to meditation, and if we are faithful, God will give us the gift of contemplation, where we are unable to form images in the mind, even of holy scenes. If we experience dryness in prayer and cannot meditate, it could be a sign that God is preparing the soul for the gift of contemplation. 

Let us be like St. Teresa and the Magdalene, let us remain at the feet of Jesus, with true sorrow for our sins-let us remain faithful to prayer.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Friday, February 24, 2017

Saturday of Our Lady

Photo: R. Massaro Queen of Heaven Eucharistic Chapel Green, Ohio

St. John Vianney's Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O most holy Virgin Mary, who evermore stands before the most holy Trinity, and to whom it is granted at all times to pray for us to your most beloved Son; pray for me in all my necessities; help me, protect me, and obtain for me the pardon of all my sins. Help me especially at my last hour; and when I can no longer give any sign of the use of reason, then encourage me, make the sign of the cross for me, and fight for me against the enemy. Make in my name a profession of faith;favor me with a testimony of my salvation, and never let me despair of the mercy of God. Help me to overthrow the tempting enemy. When I can no longer say: "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I place my soul in your hands." I ask you to say it for me;

Photo: R. Massaro Little Flower Parish North Canton, Ohio
when I can no longer hear human words of consolation, comfort me. Leave me not before I have been judged, and if I have to atone for my sins in purgatory, pray for me earnestly; and admonish my friends to procure for me a speedy enjoyment of the blessed vision of God. Lessen my sufferings, deliver me speedily, and lead my soul into heaven with you: that, united with all the elect, I may there bless and praise my God and you for all eternity. Amen.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Friday, February 17, 2017


The earliest known prayer to the Theotokos (in the original Greek “Θεοτοκος” means “Bearer of God”), that is, to the Virgin Mary, is found on a fragment of papyrus, which dates all the way back to approximately AD 250
Photo Source:

From the Year 250

Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2017 Spirit Singing Holy Ghost Church Akron, Ohio

Beneath thy compassion, we take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble, but rescue us from dangers, only pure one, only blessed one. - 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus

Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2017 Spirit Singing

In today's Gospel we hear how the Lord severely reprimands Peter: "Get behind me Satan...!"
(Mk 8: 27-33)

Today's rebuke of St. Peter reminded me of our Holy Mother St. Teresa's teaching on accepting the crosses that the Lord sends to us or those we love.  Many times, we pray that the Lord will remove the cross in their lives, instead of praying that they have the grace to endure it.  Of course, we don't like to see the ones we love suffer, but perhaps the Lord is sending them a trial in order to purify them or strengthen them in virtue.

Here is what St. Teresa says about true spiritual love for another and suffering:

...You may speak about the licit love I mentioned, which we have for one another or for relatives and friends and in which our care is that our loved ones don't die; or, if the other's head aches our souls seem to ache too, and if they suffer trials, it seems that we lose our patience; and other things like that.

Spiritual love is not like this. Even though some grief is at first felt through natural weakness, reason immediately considers whether the trial is good for the one loved, whether there is an enrichment in virtue and how that soul bears the suffering; it asks God to give the other patience and merit in the trials. If this love sees that the other person has patience, no distress is felt; rather it rejoices and is consoled. 
The Way of Perfection, Chapter 7, No. 2,3

We can tell if we are advancing and making progress in virtue when we do not pray to be relieved or spared from trials and tribulations in life. St. Teresa describes this soul:

Now see, I am certain that those who reach perfection do not ask the Lord to free them from trials or temptations or persecutions or struggles. This is another very great and certain effect of contemplation and the favors His Majesty gives...
Way of Perfection, Chap. 38, No. 1

Perhaps we have a "Peter" in our life, one who tries to prevent us from following God's will. They try to help us see our foolishness of taking up our cross and treading on the narrow path of sacrifice, humility, and prayer. Let us be strong in our resolve to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us-which should be our delight.

You will show me the path of life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (Psalm 16)

Photo: R. Massaro Loyola of the Lakes

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Friday, February 10, 2017


Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing-Lourdes, France


Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

O HOLY VIRGIN, in the midst of your days of glory, do not forget the sorrows of this earth. Cast a merciful glance upon those who are suffering, struggling against difficulties, with their lips constantly pressed against life's bitter cup.

Have pity on those who love each other and are separated.

Have pity on our rebellious hearts.

Have pity on our weak faith.

Have pity on those we love.

Have pity on those who weep, on those who pray, on those who fear. Grant hope and peace to all. Amen.

Prayer to St. Bernadette

Bernadette, you have long sought the Lord where he called.
You asked. You listened. You trusted.
You were sure the Lord would guide you.
You surrendered yourself completely in the hands of God.

Bernadette, you intensely desired the Eucharist.
You loved to adore the Blessed Sacrament,
You united your life in the offering of that of
Christ on the altar.

Dear St. Bernadette, strengthen our trust in the Holy Virgin whom you have had the good fortune to see here on earth. Like you, we place ourselves under her protection in order to keep our hearts ever pure.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
St. Bernadette, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Spiritual Direction with Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Editor's Note: Our secular community of the Holy Family has been studying the works of the newly-proclaimed Carmelite Saint: Elizabeth of the Trinity.  Here is a meditation from the class I gave a few years ago on her work, Heaven In Faith. I share with you notes from the fifth day of her retreat, because I feel it reflects the heart of her spirituality and the deepest center of her charism-her awareness of the divine indwelling of the Holy Trinity in her soul.

A Meditation on the teachings of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Heaven in Faith

Saint Elizabeth begins with the scripture passage, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock...(Revelation 3:20)” Christ constantly knocks at the door of our heart. By free will we choose to open the door to him or not to open the door.

There are a few elements to this simple knock on the door:

First: We must hear the knock
Saint Elizabeth says we must be recollected enough to hear the Lord knocking on the door of our heart. We must be ready in spirit to answer his eternal invitation at any moment.  Being open to the Holy Spirit gives us the “spiritual ears” to hear the Lord; cares and concerns of the world muffle the sound of the Lord's knocking. Prayer, especially contemplative prayer that becomes constant is the way to keep united to the Lord throughout the day. Earlier, we talked about the “chapel of the heart,” my own phrase of describing the indwelling of the Trinity. We have the most Holy Trinity abiding in us at every moment. Meditation and the gift of contemplative prayer help us to remain in the chapel of our heart, aware of God's presence.

Second: We make a choice to answer or not to answer the knock
The Lord calls us yet gives us free will if we want to accept his invitation. We are the
ones who must open the door and invite him into our souls, into our lives.

Third: We invite the Lord to come into our life
Our relationship with him begins. If we are faithful to prayer, this relationship matures and becomes and intimate friendship with our very God! As the One who knows us, he accepts us where we are in our faith journey. Saint Elizabeth says that Christ is continually coming to the soul-it is a constant renewal of our acceptance of his salvation. This coming is an eternal “now” not in time but eternity. Just as the Mass is a re-presentation of the sacrifice at Calvary.  This eternal acceptance of his salvation requires a constant “Yes” on our part. It is an eternal "Yes" we proclaim at every Mass we attend. As Carmelites, we are called to have the Eucharist at the center of our life. We must live, and move, and have our being in God from one communion to the next. This eternal "Yes" of the Eucharist that gives us the strength to do God's will in our lives helps us to imitate the eternal "yes" of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother in Carmel.

Fourth: We must maintain our relationship with Christ
The work begins! Every day we must take up our cross to follow the Lord. And in the spirit of Saint Elizabeth, we could say, we must take up our cross not only each day, but in each moment of life. Knowing that he comes at every moment we must “clean the house” for his presence. This requires a constant guard at the door of our heart. Saint Elizabeth and St. Teresa explain that those who love the Lord deeply do not want to offend him even in the smallest matter.  This is not a case of neurosis, but the purified motive and intention of one who is sincere in progressing in virtue and holiness.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I believe this day five of Saint Elizabeth's retreat, Heaven In Faith is the heart of her spirituality.  Here is the excerpt from her writings that convinces me this is so:

...The capacity of the soul, enlarged by the coming of the Master, seems to go out of itself in order to pass through the walls into the immensity of Him who comes; and a phenomenon occurs: God, who is in our depths, receives God coming to us, and God contemplates God! God in whom beatitude consists."

This excerpt requires several readings and meditation to understand the depth of her statement. We can start by remembering that the Church teaches that the Holy Trinity is God's glory in himself.  Somehow, in this most intimate friendship with us, in a mystical way, He allows us to participate in this glory of "God contemplates God" within us, as our Carmelite Saint states.

Let us begin our Heaven in Faith by answering the Lord's call, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock..."

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie Massaro, OCDS