Praised be Jesus Christ! Quite a while ago, a good friend of mine stumbled upon the website of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Valladolid, Spain ( http://www.carmelitasvalladolid.es/hna-magdalena.html and a page of more photos of her at http://www.carmelitasvalladolid.es/fotos-magdalena.html ), founded by St. Teresa of Avila, and she found this beautiful story of one of their Sisters who entered this Carmel from Mexico. My friend could understand some of it, but she asked another friend to help translate it. I am sharing it here as it is a fantastic story of a young girl so in love with God. It’s like a story you might read in a saint’s life. I find her story so inspiring! She reminds me of St. Teresa of the Andes. It was written by her prioress in 2006 after her death.
(Sr. Magdalena of the Eucharist on her clothing day)
May the Love and the Grace of the Holy Spirit reign forever in our souls!
In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us. Thus is how this small community felt after the departure of our dear Sister Magdalena of the Eucharist to the house of the Father: the Lord had visited us and took from us what was His, that which from all eternity was always His and as all were visited by the Lord, we have all been left full of peace and hope that our Sister has already conquered death and can be found enjoying the infinite love of the Beloved.
It is not easy to relate something of her life, for her passage through Carmel was like fire, very brief yet intense: in her eighteen months in the religious life, she was consumed by love, immolated for the glory of the Heart of Jesus Christ and for the salvation of all souls.
Our Sister Magdalena was born in Mexico City, and at 26 years old she came into contact with us, saying that the Lord was calling her to be a Discalced Carmelite. After a few months of long distance correspondence with the community, she took the step, crossing the Atlantic and entered Carmel on the 30th of March of 2005 with great joy and hope. The first months were wonderful, and she appeared to be radiant, happy, and full of enthusiasm. She repeated many times that it was a shame that she had not come earlier to Carmel. She was very happy, and she continually expressed this happiness during recreation and whenever else she had occasion for it. At the same time, she had a great sweetness in her temperament: she was angelic, gentle, simple, fervent, humble, docile, quiet, a model postulant.
Her zeal for souls, especially for the souls of the youth, was very intense and she ardently desired to devote her life for them, in order that they may come to know Jesus Christ and His Gospel She continually repeated to us that she wanted to be a martyr, offered for them. She had a thirst for immolation, to make amends for them and to console the Heart of Christ. Another distinguishing characteristic of her spiritual life was her love for priests and the missions. She said that she desired to be as St. Therese – a missionary from Carmel. In her final days, when she had no appetite at all and she saw that it worried us that she wasn’t eating anything, she smiled and said to me, “Our Mother, I will eat a little bit now for a missionary.”
At the end of the month of April of 2005 all of the community caught a terrible cold that greatly affected us with a fever and an intense cough and from which it was difficult to recover. For some of our Sisters – and Sr. Magdalena was among those that had fallen ill – the cough endured for a long time, almost until June, and for this reason, it did not alarm us to see Sr. Magdalena coughing. During all of this time in which we were working a lot to prepare for the move from Rioseco, she never complained about anything nor expressed feeling tired or ill. Rather she served and worked as before, always smiling and content.
We began to worry when we realized that everyone had recovered from the cold and yet she continued to cough. One morning that she told us that she had coughed up blood, and we were greatly alarmed.
After various visits to the doctor, tests, and analyses, the diagnosis was terrible: a pulmonary tumor that required an urgent and very risky surgical intervention. It was a hard hit for everyone, but, by the grace of God and the Will of the Lord and His mysterious designs, everyone continued feeling happiness and joy within our hearts.
Our Sister Magdalena, who was an angel, accepted her illness in total peace and sweetness, abandoning herself to God and remaining confident in Him; she was an example and a motivation for all of us. The surgical intervention began the 12th of September of 2005 and was a success. They removed the entire left lung. The post operation – in spite of a high probability of possible complications – passed without incident; however, the results of the biopsy could not have been worse: it was a very aggressive and very advanced cancer, and there was little hope for a cure. They told us that she wouldn’t live until Christmas. We were told that it would be better if she took the habit as soon as possible so that she may die a Discalced Carmelite, and that she could make her Solemn Profession in articulo mortis when the time came.
With enormous sorrow for the community and begging God for a miracle, she took the Habit on the 1st of October of 2005 – the feast day of St. Therese, whom she greatly loved. She was radiant and very happy: she was truly the bride of the Immolated Lamb. From that point on, she began the cancer treatments, which were long and painful. She faced them with peace, determination, and bravery, and we were filled with hope for, initially, the reaction was positive and she seemed to be improving.
Exteriorly she continued her life as normally as possible within the cautions that her illness required. In all of those months she remained silent and hidden, always working and serving in the community in all that she could, especially in the work of formation and helping in the sewing room. If something mortified or saddened her it was that she couldn’t be like everyone else in some things, not being able to throw herself into certain more taxing jobs, although she gradually accepted these limitations as well and repeated sweetly, “I will do what I can”.
At the end of the summer, we began to find her worsening: she was more tired, more pale, and more easily fatigued. We went to the doctor, who ordered a series of tests, but she did not give us time to complete them. In the morning of Saturday the 23rd of September, she arose with a lot of fatigue and a swollen left arm that was purplish and very cold. We went to the emergency room and after an entire day of tests and explorations they admitted her to the hospital. They told us that she had a clot that originated in a tumor in the arm and spread into the pleural and interpericardical cavities. It was very grave and there was nothing to do except relieve her in any way possible
In view of the severity of the situation, Reverend Mother and I (who were with her in the hospital) proposed that she make her Solemn Profession in articulo mortis, to which she happily and very emotionally agreed.
So, at 8 pm, in the middle of all the activity of the hospital, amidst the noise of emergencies, she pronounced our rite of profession with our help, but her emotion almost impeded her from speaking.
They were moments from Heaven, especially when she spoke the words until death, we felt emotion conquer us and we were overcome by tears at the thought of the total oblation of this tenderly beloved daughter. At the end, I said to her, Sister Magdalena, you are now the Spouse of Jesus Christ. She did not say anything, she merely smiled while large tears rolled down her checks.
Form that moment on, she abandoned herself and her silence and union with God could be perceived from the exterior. She did not question, she did not complain, she just smiled and waited.
She would repeat to all those who had been interceding for her in those days, “Do not ask God that I get better; ask that I may leave soon.” She spoke with complete naturality that she was leaving. She was fully aware that her temporal life was finishing and she serenely awaited the arrival of her Spouse. This went on all week, while the doctors were assessing what they could do to alleviate her fatigue, and we helplessly contemplated how she was gradually worsening. On Wednesday the 27th, our dear chaplain, Father Luis Casado, administered Extreme Unction and heard her final confession. He left edified and very moved.
On the morning of Friday the 29th, she woke up worse, and Reverend Mother called me so that I could come as soon as possible to the hospital for Sr. Magdalena had noticeably worsened. When I arrived, I found her very bad, already in agony, but she welcomed me with lucidity and was still speaking. She was even joking with the Sister that had accompanied me, whom she had not seen since she was admitted to the hospital. We spoke with the doctors and made the appropriate arrangements to bring her to her Carmel, such as having an oxygen tank, etc.
We prayed together with her the Creed, the Salve, and the ejaculations of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to which she responded with a strong and clear voice. She remained alert until the last instant. We arrived at the convent at 3:58 in the afternoon and entered the cloister. We were detained for an instant at the foot of the stairs, near a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe that one of the novices had brought from Mexico, in order to see how we could best climb the stairs with the stretcher. Sr. Magdalena returned the gaze of the Virgin and died; the Morenita del Tepeyac, whom she loved, was her last sight. God gave me the grace to be with her in this final moment, wishing for what she had expressed repeatedly, “That I may have given myself away and may be offered up to the Father as the Virgin offered Jesus”, she would say to me. I remembered immediately what she said to me a few days before in the hospital: that she was convinced that – when she would go to Heaven – the Virgin would leave and look for her, and she would take her up in her arms in the same way that she carried the Holy Child.
It was Friday and near the hour of None, contemplating her cadaver we remembered the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, who once more renewed the Paschal Mystery in one of our Sisters. It came with an indefinable expression of peace and a mysterious and enigmatic happiness to think of the Virgin who would already have Sr. Magdalena in her arms and to think of her joyful encounter with the Beloved. Sister Magdalena had already arrived at the finish line: at 28 years old she had been consumed by LOVE.
Saturday we celebrated her funeral. I say we celebrated because our dear chaplain, who presided, wanted to give it a festive and hopeful air: it was the Mass of her Solemn Profession, and he wanted to celebrate it with white ornaments and by singing the Mass of the Angels, including the Gloria. We also sang O Gloriosa Virginum, which is the hymn which our Ritual indicates to begin the Mass of Religious Profession. It was all very emotional, and it filled our hearts with hope.
We have no doubt that our Sister Magdalena is already enjoying beyond all measure the love of the Beloved, but, nevertheless, we pray that you will hold her in your prayers, as well as this poor community, and in a special way the least and most poor of all,
Mother Olga Maria of the Redeemer, OCD
October 3, 2006