Monthly Archives: February 2013

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February 27, 2013 · 11:57 am

Pere Jacques, Carmelite Priest and Surivor of Nazi Concentration Camp

Père Jacques de Jésus – Lucien Bunel

Père Jacques de Jésus (1900-1945) Père Jacques de Jésus was a Carmelite friar and headmaster of the Petit Collège Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus.

Angered at Nazi policies, Père Jacques made the boys’ school in Avon, France, a refuge for young men seeking to avoid conscription for forced labor in Germany and for Jews. In January 1943, he enrolled three Jewish boys – Hans-Helmut Michel, Jacques-France Halpern, and Maurice Schlosser – as students under false names. He also hid a fourth Jewish boy, Maurice Bas, as a worker at the school; sheltered Schlosser’s father with a local villager; and placed the noted Jewish botanist, Lucien Weil, on the school’s faculty.

Informed of the Carmelite friar’s activities, the Gestapo seized Père Jacques and the three Jewish students on January 15, 1944. Weil, his mother, and sister were arrested at their home that same day. On February 3, 1944, German authorities deported the boys and the Weil family to Auschwitz, where they perished. Père Jacques was imprisoned in several Nazi camps before being liberated by American troops at Mauthausen in early May 1945. Suffering from tuberculosis and weighing only 75 pounds, he died several weeks later.

In 1985 the Israeli Holocaust remembrance center, Yad Vashem, posthumously honored Père Jacques as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations.” Two years later, French filmmaker Louis Malle paid tribute to his former headmaster in the film, “Au revoir les enfants.”

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With his parents – Pavilly, Juli 11, 1925

Père Jacques de Jésus (1900-1945)  was a Carmelite friar and headmaster of the Petit Collège Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus.

Lucien-Louis Bunel was born in 1900, one of seven children in a hard-working family in Normandy. His father’s deep piety, strong sense of social justice, and commitment to work greatly influenced him.

In 1925 Lucien was ordained a priest for the diocese of Rouen where, despite his youth, he became a noted preacher and beloved teacher. His early priestly life was a study in contrasts, combining intense dedication to prayer and solitude with a leaning toward social activism. He was happiest ministering to poor, working-class families but had great success as a teacher of privileged students. His keen intelligence, sense of humor, and kindness to students won praise, but his advanced teaching methods and unique approaches to classroom discipline and grading were not always appreciated. The superior of the school where he taught once exclaimed: “One Father Bunel at St. Joseph’s is fine; two Father Bunels would be too much.”

Père Jacques had considered becoming a Trappist before his ordination as a diocesan priest. When the Carmelite nuns at Le Havre introduced him to Carmel and its spiritual riches, Père Lucien found what he was looking for. At age 30 he entered Carmel at Lille. Shortly before his solemn profession, his religious superiors proposed that he found a boys’ preparatory school. The school, the Petit Collège Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus, opened in Avon in 1934 and flourished. Père Jacques left the school in 1939 when France required his military service. France surrendered to Germany in June 1940, but Père Jacques had no use for the Vichy government’s pact with Nazi Germany and became part of organized French Resistance.

Père Jacques often placed Jewish children with Catholic families for protection. In January 1943, he went further and enrolled three Jewish teenagers, Hans-Helmut Michel, Maurice Schlosser, and Jacques-France Halpern, in the school. The Nazis tortured a school alumnus to learn of their whereabouts. The three were taken to Auschwitz where they were gassed, and Père Jacques began eighteen months in various Nazi camps where the depth of his self-giving charity came to the fore.

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Lille, September 15, 1932 – First profession of vows

He spent three weeks in Neue-Breme in Germany, a disciplinary camp of unspeakable brutality. Of the 51 prisoners who arrived with Père Jacques, only seven survived the three weeks. The atmosphere aimed at dehumanization. Père Jacques, in an effort to keep things clean for the dying, asked to work in the infirmary. The commandant, believing the germ-ridden filth there would kill Père Jacques, granted the permission.

Père Jacques was moved to Mauthausen on April 22, 1944. A Parisian architect-survivor felt sure Père Jacques saw the crucified Christ among them – such was his spiritual strength in ministering to prisoners, sharing his rations, hearing confession, and bringing comfort and a sense of peace.

On May 18 he was sent to Gusen I, a subsidiary of Mauthausen and a hard labor camp. There Père Jacques found ways of raising the morale of the desperately dejected French prisoners. When all the priests at Gusen were moved to Dachau – reputedly less severe than Mauthausen – Père Jacques veiled his priestly identity and was the only priest at Gusen for its 20,000 prisoners. He even learned enough Polish to minister to the Polish prisoners, who called him “Père Zak.” Though he grew progressively weaker, he remained one of the leaders of the French Resistance in the camp, respected as a human being and a holy man of God.

By April 1945 word was spreading that the Third Reich’s days were numbered. The haunting question became: who would be alive to see liberation? The camp’s directors had two ominous plans. One was to seal the prisoners alive and out of sight behind a concrete wall they had been constructing; the other was to march the men back to Mauthausen to be gassed. When American soldiers arrived on May 5, the camp surrendered. Chaos followed. Père Jacques, by now a very sick man, together with a Communist friend managed to restore order and organize relief efforts.

On May 20 he was moved to a hospital near the Carmelite Friars in Linz, where he died on June 2. He was 45 years old.

Père Jacques has been honored by both Catholics and Jews as a martyr of charity, and the cause for his canonization was opened in 1990.

– Sister Mary Salucci, OCD

PRAYER FOR BEATIFICATION OF PERE JACQUES

Father of Infinite Goodness,  You gave Père Jacques de Jésus from childhood on the desire to love You and to love all people with an undivided heart.  You lavished him with talent for the education of young people, You chose him to become a priest, You called him to enter the Order of Carmel.  Among the inhuman horrors of the concentration camps
You made him a fervent witness of faith and love, until the perfect offering of his life.  Grant us the graces which we ask of You by his intercession and, if it is Your will,  glorify him in Your Church, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Reports of favors received can be sent to:

Vice-Postulation de la cause du Père Jacques
1, rue Père Jacques – 77215 AVON Cedex

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Some of his quotes:

“We are at Carmel only for this:  to love!”

“We cannot see Christ and remain as we are. We cannot exchange a look with Christ and not be overcome with a total conversion.”

Only One Law:  When asked why he had disobeyed the laws against sheltering Jews, “I know of only one law, that of the gospels and of love.”

Silence:  “We cannot hear the voice of God, who speaks without words, except in silence.”

Our Life As Prayer:  “Our life must be a constant, silent prayer that rises unceasingly to God. That is what constitutes our duty in life.”

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Two MUST get books on Pere Jacques.  I have read them both, especially the second with is a rereat he gave the Carmelite nuns of Pontoise, France and they are marvelous!  The first book is is biography.  He was such a wonderful and holy Carmelite priest:

“PERE JACQUES, RESPLENDENT IN VICTORY”

pere j resplendent victory bk

Available at Amazon at:  http://www.amazon.com/Pere-Jacques-Resplendent-Francis-Murphy/dp/0935216642/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361584936&sr=8-1&keywords=pere+jacques+resplendent+in+victory

Summary:  By Francis J. Murphy (professor of history at Boston College) Exciting new biography and anthology of French Discalced Carmelite friar-priest, educator, son of the working class, prisoner at Mauthausen-who died as a result of his efforts to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis, and who has been honored by the State of Israel and proposed for canonization. Includes index and 13 pages of photos.
Film director Louis Malle’s 1987 tribute to his former headmaster in the celebrated autobiographical film, Au revoir les enfants, helped spark a renewed interest in Lucien-Louis Bunel (1900-1945), better known by his religious name of Pere Jacques. Yet the film told only a small part of the story. Pere Jacques is remembered today for his extraordinary ability to bridge the differences of class, ideology, nationality, and religion that often divide the human family. Proud son of devout working-class parents, with a life-long commitment to social justice, he became director of an elite preparatory school for sons of the most prominent families of France. He was a member of the Discalced Carmelites, a religious order dedicated to prayer and solitude, yet spent himself tirelessly in the service of others. A fervent Catholic priest, he was admired and trusted by non-believers and communist fellow-prisoners in the concentration camp of Mauthausen. He was a Christian who died as a result of his efforts to harbor Jewish youth during World War II. Both the State of Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have honored him as a rescuer, one of the ‘Righteous among the Nations.’
This exciting new biography by Francis J. Murphy, professor of history at Boston College, retraces the entire career of Pere Jacques from its humble beginnings to its heroic conclusion, carefully situating him within the religious and social context of his times. Also included are previously unpublished excerpts from his writings, 13 pages of photos, and an extensive bibliography. Pere Jacques: Resplendent in Victory offers an informative and compelling introduction to a truly great man, whose cause for canonization was opened in 1990.

“LISTEN TO THE SILENCE: A RETREAT WITH PERE JACQUES”

loisten to silence

Available at Amazon at:  http://www.amazon.com/Listen-To-The-Silence-Retreat/dp/0935216340/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361584936&sr=8-2&keywords=pere+jacques+resplendent+in+victory

SUMMARY:  The Carmelite nuns at Pontoise invited Pere Jacques to give conferences and to preach as retreat master. They received from him The Carmelite nuns at Pontoise invited Pere Jacques to give conferences and to preach as retreat master. They received from him a seven-day retreat in the late summer of 1943. This book contains the talks he gave to the nuns: they are inspiring, but also warm-hearted reflections, on questions of key interest to his audience. Among the topics were love for Christ, for His Blessed Mother, the nuns Carmelite contemplative prayer life, and their religious observance, but all received deft treatment from this confrere who eventually became famous for his compassionate assistance to the persecuted in World War II.
As a diocesan priest Pere Jacques Bunel was frequently in demand as a preacher in his home diocese of Rouen (Normandy).
Along with his duties as educator in a prep school in Le Havre he spoke at important public occasions. He was chosen to give the sermon that marked the five hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Joan of Arc in the Cathedral of Rouen, the city where she was burned at the stake.

Afterwards, when he became a Discalced Carmelite friar (the cover photo shows him on the day he professed his vows), he continued to exercise a preaching ministry.

We owe the full texts of those talks (to the Carmelite Nuns of Pontoise), as well as helpful notes and an introduction, to Rev. Dr. Francis J. Murphy. Father Murphy, a diocesan priest who has become a good friend of the Carmelites through his interest in Pere Jacques, collaborating with them as he collaborates with his historian colleagues, teaches at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. This collection of talks extends the knowledge Father Murphy has provided to the public in the biography volume he named and published at ICS Publications with the title: Pere Jacques, Resplendent in Victory.a seven-day retreat in the late summer of 1943. This book contains the talks he gave to the nuns: they are inspiring, but also warm-hearted reflections, on questions of key interest to his audience. Among the topics were love for Christ, for His Blessed Mother, the nuns Carmelite contemplative prayer life, and their religious observance, but all received deft treatment from this confrere who eventually became famous for his compassionate assistance to the persecuted in World War II.

As a diocesan priest Pere Jacques Bunel was frequently in demand as a preacher in his home diocese of Rouen (Normandy).

Along with his duties as educator in a prep school in Le Havre he spoke at important public occasions. He was chosen to give the sermon that marked the five hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Joan of Arc in the Cathedral of Rouen, the city where she was burned at the stake.

Afterwards, when he became a Discalced Carmelite friar (the cover photo shows him on the day he professed his vows), he continued to exercise a preaching ministry.

We owe the full texts of those talks (to the Carmelite Nuns of Pontoise), as well as helpful notes and an introduction, to Rev. Dr. Francis J. Murphy. Father Murphy, a diocesan priest who has become a good friend of the Carmelites through his interest in Pere Jacques, collaborating with them as he collaborates with his historian colleagues, teaches at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. This collection of talks extends the knowledge Father Murphy has provided to the public in the biography volume he named and published at ICS Publications with the title: Pere Jacques, Resplendent in Victory.

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The Death of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

November 8th is the feast day of one of the saints closest to my heart, responsible for a number of graces in my life.

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Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880 in a French military camp. Twenty-six years later, she lay dead in a Carmelite convent in Dijon, her body so ravaged by Addison’s disease it seemed a skeleton. Most remarkable about this girl was not so much that she had invited such suffering into her life by asking that Christ “fulfill a second humanity” in her; or that she accepted her internal devouring with equanimity (“God is a consuming fire, it is to His action that I submit.”); or that in the midst of her torments she asked, not that her pains would cease, but that God would increase her capacity for suffering. What was most remarkable about Elizabeth of the Trinity is that she was a most ordinary girl from a most ordinary background. Although an intelligent and popular child, she was burdened with a strong will and a fierce temperament. She would go into fits when she did not get her way. In one case, a favorite doll had been borrowed (unbeknownst to her) for use in the parish mission. When she spotted it, she stood up in the middle of the theatre and shouted, “You wicked priest! Give me back my Jeanette!” Other such instances prompted the curate to tell her mother, “With such a temperament, she will be either a demon or an angel.”

She enjoyed clothes and the latest fashions, dressing up to go dancing, and excelled at classical piano. At one point she was nearly engaged to be married. She gave it all up at twenty-one, however, to become the spouse of Christ in the Carmel of Dijon. Three days after entry, a sister wrote a letter to Sr. Geneviève of Lisieux (sibling of St. Thérèse): “a postulant of three days but one who has desired Carmel since the age of seven, Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity, who will turn out to be a Saint, for she already has remarkable dispositions for that.”


The Dijon Carmel was founded in 1605 by a companion to St. Teresa of Avila and spiritual daughter of St. John of the Cross. After changes from several different locales, it was the monastery on 4 boulevard Carnot, established in 1868, that became Elizabeth’s home for five short years. (In 1979, according to their website “de multiples problèmes et contraintes”, the sisters moved to a more modern edifice some eight miles outside of Dijon, whose architecture serves to be slightly less inspiring than that of Elizabeth’s convent.)

The prioress described the last eight and a half months of Elizabeth’s life as “a true ascent of Calvary.” Addison’s disease, a then-incurable sickness, attacks the adrenal glands, which then cease to function. The results are gastrointestinal pains, inability to eat, vomiting, and emaciation, until one dies of exhaustion and starvation. Toward the end of her illness, she ate less and less, until her last week, during which she ate and drank nothing at all.

The following description of her last days is taken from Elizabeth of the Trinity: The Complete Works (edited by Conrad de Meester):

On October 30, 1906, Elizabeth pressed her profession crucifix to her heart and said, “We have loved each other so much.” Her exhausted body resisted no longer. She was permanently confined to her bed. In the evening, a great trembling shook her.

The next day she received Extreme Unction and Viaticum for the second time.

On All Saints Day she received Communion for the last time. Around ten o’clock in the morning, they thought the hour of her death had arrived. The community gathered around her and recited the prayers for the dying. Elizabeth regained enough strength to ask pardon of her Sisters in moving words. Invited by them to say more, she replied: “Everything passes away! At the evening of life, love alone remains…. We must do everything by love; we must forget ourselves at all times. The good God so loves us to forget ourselves…. Ah! if I had always done so!…”

She remained lucid in the days that followed, but her eyes, which were bloodshot, were nearly always closed. She suffered greatly. Sometimes she spoke again, to make others happy or give last testimonies of her union with God and her desire to offer Him everything. She could no longer receive Communion but said: “I find Him on the Cross; it is there He gives me His life.”

After a violent attack, she cried out: “O love, Love! You know if I love you, if I desire to contemplate you; you know, too, if I suffer; yet, thirty, forty years more if you wish, I am ready. Consume my substance for your glory; let it distill drop by drop for your Church.”

On the 7th and 8th of November, she kept almost constant silence. Yet these words could still be heard: “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!…”

The night of the 8th to the 9th of November was very painful. Asphyxiation was added to her other sufferings. Toward morning, her acute pains abated. The alteration of her features showed she was on the point of dying. The community was called. Elizabeth’s eyes were now wide open and luminous. Almost without anyone noticing, she stopped breathing. It was around 6:15 in the morning.

Prophet of god, Elizabeth of the Trinity belonged henceforth to the entire Church.

Upon her death, the prioress described her body “like a skeleton,” and a close friend wrote that the sight of her body “was frightening. You had the sense of a creature who had been ravaged, consumed.” Even so, Elizabeth was able to pen a handful of letters (with the help of the prioress) to loved ones. An excerpt from perhaps her most famous one, written to her prioress, can speak to us all:

[God] rejoices to build you up by His love and for His glory, and it is He alone who wants to work in you, even though you will have done nothing to attract this grace except that which a creature can do: works of sin and misery…He loves you like that….He will do everything in you. He will go to the end: for when a soul is loved by Him to this extent, in this way, loved by an unchanging and creative love, a free love which transforms as it pleases Him, oh, how far this soul will go! …. the fidelity that the Master asks of you is to remain in communion with Love, flow into, be rooted in this Love …. You will never be commonplace if you are vigilant in love! But in the hours when you feel only oppression and lassitude, you will please Him even more if you faithfully believe that He is still working, that He is loving you just the same, and even more: because His love is free and that is how He wants to be magnified in you; and you will let yourself be loved more than these…. You are called … to magnify the power of His Love. Believe … and read these lines as if coming from Him.


Elisabeth de la Trinité, priez pour nous!

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PRAYER TO OVERCOME EVIL PASSIONS AND TO BECOME A SAINT

Crucified Jesus and child

“Dear Jesus, in the Sacrament of the Altar, be forever thanked and praised.  Love, worthy of all celestial and terrestrial love!  Who out of infinite love for me, ungrateful sinner, didst assume our human nature, didst shed Thy most precious blood in the cruel scourging, and didst expire on a shameful cross for our eternal welfare!  Now, illumined with lively faith, with the outpouring of my whole soul and the fervor of my heart, I humbly beseech Thee, through the infinite merits of Thy painful sufferings, give me strength and courage to destroy every evil passion which sways my heart, to bless Thee in my greatest afflictions, to glorify Thee by the exact fulfilment of my duties, supremely to hate all sin, and thus to become a saint.  Amen.”

Prayer By Pius IX, January 1, 1866 –  (Indulgence of 100 days, once a day.)

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February 22, 2013 · 11:29 am

Prayer to the Wound of Jesus’ Shoulder

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Prayer to the Wound of Jesus’ Shoulder

(It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering, and Our Lord answered: “I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound, which was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honour this Wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through Its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins, and will no longer remember their mortal sins.”)

O most loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I, a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy cross, which so tore Thy Flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy most blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee, and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy cross, to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on toward heaven along the Way of the Cross.   Amen.

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Lent through St. Teresa’s “Interior Castle”

st t in lent

2nd Dwelling places – The Interior Castle

“Ah, my Lord! Your help is necessary here; without it one can do nothing. In Your mercy do not consent to allow this soul to suffer deception and give up what was begun. Enlighten it that it may see how all its good is within this castle and that it may turn away from bad companions.’

“It’s a wonderful thing for a person to talk to those who speak about this interior castle, to draw near not only to those seen to be in these rooms where he is but to those known to have entered the ones closer to the centre. Conversation with these latter will be a great help to him, and he can converse so much with them that they will bring him to where they are.”

 

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