Monthly Archives: January 2014

Today is the Memoria of Bl. Baptist Spagnoli, Carmelite Priest

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Born in Mantua on 17th April 1447, Bl. Baptist’s father was of Spanish origin and hence his surname. He entered the Carmelites in Ferrara and professed his religious vows in 1464. He was awarded a doctorate in theology in Bologna in 1475 and subsequently held a number of different positions in a succession of convents. Six times elected Vicar General for the Reformed Congregation (the Mantuan Reform), at the end of his life he was elected Prior General for the whole Order (1513-16).

 
His activities were not limited to the Carmelite Order. In 1513 he was invited to participate in the Lateran Council and, in 1515, he was entrusted by Pope Leo X with a diplomatic mission to negotiate a peace between the king of France and the duke of Milan. He was noted especially for his spirited and determined denunciations of the spreading corruption in society and he gave expression to his desire for reform with elegant literary appeals and a moving discourse in 1489 in St. Peter’s Basilica before the Pope and the cardinals. All this, though, did not distract him from living a very interior life and having a special devotion to the Virgin Mary.

 
He was a friend of many of the famous humanists and illustrious figures of his age, becoming an important figure in the literary world. Proclaimed by Erasmus as the “Christian Virgil” (he wrote with more than 50,000 Latin verses, besides other works of prose), he must be judged as one of the best poets of his time, a claim which is well attested by the numerous editions of his works.

 
He died in Mantua on 20th March 1516 and his incorrupt body is preserved in the Cathedral there. The cult of Blessed Baptist was approved by Pope Leo XIII on 17th December 1885 and his memorial day is celebrated on 17th April.

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Quote by St. Therese

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January 13, 2014 · 1:46 am

St. Therese Quote

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January 11, 2014 · 12:50 pm

St Therese and the sword – meditation from Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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Here is a crush course in the Little Way of our beloved Carmelite Saint, St Therese, the Little Flower, given by her disciple and third Order Carmelite, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Let us see what he has to say….

The new way of St Therese is not to start thinking about how wicked you are, how sinful, but to begin looking at our Lord. And from that, you will see that you are not as good as you ought tobe, but yo will try to please the one you love. Let me give you some of her words along these lines. She said:
Jesus! i would so love Him, love Him as he has never been loved in the history of the world.
And one of the novices – for she was the Mistress of Novices – came to her one day, and she said, “Oh, I have so many virtues to aquire.”
The Little Flower said, “No, you’ve got a lot of things to lose!”
That’s the trouble. Our spiritual books tell us how to acquire humility. I told you about the 12 ways of St Bernard. Well now, you’ll go crazy trying to develop those 12 ways. One of them is to love to be stomped on and trampled on. The Little Flower says, no, start loving the Lord, and then you’ll no longer be proud. You cannot start acquiring, for example, the virtue of humility or fortitude. You can never fall in love with abstraction. You can only love a person. No one in the world ever fell in love with a theorem of geometry.
This is the trouble with secular humanism and materialism: There’s no person to love. So then the new way of the Little Flower is….fall in love. Love the Good Lord, and then you will strive to please Him. And because you see that there are imperfections in you, you will love Him more so that they may washed away. This is not a little way, it’s the new way because we’ve forgotten it. It’s buried in Scripture. It’s buried in Isaiah, buried in Psalms, buried in Zechariah, and she digs it out for us.
Now we come to the second point. What effect did it have on her? Now when we look at the picture of this frail little French girl, we think of her, yes, as the little Therese, frail, meek, humble. But does love make one that way? Real lovers are courageous.
Do you know what she wanted to be? She wanted to be a soldier. She used to dream about it. In one of her dreams, someone was conscripting soldiers for an army. And she heard a voice saying, “Maybe we ought to ask for Therese.” And she said, “Well, I’m ready.” She said, “I’m sorry it’s not a holy war, but I’m ready to fight anyway.”

Now we never think of the Little Flower as having a saint whom she wanted to be like more than anyone else, but she did. Do you know who that was? Joan of Arc. Can you imagine her seated on a horse clad in armour? And she said: “If I were Joan of Arc, it would not be voices from heaven. It would be only the voice of my Beloved.”

One of her favourite texts of Scriptures, therefore, was “I came not to bring peace, but the sword.” (Matt 10:34)...And then St Therese said: “A sister showed me a photograph representing Joan of Arc, consoled by an interior voice. The saints encourage me from above, and they say to me, “So long as you are in fetters, you cannot fulfill your mission. But after your death, then will be the time of your conquest.”

In other words, she said, “I’m going to be a warrior and a soldier after my death, I am in no battlefields, now except the battle of the spiritual life.”

This figure gives you some idea of, for example, her powerful intercession. This, too, accounts for her love of missions. She is the patroness of the Propagation of the Faith, though she was never in mission lands. The reason she is the patroness of the Propagation of the Faith was because she loved missions, and she corresponded all her life with two missionary priests and offered up her sufferings for them.

Yes, that is true, but there is a deeper reason still. This woman was in love, and she wanted her Beloved known all over the world. That’s why she loved the missions! As she put it:

“Like the prophets and the doctors, I would enlighten souls, I would travel the whole world to preach Your name and set up Your glorious cross in pagan lands. But one mission could never suffice for me. Would that I could, at one and the same time, proclaim the gospel to the world, even to the remotest of its islands. I  would desire to be a missionary not only for a few years but to have been one from the creation of the world and to continue to the end of time.”

Love makes one a missionary. When we cease to love, we cease to be a missionary. Now it is sometimes asked, for example, why is there a decline of conversions today? It is  due to ecumenism? No, it’s not due to ecumenism. It’s due to the fact that we’re not making Christ the center of our lives. And if we were deeply in love with Christ instead of with social programs and the like (all which have their place, but here I am speaking of primacy), if we gave the primacy to Christ, then we would be on fire to save souls. After all, the reason we are tired in body is because we are already tired in mind. We have no love. The fires have gone out. We are cinders, burnt out cinders floating in the immensity of space and time. And here is a young girl. It is almost as if she is locked up in a gilded cage, absolutely straining at the leash in order to become a missionary. Why? Simply because she loved!

As I told you, love does not mean just simply to have and to own and to possess. It’s not sitting on the throne waiting for others to serve. It’s the going out, the spending of oneself. Love is not the circle circumscribed bt self. It’s like a cross outstreched to embrace the whole world.

Love isn’t Buddha, fat, sleek, a well-oiled body, hands folded across the breast intently looking inward, thinking only of self. It’s the picture of thin saints looking out for the mission to the world, as Therese looks out in many of her photos. And therefore, she loved this text, the sword. And she says many times in her writings that “I am entering Carmel to bring the sword to the monastery of Carmel.” In other words, it needed a little fire. She entered it to change it. And her reason for doing so was right.

We are fond of talking peace today, but all we mean by peace is lack of disturbance. Our Lord said, “I came not to bring peace.” God HATES PEACE in those who are destined for war! And we are destined for war, spiritual war. We’ve forgotten that we’re in a combat. We are in genuine combat. When our first parents were driven out of the garden of Paradise, God stationed an angel with a flaming sword, a two-edged sword that turned this way and that. Why? To keep our first parents from going back to eat of the Tree of Life and thus immortalize their evil. And the only way we can ever get back again into paradise is by having that sword run into us. It’s flaming because it’s love. It’s two-edged because it cuts, and it penetrates. It’s not the sword that’s thrust outward to hack off the ear of the servant of the high  priest as Peter did. It’s the sword that’s thrust inward to cut out all of our seven pallbearers of the soul, the pride and covetousness, lust, anger, envy, gluttony, and sloth.

This was the sword she loved. And this sword is what we’ve forgotten in our modern world with the dripping away of discipline, the ascetic principle. The disciplinary principle of the Christian world had moved to the totalitarian countries. And concerning the sword, I quoted the sword in relationship to the Garden of Eden, but in the prophecy of Zechariah, we read this:

“This is the very word of the Lord of Hosts: Oh sword, awake against my shepherd.” (Zech 13:7)

Who is the shepherd? Our Lord. So Zechariah is having the heavenly Father say, “Sword awake! Awake against My shepherd, against My Son, against Him who works with Me.” So when our Blessed Lord came to this earth, the sword of Herod was raised against Him. Did anyone ever raise a sword against a two-year-old Caesar? Or a six-month-old Stalin? Why the sword against Him? because He plays a role in salvation. It belongs to warriors. And as the heavenly Father ran the sword into His own Son, the Son ran the into His own Mother. Simeon said to Mary, “You, too, shall be pierced to the heart.” (Luke 2:35) So the Father ran a sword into His Son, the Son into His own Mother, and Our Lord into us.

“I have come not to bring peace, but the sword.” This , then, is the way of the warrior and the little girl who wanted to be a soldier. And there was not much difference in her mind between a soldier and a missionary.

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“Mystery of the Church” from Fr P. Marie-Eugene, OCD’s ‘I am a Daugther of the Church’ – Practical Synthesis of Carmelite Spirituality

St t of a statue in Carmel of Parnell MI

Union of the will (which is granted to the soul through the perfection of charity) transform the soul and places it at the threshold of a new world, which appears still in a semi-brightness while only partly revealing its grandeur. But the full brightness and splendour of the new world will be reached by the soul in the next mansion. What are these lights that form part of the riches of the union of will…
Zeal for souls.
“The very soul does not know itself (Vth Mansion, 2:255), writes St Teresa. The change is attended with surprise and even anxiety, when it is produced suddenly by mystical grace. The little white butterfly that has come out of the cocoon, whose wings has grown, no longer has a resting place, for it feels itself “a stranger to things of earth. But where will the poor little creature go?” (Ibid, ;256)
This confusion is not merely the effect of a passing bewilderment . It comes upon a soul already established in detachment, a soul stirred by new and deep desires. True, it may long to return to those obscure regions whence it has come with the certitude: “that God has been in it and it has been in God,” (ibid, 1:251) but there is now a burning and painful solicitude for God and for souls, which it had not known before to so intense a degree:
Only a few years since – perhaps only a few days – this soul was thinking of nothing but itself. Who has plunged it into such grievous anxieties? (ibid, 2:257) I know that the torment which a certain person of my acquaintance has suffered, and suffers still, at seeing the Lord offended, is so intolerable that she would far sooner die than suffer it (ibid; 258)
This is a new trait that the Saint wants to point out. At some length she reflects upon the Passion of our Lord, who “saw everything and was continually witnessing the great offences which were committed against His Father,” (ibid) and upon her own ardent desire to suffer and die for the salvation of sinners. This suffering of the soul, due proportion kept, resembles that of Christ; and Saint Teresa says it is essential mark of this spiritual stage:
If anyone told me that after reaching this stage he had enjoyed continual rest and joy, I should say that he had not reached it at all. (ibid; 256)
In these pages where the Saint is treating, with her characteristic logic, of union of will – not with the formal logic of thought but the logic of description which embraces all that is before it – she speaks of the immense work of conversion effected by great saints who had received such favours and corresponded with them (ibid 4:266). Without any doubt, the prayer of union gives the soul  a deep concern for the salvation of souls. This is an important fact that we must remember.
Whence comes this zeal? Saint Teresa answers:

I will tell you. Have you not heard concerning the bride (I said this a little while back, though not with reference to the same matter) that God put her in a cellar of wine and ordained charity in her? Well that is the position here. (ibid 2:257). 
Charity has been ordered by God Himself in the soul, toward its twofold object: God and neighbour. And, commenting on the double precept, the Saint writes:
The surest sigh that we are keeping these two commandments  is, I think, that we should really be loving our neighbour….And be certain that, the farther advanced you find you are in this, the greater the love ou will have for God. (ibid 3:261)
The importance that the Saint now attaches to love of neighbour, even to the point of sacrificing one’s devotions for acts of charity (ibid; 263) is an indication of a new state of a soul. It is not long since Teresa was signalizing as a grave danger for the soul the urge to distribute the fruits of its garden. The recipient of that advice had drunk of the third water of perfect quiet, which is the sleep of the powers (Life, 17). After the grace of union, the soul, “having now a clear realization that the fruits of this prayer are not its own, can start to share them and yet have no lack of them itself.” (ibid 19). 
Even more is to be said: the soul thus strengthened not only can but must give of its riches, although still with prudence. It feels an urgent need to do so. To explain this profound change by saying that God has ordered the soul’s charity this way does not seem sufficient. Why does the ordering of charity actually require that the soul now turn towards its neighbour? Saint Teresa does not explicitly  say why, for she disclaims being a theologian and having the ability to give reasons for many things that she has observed. Yet she gives us the key to the problem. In developing the analogy of the silkworm, she makes this remark, singular at first sight:
When it is full grown, then, as I wrote at the beginning, it starts to spin its silk and to built the house in which it is to die. This house may be understood here to mean Christ. I think I read or heard somewhere that our life is hid in Christ, or in God (for that is the same thing), or that our life is Christ. (The exact form of this is little to my purpose.) (V Mansions, 2)
This surprising statement, connected in no way with what the Saint has previously said, obliges her to explain what we can do, so that “His Majesty Himself [may] be our Mansion as he is in this Prayer of Union”; (ibid) it seems to introduce a new element, increasing the complexity of the description. but this thought is dispelled on a moment’s reflection. Actually the statement reveals to us a spiritual experience, most important and of great interest. Saint Teresa was aware that in the prayer of union she entered into the living Christ, and that thereafter Christ was to be the dwelling place where her life would be hidden. What else is this than the discovery of her incorporation into the mystical body of Christ, the Church; the awareness of her belonging to the whole Christ. That incorporation into Christ should be experienced by her at this time as a living reality obscurely grasped is truly a great thing. We can understand the consequent change of attitude in her soul, which we have observed; and we shall not be surprised at a new orientation of her life. A mystery of union, a mystery of darkness, yet the source of resplendent light! Let us pause here a moment to give it thought.
The mystery of the Church
The prayer of union, or union of will, is a seizure of the will by loving Wisdom. The soul thereafter bears the impress of a divine seal, (5th Mansion ii;257) which although not indelible is nevertheless permanent; and it produces a state of self-abandonment and suppleness. We may explain the symbol by saying that Holy Wisdom dwells habitually in the will, to reign there as Mistress.
Holy Wisdom can reign for no other purpose than to realize the thought of God. She is herself the Thought of God. She extends her conquest, acts, acts and initiates action, only to show forth God’s thought for the world, living and concrete, in events and in souls. Through the apostle St Paul we know what is this eternal purpose of God:
…the dispensation of the mystery, which has been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things…which in other ages was not known to the sons of men, as now it has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; namely, that the Gentiles are joint heirs, and fellow members of the same body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. (Eph 3:5-11)
God design is to save all men without distinction by making them all one with Christ Jesus, in the unity of His mystical body.
Already in eternity, God contemplated the whole Christ, the Church, and took His delight in it as in the masterpiece of His mercy. In the exterior works of His creation God moved through all the vicissitudes of the works of His love, toward the realization of His Christ, His Anointed One. Finis omnium Ecclesia, the Church is the end of all things, according to Saint Epiphanius. The very vicissitudes, the fall of the angels, the sin of man, were permitted by God only as an occasion and means for showing forth the whole strength of His arm, the full measure of the love that He would give to the world. Did not Saint Augustine say that God permitted the fall of the of the angels so as to create man? And the sin of man is a felix culpa, a “happy fault,” (Liturgy for the Holy Saturday, Exultet) that won for us Christ the Redeemer.
it is through Christ Jesus that God is going to realize His mystery of mercy; through Christ who is generated eternally, for he is the World of God.
He is the image of the Invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together. (Col I: 15-7)
After the fall of man, the Word became incarnate; and in the new plan of the redemption God gave to Him, to Christ Jesus, the primacy and plenitude of all things:
He is the head of his body, the Church; he, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have the first place. For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things, whether on the earth or in heaven, making peace through the blood of his cross. (ibid; 18-20)
The Epistle to the Ephesians testifies also to the eternal plan of God to unite all things in Christ:
….so that he may make known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure. And this his good pleasure he purposed in him to be dispensed in the fullness of the time: to re-establish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those on the earth. (Eph I:9-10)
In His eternal thought God sees only His Christ; and in Him He sees each one of us, because in Him He has placed us:
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons, according to the purpose of his will, unto the praise of the glory of his grace, with which he has favoured us in this beloved Son. In him, I say, in whom we also have been called by a special choice, having been predestined in the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, to contribute to the praise of his glory, we who before hoped in Christ. (Eph I:4-6, 11-2)
And so, this divine decree that tells us of the eternal love of the Father for His beloved Son, and for us in Christ, causes to surge up from our hearts a hymn of thanksgiving:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing on high in Christ. (Eph I:3)
Christ Jesus came on earth to accomplish this divine decree. (On coming into the world Christ had said: “Behold, I come to do thy will, O God.”Heb. 10:7)

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Story of the Miraculous Painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Santa Maria della Bruna

According to legend, St. Luke painted this image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who holds the Infant Jesus in her arms. An expression of great tenderness seems to suggest that our Lady is contemplating the great mysteries of redemption. The Infant’s right hand caresses His mother’s face, and the left grasps the edge of her veil. His position and expression seem to speak of His great love for His mother. A crown on top of her large veil, with star ornaments on the veil at the shoulder, is reminiscent of St. Bernard’s words that Mary is a “brilliant star who enlightens us with the splendor of her virtues.” This image was venerated by the hermit Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary in their original home on Mount Carmel.

In the beginning of the thirteenth century, the religious of the Carmelite Order, forced by Mohammedans to flee their peaceful solitude by the sea, brought the painting from Mount Carmel to Naples. When settled, their first concern was to place the painting above the high altar in their Church, where it secured countless miracles for the people venerating it. It hung there for more than 100 years, until placed in a side chapel at the order of the Empress Margaret. Then, in the jubilee year of 1500, the ancient picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was carried in procession to Rome by the pious Neapolitans. During the pilgrimage, several people were miraculously cured, including Thomas Saccone, who had been blind and lame.

Skeptical of these miracles, “King Frederic II of Naples conceived a plan to test the power of the Heavenly Mother. He ordered that all the sick and infirm [of the city] assemble before the image with written documentation of their maladies. High Mass was celebrated and special hymns were sung, and when the miraculous picture was unveiled, a ray of light fell upon the face of the Madonna, reflecting its brilliance on the assembled sick. The instantaneous healing of each person was authenticated” (Cruz, p. 160).

Sources: “The Little Book of Carmelite Spirituality and Practice”, with additional information from Joan Carroll Cruz’s “Miraculous Images of Our Lady” (Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1993).

 

(above taken from http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/2007/07/carmelite-devotions.html)

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Devotion to the Holy Family

St. Therse and Holy Family
Above, the Holy Family with St. Therese.
The cult of the Holy Family was approved in 1665, a fact lauded by Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolic Letter “Neminem fugit” and the fragments of this letter we may read below. The Feast is a spiritual occasion particularly suitable for the moments of prayer and reflection on the Christian family. 
Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against one another:even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be you thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God (Col:3:12-16)
When God in his mercy determined to accomplish the work of man’s renewal, now through long ages awaited, he so appointed and ordained this work, that its very earliest beginnings might exhibit to the world the august spectacle of a Family Divinely constituted, in which all men might behold a perfect model of a domestic life, and of all virtues and holiness. For such indeed was that Family of Nazareth, where dwelt in secret the Sun of justice, until the time when he should shine out in full splendour in the sight of all nations. Christ, our God and Saviour, lived with his Virgin Mother, and with Joseph, a most holy man, who held to him the place of father. There can be no doubt that every virtue called forth by an ordinary home life, with its mutual services of charity, its holy intercourse, and its practices of piety, was displayed in the highest degree in that Holy Family, since it was destined to be a pattern to all others. For that very reason was it established by the merciful designs of Providence, that every Christian, in every place, might easily, if he would but give heed to it, have before him a motive and a pattern for the practice of every virtue…Truly, to fathers of families, Joseph is a superlative model of paternal vigilance and care. In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty, submission of spirit, and perfect faith. Whilst in Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the family have a divine model of obedience which they can admire, reverence, and imitate. Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain their dignity in times of distress. The rich may learn that virtue is to be more highly esteemed that wealth. Artisans, and all such as are bitterly annoyed by the narrow and slender means of their families, if they would but consider the sublime holiness of the members of this domestic fellowship, could not fail to find cause for rejoicing in their lot, rather than being dissatisfied with it. In common with the Holy Family, they have to work, and to provide for the daily wants of life, Joseph had to engage in trade, in order to live: even the divine hands laboured at an artisan’s calling. It is not to be wondered at, that the wealthiest men, if truly wise, have been willing to cast away their reaches, and to embrace a life of poverty with Jesus, Mary and Joseph (From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Neminem Fugit, June 1892)

Picture: “Holy Family” by Claudio Coelo. Text selected from the Breviary lessons.

 

(above taken from: http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/search/label/Devotion%20to%20the%20Holy%20Family)

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