We Watch Hoping

The preface that follows is said in the Mass from the first Sunday of Advent to December 16th:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere
to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When he humbled himself to come among us as a man,
he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation.

Now we watch for the day,
hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours
when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.

And so, with all the choirs of angels
in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord…

(Taken from the Daily Roman Missal, Scepter Publishers, 1998)

Come Lord Jesus!

Spiritual Preparation for Advent

Advent comes from the Latin “adventus” and means “coming”. During this season we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s coming into our world to redeem us. We also use this time to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming which we await in longing and great expectation.

There are many ways to spend the Advent season in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The best way is to do some spiritual exercises that will aid and deepen the understanding of this beautiful season.

One good exercise would be to study, pray for and practice the virtues mentioned in a previous post, humility and simplicity. These were exemplified in the Blessed Mother and this season is certainly a season that includes her.

Another practice, that would put the soul in the spirit of Advent while staying attuned to Holy Mother Church, would be to pray the Collects for the Sunday Masses during Advent while lighting the Advent wreath candles:

I. First Sunday of Advent
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and come,that by thy protection we may be rescued from the dangers that beset us through our sins; and be a Redeemer to deliver us; Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,ever one God, world without end.
May be said while lighting the first Advent Candle

II. Second Sunday of Advent

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son: that we may worthily serve thee with hearts purified by His coming: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Often said while lighting the second Advent Candle

III. Third Sunday of Advent
We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord, and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds: Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
May be said while lighting the third advent candle

IV. Fourth Sunday of Advent
Pour forth thy power, O Lord, and come: Assist us by that mighty power, so that by thy grace and merciful kindness we may swiftly receive the salvation that our sins impede: Who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
May be said while lighting the fourth Advent Candle

One more beautiful practice during Advent would be to meditate on the richness of the words found in the Preface that opens the Eucharistic Prayer during the Mass. Read each slowly, reflecting on the words and their meaning. Let these enrich your spiritual life.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Humility and Simplicity

Let nothing
disturb you;
Nothing frighten you.

All things
are passing.

God never changes.

obtains all things.

is wanting to him
who possesses God.

God alone suffices.

This is what has been attributed to having been written by St. Teresa and was found in one of her books. It is known as St. Teresa’s Bookmark. It certainly rings of peace and tranquility.

How can one come to this tranquil repose in the midst of any perturbing darkness that might happen to come upon the soul?

Two virtues are needed to come to the point where nothing would disturb or frighten you. First of all, humility is necessary to obtain and maintain a peaceful interior that would reflect in the exterior body of a soul. If we really ponder in great honesty all that disturbs us, and trace this disturbance to its root, we will find that our pride in some way has been wounded. Some contradiction, some change to our plans, some insecurity in our comforts; all these disturb our constant grasping for “my will to be done”. The second virtue for attaining peace is simplicity. Simplicity is looking only at God. Once a soul is purified of every passion and attachment it is then reduced to perfect simplicity. To reach this goal the soul must look to God for help; leaning on God at every moment seeking Him as sole support and strength. The simple soul does not waste time reasoning about the conduct of others. These souls see the hand of God in everything that happens and in every circumstance.

These two virtues, humility and simplicity, so perfectly modeled in the Blessed Virgin Mary, are necessary for a soul to rest peacefully in any given situation knowing and trusting in God.

Tu Rex Gloriae Christe

Today will celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.

This feast marks the end of the liturgical year; falling on the last Sunday of the Church’s calendar year. Pope Pius XI inserted this feast into the Sacred Liturgy at the closing of the Holy Year in 1925. In his encyclical, Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King), a very beautiful and often neglected one, which is of much relevance for our day, not only for the individual but also important socially and politically. In this encyclical the Pope writes the following about the Kingship of Christ:

“This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.” (no.15)

Further, the Pope writes:

“… if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls.” (no. 33)

(Taken from Pope Pius XI Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King) – 11 December 1925)

St. Teresa of Jesus was fond of the image of Christ as King. In her writings, the Interior Castle, she writes about our souls:

“It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places. For in reflecting upon it careful, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight. So then, what do you think that abode, will be like where a King so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of all good things takes His delight?” (St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle I, 1.1)

Christ is King and He should reign supremely in our heart and in our life for His law is the law of love; His reign is heavenly peace.

Preface of Christ the King

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks. You anointed Jesus Christ, Your only Son,with the oil of gladness, as the eternal priest and universal king.As priest He offered His life on the altar of the cross and redeemed the human race by this one perfect sacrifice of peace.As king He claims dominion over all creation, that He may present to You, His almighty Father, an eternal and universal kingdom:a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace,a kingdom of justice, love, and peace. And so, with all the choirs of angels in heavenwe proclaim Your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

The Property of Love

“The first sign of love is this: that Jesus has given us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. The property of love is to be always giving and always receiving. Now the love of Christ is generous. All that He has, all that He is, He gives; all that we have, all that we are, He takes away. He asks for more that we of ourselves are capable of giving. He has an immense hunger which wants to devour us absolutely. He enters even into the marrow of our bones, and the more lovingly we allow Him to do so, the more fully we savor Him.”

“He knows that we are poor, but He pays no heed to it and does not spare us. He Himself becomes in us His own bread, first burning up, in His love, all our vices, faults, and sins. Then when He sees that we are pure, He comes like a gaping vulture that is going to devour everything. He wants to consume our life in order to change it into His own; ours, full of vices, His, full of grace and glory and all prepared for us, if only we will renounce ourselves.”

(Heaven in Faith, Volume One, The Complete Works: Elizabeth of the Trinity, ICS Publications)

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elizabeth Catez, was born in 1880 in France. She entered the Discalced Carmelite Order making her profession of vows in 1903. In 1906 she was called by the Divine Spouse “to light, to love and to life”. Devoted to the Most Blessed Trinity, Elizabeth’s short life was a “praise of glory” to the Trinity during her life of interior darkness and a severe illness.

~The property of love is to be always giving and always receiving.~

No Human Eye Can See

Each day we as Secular Carmelites are to spend half and hour in quiet prayer. At some point in our day we leave all our duties and earthly cares in order to place ourselves in intimate contact with God through prayer.

To begin this most precious time we must recollect ourselves and enter into the little heaven of our soul. Jesus exhorts all to this time of quiet prayer in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

This does necessarily involve the physical withdrawal from exterior occupations and preoccupations. With everything temporarily laid aside we enter into solitude to be with God and to renew our spirit. This is a sacred time and shouldn’t be omitted lightly. During this time of prayer we are applying Jesus’ command to “Seek first the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 6:33)

This is a time for conversational prayer with the Lord. Here we speak to Him as to a friend. As St. Teresa of Jesus tells us in her autobiography, “mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than intimate sharing with friends; it means taking time to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” (Life, 8:5) This is our time to speak to Him directly, without any set formula, simply telling Him all that we are thinking, feeling, and desiring.

This time for quiet prayer is a time of grace. “No human eye can see what God does in the soul during hours of inner prayer. It is grace upon grace. And all of life’s other hours are our thanks for them.” (The Hidden Life, ICS Publications, The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 4)

Secular Carmelite Community of Madrid

The Secular Carmelite Community of Madrid has set up a blog : “Reading Together the Book of Life of St. Teresa of Jesus”.

The site is in Spanish, but with Google can be translated into English. The purpose of the site is to invite participation in a shared reading project through the Internet about St. Teresa and her Book of Life. The community will be conducting this project through the year 2009-2010 as one of the preparations for the upcoming fifth centenary of St. Teresa’s birth (1515-2015). This week the project is reading the prologue and chapter one. All are welcomed to leave comments as participants read through her autobiography during the year.