Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2014

Michelangelo 1498–1499

Michelangelo 1498–1499

In her Spiritual Testimonies #32, St. Teresa writes that, “suffering is the way to truth”.  The Lord spoke to St. Teresa about suffering and reminded her that suffering is given to those whom the Lord loves. He asked her to recall the way St Paul had rejoiced in what he had suffered. The Lord goes on to tell her:

“When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. . . .Believe daughter, that, My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these.” 

“How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point.”

“By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

Trials are more for those who love him more, because those who love him more strive to overcome the world and all their desires that might lead them away from Him.

 

Read Full Post »

St Teresa strove to serve the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose habit she wore. She also strongly desired that the Blessed Mother would be served by all the monasteries that she had founded. St. Teresa approached the Feast of the Nativity of Mary with great joy because whenever this day came she would renew her vows. One day on September 8, 1575, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Teresa and the saint writes, “it seems to me I renewed them in her hands and that they were pleasing to her.” (Spiritual Testimonies, 43)

 

nativity_of_the_mother_of_god

Read Full Post »

On the Feast of the Assumption the Lord showed St. Teresa in a rapture the Queen of Angels in her ascent into heaven and how she was received there with all solemnity and great joy. The effects St. Teresa received were “a deeper desire to undergo difficult trials” and she was also “left with a longing to serve our Lady”. (The Book of Her Life, Chap 39:26)

mary-angels2.211142909_std

Following all the many trials and persecutions St. Teresa received in setting up the first foundation, she fell into a rapture on the Feast of the Assumption. This time she was reflecting upon her many sins when the rapture occurred. In it she saw herself “vested in a white robe of shining brightness” but at first didn’t see who was clothing her in it. Later she saw that it was the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph that were putting this robe on her.

St. Teresa goes on to explain, “I was given to understand that I was now cleansed of my sins. After being clothed and while experiencing the most marvelous delight and glory, it seemed to me than that our Lady took me by the hands. She told me I made her very happy in serving the glorious St. Joseph, that I should believe that what I was striving for in regard to the monastery would be accomplished, that the Lord and those two would be greatly served in it, that I shouldn’t fear there would ever be any failure in this matter even though the obedience which was to be give was not to my liking, because they would watch over us, and that her Son had already promised us He would be with us, that as a sign that this was true she was giving me a jewel. It seemed to me she placed around my neck a very beautiful golden necklace to which was attached a highly valuable cross.” (The Book of Her Life, Chap 33:14)

Because of St. Teresa’s work and devotion, Carmelites strive to serve Our Lady and St. Joseph and to foster personal devotion to both of them. In a previous post, I mentioned how St. Teresa set St. Joseph at one door and Our Lady at the other in each of the foundations that she set up. She had great trust in their protection and intercession and we should too.

Read Full Post »

St. Teresa experienced numerous obstacles in setting up the monastery of St. Joseph’s. Additionally the nuns were treated unfairly before taking the habit. Before entering the new foundation, St. Teresa experienced a vision of Christ while she was at prayer. In this vision she saw Jesus placing a crown on her head and heard Him thanking her for all that she had done for His Mother.

Then at another time while all were at prayer in choir after compline she wrote: “I saw our Lady in the greatest glory clothed in a white mantle; it seemed she was sheltering us all under it. I understood how high a degree of glory the Lord would give to those living in this house.” (The Book of Her Life, 36:24)

A mantle is a large sleeveless cloak worn over clothes. It is usually used to cover or surround something else. Symbolically a mantle represents preeminence or authority.

cordoba.olmc

In this life there will always be opposition in our path as we strive to live a holy and good life. This image of being sheltered under Our Lady’s Mantle is a comforting one. I like to use this image in my own prayer asking the Blessed Mother to place me, and all of my family, under “her mantle” knowing that she will protect and guide me until I enter into eternal glory.

Read Full Post »

St. Teresa’s mother died when she was about twelve years old. Since her older sister married, it didn’t seem prudent for Teresa to stay at home without a mother; therefore, St. Teresa’s father placed her in a convent boarding school as a young teenager of about sixteen.

Her first week or so at the convent school were not happy ones, but soon she become content there and even more so than she was at her father’s house. (The Book of Her Life, 2:8)

The convent school was run by Augustinian nuns and the name of the school was Our Lady of Grace. St. Teresa was greatly influenced by the nuns there. She began “to return to the good habits of early childhood”. (The Book of Her Life, 2:8)

The title of Our Lady of Grace is originally of French origin. Images of Our Lady under this title usually show the mother and child in a tender embrace with their faces touching like in the icon below.

Mother and child in a tender embrace – how appropriate for St. Teresa at this time to be placed in the care of Our Lady under this title when she no longer had an earthly mother of her own, but was in desperate need of a mother! No longer receiving the tender physical embraces of her earthly mother, she now will receive the tender spiritual embraces of Our Lady of Grace. 

The motherhood of Mary is important to all the faithful. She helps to restore supernatural life into our souls, just like she did with St. Teresa. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the Blessed Mother’s role in our lives in paragraphs 968 -969:

“Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”  “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

And in paragraph 970 her function is further clarified:

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

Since Our Lady was able to help St. Teresa in her conversion, leading her back to her “good habits of early childhood”, then she will be able to help me in my ongoing conversion and growth in holiness!

Our Lady of Grace, pray for us!

Read Full Post »

One evening while St. Teresa was the prioress at the monastery of the Incarnation she had a vision of Mary. In this vision, she saw Mary sit in the prioress’ chair where St. Teresa had previously placed a statue of the Virgin Mother. There were angels all around and this intellectual vision lasted during the whole length of the Salve Regina.

The Salve is the traditional Marian hymn sung at the end of the day to conclude Night Prayer. One can probably assume that this vision took place while the nuns were in the choir reciting the Liturgy of the Hours.

Our Lady told St. Teresa that it was good that she had placed her in the prioress’ chair for our Lady told her that:

“ I shall be present in the praises they give my Son, and I shall offer these praises to Him.”

(Spiritual Testimonies #21

As a Secular Carmelite I would like to think that Our Lady is also present whenever I praise her Son, and that she “offers these praises to Him”. What a pleasant thought to have in mind when praying the Liturgy of the Hours!

mary-baby-jesus2

. . . O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us!

Read Full Post »