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Archive for the ‘Sayings of Light and Love’ Category

How can one remain in the presence of God? For St. Teresa the Lord can and is to be seen, one just needs to attend to his presence. She would see him “with the eyes of the soul” (Life, Chap 7: 6) So should we since he really is present to us and sees everything and he “never takes his eyes off” of us. He truly is with us. Here is more of what St. Teresa has to say:

“I’m not asking you now that you think about Him, or that you draw out a lot of concepts or make long and subtle reflections with your intellect. I’m not asking you to do anything more than to look at Him. For who can keep you from turning the eyes of your soul toward this Lord, even if you do so just for a moment if you can’t do more? You can look at very ugly things; won’t you be able to look at the most beautiful thing imaginable? Well now, daughters, Your Spouse never takes His eyes off you. He has suffered your committing a thousand ugly offensives and abominations against Him, and this suffering wasn’t enough for Him to cease looking at you. Is it too much to ask you to turn your eyes from these exterior things in order to look at Him sometimes? Behold, He is not waiting for anything else, as He says to the bride, than that we look at Him. In the measure you desire Him, you will find Him. He so esteems our turning to look at Him that no diligence will be lacking on His part’” (Way of Perfection 26: 3)

During any time of prayer we often let that time pass or be lost instead of recollecting them on God, so ask Him to not abandon you during your time of prayer.

Additionally even while occupied physically with others and other occupations one can make brief pauses and interiorly keep recollected with the heart centered and attentive on God. When employed with things like our daily duties, not all our faculties and senses have to be taken up with the task at hand, so let the others be occupied with God. (The Sayings of Light and Love, #117) We can do our daily duties and tasks in such a way that we keep loving attentiveness towards God and His presence. For St. John of the Cross counsels us to “endeavor to remain always in the presence of God, either real, imaginative, or unitive insofar as is permitted by your works.” (Degrees of Perfection)

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Silence is the longest precept in the Rule of St. Albert. For Carmelites this precept of silence is seen as a means for recollection, not as penance. While it is a privative, it is a happy one because it is what makes possible union with God.

Prayer, silence, and solitude -these three things go together and complement each other.

By being silent one is able to stay away the evils that come about in the abuse of words. What do we have to talk about? What is it that we communicate when we speak? Ideas?

No. Actually, most of what we communicate are images and impressions – mostly foolishness and nonsense. But God gave us the gift of speech to communicate ideas. In reality the more we speak the more our interior recollection is clouded. Words which do not express ideas will only manifest matter. Matter just makes dust! While on the contrary, silence makes for recollection. Silence is difficult and poorly observed. This we can all agree. It costs.

For St. John of the Cross to be silent is to be seen in terms of contemplation.

“The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul,” (Sayings of Light and Love #100)

Today try to observe silence. During the day let’s wrap ourselves in silence:

speak little         think little

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Though the path is plain and smooth for people of goodwill, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. (Sayings of Light and Love, 3)

A plain and smooth path still needs the effort, “fired with love’s urgent longings” and the determination to never give up but to stay on the course until reaching one’s purpose which, in the spiritual life, is holiness. This path to holiness requires some self denial and conquering of the appetites. St. John of the Cross guides us in conquering the appetites by pointing out that an intense love of God in needed which will give the courage and constancy to practice self denial.

The saint tells us that whenever some joy in some vain pleasure takes hold of the heart, one will need to have “good feet” and try to remove it at the very beginning and to take courage! With courageous effort uproot the attachment while it is small and at the beginning for it will be much harder to do later when it has become deeply rooted. (Ascent Bk III, 20:1)  When one loses courage, St. John says, “ they return to their search for worldly consolations”. (Dark Night Bk 1, 14.5) However St. Paul says we are to be “rooted and grounded in love” so that we may have the  “strength to comprehend” and “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and  “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:18-19) Courage and strength go together, and strength is found in spiritual reading and in prayer.

However, when courage is “fired with love’s urgent longings” it will not prevent the soul from seeking Him. These urgent longings of love are strong and vehement, so strong that this courage makes “everything seem possible” (Dark Night Bk 2, 13.7) when seeking Him. This courage and strength can move one to suffer for His sake, but only if “vainglory, presumption and the practice of condemning others” (Dark Night Bk 2, 19.3&4) is removed.

In order to seek Him, the soul needs to be courageous and also persevere against the world, the devil and the flesh – all of which prevent one from staying on the path to God. Tenacity of spirit is fueled by a “living hope in God” which gives the courage to elevate one to eternal things. (Dark Night Bk 2, 21.6)

psalm-119-10

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“The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more.”

~ Sayings of Light and Love #1 (by St. John of the Cross)

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Mary is the Mother of God, and today we celebrate her under this title. She is also our Mother. The Carmelite Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Jesus, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John of the Cross, each had a unique devotion to the Mother of God.

St. Teresa of Jesus.

“I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself.” (Book of Her Life, chapter 1)

St. Teresa was very pleased to be a member of the Order of Carmel that claims to be Mary’s Order. Members of the Carmelite Order consecrate themselves to Mary and see her as a model of prayer and contemplation. “All of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation.” (Interior Castle, V:1, 2) They also strive to imitate her virtues, “Let us imitate the Virgin’s great humility.” (Way of Perfection, 13: 3)

St. Teresa, in a mystical experience, noted that in response to her service to the Mother of God, Christ thanked her for “what she had done for his Mother,” and she saw Mary “in great glory, wearing a white mantel with which she seemed to enfold us all.” (Book of Her Life, 36: 24)

Read more here about St. Teresa of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Therese also had a strong devotion to the Mother of God and was heard to exclaim, “How I love the Blessed Virgin! If I had been a priest, how I should have spoken of her. She is sometimes described as unapproachable, whereas she should be represented as easy of imitation. She is more Mother than Queen. I have heard it said that her splendor eclipses that of all the saints as the rising sun makes all the stars disappear. It sounds so strange. That a Mother should take away the glory of her children! I think quite the reverse. I believe that she will greatly increase the splendor of the elect….Our Mother Mary….How simple her life must have been.” (Story of a Soul)

St. Therese wanted to follow Mary’s example and not to only live and work under the Blessed Mother’s watchful eyes. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her Mother and to learn from her “how to remain little”. The one virtue above all others that the Blessed Mother possessed that impressed St. Therese the most was her simplicity. Mary taught her in simplicity the practice that characterized this saint as her “little way”. The Mother of God also taught her that suffering out of love – is joy.

When St. Therese made her First Communion at Lisieux following a three day retreat, she expressed her reception as “fusion” with Jesus. It was her Heavenly Mother, in the absence of her real earthly mother, who accompanied her to the altar to receive the Lord in the Eucharist for the first time. St. Therese states, “it was she herself who on that morning of the 8th of May placed her Jesus into my soul.” (Story of a Soul)

The great love St. Therese had for Mary is beautifully illustrated in a poem she wrote shortly before she died:

Why I Love Thee, Mary

Oh ! I would like to sing, Mary, why I love you,
Why your sweet name thrills my heart,
And why the thought of your supreme greatness
Could not bring fear to my soul.
If I gazed on you in your sublime glory,
Surpassing the splendor of all the blessed,
I could not believe that I am your child.
O Mary, before you I would lower my eyes !…   (read the rest of the poem here)

St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross also was devoted to the Mother of God. He did not write much about the Mother of God, but she was significant in his life. From St. John we learn about her role for Carmelites in the passive receptivity that Mary teaches us. Read more about Our Lady and St. John of Cross here.

St. John of the Cross does mentions the Blessed Mother in one of his Sayings of Light and Love. This saying expresses that all things are the soul’s when it seeks and finds God. The Mother of God, then, is our mother, too:

“Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.” (Sayings of Light and Love, 27)

mary mother of god

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jnangllarge

Reflect that your guardian angel does not always move your desire for an action, but he does always enlighten your reason. Hence, in order to practice virtue do not wait until you feel like it, for your reason and intellect are sufficient.   (The Sayings of Light and Love #37 – St. John of the Cross)

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