Tag Archives: Carmelites

15 October: Christ has no body but yours.

Thank you to Revd Jo Richards for reminding us of this prayer of St Teresa of Avila, whose feast is today.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours, 
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Image from Wikipedia, public domain, believed to be a copy from a live portrait.

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20 July: Elijah the prophet.

The prophet Elijah has his feastday today, though comparatively few of us observe it. He is counted as an inspiration by Carmelites, for he lived as a hermit on Mount Carmel, where the Order was founded, centuries before it came to Europe.

Elijah does not have a book to his name, as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos and others do, but we know of his witness in the Northern Kingdom of Israel from the Books of Kings.

It was on Mount Carmel that Elijah faced down the prophets of Baal and the people of Israel, who were worshipping both the Lord and Baal. More than 400 prophets of Baal danced and sang all day to their god, but nothing happened to their offering. Elijah, having built his altar, added firewood and the sacrifice of a bull’s carcase, drenched it all in water, and the Lord sent fire to consume it all.

Later, when Elijah was close to despair with the wickedness of the people and King Ahab, he ran away, but the Lord sent ravens to feed him and strengthen him. That is the scene shown here in a house sign from Amsterdam.

Elijah faithfully challenged Ahab on God’s behalf, but it did not make for an easy life, as the Books of Kings tell us. Let’s pray for the grace of perseverance in our own lives.

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October 1: The Little Beggar of Christmas

Why Christmas in October? Well every day is Christmas, for every day Jesus is with us. But this is a verse from a play by St Thérèse, and this is her feast day. Happy Feast Day to all you Carmelites! We hope to have a Carmelite writing for the blog soon, just watch this space.
In this scene Thérèse has an angel speaking on behalf of baby Jesus, who cannot yet speak for himself. Jesus is begging for tenderness and praise from the sisters, as he is from us. May our indifference to him be burnt away by our growing love.
This post opens a short season on beggars.

For Jesus, the Exile from Heaven,

I have met in the world

Only a profound indifference

This is why I come to Carmel.

So that your tenderness

And your caresses

And your praises

Oh sisters of the angels!

Be for the Child.

Burn with love, delighted soul,

A God made Himself mortal for you.

Oh! touching mystery

The One who is begging from you

Is the Eternal Word!…

Read more of this English version of Thérèse’s play.

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14 December: Recognising God in the world.

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Today is Wednesday in the third week of Advent, .and also the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross Priest and Doctor of the Church. He was a Carmelite friar who was outstanding in his holiness and knowledge, as his many spiritual writings testify.

The first reading from Isaiah 45: 6-8; 18, 21-26 is telling us that “Apart from me, (God) all is nothing. I am the Lord unrivalled. There is no other god besides me, a God of integrity and saviour;… Turn to me and be saved. From the Lord alone comes victory and strength”. As we are in this Advent period of waiting for Christ, how open I am to receive him? How prepared am I to welcome him and accept him and His good work in me? Am I ready to recognise him in my daily life?

In the Gospel, John the Baptist sends his disciples to go and ask Christ if he is the Messiah, or are they to wait for another? (Luke 7: 19-23) God comes to me in my daily activities and in the people that I meet each day. I meet God in creation, in the stillness of the lonely valleys…flowing with fresh water’… as St John of the Cross says in his Spiritual Canticle. I pray through the intercession of St John of the cross, that God will give me the grace to be strengthened, and rooted in the Love of God, that I may have the power to comprehend with the saints the breath, and length, and height and depth of the Love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf.Ephesians 3:18). Amen.

FMSL

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1 October: Feast of Saint Thérèse

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Thérèse was born in 1873, before Pius X encouraged Holy Communion for younger children; as a teenager she had to seek permission to receive the sacrament on major feast days. Her sister Marie prepared her each time as she had done for her first communion.

‘I remember once she talked about suffering, telling me that I probably would not walk that path, but if I did, the Good God would always carry me like a child …

‘Soon after my First Communion, I made another retreat for my Confirmation. I prepared with great care to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14), not understanding why people paid little attention to the reception of this sacrament of Love. Usually there was one day’s retreat before Confirmation but as the Bishop could not come on the date set, I had the consolation of two days of solitude. To give us something to do, our teacher took us to mount Cassin where I gathered handfuls of moon daisies for Corpus Christi. Ah ! how joyful my soul was ! like the apostles I was happy to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2,1-4) I was overjoyed at the thought of soon becoming a perfect Christian, and especially of having for eternity the mark of the mysterious cross which the bishop would trace on my forehead … I felt the gentle breeze that the prophet Elijah felt on Mount (1Kings 19,11-13)

‘That day I received the strength to suffer, for soon afterward my soul’s martyrdom began… After these lovely, unforgettable feasts, my life went back to normal – that is to say, back to boarding school which was so painful for me. I was forced to live with girls who were very different, dissipated, not wanting to keep to the rule, and it made me quite unhappy.’

Mont Cassin is now the site of two World War II cemeteries, one German, the other Commonwealth. St Desir cemeteries

These men were forced to live and die with others who were very different, and if not dissipated, certainly would have preferred not to be under King’s Regulations.

Reader, pray for them.

Saint Therese, pray for them.

MMB.

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July 11: LIGHT II – Saint Thérèse, Saint John of the Cross and inner light

Thérèse is writing about her early experiences of the light of her vocation bursting forth in her heart, and refers to another Carmelite, Saint John of the Cross. See http://www.livres-mystiques.com/partieTEXTES/Lisieux/Histoire/fol36a53.html

The path I was walking along was so straight, so luminous, that I needed no other guide but Jesus.

When a gardener takes great care of a fruit that he wants to ripen before its season, it is never to leave it hanging on the tree, but in order to bring it to the table, beautifully served. It was something like that that Jesus had in mind when he multiplied his graces in his little flower – he who cried out during his mortal life ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.’ (Luke 10: 21)

mercylogoHe wanted to make his mercy erupt in me; because I was little he came down to me and in secret taught me about his love.  Ah! If any scholars who had passed their lives in studies had come to interrogate me, doubtless they would have been astounded to find a fourteen year old child understanding the secrets of perfection, secrets that all their science could not reveal to them because to possess them one must be poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3)

As St John of the Cross said in his Canticle: ‘I had neither guide nor light, except the one shining in my heart. This light guided me, more surely than the light of midday, to the place where He who knew me perfectly was waiting for me.’ That place was Carmel.

(For each of them!)

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14/12 Saint John of the Cross

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Yesterday’s readings could not have been bettered for today’s Saint, John of Cross. Like his namesake, the Baptist, he suffered imprisonment unjustly. We have witnessed, in our own day, the emotions aroused by change in the Church, in the Catholic, Anglican, or any other branch; we have witnessed resistance to the ministry of women who perceive that the skills and talents given to them and honed by diligent study and training, should be deployed where new needs and opportunities arise.

Welcome to the world of John of the Cross.

This collaborator of St Teresa of Avila  worked to revive the apostolic poverty that had been a mark of the Carmelites, but had been lost awhile as convents became luxurious homes for rich unmarried women. John and Teresa perceived that – of course – there were challenges for the brothers of the order as well if they were to be true to their calling, and – of course – they knew that prophets would be rejected in their own communities.

John may have been dismayed and suffered the dark night of his soul, but he escaped his cell and returned to his work.

These lines, written in prison on smuggled paper, link him to Dylan Thomas in trusting the dark:

Oh, night that guided me,

Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,

Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,

Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Let us pray that we may trust the Beloved to guide us all through the night, till the angel faces smile upon us.

MMB.

More posts about Saint Teresa.

Like Little Children, 15th October 2015

Whose Angel Faces Smile? 16th October 2015

Therese, her Parents and Other Saints, 17th October 2015

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Like Little Children

Did I mention that it’s a Carmelite Week? And we have been talking about children, so here are some childhood memories from today’s saint, Teresa of Avila:

I used to discuss with this brother of mine how we could become martyrs. We agreed to go off to the country of the Moors, begging our bread for the love of God, so that they might behead us there; and, even at so tender an age, I believe the Lord had given us sufficient courage for this, if we could have found a way to do it; but our greatest hindrance seemed to be that we had a father and a mother…

When I saw that it was impossible for me to go to any place where they would put me to death for God’s sake, we decided to become hermits, and we used to build hermitages, as well as we could, in an orchard which we had at home. We would make heaps of small stones, but they at once fell down again, so we found no way of accomplishing our desires. But even now it gives me a feeling of devotion to remember how early God granted me what I lost by my own fault.

A martyr is a witness, a witness to the end. It can be a bit of a slog, witnessing to Christ in a world that seems indifferent. Perhaps we need the young Teresa’s playful spirit, which seems to have encouraged her older self!

I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it. Mark 10.15

The Life of St Teresa in translation is at  http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/The-Life-of-Teresa-of-Jesus.pdf

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