On Behalf of Love

“God is humanity’s universal teacher and guardian, but his teaching to humanity is mediated by angels.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

 

angel art by victor nizovtsev 3
Art by Victor Nizovtsev (1965)

 

On Behalf of Love

Every truth without exception—no matter
who makes it—is from God.
If a bird got accused of singing too early
in the morning,
if a lute began to magically play on its own
in the square
and the enchanting sounds it made drove a pair of young lovers
into a wild, public display of
passion,
if this lute and bird then got called before the inquisition
and their lives were literally at stake,
could not God walk up and say before the court,
“All acts of beauty are mine, all happen on the behalf of love”?
And while God was there, testifying for our heart’s desires,
hopefully the judge would be astute enough
to brave a question,
that could go,
“Dear God, you say all acts of beauty are yours,
surely we can believe that. But what of all actions
we see in this world,
for is there any force in existence greater than the power
of your omnipresent hand?”
And God might have responded, “I like that question,”
adding, “May I ask you one as well?”
And then God would say,
“Have you ever been in a conversation when children entered
the room, and you then ceased speaking because your
wisdom knew they were not old enough to benefit—to understand?
As exquisite is your world, most everyone in it
is spiritually young.
Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one’s self and others. Love would rather die
than maim a limb,
a wing.
Dear, anything that divides man from man,
earth from sky, light and dark, one religion from another. . .
O, I best keep silent, I see a child
just entered the
room.”

~ Saint Thomas Aquinas

A Blessed Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas to You All!

Saint Anthony of Egypt

 

saint anthony the abbot
Saint Anthony the Abbot and Donors, 15th c (Provenance unknown) Museu Nacional d’ Art de Catalunya, Spain

 

Early on in my conversion the Lord placed in my heart the desire to learn about the Desert Fathers. I read about the life of Saint Anthony the Great, also called St. Anthony of Egypt, whose feast day we celebrate today. He became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. Along the way, I also learned about the Desert Mothers and the vast treasure of information they have left to us through their words and written instructions for our spiritual formation. I learned about them through books, films, and talking to spiritual mentors. That period of my life came before I joined my Lay Carmelite community. I had this deep intense desire to learn more about the lives of these champions of the faith—the Desert Fathers and Mothers . Their lives and wisdom were so inspiring to me. At one point I felt a deep calling to go to the desert, to live in solitude for awhile. I didn’t understand why I felt this intense calling in my heart. I did ask the Lord, how can this be possible? I’m married and have children. I live in the world but I felt I was not part of it, everything was a distraction to me. I had this constant desire of being alone with God. Little did I know that the Lord was calling me to be part of the spiritual family of Lay Carmelites. It wasn’t clear to me at that time, God was transforming me and preparing me for that. I began to attend spiritual retreats regularly, and found myself immerse in His presence all the time. My soul was being fed and my relationship with God grew stronger every day. Later on I found this treasure of infinite grace in Carmel. He was leading me by the hand to His own garden, to His solitude, to His heart. So then I can live in the world—in the ‘market place’ and by His grace reflect His light to others.
Praise the Lord forever! To Him be the glory for ever and ever!

Here I share a short documentary of Father Lazarus, a Coptic monk living in solitude inspired by the life of Saint Anthony The Great. The cave he lives is very close in proximity of St. Antony’s cave and Saint Anthony’s monastery in Egypt.
I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

“The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great

 

“When you close the doors to your dwelling and are alone you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man…This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God, who is in every place; for there is no place and nothing material in which God is not, since He is greater than all things and holds all men in His hand.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great

 

“One who knows oneself, knows God: and one who knows God is worthy to worship Him as is right. Therefore, my beloveds in the Lord, know yourselves.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great

 

Saint Anthony the Great, pray for us and the whole world!

 

 

 

The Infant Jesus of Prague

 

infant of prague
Miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague is at the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in the Mala Strana district of Prague, where the image of the Holy Infant Jesus has been venerated ever since the 17th century (photo source unknown)

 



W
e, who are small, have been shown the face of the Infant. This Infant, who is our Savior, was hidden in Nazareth for 30 years, then walked the roads to proclaim the Good News, died on the cross, and rose again. What does he tell us? Everything can be destroyed except love. That love is in you and no one can take it from you. Have confidence, have courage, and become true adorers through the power of Jesus Christ.

~ By Catherine De Hueck Doherty


 

jesus with the ancient brown habit of carmel
Statue of the Child Jesus with the ancient Brown Habit of Carmel (source unknown)

 



The Infant Jesus of Prague

It is snowing. The huge world is perhaps death.
This is December.
But how warm it is in the small room!  
The fireplace filled with burning coals
Colors the ceiling with a drowsy reflection,
And all you can hear is some water softly boiling.
Up above, on the shelf, over the two beds,
Under his glass globe, a crown on his head,
One of his hands holding the world, the other ready
To protect those children who trust in it,
Kindly in his long solemn dress
And magnificent under that large yellow hat,
The Infant Jesus of Prague reigns and rules.

He is all alone in front of the hearthside shining on him
Like the host hidden within the sanctuary,
The Child-God watches over his small brothers until
The day comes.

Unheard like breath which is exhaled,
Eternal existence fills the room, equal to all those 
innocent naïve poor tots!
When he is with us, no harm can come.
We can sleep, Jesus our brother, is here.
He is ours, and all these good things as well:
The marvellous doll, and the wooden horse,
And the sheep, are there, all three of them in that corner.

And we sleep, but all those good things are ours!
The curtains are pulled . . .  Outside, somewhere
In the snow and the night a kind of hour ring.
The Child in his warm bed contentedly understands
That he is sleeping and that someone who loves him is there,
Moves a bit, murmurs indistinctly, puts his arm out,
Tries to wake up and cannot.

~ A poem by Paul Claudel, from Corona Benignitatis Anni Dei

 

*For more information about the history and devotion to The Infant Jesus of Prague please check at:
https://carmelitesofboston.org/prayer/carmelite-devotions/miraculous-infant-of-prague/

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of The Infant Jesus of Prague!

 

When the Lord was Baptized in the River Jordan…

 

icon of christ baptism
Baptism of Christ (mosaic, 10th c, St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy)

When the Lord was baptized in the river Jordan;
On that bright day before all the people,
The Heavens on high became wide open,
And the angels drew near to the water.

At once St. John was filled with fear
On feeling the Heavens breathing so near.
The Spirit Almighty as a dove descended,
To rest on Christ, God’s Son beloved.

In this way God sanctified the waters,
And when the Lord rose up from it,
A strange voice was heard from Heaven:
“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
Listen to what He will tell you about Me.
Obey Him so that you can find joy in Me.
Obey Him so that you can crush every devil,
And be received as my sons in Heaven.”

Dear brothers we were baptized also;
Sanctified by the Spirit Almighty
And, in Christ’s army we are called to fight,
And in eternity to glorify His love and might.

When the Lord was baptized in the river Jordan;
On that bright day before all the people,
The heavens on high became wide open,
And the angels drew near to the water.

~ A poem by St. Nikolaj Velimirović of  Žiča 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!

I Went In Pursuit By Love’s Way

 

saint john of the cross toledo
Painting of Saint John of the Cross, photo taken by me from the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, Spain in July 2017

 

I went in pursuit by love’s way,
my hope did not fail in the try,
I flew very high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

In order to gain me the right
to divine opportunity,
I flew high toward unity
and soon became lost out of sight,
with all, in this dangerous way
I faltered in my strength to fly,
yet love bore me more high,
at last overtaking the prey.

While rising so near to the light,
my vision was dazed by the glare,
and my greatest conquest was there
in darkest obscureness of night;
but since I was seeking love’s way,
I blindly leapt in the dark sky,
and I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

The higher became my ascent
within this search so excellent,
the lower became my descent
fatigued and o’erwhelmed, I was spent;
None can overtake! I would say,
it humbled and made me so dry,
that I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

By this rare endeavor to cope
one flight did a thousand excel,
for hope within heaven to dwell
gains fully the height of its hope;
I hoped just to search in this way,
my hope did not fail in the try,
since I flew so high, oh so high,
at last overtaking the prey.

~ A poem by Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of Saint John of the Cross!

 

 

 

Holy Trinity, Whom I Adore

 

Holy Trinity art by Herman Han
The Holy Trinity, art by Herman Han (1574 – 1627) Poland

 

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in You, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from You, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of Your mystery! Pacify my soul! Make it Your heaven, Your beloved home and place of Your repose; let me never leave You there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to Your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for You a spouse of Your heart! I would anoint You with glory, I would love You – even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask You to adorn me with Yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of Your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute Yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of Your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to You, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from You; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on You and abide under Your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave Your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to Him a super-added humanity wherein He renews His mystery; and You O Father, bestow Yourself and bend down to Your little creature, seeing in her only Your beloved Son in whom You are well pleased.

O my `Three’, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to You as a prey to be consumed; enclose Yourself in me that I may be absorbed in You so as to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your Splendour!

~ A prayer of Saint Elizabeth of The Trinity (1880-1906), O.C.D.

Today, November 8th is the Feast day of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D., her very name means “house of God”. On August 2nd, 1901 St. Elizabeth enters Carmel., here is a  portion of her postulant questionnaire:

What is your Ideal for sanctity?
To live from love.

What is the quickest way to attain it?
To make oneself as small as possible, to surrender oneself without reserve.

What saint do you love most?
The disciple Jesus loved, who rested his head on Jesus’ breast.

Which part of the Rule speaks most directly to you?
Silence.

What is the dominant trait of your character?
Sensitiveness.

Your Favorite Virtue?
Purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The fault you most abhor?
Egoism in general.

Give a basic definition of prayer.
The union of one who is not with the One who Is.

What is your favorite book?
The soul of Christ—it reveals to me all the secrets of the heavenly Father.

~ By Two Sisters in the Spirit, Ignatius Press

*For more information about the life of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, please check:
 carmelitesofboston.org/spirit-of-carmel/our-saints/saint-elizabeth-of-the-trinity/

 

saint elizabeth
On December 8th, 1901 She receives the habit and is given the name “Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity”

 

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray of us! 

 

Holy Spirit, Holy Dove

Bernini's Holy Spirit
 “Dove of the Holy Spirit” amber stained glass window designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1660) at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City (photo source unknown)

 

Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother’s hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!

Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son’s heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!

Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge’s throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
Mercifully relentlessly
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
Your action,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!

Are you the spirit’s fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God’s eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgment ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!

Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God’s molding hand!

Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty’s throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!

Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
The harmony,
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!

~ Poem by St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) O.C.D. – Virgin and Martyr, Co-Patron of Europe

*For more information about the life of Edith Stein please check:
http://www.kilmacudcarmel.ie/edith.html#Who

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)!