To Love

Art Source Unknown

Today, November 14th the Church celebrates All Carmelite Saints. As a Lay Carmelite I considered all those saintly men and women in Carmel my family and my friends. They are mentors in my journey, intercessors, soul friends. I feel their presence in my daily life. I pray to them. I read their writings and learn so much about this great gift of spirituality which is Carmel and contains treasures of everlasting rivers of fresh and living water that satisfy our souls. I’m eternally grateful for their love, for their exemplary lives and for their intercessions not only to our Carmelite family but to the whole world.

Beloved Saints of Carmel, pray for us!


To Love

My Sisters, I’m from Bethany
Where I met the Lord.
Sister Agnes, who had followed me,

Felt the melting of the heart.
Yes, it was truly ineffable

To prepare a feast for Him,
While that adorable Master

We offered a divine meal.
“It was the banquet of love”

Where Jesus gives himself,
Because his good always prevails

The soul who seeks it and who loves it:
In the measure of his faith

She reaches the Sovereign King.

To love, for a Carmelite,
Is to surrender like Jesus

A true love never hesitates,
It wishes to give always more and more.
Let us be a faithful image

Of our Bridegroom sacrifices,
Retrace in us the model

Of this divine Crucified One.
Looking at him night and day

Let’s climb the austere mountain,
It is the home of Love,
His palace and his sanctuary.
In this mysterious temple

Sacrifice ourselves with a happy heart.

To love is to forget oneself
Like the Angel of Lisieux
To become lost in the one we love
And be consumed in his fires.
Sister Thérèse knew how to understand
In its great simplicity
This call so strong and so tender “Stay in my charity”
“I love both the night and the day”
Such was the divine song

From the victim of love To Jesus,
his mystic Bridegroom.
“My vocation is love…”
“I love both night and day.”

To love is,
like Magdalene
Never to leave the Lord
But to stand in full peace
At the feet of this divine Saviour.
She listened in silence “The word He told him.”
Better to savour his presence
Oh, everything in her was silent.
His soul finally took hold

Jesus the One Necessary.
Before this divine Being
All the earth vanished.
Buried in his love

She surrendered without return.

To love is to be apostolic

Zealous for the honour of the living God
It is truly the ancient heritage
That the great seer left us.
Collected by St. Thérèse
Who gave it to us in turn.
Carmel became the furnace,
The home of divine Love.
Our saints had understood it so well…
As they were enflaming souls!
All in them gave Jesus Christ
By radiating his bright flames.
My Sisters, let’s be real Apostles of Charity.

To love is to imitate Mary
Exalting in God’s greatness
While her soul delighted
Sang her song to the Lord.
Your centre, o faithful Virgin,
Was the annihilation,

For Jesus, everlasting splendour,
Hides in abasement.
It’s always through humility

May your soul magnify him.
The Apostle in his infirmity Cried out,
“I boast In the strength of the Redeemer

Living and triumphant in my heart.”  

To love is to testify

To our Christ, to our King;
And give our life as a pledge
To better affirm our faith.
Like our sixteen blessed,
May we shed our blood
Singing in our happy souls
A hymn all grateful.
Truth, speaking one day

Says this supreme word:
“The greatest proof of love

Is to die for the One we love.”
O my Sisters,

“let us die every day”
To make Him love for love.

“To the praise of his glory”
Let us sacrifice ourselves always
Because to win the victory

God claims our help.
Let us imitate our revered mothers
In their zeal and fervor.
We will come out of our miseries
And our King will be victorious.
We will redouble fidelity
For this plan to be realized.
By our generosity
We will help the Holy Church

And we will see love reigning,
A foretaste of the divine abode.

~Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Poetry

“What numbers of saints we have in heaven who have worn this habit of ours!
We must have the holy audacity to aspire, with God’s help, to be like them.
The struggle will not last long, but the outcome will be eternal.”
~ St. Teresa of Avila

A Blessed Feast Day of All Carmelite Saints!
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The Cloister of the Heart

Jesus, Art by Amy Mc Cutcheon

Everything leads us to the love of Our Lord.
All things nourish and feed this love;
All things cherish and make it our joy;
It lives on our desires and satisfies them;
It lives on our sorrows and consoles them;
It lives on our sufferings and rewards them;
It lives on our sacrifices and makes them infinitely precious;
It lives on our pleasures and adds to them;
It lives on our hopes and fulfils them:
And in a word it will create our happiness
Now and for ever.

To LOVE, nothing will seem impossible, nay more, nothing will be impossible. You cannot restrain love; it is irresistible, mounts every barrier, triumphs over ever difficulty, laughs at every obstacle. This supernatural love-life is the only real life. Yes, this Interior Life lived with Jesus, our attachment to and union with Him, and through Him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, this IS life, OUR life, the only things to live for, without which all else is dead, and worthless and meaningless.

The one sure cloister is the cloister of the heart, where Jesus and the soul live their love-life together, untroubled and undisturbed by all the riot and tumult of the world without; with every movement of memory, mind, and imagination stilled, every desire quelled, there in that silent cloister of the heart the soul is flooded with the calm tranquil peace of perfect love and lies in glad content in the embrace of her Divine Lover. The outward cloister matters little; the inward cloister matters much.

It is to little purpose to shut out the vision of the exterior world, if imagination and memory rove over it as they will, for then the soul is more without than she was before; once enter the cloister of the heart and then, even if she live in the midst of the restless tossing of this world’s troubled throng, there will be perfect peace within. It is for lovers that the Divine Lover is calling. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with the Great Red Wounds so cruelly gashed in Hands and Feet and Side. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with His Body all rent, all torn, all bleeding. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with His Head crowned with cruel thorns, with His Sacred Face disfigured with wounds and blows, with His Eyes filled with Blood. He comes to seek for lovers. His Arms are stretched out wide ready to embrace the soul that will make her response to His appeal, and say to Him: “Oh, my darling Jesus, I take You for my Lover and my All. My Love, I want to be everything to You, and You shall be everything to me!” He will embrace her with those blood-stained Arms of His and the thrill of love will surge through her at His touch.

Victims of Love, those who would love to love’s extreme limit, love without reserve; love with such love that they sacrifice themselves as living Victims to His All-Merciful Love; it is for such our Jesus is calling. It is for souls like these that He asks.


I hold Him, and nor time nor place
My soul from Him shall part—
The Heart of my most loving God,
The God of my poor heart.


~ Listening to the Indwelling Presence, compiled by a Religious

The Life of Prayer – Meditation #2

 

Jesus Let us adore Him art by annie henrie
Art by Annie Henrie

 

Since prayer does not consist in thinking much but in loving much, a life of continual prayer will consist much more in love than in thought. Nevertheless, a certain amount of mental activity is necessary, either to direct the heart toward God, or to maintain it in this direction.

The soul who applies itself well to mental prayer will easily be able to collect in itself some good thoughts which it can use during the day to keep its heart turned toward God. Therefore, it will be useful for the soul to try to recall these thoughts often in the midst of its occupations, and to apply them practically to its life.

Thus, for example, if during prayer, we have been considering God’s infinite mercy toward us, we shall strive to preserve this thought even during our occupations, recognizing many signs of this mercy in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves. in fact, many happenings which, from a purely human point of view, are unpleasant and painful, hide, in reality, great mercies of the Lord who, by means of the sorrows, fatigues, and the trials of life, wants to detach us from creatures, make us practice virtue, and advance in goodness. Likewise, in our dealings with our neighbor, we shall try to imitate God’s mercy. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk 6,36). Although our prayer was spent in aridity, without leaving us any definite thought, but only a deeper realization of our nothingness and the infinite greatness of God, we shall make a treasure of it by attempting during the day to fulfill our duties in a spirit of humility and homage to God. We shall rejoice if some opportunity occurs for humbling ourselves, acknowledging our littleness—even before creatures—and exalting the grandeurs of the Lord.

In this way prayer will not be an isolated item in our day, but will permeate it, by conferring on each action and circumstance the tone of continual prayer.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D ~ Divine Intimacy

 

 

“Give me, O Lord, such great fervor and immense love that I shall see no difference between this or that life, this or that state, person, time, or place, but shall do what is most pleasing to You, whatever or wherever it may be, tending always to You by the affection of my soul. Grant that I may see all things in You, and nothing but You in them, ever eager and anxious to serve You in all things; and that, all on fire and burning with love, I may not take into consideration what is easiest and most agreeable for me, but only what is most pleasing to You.”
~ St. Bonaventure   

 

 

 

The Spirit, the Hidden Treasure in Your Field

 

Holy Spirit within ones soul by rebecca brogan
The Holy Spirit within ones soul, art by Rebecca Brogan

 

The goal of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is Pentecost. If God has become man, if he has suffered and died for us and risen from the dead, it is in order finally to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it with crystal clear words: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).

In one of the manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel, it says “May your Holy Spirit come”, instead of may “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). God’s kingdom is identified with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with him, God is truly Lord in us.

The theology of the West is sometimes criticized for its “mono-Christ-ism”. It seems that theologians have devoted themselves in a biased, almost exclusive way toward Christ. But we cannot understand Christ, the truth, if we are not led by the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Perhaps this is also the reason why the theology of the West is so cold, dry, and abstract. The flame is missing. We have needed the Charismatic Renewal to become aware that the Church is not only the Church of Christ but also the Church of the Holy Spirit.

There are three Persons in God. We may not omit or pass over any one of them. Each one of the three Persons has his own function and his own role. We miss out on something essential if we limit ourselves to one or two Persons.

In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). We could speak of a cosmic Pentecost, which prepared, and in some way even anticipated, the actual and definitive Pentecost. The Spirit is present from the beginning, and he sighs in creation and makes it sigh with him. “We know”, writes Saint Paul, “that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains” (Rom 8:22). It begins already on the first day of creation, and this groaning is the work of the Spirit.

It is man’s calling to be a conscious pneumatoforos (Spirit bearer). What is unconscious in creation becomes conscious in man. It is his function to interpret the language of creation, to be in harmony with it and articulate it, so that it becomes a song of praise that not only God but even his fellowmen can understand.

 
~ A Mediation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

The Old Has Died

 

trusting in the Lord art by Elizabeth Wang
Trusting in the Lord, art by Elizabeth Wang

 

By the cross of Jesus Christ “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). Not the world as God created it, but the spirit of the world: the conceit, the greed, and the egoism that are within us.

All this has died to me, Paul testifies. Therefore, it can’t control me, it has no claim on me, it can’t be the starting point of my actions.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the world has made its mark on you. But this cannot hurt you if you merely see it as a trace of something that has died. Nobody can be afraid of what has already died. The new life in Christ is your genuine reality.

Many people who begin to spend time in interior prayer complain that they become so very absent-minded. Thoughts rush in like horses in a gallop. What am I to do about that? they wonder uneasily. What definitely not to do is fight these thoughts aggressively or be afraid of them. If you fight or become afraid, you show that you take these thoughts seriously.

The only thing to take seriously is the new creation within you, the new life which is the life of Christ in you. Everything else is completely uninteresting: it has died, and you don’t have to lose time and energy on it.

The Christian life is so much simpler than you think. You don’t have to walk around fighting all kinds of things, or desperately try to conquer God. A Christian begins in the victory. The old has irrevocably died and come to an end. You must rest in the new that you already been given.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus, He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours.
~ Saint Angela Merici

 

 

As It Could Have Been

 

walk-with-me-by-yongsung-kim-
Walk with Me, art by Yongsung Kim

 

In the Bible, it is primarily the books of Job, Lamentations, and Psalms that express the darker side of our journey to God. The bright side is perhaps best described in the Song of Songs.

The Song of Songs sings of the only essential thing in life for which we were created: Love. And it does so with spark, enthusiasm, and an irresistible faith in love. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song 8:7).
This unparalleled poetry shows us how the world could have been had we not lost paradise. Love is enough in itself. For those who live in absolute love, few words are needed to talk about God. Innocence or sin are not treated. Love encompasses all, and neither questions nor answers are needed any longer.

This devoted and burning love points to the new fire which the new Adam has come to light on the earth (Lk 12:49). It is a prophecy of the jubilant love dance of the blessed at the wedding feast of the Lamb. It sings of the love between Christ and the Church, between Christ and every Christian. Such is the Christian life, such as it ought to be. The two who enjoy each other “among the lilies” (Song 2:16, 6:2) are the great Lover, God, and his beloved bride, humankind.

The Christian life has nothing to do with objectivity and cold duty. To the ones who enter into relationship with God, life becomes and adventure of love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

“O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved!”
Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

 

God Alone Suffices

 

Icon 3
Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Paternitas 1855 (State Museum of Palekh Art)

 

Ultimately, there really is only one thing you unequivocally can ask God: that he be your all. There is no need to coach God as to how best he ought to fulfill your needs. God is all, and, when he gives himself, he gives you everything you need. If you possess God, there is nothing more for which you can ask.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is completely focused on God himself: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. Following that, you are free to ask for what you think you need, but these special petitions must always be rooted in surrender to—and longing for—God’s very self.

The closer you are to God, the more emphasis is on the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The more you trust God, the less you are inclined to specify your prayers for the various needs you may have for yourself and others.

There is a restless concern that is not of God, a restlessness that comes from trying to carry the suffering of the world on your own shaky shoulders, rather than laying it in God’s hands.

The one who in surrender commends the world to God will continue to feel compassion for all who suffer. But it is a compassion that is held up by a deep peace rooted in the knowledge that God, who is almighty, loves everyone and can assimilate everything in his plan to save the world.

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

God Is Not Angry!

 

Cross in a blizzard art by jozef chelmonski 1907
Art by Jozef Chelmonski (1907)

 

Our God is different than we think. We have all heard of a God who demands atonement, a God who is just and wants restitution for the injustice he has been suffering. But our God is not justice. Our God is love.

We don’t need to reconcile God to us. God is reconciliation itself. God has never turned his gaze from us. It is we who have turned away from him. God had been waiting for us all along. No, not only waited. . .God has run to meet us with such overwhelming proofs of his love that it ought not possible for us to close our eyes to them.

It is not for us to appease God’s anger. God is not angry with us. Love is not resentful (1 Cor 13:5). It is, rather, God who tries to calm humanity’s anger. But he hasn’t been able to, since humanity is still angry at God. Has there ever been a time like our own in which humanity has been so cruel toward God? God is accused as never before: “What kind of God is it that allows for so much evil?”

Much of this human revolt against God is in reality directed toward a caricature of God—a God who seeks to judge, a God who looks for the first opportunity to punish. Such a God is only to be feared or despised.

But a God who hangs defenselessly on a cross, and who—with arms outstretched in a worldwide embrace—tries to unite all people with himself and one another, such a God is not hard to love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this trying and unprecedented times with COVID-19 Global Pandemic. . .
May God’s strength, healing and peace be with us all and the whole world!

 

Tend to the Seed of Faith in Your Heart

 

mustard seed art by jane n
Art by Jen Norton

 

Doubt and despair have their deepest roots in a fundamental distrust of God. It is quite often a long journey before a human being is truly convinced that God really wants the very best for him or her.

As long as your heart remains unconvinced that the one who has created  and sustains you, loves you and leads you, through whatever happens, you will not find lasting peace.

You have several resources with which you can help yourself toward a firm belief in love. You can try to confront your doubt by emphasizing trust and confidence; you can open your heart to receive testimony and preaching about God; most importantly, you can listen to God’s own word.

God’s preeminent message is that he is love. This message is in itself effective and active. If you listen to it openly, it will reach your innermost recesses.

Emotions of love will not reach the core of your being; only faith does that. The capacity for faith is like a small seed laid down in you. To some extent, it is up to you to decide whether weeds and drought are to suffocate the faith when it begins to sprout. You have within you an ability to turn your gaze toward God and turn yourself over to him with trust. Then the seed will flourish.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

All Creation Is in God

 

hourglass 2
Hourglass, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

The world is fundamentally good. Everything is in God. The world is sacred, because it is created by God at every moment. You don’t have to go away from creation in order to find God—creation is God’s symphony.

God and the world are not opposites. God did not create the world at one time long ago and then leave it to its own destiny. Wherever there is a creature, there the Creator is present. As perfume spreads fragrance, so creation goes out as a fragrance from God.

You are, at all times, surrounded and swaddled in the love of Christ—you are created in him. All that you do, you do in Christ. This is why sin is so repugnant. When you sin, you abuse creation and force God to live in a soiled temple. When you dishonor a creature, it is the Creator you offend.

If you open your eyes and see that God is in everything and that everything is in him, you no longer need to seek him far away or ask yourself whether he is really near or not. If you have an authentically contemplative attitude, you no longer place yourself outside of life. Rather, you see right through everything and find God hidden in everything.

Every moment God creates all you need; all you have to do is to receive everything from his hand. If you learn to see the innermost meaning of creation, you will always find reasons for thankfulness.

 

~ A meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.