In The Hands Of God

 

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Santa Teresa crowned by Christ, art by Gerrit Van Honthorst (1614-1615)

 

 

Yours I am, born yours to be,
what’s your will to make of me?

Sovereign Majesty, decreeing
wisdom timeless, ever whole;
kindness pleasing to my soul;
God, most high, all good, one being,
this vile creature you are seeing,
who sings to you lovingly:
what’s your will to make of me?

Yours, for me you did create,
Yours, since me you did succor,
Yours, since me you did endure,
Yours, you called me to my fate,
Yours, for me you did long wait,
Yours, I chose not lost to be.
What’s your will to make of me?

What, then, is your will, good Lord,
that this servant vile should do?
What work can you give unto
this poor slave in sin abhorred?
Look at me, sweet Love adored,
sweet Love, here for you to see,
What’s your will to make of me?

See my heart here for inspection,
I place it within your hand,
with my body, life, soul and
my deep feelings and affection,
sweetest Bridegroom and redemption,
myself offering yours to be,
What’s your will to make of me?

Give me death, or let me live,
give health or infirmity,
shame or honor give to me,
war or peace to me now give,
weakness, strength superlative,
to all these I will agree,
What’s your will to make of me?

Give me wealth or poverty,
give relief or troubled spell,
give me sorrow or give glee,
give me heaven or give me hell,
sweet life or sun without veil,
I surrender totally.
What’s your will to make of me?

If you wish to, give me prayer,
if not, give me dryness too,
if abundant worship fair,
if not barrenness will do,
Sovereign Majesty, in you
I find all my peace to be.
What’s your will to make of me?

Give me wisdom’s deep insight,
or for love, just ignorance,
give me years of abundance,
or of hunger, famine’s blight,
give me dark or clear daylight,
move me here or there freely.
What’s your will to make of me?

If you wish that I should rest,
I, for love, want to rest to savor;
if your will is that I labor,
death from work is my request.
Say where, how, when, manifest;
say, sweet Love, now say clearly.
What’s your will to make of me?

Give me Tabor or Calvary,
desert or land fruitfully fine,
be as Job in misery,
of John, on your breast recline;
let me be a fruitful vine
or bare, as your will may be.
What’s your will to make of me?

Be I Joseph placed in chains,
Egypt’s governor of renown,
or as David suffering pains,
or now David bearing crown,
be I Jonah nearly drowned,
or from waters now set free,
what’s your will to make of me?

Being silent, moved to speak,
bearing fruit or barren woe,
my wound to me law does show,
Gospel mild does joy bespeak;
mournful or enjoyment’s peak,
in me now lives You only,
what’s your will to make of me?

Yours I am, born yours to be,
what’s your will to make of me?

 

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Ávila

 

 

Today is Saint Teresa’s Birthday! I’m sharing a few photos I took of my visit to Ávila, Spain in July 2017 

 

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Church and Convent of St. Teresa of Jesus in Avila, Spain is the place where St. Teresa was born.  
July 2017 (My photo)

 

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Main Altar of the Church and Convent of St. Teresa of Jesus in Avila, Spain (photo taken by me before Mass on July 16th, 2017 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)
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Chapel of Saint Teresa ~ Casa Natal de Santa Teresa (photo taken by me)

 

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Room in which St. Teresa of Jesus was born (photo taken by me)

 

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Small garden where St. Teresa prayed (photo taken by me)

 

 

Happy Birthday Holy Mother St. Teresa! ❤ Pray for all your Carmelite family and the whole world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Only Meaning

 

Jesus the Beloved art by Amy McCutcheon
Art by Amy McCutcheon

 

 

Life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
(John 17:3)

 

Each day of our lives holds within itself the possibility of this knowledge of God, this holy wisdom. How deeply we should long for this revelation of the Father.

Let us seek, let us listen with all our hearts and care for nothing else. Then perhaps we shall be able to exclaim with perfect truth: ‘My heart knows you now, Jesus Christ my Lord, and everything worldly has lost its meaning. ‘

With perfect truth. That is, my life henceforth will reveal the truth that nothing has any meaning to me except Jesus Christ my Lord.

There is no easy way to this, only that the grain of wheat must die; the humble acceptance of our painful human lot; no complaint, no rebellion, no dodging . . .
Becoming identified with the Son of Man, the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the world by bearing the full weight and effect of it with no vestige of responding evil — only worship of his Father and infinite compassion for us.

 

~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.

 

 

Happy The One Who Loves God

How happy the heart that by love is elated,
in which only God all its thought has embraced,
renouncing for him every thing that’s created,
and finding its glory and joy by him graced.
Thus living with all thought of self so negated,
because in God all its intention is placed,
and so in great happiness and joyfully
it travels the waves of this turbulent sea.

 

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

 

You Are Seen

 

jesus and me art by ricardo colon
Art by Ricardo Colon

 

If we look at God without knowing that God always sees us first, and if we don’t encounter a love-filled gaze, then it is not God we meet. “Videntem videre,” says Augustine: We see the one who sees us. His gaze is prior and encompasses all. We are already known by God before we know him. We do not get to know God by looking at him, but by letting him look at us, and by enduring in his sight. One does not get to know the sun by staring right into its light, but rather by covering one’s eyes and exposing oneself to its rays. It is God’s gaze that makes us what we are. God is always first.

Every human being has a deep longing to be looked upon with love, to be known by another. Is it not part of love to hide nothing  from the beloved? Everyone desires to be lovingly affirmed for being just what one is.

It is a singular joy to let oneself be beheld by God, to consciously give up all resistance against his merciful light, and thus become completely transparent. One could say that holiness is nothing but living every moment in the presence of God’s loving glance. Nothing impure can resist it. If you dare to give yourself over to it, and let God see into your innermost recesses, then you are purified without even knowing how. But it all depends on whether you truly let him see everything.

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

Before The Beauty Of God

Oh, what Beauty, you exceed
every other beauty’s features!
Wounding not, you pained indeed,
without pain destroyed and freed
my love from all worldly creatures.

Oh, knot that so joins forever
two things as unlike as we,
unknown why our bond you sever,
since when tied you strengthen ever
and draw good from injury.

Bind that without being to
Being of eternity;
without finishing, now do,
not having to love, love too,
exalt our nonentity.

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D.

 

 

 

Saint Teresa of Ávila: A Mystical Poem

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The Vision of Saint Teresa, art by Bartolomeo Guidobono (late 17th century)

 

Loving Colloquy

If all the love you have for me,
my God, is like my love for you,
say, what detains me, that I do?
Or what is it delaying thee?

— Soul, what of me are your desires?
— My God, no more than you to see.
— And what most in you fear inspires?
— What I fear most is losing thee,

A soul within its God now hidden,
whatever else should it desire,
but to e’er greater love aspire,
and in that love remain all hidden,
returned anew into love’s fire?

One love that owns me I request,
my God, my soul within you centered,
for making me the sweetest nest
where union can the best be entered.

~ By Saint Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D.

Saint teresa of Avila art by Corrado Yaquinto
Santa Teresa de Ávila , arte de Corrado Yaquinto

 

Coloquio Amoroso

Si el amor que me tenéis,
Dios mío, es como el que os tengo,
Decidme: ¿en qué me detengo?
O Vos, ¿en qué os detenéis?
— Alma, ¿qué quieres de mí?
— Dios mío, no más que verte.
— Y ¿qué temes más de ti?
— Lo que más temo es perderte.
Un alma en Dios escondida
¿qué tiene que desear,
sino amar y más amar,
y en amor toda escondida
tornarte de nuevo a amar?
Un amor que ocupe os pido,
Dios mío, mi alma os tenga,
para hacer un dulce nido
adonde más la convenga.

~ Poema místico de Santa Teresa de Ávila, Carmelita Descalza

 

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Feast day of Saint Teresa of Ávila!

Deseandoles a todos un feliz y bendecido dia de Santa Teresa de Ávila!

 

 

Love’s Arrow, Love’s Surrender

surrender by Janice Van Cronkhite
Surrender, art by Janice Van Cronkhite

Love, I think, is an arrow shot by the will, and, freed from every pull of earth, flying straight at God with full force, it infallibly strikes His Majesty. Once it has pierced the Heart of God, absolute Love, it rebounds with immense graces…

O secrets of God! We must silence our understanding admitting that, never of itself can it fathom the greatness of God. Let us remember here Our Lady the Virgin, how she, in her great wisdom, surrendered in this way, and to her question to the angel, ‘How shall this be done?’ , received the answer: ‘The Holy Ghost will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’

~ Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘Conceptions of the Love of God’

Seeking God

 

Uniting with Spirit
Uniting with Spirit, art by Liane Collot D’ Herbois

 

 

Soul, you must seek yourself in Me,
and in yourself you must seek Me.

Love was so able to portray,
dear soul, inside Me your likeness,
that no skilled painter could display
in such a lovely, artful way
your image formed with such finesse.

It was for love that you were made
with beauty, oh so perfectly,
within Me deep your form portrayed,
my love, if you are lost, dismayed,
soul, you must seek yourself in Me.

How well I know that you will find
yourself within my heart portrayed
so very lifelike there displayed
that seeing it will please your mind
to see a painting so well made.

And if perchance you do not know
where you must go for finding Me,
do not walk here or there to see,
but, if you wish to find Me, go
deep in yourself to seek for Me.

 

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Avila

 

 

 

My Beloved Is For Me

 

The Transverbaration of Saint Teresa
Transverbaration of the heart of Saint Teresa of Avila, by unkown artist

I gave myself so totally,
and the exchange has thus been done
that my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

When that sweet Hunter from above had wounded and o’erpowered me,
and left me in the arms of love, my soul abiding languidly;
new life came in recovery, and the exchange has thus been done
that my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

The arrow used in wounding me with his love he had deigned to fill,
and so my soul was made to be at one with its Creator’s will.
No other love could e’er fulfill,
since to my God surrender is done,
and my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘Flame of Love’
  

 

God Alone Suffices

 

Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing. God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things. If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

 

Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, art by Giovanni Battista Piazetta (1682-1754)
Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, art by Giovanni Battista Piazetta (1682-1754)

 

Let nothing, O Lord, disturb the silence of this night.
Let nothing make me afraid.
Here in the dark remind me that in order to speak to you
my eternal father and to take delight in you,
I have no need to go to heaven or to speak in a loud voice.
However quietly I speak, you are so near that you will hear me.
I need no wings to go in search of you, but have only to understand
that the quiet of this night is a place where I can be alone with you
and look upon your presence with me.
For I have you, God, I want for nothing.
You alone suffice.

 

~ “Let nothing disturb you” 30 Days with Saint Teresa of Avila, Edited by John Kirvan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Garden

 

Art by Charles Courtney Curran, Betty Newell
Art by Charles Courtney Curran, Betty Newell

“The beginner must see himself as making a garden for the delight of his Beloved.”

So many treasures lie within St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography. In this reflection we’ll explore one of the most sublime analogies about prayer ever written.

Like Jesus, St. Teresa took the most ordinary things and spun them into startling parables. Here she likens the soul to a garden, she begins by saying “It seems to me I read or heard this metaphor somewhere.” Picture her waving her hands as she speaks: “My memory is so poor, I have no idea where it came from, but it’ll work for my purposes now. The beginner must see himself as making a garden for the delight of his Beloved. But the soil is very barren and full of noxious weeds. His Majesty himself pulls up the weeds and replaces them with good seed. Keep in mind that all this is done before you even set out to learn how to pray.”
I don’t know about you, but many times I’ve thought my garden was only poison ivy and oak gone wild. It was scary enough for me to think about going in. I wouldn’t dare invite the Beloved inside. I thought he’d only be repelled, but how I longed for his help to manage my dry, craggy, weed-filled soil. I’d have settled for having his presence while I battered the ground that was my wicked heart. I felt forsaken too much of the time. I was so misguided.

Oh, to have known in those times that my kind Beloved had no fear of what he’d find when he visited me. He wasn’t standing above me, grim-faced and judgmental, as I endlessly toiled, getting sunburned and erupting in skin rashes. Not that I made real progress. Most of the time I was clueless as to what would make my garden grow. But he was there all the time, before I arrived, before I even realized I had a garden. He was right there, hunkered down, doing the hard work of making my soul his resting place.
As much as I like the thought of donning a pair of brand-new floral garden gloves and kicking my feet into those cute rubber clogs, garden tools in hand, I don’t need any of those things to begin the work we’re about to do, because preparing soil and pulling weeds is God’s business.
This is a radical idea. Imagine what it sounded like in the sixteenth century, during the Inquisition! But I believe St. Teresa assured us that we mustn’t get caught up in worrying about our vices because we aren’t meant to do what God does best. We have our own jobs.
All good gardeners must labor. God’s done the difficult prep work, braving the noxious, unwelcoming weeds, but we have our own task. Our job is to take the time to water the plants he’s started so they don’t die. We want our plants to take root, shoot from the soil, bud, and flower. Soon they’ll grow lush enough to perfume the whole garden with their fragrances. Our Beloved will find this so refreshing that he’ll come to our garden often, finding his joy amid our sweet-smelling virtues. But how do we get there from here?

St. Teresa of Jesus gives us the broad picture:

Now let’s see how we need to water a garden, so we’ll understand what we have to do, how much the labor will cost us, if the time and work we put into it is worth it, and how long it will last. Our garden can be watered in four ways: We can draw water from the well, which is a lot of work. Or you can get the water by turning the crank of a waterwheel and drawing it through an aqueduct. I’ve tried this myself and know it’s not as much trouble to do as the first way. And you get more water.
Or you can channel the water from the flow of a river or stream. The garden is watered much better this way because the ground is saturated and you don’t have to water it as frequently. This is a lot less work for the gardener.
Or the water may come from an abundant rain pouring on the soil; the Lord waters the garden himself, without any work on our part. This is by far the best method of all.

So, if the garden is the soul, and we are the gardeners in cooperation with God. What exactly is this water? I’ll let St. Teresa answer. “The four ways of watering the garden in order to maintain it are the four degrees of prayer that the Lord in his goodness has sometimes placed in our soul. Without water everything will die.”
It’s all quite simple: our garden needs water. St. Teresa says, “Nothing I’ve found is more appropriate to explain spiritual experiences. . . I’m so fond of this element I’ve observed it more than any other.” She spoke of three relevant  properties that water has: If you’re hot, it will cool you off. “It’ll even cool off large fires.” I’m sure I don’t have to tell you “hot” and “fire” have multiple implications here, which I’ll leave to your imagination. The second property of water is its ability to clean dirty things. St. Teresa asks, “Do you know what cleansing properties there are in this living water, this heavenly water, this clear water when it is unclouded, free from mud, and comes down from heaven? Once the soul has drunk of this water, it purifies and cleanses it from all sins.”
And St. Teresa explains a third property of water: it quenches thirst. “Thirst means the desire for something so necessary that if we do not have it we will die.” And to St. Teresa, prayer satisfies the most insatiable thirsts. It can also show us our spiritual blind spots. Hold a glass of water up. It looks clear, but if you hold it up to the light, you can see the dust particles. In prayer, God can reveal our weakness.

As for the degrees and grades of prayer, the truth is that in her writings she mentions a lot more than four, but St. Teresa’s life and writings represent years of practicing prayer. Let’s take this journey one metaphor at a time. For now, make a garden, and be sure that is getting enough water.

~ By Claudia M. Burney, God Alone Is Enough

 

‘Go forward then, full of faith and loving confidence, and deliver yourself into the hands of His providence.  Be to Him a field that He may cultivate as He pleases, without any resistance on your part.  Remain humbly and peacefully clinging to His good pleasure.’ ~ St. Margaret Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wounding of Her Heart

 

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The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila, Sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Last year I had the blessing to travel to Rome and visited the church of  Santa Maria della Vittoria. This beautiful church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is known for the masterpiece of Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila. Here above is the photo I took up close of this very impressive sculpture that is so worth of viewing and contemplating. Bernini became inspired by the most famous vision of Saint Teresa, the wounding of her heart.  

 

In Saint Teresa’s own words:

“Sometimes love, like an arrow, is thrust into the deepest part of the heart and the soul doesn’t know what has happened or what it wants, except all it wants is God. The soul feels as if the arrow has been dipped in a poisonous herb that makes it despise itself for love of him. This pierced soul would gladly lose itself for him. You can’t explain this. It’s impossible to exaggerate the way of God wounds the soul, or the agony this causes, for the soul forgets itself. Yet this pain is so exquisite…so delightful…that no other pleasure in life gives greater happiness.

“Oh, how many times in this state do I remember the words of David: ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.’ I experience it literally when he wounds me.

“Sometimes in this state I saw a vision: an angel in bodily form, standing very close to me on my left side. The angel was not large, but small and very beautiful. His face was so aflame that I thought he must be a cherub, one of the highest order of angels, who seem to be made of fire.

“I saw that his hands held a great golden dart, and at the end of the iron tip fire plumed. The angel plunged the flaming dart through my heart again and again until it penetrated my innermost core. When he withdrew it, it felt like he was carrying the deepest part of me away with him. He left me on fire, consumed with the immense love of God. The pain was so fierce that it made me moan, and its sweetness so utterly divine it abolished any desire to take it away; nor is the soul content with anything but God.”