The Carmelite Order has been blessed throughout its history with men and women outstanding in zeal for God and the spread of His Word wherever they have found themselves. Some of these have been elevated by Mother Church to the ranks of the Blesseds and Saints. Below—listed by month in order of the saints' feast days—are all those from the Order who have been either canonized (St.) or beatified (Bl.).
To the left are articles about a few of the more notable of these Carmelite saints. Just click on the name of each saint you would like to read about.
Bl. Kuriakos Elias Chavara, Priest (1805-71)
St. Peter Thomas, Bishop (d. 1366)
St. Andrew Corsini, Bishop (d. 1374)
St. Henry de Ossó y Cervelló, Priest (d. 1896)
Bl. Archangela Girlani, Virgin
Bl. Nuño Alvares Pereira, Lay Brother (1360-1431)
Bl. Baptist Spagnoli, Priest (1447-1516)
Bl. Mary of the Incarnation, Lay Sister (1566-1618)
Bl. Teresa Mary of the Cross Manetti, Virgin (1846-1910)
St. Angelus, Priest/Martyr
Bl. Aloysius Rabata, Priest
St. Simon Stock, Priest (XIII cent.)
St. Joachina de Vedruna (de Mas), Religious (1783-1854)
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin (1566-1607)
Bl. Elia of St. Clement, Virgin (1901-1927)
Bl. Anne of St. Bartholomew, Virgin (1549-1626)
Bl. Alphonsus Mary Mazurek, Priest & Martyr
Bl. Hilarion Janusewski, Priest-Martyr
Bl. Mother Maria Candida of the Eucharist, Virgin
St. Elisha, Prophet
St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, Virgin (1900-20)
Bl. Teresa of St Augustine and companions of Compiègne, Virgin Martyrs (d. 1794)
St. Elijah, Prophet and our Father (IX cent. BC)
Bl. Maria Pilar, Teresa, and Maria Angeles, Virgins, Martyrs of Guadalajara
Bl. Maria Mercedes Prat, Virgin (1880-1936)
St. Titus Brandsma, Priest / Martyr (1881-1942)
Bl. John Soreth, Priest (1394-1471)
St. Albert of Trapani, Priest (d. 1307?)
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Virgin Martyr (1891-1942)
Bl. Isadore Bakanja, Martyr
Bl. Maria Sagrario of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Virgin Martyr (1881-1936)
Bl. Angelus Augustine Mazzinghi, Priest
Discalced Carmelite Martyrs of French Revolution (Bl Jean-Baptiste Duverneil, Bl Michael-Louis Brulard & Bl Jacques Gagnot, Priests/Martyrs)
St. Mary (Mariam) of Jesus Crucified, Virgin (1846-78)
Bl. James Retouret, Priest/Martyr
St. Teresa Margaret Redi, Virgin (1747-70)
Bl. Mary of Jesus, Virgin (1560-1640)
St. Albert, Patriarch and Lawgiver of Carmel (d. 1214)
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor (1873-97)
St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila), Virgin and Doctor (1515-82)
Bl. Maria Teresa of St. Joseph, Virgin and Foundress
Bl. Francis of Jesus, Mary Joseph Palau y Quer, Priest (1811-72)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Virgin (1880-1906)
St. Raphael Kalinowski, Priest (1835-1907)
Bl. Dennis of the Nativity, Priest, Martyr, and Redemptus of the Cross, Lay Brother, Martyr, (d. 1638)
St. Maria Maravillas of Jesus, Virgin (1891-1974)
St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor (1542-91)
Bl. Mary of the Angels, Virgin (1661-1717)
Below are the biographies of some of the more notable of the Carmelite saints. You can scroll down to find the saint you are interested in reading about. The order you can find them in is:
ST. ALBERT OF JERUSALEM
ST. SIMON STOCK
ST. TERESA OF AVILA (TERESA OF JESUS)
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
ST. ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY
ST. TERESA OF JESUS OF THE ANDES
ST. TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS (EDITH STEIN)
ST. MARIAM OF JESUS CRUCIFIED ("THE LITTLE ARAB")
ST. RAPHAEL KALINOWSKI
"Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.” 1 Kings 18:36
Elijah, revered as the spiritual Father and traditional founder of the Order of Carmelites, was a prophet and a wonder-worker in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab during the 9th century B.C. According to the Books of Kings in the Old Testament, Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Canaanite idol Baal. He also had God perform miracles for him, which included raising the dead, bringing fire down from the sky, and having himself be taken up "by a whirlwind". In the Book of Malachi, Elijah's return is prophesied "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord," making him a harbinger of both the Messiah and the end of the world. References to Elijah appear in the New Testament, the Talmud, the Mishnah, and the Qur'an.
In addition to taking their name from Mt. Carmel, where the first hermits of the order established themselves, the Calced Carmelite and Discalced Carmelite traditions pertaining to Elijah focus upon the prophet’s withdrawal from public life. The medieval Carmelite Book of the First Monks offers some insight into the heart of the Orders' contemplative vocation and reverence for the prophet.
In Judaism, Elijah's name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah ritual that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover seder and the Brit milah (ritual circumcision). At the circumcision ceremonies, a chair is set aside for the use of Elijah. This custom stems from the incident at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19): Elijah had arrived at Mount Horeb after the demonstration of God's presence and power on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). God asked Elijah to explain his arrival, and Elijah replied: “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and only I am left—and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10). The thinking goes that since Elijah accused Israel of failing to uphold the covenant, God would require Elijah to be present at every covenant of circumcision.
The New Testament describes how both Jesus and John the Baptist are compared to Elijah and, on some occasions, thought by some to be manifestations of Elijah. In the Qur'an and certain Islamic traditions, Elijah is described as a great and righteous man of God and one who powerfully preached against the worship of Baal.
By the 9th century BC, the Kingdom of Israel, once united under King Solomon, was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, which retained the historic seat of government at the Temple in Jerusalem. Omri, King of Israel, continued policies dating from the reign of Jeroboam, contrary to the laws of Moses, which were intended to reorient religious focus away from Jerusalem: encouraging the building of local temple altars for sacrifices, appointing priests from outside the family of the Levites, and allowing or encouraging temples dedicated to the Canaanite god, Baal. Omri achieved domestic security with a marriage alliance between his son Ahab and the Princess Jezebel, a priestess of Baal and the daughter of the king of Sidon in Phoenicia. These solutions brought security and economic prosperity to Israel for a time, but did not bring peace with the Israelite prophets, who were interested in a strict Deuteronomic interpretation of Mosaic law.
Under Ahab's kingship, these tensions were exacerbated. Ahab built a temple for Baal, and his wife Jezebel brought a large entourage of priests and prophets of Baal and Asherah into the country. It is in this context that Elijah is introduced in 1 Kings 17:1 as “Elijah the Tishbite". He warned Ahab that there would be years of catastrophic drought so severe that not even dew would fall, because Ahab and his queen stood at the end of a line of kings of Israel who were said to have "done evil in the sight of the Lord" (1st and 2nd Kings).
As told in the Old Testament, Elijah's challenge is bold and direct. Baal was the Canaanite god thought to be responsible for rain, thunder, lightning, and dew. Elijah not only challenged Baal on behalf of his own God, Yahweh, but he also challenged Jezebel, her priests, Ahab, and the people of Israel. After Elijah's confrontation with Ahab, God told him to flee out of Israel to a hiding place by the brook Chorath, east of the Jordan, where he would be fed by ravens. When the brook dried up, God sent him to a widow living in the town of Zarephatho in Phoenicia.
When Elijah found her and asked to be fed, she said that she did not have sufficient food to keep her and her own son alive. Elijah told her that God would not allow her supply of flour or oil to run out, saying, "Don't be afraid. This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.' " She then fed him the last of their food, and Elijah's promise miraculously came true. Thus, by an act of faith the woman received "manna" from Heaven even while He was withholding food from His unfaithful people in the promised land. Sometime later, the widow's son died and the widow cried out, "Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" Moved by a faith like that of Abraham (Romans 4:17, Hebrews 11:19), Elijah prayed that God might restore her son so that the veracity and trustworthiness of God's word might be demonstrated. In 1 Kings 17:22, we read how God "heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he was revived." This is the first instance of raising the dead recorded in Scripture. This non-Israelite widow was granted the best covenant blessing in the person of her son, the only hope for a widow in ancient society. The widow cried out, "...the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth," thus making a confession that the Israelites had failed to make.
After more than three years of drought and famine, God told Elijah to return to Ahab and announce the end of the drought. While on his way, Elijah met Obadiah, the head of Ahab's household, who had hidden a hundred prophets of the God of Israel when Ahab and Jezebel had been killing them. Elijah sent Obadiah back to Ahab to announce his return to Israel. When Ahab confronted Elijah, he referred to him as the "troubler of Israel." Elijah responded by throwing the charge back at Ahab, saying that it was Ahab who troubled Israel by allowing the worship of false gods. Elijah then berated both the people of Israel and Ahab for their acquiescence in Baal worship. “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). And the people were silent. The Hebrew for the words "go limping" or "waver” is the same as that used for "danced" in Verse 26, where the prophets of Baal frantically danced. Elijah spoke with sharp irony; in the religious ambivalence of Israel, he is portrayed here as engaging in a wild and futile religious "dance".
At this point Elijah proposed a direct test of the powers of Baal and Yahweh. The people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherahwere summoned to Mount Carmel. Two altars were built, one for Baal and one for Yahweh. Wood was laid on the altars, and two slaughtered oxen were cut into pieces and laid on the wood. Elijah then invited the priests of Baal to pray for fire to light the sacrifice. They prayed from morning to noon without success, and Elijah ridiculed their efforts. They responded by cutting themselves and adding their own blood to the sacrifice (such mutilation of the body was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic law). They continued praying until evening without success. Elijah then ordered that the altar of Yahweh be drenched with water from "four large jars" poured three times (1 Kings 18:33–34). He asked God to accept the sacrifice, and fire fell from the sky, consuming the water, the sacrifice, and the stones of the altar itself. At that point, Elijah ordered the deaths of the prophets of Baal and prayed earnestly for rain to fall again on the land. Then the rains began, signaling the end of the famine.
Jezebel, enraged that Elijah had ordered the deaths of her priests, threatened to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1–13). Later Elijah prophesied about Jezebel's death because of her sin and then fled to Beersheba in Judah, continuing alone into the wilderness, where he sat down under a shrub and prayed for death. He then fell asleep under a tree until an angel of the Lord touched him and told him to wake up and eat. When he awoke, he found bread and a jar of water, which he consumed before going back to sleep. The angel came a second time and told him to again eat and drink because he had a long journey ahead of him.
Elijah traveled for forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb, where Moses had received the Ten Commandments. Elijah is the only person described in the Bible as returning to Horeb after Moses and his generation had left there several centuries before. He sought shelter in a cave, where God again spoke to him (1 Kings 19:9): "Why are you here, Elijah?" Elijah did not give a direct answer to the Lord's question but evaded and equivocated, implying that the work the Lord had begun centuries earlier had now come to nothing, and that his own work was fruitless. Unlike Moses, who tried to defend Israel when they sinned with the golden calf, Elijah bitterly complained over the Israelites' unfaithfulness and said that he was the "only one left." Up until that time, Elijah had only the Word of God to guide him, but was now told to go outside the cave and "stand before the Lord." A terrible wind passed, but God was not in the wind. A great earthquake shook the mountain, but God was not in the earthquake. Then a fire passed the mountain, but God was not in the fire. Then a "still small voice" came to Elijah and asked again, "Why are you here, Elijah?" Elijah again evaded the question, showing that he did not understand the importance of the divine revelation he had just witnessed. God then sent him out again, this time to Damascus to anoint Hazael as King of Syria, Jehu as King of Israel, and Elisha as his replacement.
Elijah encountered Ahab again in 1 Kings 21, after Ahab has acquired possession of a vineyard by murder. Ahab desired to have the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel. He offered a better vineyard or a fair price for the land. But Naboth told Ahab that God told him not to part with the land. Ahab accepted this answer with sullen bad grace. Jezebel, however, plotted a method for acquiring the land. She sent letters, in Ahab's name, to the elders and nobles who lived near Naboth, saying they were to arrange a feast and invite Naboth; at the feast, false charges of cursing God and Ahab were to be made against him. The plot was carried out, and Naboth was stoned to death. When word came that Naboth was dead, Jezebel told Ahab to take possession of the vineyard.
God again spoke to Elijah and sent him to confront Ahab with a question and a prophecy: "Have you killed and also taken possession?" and "In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick up your own blood?" (1 Kings 21:19). Ahab responded by calling Elijah his enemy. Elijah countered by throwing the charge back at him, telling him that he made himself the enemy of God by his own actions. Elijah then went beyond the prophecy he was given and told Ahab that his entire kingdom would reject his authority; that Jezebel and his entire family would be eaten by dogs (if they die in a city) or by birds (if they die in the country). When Ahab heard this, he repented to such a degree that God relented in punishing him—although he still punished Jezebel and their son, Ahaziah.
Elijah then encountered Ahaziah, who was seriously injured in a fall and had sent for the priests of Baalzebub in Ekron to find out if he would recover. Elijah intercepted his messengers and sent them back to Ahaziah with a question: "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are inquiring of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?"(2 Kings 1:6). Ahaziah asked the messengers to describe the person who gave them this message, and they told him that he wore a hairy coat with a leather belt. Ahaziah instantly recognized this description as being that of Elijah the Tishbite. Ahaziah then sent out three groups of soldiers to arrest Elijah. The first two were destroyed by fire, which Elijah called down from heaven. The leader of the third group asked for mercy for himself and his men. Elijah agreed to accompany this third group to Ahaziah, where he gave his prophecy in person.
Elijah, in company with Elisha (Eliseus), approached the Jordan, rolled up his mantle, and struck the water (2 Kings 2:8). The water immediately divided and Elijah and Elisha crossed on dry land. Suddenly, a chariot of fire and horses appeared, and Elijah was lifted up in a whirlwind. As Elijah was lifted up, his mantle fell to the ground and Elisha picked it up.In spite of Elijah's many miracles, the mass of the Jewish people remained as godless as before. They even abolished the sign of the covenant, a
nd the prophet had to appear as Israel's accuser before God.
In the New Testament, Jesus would say, for those who believed, that John the Baptist was Elijah,the one who would come before the "great and terrible day," as predicted by Malachi. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and baptism and predicted the day of judgment using imagery similar to that of Malachi. He also preached that the Messiah was coming. All of this was done in a style that immediately recalled the image of Elijah to his audience. He wore a coat of camel's hair secured with a leather girdle (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6) and frequently preached in wilderness areas near the Jordan River. In the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist was asked by a delegation of priests, "Art thou Elias?,” he replied "I am not" (John 1:21). Both Matthew 11:14 and Matthew 17:10–13, however, make it clear that John was the spiritual successor to Elijah. In the nativity story of St. John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, John's father, and told him that John "will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God," and that he will go forth "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:16–17).
In the Gospel of Luke, Herod Antipas hears some of the stories surrounding Jesus Christ. Some tell Herod that Jesus is John the Baptist (whom Herod had executed) come back to life. Others tell him that Jesus is Elijah. Later in the same Gospel, Jesus asked His disciples who the people were saying that He was. The apostles' answers included, among others,the Prophet Elijah. However, Jesus' ministry had little in common with that of Elijah; in particular, He preached the forgiveness of one's enemies, while Elijah killed his. However, miracle stories similar to those of Elijah were associated with Jesus (e.g., raising the dead and miraculous feedings). Jesus implicitly separated Himself from Elijah when He rebuked James and John for desiring to call down fire upon an unwelcoming Samaritan village in a similar manner to Elijah. Likewise, Jesus rebuked a potential follower who wanted first to return home to say farewell to his family, whereas Elijah permitted this of his replacement Elisha.
During Jesus' crucifixion, some of the onlookers wondered if Elijah would come to rescue Him, as Elijah had entered folklore as a rescuer of Jews in distress. At the summit of Mount Tabor during the miracle of the Transfiguration, Jesus' face began to shine; and the disciples who were with Him heard the voice of God announce that “this is My beloved Son…" The disciples then saw Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus, causing Peter to be so struck by the experience that he asked
Jesus if they should build three "tabernacles,” one for Elijah, one for Jesus, and one for Moses. There is agreement among many Christian theologians that Elijah appeared as a witness of the prophets; and Moses, as a witness of the law.
Elijah is mentioned three more times in the New Testament: in Luke, Romans, and James. In Luke 4:24–27, Jesus used Elijah as an example of rejected prophets, saying, "No prophet is accepted in his own country," and then mentioned Elijah, saying that there were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent to one in Phoenicia. In Romans 11:1–6, Paul cited Elijah as an example of God never forsaking His people (the Israelites). In James 5:16–18, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," is cited as an example of Elijah's prayers, which started and ended the famine in Israel.
The 1995 Constitutions of the Carmelite Friars summarize the importance of Elijah in Carmelite spirituality today: “In Elijah we see the solitary prophet who nurtured his thirst for the one and only God, and lived in His presence. He is the contemplative, burning with passionate love for the Absolute who is God, ‘his word flaring like a torch.’ He is the mystic who, after a long and wearisome journey, learned to read the new signs of God’s presence. He is the prophet who became involved in the lives of the people, and who, by battling against false idols, brought them back to faithfulness to their Covenant with the One God. He is the prophet who was in solidarity with the poor and the forgotten, and who defended those who endured violence and injustice. From Elijah, Carmelites learn to be people of the desert, with hearts undivided, standing before God and entirely dedicated to His service, uncompromising in the choice to serve God’s cause, aflame with a passionate love for God. Like Elijah, they believe in God and allow themselves to be led by the Spirit and by the Word that has taken root in their hearts, in order to bear witness to the divine presence in the world, allowing God to be truly God in their lives. Finally, in Elijah they see not only prophetic wisdom, but also brotherhood lived in community; and with Elijah they learn to be channels of God’s tender love for the poor and the humble.”
ABOVE LEFT: Painting of Elijah and Mary: An ancient Carmelite interpretation of the cloud of pure rain that Elijah saw rising from the salty sea (1 Kings 18:44) is that it prefigured Mary who was born immaculate. This painting of the episode, depicting Elijah in the Carmelite habit, is in Saint Albert's International Center in Rome.
ST. ALBERT OF JERUSALEM
"Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself." -St. Albert
St. Albert of Jerusalem was born Albert Avogadro in Castel Gualtieri in Emilia, Italy, about 1149, probably to a noble family. He was educated in theology and law and was an outstanding ecclesiastical figure in the era in which the Holy See faced opposition from Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Serving as a mediator in the dispute between the emperor and Pope Clement III, Albert was made an imperial prince, a sign of favor from Barbarossa. In 1184 he was appointed as the bishop of Bobbio, Italy, and soon after he was named to the See of Vercelli, where he governed for twenty years. It was during this period of service that he served as mediator between the pope and emperor and undertook diplomatic missions of national and international importance—with rare prudence and firmness. In 1191, he celebrated a diocesan synod which proved of great value for its disciplinary provisions which continued to serve as a model until modern times. He was also involved in a large amount of legislative work for various religious orders: he wrote the statutes for the canons of Biella and was among the advisers who drew up the Rule of the Humiliates. In 1194, he effected a peace between Pavia and Milan and, five years later, between Parma and Piacenza.
In 1205, at the age of 54, Albert was appointed the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a post established in 1099 when Jerusalem became a Latin kingdom in the control of Christian crusaders. The position was open not only to persecution but to martyrdom at the hands of the Muslims. Albert accepted and he proved himself not only diplomatic but winning in his ways. The Muslims of the area respected him for his sanctity and his intelligence. He arrived in Palestine early in 1206 and took up residence in Acre (now called Akko) because, at that time, Jerusalem was occupied by the Saracens (ever since 1187 when they captured it). He was involved in various peace initiatives, not only among Christians but also between the Christians and non-Christians, and he carried out his duties with great energy.
He also became involved in a concern that assured his place in religious history. Overlooking the city and bay of Acre is the holy mountain called Carmel. At that time, a group of holy hermits lived on Mount Carmel in separate caves and cells. In 1209, Albert was approached by St. Brocard, the prior or superior of the group of hermits, who asked him to draw up a rule of life for them—a rule that would constitute the beginning of the Carmelite Order. The Carmelite Rule of St. Albert of Jerusalem, the shortest of the rules of consecrated life in existence, composed almost exclusively of Scriptural precepts, was given to the Brothers of the Most Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. The approval was the first recognition by the Church of this group of men, who, the Pontiff said, “imitated the sublime examples of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Prophet Elijah.” The Rule included severe fasts, a perpetual abstinence from meat, silence, and seclusions. Friars, nuns, and lay people in the Carmelite Order all over the world are very familiar with the Rule—which, over the centuries, has been read, reflected on, and interpreted in many different ways. The flexible nature of the Rule gives great scope for living it out in the monastery or the active apostolic life.
The Rule is directed to "Brother B.", held by tradition to be St. Brocard, the head of the hermits living in the spirit of Elijah near the prophet's spring on Mount Carmel. On January 30, 1226, Pope Honorius III approved it as their rule of life in the bull, “Ut Vivendi Normam.” About 20 years later, on October 1, 1247, Pope Innocent IV, approved the Rule. The Rule states that it is fundamental for a Carmelite to "live a life in allegiance to Jesus Christ, to be pure in heart and stout in conscience, and to be unswerving in the service of the Master." To live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Carmelites bind themselves especially to:
Develop the contemplative dimension of their life, in an open dialogue with God
Live a life full of charity
Meditate day and night on the Word of the Lord
Pray together and/or alone several times a day
Celebrate the Eucharist every day
Do manual work, as St. Paul the Apostle did
Purify themselves of every trace of evil
Live in poverty, placing in common what little they may have
Love the Church and all people
Conform their will to that of God, seeking the will of God in faith, in dialogue, and through discernment.
On September 14, 1214, at the age of 63, Albert was assassinated in the Church of St. John of Acre during a procession on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. His assassin was the disgruntled former Director of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, whom Albert had rebuked for wrongdoing and ultimately demoted. Albert was stabbed three times and died in his liturgical vestments. As he was dying, he asked for forgiveness for his murderer.
Albert's writings still bring a message to today's world. The words of Scripture seem to flow almost unconsciously from his pen; he was so steeped in the Word of God that it penetrated his very thinking. Albert can also be an inspiration to those in leadership roles, especially within the Church. He did not impose all his own ideas on the group of hermits who came to him, but instead listened to what they told him about their way of life, and then adapted it and gave it structure. In the instructions he gave to the first Carmelites, he is careful not to be too demanding or rigid. He stressed the importance of common sense in interpreting what had to be done. This openness and flexibility gives a great "human feel" to the Carmelite Rule.
Prayer to St. Albert: Lord God, through St. Albert of Jerusalem, you have given us a Rule of life, according to your Gospel, to help us attain perfect love. May we always live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve faithfully until death Him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Rule of Saint Albert
 Albert, called by God’s favor to be Patriarch of the Church of Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved sons in Christ, Brother B., and the other hermits, under obedience to Him, who live near the spring on Mount Carmel.
 Many and varied are the ways in which our saintly forefathers laid down how everyone, whatever his station or the kind of religious observance he has chosen, should live a life in allegiance to Jesus Christ, and how pure in heart and stout in conscience he must be—unswerving in the service of the Master.
 It is to me, however, that you have come for a rule of life in keeping with your avowed purpose, a Rule you may hold fast to henceforward; and therefore:
 The first thing I require is for you to have a Prior, one of yourselves, who is to be chosen for the office by common consent, or that of the greater and maturer part of you. Each of the others must promise him obedience—of which, once promised, he must try to make his deed the true reflection—and also chastity and the renunciation of ownership.
 If the Prior and the brothers see fit, you may have foundations in solitary places, or where you are given a site suitable and convenient for the observance proper to your Order.
 Next, each one of you is to have a separate cell, situated as the lie of the land you propose to occupy may dictate, and allotted by disposition of the Prior with the agreement of the other brothers, or the more mature among them.
 However, you are to eat whatever may have been given you in a common refectory, listening together meanwhile to a reading from Holy Scripture where that can be done without difficulty.
 None of the brothers is to occupy a cell other than that allotted to him, or to exchange cells with another, without leave of whoever is Prior at the time.
 The Prior’s cell should stand near the entrance to your property, so that he may be the first to meet those who approach, and whatever has to be done in consequence may all be carried out as he may decide and order.
 Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty.
 Those who know how to say the canonical hours with those in orders should do so, in the way those holy forefathers of ours laid down, and according to the Church’s approved custom. Those who do not know the hours must say twenty-five “Our Fathers” for the night office, except on Sundays and solemnities when that number is to be doubled so that the “Our Father” is said fifty times; the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in place of Lauds, and seven times, too, for each of the other hours, except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.
 None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but you are to possess everything in common; and each is to receive from the Prior—that is from the brother he appoints for the purpose—whatever befits his age and needs.
 You may have as many asses and mules as you need, however, and may keep a certain amount of livestock or poultry.
 An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.
 On Sundays, too, or other days if necessary, you should discuss matters of discipline and your spiritual welfare; and on this occasion the indiscretions and failings of the brothers, if any be found at fault, should be lovingly corrected.
 You are to fast every day, except Sundays, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from the fast—for necessity overrides every law.
 You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness or feebleness. But as, when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your way, outside your own houses you may eat foodstuffs that have been cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts. At sea, however, meat may be eaten.
 Since man’s life on earth is a time of trial, and all who would live devotedly in Christ must undergo persecution, and the devil, your foe, is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for prey to devour, you must use every care to clothe yourselves in God’s armor so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy’s ambush.
 Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: there can be no pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this: your faith. On your head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only Savior, who sets His own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the Word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment.
 You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of St. Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put His own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, laboring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.
 The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from after Compline until after Prime the next day. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as Scripture has it—and experience teaches us no less—sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and he who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offense, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness.
 Your brother B., and whoever may succeed you as Prior, must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in the Gospel: Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make yourself servant to the rest, and whichever of you would be first must become your bondsman.
 You other brothers, too, hold your Prior in humble reverence, your minds not on him but on Christ who has placed him over you, and who, to those who rule the Churches, addressed these words: Whoever pays you heed, pays heed to Me, and whoever treats you with dishonor, dishonors Me; if you remain so minded, you will not be found guilty of contempt, but will merit life eternal as fit reward for your obedience.
 Here then are a few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of conduct to live up to; but our Lord, at his Second Coming, will reward anyone who does more than he is obliged to do. See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however, for common sense is the guide of the virtues.
ST. SIMON STOCK
”Whosoever dies in this garment (the Brown Scpular) shall not suffer Eternal fire. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.”
St. Simon Stock was born in the County of Kent, England, about 1165. Although little is known about his early life, legend has it that he was strongly devoted to God from his youth, to the point that he left home at age 12 to live in the forest as a hermit. The name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," derives from the fact that during his time as a hermit, he was said to have lived in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree. Following the customs of the earliest monks, he lived on fruit and water and spent his time in prayer and meditation. After two decades of solitary life in the wilderness, he returned to society to acquire an education in theology and become a priest. Afterwards, he returned to his hermitage until the year 1212.
Around that time, a group of monks from the Holy Land sought formal recognition as a religious order. Their origins were mysterious, and by some accounts extended back to the time before Christ, originating in the ministry of the Biblical Prophet Elijah. These Carmelite friars had an ascetic, contemplative lifestyle, combined with ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is she who is said to have appeared to Simon Stock, telling him to leave his hermitage and join the order that would soon be arriving with the return of two English Crusaders. Impressed by the Carmelites’ rigorous monasticism, Simon joined them that year (1212) and was sent to complete a course of studies at Oxford. Not long after his return to the order, he was appointed its vicar general in 1215. He defended the Carmelites in a dispute over their legitimacy, later resolved by the Popes.
In 1237, Simon took part in a general chapter of the Carmelites in the Holy Land. Facing persecution from Muslims, a majority of the monks there decided to make their home in Europe – including Simon’s native England, where the order would go on to prosper for several centuries. In 1247 he was elected the sixth general of the Carmelites at the first chapter held at Aylesford, England. Notwithstanding his great age, he showed remarkable energy as general and did much for the benefit of the order, so that he is justly regarded as the most celebrated of its generals. During his occupancy of the office, the order became widely spread in southern and western Europe, especially in England; above all, he was able to found houses in the university cities of that era, as in 1248 at Cambridge, in 1253 at Oxford, in 1260 at Paris and Bologna, and he helped to change the Carmelites from a hermit Order to one of mendicant friars.
Simon Stock's lasting fame came from an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, (the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) at a time when the Carmelite Order was being oppressed. In it the Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand. Her words were: "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection." The scapular (from the Latin, scapula, meaning "shoulder blade") consists of two pieces of cloth, one worn on the chest, and the other on the back, which were connected by straps or strings passing over the shoulders. In certain Orders, monks and nuns wear scapulars that reach from the shoulders almost to the ground as outer garments. Lay persons usually wear scapulars underneath their clothing; these consist of two pieces of material only a few inches square. There are elaborate rules governing the wearing of the scapular: although it may be worn by any Catholic, even an infant, the investiture must be done by a priest. And the scapular must be worn in the proper manner; if an individual neglects to wear it for a time, the benefits are forfeited. The Catholic Church has approved eighteen different kinds of scapulars of which the best known is the woolen brown scapular, or the Scapular of Mount Carmel, that the Virgin Mary bestowed on Simon Stock.
On account of this great privilege many distinguished Englishmen, such as King Edward II, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and many others of the nobility, secretly wore the Carmelite scapular under their clothing and died with it on. At a later date, probably not until the sixteenth century, instead of the scapular of the order the small scapular was given as a token of the scapular brotherhood. Today the brotherhood regards this as its chief privilege, one it owes to St. Simon Stock, that anyone who dies wearing the scapular is not eternally lost. In this way the chief privilege and entire history of the little Carmelite scapular is connected with the name of St. Simon Stock. That Simon himself was distinguished by special veneration of and love for the Virgin is shown by the antiphonies he wrote, "Flos Carmeli" and "Ave Stella Matutina," which have been adopted in the breviary of the Calced Carmelites.
In 1254 he was elected Superior-General of his Order at London. This action was of the greatest importance both for the growth of the institution and for the training of its younger members. Simon was also able to gain at least the temporary approbation of Innocent IV for the altered rule of the order which had been adapted to European conditions. Nevertheless, the order was greatly oppressed, and it was still struggling everywhere to secure admission, either to obtain the consent of the secular clergy, or the toleration of other orders. In these difficulties, the monks prayed to their patroness the Blessed Virgin. And the Virgin Mary revealed to their prior that they were to apply fearlessly to Pope Innocent, for they would receive from him an effective remedy for these difficulties.” The prior followed the counsel of the Virgin, and the order received a Bull or letter of protection from Innocent IV against these molestations.
He died at the age of 100 in the Carmelite monastery at Bordeaux, France, on May 16, 1265—the same day on which his feast is celebrated each year.
ST. TERESA OF JESUS (OF AVILA)
"Be gentle to all but stern with yourself." ~St. Teresa of Avila, OCD
Teresa de Ahumada y Cepeda was born in Avila, Castile, Spain, on March 28, 1515. Her paternal grandfather, Juanito de Hernandez, was a marrano (Jewish convert to Christianity) and was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for allegedly returning to the Jewish faith. Her parents were of a very high estate, her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, was a rather wealthy merchant. He bought a knighthood and successfully assimilated into Christian society. He was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa's mother, Beatriz de Ahumada y Cuevas, loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle—especially since she liked the romances, too. Her father told her never to lie, but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong.
Teresa was the "most beloved" among her nine brothers and sisters. From her youth, Teresa showed great zeal and piety, as well as courage. Teresa was considered by all those around her to be quite beautiful. Plus she had an irresistible charm, a sharp wit, a kind nature, and much enthusiasm. Everyone loved to be around her. She was skilled in embroidery, wonderful at housekeeping, and a rather excellent writer.
When she was five years old, she convinced her older brother that they should, as she says in her Life, "go off to the land of the Moors and beg them, out of love of God, to cut off our heads there." They got as far as the road from the city before an uncle found them and brought them back. Some people have used this story as an early example of sanctity, but some think it's better used as an early example of her strong will. After this incident she led a fairly ordinary life, though she was convinced that she was a horrible sinner.
When Teresa was 14 her mother died, and Teresa became grief-stricken. This prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Along with this good resolution, however, she also developed immoderate interests in reading popular fiction (consisting, at that time, mostly of medieval tales of knighthood and romance), paying great attention to her appearance and her clothing, flirting with boys, and rebelling—like other teenagers throughout the ages. When she was 16, her father decided she was out of control and sent her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually she began to enjoy it—partly because of her growing love for God, and partly because the convent was a lot less strict than her father.
Still, when the time came for her to choose between marriage and religious life, she had a tough time making the decision. She'd watched a difficult marriage negatively affect her mother. On the other hand, being a nun didn't seem like much fun. When she finally chose religious life, she did so because she thought that it was the only safe place for someone as prone to sin as she was.
Once installed at the Carmelite convent permanently, she started to learn and practice mental prayer, in which she "tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ present within me. My imagination is so dull that I had no talent for imagining or coming up with great theological thoughts." Teresa prayed this way off and on for eighteen years without feeling that she was getting results. Part of the reason for her trouble was that the convent was not the safe place she assumed it would be. Many women who had no place else to go wound up at the convent, whether they had vocations or not. Nuns were encouraged to stay away from the convents for long period of time to cut down on expenses. They also arranged their veils attractively and wore jewelry. Prestige depended not on piety but on money. There was a steady stream of visitors in the convent parlors and parties that included young men. What spiritual life there was involved hysteria, weeping, exaggerated penance, nosebleeds, and self- induced visions.
Teresa suffered the same problem that Francis of Assisi did—she was too charming. Everyone liked her and she liked to be liked. She found it too easy to slip into a worldly life and ignore God. The convent encouraged her to have visitors to whom she would teach mental prayer because their financial gifts helped the community economy. But Teresa got more involved in flattery, vanity, and gossip than in spiritual guidance—all of which kept her from God.
Then Teresa fell ill with malaria. She had a seizure, and people were so sure she was dead that after she woke up four days later, she learned they had dug a grave for her. Afterwards she was paralyzed for three years and was never completely well. Yet instead of helping her spiritually, her sickness became an excuse to stop her prayer completely: she couldn't be alone, she wasn't healthy enough, and so forth. Later she would say, "Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love." For years she hardly prayed at all "under the guise of humility." She thought that, as a wicked sinner, she didn't deserve to get favors from God. But turning away from prayer was like "a baby turning from its mother's breasts; what can be expected but death?"
She experienced periods of religious ecstasy through the use of the devotional book, Third Spiritual Alphabet (published in 1527 and written by Francisco de Osuna). This work, following the example of similar writings of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation (known as oratio recollections or oratio mentalis). She claimed that she rose from the lowest stage, "recollection," to the "devotions of silence" or even to the "devotions of ecstasy," which was one of perfect union with God. During this final stage, she said she frequently experienced a rich "blessing of tears." As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clearer to her, she says she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God. However, she expressed that she found prayer difficult. "I was more anxious for the hour of prayer to be over than I was to remain there. I don't know what heavy penance I would not have gladly undertaken rather than practice prayer." She was distracted often: "This intellect is so wild that it doesn't seem to be anything else than a frantic madman no one can tie down." Teresa sympathizes with those who have a difficult time in prayer: "All the trials we endure cannot be compared to these interior battles."
Yet her experience gives us wonderful descriptions of mental prayer: "For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love of God is not great delight but desire to please Him in everything." In time, God gave her spiritual delights during prayer: the prayer of quiet where God's presence overwhelmed her senses, raptures where God overcame her with glorious foolishness, prayer of union where she felt the sun of God melt her soul away. Sometimes her whole body was raised from the ground. If she felt God was going to levitate her body, she stretched out on the floor and called the nuns to sit on her and hold her down. Far from being excited about these events, she "begged God very much not to give me any more favors in public."
In her books, she analyzes and dissects mystical experiences the way a scientist would. She never saw these gifts as rewards from God but instead as the way He "chastised" her. The more love she felt, the harder it was to offend God. She says, "The memory of the favor God has granted does more to bring such a person back to God than all the infernal punishments imaginable." Her biggest fault was her friendships. Though she wasn't sinning, she was very attached to her friends until God told her, "No longer do I want you to converse with human beings but with angels." In an instant He gave her the freedom that she had been unable to achieve through years of effort. After that God always came first in her life.
Some friends, however, did not like what was happening to her and got together to discuss some "remedy" for her. Concluding that she had been deluded by the devil, they sent a Jesuit to analyze her. The Jesuit reassured her that her experiences were from God but soon everyone knew about her and was making fun of her. One confessor was so sure that the visions were from the devil that he told her to make an obscene gesture called the fig every time she had a vision of Jesus. She cringed but did as she was ordered, all the time apologizing to Jesus. Fortunately, Jesus didn't seem upset but told her that she was right to obey her confessor. In her autobiography she would say, "I am more afraid of those who are terrified of the devil than I am of the devil himself." The devil was not to be feared but fought by talking more about God.
Teresa felt that the best evidence that her delights came from God was that the experiences gave her peace, inspiration, and encouragement. "If these effects are not present, I would greatly doubt that the raptures come from God; on the contrary, I would fear lest they be caused by rabies." On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented Himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, later called the Transverberation, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain. “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it...” This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria, which is now in Rome. The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and motivated her lifelong imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the motto usually associated with her: Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.
Sometimes, however, she couldn't avoid complaining to her closest Friend about the hostility and gossip that surrounded her. When Jesus told her, "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends," Teresa responded, "No wonder you have so few friends." But since Christ has so few friends, she felt they should be good ones. And that's why she decided to reform her Carmelite order.
The incentive to give outward practical expression to her inward motive was inspired in Teresa by the Franciscan priest Saint Peter of Alcantara who became acquainted with her early in 1560, and became her spiritual guide and counselor. She resolved to found a reformed Carmelite convent, correcting the laxity which she had found in the Cloister of the Incarnation and others. Guimara de Ulloa, a woman of wealth and a friend, supplied the funds. Teresa worked for many years encouraging Spanish Jewish converts to follow Christianity. When plans leaked out about her first convent, St. Joseph's, she was denounced from the pulpit, told by her sisters she should raise money for the convent she was already in, and threatened with the Inquisition. The town started legal proceedings against her. All because she wanted to try a simple life of prayer. In the face of this open war, she went ahead calmly, as if nothing was wrong, trusting in God. At St. Joseph's, she spent much of her time writing her Life. She wrote this book not for fun but because she was ordered to. Many people questioned her experiences and this book would either clear her or condemn her. Because of this, she used a lot of camouflage in the book, following a profound thought with the statement, "But what do I know. I'm just a wretched woman." The Inquisition liked what they read and cleared her.
"May God protect me from gloomy saints," Teresa said, and that's how she ran her convent. To her, spiritual life was an attitude of love, not a rule. Although she proclaimed poverty, she believed in work, not in begging. She believed in obedience to God more than penance. If you do something wrong, don't punish yourself--change. When someone felt depressed, her advice was that she go some place where she could see the sky and take a walk. When someone was shocked that she was going to eat well, she answered, "There's a time for partridge and a time for penance." To her brother's wish to meditate on hell, she answered, "Don't."
At 51, she felt it was time to spread her reform movement. She braved burning sun, ice and snow, thieves, and rat-infested inns to found more convents. But those obstacles were easy compared to what she faced from her brothers and sisters in religious life. She was called "a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor" by the papal nuncio. When her former convent voted her in as prioress, the leader of the Carmelite order excommunicated the nuns. A vicar general stationed an officer of the law outside the door to keep her out. The other religious orders opposed her wherever she went. She often had to enter a town secretly in the middle of the night to avoid causing a riot.
In 1567, she received a patent from the Carmelite general, Rubeo de Ravenna, to establish new houses of her order, and in this effort and later visitations she made long journeys through nearly all the provinces of Spain. Of these she gives a description in her "Libro de las Fundaciones." Between 1567 and 1571, reform convents were established at Medina del Campo, Malagón, Valladolid, Toledo, Pastrana, Salamanca, and Alba de Tormes.
The help she received was sometimes worse than the hostility. A princess ordered Teresa to found a convent and then showed up at the door with luggage and maids. When Teresa refused to order her nuns to wait on the princess on their knees, the princess denounced Teresa to the Inquisition. In another town, they arrived at their new house in the middle of the night, only to wake up the next morning to find that one wall of the building was missing. Why was everyone so upset? Teresa said, "Truly it seems that now there are no more of those considered mad for being true lovers of Christ." No one in religious orders or in the world wanted Teresa reminding them of the way God said they should live. Teresa looked on these difficulties as good publicity. Soon she had postulants clamoring to get into her reformed convents. Many people thought about what she said and wanted to learn about prayer from her. Soon her ideas about prayer swept not only through Spain but all of Europe.
As part of her original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms; she convinced John of the Cross and Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite Brethren in November 1568 at Duruello. Another friend, Gerónimo Gracian, gave her powerful support in founding convents at Segovia (1571), Beas de Segura (1574), Seville (1575), and Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia, 1576), while the deeply mystical John of the Cross, by his power as teacher and preacher, promoted the inner life of the movement. In 1576 a series of persecutions began on the part of the older observant Carmelite order against Teresa, her friends, and her reforms. Pursuant to a body of resolutions adopted at the general chapter at Piacenza, the "definitors" of the order forbade all further founding of convents. The general chapter condemned her to voluntary retirement to one of her institutions. She obeyed and chose St. Joseph's at Toledo. Her friends and subordinates were subjected to greater trials.
Finally, after several years her pleadings by letter with King Philip II of Spain secured relief. As a result, in 1579, the processes before the inquisition against her and others were dropped, which allowed the reform to continue. A brief of Pope Gregory XIII allowed a special provincial for the younger branch of the discalced nuns, and a royal rescript created a protective board of four assessors for the reform. During the last three years of her life, Teresa founded convents at Villanueva de la Jara in northern Andalusia (1580), Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Burgos, and Granada (1582). In total seventeen convents, all but one founded by her, and as many men's cloisters were due to her reform activity of twenty years.
Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, either before midnight of October 4 or early in the morning of October 15, which is celebrated as her feast day. Her death came just as Catholic nations were making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Her last words were: "My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another.”
In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. The Cortes exalted her to patroness of Spain in 1617, and the University of Salamanca previously conferred the title Doctor ecclesiae with a diploma. The title is Latin for Doctor of the Church, but is distinct from the papal honor of Doctor of the Church, which is always conferred posthumously and was finally bestowed upon her by Pope Paul VI in December 27, 1970 along with Saint Catherine of Siena making them the first women to be awarded the distinction. Teresa is revered as the Doctor of Prayer. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, such as Francis of Sales, Fénelon, and the Port-Royalists.
Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences. Her deep insight and analytical gifts helped her to explain them clearly. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." She used a metaphor of mystic prayer as watering a garden throughout her writings.
The first, or "mental prayer," is that of devout contemplation or concentration, the withdrawal of the soul from without and especially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence (Autobiography 11.20). The second is the "prayer of quiet," in which at least the human will is lost in that of God by virtue of a charismatic, supernatural state given by God, while the other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet secure from worldly distraction. While a partial distraction is due to outer performances such as repetition of prayers and writing down spiritual things, yet the prevailing state is one of quietude (Autobiography 14.1).
The "devotion of union" is not only a supernatural but an essentially ecstatic state. Here there is also an absorption of the reason in God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, or a conscious rapture in the love of God.
The fourth is very, very rare, and is the "devotion of ecstasy or rapture," a passive state, in which the feeling of being in the body disappears (2 Corinthians 12:2-3). Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful, fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. The subject awakens from this in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, producing a trance. Indeed, St. Teresa was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
"Where there is no love, put love--and you will find love." ~St. John of the Cross, OCD
St. John of the Cross, O.C.D. (1542 – December 14, 1591), was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, as well as a Spanish mystic and a Carmelite priest. He was born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez into a converso family (descendents of Jewish converts to Christianity) in Fontiveros, near Ávila, a town of around 2,000 people. John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father, Gonzalo, was an accountant to rich relatives who were silk merchants. However, when in 1529 he married John's mother, Catalina, who was an orphan of a lower class, Gonzalo was disowned by his family and forced to work with his wife as a weaver. He died in 1545 while John was only around seven years old—leaving his wife and children in poverty. Two years later, John's older brother Luis died, probably as a result of insufficient nutrition. Shortly after this, John's mother took John and his surviving brother, Francisco, and moved first in 1548 to Arévalo, and then in 1551 to Medina del Campo, where she was able to find work weaving. It was out of this poverty and suffering that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God. In Medina, John and Francisco entered a school for poor children, mostly orphans, where they received a basic education, mainly in Christian doctrine. While studying there, he was chosen to serve as an acolyte at a nearby monastery of Augustinian nuns.
In 1556, when John was about fourteen, he took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. From 1559 to 1563, he studied the humanities at a Jesuit school. In 1563 he entered the Carmelite Order, adopting the name John of St. Matthias. The following year, he professed his religious vows as a Carmelite and traveled to Salamanca, where he studied theology and philosophy at Salamanca University (at the time, one of the four biggest universities in Europe, alongside Paris, Oxford and Bologna) and at the Colegio de San Andrés. Some modern writers claim that this stay would influence all his later writings, as Fray Luis de León taught biblical studies (Exegesis, Hebrew and Aramaic) at the University: León was one of the foremost experts in Biblical Studies then and had written an important and controversial translation of the Song of Songs into Spanish (at that time in Spain, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular was not allowed).
John was ordained a priest in 1567, and then indicated his intent to join the strict Carthusian Order, which appealed to him because of its encouragement of solitary, silent contemplation. A journey from Salamanca to Medina del Campo, probably in September 1567, changed this. In Medina he met the charismatic Carmelite nun, Teresa of Jesus. She was in Medina to found the second of her convents for women. She immediately talked to him about the details of her reformation projects for the Order, including a new rule that the nuns and friars would spend much of the day and night in the recitation of the choir offices, study and devotional reading, the celebration of Mass, and times of solitude. For the friars, time was also to be spent evangelizing the population around the monastery. In addition, total abstinence from meat and lengthy fasting were to be observed from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) until Easter. There were to be long periods of silence, especially between Compline and Prime. Coarser, shorter habits, more simple than those worn since 1432, were to be worn. They were to follow the injunction against the wearing of shoes. It was from this last observance that the Carmelite followers of Teresa were becoming known as "discalced," i.e., barefoot, differentiating themselves from the non-reformed friars and nuns.
Teresa asked John to delay his entry into the Carthusians and to follow her. Having spent a final year studying in Salamanca, in August 1568 John traveled with Teresa from Medina to Valladolid, where Teresa intended to found another monastery of nuns. After having spent some time with Teresa to learn more about this new form of Carmelite life, John left Valladolid in October, accompanied by Friar Antonio de Jesús de Heredia, to found a new monastery for friars, the first for men that was to follow Teresa's principles. They were given the use of a derelict house at Duruelo (midway between Ávila and Salamanca), which had been donated to Teresa. On November 28, 1568, the monastery was established, and on that same day John changed his name to John of the Cross.
Soon after, in June 1570, the friars moved to the nearby town of Mancera de Abajo. In October of that year, John moved to Pastrana to set up a new community there as well as a new community at Alcalá de Henares, which was to be a house of studies for the academic training of the friars. In 1572, he arrived in Ávila, at the invitation of Teresa, who in 1571 had been appointed prioress of the Monastery of the Visitation in Avila. John became the spiritual director and confessor for Teresa and the other 130 nuns there, as well for as a wide range of lay people in the city. In 1574, John accompanied Teresa in the foundation of a new monastery in Segovia, Spain. Beyond this, though, John seems to have remained in Ávila between 1572 and 1577.
(Pictured: At some point between 1574 and 1577, while praying in the Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila, John had a vision of the Crucified Christ, which led him to create his famous drawing of the crucifixion (shown in the oval frame to the right). In 1641, this drawing was placed in a small monstrance and kept in Ávila. It inspired the artist Salvador Dalí's 1951 work, “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”--which is shown to the right below John's drawing.)
In Andalusia to the south, however, where the Visitor was Francisco Vargas, tensions rose due to his clear preference for the Discalced Friars. Vargas asked them to make foundations in various cities, in explicit contradiction of orders from the Carmelite Prior General against their expansion in Andalusia. As a result, a General Chapter of the Carmelite Order was convened at Piacenza in Italy in May 1576, out of concern that events in Spain were getting out of hand, which concluded by ordering the total suppression of the Discalced houses. This measure was not immediately enforced. For one thing, King Philip II of Spain was supportive of some of Teresa's reforms, and so was not immediately willing to grant the necessary permission to enforce this ordinance. Moreover, the Discalced friars also found support from the papal nuncio (representative), Nicolò Ormaneto, also the Bishop of Padua, who still had ultimate power to visit and reform religious Orders. When asked by the Discalced Friars to intervene, Ormaneto replaced Vargas as Visitor of the Carmelites in Andalusia (where the troubles had begun) with Jerónimo Gracián, a priest from the University of Alcalá, who was in fact a Discalced Carmelite Friar himself. The years 1575-77 saw a great increase in the tensions among the Spanish Carmelite friars over the reforms of Teresa and John. Since 1566, the reforms had been overseen by Canonical Visitors from the Dominican Order, with one appointed to Castile and a second to Andalusia. These Visitors had substantial powers: they could move the members of religious communities from house to house and even province to province. They could assist religious superiors in their office, and could delegate other superiors from either the Dominicans or Carmelites. In Castile, the Visitor was Pedro Fernández, who prudently balanced the interests of the Discalced Carmelites against those of the friars and nuns who did not desire reform.
In January 1576, John was arrested in Medina del Campo by some Carmelite friars opposing his reforms. However, through the nuncio's intervention, John was soon released. But when on June 18, 1577, the nuncio died, John was left without protection, and the friars who were against the reforms gained the upper hand. On the night of December 2, 1577, a group of these Carmelites broke into John's dwelling in Ávila and took him prisoner—moving him to the Carmelite monastery in Toledo, at that time the Order's most important monastery in Castile. John was then brought before a court of friars and accused of disobeying the ordinances of Piacenza. Despite John's argument that he had not done so, he received a punishment of imprisonment.
He was jailed in the monastery, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included three public lashings a week in front of the community and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell (measuring ten by six feet, barely large enough for his body). Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole from the adjoining room. He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread, and scraps of salt fish. During this imprisonment, he composed a
great part of his most famous poem, “Spiritual Canticle,” as well as a few shorter poems. The paper he wrote on was passed to him by the friar who guarded his cell.
After nine months, on August 15, 1578, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his cell door and creeping past the guard—taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.
After his health was restored, in October 1578, he joined a meeting of some supporters of reform, increasingly known as the Discalced Carmelites. At this meeting, John was appointed superior of El Calvario, an isolated monastery of around thirty friars in the mountains about six miles away. While there, they decided to demand from the Pope their formal separation from the rest of the Carmelite Order. During this time, he befriended the nun Ana de Jesús, superior of the Discalced nuns at Beas, through his visits every Saturday to the town. In 1579 he moved to Baeza, a town of around 50,000 people, to serve as rector of a new college, the Colegio de San Basilio, to support the studies of the Discalced Friars in Andalusia. This opened on June 13, 1579. He remained there until 1582, spending much of his time as a spiritual director for the friars and townspeople.
1580 was an important year in the resolution of the disputes within the Carmelites. On June 22, Pope Gregory XIII signed a decree, titled “Pia Consideratione,” which authorized a separation between the Calced and Discalced Carmelites. The Dominican Friar, Juan Velázquez de las Cuevas, was appointed to carry out the decisions. At the first General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelites, in Alcalá de Henares on March 3, 1581, John of the Cross was elected as one of the "Definitors" of the community and wrote a set of constitutions for them. By the time of the Provincial Chapter at Alcalá in 1581, there were 22 houses, some 300 friars, and 200 nuns in the Discalced Carmelites.
In November 1581, John was sent by Teresa to help Ana de Jesus in founding a convent in Granada. Arriving in January 1582, she set up a monastery of nuns, while John stayed in the friars' monastery of Los Martires, beside the Alhambra, becoming its prior in March 1582. While there, he learned of the death of Teresa in October of that year. In February 1585, John travelled to Málaga where he established a monastery of Discalced nuns. In May 1585, at the General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelites in Lisbon, John was elected Provincial Vicar of Andalusia, a post which required him to travel frequently (it's estimated that he travelled around 15,000 miles!) to make annual visitations to the houses of friars and nuns in Andalusia. During this time, he founded seven new monasteries in the region.
In June 1588, he was elected third Councilor to the Vicar General for the Discalced Carmelites, Father Nicolas Doria. To fulfill this role, he had to return to Segovia in Castile, where he also served as prior of the monastery. After disagreeing with some of Doria's remodeling of the leadership of the Discalced Carmelite Order, though, John was removed from his post in Segovia and sent by Doria in June 1591 to an isolated monastery in Andalusia called La Peñuela. There he fell ill, and traveled to the monastery at Úbeda for treatment. His condition worsened, however, and he died there on December 14, 1591, of erysipelas, an acute, sometimes recurrent skin disease caused by a bacterial infection, and characterized by large, raised red patches on the skin, especially on the face and legs, with accompanying fever and severe general illness.
The morning after John’s death, huge numbers of the townspeople of Úbeda entered the monastery to view John’s body; in the crush, many were able to take home parts of his habit. He was initially buried at Úbeda, but, at the request of the monastery in Segovia, his body was secretly moved there in 1593. The people of Úbeda, however, unhappy at this change, sent a representative to petition the pope to move the body back to its original resting place. Pope Clement VIII, impressed by the petition, issued a brief on October 15, 1596, ordering the return of the body to Úbeda. Eventually, in a compromise, the superiors of the Discalced Carmelites decided that the monastery at Úbeda would receive one leg and one arm of his body (the monastery at Úbeda had already kept one leg in 1593, and the other arm had been removed as the corpse passed through Madrid in 1593, to form a relic there). A hand and a leg remain visible in a reliquary at the Oratory of San Juan de la Cruz in Úbeda, a monastery built in 1627 and connected to the original Discalced monastery founded in 1587. The head and torso were retained by the monastery at Segovia. There, they were venerated until 1647 when, on orders from Rome, the remains were buried in the ground. In the 1930s they were disinterred, and now sit in a side chapel in a marble case above a special altar built in that decade.
Proceedings to beatify John began between 1614 and 1616 with the gathering of information on his life, although he was not beatified until 1675 by Pope Clement X, and not canonized (by Benedict XIII) until 1726. When his feast day was added to the General Roman Calendar in 1738, it was assigned to November 24, since his date of death was impeded by the then-existing octave of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. However, in 1969 Pope Paul VI moved the feast to the “dies natalis” (birthday to heaven) of the saint, December 14. In 1926, he was declared a Doctor of the Church. His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that, "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love—and you will find love."
John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include the spiritual classics, “Ascent of Mount Carmel” and “Dark Night of the Soul.” Since joy comes only from God, John believed that someone who seeks happiness in the world is like "a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air." He taught that only by breaking the rope of our desires could we fly up to God. Above all, he was concerned for those who suffered dryness or depression in their spiritual life and offered encouragement that God loved them and was leading them deeper into faith. In his words, "What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom—your Beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire Him there, adore Him there. Do not go in pursuit of Him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find Him, or enjoy Him more than by seeking Him within you."
PRAYER TO ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
“St. John of the Cross, in the darkness of your worst moments,
when you were alone and persecuted, you found God.
Help me to have faith that God is there, especially in the
times when God seems absent and far away. Amen.”
ST. ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY
"Believe that He loves you. He wants to help you Himself in the struggleswhich you must undergo. Believe in His Love, His exceeding Love." -St. Elizabeth of the Trinity OCD
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD (July 18, 1880 – November 9, 1906), was a French Discalced Carmelite nun, mystic, and spiritual writer who was born into a military environment and named Élizabeth Catez—the first child of Captain Joseph Catez and his wife, Marie Rolland.
Her father, who had been raised in a poor, agricultural family, enlisted in the French army when he was 21. In September of 1873, when he was 41, Catez married Marie Rolland (then 26), herself the daughter of a successful military man. After a career marked by combat as well as by many promotions, he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1881.
Spending her earliest years in this military environment, Elizabeth was naturally formed in such virtues as courage and forthrightness, but as a child she had a terrible temper. Elizabeth's personality was also marked by a determined, energetic disposition. The strong-willed exuberant child's energy, however, often became violent, resulting in fits of rage. She could not support being opposed, seeming to think that all must give way before her. Nevertheless, this child who was once described mischievously as "pure devil," simultaneously demonstrated and developed a great attraction to prayer.
Her father Her mother Her sister
The year 1887 marked a great change in seven-year-old Elizabeth's life. The year began with the death of her maternal grandfather in January. In October of that same year, her father died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of fifty-five. Madame Catez and her two children (Elizabeth's sister, Marguerite, was born in 1883) soon moved from their former house to an apartment in what could be called the suburbs of Dijon. From the window of her room in her new home, Elizabeth could see the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns.
After the death of her father, Elizabeth's outbursts of anger increased both in number and in violence. During the course of the same year, though, the child experienced for the first time the Sacrament of Penance, which brought about what she called her “conversion." She henceforth began to struggle noticeably against her violent temper, promising her mother that she would strive to be the very model of a "sweet, patient, and obedient" daughter. In the spring of 1891, when she was almost eleven years old, Elizabeth made her First Communion. Sensitive by nature, especially to things sacred, she was profoundly affected by her first reception of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Tears of joy were seen to run down the young girl's face after her Communion. Upon leaving the church, she said to a close friend, "I'm no longer hungry. Jesus has fed me."
On the afternoon of her First Communion, Elizabeth also encountered the prioress of the Carmel of Dijon for the first time. The prioress, upon learning the name of the child, explained to her that "Elizabeth means ‘house of God.’" A few days later, she would send this same message to Elizabeth, writing on the back of a holy card: "Your blessed name hides a mystery, accomplished on this great day. Child, your heart is the House of God on earth, of the God of love." This theme of being the "house of God," was at first closely associated with the mystery of the Eucharist in the mind of Elizabeth. In a poem that she would later write to commemorate the seventh anniversary of her First Communion, she meditates upon the day:
When Jesus made in me His dwelling place, When God took possession of my heart,
So well that since that hour, Since that mysterious colloquy,
That divine and delicious meeting, I have aspired to nothing else but to give my life
In order to return a bit of His great love to the Beloved of the Eucharist
Who reposed in my feeble heart, Inundating it with all of his favors.
Likewise, Elizabeth once wrote the following words to a friend who had just made her First Communion: "If He came this morning into your little heart, it was not to pass through it and go away, but to remain there always." It seems that the future saint understood that by giving Himself to you in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus had come to dwell within you in a new way. Elizabeth first discerned her vocation to Carmel after having received Communion one day when she was fourteen years old, but her mother was opposed to the idea. Eventually, when Elizabeth was nineteen years old, Madame Catez agreed to her daughter's entry into Carmel, but required her to wait until her twenty-first birthday. In the years before she entered the cloister, Elizabeth studied St. Teresa of Jesus' “Way of Perfection.” She also read the first edition of Therese of Lisieux's “Story of a Soul,” and quickly became an enthusiastic follower of the Little Way. The soon-to-be Carmelite was also greatly enamored of "Little Therese's "Act of Offering to Merciful Love." Furthermore, in February of 1900, the young aspirant to the Carmel of Dijon was introduced to a Dominican friar, a friend of the nuns. Elizabeth asked for help in understanding her interior experience—her need for silence and recollection, and her sense of an inexplicable presence in the depth of her soul. This Dominican proceeded to deepen her awareness of the truth of the indwelling of the Trinity in the soul of the baptized: that not just Christ, but that "all three persons of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit—were present in love in her soul. This graced meeting greatly reassured Elizabeth and aided her in her spiritual progress.
As she was waiting to join the Carmel, Elizabeth lived the life of a typical young, active Catholic laywoman of her time. She sang in two choirs in her parish, she helped prepare children for their First Communion, and she began a type of Summer day care for the children of those who worked in the local tobacco factory. The personality of this sensitive and energetic young women had blossomed from her earlier years. Her simple, vivacious and spontaneous nature, coupled with her great, if hard-won sef-possession, won for her friends of all ages. Many of those who knew her later testified that she exercised a notable influence on others, especially on those younger than herself, being skilled at running recreations and other youthful activities. It should be noted that Elizabeth was also a very gifted musician. From the age of seven, she studied music at the Conservatory of Dijon, winning several prizes for her skill at the piano. She is said to have played with great passion, playing in order to please God Himself. "No one can interpret the great masters like Elizabeth," noted one of her many admirers. In the midst of her active social life. Elizabeth sought to live as "a Carmelite on the inside" while she awaited the day of her entrance into the cloister.
Finally, in 1901, Elizabeth entered her beloved Carmel, receiving the name "Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity." Her awareness and experience of the Triune God dwelling within her continued to grow. Through her communion with Christ in the Eucharist and in the Scriptures, the young Carmelite's spiritual life deepened even more. She drew nourishment from the teachings of the great saints of Carmel: St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, as well as from her contemporary, Therese of Lisieux. Above all, though, Elizabeth named St. Paul as "the father of my soul." St. Paul, who preached “nothing but the mystery of the charity of Christ." When she was twenty years old, Elizabeth addressed the following words to Jesus: “May my life be a continual prayer, one long act of love. May nothing be able to distract me from you... I would like so much, O my Master, to live with you in silence. But what I love above all is to do your will. Since you still want me to be in the world, I submit all my heart for love of you. I offer to you the cell of my heart; may it be your little Bethany, come to rest there. I love you so.”
In St. Paul, Elizabeth found teaching that both echoed her own experience of the love of God and helped her to interpret this experience. Paul spoke to her of the "exceeding love" of Christ, who "loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2,20). According to Elizabeth, this last Pauline expression summed up everything about the love of Christ, a love that was true and strong. As a child, Elizabeth had found the strength to conquer her fiery temper only after having received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist for the first time. As a Carmelite, she would read in St. Paul's letters that it was Christ who made peace through the Blood of His Cross (Col. 1:20), making "peace in my little heaven, so that it may truly be the repose of the Three." Elizabeth had experienced for herself the way in which the Blood of the Eucharistic Christ had brought peace to her tempestuous soul, and later found the words in St. Paul to affirm her experience. Also, Elizabeth found in the words of St. Paul the scriptural foundation for the doctrine of the indwelling of God in the soul of the Christian.
Likewise, Elizabeth found in St. Paul the words to confirm her experience that it is through Jesus that "we have access to the Father" (cf Eph 2,18). As Elizabeth writes in a poem that she composed for Christmas of 1901:
He comes to reveal the mystery, To give all of the Father's secrets
To lead from glory to glory, Even unto the bosom of the Trinity.
Elizabeth, then, experienced Christ as the One who comes to reveal to us the Father's love and to lead us to share in the divine life of Trinitarian love. Finally, the young Carmelite found many passages in St. Paul’s letters that helped her discover the great dignity of this vocation of the Christian to share in the life of the Trinity through union with Christ. She was especially drawn to the eighth chapter of Paul's Letter to the Romans, in which the great saint writes: "For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called; and those He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified" (Rom 8.29-30). Likewise, she drew great riches from the first chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, in which Paul writes: "He chose us in (Christ), before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him. In love He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace that He granted us in His beloved" (Eph 1.4-6).
Further on in this passage from Ephesians, Elizabeth discovered a type of "personal vocation" to live as a "Praise of Glory" of the Father, just as Jesus Himself was the definitive Praise of the Father's Glory. This call to praise the glory of God also Included the call to share in the redemptive sufferings of Christ, to be able to say like St Paul, "In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church" (Col 1,24). Elizabeth realized that all people are created in order to be united to Jesus, to be made like Him, even in His sufferings, in order to share in the relationship of love that the Risen Jesus shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit. She explains this great plan of God in one of her meditations:
God bends lovingly over this soul, His adopted daughter, who is so
conformed to the image of His Son, the “first born among all creatures,”
and recognizes her as one of those whom He has “predestined, called,
justified.” And His fatherly heart thrills as He thinks of consummating
His work, that is, of “glorifying” her by bringing her into His kingdom,
there to sing for ages unending the praise of His glory.
All of this great work is an action of the God of Love. God creates us in order to lead us to communion with Himself, the God who is Love itself. In response to this loving plan of God, Elizabeth desired to live fully her Christian and Carmelite vocation. On November 21, 1904, the feast of the Presentation of Mary, Elizabeth composed her famous prayer to the Trinity. This prayer is like an offering of herself to the God who is Love. It marks out the program of life which Elizabeth desired to follow. In it we see her desire to be united to Christ, conformed to Him, in order to please the Father and to enter profoundly into the dynamic and infinite love of the Trinity. Elizabeth begs the Holy Spirit to "create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery." She entreats the Father: "Bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; 'cover her with Your shadow.' seeing in her only the Beloved in whom You are well pleased." She concludes by surrendering herself to the Trinity, begging God: "Bury yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness."
It was only two years after composing this prayer that Elizabeth of the Trinity finally did depart this life in order to contemplate the abyss of God's great love for all eternity. The young Carmelite died after many months of suffering from Addison's Disease, a malady of the kidneys which at that time was incurable. As a result of this illness, Elizabeth suffered great fatigue, an inability to digest food, intense abdominal pains, and great thirst. She wrote that she felt as though tiny beasts were devouring her insides, and said that one of the first things she would do in heaven was to have a drink of water. Her community noted the great patience, courage, and joy with which Elizabeth suffered.
The young Carmelite viewed her suffering as a way of being conformed to Jesus, as a way of sharing in the redemptive suffering of her divine Bridegroom for the good of the Church. As such, Elizabeth even came to view this suffering as a gift, She explains to her mother in a letter written from her sickbed: " 'I rejoice,' said St. Paul, 'to make up in my flesh what is lacking in the passion of Jesus Christ for the sake of His body the Church.' Oh! How your mother’s heart should leap for divine joy in thinking that the Master has deigned to choose your daughter, the fruit of your womb, to associate her with His great work of redemption, and that He suffers in her, as it were, as an extension of His passion. The bride belongs to the Bridegroom, and mine has taken me. He wants me to be another humanity for Him in which He can still suffer for the glory of His Father, to help the needs of His Church. This thought has done me so much good." (Note: Her mother died in 1914 at the age of 66; her sister, Marguerite, died in 1954 at the age of 70).
Elizabeth's last audible words before her death were, "I am going to Light, to Love, to Life." She died on November 9, 1906, at the age of 26, after having lived in Carmel for only five years. When asked if she would spend her heaven doing good on earth like "Little Therese," Elizabeth responded that she would not, but that she would shoot "like a rocket" deeper and deeper into the abyss of the Trinity. Nevertheless, she did intuit that she would exercise a particular mission within the Church from her place in heaven. From her sick bed, Elizabeth wrote to a fellow Carmelite, "I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself."
In Dijon the beatification process started in 1931 under Pope Pius XI and lasted until 1941. Her writings were all gathered and, after careful investigation, were incorporated into the cause and approved as being valid. The official introduction of the cause--under Pope John XXIII--was on October 25, 1961, and bestowed the title of Servant of God on the late nun. After an extensive investigation that spanned over a decade, she was made Venerable on July 12, 1982, by Pope John Paul II. She was beatified by him on November 25, 1984, during an apostolic visit to Paris. In his homily at the beatification, the Pope presented Elizabeth of the Trinity to the Church as one "who led a life 'hidden with Christ in God' (Col 3,3)," and as "a brilliant witness to the joy of being 'rooted and grounded in love' (Eph 3,17)."
We can turn to Elizabeth of the Trinity today as a witness to the impact that the presence of the loving God within the soul can have in a human life. She proclaims to us the great dignity of the Christian Vocation: the call to be conformed to Christ--crucified, risen, and present in the Eucharist--to become "temples of the Spirit," all to the praise of the Father's glory. She reminds us that the Trinity is "our home," that God has created us in order to be united to Christ, to live as His adopted sons and daughters, dwelling in His love and remaining there always in this life and in the next.
She has since been given such titles as "the prophet of the presence of God,” “the saint of the divine indwelling," or "the saint of one idea," because of her strong experience of the indwelling of God in her soul. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church cites her prayer to the Trinity in order to illustrate the truth that "...even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity." "If a man loves me," says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.’ (Jn 14,23)."
On March 3, 2016, a second miracle of healing, attributed to her intercession, was approved. The canonization took place in Rome on October 16, 2016. Her feast is on November 8.
For a pictorial video of the life of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, click here X.
ST. TERESA OF JESUS OF THE ANDES
"Christ, so foolish in His love, has driven me madly in love." --St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes
Teresa de Los Andes was born on July 13, 1900, in Santiago, Chili, as Juana Fernandez Solar. At her baptism she was christened Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts Fernandez Solar. Those who knew her closely called her Juanita, the name by which she is widely known today. She had a normal upbringing surrounded by her family: her parents, Miguel Fernandez and Lucia Solar, three brothers and two sisters, her maternal grandfather, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Her family was well-off and faithful to their Christian faith, living it with faith and constancy.
The autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, not yet declared a saint, had an enormous influence on her early life. Her own letters from that time reveal an incredibly profound spirituality and commitment to Jesus and a deep Marian devotion. It was not uncommon for her to converse with both Jesus and Mary in a natural and familiar way. When she was fourteen, under God's inspiration, she desired to consecrate herself to Jesus as a religious with the Discalced Carmelite Nuns. This desire of hers was realized on May 7, 1919, when, at the age of 19, she entered the tiny monastery of the Holy Spirit in the township of Los Andes, some 55 miles from Santiago.
She was clothed with the Carmelite habit on October 14 of that same year and began her novitiate with the name of Teresa of Jesus. At that time she also undertook an apostolate of writing. The depth of her spirituality and her absolute surrender to the love of Jesus are perhaps best shown in her writings, mainly her journal and letters to her family and friends. These testify to how God works in and through a soul that is attentive and child-like. The following is an excerpt from a letter written on April 15, 1916, when she not yet sixteen years of age, to her sister Rebecca, who herself entered the same Carmel after Teresa's death:
I have surrendered to Him. I made this commitment on December 8th. It is impossible for me to tell you all I desire. My thoughts concern nothing but Him. He is my ideal, without limit. I breathe for that day I may go to Carmel, when I can busy myself with nothing but Him, to melt into Him and to live naught but His life: to love and to suffer for the salvation of souls. Yes, athirst I am for them because I know that is what my Jesus wants. Oh, how much I love Him....
Some of her friends, moved by her witness, also entered religious life. In the monastery she happily lived the life of prayer and sacrifice. She knew a long time before that she would die young. A month before she was to depart this life, she related to her confessor that the Lord revealed to her that she would die soon. She accepted it with happiness, serenity, and confidence. She was certain that her mission to make God known and loved would continue in eternity.
Within a few months of entering, she contracted typhus. In April 1920, being close to death, with six months to go before completing her canonical novitiate, she was allowed to make her religious profession. After many interior trials and indescribable physical suffering, she died five days later during Holy Week, on April 12, 1920, just three months before her 20th birthday. Her words express her attitude to death. "For a Carmelite, death is nothing to be afraid of. She is going to live her true life. She is going to fall into the arms of the One who loved her here on earth beyond all things. She is going to be immersed eternally into love."
Externally this is all there is to this young girl from Santiago de Chile. It is all rather disconcerting and a great question arises in us, "What was accomplished?" The answer to such a question living, believing, loving. When the disciples asked Jesus what they must do to carry out God's work, he replied, "This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the One He has sent." (Jn 6, 28-29). For this reason, in order to recognize the value of Juanita's fife, it is necessary to examine the substance within, where the Kingdom of God is to be found.
She wakened to the life of grace while still quite young. She affirms that God drew her at the age of six to begin to spare no effort in directing her capacity to love totally towards Him. "It was shortly after the 1906 earthquake that Jesus began to claim my heart for himself" (Diary n. 3, p. 26). Juanita possessed an enormous capacity to love and to be loved, joined with an extraordinary intelligence. God allowed her to experience His presence and made her his own. Knowing Him, she loved Him; and loving Him, she bound herself totally to Him.
Once this child understood that love demonstrates itself in deeds rather than words, the result was that she expressed her love through every action of her life. She examined herself sincerely and wisely and understood that in order to belong to God it was necessary to die to herself in all that did not belong to him. Her natural inclinations were completely contrary to the demands of the Gospel. She was proud, self-centered, stubborn, and with all the defects that these things suppose, but also was cheerful, happy, sympathetic, attractive, communicative, and involved in sports. But where she differed from the general run was to carry out continual warfare on every impulse that did not arise from love. At the age of ten she became a new person. What lay immediately behind this was the fact that she was going to make her first Communion. Understanding that nobody less that God was going to dwell within her, she set about acquiring all the virtues that would make her less unworthy of this grace. In the shortest possible time she managed to transform her character completely.
In making her first Communion she received from God the mystical grace of interior locutions, which from then on supported her throughout her life. God took over her natural inclinations, transforming them from that day into friendship and a life of prayer. Four years later she received an interior revelation that shaped the direction of her life. Jesus told her that she would be a Carmelite and that holiness must be her goal.
With God's abundant grace and the generosity of a young girl in love, she gave herself over to prayer, to the acquiring of virtue, and the practice of a life in accord with the Gospel. Such were her efforts that in a few short years she reached a high degree of union with God. Christ was the one and only ideal she had. She was in love with Him and ready each moment to crucify herself for Him. A bridal love pervaded her with the result that she desired to unite herself fully to Him who had captivated her. As a result, at the age of fifteen, she made a vow of virginity for nine days, continually renewing it from then on.
The holiness of her life shone out in the everyday occurrences, wherever she found herself: at home, in college, with friends, the people she stayed with on holidays. To all, with apostolic zeal, she spoke of God and gave assistance. She was young like her friends, but they knew she was different. They took her as a model, seeking her support and advice. All the pains that are part of living, Juanita felt keenly, and the happiness she enjoyed deeply, all in God.
During her adolescence she reached perfect psychic and spiritual equilibrium. These were the fruit of her asceticism and prayer. The serenity of her face was a reflection of the divine guest within. Her life as a nun, from May 7, 1919, was the last rung on the ladder to holiness. Only eleven months were necessary to bring to an end the process of making her life totally Christ-like.
Her community was quick to discover the hand of God in her past life. The young novice found in the Carmelite way of life the full and efficient channel for spreading the torrent of life that she wanted to give to the Church of Christ. It was a way of life that, in her own way, she had lived amongst her own and for which she was born. The Order of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel fulfilled the desires of Juanita. It was proof to her that God's mother, whom she had loved from infancy, had drawn her to be part of it.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago de Chile on April 3, 1987—a ceremony at which her brother Luis was present (the last direct relative of hers still alive). She was canonized in Rome on March 21, 1993—the first Chilean to be declared a saint and the first Discalced Carmelite Nun to become a saint outside the boundaries of Europe. Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who annually visit the shrine where her remains are venerated in the Shrine of Saint Teresa of Los Andes in the township of Los Andes, 60 miles from Santiago.
ST. TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS (EDITH STEIN)
“Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God.” --St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
"We bow down before the testimony of the life and death of Edith Stein, an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century. It was the synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting ... and also the synthesis of the full truth about man. All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God." --St. Pope John Paul II (May 1, 1987)
Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Germany, on October 12, 1891, the youngest of 11, while her family was celebrating Yom Kippur. Being born on this important Jewish feast helped make this youngest child very precious to her mother, who considered it a foreshadowing. Edith's father, who ran a timber business, died when she had only just turned two. Her mother, a very devout, hard-working, strong-willed, and truly wonderful woman, now had to fend for herself and to look after the family and their large business. However, she did not succeed in keeping up a living faith in her children. Edith lost her faith in God when she was about 14 years old. "I consciously decided, of my own volition, to give up praying," she said. Although she no longer believed in God, she did not discuss her beliefs with her family and continued to attend religious services. Stein soon came to terms with her new ideas and decided to devote her life to teaching and the pursuit of the truth. She returned to Victoria School and completed her coursework in hopes of attending college.
As a child, Stein was known for her intelligence and sense of humor—she would often recite poetry and make clever remarks. But she disliked her reputation as "the smart one" of the family and began to develop a more quiet nature in her early school days. She attended the Victoria School in Breslau, where she not only began classes early, but quickly became the top student in her grade. Her love of learning extended to her hours at home as well, where she spent much of her free time reading.
In 1911 she passed her school-leaving exam with flying colors and enrolled at the University of Breslau to study German and history, though this was a mere "bread-and-butter" choice. Her real interest was in philosophy and in women's issues. She became a member of the Prussian Society for Women's Franchise. "When I was at school and during my first years at university," she wrote later, "I was a radical suffragette. Then I lost interest in the whole issue. Now I am looking for purely pragmatic solutions."
In 1913, Edith Stein transferred to Gottingen University, to study under the mentorship of Edmund Husserl. She became his pupil and teaching assistant, and he later tutored her for a doctorate. At the time, anyone who was interested in philosophy was fascinated by Husserl's new view of reality, whereby the world as we perceive it does not merely exist in a Kantian way, in our subjective perception. His pupils saw his philosophy as a return to objects: "back to things". Husserl's phenomenology unwittingly led many of his pupils to the Christian faith. In Gottingen Edith Stein also met the philosopher Max Scheler, who directed her attention to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, she did not neglect her "bread-and-butter" studies and passed her degree with distinction in January 1915, though she did not follow it up with teacher training.
"I no longer have a life of my own," she wrote at the beginning of the First World War, having done a nursing course and gone to serve in an Austrian field hospital. This was a hard time for her, during which she looked after the sick in the typhus ward, worked in an operating theatre, and saw young people die. When the hospital was dissolved in 1916, she followed Husserl as his assistant to the German city of Freiburg, where she passed her doctorate summa cum laude (with the utmost distinction) in 1917, after writing a thesis on "The Problem of Empathy."
Stein's interest in Catholicism increased in 1917 which led her to read the New Testament. She was convinced that she believed in God and the divinity of Jesus Christ, but did not convert to Catholicism until 1921. During a stay at a girl's school in Speyer, Germany, Stein was encouraged by the Jesuit priest and philosopher Erich Przywara not to abandon her academic work. At his urging, she began a German translation of a Latin work on truth by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). Through her study of Aquinas and her discussions with Przywara, she was convinced that she could serve God through a search for truth. Her writing and translations became popular, and Stein was invited to lecture for a number of groups on religious and women's issues in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
During this period she went to Frankfurt Cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. "This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant churches I had visited, people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. It was something I never forgot.” When Reinach fell in Flanders in November 1917, Edith went to Göttingen to visit his widow. The Reinachs had converted to Protestantism. Edith felt uneasy about meeting the young widow at first, but was surprised when she actually met with a woman of faith. "This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it ... it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me—Christ in the mystery of the Cross." Later, she wrote: "Things were in God's plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that, from God's point of view, there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God's divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God's all-seeing eyes."
In the Fall of 1918, Edith Stein gave up her job as Husserl's teaching assistant. She wanted to work independently. It was not until 1930 that she saw Husserl again after her conversion, and she shared with him about her faith, as she would have liked him to become a Christian, too. Then she wrote down the amazing words: "Every time I feel my powerlessness and inability to influence people directly, I become more keenly aware of the necessity of my own holocaust." Edith Stein wanted to obtain a professorship, a goal that was impossible for a woman at the time. Husserl wrote the following reference: "Should academic careers be opened up to ladies, then I can recommend her whole-heartedly and as my first choice for admission to a professorship." Later, she was refused a professorship on account of being Jewish.
Back in Breslau, Edith Stein began to write articles about the philosophical foundation of psychology. However, she also read the New Testament, Kierkegaard, and Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. She felt that one could not just read a book like that, but had to put it into practice. In the summer of 1921, she spent several weeks in on the country estate of Hedwig Conrad-Martius, another pupil of Husserl's. Hedwig had converted to Protestantism with her husband. One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and read it all night. "When I had finished the book, I said to myself, ‘This is the truth.’” Later, looking back on her life, she wrote: "My longing for truth was a single prayer."
On January 1, 1922, Edith Stein was baptized. It was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, when Jesus entered into the covenant of Abraham. Edith Stein stood by the baptismal font, wearing Hedwig Conrad-Martius' white wedding cloak. "I had given up practicing my Jewish religion when I was a 14-year-old girl and did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God." From this moment on she was continually aware that she belonged to Christ not only spiritually, but also through her blood. At the Feast of the Purification of Mary—another day with an Old Testament reference—she was confirmed by the Bishop of Speyer in his private chapel. After her conversion she went straight to visit her mother in Breslau: "Mother," she said, "I am a Catholic." The two women cried. Hedwig Conrad Martius wrote: "Behold, two Israelites indeed, in whom is no deceit!" (cf. John 1:47).
Immediately after her conversion she wanted to join a Carmelite convent. However, her spiritual mentors, Vicar-General Schwind of Speyer and Erich Przywara SJ, stopped her from doing so. Until Easter 1931 she held a position teaching German and history at the Dominican Sisters' school and teacher training college of St. Magdalen's Convent in Speyer. At the same time she was encouraged by Arch-Abbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey to accept extensive speaking engagements, mainly on women's issues. "During the time immediately before and quite some time after my conversion I ... thought that leading a religious life meant giving up all earthly things and having one's mind fixed on divine things only. Gradually, however, I learnt that other things are expected of us in this world... I even believe that the deeper someone is drawn to God, the more he has to ‘get beyond himself’ in this sense, that is, go into the world and carry divine life into it."
She worked enormously hard, translating the letters and diaries of Cardinal Newman from his pre-Catholic period as well as Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate. The latter was a very free translation, for the sake of dialogue with modern philosophy. Erich Przywara also encouraged her to write her own philosophical works. She learnt that it was possible to "pursue scholarship as a service to God... It was not until I had understood this that I seriously began to approach academic work again." To gain strength for her life and work, she frequently went to the Benedictine Monastery of Beuron to celebrate the great festivals of the Church year.
In 1931 Edith Stein left the convent school in Speyer and devoted herself to working for a professorship again, this time in Breslau and Freiburg, though her endeavors were in vain. It was then that she wrote “Potency and Act,” a study of the central concepts developed by Thomas Aquinas. Later, at the Carmelite Convent in Cologne, she rewrote this study to produce her main philosophical and theological work, “Finite and Eternal Being.” By then, however, it was no longer possible to print the book. In 1932 she accepted a lectureship position at the Roman Catholic division of the German Institute for Educational Studies at the University of Munster, where she developed her anthropology. She successfully combined scholarship and faith in her work and her teaching, seeking to be a "tool of the Lord" in everything she taught. "If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him."
In 1933 darkness broke out over Germany. "I had heard of severe measures against Jews before. But now it dawned on me that God had laid His hand heavily on His people, and that the destiny of these people would also be mine." The Aryan Law of the Nazis made it impossible for Edith Stein to continue teaching. "If I can't go on here, then there are no longer any opportunities for me in Germany," she wrote; "I had become a stranger in the world." The Arch-Abbot of Beuron, Walzer, now no longer stopped her from entering a Carmelite convent. While in Speyer, she had already taken a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In 1933 she met with the prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne. "Human activities cannot help us, but only the suffering of Christ. It is my desire to share in it."
Edith Stein went to Breslau for the last time, to say good-bye to her mother and her family. Her last day at home was her birthday, which was also the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Edith went to the synagogue with her mother. It was a hard day for the two women. "Why did you get to know it [Christianity]?" her mother asked, "I don't want to say anything against Him. He may have been a very good person. But why did He make Himself God?" Edith's mother cried. The following day Edith was on the train to Cologne. "I did not feel any passionate joy. What I had just experienced was too terrible. But I felt a profound peace in the safe haven of God's will." From now on she wrote to her mother every week, though she never received any replies. Instead, her sister Rosa sent her news from Breslau.
Edith joined the Carmelite Convent of Cologne on October 14, 1933, and her investiture took place on April 15, 1934. The Mass was celebrated by the Arch-Abbot of Beuron. Edith Stein was now known as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In 1938 she wrote: "I understood the cross as the destiny of God's people, which was beginning to be apparent at the time. I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf. Of course, I know better now what it means to be wedded to the Lord in the sign of the cross. However, one can never comprehend it, because it is a mystery." On April 21, 1935, she took her temporary vows. On September 14, 1936, the renewal of her vows coincided with her mother's death in Breslau. "My mother held on to her faith to the last moment. But as her faith and her firm trust in her God ... were the last thing that was still alive in the throes of her death, I am confident that she will have met a very merciful judge and that she is now my most faithful helper, so that I can reach the goal as well."
When she made her eternal profession on April 21, 1938, she had the words of St. John of the Cross printed on her devotional picture: "Henceforth, my only vocation is to love." Her final work was to be devoted to this author. Edith Stein's entry into the Carmelite Order was not escapism. "Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone." In particular, she interceded to God for her people: "I keep thinking of Queen Esther who was taken away from her people precisely because God wanted her to plead with the king on behalf of her nation. I am a very poor and powerless little Esther, but the King who has chosen me is infinitely great and merciful. This is great comfort." (October 31, 1938).
While in the Cologne convent, Edith Stein had been given permission to start her academic studies again. Among other things, she wrote, "The Life of a Jewish Family" (that is, her own family), which tried to show the similar human experiences of Jews and Christians in their daily lives. "I simply want to report what I experienced as part of Jewish humanity," she said, pointing out that "we who grew up in Judaism have a duty to bear witness ... to the young generation who are brought up in racial hatred from early childhood." In 1933, she attempted to combine the thoughts of Husserl and Aquinas in her book, "Finite and Eternal Being," completed in 1936. Under the anti-Jewish laws in effect then, however, the book was refused for publication and was not printed until 1950.
On November 9, 1938, the anti-Semitism of the Nazis became apparent to the whole world. Synagogues were burnt, and the Jewish people were subjected to terror. Edith commented, "I never knew that people could be like this, neither did I know that my brothers and sisters would have to suffer like this. ... I pray for them every hour. Will God hear my prayers? He will certainly hear them in their distress." The prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne did her utmost to take Sr. Teresa abroad. On New Year's Eve 1938, she was smuggled across the border into the Netherlands to the Carmelite Convent in Echt in the Province of Limburg. This is where she wrote her will on June 9, 1939: "Even now I accept the death that God has prepared for me in complete submission and with joy as being His most holy will for me. I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death ... so that the Lord will be accepted by His people and that His Kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world. I beg the Lord to take my life and my death … for all concerns of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary and the holy Church, especially for the preservation of our holy Order, in particular the Carmelite monasteries of Cologne and Echt, as atonement for the unbelief of the Jewish People, and that the Lord will be received by His own people and His kingdom shall come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world, at last for my loved ones, living or dead, and for all God gave to me: that none of them shall go astray."
Stein’s move to Echt prompted her to be more devout and an even greater subscriber to the Carmelite lifestyle. After having her teaching position revoked by the implementation of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, Stein quickly eased back into the role of instructor at the convent in Echt, teaching both fellow sisters and students within the community Latin and philosophy. After the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, Edith’s fellow sisters would later recount how she begin “quietly training herself for life in a concentration camp, by enduring cold and hunger.” Even prior to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Stein believed she would not survive the war, going as far to write the Prioress to request her permission to “allow me to offer myself to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”
In Echt, Edith Stein hurriedly completed writing, "The Church's Teacher on Mysticism and the Father of the Carmelites, John of the Cross, on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of His Birth, 1542-1942." In 1941 she wrote to a friend, who was also a member of her order: "One can only gain a knowledge of the Cross if one has thoroughly experienced the Cross. I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart, 'Ave, Crux, Spes unica' (‘I welcome you, Cross, our only hope’)." Her study on St. John of the Cross is officially entitled, "The Science of the Cross.”
In 1942 the Nazis began removing Jews from the Netherlands, and Edith and her sister Rosa urgently applied for Swiss visas in order to transfer to a convent in Switzerland. Her sister was unable to secure the visa, however, and Stein refused to leave without her. On July 20, 1942, the Dutch Bishops' Conference had a public statement read in all the churches of the nation condemning Nazi racism. In a retaliatory response on July 26, the Reichskommissar of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts who had previously been spared. On August 2, 1942, while they were in the chapel with their fellow nuns, Edith and her sister Rosa were arrested by Nazi troops and transported to a concentration camp at Amersfoort and Westerbork in the Netherlands for a few days before being sent on to the Auschwitz camp in Poland. While at Westerbork, a Dutch official was so impressed by her sense of faith and calm that he offered her an escape plan. Stein vehemently denied his assistance, stating, “If somebody intervened at this point and took away my chance to share in the fate of my brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation.”
On August 7th, early in the morning, Sr. Teresa and her sister Rosa, along with 987 other Jews, were deported to Auschwitz. On August 9th they were gassed, and either placed in mass graves on the site or cremated. She was 50 years old. Her last words to be heard before being taken away from the convent in Echt were addressed to Rosa, "Come, we are going for our people." Professor Jan Nota, who was greatly attached to her, wrote later, "She is a witness to God's presence in a world where God is absent."
When Edith Stein was beatified in Cologne on May 2, 1987, the Church honored "a daughter of Israel,” as St. Pope John Paul II put it, who, as a Catholic during Nazi persecution, remained faithful to the Crucified Lord Jesus Christ and, as a Jew, to her people in loving faithfulness."
"For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the fostering of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayers for the divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of our Brother Bishops, we declare and define that Bl. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, is a saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated in the whole Church as one of the saints.”
With the above words, pronounced in Latin on Sunday, October 11, 1998, at a solemn concelebration in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II canonized St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, a Jewish philosopher, convert to the Catholic faith, Carmelite nun and martyr at Auschwitz.
Below we present the the homily that Pope John Paul delivered at the Canonization Mass:
1. "Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6: 14). St Paul's words to the Galatians, which we have just heard, are well suited to the human and spiritual experience of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who has been solemnly enrolled among the saints today. She, too, can repeat with the Apostle: Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Cross of Christ! Ever blossoming, the tree the Cross continues to bear new fruits of salvation. This is why believers look with confidence to the Cross, drawing from its mystery of love the courage and strength to walk faithfully in the footsteps of the crucified and risen Christ. Thus the message of the Cross has entered the hearts of so many men and women and changed their lives. The spiritual experience of Edith Stein is an eloquent example of this extraordinary interior renewal. A young woman in search of the truth has become a saint and martyr through the silent workings of divine grace: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who from heaven repeats to us today all the words that marked her life: "Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ".
2. On 1 May 1987, during my Pastoral Visit to Germany, I had the joy of beatifying this generous witness to the faith in the city of Cologne. Today, 11 years later, here in Rome, in St Peter's Square, I am able solemnly to present this eminent daughter of Israel and faithful daughter of the Church as a saint to the whole world. Today, as then, we bow to the memory of Edith Stein, proclaiming the indomitable witness she bore during her life and especially by her death. Now alongside Teresa of Avila and Thérèse of Lisieux, another Teresa takes her place among the host of saints who do honor to the Carmelite Order. Dear brothers and sisters who have gathered for this solemn celebration, let us give glory to God for what he has accomplished in Edith Stein.
3. I greet the many pilgrims who have come to Rome, particularly the members of the Stein family who have wanted to be with us on this joyful occasion. I also extend a cordial greeting to the representatives of the Carmelite community, which became a "second family" for Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. I also welcome the official delegation from the Federal Republic of Germany, led by Helmut Kohl, the outgoing Federal Chancellor, whom I greet with heartfelt respect. Moreover, I greet the representatives of the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate and the Mayor of Cologne. An official delegation has also come from my country, led by Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. I extend a cordial greeting to them. I would particularly like to mention the pilgrims from the Dioceses of Wroclaw (Breslau), Cologne, Münster, Speyer, Kraków and Bielsko-Zywiec who have come with their Cardinals, Bishops and pastors. They join the numerous groups of the faithful from Germany, the United States of America and my homeland, Poland.
4. Dear brothers and sisters! Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholic Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: "Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed". From now on, as we celebrate the memory of this new saint from year to year, we must also remember the Shoah, that cruel plan to exterminate a people--a plan to which millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters fell victim. May the Lord let His face shine upon them and grant them peace (cf. Nm 6: 25f.). For the love of God and man, once again I raise an anguished cry: May such criminal deeds never be repeated against any ethnic group, against any race, in any corner of this world! It is a cry to everyone: to all people of goodwill; to all who believe in the Just and Eternal God; to all who know they are joined to Christ, the Word of God made man. We must all stand together: human dignity is at stake. There is only one human family. The new saint also insisted on this: "Our love of neighbor is the measure of our love of God. For Christians and not only for them no one is a "stranger'. The love of Christ knows no borders".
5. Dear brothers and sisters! The love of Christ was the fire that inflamed the life of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Long before she realized it, she was caught by this fire. At the beginning she devoted herself to freedom. For a long time Edith Stein was a seeker. Her mind never tired of searching and her heart always yearned for hope. She traveled the arduous path of philosophy with passionate enthusiasm. Eventually she was rewarded: she seized the truth. Or better: she was seized by it. Then she discovered that truth had a name: Jesus Christ. From that moment on, the incarnate Word was her One and All. Looking back as a Carmelite on this period of her life, she wrote to a Benedictine nun: "Whoever seeks the truth is seeking God, whether consciously or unconsciously". Although Edith Stein had been brought up religiously by her Jewish mother, at the age of 14 she "had consciously and deliberately stopped praying". She wanted to rely exclusively on herself and was concerned to assert her freedom in making decisions about her life. At the end of a long journey, she came to the surprising realization: only those who commit themselves to the love of Christ become truly free. This woman had to face the challenges of such a radically changing century as our own. Her experience is an example to us. The modern world boasts of the enticing door which says: everything is permitted. It ignores the narrow gate of discernment and renunciation. I am speaking especially to you, young Christians, particularly to the many altar servers who have come to Rome these days on pilgrimage: Pay attention! Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface, but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide! The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in His good hands.
6. St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was able to understand that the love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship. The quest for truth and its expression in love did not seem at odds to her; on the contrary she realized that they call for one another. In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority. In addition, there is a widespread belief that one should use the truth even against love or vice versa. But truth and love need each other. St Teresa Benedicta is a witness to this. The "martyr for love," who gave her life for her friends, let no one surpass her in love. At the same time, with her whole being she sought the truth, of which she wrote: "No spiritual work comes into the world without great suffering. It always challenges the whole person". St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.
7. Finally, the new saint teaches us that love for Christ undergoes suffering. Whoever truly loves does not stop at the prospect of suffering: he accepts communion in suffering with the One he loves. Aware of what her Jewish origins implied, Edith Stein spoke eloquently about them: "Beneath the Cross I understood the destiny of God's People.... Indeed, today I know far better what it means to be the Lord's bride under the sign of the Cross. But since it is a mystery, it can never be understood by reason alone." The mystery of the Cross gradually enveloped her whole life, spurring her to the point of making the supreme sacrifice. As a bride on the Cross, Sr. Teresa Benedicta did not only write profound pages about the "science of the Cross." but was thoroughly trained in the school of the Cross. Many of our contemporaries would like to silence the Cross. But nothing is more eloquent than the Cross when silenced! The true message of suffering is a lesson of love. Love makes suffering fruitful and suffering deepens love. Through the experience of the Cross, Edith Stein was a
8. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn 4: 24). Dear brothers and sisters, the divine Teacher spoke these words to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. What He gave to His attentive listener, we also find in the life of Edith Stein, in her "ascent of Mount Carmel". The depth of the divine mystery became perceptible to her in the silence of contemplation. Gradually, throughout her life, as she grew in the knowledge of God, worshiping Him in spirit and truth, she experienced ever more clearly her specific vocation to ascend the Cross with Christ, to embrace it with serenity and trust, to love it by following in the footsteps of her beloved Spouse: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is offered to us today as a model to inspire us and a protectress to call upon. We give thanks to God for this gift. ble to open the way to a new encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac. and Jacob--the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith and the Cross proved inseparable to her. Having matured in the school of the Cross, she found the roots to which the tree of her own life was attached. She understood that it was very important for her "to be a daughter of the chosen people and to belong to Christ not only spiritually, but also through blood".
May the new saint be an example to us in our commitment to serve freedom, in our search for the truth. May her witness constantly strengthen the bridge of mutual understanding between Jews and Christians. St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us! Amen.
Susanne Batzdorff is a niece of St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein). Mrs. Batzdorff now lives in Santa Rosa, Calif. The article below originally appeared in the February 13, 1999, issue of America with the title "Catholics and Jews: Can We Bridge the Abyss?"
My aunt, Edith Stein, had been beatified on May 1, 1987, in Cologne, and I was writing with that event fresh in my mind. Frankly, I had not expected that the church would proceed so quickly to the canonization of Edith Stein, who is also known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the name she received when she became a Carmelite nun in 1933.
When it became clear that the canonization ceremony would happen in my lifetime, I was once again confronted with the questions: Should I attend? How would this experience differ from that of the beatification? As it turned out, the canonization in Rome last October was similar to the beatification in some ways, but different in others. For the citizens of Cologne, a papal visit was a unique event, and on that May day in 1987 it seemed as if the whole city had turned out to take part and rejoice. In Rome, however, canonizations, especially under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, are frequent—averaging 14 each year—and the city takes these events in stride.
In Cologne, on the day following the beatification, bookstore windows were full of books by and about Edith Stein. In Rome there was none of that. The Cologne event was mostly a German happening, whereas in Rome it was an international event. Many delegations had come from abroad, with large banners declaring their places of origin. The Pope greeted these groups of pilgrims in their own native languages, and they applauded enthusiastically.
As for Edith Stein’s family, the turnout was much larger this time. Twenty-one family members attended the beatification. At the canonization there were 97, representing three generations. It was sobering to realize that on that day of the canonization Aunt Edith would have been 107 years old if she had lived. Among the very few people present who had actually known and could remember her were two nieces and one nephew.
The settings of the two ceremonies were also different. In Cologne, it had been a sports stadium; in Rome, it was the historic St. Peter’s Square. As some reporters noted, the ceremony in the square was observed from the basilica’s heights by gigantic statues of the apostles—“The Jews who had founded the original church, witnessing another Jew being received into the community of saints of the church.”
From our seats we had a close look at the Pope as he entered the square. Illness and the burdens of his office in the 11 years since our last encounter had taken a visible toll on him. We were saddened by this decline in his health and vigor. In those 11 years since the beatification, I have translated texts by and about Edith Stein, and have myself written and spoken about her life and work. I have also tried to create better understanding between the Jewish and Catholic communities. It is a complex task.
During the two weeks prior to our departure for Rome last autumn, I was besieged by the media. Radio, television and various newspapers asked searching questions that once again challenged me. Some reporters even remembered statements I had made in 1987 and 1988. “Have you changed your mind?” they now asked. “Do you feel that the church has made progress since then?” “Do you feel honored, glad, angry?” My response is complicated. To be invited to the canonization of Edith Stein as one of her closest relatives undoubtedly constitutes an honor, but it stirs up painful remembrances of the past.
In the months preceding the canonization, I had occupied myself intensely with the past. Shortly before leaving for Rome I had read some thought-provoking statements by Jews and Catholics about the role of Edith Stein, either as a bridge for interreligious understanding or, conversely, as a hindrance to such efforts. Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ episcopal moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations, quoted reassuringly from a 1987 “Advisory to the Nation's Catholics”: "In no way can the beatification of Edith Stein be understood by Catholics as giving impetus to unwarranted proselytizing among the Jewish community. On the contrary, it urges us to ponder the continuing religious significance of Jewish traditions with which we have so much in common, and to approach Jews not as potential 'objects' of conversion but rather as bearers of a unique witness to the Name of the One God, the God of Israel."
The Cardinal then quoted a comment made by Rabbi Daniel Polish in his contribution to a volume of essays that first appeared in Germany in 1990, Never Forget: Christian and Jewish Perspectives on Edith Stein (1998). In his essay Rabbi Polish wrote: “While we cannot embrace the notion that Edith Stein will serve as a bridge [between Jews and Catholics], we can see the occasion of her canonization as opening a door to significant discourse.”
I had myself “given birth” to two books about Edith Stein. I served as editor and translator of the English language edition of Never Forget, the collection mentioned above. I also wrote Aunt Edith: The Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Saint (1998). The concluding chapter of the latter, “In the Spirit of Catholic-Jewish Understanding,” is an attempt to update the status of the difficult Catholic-Jewish relationship from what it was in 1987 and even to attempt a prediction of the future by observing the present trajectory.
My awareness of being Jewish dates back to the 1920’s, when I was in first grade. The school in Germany that I attended was publicly supported but under Catholic auspices. A crucifix hung in every classroom, and the school day began with prayers. One day my teacher called me to her desk and told me that my parents had requested that I be dispensed from making the Sign of the Cross and joining in class prayers. I was somewhat puzzled, but no further explanation was offered. Obediently, I henceforth refrained from crossing myself and participating in prayer. I was also excused from the religion classes, in which all my classmates learned about the Christian faith. Our classroom was decorated with many colorful scenes from the life of Jesus, of which I knew nothing.
About this time I became friends with another little girl in my class. One day she met me after religion class, dissolved in tears. When I asked the cause of her distress, she told me that she had just learned that the Jews killed Jesus. She knew that I was a Jew, and she did not want to believe that I was such a wicked person. Naïve as I was, I tried to comfort her by saying that I knew nothing about this, that neither I nor anyone in my family had ever killed anyone. I assured her that she must have misunderstood something. It was my first encounter with anti-Jewish teaching in the framework of Christian religious instruction. Fortunately, this kind of instruction ended more than 40 years later with the changes introduced since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
In the Spring of 1933, when, because of her Jewish birth, my Aunt Edith had been dismissed from her teaching position in Münster and was thinking about her future, she conceived a bold plan: She would seek an audience with Pope Pius XI and plead with him to issue an encyclical denouncing anti-Semitism. Her efforts were nobly, but perhaps a bit naïvely, conceived. She was informed that this was a holy year, and for that reason the crowds making pilgrimages to Rome were so large that there was no prospect that Edith Stein could be received by the Pope in a private audience. The best she could hope for was to be admitted as part of a small group. She decided that would not serve her purpose and instead sent a letter to the Pope in which she set forth her plea in detail. As far as I know, this letter is still among the sealed documents of the Vatican; we only have her own description of this incident: “I know that my letter was delivered to the Holy Father unopened; some time thereafter I received his blessing for myself and for my relatives. Nothing else happened. Later on, I often wondered whether this letter might have come to his mind once in a while. For in the years that followed, that which I had predicted for the future of the Catholics in Germany came true step by step.”
When on Oct. 11, 1998, we were admitted to a private audience with Pope John Paul II, it was a bittersweet reminder of Aunt Edith’s vain attempt to gain a similar private audience with Pius XI in the spring of 1933. An opportunity to give the Pope a very urgent message that might have had historic consequences had been allowed to slip by. Was it really important for me, a Jewish relative of Aunt Edith, to have a three-minute conversation with the present Pope? I am not sure. At any rate, I used my private moment with him to give him my book as a gift—my loving tribute not just to Edith but to the memory of my relatives and our family life in the Breslau that used to be.
In her desire to bring about better understanding between Christians and Jews, Edith Stein was ahead of her times. Sadly enough, it took the horrors of the Shoah, the Holocaust, to bring about the far-reaching changes that began with Pope John XXIII’s decision to convene in 1962 the Second Vatican Council, from which those profound changes flowed. Edith Stein was only one of the millions who were killed because they were Jews. In her plea to Pope Pius XI, she spoke for the people from whom she was descended.
Neither Edith Stein’s letter nor the arguments of other, more prominent personages impelled Pope Pius XI to issue an encyclical condemning anti-Semitism. It is often said that his encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, published in 1937, was a response to Edith Stein’s plea. This document, however, was not issued until four years after she wrote her letter, and it did not mention the Jews. When the Pope charged John LaFarge, S.J., and two other Jesuits to draft an encyclical on the topic Edith Stein had mentioned in the spring of 1933, that document was long in the making. The encyclical was never issued, and its draft became widely known only in 1997. It has recently been revealed how circuitous the road toward this draft was, and the actual text shows that the prejudices of the past had not been shed by its authors. Jan H. Nota, a Dutch Jesuit who located and analyzed the text of this draft of Humani Generis Unitas (“The Unity of the Human Race”), as it was entitled, found so much outdated theology in the document that he said, “God be praised that this draft remained only a draft!”
Vatican II facilitated contact among the various branches of Christianity. Vatican II also opened a new relationship with the Jews through its “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.” This document, published on Oct. 28, 1965, declares, “The church repudiates all persecutions against anyone” (No. 4).
With his facility in many languages and his willingness to travel the globe, even now, at the age of 78 and in ill health, Pope John Paul II has managed to build bridges where hitherto seemingly unbridgeable gulfs existed. He listens to Jewish concerns. Wherever he travels, he usually arranges a meeting with representatives of the local Jewish community. When controversy arose concerning the establishment of a Carmelite monastery adjacent to the death camp at Auschwitz, the Pope saw to it that a different site was chosen.
In 1993, John Paul II established diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel. In 1994, he sponsored at the Vatican a concert commemorating the Shoah. Earlier on, in 1986, he made a historic decision—he paid a visit to the great synagogue of Rome, the first pope ever to go there. On that occasion, he clearly condemned anti-Semitism and addressed the Jews as “our elder brothers.” He also recalled the deportations of the Jews of Rome during the Holocaust. These actions and statements of John Paul II have been welcomed in Jewish circles. They stand in sharp contrast to the policies of the Vatican during the rise of National Socialism.
On March 16, 1998, a 14-page document entitled “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,” which had been 11 years in the making, was released by the Holy See. While it expresses remorse for the failings and transgressions of individual Catholics, this statement appears to absolve “the church” as an institution from any guilt in the Holocaust. It also draws a distinction between the “anti-Semitism” of the Nazis and the “anti-Judaism” found in general society. The initial Jewish reaction was mixed. However, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in a speech before the American Jewish Committee in Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1998, clarified some points. He urged his listeners not to read this document in isolation from statements already issued by the episcopal conferences of several European countries and from those made by Pope John Paul II. Those who are working diligently in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations, people like Rabbi James Rudin and Dr. Eugene Fisher, associate director of the National Council of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, point out that this document, while imperfect, represents an important step along the road to greater openness. It ends with the following inspiring message:
"We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham."
In general, however, Jewish leaders expressed disappointment and dismay with the statement. They noted that members of the Catholic hierarchy in Germany, France, and Poland have issued statements that go much further in accepting responsibility for the failures of the Church in the Nazi era than this Vatican document does. Jewish voices are also calling for an opening of the Vatican archives to permit access to documents pertinent to the Holocaust, so that the full truth can be ascertained.
It is clear to me then that the debate about Edith Stein today focuses on this question: Is she a figure for reconciliation or a figure of controversy in the Catholic-Jewish dialogue and an impediment to the effort at rapprochement? This question comes up every time the name of Edith Stein is in the news. It has been hotly debated and argued even among her relatives. There is something troubling to those of us who are Jewish regarding, as a symbol for Jews, a woman who turned away from Judaism and embraced Christianity. But let me cite again Cardinal Keeler's insightful statement: “Her intellectual and spiritual journey, from which Catholics have so much to learn, is presented as her own, a model for Catholics, not a model for Jews.”
In her own family, Edith was only one of four siblings who fell victim to the Nazis. Moreover, to speak of Edith Stein’s going to her death “for her people” poses a problem for Jews. Christians consider the death of Jesus to have been redemptive. By his sacrifice, He atoned for the sins of the people. In contrast, my Aunt Edith was killed alongside millions of Jews. Her suffering and death could not save the others. It was a death she did not choose, could not choose, and could not have avoided. It was a death that did not stop the killing of others and did not give a religious meaning to the slaughter. It was a fact that Edith Stein died in solidarity with “her people.” Even though she had left the Jewish fold, she was finally, in an ironic twist, reunited with them in death. She was resigned to that fate, but she had no control over it. It was rather due to the Nazis’ definition of who is a Jew. It was because she was born Jewish, of Jewish parentage, that she became a “Martyr in Auschwitz.”
In a small way, the family of Edith Stein mirrors the whole human family. Just as the members of the Stein family could come together for the canonization despite their different backgrounds and beliefs, so Jews and Christians can come together in an atmosphere of peace and good will. They can open a dialogue to reach some understanding and find a way to bridge their differences. In the confines of the extended Stein family, we find various religious allegiances represented. At times our discussions can become quite heated, but we respect each other's right to differ. After the political upheavals that scattered us in all directions, we refuse to allow ideological or religious differences to tear us apart. Our basic entity as family must remain a unifying principle.
Christians and Jews have already come a long way toward closer rapprochement and better understanding, but our work is not finished. We must learn about each other’s beliefs and ideology with open minds and mutual respect, conceding to each other the right to be different, to worship in our own ways.
One final word about forgiveness. The Jewish people cannot forgive the perpetrators of the Holocaust or those who stood by in silence. The survivors cannot forgive the death of the victims. We can, however, listen to the mea culpa of those who are truly repentant and leave forgiveness to God. If we examine our past and admit our mistakes honestly, we can go forward confidently and work together for common goals. And with God’s blessing we can go about the task of tikkun olam—repairing the world.
ST. MARIAM (MARY) OF JESUS CRUCIFIED
Known as "The Little Arab"
"It is sweet to think of Jesus, but it is sweeter to do His will." --St, Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD
St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD, born Mariam Baouardy (alt. sp. Bowardy), was a Discalced Carmelite nun of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. She was canonized in Rome on May 17, 2015, along with St. Maria Alphonsina Ghattas—both of whom had mystical experiences and lived and died in the Holy Land during the second half of the 19th Century. (Her feast day was set for August 26th). Born to Greek Catholic parents from Syria and Lebanon, Sr. Mariam, also known as “the Little Arab,” was a mystic who experienced the stigmata and was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. She was born on January 5, 1846 (the eve of Epiphany), in the village of I'billin, the region of Southern Syria in the Ottoman Empire, now in Israel, to Giries (George) Baouardy and his wife, Mariam Chahine, both of Damascene ancestry. Mariam was their thirteenth child and first daughter (none of her preceding brothers had survived infancy). Their grief was immense at the loss of all twelve of their children. Broken-hearted, but full of hope, the mother had an inspiration that she confided to her husband: "Let us go to Bethlehem on foot, and ask the Blessed Virgin for a daughter. Let us promise her that if our prayers are answered, we will name her Mariam…” They traveled the 70 miles to Bethlehem and were later blessed with the birth of Mariam. She was joined by a new brother, Boulos, two years later.
However, when Mariam was only two years old and her brother an infant, both her mother and father died within a few days of each other of an unknown disease. An aunt later related to Mariam her father`s last words. Looking at a picture of St. Joseph, he murmured. "Great saint, here is my child; the Blessed Virgin is her mother; deign to look after her also; be her Father." A maternal aunt, living in Tarshish, took her younger brother Boulos into her home; Mariam was adopted by a paternal uncle in her hometown of Ibillin and raised in a loving home in comfortable circumstances. The brother and sister were never to see each other again. As a child she had a marked spirit of religious fervor. One incident from the time of her childhood revealed significant insight into her character and clearly indicated the direction of her life to come. It took place in her uncle’s orchard amidst the apricot, peach, and pecan trees. She kept a small cage filled with small birds, a gift given to her. One day she decided that her little beloved birds needed a bath. However, she unintentionally drowned them in spite of her well-intentioned efforts. Their death broke her small heart. Grief-stricken, she eventually decided to bury them when deep inside she heard a clear voice, “This is how everything passes. If you will give me your heart, I shall always remain with you.” These words penetrated and took root in the young heart of Mariam.
When Mariam was eight, her uncle and his wife moved to Alexandria, Egypt, to improve their situation. Later in a “dream” that she was always to remember, she saw a merchant come into her uncle`s house and offer a fine big fish for sale. She understood that the fish was poisoned, and then she woke up. "It was only a dream!," she told herself. But in the morning a man did showed up to sell a fish just like the one in her dream. She warned her uncle, who nevertheless stubbornly persisted in wanting to buy the fish. Mariam wept and insisted that her uncle not eat the fish, and since he would not give in, she insisted that she should take the first bite, happy to sacrifice herself for the others. In the face of her persistence, her uncle and aunt finally opened the fish, and to their great astonishment and surprise the fish was indeed poisoned, as it had swallowed a small poisonous snake! The Blessed Virgin was a big part of her life. In her honor, from the age of five, she fasted every Saturday, taking only the evening meal. In the springtime she would gather flowers—choosing the loveliest and most fragrant from the garden or on the hills of Ibillin to place before the icon of the Blessed Virgin. One day she found that the cut flowers had taken root in the vase. She showed her uncle who, in turn informed the local pastor. In an effort to keep her humble, he scolded her as though her sins were responsible for this phenomenon. Mariam fell on her knees, humbled herself, and asked pardon for her sins. "What do you think will become of this child?" wondered the pastor, the relatives, and the neighbors at the sight of such spiritual piety and devotion from a five year old child.
In 1858 when she was 13, in keeping with tradition, she was engaged by her uncle to his wife's brother, who lived in Cairo. In her great distress, she could not sleep the night before the wedding ceremony, and she prayed fervently that God might intervene, or show her His holy will. In the depths of her heart she again heard a familiar voice, “Everything passes! If you wish to give me your heart, I will remain with you.” Mariam knew it was Jesus’ voice, the only spouse she would have! The remainder of the night was spent in deep prayer before the icon of the Virgin Mary, beseeching her for her help. Having dozed off for a moment, she suddenly heard within her a voice which said “Mariam, I am with you; follow the inspiration I shall give you. I will help you.” In the morning Mariam informed her Uncle that she would not marry. He first tried to reason with her, explaining the material advantages and benefits of a prearranged marriage. Her adoptive uncle then flew into a wild rage when he saw that Mariam would not marry but would remain a virgin. He beat her and screamed at her for her insubordination and disobedience. This did not change Mariam’s mind, and she withstood the beatings and insults hurled at her by her uncle. Mariam’s heart was deeply saddened that she had upset her uncle, but she stood firm in her resolve, for her love for God was greater than anything else.
In punishment, her uncle then resorted to treating her as the lowest household servant, giving her the most difficult kitchen tasks, and subjecting her to a position lower than his hired help. Mariam sank into a deep sense of desolation and desperation. In her suffering she wrote to her younger brother, Boulos, then living in Nazareth, and invited him to come and see her in Alexandria. The young male servant she asked to deliver the letter then attempted to woo her. She rejected his proposal, which caused the young man to fly into a rage. He drew a knife and cut her throat. Thinking her dead, he dumped her body in a nearby dark alley. It was the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, 1858. What followed was a strange and beautifully-moving story, told years later by Mariam to her Mistress of Novices at Marseilles, France: “A nun dressed in blue picked me up and stitched my throat wound. This happened in a grotto somewhere. I then found myself in heaven with the Blessed Virgin, the angels and the saints. They treated me with great kindness. In their company were my parents. I saw the brilliant throne of the Most Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ in His humanity. There was no sun, no lamp, but everything was bright with light. Someone spoke to me and said that my book was not finished."
She then found herself once again in the grotto with the “nun dressed in blue”. One day, the unknown nurse prepared some soup for her that was so delicious that she greedily asked for more. On her death bed she was heard to say tenderly, "She made me some soup! Oh, such good soup! I have the taste in my mouth. She promised me that at my last hour, she would give me a little spoonful of it." Toward the end of her sojourn in the grotto, the nurse in blue outlined for Mariam her life`s program: "You will never see your family again, you will go to France, where you will become a religious. You will be a child of St. Joseph before becoming a daughter of St. Teresa. You will receive the habit of Carmel in one house, you will make your profession in a second, and you will die in a third, at Bethlehem." (Note: The scar on her neck—which measured nearly 4-inches wide—remained the rest of her life. Several cartilaginous rings of the tracheal artery were missing, as the doctors at Pau attested on June 24, 1875. The Mistress of Novices was to write: "A celebrated doctor at Marseille, who had taken care of Mariam, had confessed that, although he was an atheist, there must be a God, for from a natural point of view, she could not have lived." Mariam’s voice was affected for the rest of her life as a result of the cut.)
Mariam never saw her aunt and uncle again. They knew nothing of the tragedy and they thought that Mariam had run away to escape their ill treatment and to perhaps become a nun. They had every interest in keeping silent about their adopted child, as she could only bring them dishonor by her refusal to marriage. She was only thirteen and was now on her own. At first she supported herself by working as a domestic servant. An Arab Christian family named Najjar hired her to work for them. They gave her food, room and a small salary. She lived as one of the poor, with just one dress, and she gave her salary to the poor, except for a few piastres to provide oil for the little lamp that burned before an icon of the Blessed Virgin. Her spare time she devoted to the less fortunate. Hoping to see her brother, and especially desiring to walk in the footsteps of the Lord and to visit His holy places, after about a year she left and joined a caravan that was heading for Jerusalem. One day, when she was fifteen years old, a handsome young man approached her and spoke to her in praise of perfect chastity. Some days later he met her again, said his name was John George, and offered to show her the way to the Holy Sepulcher. Having arrived at the holy place, she promised her mysterious guide that she would take a perpetual vow of virginity if he would do the same. And thus it was that at the sacred edifice, on the very place of the glorious tomb of the risen Lord Jesus, these two young people became "children of the Resurrection" by pronouncing the definitive vow of chastity. Before taking leave of Mariam, John George recalled to her the main stages of her life as the Blessed Virgin had sketched them for her in the grotto of Alexandria. Ten years later at Mangalore, India, Mariam was to see her "spiritual brother" again; this was shortly before her perpetual profession in Carmel. The young religious then understood that John George was an angel that the Lord had sent her, to help guide her, as he had in former days to the young Tobias. After her stay in Jerusalem, Mariam returned to Jaffa to go from there to Saint Jean d`Arc; however, the boat she was travelling on was forced by inclement weather to change direction and to port in Beirut. Feeling it was perhaps the will of God, she once again took up an occupation as a household servant.
There she felt inspired to make a vow of perpetual virginity at the Holy Sepulcher. She then took a boat in Jaffa with the intention of heading to Arc in France. Due to poor weather, however, the boat had to stop at Beirut. Taking this as a sign from God, she disembarked and found work as a maid. Two exceptional facts stand out during this period. She had been working for scarcely six months when suddenly she was struck with total blindness. This lasted for forty days. Once again Mariam turned to the Blessed Virgin, "See, my Mother," she said, "all the trouble that I am causing in this house. I was not even better cared for by my parents. Oh, if it would please you and your divine Son, give me back my sight!" Immediately something fell from her eyes and they opened, and she could then once again see.
A couple of months after that, she suffered a tragic fall when she was hanging clothes on the terrace. At first the family for whom she was working thought she was dead; her bones seemed to be badly broken and crushed, and the doctors gave no hope of recovery. Her employers cared for her as for their own child. A month later, in front of her little night lamp that she kept burning before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she saw—as did St. Therese of the Child Jesus later on—the Blessed Virgin smile at her, recommending three things to her, obedience, charity and confidence. A perfume and light filled the room. Mariam was cured, and she immediately became hungry. The family and neighbors came flocking in, and at the sight of the prodigy everyone, Christian and Moslem, went down on their knees, giving thanks and proclaiming God`s miracle through the Virgin Mary.
These facts were later confirmed in a letter in 1869, when the prioress of the Carmel of Pau where Mariam was then a sister, wrote to Sister Gélas, the superior of the Daughters of Charity of Beirut, asking her to verify the accuracy of these facts, and the superior confirmed that the events had happened exactly as stated, and even added some further details. At age eighteen, circumstances led her to leave Lebanon for Marseille, France at the beginning of May, 1863. There she became a cook for an Arab woman named Madame Naggiar. Each morning Mariam usually went either to the church of St. Charles or to the church of St. Nicholas, the latter being of the Greek Catholic rite, which was her rite. In this church she once again enjoyed the sumptuous ceremonies of the confessor she chose a Lebanese priest, Fr. Philip Abdou, who was the rector of the church.
During one of her first communions there, she was rapt in a wonderful ecstasy. Her mistress, when informed of it, came for her in her carriage. The phenomenon lasted for four days, and the doctors did not know what to make of it. Mariam acknowledged later that she had gone through heaven, hell and purgatory. While in ecstasy she received the order to fast for one year on bread and water to expiate the sins of gluttony in the world, and to wear poor clothing to expiate the sins of immodesty and luxury. As stated earlier, while Mariam was in the marketplace of Jerusalem, she had been approached by a handsome young man who gave her excellent counsel. In Marseille, one morning when she was going up to Notre Dame de la Garde for Mass, she saw she was being followed by a man who was holding a child by the hand. This happened several times. Troubled by such persistence, Mariam approached the stranger and asked him to please stop following her. Surprisingly, the stranger answered with a beautiful smile and said: "I know that you want to enter the convent, and I will follow you until you are in the convent."
From that moment onward, Mariam felt herself called to the religious life. Who was this stranger? The young girl had no doubt that it was St. Joseph. In her efforts to follow her vocation, Fr. Abdou was of great help to her. But, as always in her life, the stages were many and laborious. The young Palestinian went first to the Daughters of Charity and applied to enter. Forestalled by Madame Naggiar, who did not want at any price to be deprived of her cook, they refused under the pretext that she was a servant. Mariam then went to see the Poor Clares, whose style of poverty and silence appealed to her immediately. But her delicate health did not allow her to enter the cloister; she had been so greatly weakened by her fast that she had been given the sacrament of the sick. But once again, rapidly and contrary to all expectations, she found herself cured.
She made a fresh attempt to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, founded by Emily de Vialar. For it was St. Joseph who had appeared to her repeatedly in the street encouraging her to become a nun. The motherhouse and novitiate were located at "the Capelette" in the suburbs of Marseille. The little Palestinian could neither read nor write, and she spoke only Arabic. She was accepted, however, because the novitiate in fact had a few Palestinians among its numbers, and the Congregation had several communities in the East, especially in the Holy Land. Upon entering, she was familiarly called “Mariam the Arab,” or ”the little Arab.” She remained a postulant for two years. Thus the first part of the vocation that had been given to her by the Blessed Virgin had been realized, for she was now a daughter of St. Joseph.
Her fellow sisters were always amused by her broken French, but they were most impressed by her remarkable virtues and piety. Fortunately for Mariam, two women of great virtue were directing the Capelette at that time, the Superior General, Mother Emily Julien, and the Mistress of novices, Mother Honorine Piques. They were excellent spiritual guides for Mariam. To their surprise, they soon began to notice some strange phenomena in the little Arab. In January 1866, when Mariam was twenty years old, Mother Honorine came upon her in the dormitory, prostrate, with her face to the floor and her left hand covered with blood. From Wednesday evening to Friday morning each week, there soon was added another remarkable phenomenon, the stigmata. The stigmata of the heart was the first to be manifested (in August, 1866, at Marseille). She was praying in the chapel one evening, when, in the tabernacle she saw Jesus, who appeared to her with His five wounds and the crown of thorns. It seemed to her she saw coals of wrath in His hands. She heard Jesus say to His Mother prostrate at His feet: "Oh, how My Father is offended!" The little postulant then sprang toward Jesus and, putting her hand on the wound of His Heart, exclaimed, "My God, give me, please, all these sufferings, but have mercy on sinners." Coming out of the ecstasy, she saw her hand covered with blood and experienced a severe pain in her left side (the latter would bleed every Friday).
On March 27, 1867, the other stigmata appeared. The privileged one of the Crucified confided to the mistress of novices: "It seemed to me that I was gathering roses to decorate Mary´s altar: these roses appeared to have thorns on both sides, and the thorns were thrust in my hands and into my feet. When I came to myself, my mouth was very bitter, my feet and hands swollen: in the middle of my hands and on my feet there were black bumps." The following day, Thursday, the sufferings continued to increase until Friday. It was the Feast of the five wounds of Christ. In the morning, about ten o'clock, the black scabs fell off, the crown of thorns appeared on her forehead, and blood flowed from her head and feet. The prodigy was renewed during the months of April and the first two weeks of May. It ceased upon an order of the mistress of novices. This latter, in order to put an end to the rumors that were circulating in the community, asked the postulant to obtain from God that nothing would appear exteriorly. To the great joy of the stigmatist, the wounds closed and healed up.
Faced with such facts, Mother Honorine acted with as much prudence as understanding in regards to both the ecstasies and also the stigmata. Obedience being, in such cases, the litmus test of the Church, she thus forbade Mariam to have ecstasies during the day and in the presence of the religious. Even during the night she was not to get up, and she was not to attract attention. Mariam obeyed, and God, Whom loves obedience, seconded and approved of her actions . The Mistress of novices, seeing that she was dealing with a person extraordinarily fashioned by the Holy Spirit, asked the child to relate for her what she remembered of her childhood and adolescence. Everything was put in writing. One copy would later be sent to the Carmel of Pau with this note of Mother Honorine, "I am sending you copy of what I myself have gathered together from what she related to me, not without much resistance, but complying solely through obedience. She asked of me the greatest secrecy which I have guarded until this day... I have omitted everything I did not entirely understand, because of the difficulty this dear child experienced in explaining herself in French."
Mother Honorine fell ill, and was replaced in the novitiate by Mother Veronica. This religious was to hold a large place in the life and heart of Mariam. She was English and a convert from Anglicanism. After seventeen years of religious life with the Sisters of St. Joseph, she was later to enter the Carmel of Pau with Mariam, and it was in her arms that “the little Arab” would die, at the Carmel of Bethlehem. Mariam, had foretold that, contrary to all expectations, Sister Veronica would become mistress of novices at the Capelette. She held this office for one month, until the reception of the Indult permitting her to enter Carmel. And it was at Mother Veronica’s wish that Mariam`s stigmata disappeared at Marseille, and in accordance with Mariam’s prophecy at that time, the stigmata would not reappear until the following Lent, at Pau.
As may be imagined in such a large and diverse community, Mariam became an object of contradiction. While the majority of religious were favorable to her, there was a group of Sisters who were in opposition to her because of the extraordinary mystical graces that was receiving. For such is a common problem with mystics and victim souls who are called to religious life. After all, is such a person with such strange manifestations suitable for an active congregation? And then, with regard to such phenomena, were they authentic? The day came for the vote for admission to the novitiate. Of the seven eligible to vote, there were two abstentions, two in favor and three against. Mariam was not admitted!
It was a hard blow, first of all for Mother Honorine, who had good reasons to believe in her manner of life. As for the Superior General who, absent at the time of the vote, declared later at her return that, had she been present, that would never have happened. Later, on December 12, 1868, the Mother Superior wrote to the Prioress of the Carmel of Pau, "Our ecclesiastical superiors did not believe we should keep her in our midst, saying that a cloister was a better place to hide such souls. Our sisters obeyed. And so you now have this privileged soul. May God be praised for it!" Obviously the blow was hardest for Mariam. What was to become of her? Unknown to her the Holy Spirit was preparing the next course of action for her. Mother Veronica, who had received from Rome the authorization to become a Carmelite nun and transfer to the Carmel of Pau, proposed to Mariam that she might introduce her to the Mother Prioress. Mariam agreed so Mother Veronica wrote and the reply was immediate and positive. In her letter of introduction, Mother Veronica had passed over in silence Mariam`s extraordinary mystical privileges, but she had added, "She will obey even miraculously."
Having both gained admittance into the Carmelites, the two religious presented themselves at the door of the Carmel of Pau, France on Saturday, June 15, 1867. Mariam knew nothing at all of Carmel or of St. Teresa. But that day she understood that the mysterious words of her miraculous nurse at Alexandria were realized, "You will be a child of St. Joseph before becoming a daughter of St. Teresa". In 1870 she went with the founding group to establish the Carmel of Mangalore in India. It was there in Mangalore that Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified made her profession. She returned to the Carmel of Pau, France in 1872. Three years later she went to the Holy Land where she built a monastery in Bethlehem and began the planning for another at Nazareth.
Those who read her life discover that Mariam had experienced ecstasies all her life: from her early childhood, in the garden, in her home, and in the church of Ibillin; during the bloody night at Alexandria, at her employers in Beirut and Marseille. In the church of St. Nicholas she was rapt in an ecstasy that lasted four days. But it was especially from the time she entered religious life that the phenomena began to be intensified. At the Capelette, when she was with the Sisters of St. Joseph, she was found in ecstasy in the chapel, at recreation, and especially at night in the dormitory.
After she entered Carmel, we note a crescendo, to the degree that at Mangalore the ecstasies occurred almost daily: she had as many as five a day. At Bethlehem, during her last years, they were still more frequent, but at the same time more serene and more painful. The ecstasies would sometimes occur suddenly, and at other times progressively. "There are times," she said, "when I can do absolutely nothing: no matter what I do to prevent it; and at other times I can distract myself a little in order not to go off." In fact she did struggle against the raptures. In her ignorance of mystical things she did not even suspect the privilege she enjoyed for she spoke of her ecstasies as “sleep” And how she fought against going to “sleep”! She begged Father Manaudas, her spiritual director, to forbid her to sleep. "My child," the priest replied, "do not worry; you can go to sleep in all security." She began to cry. She made the same request to Bishop Lacroix, who ordered her to abandon herself to God instead of struggling against such a sleep. It was in fact a real struggle. In order to resist the rapture she moved around, she shook herself, she dashed to the fountain to wash herself, she worked more diligently. She even tried pricking her skin with pins, and in refectory she put burning hot food into her mouth. Nothing helped.
To the mistress of novices, who asked her how she could easily go to sleep, she replied innocently: "I feel as though my heart is open; as though there was a wound in it; and when I have certain ideas and impressions of God which move me, it feels like someone touched the wound in my heart, and I fall in weakness, I lose myself." During her professions ceremony at Mangalore, November 21, 1871, it required an order of the prioress to awaken her so that she could pronounce the vow formula. On June 28, 1873, at Pau, the prioress went into the little one´s cell after the recitations of matins. The latter was seated before the open window: she was in ecstasy. She said to the mother prioress: "The whole world is asleep, and God so full of goodness, so great, so worthy of all praise, and hardly no one is thinking of Him! See, nature praises Him, the sky, the stars, the trees, the grass, everything praises Him, and man, who knowledge of His benefits, who ought to praise Him, sleeps! Let us go, let us go and wake up the universe!" She skipped out of her cell: "Let us go and praise God, and sing His praises. Everyone is sleeping, the whole world is asleep, let us go and wake them up. Jesus is not known, Jesus is not loved. He, so full of goodness, He who has done so much for man!"
During her ecstasies, her body sometimes remained supple, but often it became rigid, remaining in the same position that it was at the beginning of the ecstasy. During this time, nothing and no one could make her move. It was impossible to have her sit or lay down, or to take her from her any object she was holding, or to lower her raised arm. Only obedience could overcome this immobility. She was also completely insensible to any external stimulus. Once, she injured her knee with a nail, which caused her much pain and she could not help but to limp when walking due to the pain. Suddenly she was rapt in ecstasy, and remained for two hours on her knees.
On another occasion, on November 30, 1874, she began to sing "in a clear and strong voice", although since her martyrdom her voice had been hoarse because of the fact that her neck was cut so severely. On January 7, 1875, a violent blow on the head resulted in one eye being injured. Mariam, "later being rapt in ecstasy", wrote the faithful secretary, "we brought a light near her injured eye, which we had not yet been able to examine due to her humility and also the pain caused when opening it. It was open, and although quite inflamed, it remained steady when we put the light in line with its gaze." Another notable detail was that when she came to herself she had no remembrance of what had transpired. With one exception however: the memory of it returned to her when authority asked her to give an account of what she had seen and heard. "I remember these things," she acknowledged , "to tell them to whom I should.”
"I am in God, and God is in me. I feel that all creatures, the trees, the flowers belong to God and also to me. I no longer have a will, it belongs to God. And all that is God´s is mine." Only love can fill the heart of man. The just man is satisfied with love and a pinch of earth, but the wicked man, with all the pleasures, honors, riches (he can acquire), is always hungry, always thirsty. He is never satisfied. "Pay attention to little things. Everything is great before the Lord. The Lord does not want robbery in the sacrifice. Offer and give Him everything. "In heaven, the most beautiful souls are those that have sinned the most and repented. But they made use of their miseries like manure around the base of the tree." "Be very charitable; when one of your eyes sees what is not right, shut it and then open the other one! Change everything into good." "If you love your neighbor, it is by this that you will know if you love Jesus. Each time you look at your neighbor without seeing Jesus, you fall very low."
We see in the lives of many mystic saints that an ecstatic, while in ecstasy, can be drawn a little above the ground through a supernatural and mysterious grace. However, Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified was one of the only ones, along with Saint Joseph of Cupertino, to make real flights. The phenomena was verified for the first time on June 22, 1873 in the garden of the Carmel of Pau. Noticing her absence at supper, the mistress of novices looked for her in vain in the cloister and the orchard, then another nun heard a song: "Love! Love!" She looked up and discovered Mariam balancing herself without support at the top of an enormous lime tree. Advised of this, the prioress arrived and confronted with this phenomenon she initially did not know what to do. After a prayer she addressed the little one: "Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, if Jesus wishes it, come down through obedience without falling or hurting yourself." At the simple word obedience, the ecstatic descended in fact "with the radiant face" and perfect modesty, stopping on some of the branches to sing Love. "Hardly was she on the ground," noted a witness, "and as if to make amends to our mother and sisters for our anxiety in looking for her and in seeing her perched up so high, she embraced us with a sort of enthusiasm and affection impossible to express."
Eight ecstatic levitations were documented: Beginning in 1873 on June 22, July 9, 19,25, 27, 31, August 3, 1873 and finally on July 5, 1874. "How did you manage to climb like that?" the mother prioress asked her. And she replied: "The Lamb held out His hands to me:" Some of the nuns wanted to make sure of this so they spied on her. One day a lay sister who was working in the garden was witness to the flight: "She had taken hold of the tip of a little branch that a bird would have bent; and from there, in an instant, she had been lifted on high." On July 5, perched on the lime tree, she addressed the mother prioress: "I was on that one there and I came up here. Look, see, my alpargates (a kind of soft slipper) are still there." On July 19, 1873, when the order was given for her to descend, she hesitated a moment. She begged to be allowed more time with the Lamb. "No," insisted the prioress, "through obedience, come down." She obeyed, but the shadow of hesitation had been fatal: the vision had disappeared. "The Lamb went away." Sighed the sister, "He left me alone to come down." In fact, because of her hesitance in obedience it was with effort that she got down to the ground and for four days of grief she expiated that unhappy moment. On July 25, the levitation lasted from four to seven o'clock in the evening; on July 31, it lasted from the end of recreation, which follows supper in the evening, until nine o'clock. This phenomenon occurred only at the Carmel of Pau.
In a letter dated February 14, 1927, Father Buzy, the Carmelite´s biographer, wrote the following statement to bishop Oliver Leroy: "Sister Mary used to raise herself to the top of the trees by the tips of the branches: she would take her scapular in one hand, and with the other the end of a small branch next to the leaves, and after a few moments she would glide along the outside edge of the tree to its top. Once up there, she would remain holding on to branches normally too weak to bear a person of her weight." The following are some depositions given by witnesses at process: "Sister E., now deceased, told me that one day when she happened to be in the garden with the servant of God, the latter said to her: "Turn around." She had hardly turn her head when looking back again, she saw the little one already seated on the top of the lime tree, on a little branch, balancing herself like a bird and singing divine love. Another person declared: "Once I saw her in ecstasy at the top of the lime tree, seated at the tip of the highest branch, which, normally would never have been able to support her. Her face was resplendent! I saw her come down from the tree like a bird, from branch to branch, with great nimbleness and modesty."
First let us read, in the memoirs of Mother Veronica at the Capelette, the description of the first stigmata of the little Arab: "On the first Thursday, May 2, 1867, when I went to see Mary, I found her sitting near her bed in great pain. She showed me her side, her feet and her hands. On these latter, in the place where they had been imprinted, that is to say on the upper part, there was a sort of blister, which formed the head of the nails, and in the palms the spot was black and swollen. At the place on her side, a little above the heart, there was the form of a cross all red and inflamed; and in the middle three small blisters with a little hole…I spent the night near her, and at five o'clock in the morning blood flowed from the wounds in her hands which I bathed, and the pain seemed to be alleviated. The blood flowed from the palm. The fingers were contracted and curved around, as if the nail had really gone into the palm, she could not extend them, nor take hold of the glass when I gave her a drink from time to time.
At about nine o'clock blood flowed from the crown of thorns all around her head. I can solemnly attest that I saw blood coming from the holes of the thorns, one of which, in the center of her forehead, opened before me, and blood gushed from it. While I was washing it, it closed again, leaving her forehead without any mark, except the traces of blood. Her feet were white; one would have said the feet of a corpse, and the toes were stretched like those of one crucified. The wounds on the upper part bled, as did the wound on her side. After three hours she was completely herself again, experiencing only a little weakness. I told her to get up, which she did by herself, and that evening she came to supper with the community." In the notes of the Carmel of Pau, we read that on Thursday, February 27, 1868: "She could not get up, she was suffering so much in her hands and feet. We took her to the infirmary. All that evening when passing near there, we would smell a strong sweet fragrance, but we could not detect its source. The novice´s veils and mantle also had a pleasant odor. The night was a bad one for her and the next morning blood began to flow from her feet and hands. The crown of thorns bled profusely at two different times, then the wound in her side, all with unspeakable pain. At noon all the bleeding stopped but the wounds remained open and became deeper each day, which prevented her from walking or putting her feet on the floor, for forty days. She could hardly bear any contact with the linens used to wrap her wounds, especially on Friday and Saturday. From that day until the following Friday, the wounds only oozed, but on Thursday of each week, a large pimple formed, black like a nail, which grew in size until Friday, then at the hour she designated in advance, this sort of blister fell off and the blood flowed; afterward the wound closed until the following week."
During the Mangalore period, we have above all the testimony of Father Lazare, a Carmelite and her director. On November 24 and 25, 1871, he attentively examined the stigmata. From his report we selected some precise statements: "The hands were swollen on the palm and the wounds were open; but all around the edge of the wounds there was a little coagulated blood, no doubt because this wound had begun to open several days before. On the inside of the hand there was a sort of button, forming the head of the nail. The flesh of the palm seemed to have been separated violently; it was torn, if I may thus express it, on the inside there were no tears, only the head of the nail was visible. The feet were similarly pierced through and through. The wounds were fresh, the flesh torn perhaps more than on the hands. One of the perforations was exactly in the middle of the sole of the foot, and there it ended with a quite newly formed small round hole, just as if the point of a sharp nail had been driven through it and then pulled out. It was the same with the other foot."
Lastly, for the Bethlehem period (1875-1878), we have chiefly the testimony of the mistress of novices, mother Mary of the Child Jesus. The stigmata appeared during the Lent of 1876. On March 3, the first Thursday of Lent, the little one called the mother into her cell and said to her: "See my humiliation; I don't anyone to come here, look at my hands." And the witness stated precisely: "We were able to ascertain that the blackish swelling, that looked like a large nail in the palm of her hands and also on the top of the hand, was formed much more quickly than during the Lent of 1868. Towards nine o'clock, the marks were still darker and more extended; her contracted fingers prevented her from using her hands. At noon, we saw the same thing on the upper part of her feet, but she absolutely refused to let us cover them with linen, which would greatly increase her suffering."
The following day the stigmatist was covered with a sweat of blood. On Friday, March 10, the mistress of novices and the sister infirmarian saw the crown of thorns take form on her bloody forehead. The same phenomenon on Friday, March 24: Here is their testimony: "About five thirty, all around the front of her head was bleeding; she had a sort of crown of little button shaped holes, some of which were still open as we looked on. During this time she wiped the blood from them. She got up right after that and all traces disappeared." Holy Week was frightful. Every part of her was bleeding: head, heart, hands and feet. During the course of her life she came to relive and act out certain scenes of the passion. She became the crucified spouse of a crucified God! Identified with her Spouse to the very details of Good Friday! "When she was in the state, she could have been called an 'ecce homo,' " declared Mother Honorine, in 1867 at the Capelette.
The next year at Pau, France, on Good Friday April 10, 1868, the stigmatist was truly on the cross; all her wounds reopened and the blood flowed from her head as well. We cannot conceive the intensity of the suffering she experienced. First she felt her legs pulled one after the other; and the same with her arms; then she felt her nails being driven in…Later, the heart bled as usual, and immediately after that, the wounds began to heal. She remained very weak all week and continued to suffer from her knees which were injured, swollen and full of bumps, perhaps resembling those our Lord must have had after all His Falls. At certain moments, even her cheek became red as if someone were slapping her in the face. The most terrible scene took place on Friday, April 14, 1876 in temporary Carmel of Bethlehem. Let us once again allow the mistress of novices to speak:
"She was groaning and she trembled in her whole body. It was heart rending to see her like that. She often repeated these words: "My God, do not abandon me; my God I offer it to You! Pardon, my God, pardon!" At a quarter past two in the afternoon she began a painful agony; we were all around her. Her legs were stiff, her feet down and crossed one over the other; her arms extended in the form of the cross, were supported by two of the sisters; her chest was distended, she even emitted a few sighs, as though she were breathing forth her soul…After three and a half hours, she had a little relief and spoke again to those "children" (angels) saying to them: "Have pity on me, call me today." She also experienced transports of desire and love: "Call me so that I may leave this earth!" Then she was heard to say: "Fiat, Jesus!" We then had the impression that the crucified one was descending from the cross and from Calvary in order to prepare for the Easter joys. "Don Belloni, confessor of the stigmatist at Bethlehem, asserted that when holding one of her hands against the light, the flesh appeared transparent at the place of the stigmata.
Besides being deeply grounded in humility, in her ignorance she did not realize that the stigmata was a privileged grace from God; she looked upon it as an illness and begged God and Blessed Virgin to take from her what she called "the wretched marks." According to her prediction, the wounds reopened the following Lent, at the Carmel of Pau. They caused atrocious suffering and flowing of the blood. That was renewed every Friday during the Lent of 1868. The Carmelite nuns were admitted to see the prodigy; and the superior of the Carmel, Fr. Guilly entered the enclosure. He verified the phenomena, he put his finger on one of the wounds: at this contact the novice´s entire body shuddered. On Holy Saturday the Stigmata disappeared. The wounds appeared again at Mangalore. On November 20, 1871, the eve of her profession, the little one confided to the mistress of novices: "If I tell you something will you keep my secret?" - "Yes." - "Look, this illness that I fear so much has returned." And she showed her her swollen hands and feet. The day after her profession the stigmata bled profusely. Frightened, the sister earnestly begged God to cure her. This time again she was heard. For more than four years she experienced nothing.
The last period of stigmatization took place at Bethlehem in April 1876. It was the longest and most painful. It made witnesses think they were on Calvary before the spectacle of Crucifixion! Sister Mariam said: "Do you know? Five rosebushes are blooming, quick, quick. They have given the roses to others, and the thorns to me." And she added with a smile: "We do not like that; here we give at least a few roses! And not to let me smell the perfume at all, nothing but thorns! Oh, well - I deserve it! That Jesus may be content, that is all I desire. I accept all the thorns on my body, but tell the Master of the rosebushes to close the roses." After these red flowerings at Marseille, Pau, Mangalore, and Bethlehem, the "five roses" of her Stigmata were closed for the last time on April 26, 1876.
Mariam's devotion to the Holy Spirit was not common in her time. And yet her spiritual journey seemed to be guided by the Spirit in unprecedented ways. Inspired by having received a special prayer to the Holy Spirit during one of her ecstatic experiences, she was convinced that devotion to the Holy Spirit, who was then commonly known as the Paraclete, was needed by the whole Church. She even sent a petition to Pope Pius IX asking him to cultivate a greater devotion within the Church to the Holy Spirit. No one knows what the pope thought of this at the time, but 20 years later Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical about devotion to the Paraclete. Concerning devotion to the Holy Spirit she wrote: "The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries. Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error."
Her Prayers to the Holy Spirit: First, there is her famous little prayer to the Holy Spirit, prayed by people all over the world: Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God, consume me. Along the true road, lead me. Mary my Mother, look upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, from all illusion, from all danger, preserve me. And here is another of her prayers to the Holy Spirit: "Source of peace, Light, come and enlighten me. I am hungry, come and nourish me. I am thirsty, come and quench my thirst. I am blind, come and give me light. I am poor, come and enrich me." On January 5, 1878, Sister Mariam entered her 33rd year of life. In August of 1878 she broke her left arm when she fell while carrying water to the workmen in Bethlehem whom she was helping to build the new Carmelite convent. It was clear that her health had been compromised for quite some time and now her arm would not heal but rather swelled with gangrene, and the infection spread to her lungs and respiratory tract. She knew she was dying. Through her suffering she renewed her vow as a victim for the Church and for her adopted country France. On August 26, 1878 she felt as if she were suffocating and died soon after murmuring, “My Jesus, mercy.” It was ten minutes past five in the morning. Like her Jesus she died at the age of 33. Her tomb is engraved with this inscription: “Here in the peace of the Lord reposes Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, professed religious of the white veil. A soul of singular graces, she was conspicuous for her humility, her obedience and her charity. Jesus, the sole love of her heart called her to Himself in the 33rd year of her age and the 12th year of her religious life at Bethlehem, 26 August 1878.”
ST. RAPHAEL KALINOWSKI, O.C.D.
"Every step of our life should bring us closer to God, and help to provide at least a little happiness to our neighbor." –St. Raphael
Józef Kalinowski was born on September 1, 1835, in the city of Vilnius—an area known at that time as a Russian partition, though it had formerly been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was a teacher, engineer, prisoner of war, royal tutor, and priest, who founded many monasteries around Poland after the suppression by the Russians.
He was the second son of Andrew Kalinowski (1805–1878), an assistant superintendent professor of mathematics at the local Institute for Nobles (Instytut Szlachecki). His mother, Josephine Polonska, died a few months after he was born, leaving him and his older brother Victor without a mother. His father then married Josephine's sister (a practice that was not uncommon in that time), Sophie Polonska, and had three more children: Charles, Emily, and Gabriel. After Sophie died in 1845, Andrew married again, this time to the 17-year-old Sophie Puttkamer, daughter of Maryla Wereszczak (famous at the time for being written about by Adam Mickiewicz), who became mother to all of Andrew's existing children and had four more of her own: Mary, Alexander, Monica, and George.
From the age of 8, Kalinowski attended the Institute for Nobles at Vilna, and graduated with honors in 1850. He then went for two years (1851-1852) to the school of Agriculture at Hory-Horky. The Russians strictly limited opportunities for further education, so in 1853 he enlisted in the Imperial Russian Army and entered the Nicholayev Engineering Academy (Mikolajewska Szkola Inzynierii). The Army promoted him to Second Lieutenant in 1856. In 1857 he worked as an associate professor of mathematics, and from 1858-1860, he worked as an engineer who helped design the Odessa-Kiev-Kursk railway.
In 1862 the Imperial Russian Army promoted him to Captain and stationed him in Brest, Belarus, but he still sympathized with the Poles. He consequently resigned from the Imperial Russian Army in 1863 to serve as minister of war for the January Uprising, a Polish insurrection, in the Vilnius region. He determined never to sentence anyone to death nor to execute any prisoner. When the Poles rose against the Russians in 1863, Raphael joined them and was soon taken prisoner and condemned to death by firing squad. His family intervened, and the Russians, fearing that their Polish subjects would revere him as a political martyr, commuted the sentence to 10 years in a Siberian labor camp. They forced him and the other prisons to trek overland to the salt mines of Usolye-Sibirskoye near Irkutsk, Siberia, a journey that took nine months. Very few survived this march, but Raphael was sustained by his faith. With an admirable strength of spirit, patience, and love for his fellow exiles, he instilled into them the spirit of prayer, serenity, and hope, and gave them material help together with encouragement. He was released ten years later in 1873 and was repatriated on March 24, 1864.
Kalinowski returned to Warsaw in 1874, where he became a tutor to 16-year-old Prince August Czartoryski. The prince was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1876, and Kalinowski accompanied him to various health destinations in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Poland. Kalinowski was a major influence on the young man (known as "Gucio"), who later was received into the Salesians by their founder, St. John Bosco, in 1887, and was eventually beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2004. Later Kalinowski decided to travel to the city of Brest where he began a Sunday school at the fortress in Brest-Litovsk where he was a captain. At this time, he became increasingly aware of the state persecution of the Church and of his native Poles.
In 1877 Kalinowski was admitted to the Carmelite priory in Linz, Austria, where he was given the religious name of Brother Raphael of St. Joseph, O.C.D. (NOTE: The name "of St. Joseph" had nothing to do with his birth name—it was common for many Carmelites to list their name as "of St. Joseph," after the "Convent of St. Joseph" founded by Teresa of Avila.) He studied theology in Hungary, and was ordained a priest at Czerna near Krakow, on January 15, 1882. In 1883 he became prior of the monastery at Czerna and eventually founded multiple Catholic organizations around Poland and Ukraine, most prominent of which was a monastery in Wadowice, Poland, where he was also prior. He also founded a monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Przemysl in 1884, and Lvov in 1888.
Afire with apostolic zeal, he did not spare himself in helping the faithful, and assisting his Carmelite brothers and sisters in the ascent of the mountain of perfection. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, he lifted up many from the mire of sin. He did his utmost for the work of reunification of the Church, and bequeathed this mission to his Carmelite brothers and sisters. His superiors entrusted him with many important offices, which he carried out perfectly up until the time of his death.
Fr. Kalinowski died of tuberculosis on November 15, 1907, in the same monastery he founded himself in Wadowice. His remains were originally kept in the monastery cemetery, but this proved unmanageable because of the large number of pilgrims who came visiting. So many of them took handfuls of dirt from the grave that the nuns had to keep replacing the earth and plants at the cemetery. His body was later moved to a tomb, but the pilgrims went there instead, often scratching with their hands at the plaster, just to have some relic to keep with them. His remains were then moved to a chapel in Czerna, where they remain.
During his life and after death, he enjoyed a remarkable fame for sanctity, even on the part of the most noble and illustrious of people, such as the Cardinals Dunajewski, Puzyna, Kakowski, and Gotti. The Ordinary Process for his eventual beatification, was set in motion in the Curia of Krakow during the years 1934-1938, and later taken to Rome where in 1943 was issued the Decree concerning his writings. His cause was introduced in 1952. From 1953-1956 the Apostolic Process was carried out, and the Congregation proceeded to the discussion on his virtues.
St. Pope John Paul II, on October 11, 1980, promulgated the Decree on the heroicity of his virtues. After the approval of the miraculous healing of the Reverend Mis, the Holy Father beatified Fr. Kalinowski on June 22, 1983, Kraków, in front of a crowd of over two million people. As the fame of his miracles was increasing, the Curia of Krakow in 1989, set in motion the Canonical Process to investigate the extraordinary healing of a young child. The discussions of the doctors, theologians and cardinals, were brought to a happy conclusion. On November 17, 1991, he was canonized when, in St. Peter's Basilica, St. Pope John Paul II declared his boyhood hero a saint. Raphael was the first friar to have been canonized in the Order of the Discalced Carmelites since St. John of the Cross. His feast day is celebrated on November 19 in the Discalced Carmelites order and on November 20 by the Catholic Church in Poland.