Gift of love

Monday afternoon I received another heartwarming letter from Sister in Australia.  So, naturally, I sat back in my chair and opened the gift.  I gingerly removed its contents, set the items on the computer desk, and counted.

Four.

Sister’s letter

I examined the two laminated photos of St. Thérèse.  The first had a child’s offering on the back; the second, a petition.

      

Next, I picked up the custom-made greeting card on orange cardstock.

I love orange! 

Having read the poem adhered to the front, I opened Sister’s card.  The paper-thin, silky-smooth photo within was laminated, two-sided.

Ecce Homo.  Behold the man.

                

Love and prayers

I wondered about the photo, but I really wanted to read Sister’s message.  I relaxed in my chair as if to share a cup of tea and conversation.

Australia
28/5/12

Dearest Deli & Steve,

Praised be the Holy Child Jesus!  Thank you for your lovely letter… most grateful for it.  I hope you had a happy trip and break at Minneapolis and the pilgrim centers that you visited.  You are most kind.  I thank God for you, and I am very appreciative of it at this time.

I am well by the grace of God and had a good retreat early this month.  I feel that the Holy Child Jesus has showered me with his graces.  Deo Gratia.

If you do not hear from me, remember, you and all your family and intentions will be always close to my heart in prayer.  God bless you with lots of love and prayers.

Gratefully in Jesus…

Unexpected surprises

I didn’t know what to think.  I read and reread the card a bunch of times, trying to read between the lines, trying to contain my tears.  Then I heard Steven in the kitchen.  He’d gotten home from work.

“Sister sent a letter!  Just wait till you see what she sent!”

I gathered the items to show Steven.

Oh, my gosh!  I had miscounted.

Gift of love

My sadness turned to joy when I saw the fifth item.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Steven walked over to my thoughtful spot at the computer, and I couldn’t stop jabbering.

I was so excited!  Over the moon, in fact.

“Yesterday in the chapel at Montserrat… for just a fleeting moment as I was praying my Child Jesus chaplet… I wished for a St. Teresa relic; and here, today, I’ve received a second-class relic from Sister in Australia!!!

“Oh, my gosh!  And I have just the frame for it, too!”
I continued.  “Thursday afternoon I found it atop my books on the shelf here.  How it got there, I don’t know; but I didn’t move it just in case we needed it later on.  Talk about everything falling into place.”

What a gift of love!

Oh, my gosh.  First, the vintage postcard of
St. Teresa!  And now this?!!  I feel sooo blessed!

Thank you, Sister!  You’re in my forever thoughts and prayers!  I’m sending you heartfelt hugsss…

July 2, 2014

“He wills that I should love him because he has forgiven me not much, but everything” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

October 1, 2014

We can never have too much hope in God.  He gives in the measure we ask (St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus).

Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice: here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the smallest thing right and doing it all for love
(St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

October 15. 2014

“God dwells within you, and there you should dwell with him” (St. Teresa of Avila).

October 27, 2014

“For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven; it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

Links of interest…  Carmelites (saints)…  Catholic books (free downloads)…  Child Jesus:  chaplet (more) / devotion / history / little crown / petitions…  Cloistered communities: about / a day within the walls…  Flower of Carmel (Goonellabah)…  contact / home / prayer…  Montserrat…  September martyrs…  Sisters of Carmel
St. Teresa: about / & the Infant of Prague / chaplet / history / quotes / history / poems / prayer / prayers / saint…  St. Thérèse…  Various rosaries & chaplets …  Venerable Margaret: 1619-1648 (Parigot) / about / biography / book (1892) / chaplet / religious order

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Two prompt replies

New Year’s Eve 2010, I began an experiment.  I wrote five notecard messages and mailed them the following day.

Of the five, I received two responses: an email within days and a five-page letter shortly thereafter.

The email exchanges continued only for a few days; but the letter exchange became a mutual expression of friendship, joy, and sharing that continues on a regular basis even in 2012.

Old wives’ tale?

So maybe just maybe there’s something to be said about Tía Quina’s urban legend regarding New Year’s Eve?  “Whatever you’re doing as the old year passes sets the tone for what awaits you in the new year, so be sure your house is clean and all else is in order.”  Or maybe it was just-plain contrivance on my part to lend credence to the old wives’ tale while simultaneously doing my small part to bolster the economic status of the United States Postal Service.

Self-fulfilling prophecy?

Of course, 2011 may simply have been a serious case of mail tag— for every letter received, one was sent in return— but2012 already appears to be a continuation of New Year’s Eve 2010.

Tía Quina’s theory

Therefore, based on personal observation and the log I kept of both incoming and outgoing letters from friends and acquaintances, my well-timed New Year’s Eve 2010 experiment wasn’t so much about receiving responses from all five to whom I’d initially written.  Instead, Tía Quina’s theory was a more of a predictor (in my case) of mail to come and go in 2011.  Refreshing, appealing, and enjoyable for sure!

Two prompt replies

On that note, I have to say that I was thrilled to the moon to receive prompt replies from both Sister in Australia and Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, Saturday, January 14, 2012.  And, oh, what glorious responses they were!

Letter from Sister

           

Carmelite Monastery – 591 Ballina Road
Goonellabah, NSW 2480 Australia
8/1/12 – Feast of the Epiphany

Praised be the Holy Child Jesus!  Thank you for your lovely card, wishes, letter….

I am happy to hear from you and, as I read your letter, I find the Holy Child Jesus has taken us along the same road of suffering which is grace filled.  I offer my condolences and prayers on [the] passing away of your dear mother….

I will continue to pray for your family… and keep their names under the Child Jesus and ask Little Margaret to help them….

How wonderful [that] you have found your help in the guidance of
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila).  Our Holy Mother, as we call her, is great and speaks to everyone individually [through] her writings, which were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), after reading her biography, put it down and said this was the truth and became a Catholic and a Carmelite!

With regard to myself, the Holy Child Jesus has given me the grace to share in his sufferings, affronts, and his poverty in a real way.  Finally, one can say [that] Jesus is the only one that matters and repeat [the] fiat, “Jesus, I trust in you!”

I do not have an email address now, nor a computer, [nor] access to the Internet, hence, please write to me….

Today, being Epiphany here, we have a custom in Carmel that the Sister who gets the bean in the cake is the king and chooses the intercessor for the year.  I got the bean (the first time in my sixteen years [at] Carmel!), so I have chosen Little Margaret as the intercessor.  The Little King has arranged all this for his spouse!

A lady in England has been cured of stomach cancer after praying to Little Margaret and [using] the chaplet.  It is being investigated.  Please pray for [its] success.

I pray that the Holy Child Jesus will bless this New Year 2012 for you, Steve, and all your family and make it a brighter one, full of joy and peace.

Thank you… and may St. Teresa help you grow closer to Jesus.

I hold you close to my heart in prayer.  God bless you abundantly….

With loving gratitude….

Sister’s cantique

It is a custom in Carmel to prepare a cantique by each Sister to be sung before the crib during Christmas.  This year I got the card– Going to a Crib in a Farm Cart… [and] this is a copy of it [from] January 3 (our titular Feast of Holy Name).  God bless.

The angels singing the mystery which was full of jubilee 

Gloria in excelsis deo.  Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

The Baptist pointing to the Lamb of God / The shepherds singing good tidings of joy of the eternal shepherd boy

Verbo caro factum est et habitatarit in nobis!

Hastening in a farm cart in bad weather / In poverty, affronts, and sufferings / On a journey that takes a lifetime / With many falls along the way / Always confident of your merciful hand to pick me up and start afresh / And to sing my fiat, “Jesus, I trust in you,” along the way

The way of nothing takes me quickly / The night of faith, my illumination– porta fidei to our mystical Bethlehem / Where the Eternal Child, God the King of Grace and Glory, is born

To worship the joy of the beauty of Jesus, our Savior / Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger / Concealing your infinite riches of your divinity / To show your infinite love for us, the Word made flesh

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

With Mary, his immaculate mother / Adoring the earthly beatific vision of Jesus, the inexpressible sweetness of the incarnation / The face of the Eternal Word

And with Joseph, the shadow of the Eternal Father / In deepest reverence of the Holy Child Jesus / In bright light in the hidden sweetness of the mysteries of the holy childhood

My office at the crib is to be your aid of the verbo caro factum est / The joy of all joys of all the earth / Making visible the Queen of all mysteries / The mystery of the Blessed Trinity

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

The first drops of your precious blood / Little Lord Jesus, seal and consecrate this New Year 2012 Annus Domini / May thy name, Jesus, resound in our voices / Unite all peoples and all nations around your manger in peace

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

Maranatha / Come, Lord Jesus

Letter from Father Primo

Franciscan Mission Associates
274-280 West Lincoln Avenue
P. O. Box 598
Mount Vernon, NY 10551-3017
December 30, 2011

The joy of the Lord fills my heart as I write to wish you His peace, love, and blessings….

Your love, sacrifice, and generous heart have been a source of inspiration for us to go forward.  Your sacrifice is acceptable and pleasing to God and that is why we are able to achieve a little bit of establishing the kingdom of God.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Jesus Christ” (Philemon 4:19) is my prayer for you.

Drs. Lanoux, the seminarians and our friars join me to thank you sincerely and pray for you.  Be assured of a remembrance of your intentions in our Novena of Masses in Bethlehem.

May the grace and blessing of the Infant Jesus be with you.

               

August 3, 2012

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” (Phyllis Theroux).

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Two letters…  Venerable Margaret

Two letters

Every New Year’s Eve without fail, I remember what my maternal great-aunt, Tía Quina, told me when I was seventeen.

“Whatever you’re doing as the old year passes sets the tone for what awaits you in the new year, so be sure your house is clean and all else is in order.”

Setting priorities

Last year during the holidays, I decided that I wasn’t cleaning house and doing laundry as usual before the new year.  I’d experienced such great success with my letter writing experiment from New Year’s Eve 2010, that I wanted to focus on my correspondence instead.

In 2011, I’d wanted to touch base with Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates but missed the opportunity when he was succeeded by Father Primo in October.  Plus, I hadn’t requested two more St. Anthony relics from him as I’d intended.

       

Similarly, I’d wanted to share my thoughts on Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc, 1979) with Sister at the Flower of Carmel monastery in Australia, since she’d emailed twice early in the year; but I just hadn’t made the time.

With 2011 fast coming to an end, I couldn’t put off either communication any longer.  I got busy writing and finally mailed the two letters with time to spare.

Letter to Sister

27 December 2011

Dearest Sister,

It’s been a very long time since I last wrote and/or emailed; but it’s been a year of bearing my crosses quietly on my own, too.

When I last wrote to you, I was so worried that I was frustrated, tired, and disappointed.  I typed a very long letter and attached it to my email to you.  And then I felt badly, guilty, for having shared my woes….

I took a hard look at the situation which, believe it or not, grew progressively worse; [so] I chose to step away….  to simply let go… and begin my journey.

Long story short, I discovered Teresa of Avila; and, oh, what a difference she’s made in my life!

It’s funny how things happen, but I truly believe that God has his own very personal timeline for each of us.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I started shucking extraneous habits.  Not bad habits but things that kept me from focusing inwardly.

I don’t know how it happened, but I lost interest in emailing and in other things as well.  And I began to discover some pretty amazing stuff.

Every day since you and I have known each other I’ve thought of you, and I’ve been faithful about praying the chaplet you sent me in 2010.  It’s something that’s taken root in my life, [something] that’s as natural as my dialogues with the Infant since before Segy… and I visited Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague (July, 1998).

I think that the more I’ve recited the chaplet prayers the more I’ve learned how to bear my crosses, how to focus my attention on what’s really important, and how to deal with adversity in my life.

Certainly, I’ve had a lot of ta-dah moments: epiphanies that make me laugh or cry or both.  I’ve enjoyed writing about my experiences and [posting] them on my personal blog ‘cause I want others to learn about St. Teresa as well.

It’s amazing how I’ve been able to connect bits and pieces from my life leading to when I read Teresa of Avila and have found that I was readying for her messages [all along].  Her book is such a joyful treasure from God!  A pick-me-up when I need uplifting.  A friend when I need a smile and a sweet hello.

So, yes, bad things have continued to happen; but God’s allowed me to remain focused on what he wants for me to see, to think about, to do.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  As I said, I wrote five posts about St. Teresa’s book for my personal blog [and] found that her messages have been exactly what I’ve needed since I was a child.

St. Teresa has become my mentor, a very loving close friend who’s with me to share her teachings… beautiful, heartfelt… so that I don’t feel alone and/or lost.  She’s helped me understand what it means to tell the Infant that I accept all the crosses he wants to send my way.

Somehow I can make it.  Despite the pain and the sorrow, despite the disappointment and the frustration, despite the anger that I feel against injustices… still… I welcome the crosses.

Mind you, [when] I’m having a tough time… not doing well at all with my crosses… I simply tell the Infant,

Please forgive me.  I’m having a really tough time today.  I’m sorry.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I’ve found inspiration in a little book that’d been waiting on the shelf since April, 2008.

Untouched, forgotten, it called out to me one morning; and, when I began to read it, I couldn’t set it down!  I’ve reread it countless times.  It’s an awesome read!

[So, yes.]  Lots has happened since I last wrote….

Mom died November 29….  She [believed] in prayer, and she loved the Sisters she communicated with.  [She gave] me her oldest sister’s Infant [statue] in 1999 [after my aunt died].

Since I’d faithfully used the chaplet you’d initially sent me, I placed it in mom’s hand before the casket was sealed at the funeral home.  My thinking was that she knew I was devoted to the Infant, so she [can] now join me in prayer from heaven whenever I spend my special time with the Infant….

I’m now praying with the [second] chaplet you sent [even though it was meant for our daughter], and I’m thinking that you’re fine with it.

I also want to thank you again for the six candles you sent with [the second] chaplet.  I lit one… early this year….  [Then] I gave away three [to the couples in] our Why Catholic? group….  The two I have left… are keeping me company until I have a very special reason to use them… or until I gift them to someone.

So you see?  Your gifts have gone a very long way!  The very same way that your prayers have continuously embraced us all this time!

We love you!  Thank you!

Letter to Father Primo

29 December 2011

Dear Father Primo,

In the 1980s, Father Roderick sent me three relics.  Then in the 1990s, Father Robert sent me two.  However, I always manage to give them away to someone who’s in need of everyday miracles and friendship from our beloved St. Anthony.

At this time, I’m asking… please… that you send me five, as there are three couples in our Why Catholic? family and another couple, Olivia and George, in dire need.

I’d like to bead some chaplets for them and print out the prayers so that they, too, can know St. Anthony as I have since age thirteen.

If you could do this for me, I’d be ever so [happy], as I’ve included myself in the five.  You see, I feel… lost without my relic; but, as I said, I gave my last one away when I beaded two chaplets to give to Ruth and Sabrina… at [the] doctor’s office.

Please know that I understand if you can’t send me the number I’ve requested.  It’s fine.  But I do really need one for Olivia because she’s [undergoing surgery, January 23], and I’d like to make her day by giving her a promise of hope through St. Anthony’s intercession.  Plus, George worries a lot about his three adult kids….

Thanks ever so much for all you do.  Know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers… the same way Father Roderick was, the same way Father Robert was.

God bless you and your Franciscan associates abundantly!

August 3, 2012

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” (Phyllis Theroux).

Links of interest…  Child Jesus…  chaplet (more)…  devotions (Ana’s website)…  history…  little crown…  petitions…  Flower of Carmel (Goonellabah)…  contact info…  home…  prayer…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  prayer requests…  quarterly newsletter…  seasonal devotion…  Help from heaven…  Hymn to St. Anthony of Padua…  Letters of note…  Nine Tuesdays devotion…  Si quaeris miracula…  prayer…  song
St. Anthony’s Guild…  devotions…  ecards…  prayer requests…  prayers

WP posts…   Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Franciscan experience…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan Crown…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Seven dwelling places

Teresa of Avila received the inspiration for The Interior Castle one Sunday in 1577 and then wrote about the experience from the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity until the eve before the feast of St. Andrew.

I’m, literally, just like the parrots that are taught to speak; they know no more than what they hear or are shown, and they often repeat it.  If the Lord wants me to say something new, His Majesty will provide (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, p. 2).

The one who ordered me to write told me that the nuns in these monasteries of Our Lady of Mount Carmel need someone to answer their questions about prayer and that he thought they would better understand the language used between women; and because of the love they bore me, they would pay more attention to what I would tell them (p. 3).

First impressions

When I first saw Teresa of Avila among the books for sale atop a table at the Old Dominion University book store more than three years ago, I was interested not only because our Why Catholic? friends… Sam and Ning, Gary and Junebug, and Neli-Beli… might want to read the book, but also because there happened to be three copies available.  Exactly what I needed.

However, as I stated in a previous post, one of the books had a teeny tiny imperfection
… a bit of lamination slightly torn on its back cover… so I chose to give away only the two good copies and kept the third, knowing that I’d most likely never read it.

Of course, God had his own personal agenda; so I laughingly submit that his wisdom and patience trumped my preconceived notions yet again.

Treasure trove

Teresa of Avila is based on the saint’s original work, The Interior Castle, which describes the seven dwelling places of the soul.

The book is so thoroughly captivating that I rarely leave home without it.  Can’t be without it.  Don’t want to be far from it.  Even if I’m reading other books, it’s always close by for me to leaf through here and there. 

In fact, I’ve been ever so pleased with myself for enjoying its company that I typed all the scribbles I made in the margins and then some.

Bottom line? 

I want a simple set of notes to ponder.

The interior castle

The castle is a multifaceted diamond with dwelling places similar to heaven’s many rooms above, below, and to the sides.  The heart of the castle is “where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place” (p. 7) after the soul learns to enter within itself.

The castle’s well guarded, and some souls in the courtyard are so other-focused that they have no idea what’s within.  Nevertheless, some souls do manage to slow down enough to acknowledge their need to enter.

Although there’s no remedy for those who do lip service or don’t bother to pray, some souls do become aware that prayer and reflection are the key to the castle.

First dwelling places

Souls who enter the lower rooms are so deaf and dumb that they fail to notice the castle’s beauty because of the “worms and vile, venomous reptiles” that creep in as well (p. 11).  These souls have good intentions, but they’re more concerned with business and worldly things.  Occasionally, however, they entrust themselves to God, pray and reflect, realize they’re on the wrong path, and want to change their ways. 

St. Teresa tells us that in these first dwelling places, God grants favors to whomever he chooses to reveal his glory and awaken the soul to a greater love (p. 9).  Of course, there are many kinds of favors and many differences among them.  Still, God’s so merciful and loving that he can do whatever he wants.

It will be a great consolation when the Lord grants them to you if you know that they are possible; and for anyone to whom he doesn’t, it will be a great consolation to praise his wonderful goodness (p. 8).

Second dwelling places

The souls who advance to the second level are barraged by constant reminders… “position in life, family, friends, health, and other obstacles”… that draw them back to the first rooms (p. 16).  Faith helps them refocus, however, as they reason that God truly loves them (p. 17) and wants them near. 

Here, souls know that God will provide as long as they don’t falter.  They hear God’s voice calling not only through other people, homilies, and good books but also through “illnesses, trials, and the truths God teaches even during brief, lukewarm moments in prayer” (p. 15).

Souls in the second dwelling places can overcome trials and dangers through good companions and mentors.  They can also choose to embrace the cross and seek to do God’s will (p. 18).

His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us.  There’s no need advising him about what he should give us, for he can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for (Mt. 20:22; p. 19).

St. Teresa advises against becoming discouraged.  God allows the venomous creatures to bite, so the soul can learn to guard itself as it proves itself to God.  “For even from this fall God will draw out good, as does the seller of an antidote who drinks some poison in order to test whether his antidote is effective” (p. 20).

The key, again, is prayer. 

When one stumbles, begin anew.  Ask for understanding to avoid temptation, and don’t give up. 

To enter the castle love God, have faith, and do good works.  To receive God’s blessings consider how much is owed him, one’s smallness in comparison, and all that must be achieved to merit God’s goodness and mercy.   To enter heaven know oneself, reflect on one’s sins, and acknowledge God’s favors with gratitude (p. 22).

Third dwelling places

Souls arrive at this level through perseverance and God’s mercy.  They’ve remained on the right path but live on the edge, not knowing when or if the enemy will attack.  They understand God’s will and are greatly blessed (p. 24), since they’ve been “favored greatly by God for being let in”
(p. 27).

These souls are very much aware that life without God is death but that happiness stems from pleasing God.

Consider that this happiness was had— and in much greater degree— by some saints who fell into serious sins and that we are not sure that God will help us to get free from these sins and to do penance for them (p. 25).

Souls in the third dwelling places look to Our Lady for guidance, converse with God, practice prayer, and withdraw from the world and its evils (p. 26).  Additionally, these souls are charitable, balanced in all aspects, and can enter the final dwelling places if they so choose (p. 27).  Nevertheless, they must stay alert and do their best not to offend God.

St. Teresa writes that these souls endure unbearable trials, even when they’re not to blame (p. 28).  Yet, God rewards those who prove their love in thought, word, and deed.

To stay on course, one must walk the talk, detach from worldly things, consider oneself a servant of God, and not make demands on God (p. 29).

He did nothing else but serve us all the time he lived in this world.  And yet we ask him again and again for favors and gifts (p. 30). 

Instead, one should reflect on one’s trials to gain understanding which leads to humility, peace, conformity, and greater contentment even though human nature tends to prefer a more convenient, less painful route.

We are fonder of consolations than we are of the cross.  Test us, O Lord— for you know the truth— so that we may know ourselves (p. 30).

Fourth dwelling places

In this the most populated of the seven dwelling places, souls are so transformed by God’s love that they willingly serve him.  With every consolation received, these souls long to please God more and more and enjoy his company (p. 32).

St. Teresa describes the effects of spiritual delights and prayer in this part of her book.  She also reveals how to gain favor with God.

“Two fountains, two troughs”

The soul is either an external, noisy aqueduct that fills inwardly or an internal, quiet spring that flows outwardly (p. 33).

Of the two, the natural source is one of God’s favors… a spiritual delight “fashioned from the purest gold of the divine wisdom” (p. 33)… “given only to whom God wills to give it and often when the soul is least thinking about it” (p. 36).  This special water fills everything and affects one’s entire being (p. 34).

To gain favor, however, one must be centered on God, amenable to his will, contrite, and humble.  Since God’s not obligated to do anything for anyone, one must “be willing to labor in vain” to “win his listening ear” (p. 36).

When God grants the favor it is a great help to seek him within, where he is found more easily and in a way more beneficial to us than when sought in creatures, as St. Augustine says after having looked for him in many places (p. 39).

Prayer

Finding one’s way back to God through prayer brings about changes: losing interest in worldly matters, wanting solitude, reflecting on what was lost, and rebuilding one’s castle “without contrivance” (p. 38). 

Listening attentively in silence, begging for God’s mercy, and waiting with humility are what Peter of Alcántara refers to as love awakened (p. 41).  Other practices include penance, good deeds, resignation to God’s will, and thinking of oneself last (p. 42).

Once the great King, who is in the center dwelling place of this castle, sees their good will, he desires in his wonderful mercy to bring them back to him.  Like a good shepherd, with a whistle so gentle that even they themselves almost fail to hear it, he makes them recognize his voice and stops them from going so far astray and brings them back to their dwelling place.  And this shepherd’s whistle has such power that they abandon the exterior things in which they were estranged from him and enter the castle (p. 39).

Yet, some souls draw inwardly all on their own.  The more room they make for God, the more favors they receive.  God calls them to advance; and they, in turn, give thanks and praise for his countless blessings (p. 40).

Quiet recollection

When one surrenders to love through the prayer of quiet recollection, the soul’s capacity grows and service to God becomes liberating.  The soul’s no longer preoccupied with hell, penance, and health (p. 44).  Instead, one does more for God, bears crosses with patience, and casts aside worldly delights (p. 45).

Fifth dwelling places

Souls in the fifth dwelling places seek only to please God.

Here, tiny lizards may “poke their slender heads in as thoughts from one’s imagination that can be ignored as nuisances;” but they can’t enter (p. 53).  In this secret place, God works his wonders undisturbed.

God so places himself in the interior of that soul that, when it returns to itself, it can in no way doubt that it was in God and God was in it.  This truth remains with it so firmly that, even though years go by without God’s granting that favor again, the soul can neither forget nor doubt… (pp. 55-56).

Thus enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the soul prepares for its journey and “starts to live… through the general help given to us all by God… by going to confession, reading good books, and hearing sermons” (p. 59).

Silkworm analogy

“The silkworm, which is fat and ugly, then dies; and a little white butterfly, which is very pretty, comes forth from the cocoon” (p. 59).  Similarly, the soul makes God its dwelling place and dies to self-love, self-will, and earthly attachments (p. 60).

The soul feels so unworthy of this blessing that it longs to praise God.

It would want to dissolve and die a thousand deaths for him.  It soon begins to experience a desire to suffer great trials without its being able to do otherwise.  There are the strongest desires for penance, for solitude, and that all might know God; and great pain comes to it when it sees that he is offended (p. 61).

Transformed, the soul feels out of place in the world; but the decision to advance isn’t God’s to make.  The soul alone must choose its path.  

Life’s subsequent crosses will be heavier than before; the pain, excruciating.  Yet, the soul’s weaknesses will become strengths; and acceptance will yield “deep peace and happiness” (p. 63).

“Oh great delight, to suffer in doing the will of God!” (p. 66).

Sixth dwelling places

“O God help me, what interior and exterior trials the soul suffers before entering the seventh dwelling place!” (p. 68).

Here, trivial afflictions… gossip, nonacceptance, and personal attacks… are so severe and long in duration that all seems lost (p. 69).  Even personal praise wreaks havoc in one’s life (p. 70).  Additionally, souls in the sixth dwelling places undergo serious illnesses, acute pain, and doubting confessors (p. 72) along with dry spells that are “torments between times of favors” (p. 73).

Bearing one’s crosses

Nevertheless, God allows one to be tested (p. 74) to the degree that he chooses
(p. 77).  He “wants us to know our own misery and that he is King; and this is very important for what lies ahead” (p. 76).  

Since there’s no escaping these trying times… no place to go, no one to talk to, no consolation, and neither solitude nor prayer helps… the best remedy is to do good works and hope for God’s mercy (p. 75). 

God’s favor

Yet, in the midst of all the suffering, the soul is soundlessly awakened “as with a thunderclap” (p. 78).  God’s “action of love is so powerful that the soul dissolves with desire, and yet it doesn’t know what to ask for, since clearly it thinks that God is with it” (p. 80).

In turn, God’s favor, “felt as clearly as a loud voice,” must be received with gratitude
(p. 82).

To be continued…

July 5, 2011

Lord, test me and search me.  I want to hold onto your blessings no matter what (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 26).

July 13, 2011

Lord, I will go wherever you lead— so long as you are with me.  Open my heart to sense your calling and presence today (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 34).

July 18, 2011

Lord, your cross [is all] I need— all the compassion, all the healing, and all the joy.  With my eyes fixed on you, I can handle every situation! (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 39).

November 12, 2011

“Let us bear our cross and leave it to God to determine the length and the weight”
(St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1759-1852).

February 20, 2012

O Sweet Jesus, I desire neither life nor death but your most holy will.  You are the one, O Lord, that I long for.  If it be your holy will to have me die, receive my soul and grant that, in you and with you, I may receive everlasting rest.  If it be your holy will to have me live longer upon this earth, give me the grace to amend the rest of my life and, with good works, to glorify your holy name.  Amen.

March 1, 2012

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours”
(St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582).

Lord, today I surrender everything to you.  I want to do nothing without you.  May all that I do for others be done for love of you— and in the power of your Spirit (the Word among us, Lent 2012, p. 36).

November 5, 2012

Father, I am content to sit silently with you.  Just to be with you, to enjoy your presence, is enough.  In you I have found my peace! (the Word among us, November 2012, p. 24).

February 8, 2013

God wishes to test you like gold in the furnace.  The dross is consumed by the fire, but the pure gold remains and its value increases (St. Jerome Emiliani).

October 15, 2013

“When once I had seen the great beauty of the Lord, I saw no one by comparison on whom my thoughts wished to dwell” ( St. Teresa of Jesus).

November 13, 2013

Know that gratitude for God’s benefits is one of the riches of the soul and that ingratitude dries up the fountain of divine graces.  Give your tribute of gratitude often to the most loving Jesus (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

November 18, 2013

We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self….  The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves….  He who has Jesus has everything (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

January 4, 2014

“The union of my soul with God is my wealth in poverty and [my] joy in deepest afflictions” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

March 22, 2014

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters.  Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain. What is that fountain?  Listen to David: With you is the fountain of life.  Let my soul say to this fountain: When shall I come and see you face to face?  For the fountain is God himself
(St. Ambrose in “Flight from the World”).

March 24, 2014

Know, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God.  Know that you are the glory of God.  Know, then, O man, your greatness, and be vigilant
(St. Ambrose).

April 4, 2014

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.  By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned
(St. Isidore of Seville).

April 24, 2014

“We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials” (St. Teresa of Avila).

June 25, 2014

“Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and, if he does not let you feel the sweetness of his love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes”
(St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

August 18, 2014

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows.  For love is the beauty of the soul (St. Augustine).

November 15, 2014

“He who enters into the secret place of his own soul passes beyond himself and does in very truth ascend to God” (St. Albert the Great).

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Links of interest…  Carmelites: Ask a Carmelite Sister / September martyrs…  Christian prayer…  Consolation & desolation…  Convento de Santa Teresa (Avila, Spain)…  Cultivating true contrition…  Here I am, Lord: one / two / three (YouTube)…  Interior castle: ebook / meditations (book review) / video…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / pescador de hombres (YouTube) / seashore song & lyrics (Assumption College chapel choir)…  Most Holy Trinity…  On hearing God speak
…  Our Lady of Mount Carmel: about / brown scapular / feast / history / novena / order / poetry & prayer / prayer request…  St. Andrew…  St. Teresa of Avila: about (more) /
biography (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (more / first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headaches / history / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mystic / poems / prayer / prayers / quotes (more / more) / saint (more) / tribute (movie) / videos…  What stage is your faith…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Gift of love…  Gifts…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Making meaning
…  Prayerful ways…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies

Soulful

Up until the summer of my fifth year, my father was my teacher, caregiver, mentor, friend, and protector.  His illness kept him homebound, so he babysat my six-month-old brother and me while mom worked to support our family.

Early trials

Dad died in July, and things changed.  Mom didn’t want me wasting my time at home, but the public school in our neighborhood wouldn’t take me.  I was too young for first grade, and there was no kindergarten; so Mom and her youngest sister decided to enroll me in Catholic school.

Mom couldn’t take time from work, so my aunt spoke to the nuns.  I was accepted only because I was the tallest kid in class.

Never mind that I was just five and had no idea what was going on.  Never mind that I had to learn to be responsible for getting up and dressing on my own.  Never mind that I had to ride the city bus to town by myself, though I did have Crucito, the neighborhood baker’s son, to sit with on the ride home from school.

Still, I learned early on that fending for myself didn’t come with guarantees.

I lost part of my bus fare, one of two nickels, the day I had tuna for lunch.  Vomiting, with a terrible fever, I had to walk home twenty-five blocks.

Thank God for Crucito’s third grade wisdom and his big brother thoughtfulness.  He chose to accompany me instead of riding the bus that afternoon.

Soulful encounter

My first and only year at Immaculate Conception School left indelible imprints for sure, but the memory of all memories occurred within the first hour of my first day at school.

ICS42011-3-soulsDuring our cursive writing lesson, I had a very personal encounter with the three souls adhered to the closet doors in the back of the classroom.

I raised my hand for the first time in my young life to politely ask a question. 

“Could you please tell me if I’m making the capital A correctly?”

ICS42011-cap-AObserving my first feat, forming a large slanted oval, then adding a little curved tail on its right bottom side, the unsmiling nun led me by the hand to the poster with the totally blackened soul.

“Put out your hands,” she chided, and then whacked the knuckled sides hard with a little green ruler she’d pulled from her pocket. 

“Now, go back to your seat!”

Unexpected outcomes

I never asked another question in class, which is why I once had an accident during the big silence right before dismissal time.

For what seemed like an eternity, I’d contemplated the pros and cons of asking permission to go to the bathroom; but I wasn’t sure how the nun would respond.

Then, just like that, I didn’t have to ask.

My body lost control and flooded the floor space all around me as my classmates watched the growing puddle in horror and disbelief.

I’ll never forget Crucito’s wide-eyed shock as I crossed the street to where he stood waiting for me after school.  He was a mix of what-happened-to-you, what-do-I-say, and she-must-feel-terrible as he checked me out from waist to hemline and then back again.

Crucito didn’t laugh, much less ask about my dark wet, light dry, teal uniform.  Instead, we walked in silence along the church sidewalk to the bus stop a block away.  Being a sensitive boy, Crucito understood my embarrassment.

And he never brought it up.  Ever.

Lasting impression

Almost a lifetime later, when Segy was a high school freshman, and we belonged to Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, our celebrant at Sunday Mass was someone other than our parish priest.

“Man’s soul is an exquisite, multifaceted crystal,” the priest said, captivating us with his gentle knowing.

Segy and I wanted to hear more, but the visiting priest never returned.

If I knew where his church was, we could drive there for Sunday Mass.  But it never happened.

Sometime later, we learned that the priest had died; but the news never kept me from wondering what else we could’ve learned from him.

Teresa of Avila

More than a decade since, I’ve discovered St. Teresa, who similarly describes the soul as “a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places” (John 14:2; Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, p. 6; Avila, 1577).

Reflecting on Teresa of Avila the last couple of months, I’ve wondered, Was the priest referring to St. Teresa’s book?  If so, how would my life have been impacted had I known about (and read) her book all those years ago?

On the other hand, how does one miss out on spiritual growth when one has no idea that anything’s missing?

Still, since reading St. Teresa’s book, I feel embraced, fortified somehow, so maybe earlier awareness would’ve made a difference after all.

St. Teresa

Now a daily companion, St. Teresa’s staying power is her genuineness.  She appeals to my intellect, but she’s also that special friend and mentor I needed as a child.  She cares so deeply about my relationship with God that her writing nurtures my spirit.

St. Teresa understands how easily human nature refutes and refuses truth to avoid making personal changes, so she shares her knowledge and experience without exerting pressure.  She also personalizes her narratives with descriptive analogies and anecdotes that complement her finely woven tapestry.

St. Teresa is quite an amazing teacher.

The interior castle

In her book, St. Teresa refers to the “sublime dignity and beauty” (p. 7) of the soul, which is infinitely more valuable than the body but which is easily overlooked, since it can’t be seen.

My analogy is this: We’re obsessed with looking good, so we buy expensive hair care products.  From shampoos and conditioners to coloring kits and more, we ignore the facts.  Hair consists of dead cells, while internal organs, and the skin through which hair grows, are malnourished and taken for granted.  We accentuate the exterior and forget what’s within.

St. Teresa also writes that one’s innermost soul is the place where God delights in spending time with us, his creations.  To be near him, “the soul is advised to enter within itself…” (p. 9).

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….  God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).

Like the many facets of the diamond and the crystal, the interior castle has “many dwelling places: some up above, others down below, others to the sides; and in the center and middle is the main dwelling place where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place” (p. 7).

Yet, The Interior Castle focuses on just seven dwelling places.

After all, St. Teresa’s purpose isn’t to overwhelm but to inform, clearly and concisely, so that we who choose to be enlightened can partake of the wonderful blessings God has in store for us.

Unintended consequences

Looking back on my first day at school, I don’t know what I did to upset the nun; but that one year of Catholic school is forever etched into my pea brain as the bookmark in my book of life.

Past personal experiences, though seemingly meaningless at the time, eventually have purpose (p. 98).

??????????Unintended consequences are when you had the intention of providing one service or message, and users interpret and practice it in ways you didn’t think of.  The unintended consequences often have more significance than one might think (Claude Bernard, French physiologist, 1813-1878).

Certainly, as a classroom teacher, I was
keenly sensitive to my students’ needs.  But, beyond that, was the green ruler incident my personal introduction to the soul?

Soulful experience

While I do guilt well— Steven’s comical take on my being Catholic— I’m not altogether preoccupied with the three souls, just as I don’t give thought to ending up in heaven or hell.

Instead, I’m focused on personal growth and my evolving spirituality through my relationship with God who loves me unconditionally, the way Dad loved me.

And it’s God’s love for me, not the fear of hell or the desire for heaven, that fuels my existence.

Moreover, as I journey through life, I’m very much aware that, in as much as God waits patiently for us to show him even a little of the love he feels for us, his desire to have us close is so strong “that from time to time he calls us to draw near him” (pp. 15-16).

And, when he can no longer wait, God takes the entire soul, closing all doors except the one leading to him (p. 99) and places us wherever he wants, just as he brought Steven and me to the seashore, to help us make good on the promises we’ve made him (p. 130).

Then Jesus, in turn, matches our good works so that even more is offered to God (p. 136) in thanksgiving and praise.

December 2, 2011

At mom’s funeral this morning, I learned from a mutual friend, Jerry, who still lives on Dan Street where I grew up, that “Crucito died about two and a half years ago.”

I was stunned!

More than a childhood friend, Crucito was my steadfast guardian, my big brother who took me to school dances.  Always sweet and joyful to see me the few times we bumped into each other as adults, Crucito loved me unconditionally.

I’ll treasure him to the ends of time.

January 19, 2012

Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul may keep the path but will not reach the goal.  While he who walks in love may wander far, yet God will bring him where the blessed are (Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1933).

February 4, 2012

Jesus, I want to come away with you for a while.  Refresh me, renew me, and strengthen me.  Then send me out to build your kingdom (the Word among us, February 1-21, 2012, p. 24).

October 28, 2012

The human heart is made this way.  God himself does not enter it by force but knocks at the door: “Open your heart to me, my child” (St. Eugene de Mazenod in a letter to Fr. Boisrame, September 1858).

December 3, 2012

“I love you not because you have the power to give heaven or hell, but simply because you are— my king and my God” (St. Francis Xavier).

August 20, 2013

Lord, show me who I really am!  Fill me with confidence, courage, and the zeal to serve you with all my heart! (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 70).

October 22, 2013

“Lord Jesus, I want to be ready to welcome you however you choose to knock on my door today” (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 42).

October 31, 2013

“O God, I put myself into your hands with infinite confidence because you are my Father” (Blessed Charles de Foucald).

November 12, 2013

Lord, thank you for filling me with your love!  Lord, I want to serve you with my whole life! (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 33).

November 29, 2013

The Jewish view of God is not static or frozen in any time or place.  It is constantly growing, changing, expanding.  For even though God is constant, people are forever growing and developing.  So each person, in each generation, must discover, understand, describe, and relate to God in his or her own way, out of his or her own life experiences (Dosick, 1995, p. 9).

May 1, 2014

“In the evening of our lives we shall be judged on love” (St. John of the Cross).

June 28, 2014

In everything we do God considers our disposition rather than our actions.  And so, whether we retire mentally to God in earnest contemplation and remain at rest or whether we are intent on being of service to those around us with good works and worthy undertakings, let our object be that we are motivated only by love of Christ.  So the really acceptable offering of purification of the spirit is that which is rendered not in a man-made temple, but in the temple of the heart where Christ the Lord is pleased to enter
(St. Laurence Justinian, 1381-1456).

August 13, 2014

“When you really give yourself to God, no difficulty will be able to shake your optimism” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 19, 2014

He belongs to you; but more than that he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you as the head lives and rules in the body.  He wants his breath to be in your breath, his heart in your heart, and his soul in your soul (St. John Eudes).

October 17, 2014

“My desire is to belong to God” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

November 7, 2014

Believe that he loves you.  He wants to help you himself in the struggles which you must undergo.  Believe in his love, his exceeding love (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity).

November 11, 2014

God leaves us free, but when we do respond to grace and we do choose to use the gifts he has given us to work for his honor and glory, he blesses our efforts and make them fruitful.  In the light of grace the work is transformed”
(Aquinas College, 2014).

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Links of interest…  Carmelites…  Chaplin’s little tramp on the road to Emmaus…  Flicking bubbles & wrangling babies…  God desires your love…  Hope for eternal joy…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: about / Catholic directory (Mass times) / diocesan page (facebook) / historic sitenew altarparishes online / website…  Interior castle:
e-book / meditations (book review)…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / pescador de hombres (YouTube) / seashore song & lyrics (Assumption College chapel choir)…  Sacred Heart Church: parishes online…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / profile / reformer…  Henry van Dyke: brainy quote / goodreads…  Living Judaism (Dosick)…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Gift of love…  Heart of hearts…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…    Oblate chapel…  One prayer…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Seven dwelling places…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two angels…  Two takes…  Venerable Margaret

Making meaning

Reading Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) was like eating that exploding candy popular some years ago.  Couldn’t get enough, couldn’t stop the ricocheting, couldn’t describe the experience.

Then I reread the book off and on: In the usual sequence, back to front, front to middle, middle to either end, skipping around, revisiting parts with relish, reviewing my notes in the margins, comparing and contrasting with what I know, figuratively adding the book to My Friends list.

Clear message

With all the mental pingbacks I’ve received since reading the book, the ol’ pea brain’s been so full that sharing has been delayed for lack of knowing where to start.  Still, words and phrases from the book persist.  And the message is clear.

Through prayer, humility, and perseverance one can embrace the cross, surrender to God’s will, and receive God’s favors.

Connections

Teresa of Avila reminds me of St. Dominic, whose prayerful ways centered on God… mind, body, heart, and soul… and St. Anthony, whose chaplet is based on the Miraculous Responsory.   On a more personal level, too, the book provides illumination for my evolving spirituality.

Awareness

Days prior to finding Teresa of Avila on the hallway shelf, I’d been praying St. Anthony’s chaplet when, quite unexpectedly, I was filled with great awe and understanding.

Oh, my gosh!  I get it!  I finally get it!  I know what prayer is!

I love my Franciscan Crown and the Child Jesus chaplet that Sister sent me from Australia, but St. Anthony’s chaplet is so powerful that I can’t get through the prayers without tearful emotion.

               

My Franciscan Crown and my Child Jesus chaplet are alike in that they commemorate special times in the lives of the Blessed Mother and the Holy Infant, and some of the mysteries are even the same.

St. Anthony’s chaplet is different, though.  Based on the thirteen favors of the Miraculous Responsory, the chaplet builds commitment to God with
St. Anthony’s help and requires not my passive recollection, but my proactive engagement.  Its purpose is to help me become a better person— centered on God as the ultimate prize, as St. Dominic would say.

What a revelation to be enlightened by the power of prayer!

Timely lesson

Sooo…  Was this God’s perfect timing yet again?  Did he in his infinite wisdom as teacher extraordinaire prepare me for Teresa of Avila?

Based on prior knowledge and experience, God’s sense of humor is too weird and too timely for me to think otherwise.

What is prayer then?

St. Dominic planted the seed.  St. Anthony nurtured it.  And St. Teresa harvested the crop.

Prayer isn’t asking God for something.  Prayer is embracing the cross.  Prayer is loving God and doing for God without giving thought to what he can do for us in return.

God grants graces to ease the pain, manage the suffering, address the injustices.  He also grants favors to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants.  But not because we ask. 

This is why St. Dominic believed that we should center on God alone, not on petitioning for ourselves and others.

God knows what we need, and he provides accordingly.  In his own time.

Making meaning 

Think about it.  How many times have we asked for something and never received it?  Or we received it but not right away?  Or we received something totally different?  Or we received everything beyond our wildest imaginings along with heavily weighted crosses to bear?

I can think of one prayer I carried in my heart for more than two years.  And, oh, the agony I endured until I finally gave it up.  Completely.

You know what’s in my heart.  You know the pain I feel.  But I love you more.  You know best.  I give it up to you.  You know what to do.

It took a lot to let go but, little by little, I was okay again.  Then, within less than a year, I received God’s wonderful surprise.  I was so happy that I couldn’t even remember the misery I’d inflicted on myself for worrying all that time before.

Sadly, I know that I can easily revert to wanting my way again.  Only now I understand better than I did before.

Prayer is loving God unconditionally, entrusting our all to his care no matter what.

April 30, 2011

Father Robert, OP at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago shares his Daily Inspiration.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8).

Jesus said over and over again: “Be not afraid.”  Ambivalence can make life difficult.  [Being] irresolute, uncertain, indecisive… can create… anxiety.  Knowing what to do, how to judge, when to decide are all questions that can be the source of much concern and doubt.  Fears can be immobilizing to needed action.  Often our hearts are ambivalent.  In examining and evaluating one’s lifestyle, we can easily perceive that changes are in order.  This certainly is true in our relationship with God.  Spiritual writers tell us that to grow in the spirit we must let go, abandon things with which we feel most in control.  We need to break free and simplify our lives.  We are advised not to cling to things and patterns of behavior but to “let go” and cling to God.  As we move freely forward in life, trust helps us venture out, holding on tightly to God’s hand.  Trust and confidence in God’s loving care and protection is the assurance we need to move ahead in the new and exciting adventure of loving him more.

June 25, 2011

Jesus, I surrender.  I give you all of my sickness, all of my wounds, all of my grief.  You are my only hope, Lord.  Stretch out your hand and touch me with your love (the Word among us, June 2011, p. 44).

July 5, 2011

Father Robert, OP adds this Daily Inspiration.

One of his disciples said; “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).

Sometime when you want to find new meaning in saying the Lord’s Prayer consider the advice of St. Teresa of Avila by saying “The Our Father” backwards.  Start from the end verse.  Mediate on each line and thought as you move toward the beginning.  It starts simply by asking God to help us fight against evil, then proceeds to asking for the needs we have to sustain our lives each day— our daily bread— this is “all that keeps us going,” physically and spiritually and then ends with the grand praise of praise, seeking God’s kingdom on earth in our hearts and in all we do.  It closes with the loving title addressed to God the Father, Abba, calling God our loving, “darling” Father.

July 10, 2011

Welcome, Master of the harvest!  Sow your word in every part of me.  Grow whatever crop you desire.  I want to know you and love you more each day (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 31).

August 3, 2012

“The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God” (William McGill).

August 17, 2012

“Pray for the grace” is an excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure (Kevin O’Brien, SJ;
E-Magis).

Ignatian spirituality taps into our deepest desires.  In them we can discern God’s noble desires for us.

Thus, at the beginning of each prayer period, Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain grace, or gift from God: “ask God our Lord for what I want and desire” (SE 48).  Simply naming what we deeply desire opens us to receive the gift God wants to give us.  Moreover, praying for a grace helps us to notice when we actually receive that gift later on.  In this way, we realize that the grace is not of our own making but is the result of God’s generosity to us.  Finally, praying out of our desires grounds us in the present, keeping our prayer “real.”

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

October 16, 2014

Prayer is “a conscious turning to the invisible friend who is always near” (Teresa of Avila).

Links of interest…  Carmelites…  Meditations (book review)…  Prayer & petition…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / about / author / biography / bookmark / books / bread recipe / chaplet prayers / convent (Avila) / doctor (1970) / feast (Oct 15) / history / interior castle (1921 book online) / patron / poems / prayer / profile / reformer / quotes / saint / timeline / works…  Teresian Carmel…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Gift of love…  Growing pains
In good time…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown
…  One prayer…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula
Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Venerable Margaret

In good time

Late April, 2008, I accompanied Steven to a conference he was attending at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Teresa of Avila

The beauty of staying across the street from campus meant that I had access to the bookstore, which I visited daily for hours on end.  And, much to my delight, Follett had a seemingly endless sale on books throughout the store.

Among the many I purchased were three copies of Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) based on selections from The Interior Castle (Avila, 1577), which I intended to give to Sam and Ning, Junebug and Gary, and Neli-Beli.  However, on inscribing the books at home, I noticed that one copy had an ever so slight irregularity; so I kept it instead.

Mind you, Teresa of Avila didn’t strike me as particularly interesting when I first noticed the books on sale.  The brown, black, white cover was so nondescript and the colors so sedate that I wasn’t the least bit intrigued.  Besides, I had no idea who Teresa of Avila was!  Yet, knowing how much our Why Catholic? group members had enjoyed discussing our read-alouds, I’d thought that the book might appeal to them enough that they’d want to share their perspectives with the rest of us.

Special time

For almost three years, the book remained unnoticed and pretty much hidden on the shelf with other books on spirituality.

Then, a couple of months ago, I awoke with a burning question prompted by The book on St. Anthony’s miracles.  More and more, my wanting to know escalated to my having to find out. 

But how?  Where?

Walking past the hallway shelves, I stopped without realizing what I was doing.  Running my fingers along the book spines, my eye caught sight of a little blue book, so I marked the spot and pulled out the book to read its back cover and its table of contents.

Anthony of Padua: Saint of the People (Wintz, 2005) was the answer to my question.  Only, another book beckoned from near the shelf’s end.

Within moments I had a second book, Teresa of Avila, in tow as I proceeded to my workspace here.

As with so much that happens in life, timing had everything to do with my finding
St. Teresa’s book that Saturday morning.  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that things happen in their own special time.  It’s my Train A / Train B theory, although it could also be In God’s good time.

Dendrite connections 

As Segy was growing up we had lots of really interesting conversations, but the one I revisit most stems from his middle school days.

Our brains are sponges, he said.  They’re forever collecting information left and right, trivial and meaningful, tidbits and tomes.  Our brains get so full that information can’t all be tagged and categorized right away.  It’s like standing in the checkout lane at the grocery store.  Information is processed only as the brain’s dendrites are able to make meaningful connections between the newly acquired and what’s already there.

Listening to Segy, I recalled my Kroger experience.  Since only one lane was open, I couldn’t check out right away.  Standing in line, I actively perused the books on display to make the most of my wait time.  So, yes.  I could easily visualize what Segy was talking about.

The brain’s always ON.  Even when we’re quiet, our senses and our thoughts are still at work.  Even when we forget, the brain remembers what’s etched in long-term memory.

Like a good battery gone dead, all the brain needs is a jumpstart, a sensory experience, that allows it to intuit and remember thoughts lost that had no real value when they were forgotten.

In my case I had a burning desire to quench my thirst, so… ta dah… my hands reached into the bookshelf and effortlessly located the books on St. Anthony and St. Teresa.  Just like that.

By finding what was lost, the old became new with meaningful implications.

In good time

Time and again, I serendipitously connect with people, places, things, and/or ideas that propel me to another level of understanding.  It’s all so bizarre yet so refreshingly awesome.
Like, OMG!  So God’s actually paying attention?  Listening?  Helping me retrace my steps, so I can finally have a worthwhile encounter with something I’d previously overlooked?

It’s what I’ve come to call my Easter egg hunt in life. 

When the time’s right, I find the means to advance to that which awaits… that wonderful, glorious knowledge that I so eagerly seek… that awareness that I’ve been oblivious to… that special moment that fills me with wonder and makes me giggle with delight.

So why worry when, in God’s good time, I’ll have the answers to all my questions?

St. Teresa’s book

And so it’s been with Teresa of Avila.

BW4511-91The book was within reach for almost three years, but I had much to learn and experience before I was ready to savor its richness.

If anyone had told me that Teresa of Avila had really been meant for me to read and subsequently share, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Yet, God has his ways of helping us discover what he wants us to enjoy when the time is right, the very same way he gifts us with the perfectly timed lily blossoms in our garden during the Lent and Easter season every single year.

March 3, 2014

It is a lesson we all need— to let alone the things that do not concern us.  He has other ways for others to follow him; all do not go by the same path.  It is for each of us to learn the path by which he requires us to follow him, and to follow him in that path (St. Katharine Drexel).

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

Links of interest…  God’s perfect timing…  Old Dominion: bookstore / university
St. Anthony: about (more) / biography / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / prayers / shrine / wonder worker…  St. Teresa of Avila: about (more) / biography
(more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (more / first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headaches / history / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mystic / poems / prayer / prayers / quotes
(more) / saint (more) / tribute (movie) / videos

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places
…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies
Venerable Margaret

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