November 29, 2008

Blessed Denis of the Nativity & Blessed Redemptus of the Cross

1600 + 1598 - 1638 - Memorial - November 29

Denis of the Nativity (a.k.a: Dionysius of the Nativity), a priest, was called Pierre Berthelot in the world. He was born in 1600 at Honfleur, France.

Denis was a sailor from the age of twelve, then a pilot-in-chief, cartographer, and cosmographer to the king of Portugal, and to the French court.

He still was a member of the royal court when around the age of 35, Pierre realized that he was called to the religious life. He left all his possessions and he became a Discalced Carmelite in 1635 at Goa, India. With Blessed Redemptus of the Cross, he traveled as a missionary to the king of Achin.

He was ordained in 1638. That same year he was sent on an embassy to Sumatra as both pilot and Chaplin.

Pope Leo XIII beatified him in 1900.

Redemptus of the Cross was called Thomas Rodriguz da Cunha in the world. He was born in 1598 in Portugal. He made his profession in 1615 as a lay brother, with the Discalced Carmelites in Goa, India. With Denis of the Nativity, he traveled as a missionary to the king of Achin.

Pope Leo XIII beatified him in 1900.

While living in the Carmel at Goa, Denis & Redemptus met and formed a friendship. They spent several years together in Carmel and each developed their prayer life and spirituality. In 1638 Denis was asked to serve as pilot for a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Sumatra. After reaching Sumatra, they were both captured and told to deny their Faith. Both refused and were tortured to death on November 29, 1638 on the Malay Archipelago, giving the ultimate witness to their faith in Christ.

Pope Leo XIII beatified this pair of Carmelites in 1900.

November 19, 2008

St. Raphael Kalinowski, priest

Also known as Joseph Kalinowski
1835-1907 - Memorial - November 19th

Father Raphael of Saint Joseph Kalinowski, was born at Vilna, 1st September 1835, and at baptism received the name Joseph. Under the teaching of his father Andrew, at the Institute for Nobles at Vilna, he progressed so well that he received the maximum distinction in his studies. He then went for two years (1851-1852) to the school of Agriculture at Hory-Horky. During the years 1853-1857, he continued his studies at the Academy of Military Engineering at St Petersburg, obtaining his degree in Engineering, and the rank of Lieutenant. Immediately afterwards he was named Lecturer in Mathematics at the same Academy. In 1859, he took part in the designing of the Kursk-Kiev-Odessa railway.
In 1863 the Polish insurrection against their Russian oppressors broke out. He resigned from the Russian forces, and accepted the post of Minister of War for the region of Vilna, in the rebel army. On 24th March 1864, he was arrested and condemned to death, a penalty that was mitigated to 10 years hard labor in Siberia. With an admirable strength of spirit, patience, and love for his fellow exiles, he knew how to instill into them the spirit of prayer, serenity and hope, and to give material help together with a word of encouragement.
Repatriated in 1874, he accepted the post of tutor to the Venerable Servant of God, Augusto Czartoryski, living mostly in Paris. His influence on the young prince was such, that Augusto discovered his true vocation as priest and religious. He was received into the Salesians: by their founder: St John Bosco, in 1887. On the other hand, Joseph Kalinowski entered the Discalced Carmelites at Graz in Austria, and received the religious name of Brother Raphael of Saint Joseph. He studied theology in Hungary, and was ordained Priest at Czerna near Krakow, 15th January 1882.
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, right until the time of his death.
Overcome by fatigue and suffering, and held in great respect by all the people, he gave his soul to God, 15th November 1907, at Wadowice in the monastery founded by himself. He was buried in the monastery cemetery, at Czerna, near Krakow.
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.
Pope John Paul II, on the 11th October 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 Father Raphael Kalinowski at Krakow on 22nd June 1983.
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 the 10th July 1990, the Holy Father John Paul II, approved the miracle for the canonization.
In the Consistory of 26th November 1990, Pope John Paul together with the Cardinals, decided to canonize Blessed Raphael Kalinowski. They set the ceremony for Sunday, 17th November 1991.

1835 at Vilna, Russian Poland (modern Vilnius, Lithuania) as Joseph Kalinowski

15 November 1907 at Wadowice, Poland of natural causes

22 June 1983 at Cracow, Poland by Pope John Paul II

Canonized & presented him as a model to all Christians in the universal Church
17 November 1991 by Pope John Paul II

November 15, 2008

All Carmelite Souls

November 15 - All Carmelite Souls - Commemoration
(When November 15 falls on a Sunday the Commemoration is celebrated on November 16)

Today we remember all souls who have gone to their rest and belonged to the Carmelite family: those who wear the Scapular devoutly, third order members, brothers, sisters, nuns and friars. Please remember them in your prayers, that they may enjoy the Beatific vision in the company of Our Lady and the entire heavenly court. Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
Remembering Our Departed Carmelites
I live without living in myself,
And in such a way do I hope,
That I die, because I do not die.
I live now outside of myself,
For I die of love,
Because I live in the Lord,
Who wanted me for himself;
When I gave him my heart,
I placed this sign on it:
I die, because I do not die.
This divine prison
Of love with which I live
Has made God my captive,
And my heart free.
And it causes such passion within me
To see God as my prisoner,
That I die because I do not die…
I wish to reach him, dying,
For so greatly do I love my beloved,
That I die because I do not die.

-- Vivo sin vivir en mí by St Teresa of Avila

"Lord, You are the glory of those who serve you. Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters, united in following Christ and His Mother by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel. In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you, their Creator and Redeemer."

From the works of St. Teresa of Jesus

All of us who wear this holy Carmelite habit are called to prayer and contemplation. This is what we were founded for. We are descended from those holy fathers of ours on Mt. Carmel, those who went in search of that treasure –the priceless pearl we are talking about –in such solitude and with such contempt for the world.
We must remember those holy fathers of ours who have gone before us, the hermits whose lives we are trying to imitate. We must remember our real founders, those holy fathers whose descendants we are. It was by way of poverty and humility, we know, that they came to the enjoyment of God.

On the subject of the beginnings of orders, I sometimes hear it said that the Lord gave greater graces to those saints who went before us because they were the foundations.

Quite so, but we too must always bear in mind what it means to be the foundations for those who will come later.

For if those of us who are alive now have not fallen away from what they did in the past, and those who come after us do the same, the building will always stand firm. What use is it to me for the saints of the past to have been what they were, if I come along after them and behave so badly that I leave the building in ruins because of my bad habits?

For obviously those who come later don’t remember those who have died years before as they do the people they see around them. A fine state of affairs it is to insist that I am not one of the first, and do not realize what a difference there is between my life and virtues and the lives of those God has endowed with such graces!

Any of you who sees your Order falling away in any respect must try to be the kind of stone the building can be rebuilt with –the Lord will help to rebuild it.

For love of our Lord I beg them to remember how quickly everything comes to an end, and what a favor the Lord has done in bringing us to this Order, and what a punishment anyone who starts any kind of relaxation will deserve. They must always look at the race we are descended from–that race of holy prophets. What a num- ber of saints we have in heaven who have worn this habit of ours! We must have the holy audacity to aspire, with God’s help, to be like them. The struggle will not last long, but the outcome will be eternal.

November 14, 2008

All Carmelite Saints

Feast Day - November 14th

Romans 8:28-35, 37-39; Psalm 23; Matthew 5:1-12

Today - we remember all those members of the Carmelite Family whose heroic lives have pointed the way to heaven for us and who have been recognised as saints and blesseds. Our first reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans speaks of how God wants all people to become true images of his own divine Son. All those he intends for this are called and if we too believe then we too will be like them for we shall share his glory in eternity. The Gospel text from Matthew gives the account of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. Those who live out the Beatitudes while here on earth will inherit the kingdom of heaven and enjoy eternal life as do the saints.

Prayer to Carmelite Saints

O God, May the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, and the prayers of all the saints of Carmel help us to walk steadfastly in their footsteps, and by our prayers and good works ever to further the cause of your Church. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. - Amen.

November 8, 2008

Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity, virgin

1880-1906 – Memorial - November 8th

By Brother Craig
"You will either be a terror or a saint," said Mrs. Catez to her daughter Elizabeth. She realized her daughter had a will of iron. The stubborn little girl who demanded her way had inherited the military spirit of her ancestors. She was quite a problem until the time of her First Holy Communion when she decided with her iron will to overcome her fault of stubbornness and become a saint! On November 25th, the Feast of Christ the King, 1984, the Holy Father beatified Elizabeth Catez, better known and loved as Elizabeth of the Trinity, one of the greatest mystics and spiritual writers of this century.

On the day of her First Holy Communion Elizabeth visited the Carmelite Nuns in her hometown of Dijon, France. The nuns, of course, had heard of this iron-willed child, this child who, of late, had determined to become a saint. They had heard that she played the piano brilliantly although her feet could not reach the pedals! During the visit the Mother Prioress explained to Elizabeth that her name signified "house of God".

At the age of fourteen Elizabeth decided to become a Carmelite Nun, having heard the word "Carmel" uttered in her soul one day after Holy Communion. Her mother was determined that Elizabeth would not enter until she was twenty-two. Elizabeth calmly obeyed. The next few years were spent increasing her growth in virtue and being a cheerful companion to her mother.

Prayer was her very existence; starting each day praying before daybreak. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary, and the Way of the Cross were her special prayers. She did penance, even wore a hairshirt, and constantly mortified her will. Having asked to suffer the Crown of Thorns, she began to have terrible headaches. She suffered these for two years. They disappeared at the command of her spiritual director. She lived the following: "In order to have peace one must forget about oneself."

Elizabeth had a cheerful personality. She attended family gatherings and played the piano for the guests. Yet, during these distractions and even in the midst of conversation, she tells us that she remained recollected in prayer, saying, "I cannot be distracted from God." With her mother, Elizabeth visited Lourdes and was thrilled to receive Holy Communion at the Grotto. She loved the Grotto and said she could not tear herself away.

One day, Father Valee, a Dominican, had a two-hour conversation with Elizabeth. He explained to her that the Blessed Trinity dwelt in her soul. She was immediately inspired to live a life of praise and homage to God dwelling in her. Already, she began to live "in Heaven" by remaining recollected in the "Heaven of her soul." Noise reached only the surface. She desired to lose herself in the Blessed Trinity dwelling within her soul.

At last this "mystical child" entered the Carmelite Convent. There she was completely home. As a Carmelite she received the name of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. She understood that a Carmelite lives a life of prayer and penance offered for souls. Elizabeth desired to suffer in order to save souls and offer reparation to God. During her novitiate she passed through the "dark night of the soul." She suffered from spiritual dryness and in this "night" her virtues were perfected like gold in a furnace. When se made her profession on the Feast of Epiphany, 1902, peace one again reigned in her soul.

From reading St. Paul, Sister Elizabeth discovered her vocation or mission. She would be a "Praise of Glory" or "Laudem Gloria" praising God dwelling within her offering a ceaseless "Sanctus". She simply could not understand how a person could carelessly leave God Who dwells within the soul in order to turn to the world and earthly things. "God dwells within you, do not leave Him so often", she advised. Even as she worked the sisters noticed her recollected attitude. She once wrote, "It is wonderful to recall that, except for the vision of seeing God, we possess God as all the Saints in Heaven do. We can surely be with Him always and no one can take us away from Him. He dwells in our souls!" Sister Elizabeth devoutly referred to the Blessed Trinity as "my Three."

Sister Elizabeth’s spirituality was not only Trinitarian. She was also very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady, especially to the Mother of Sorrows. She was always pleased when she could send an entire day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the convent chapel. She once wrote that "nothing so reveals the great love of the Sacred Heart as the Holy Eucharist". Sister Elizabeth often prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows and once said, " I surely love the precious tears shed by the Blessed Virgin Mary." She taught others to trust in Our Heavenly Mother. She advised a friend that "there is a Motherly Heart in which you can go hide, Our Lady’s. It has been through every kind of heartbreak, every kind of laceration, and through it all remained calm."

Sister Elizabeth accepted suffering. She desired to suffer in order to save souls. She taught that suffering is so special that the Saints in Heaven must envy those still on earth who can suffer in order to save a great many souls. She offered her life as a "victim soul" and cheerfully endured her last illness that seems to have been Addison’s Disease. She taught others the value of suffering. She wrote, "there is nothing like the wood of the Cross for kindling in the soul the fire of love."

Early in 1906 it was noticed that Sister Elizabeth had become very weak. She made a retreat to prepare for the "Eternal Retreat." On August 31, 1906, Sister Elizabeth received an extraordinary grace. The Blessed Trinity was made manifest to her within her soul.

Sick as Sister Elizabeth was, she never omitted prayer. Sitting in a chair by her bed she recited prayers until one week before she died. One night she was "tempted" to go back to bed so she immediately knelt down and continued to pray! As Father Philipon, O.P. said, "She belonged to the school of saints who seek rest and strength in sacrifice and suffering."

During the last week of her life, Sister Elizabeth’s stomach was very ulcerated, and yet she made frequent and lengthy visits to the Blessed Sacrament. On October 31, she received the last rites. On November 1st, she made her confession and received Holy Communion for the last time. On November 9th, Sister Elizabeth died. She desired to lose her sufferings in those of Our Blessed Lord. Her last words were the same as those of St Therese of Lisieux: "Oh, I love Him!" Would she have a mission in Heaven like St. Therese? Before she died, Sister Elizabeth proclaimed: "I believe that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls to interior recollection by helping them to pray by going out of self to God. I’ll teach souls the necessity of a profound inner silence that will allow God to imprint Himself upon souls and transform them into Himself."

Theologians have studied the writings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity for many years. Her letters and retreat notes have been studied and commended by a number of theologians, including Father Philipon, O.P. and Father Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Blessed Elizabeth’s ability to express theology and her talent for writing has been so acclaimed that some have said she "rivals St. Paul."

Blessed Elizabeth’s Prayer to The Most Holy Trinity

"O my God, Trinity Whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of self, that I may establish myself in You, as changeless and as calm as though my soul were already in eternity. May nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from You, O my immutable Lord, may I penetrate more deeply every moment into the depths of Your Mystery. Give peace to my soul: make it Your heaven, Your cherished dwelling place. Your home of rest. Let me never leave You there alone, but keep me there all absorbed in You in living faith, adoring You, wholly yielded up to Your creative action.

"O my Christ Whom I love, crucified by love, would that I might be the bride of Your Heart; would that I might cover You with glory, and love You- until I die of very love! Yet I realize my weakness, and beg You to help me. Immerse me in Yourself: possess me wholly: substitute Yourself for me, that my life may be but a radiance of Your life. Enter my soul as Restorer and as Savior. O Eternal Word, Utterance of my God, I long to pass my life listening to You, to become docile, that I may learn all from You. Through all darkness, all privations, all powerlessness, I yearn to keep my eyes ever fixed on You and to dwell beneath Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I can no longer withdraw from Your radiance.

"O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come down upon me, and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to Him another humanity in which He renews all His Mystery. And You, O Father, bend toward Your poor little creature, cover her with Your shadow, behold in her none other than the ‘Well beloved in Whom You are well pleased."

"O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I yield myself to You as Your child. Immerse Yourself in me, that I may be immersed in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness. Amen."

November 7, 2008

Bl Francis Palau y Quer, priest

1820-1893 – Optional Memorial - November 7th

Born in Aytona, Lerida, on December 29, 1811, Blessed Francis Palau y Quer entered the Carmelite Order in 1832 and was ordained priest in 1836. Civil turmoil forced him to live in exile and outside his community. On his return to Spain in 1851, he founded his "School of Virtue" -- which was a model of catechetical teaching -- at Barcelona. The school was suppressed and he was unjustly exiled to Ibiza (1854-1860) where he lived at El Vedra in solitude and experienced mystically the vicissitudes of the Church. While in the Balearic Islands he founded the Congregations of Carmelite Brothers and Carmelite Sisters (1860-1861). He preached popular missions and spread love of Our Lady wherever he went. He died at Tarragona on March 20, 1872, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1980.

Beatified: 24 April 1988 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized: pending

November 6, 2008

Bl Josepha Naval Girbes, Virgin

1820-1893 – Optional Memorial - November 6th

Josepha (Josefa) was born on December 11, 1820 in Algemesi, Valencia Province, Spain. Algemesi was a small agricultural village – 8000 inhabitants. Josepha was the first of five children of Francisco Navel and Josefa Girbes. She was baptized the day she was born and was named Josepha Maria, but her special name was Senora Pepa. Coming from a spiritual family, she had a Christian upbringing. She was confirmed in 1828 and made her First Communion a year later at the age of nine. Josepha had a basic education in reading and writing, even though there were no public schools. She also learned the skill of embroidery, which proved to be a way to educate and save souls for Jesus.
When she was thirteen, her mother died. The family moved to her maternal grandmother’s home. Since she was the oldest, she helped her father raise her younger brothers and sisters. As time went by, her love for Jesus and the Blessed Mother grew steadily in her adolescence. As a young adult, she received spiritual direction from Father Silvestre, a parish priest. It was through his influence and her commitment to God, that, at age 18, this Servant of God, consecrated herself to the Lord with the vow of perpetual chastity.
She dedicated herself to answer the call to be holy, serve the Church, and her neighbor. Because of this dedication to God and her spiritual experiences, she felt compelled to help others. She started to hold meetings at her home - meetings that evolved into embroidery instruction. During the needlework sessions, there were readings and spiritual conversations. “Under her care, women practiced needlepoint and learned the practice of virtues’. She touched many lives, teaching basic catechism, stressing the importance for prayer and mediation, preparing children for first communion, and encouraging participation in Church activities. She also prepared young women for their vocation a spouses, mothers or the religious.
Despite the fact that many documents and records were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War of 1936, there is evidence that Josepha entered the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of St. Teresa, but the date is not known. As a member of the Order, her lay Carmelite community was served by the Discalced Carmelite Fathers of the Province of Valencia. Further evidence shows that today, in Algemesi, there is a large picture of the Virgin of Carmel which was embroidered in gold and silk – made under the supervision of Josepha.
Eventually, Josepha’s health began to decline due to a heart condition. On February 24, 1893, at the age of 72 she died in her home at Algemesi, but not before receiving the last sacraments. At her request, she was buried in the brown tunic and white mantle of the Carmelite habit. She was surrounded by her faithful followers whom she nurtured and feed the word of God.
On October 20, 1946, Josepha’s remains were removed to the parish Church of St. James and placed in a beautiful metal and glass coffin for all to venerate. After careful investigation of her life and obtaining “fifteen sworn depositions”, His Holiness John Paul II proclaimed the Decree for her heroic virtues on January 3, 1987. On September 1, 1988 the proposed miracle for her Beatification was accepted. The Beatification ceremony was celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica on September 25, 1988. Her feast is celebrated on November 6th.
As Secular Carmelites, we have much to learn from Josepha Navel Girbes. Why is it important for the members of the Secular Order of the Carmelites to know her? Since we are all called to holiness in a secular world, full of distractions and attachments, we benefit from her example. She is a model of holiness, which guides us along the path of sanctity. “Sanctify yourself and sanctify others. That was her guiding principle – always and in everything to follow God’s desire in ordinary life circumstances and secular duties.” It was recognized that Josepha lived in the love of God and shared that love by extending herself to others.
Josepha was a person with a deep interior life. As a result, her prayer life was deep as well. Her repeated message was “prayer, prayer; pray for awhile each day, and life will be easier and bearable. Learn to speak with God without words and, in this way, practice the prayer of meditation. Be faithful and reverent before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist.”
“She lived and died in the world leaving after her a light, which continues illuminating those who, in secular society, look for Christian holiness. She walked the narrow road to holiness, leading others on the way.” Maybe we will do the same!