Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “Hail, Cross, Our Only Hope!” Friday, Sep 14 2012 

“Hail, Cross, our only hope!”….

At the end of the cycle of ecclesiastical feasts, the Cross greets us through the Heart of the Saviour.

And now, as the church year draws toward an end, it is raised high before us and is to hold us spellbound, until the Easter Alleluia summons us anew to forget the earth for a while and to rejoice in the marriage of the Lamb.

[...] More than ever the Cross is a sign of contradiction. The followers of the Antichrist show it far more dishonur than did the Persians who stole it.

They desecrate the images of the Cross, and they make every effort to tear the Cross out of the hearts of Christians.

All too often they have succeeded even with those who, like us, once vowed to bear Christ’s Cross after him.

Therefore, the Saviur today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully!

The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open.

If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise.

[...] The arms of the Crucified are spread out to draw you to his heart. He wants your life in order to give you his.

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

The world is in flames. The conflagration can also reach our house.

But high above all flames towers the Cross. They cannot consume it. It is the path from earth to heaven.

It will lift one who embraces it in faith, love, and hope into the bosom of the Trinity.

The world is in flames. Are you impelled to put them out? Look at the Cross.

From the open Heart gushes the Blood of the Saviur. This extinguishes the flames of hell.

Make your heart free by the faithful fulfillment of your vows; then the flood of divine love will be poured into your heart until it overflows and becomes fruitful to all the ends of the earth.

[...] Look at the Crucified. If you are nuptially bound to him by the faithful observance of your holy vows, your being is precious Blood. Bound to him, you are omnipresent as he is.

[...] Your compassionate love takes you everywhere, this love from the divine Heart. Its precious Blood is poured everywhere soothing, healing, saving.

The eyes of the Crucified look down on you asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness?

What will you answer him? “Lord, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: The More an Era is Engulfed in Estrangement from God, the More it Needs Souls United to God Thursday, Aug 9 2012 

The divine light, the Holy Spirit, has never ceased to illumine the darkness of the fallen world. He has remained faithful to his creation, regardless of all the infidelity of creatures.

And if the darkness would not allow itself to be penetrated by the heavenly light, there were nevertheless some places always predisposed for it to blaze.

A ray from this light fell into the hearts of our original parents even during the judgment to which they were subjected.

This was an illuminating ray that awakened in them the knowledge of their guilt, an enkindling ray that made them burn with fiery remorse, purifying and cleansing, and made them sensitive to the gentle light of the star of hope, which shone for them in the words of promise of the “protoevangelium,” the original gospel.

As were the hearts of the first human beings, so down through the ages again and again human hearts have been struck by the divine ray.

Hidden from the whole world, it illuminated and irradiated them, let the hard, encrusted, misshapen matter of these hearts soften, and then with the tender hand of an artist formed them anew into the image of God.

[...] People may…be instruments of God without their knowledge and even against their will, possibly even people who neither externally nor interiorly belong to the church.

They would then be used like the hammer or chisel of the artist, or like a knife with which the vine-dresser prunes the vines.

For those who belong to the church, outer membership can also temporally precede interior, in fact can be materially significant for it (as when someone without faith is baptized and then comes to faith through the public life in the church).

But it finally comes down to the interior life; formation moves from the inner to the outer.

The deeper a soul is bound to God, the more completely surrendered to grace, the stronger will be its influence on the form of the church.

Conversely, the more an era is engulfed in the night of sin and estrangement from God the more it needs souls united to God.

And God does not permit a deficiency. The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night.

But for the most part the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible.

Certainly the decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions.

And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): In the Grace of Vocation; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: I Will Remain With You Tuesday, Aug 9 2011 

You reign at the Father’s right hand
In the kingdom of his eternal glory
As God’s Word from the beginning.

You reign on the Almighty’s throne
Also in transfigured human form,
Ever since the completion of your work on earth.

I believe this because your word teaches me so,
And because I believe, I know it gives me joy,
And blessed hope blooms forth from it.

For where you are, there also are your own,
Heaven is my glorious homeland,
I share with you the Father’s throne.

The Eternal who made all creatures,
Who, thrice holy, encompasses all being,
In addition has a silent, special kingdom of his own.

The innermost chamber of the human soul
Is the Trinity’s favorite place to be,
His heavenly throne on earth.

To deliver this heavenly kingdom from the hand of the enemy,
The Son of God has come as Son of Man,
He gave his blood as the price of deliverance.

In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced,
The kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together.
Here is for us the source of life.

This heart is the heart of the triune Divinity,
And the center of all human hearts
That bestows on us the life of God.

It draws us to itself with secret power,
It conceals us in itself in the Father’s bosom
And floods us with the Holy Spirit.

This Heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle
Where it remains mysteriously hidden
In that still, white host.

That is your royal throne on earth, O Lord,
Which visibly you have erected for us,
And you are pleased when I approach it.

Full of love, you sink your gaze into mine
And bend your ear to my quiet words
And deeply fill my heart with peace.

Yet your love is not satisfied
With this exchange that could still lead to separation:
Your heart requires more.

You come to me as early morning’s meal each daybreak.
Your flesh and blood become food and drink for me
And something wonderful happens.

Your body mysteriously permeates mine
And your soul unites with mine:
I am no longer what once I was.

You come and go, but the seed
That you sowed for future glory, remains behind
Buried in this body of dust.

A luster of heaven remains in the soul,
A deep glow remains in the eyes,
A soaring in the tone of voice.

There remains the bond that binds heart to heart,
The stream of life that springs from yours
And animates each limb.

How wonderful are your gracious wonders!
All we can do is be amazed and stammer and fall silent
Because intellect and words fail.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): I Will Remain With You; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “The Marriage of the Lamb has Come and His Bride has Prepared Herself” Wednesday, Aug 3 2011 

“The marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride has prepared herself” (Rev 19:7).

St John saw “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2 and 9ff.).

As Christ himself descended to earth from heaven, so too his Bride, the holy church, originated in heaven.

She is born of the grace of God, indeed descended with the Son of God himself; she is inextricably bound to him.

She is built of living stones; her cornerstone was laid when the Word of God assumed our human nature in the womb of the Virgin.

At that time there was woven between the soul of the divine Child and the soul of the Virgin Mother the bond of the most intimate unity which we call betrothal.

Hidden from the entire world, the heavenly Jerusalem had descended to earth.

From this first joining in betrothal, there had to be born all the living building blocks to be used for the mighty structure: each individual soul awakened to life through grace.

The Bridal Mother was to become the mother of all the redeemed.

Like a spore from which new cells stream continually, she was to build up the living city of God.

This hidden mystery was revealed to St John as he stood beneath the cross with the Virgin Mother and was given over to her as her son.

It was then that the church came into existence visibly; her hour had come, but not yet her perfection.

She lives, she is wedded to the Lamb, but the hour of the solemn marriage supper will only arrive when the dragon has been completely conquered and the last of the redeemed have fought their battle to the end.

Just as the Lamb had to be killed to be raised upon the throne of glory, so the path to glory leads through suffering and the cross for everyone chosen to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.

All who want to be married to the Lamb must allow themselves to be fastened to the cross with him.

Everyone marked by the blood of the Lamb is called to this, and that means all the baptized. But not everyone understands the call and follows it.

There is a call to following more closely that resounds more urgently in the soul and demands a clear answer. This is the vocation to the religious life, and the answer is the religious vows.

They [those in religious life] want to belong pre-eminently to the Lamb for all eternity, to follow him wherever he goes, and to sing the song of the virgins that no one else can sing (Rev 14:1-5).

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Who Are You, Sweet Light, that Fills Me and Illumines the Darkness of My Heart? Sunday, Jun 12 2011 

Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother’s hand,
And should you let go of me,

I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!

Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son’s heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.

And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!

Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge’s throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
Mercifully relentlessly
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
Your action,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!

Are you the spirit’s fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God’s eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgement ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!

Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God’s moulding hand!

Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty’s throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!

Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
The harmony,
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): Pentecost Novena; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

 

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Carrying the Cross of Christ (2) Tuesday, Feb 9 2010 

(Following on from the previous post…)

Thus, when someone desires to suffer, it is not merely a pious reminder of the suffering of the Lord. Voluntary expiatory suffering is what truly and really unites one to the Lord intimately.

When it arises, it comes from an already existing relationship with Christ. For, by nature, a person flees from suffering.

[...] Only someone whose spiritual eyes have been opened to the supernatural correlations of worldly events can desire suffering in expiation, and this is only possible for people in whom the spirit of Christ dwells, who as members are given life by the Head, receive his power, his meaning, and his direction.

Conversely, works of expiation bind one closer to Christ, as every community that works together on one task becomes more and more closely knit and as the limbs of a body, working together organically, continually become more strongly one.

But because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God.

Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God’s kingdom, are the most authentic children of God.

And so those who have a predilection for the way of the cross by no means deny that Good Friday is past and that the work of salvation has been accomplished.

Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ’s cross.

Only in union with the divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power.

To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross.

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Carrying the Cross of Christ (1) Tuesday, Feb 9 2010 

The sight of the world in which we live, the need and misery, and an abyss of human malice, again and again dampens jubilation over the victory of light.

The world is still deluged by mire, and still but a small flock has escaped from it to the highest mountain peaks.

The battle between Christ and the Antichrist is not yet over. The followers of Christ have their place in this battle, and their chief weapon is the cross.

The burden of the cross that Christ assumed is that of corrupted human nature, with all its consequences in sin and suffering to which fallen humanity is subject.

The meaning of the way of the cross is to carry this burden out of the world. The restoration of freed humanity to the heart of the heavenly Father, taking on the status of a child, is the free gift of grace, of merciful love.

But this may not occur at the expense of divine holiness and justice. The entire sum of human failures from the first Fall up to the Day of Judgment must be blotted out by a corresponding measure of expiation.

The way of the cross is this expiation. The triple collapse under the burden of the cross corresponds to the triple fall of humanity: the first sin, the rejection of the Savior by his chosen people, the falling away of those who bear the name of Christian.

The Savior is not alone on the way of the cross. Not only are there adversaries around him who oppress him, but also people who succor him.

The archetype of followers of the cross for all time is the Mother of God. Typical of those who submit to the suffering inflicted on them and experience his blessing by bearing it is Simon of Cyrene. Representative of those who love him and yearn to serve the Lord is Veronica.

Everyone who, in the course of time, has borne an onerous destiny in remembrance of the suffering Savior or who has freely taken up works of expiation has by doing so canceled some of the mighty load of human sin and has helped the Lord carry his burden.

Or rather, Christ the head effects expiation in these members of his Mystical Body who put themselves, body and soul, at his disposal for carrying out his work of salvation.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross.

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Entering into the Holiest of Holies Saturday, Jan 23 2010 

However, the way to the interior life as well as to the choirs of blessed spirits who sing the eternal Sanctus is Christ.

His blood is the curtain through which we enter into the Holiest of Holies, the Divine Life. In baptism and in the sacrament of reconciliation, his blood cleanses us of our sins, opens our eyes to eternal light, our ears to hearing God’s word.

It opens our lips to sing his praise, to pray in expiation, in petition, in thanksgiving, all of which are but varying forms of adoration, i.e., of the creature’s homage to the Almighty and All-benevolent One.

In the sacrament of confirmation, Christ’s blood marks and strengthens the soldiers of Christ so that they candidly profess their allegiance.

However, above all, we are made members of the Body of Christ by virtue of the sacrament in which Christ himself is present.

When we partake of the sacrifice and receive Holy Communion and are nourished by the flesh and blood of Jesus, we ourselves become his flesh and his blood.

And only if and insofar as we are members of his Body, can his Spirit quicken and govern us. “It is the Spirit that quickens, for the Spirit gives life to the members. But it only quickens members of its own body…. The Christian must fear nothing as much as being separated from the Body of Christ. For when separated from Christ’s Body, the Christian is no longer his member, is no longer quickened by his Spirit….”

However, we become members of the Body of Christ “not only through love…, but in all reality, through becoming one with his flesh: for this is effected through the food that he has given us in order to show us his longing for us.

“This is why he has submerged himself in us and allowed his body to take form in us. We, then, are one, just as the body is joined to the head…..”

As members of his Body, animated by his Spirit, we bring ourselves “through him, with him, and in him” as a sacrifice and join in the eternal hymn of thanksgiving.

Therefore, after receiving the holy meal, the church permits us to say: “Satisfied by such great gifts, grant, we beseech you, Lord, that these gifts we have received be for our salvation and that we never cease praising you.”

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): Before the Face of God

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Actualizing the Divine Life in Ourselves Monday, Jan 4 2010 

For those blessed souls who have entered into the unity of life in God, everything is one: rest and activity, looking and acting, silence and speaking, listening and communicating, surrender in loving acceptance and an outpouring of love in grateful songs of praise.

As long as we are still on the way and the farther away from the goal the more intensely we are still subject to temporal laws, and are instructed to actualize in ourselves, one after another and all the members complementing each other mutually, the divine life in all its fullness.

We need hours for listening silently and allowing the Word of God to act on us until it moves us to bear fruit in an offering of praise and an offering of action.

We need to have traditional forms and to participate in public and prescribed worship services so that our interior life will remain vital and on the right track, and so that it will find appropriate expression.

There must be special places on earth for the solemn praise of God, places where this praise is formed into the greatest perfection of which humankind is capable.

From such places it can ascend to heaven for the whole church and have an influence on the church’s members; it can awaken the interior life in them and make them zealous for external unanimity.

But it must be enlivened from within by this means: that here, too, room must be made for silent recollection. Otherwise, it will degenerate into a rigid and lifeless lip service.

And protection from such dangers is provided by those homes for the interior life where souls stand before the face of God in solitude and silence in order to be quickening love in the heart of the church.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): Before the Face of God

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: In the Heart’s Quiet Dialogue with God Friday, Nov 27 2009 

The work of salvation takes place in obscurity and stillness. In the heart’s quiet dialogue with God the living building blocks out of which the kingdom of God grows are prepared, the chosen instruments for the construction forged.

The mystical stream that flows through all centuries is no spurious tributary that has strayed from the prayer life of the church it is its deepest life.

When this mystical stream breaks through traditional forms, it does so because the Spirit that blows where it will is living in it, this Spirit that has created all traditional forms and must ever create new ones.

Without him there would be no liturgy and no church. Was not the soul of the royal psalmist a harp whose strings resounded under the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit?

From the overflowing heart of the Virgin Mary blessed by God streamed the exultant hymn of the “Magnificat.” When the angel’s mysterious word became visible reality, the prophetic “Benedictus” hymn unsealed the lips of the old priest Zechariah, who had been struck dumb.

Whatever arose from spirit-filled hearts found expression in words and melodies and continues to be communicated from mouth to mouth. The “Divine Office” is to see that it continues to resound from generation to generation.

So the mystical stream forms the many-voiced, continually swelling hymn of praise to the triune God, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Perfecter.

Therefore, it is not a question of placing the inner prayer free of all traditional forms as “subjective” piety over against the liturgy as the “objective” prayer of the church.

All authentic prayer is prayer of the church. Through every sincere prayer something happens in the church, and it is the church itself that is praying therein, for it is the Holy Spirit living in the church that intercedes for every individual soul “with sighs too deep for words.”

This is exactly what “authentic” prayer is, for “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” What could the prayer of the church be, if not great lovers giving themselves to God who is love!

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942): Before the Face of God

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