Teresa of Avila: We should Know and Abide with the Person with Whom we are Speaking Tuesday, Oct 15 2013 

SantaTeresaTurn your eyes upon yourself and look at yourself inwardly….

You will find your Master; He will not fail you: indeed, the less outward comfort you have, the greater the joy He will give you.

He is full of compassion and never fails those who are afflicted and out of favour if they trust in Him alone….

Either you believe this or you do not: if you do, as you should, why do you wear yourselves to death with worry?

[…] I should like to be able to explain the nature of this holy companionship with our great Companion, the Holiest of the holy, in which there is nothing to hinder the soul and her Spouse from remaining alone together, when the soul desires to enter within herself, to shut the door behind her so as to keep out all that is worldly and to dwell in that Paradise with her God.

I say “desires”, because you must understand that this is not a supernatural state but depends upon our volition, and that, by God’s favour, we can enter it of our own accord: for without it nothing can be accomplished and we have not the power to think a single good thought.

For this is not a silence of the faculties: it is a shutting-up of the faculties within itself by the soul. There are many ways in which we can gradually acquire this habit….

We must cast aside everything else, they say, in order to approach God inwardly and we must retire within ourselves even during our ordinary occupations.

If I can recall the companionship which I have within my soul for as much as a moment, that is of great utility. But as I am speaking only about the way to recite vocal prayers well, there is no need for me to say as much as this.

All I want is that we should know and abide with the Person with Whom we are speaking, and not turn our backs upon Him; for that, it seems to me, is what we are doing when we talk to God and yet think of all kinds of vanity.

The whole mischief comes from our not really grasping the fact that He is near us, and imagining Him far away—so far, that we shall have to go to Heaven in order to find Him.

How is it, Lord, that we do not look at Thy face, when it is so near us? We do not think people are listening to us when we are speaking to them unless we see them looking at us. And do we close our eyes so as not to see that Thou art looking at us?

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582): Way of Perfection, 29.

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Thérèse of the Child Jesus: I Am Not Always Faithful, but I Never Lose Courage Tuesday, Oct 1 2013 

St.-ThereseIt pleases Jesus to lavish His gifts on certain souls in order to draw yet others to Himself; in His Mercy He humbles them inwardly and gently compels them to recognize their nothingness and His Almighty Power.

Now this sentiment of humility is like a kernel of grace which God hastens to develop against that blessed day, when, clothed with an imperishable beauty, they will be placed, without danger, on the banqueting-table of Paradise.

Dear little sister, sweet echo of my soul, Thérèse is far from the heights of fervour at this moment; but when I am in this state of spiritual dryness, unable to pray, or to practise virtue, I look for little opportunities, for the smallest trifles, to please my Jesus: a smile or a kind word, for instance, when I would wish to be silent, or to show that I am bored.

If no such occasion offer, I try at least to say over and over again that I love Him. This is not hard, and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even should the fire of love seem dead, I would still throw my tiny straws on the ashes, and I am confident it would light up again.

It is true I am not always faithful, but I never lose courage. I leave myself in the Arms of Our Lord. He teaches me to draw profit from everything, from the good and from the bad which He finds in me.

He teaches me to speculate in the Bank of Love, or rather it is He Who speculates for me, without telling me how He does it – that is His affair, not mine. I have but to surrender myself wholly to Him, to do so without reserve, without even the satisfaction of knowing what it is all bringing to me….

After all, I am not the prodigal child, and Jesus need not trouble about a feast for me, because I am always with Him. I have read in the Gospel that the Good Shepherd leaves the faithful ones of His flock in the desert to hasten after the lost sheep. This confidence touches me deeply.

You see He is sure of them. How could they stray away? They are the prisoners of Love. In like manner does the Beloved Shepherd of our souls deprive us of the sweets of His Presence, to give His consolations to sinners; or if He lead us to Mount Thabor it is but for one brief moment … the pasture land is nearly always in the valleys, “it is there that He takes His rest at midday” (Cant. 1:6).

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 16.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: We Possess the Truth, for Our Beloved Dwells in Our Hearts Sunday, Mar 3 2013 

St.-Therese“I went down into the garden of nut-trees to see the fruits of the valleys, and to look if the vineyard has flourished, and the pomegranates were in bud. I know longer knew where I was: my soul was troubled because of the chariots of Aminadab” (Canticle of Canticles 6:10-11).

There is the true picture of our souls. Often we go down into the fertile valleys where our heart loves to find its nourishment.

And the vast fields of Holy Scripture, which have so often opened to yield us richest treasures, now seem but an arid and waterless waste.

We no longer even know where we stand. In place of peace and light, all is sorrow and darkness.

But, like the Spouse in the Canticles, we know the cause of this trial: “My soul was troubled because of the chariots of Aminadab.”

We are not as yet in our true country, and as gold is tried in the fire so must our souls be purified by temptation. We sometimes think we are abandoned.

Alas! The chariots – that is to say, the idle clamours which beset and disturb us – are they within the soul or without?

We cannot tell, but Jesus knows; He sees all our grief, and in the night, on a sudden, His Voice is heard: “Return, return, O Sulamites: return, return, that we may behold thee.

[…] Jesus calls us that He may look upon us at leisure. He wills to see us; He comes, and with Him come the other two Persons of the Adorable Trinity to take possession of our soul.

Our Lord had promised this, when, with unspeakable tenderness, He had said of old: “If anyone love Me he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.”

To keep the word of Jesus, then, is the one condition of our happiness, the proof of our love for Him; and this word seems to me to be His very Self, for He calls Himself the Uncreated Word of the Father.

In the Gospel of St. John He makes the sublime prayer: “Sanctify them by Thy word, Thy word is truth.” And in another passage Jesus teaches us that He is “the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

We know, then, what is this word which must be kept; we cannot say, like Pilate: What is truth?” We possess the Truth, for our Beloved dwells in our hearts.

Often this Beloved is to us a bundle of myrrh. We share the chalice of His sufferings; but how sweet it will be to us one day to hear these gentle words:

You are they who have continued with Me in My temptations, and I dispose to you, as My Father hath disposed to Me, a kingdom.”

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 18.

Elizabeth of the Trinity: “I Die Daily” Thursday, Nov 8 2012 

Quotide morior exclaimed St. Paul, “I die daily!”

This doctrine of dying to self is the law for every Christian, for Christ said: “If anyone wants to follow Me, let him take up his cross and deny himself.”

But this doctrine which seems so austere, takes on a delightful sweetness when we consider the outcome of this death – life in God in place of our life of sin and misery.

That is what St. Paul meant when he wrote: “Strip off the old man and clothe yourselves anew in the image of Him who created you.”

This image is God Himself.  Do you recall His wish which He so clearly expressed on the day of creation: “Let us make man in our image and likeness”?

[…] St Peter writes… “we have been made sharers in His divine nature.”

And St. Paul recommends that “we hold firm to the end this beginning of His existence which He has given us.”

[…]  If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say it is to no longer think of self, to deny oneself always.

That is a good way to kill pride: let it starve to death!

You see, pride is love of ourselves; well, love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love.

St. Augustine says we have two cities within us, the city of God and the city of self.

To the extent that the first increases, the second will be destroyed.

A soul that lives by faith in God’s presence, that has this “single eye” that Christ speaks of in the Gospel, that is, a purity of “intention” that seeks only God; this soul, it seems to me, would also live in humility.

It would recognize His gifts to it – for humility is truth – but it would attribute nothing to itself, referring all to God as the Blessed Virgin did.

All the movements of pride that you feel within yourself only become faults when the will takes part in them!

[…] What God asks of you is never to entertain deliberately any thought of pride, and never to act on the inspiration of pride, for this is wrong.

And yet, if you find yourself doing either of these, you must not become discouraged, for again, it is pride which is irritated.

You must “display your misery” like Magdalene at the Master’s feet, and ask Him to set you free.

He so loves to see a soul recognize its weakness.

Then, as a great saint said, “The abyss of God’s immensity encounters the abyss of the creature’s nothingness,” and “God embraces this nothingness”

Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906); from Complete Works,  Volume I, ICS Publications, pp.124-126 quoted on Praise of Glory.

Teresa of Avila: The Lord Is Within Us – We Should Be There With Him Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

Consider now what your Master says next: “Who art in the Heavens.”

Do you suppose it matters little what Heaven is and where you must seek your most holy Father?

I assure you that for minds which wander it is of great importance not only to have a right belief about this but to try to learn it by experience, for it is one of the best ways of concentrating the mind and effecting recollection in the soul.

You know that God is everywhere; and this is a great truth, for, of course, wherever the king is, or so they say, the court is too: that is to say, wherever God is, there is Heaven.

No doubt you can believe that, in any place where His Majesty is, there is fulness of glory.

Remember how Saint Augustine tells us about his seeking God in many places and eventually finding Him within himself.

Do you suppose it is of little importance that a soul which is often distracted should come to understand this truth and to find that, in order to speak to its Eternal Father and to take its delight in Him, it has no need to go to Heaven or to speak in a loud voice?

However quietly we speak, He is so near that He will hear us: we need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.

Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest; we must talk to Him very humbly, as we should to our father, ask Him for things as we should ask a father, tell Him our troubles, beg Him to put them right, and yet realize that we are not worthy to be called His children.

[…] It would not be humility on your part if the King were to do you a favour and you refused to accept it; but you would be showing humility by taking it, and being pleased with it, yet realizing how far you are from deserving it.

[…] Have nothing to do with that kind of humility, daughters, but speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord and a Spouse—and, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another, He will teach you what you must do to please Him.

[…] Remember how important it is for you to have understood this truth— that the Lord is within us and that we should be there with Him.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582): Way of Perfection, 28.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: It is Happiness to Bear Our Crosses, and to Feel Our Weakness in Doing So Monday, Oct 1 2012 

St.-ThereseMy dear little Céline – Jesus offers you the cross, a very heavy cross, and you are afraid of not being able to carry it without giving way.

Why? Our Beloved Himself fell three times on the way to Calvary, and why should we not imitate our Spouse?

What a favour from Jesus, and how He must love us to send us so great a sorrow!

Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless Him for it.

He heaps his favours upon us upon the greatest Saints.

What, then, are His loving designs for our souls?

That is a secret which will only be revealed to us in our Heavenly Home, on the day when “the Lord shall wipe away all our tears” (Matt.5:48).

Now we have nothing more to hope for on earth – “the cool evenings are passed” – for us suffering alone remains!

Ours is an enviable lot, and the Seraphim in Heaven are jealous of our happiness.

The other day I came across this striking passage: “To be resigned and to be united to the Will of God are not the same; there is the same difference between them as that which exists between union and unity; in union there are still two, in unity there is but one.”

Yes, let us be one with God even in this life; and for this we should be more than resigned, we should embrace the Cross with joy.

[…] Jesus is “a Spouse of blood” (Exodus 4:25). He wishes for Himself all the blood of our hearts.

You are right – it costs us dear to give Him what He asks. But what a joy that it does cost!

It is happiness to bear our crosses, and to feel our weakness in doing so.

Céline, far from complaining to Our Lord of this cross which He sends us, I cannot fathom the Infinite Love which has led Him to treat us in this way.

Our dear Father must indeed be loved by God to have so much suffering given to him.

It is a delight for us to be humbled with him. I know that by humiliation alone can Saints be made, and I also know that our trial is a mine of gold for us to turn to account.

I, who am but a little grain of sand, wish to set to work, though I have neither courage nor strength.

Now this very want of power will make my task easier, for I wish to work for love. Our martyrdom is beginning …

Let us go forth to suffer together, dear sister, and let us offer our sufferings to Jesus for the salvation of souls.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 3 & 4.

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

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: To Know Him as He Knows Himself, and to Become Ourselves Divine Tuesday, Jun 26 2012 

St.-ThereseYou are right – life is often burdensome and bitter.

It is painful to begin a day of toil, especially when Jesus hides Himself from our love.

What is this sweet Friend about?

Does He not see our anguish and the burden that weighs us down?

Why does He not come and comfort us?

Be not afraid…. He is here at hand. He is watching, and it is He who begs from us this pain, these tears….

He needs them for souls, for our souls, and He longs to give us a magnificent reward.

I assure you that it costs Him dear to fill us with bitterness, but He knows that it is the only means of preparing us to know Him as He knows Himself, and to become ourselves Divine!

Our soul is indeed great and our destiny glorious. Let us lift ourselves above all things that pass, and hold ourselves far from the earth!

Up above, the air is so pure … Jesus may hide Himself, but we know that He is there.

My dearest sister, do not let your weakness make you unhappy.

When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to “lay the axe to the root of the tree” (Matt. 3:10), relying upon Jesus alone.

If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles.

He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause Him to shed are wiped away by our poor weak love.

Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet.

You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.

What, then, have we to fear? You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much.

Céline, I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to be “perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Apoc. 21:4).

You see that your dream – that our dreams and our desires – are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realisation upon us as a commandment.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 1 & 2.

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

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