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'The progress of the soul consists

not in thinking much of God

but in loving Him ardently.'

~ St. Teresa of Jesus

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St Joseph the Worker 2021

Posted on 1st May, 2021

 

St Joseph the Worker
St. Joseph, help us to see our work as a service for others, a means of bringing order and beauty out of chaos and making our world a better place. Help us to understand work as more than a means of making money. Help us appreciate the dignity of work and grant us meaningful employment. We pray for the unemployed, underemployed and those who are working under stress.
 
St. Joseph, the Worker, pray for us.

Good Shepherd (or Vocations) Sunday 2021

Posted on 25th April, 2021

 

Hello! Just a little sharing about discernment – We are all given a mission in this life and our happiness is in doing it. We all have a uniquely brilliant vocation and need to ask God to reveal it to us and He will. By Baptism He gave us His Gift, the Holy Spirit, to be used by us to know His plan and, in joy, fulfil it in every circumstance – God is Eternally Radiant and we, in Him, can shine with His light and love. The distance, one preacher said, to finding the answer is the distance between your knee and the floor! So, bend the interior ‘knee’ of your heart before Him and worship and ask. Just imagine, if we all did this, the whole world would light up with Heavenly Love and the Kingdom of God break out! Let us start doing His will as it may happen in our lifetime. Failing often is not an obstacle because we simply try again!Christ, the Good Shepherd

 

St Teresa of Avila - an exceptional woman

Pope Francis sent a video message last week on the occasion of the International Congress "Mujer exceptional", or Exceptional Woman, dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the proclamation of St. Teresa of Ávila as a Doctor of the Church.

 

 

The following article by Lydia O'Kane is from the Vatican News website 15/04/21

 

In a video message to participants taking part in an International Congress commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of St. Teresa of Ávila as a Doctor of the Church, Pope Francis spoke of how prayer made this great Saint an “exceptional woman”.

 

The Congress, which began on Monday, April 12, at the St Teresa of Ávila Catholic University, closes on Thursday, April 15.

 

The Pope said that St Teresa was outstanding in many ways. However, he underlined, “it should not be forgotten that her recognized relevance in these dimensions is nothing more than the consequence of what was important to her: her encounter with the Lord, her ‘determined determination,’ as she says, to persevere in her union with Him through prayer, her firm intention to carry out the mission entrusted to her by the Lord, to whom she offered herself with simplicity.”

 

St. Teresa's boldness, creativity and excellence as a reformer, said Pope Francis, “are the fruit of the interior presence of the Lord.”

 

Recalling the universal call to holiness spoken of by the Second Vatican Council, the Pope said, it is “not only for some ‘specialists of the divine’, but it is the vocation of all believers.”

 

Uniqueness of the Saints

“Union with Christ, which mystics like St. Teresa experience in a special way by pure grace, we receive through Baptism,” he said.

 

“The saints stimulate and motivate us, but it is not for us to literally try to copy them; holiness cannot be copied, because even that could lead us away from the unique and different path that the Lord has for each one of us.”

 

“What is important,” the Pope added, “is that each believer discerns his own way, each one of us has his own way of holiness, of encounter with the Lord.”

 

Union through charity

Pope Francis recalled that St. Teresa herself warned her nuns that prayer is “not to experience extraordinary things, but to unite us to Christ. And the sign that this union is real are works of charity.”

 

Path of Prayer

The Pope stressed that “St. Teresa teaches us that the path of prayer that made her an exceptional woman, and a person of reference through the centuries, is open to all who humbly open themselves to the action of the Spirit in their lives.”

 

Such a path, he said, “is not open to those who consider themselves pure and perfect, the Cathars of all centuries, but to those who are aware of their sins.”

 

“Prayer made St. Teresa an exceptional woman, a creative and innovative woman,” emphasized Pope Francis.

 

“From prayer she discovered the ideal of fraternity that she wanted to make a reality in the convents she founded.”

 

Faithful friends of God

In his video message, Pope Francis said that like the Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa, we live in hard times that require “faithful friends of God.”

 

He emphasized that “the great temptation is to give in to disillusionment, to resignation, to the dismal and unfounded presage that everything will go wrong.”

 

Some people, he said, “frightened by these thoughts, tend to shut themselves away, to take refuge in little things.”

 

Giving an example of this, the Pope recalled a convent where all the nuns took refuge in “little things” because they were all enclosed in little things, “as a refuge, in selfish projects that do not build up the community, but rather destroy it.”

 

On the other hand, Pope Francis continued, “prayer opens us up, allows us to taste that God is great, that He is beyond the horizon, that God is good, that He loves us and that history has not escaped from His hands.”

 

God gives us fullness and joy

We can be encouraged to do great things, stressed the Pope, “because we know that we are favoured by God. And together with Him, we are capable of reaching any challenge, because in reality it is only His company that our heart desires and that gives us the fullness and joy for which we have been created.”

 

Concluding his video message, Pope Francis invited participants to pray St Teresa's prayer:

 

"Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; all things pass away, God does not change. Patience, all things come to pass. He who has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough."

 

 

 

See also the related Vatican News article from 13/04/21 in which Pope Francis stresses the importance of St Teresa in highlighting the role of women in the Church and in society.

Anointing at Bethany - Part 2

Posted on 11th April, 2021

 

ANOINTING AT BETHANY – MT 26, 8-13; MK 14, 4-9; JN 12, 1-8

 

PART 2

 

      But first Jesus has done beautiful things to me!  He has anointed me through the saving sacrament of Baptism.  I have been buried with him and raised to new life, the divine life through his Paschal mystery! “…you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2, 12)  I have been buried and raised to life with him, not alone, but with him.  He takes me by the hand, so to speak, or better, he carries me close to his Sacred Heart descending into death and ascending into his divine life, transforming me into the image of his risen self in accordance with my unique individuality.

The Entombment of Christ - Carl BlochResurrection of ChristAdult being baptised

      “…you are not your own; you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”

(1 Cor 6, 19).  Here is what Mary of Bethany did; she anointed Jesus’ head and feet with a pound of the most precious nard – all spent on Jesus for his honour and glory. For this reason, he promises that wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world her lavishness on his Person will be commended, displayed, and glorified as an example of love and devotion, and this prophecy has been proved true.  I am very much attracted to do beautiful things for Jesus in imitation of Mary of Bethany and all the saints (known and unknown) who lived by his promises as preached in the gospel and which have been realised in them through his sanctifying grace.

 

      “…and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.” (Jn 12, 3)  “For we are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2,15). “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10, 31)  These are the beautiful things I can do for Jesus; not counting the cost of the precious ointment of self-sacrificial love, spiritually poured out lavishly on the head and feet of Jesus, true God and true man. Will I be criticised, misunderstood, held in contempt for my devotion like Mary of Bethany was by the disciples, especially Judas Iscariot?  It is possible, for when I left the world to become a nun relatives, friends and acquaintances commented on the waste of a life lived for God alone.  How absurd to speak like that and, certainly, it was in worldly ignorance that they did so!  Nevertheless, these attitudes are commonplace in the secularism that pervades our society today.

 

      Jesus prophesied that Mary’s anointing would be told throughout the world in memory of her and this has become a reality.  Jesus promises me his new life beginning here and now as I accompany him in the gospel way, the way of faith, love, and selfless service of God and all people. Those “beautiful things”, those hidden anointings will not go unnoticed by Our Lord, no!  “…your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt 6, 4.6.18)

 

Wishing all our friends, benefactors and followers a very happy and blessed Easter, filled with the peace, joy and love of our Risen Saviour!

 

Sanctuary of our chapel earlier today

 

Anointing at Bethany - Part 1

Posted on 30th March, 2021

 

ANOINTING AT BETHANY – MT 26, 8-13; MK 14, 4-9; JN 12, 1-8

 

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him.  Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment

(Jn 12, 1-3)

Anointing of Jesus

 

      And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the jar and poured it over his head.  But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted?  For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.”  And they reproached her.  But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mk 14, 3-9)

 

PART 1

 

      Jesus arrived in Bethany to be the honoured guest at the house of Simon the leper who had invited him for supper.  It was customary to honour distinguished guests by offering them scented water.[1]  Mary reserved for herself the privilege of performing the ceremony of honour not only by anointing Jesus’ head, but his feet, as well, and then wiping them with her hair.  The pure nard which weighed a pound was extremely expensive yet Mary poured out the whole of the contents so that “the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”  She showed great generosity in expending all the costly ointment in his honour; profound humility by wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair for “who can fathom the fervour, love, and devotion with which she did it?  One does not treat a mere man in this manner, but God alone.”[2]  For Mary, Martha, and many others he was the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of David.  He was more than a man, he was, in the least a prophet, one who possessed divine power.   

      Had they not recently witnessed the raising of their brother, Lazarus, from the dead by Jesus?  What a stupendous miracle!  Surely she kept close track of all his miracles and teachings and in adoration and devotion sat at his feet to listen to him, “Mary has chosen the good portion…” (Lk 10, 42).  Surely she had heard from his disciples Jesus’ prophecies of his impending death and, having a women’s intuition perceived that he was in very great danger from his enemies residing in Jerusalem only 11/2 miles away.  “It might have been unconscious in Mary’s mind that this anointing was an anticipated anointing for his burial… Jesus made the unconscious conscious by his defence of her ‘wasteful’ expenditure.”[3]  “The disciples criticise the extravagance of her devotion because they fail to understand the true meaning of poverty.  They see her action as a waste of money… They do not yet realise the love which motivated the woman’s actions.”[4] 

      Mary has the enviable privilege of touching the humanity of Jesus by anointing his feet with pure nard and drying them with her hair.  “She has done a beautiful thing to me…she has done what she could…and truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mk 14,6.8.9)  And this promise has proved itself to be true – the gospel has been preached worldwide and Mary’s “beautiful” act of love has become a well-known and admired part of it.  “Jesus does not gainsay the work of helping the poor…but the poor are helped because of him, and unless one loves him and expresses that love for him they lose their love for the poor – or else that love will become purely natural, or mostly so.  The corporal works of mercy are very important, but they cannot exist as supernatural virtues without faith, trust, and love of Jesus.”[5]      



[1] THE NAVARRE BIBLE ST. MARK, pg.169 

[2] THE LIFE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST VOL II, Meschler, pg. 161 

[3] LIFE OF CHRIST, Fulton J. Sheen, pg. 298 

[4] THE NAVARRE BIBLE ST. MATTHEW, pg.217 

[5] BOOK OF THE LORD, Wilbur J. Borer, MM, pg. 393 

 
 

The Bridegroom and Fasting - Part 4

Posted on 26th March, 2021

 

GOSPEL OF ST. MARK, 2, 18-22      THE BRIDEGROOM & FASTING - PART 4

 

Jesus, the Divine Bridegroom

    The joy of loving Jesus is these apparent paradoxes of suffering and healing, of discipline and freedom, of mortification and spiritual resurrection. “…this crucifixion of oneself - self-denial - leads to a great inner joy, to ‘resurrection’.  The more I dare lose myself, the more I discover it is precisely in this way that I find myself.”14  Jesus asks me:  “’Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’”  I gather courage and confidence seeing the earnestness on the faces of the Sons of Zebedee, to whom He had characteristically answered their petition with another question, “And they said to Him, ‘We are able.’” (Mk 10, 38-39).  

 

    So during this Lenten season I accompany the Bridegroom profoundly aware that He was sent by the Father to expiate my sins and the sins of humanity especially through His passion and death on the cross. “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin…the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied…” (Is 53, 10-11). Once again, the agony and the ecstasy; mourning the tortures He underwent for me and fasting in His absence yet rejoicing because He is the Risen Bridegroom who lovingly embraced death for me and bestows on me new life:   “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Jn 15, 11)

 

 

14 TO LOOK ON CHRIST, EXERCISES IN FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, St. Paul Publications, English tr. 1991, pgs. 95-96.

 

The Bridegroom and Fasting - Part 3

Posted on 19th March, 2021

 

GOSPEL OF ST. MARK, 2, 18-22      THE BRIDEGROOM & FASTING - PART 3

 

In this holy season of Lent I pray that Our Lord “support me in doing battle against the spirit of evil…armed with the weapon of self-denial”.8  I experience my weakness, lack of generosity of the spirit of self- sacrifice; I am reminded of Our Holy Mother’s words, “But so niggardly and slow are we in giving ourselves wholly to God that we do not prepare ourselves as we should to receive that precious thing which it is His Majesty’s will that we should enjoy only at a great price.”9  I apply her words to myself: “How true it is!

Eagle with its prey

 

Jesus the Bridegroom, I His bride:  To “witness to that love which always gives first place to Christ their divine Spouse who gave His life for them…God wishes His brides to be free and attached only to Him”.10  Our Holy Father, St. John of the Cross, wisely affirms, “For it is the same thing if a bird be held by a slender cord or by a stout one; since, even if it be slender, the bird will be as well held a though it were stout, for so long as it breaks it not and flies not away…And thus the soul that has attachment to anything, however much virtue it possess, will not attain to the liberty of Divine union”.11  The Church impresses upon me the great importance and opportunity this time of Lent has for my spiritual advancement in Divine union and so I take to heart this prayer: “Look with favour on your family, Lord, and as at this time we restrain the desires of the body may our hearts burn with love of you.”12

 

My Carmelite vocation is especially directed to a life of fruitful self-abnegation as a means of striving in my own feeble way to dispose myself for union with Jesus, and also for the salvation and sanctification of souls, so infinitely loved by Him.  “I strongly urged you to live every moment of your vocation with the greatest generosity, in prayer and penance, in the solitude of the cloister…”13

 

 

8 THE DIVINE OFFICE, VOL II, Ash Wednesday Concluding Prayer pg.9

9 LIFE 11, 1

10 RULE AND CONSTITUTIONS of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, 1991, pg. 48 no. 27

11 THE ASCENT OF MOUNT CARMEL, St. John of the Cross, BOOK 1 CH. 11, no.4.

12 THE DIVINE OFFICE, VOL II, 1st Week of Lent, Tuesday Lauds Concluding Prayer

13 RULE AND CONSTITUTIONS of the Discalced nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, 1991,  TO THE DISCALCED CARMELITE NUNS UPON THE APPROVAL OF THEIR FUNDAMENTAL LEGISLATION, Pope St. John Paul II, pg. 12 no. 4

The Bridegroom and Fasting - Part 2

Posted on 13th March, 2021

 

GOSPEL OF ST. MARK, 2, 18-22      THE BRIDEGROOM & FASTING - PART 2

 

But Jesus announces that the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, “By oppression and judgment he was taken away” (Is. 53, 8), a Greek word which recalls and suggests a violent death.4  This is the first reference he makes to his passion and death.5  Then when he is taken away then the disciples will fast for, indeed, there is reason for great sorrow. It is in this spirit, in association with the sufferings and death of Jesus, that the Church orders times of fasting and penance.

 

The Suffering Servant

“…His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,

And His form beyond that of the sons of men—so shall He startle many nations…

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;

Upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed."

(Is 52, 14.15.; 53, 3-6)

 

"…the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise.”  (Mk 10, 33-34)

 

As Bride of Jesus, my “Crucified and Risen Spouse on whom you ought to hold your eyes fixed always”,7 I gaze upon Him as I read in the gospels undergoing His tortuous Passion and Death that He embraced  with such ardent love:

 

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!”  (Lk 12, 49-50)

 

 

4 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK Text and Commentary for Students, Alexander Jones, Geoffrey Chapman, 1965, pg. 79

5 THE NAVARRE BIBLE ST. MARK Texts and Commentaries, Four Courts Press, pg. 82

6 A CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON HOLY SCRIPTURE, Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd, St. Mark’s Gospel no. 728d

7 RULE AND CONSTITUTIONS of the Discalced nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, 1991, TO THE DISCALCED CARMELITE NUNS UPON THE APPROVAL OF THEIR FUNDAMENTAL LEGISLATION, Pope St. John Paul II, pg. 12 no. 4

 

 
 
 

The Bridegroom and Fasting - Part 1

Posted on 5th March, 2021

 

GOSPEL OF ST. MARK, 2, 18-22      THE BRIDEGROOM & FASTING - PART 1

 

 

  Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and the people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”  And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?  As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day…”  Mk. 2, 18-22 (Mt. 9, 14-15; Lk. 5, 33-35)

Rublev's Jesus
 

 

   Fasting was well known to the Jews as a sign of repentance and mourning.1 The only fast enjoined by the Law was for Expiation Day (i.e. Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur-LEV 16, 30) but the Sanhedrin and synagogue rulers could requisite others due to public calamity & private piety.  The Pharisees observed Mondays and Thursdays as fast days2 from sunrise to sunset.  The question put to or Lord was intended to place him in an unfavourable light by contrasting the conduct of his followers with the ascetic practices of the Pharisees and of John’s disciples.  He presents to his questioners the image of the disciples’ joy in the presence of their Master an implicit reference to the Old Testament image of God as “Spouse” of Israel:

 

   “And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord”. (Os. 2, 19)

 

   “And your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name.” (Is. 54, 5).

 

   “When I passed by you again, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness:  yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine.”1(Ezek. 16, 8)

 

   Jesus implicitly reminds John’s disciples of the parable quoted from their master about him, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly in the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full” (Jn. 3, 29).  It is significant that Jesus himself is now presented as “the Spouse”.3

 

 

1 A CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON HOLY SCRIPTURE, Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd, St. Mark’s Gospel no. 728d

2 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK Text and Commentary for Students, Alexander Jones, Geoffrey Chapman, 1965, pg. 79

3 Ibid.