Tag Archives: Carmelite saints and blesseds

Saint Mariam Baouardy (St Mary of Jesus Crucified)

St. Mariam BaouardyEarlier today in Rome, the Holy Father canonized some new saints. Among the 4 new saints is Saint Mariam Baouardy  (5 January 1846 – 26 August 1878), a Discalced Carmelite nun of the Melkite Catholic Church. She was born to Greek Catholic parents in Ibillin, Galilee. Saint Mariam had the distinguished reputation of being a mystic and a person gifted with the experience of the holy stigmata (the physical wounds in the hands and feet that Jesus suffered and which redeemed us).

The Pope said of Saint Mariam,

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father. Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world.

Saint Teresa of Avila at 500

Teresa of AvilaSaint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, turns 500 today. Teresa is one of the most remarkable women of the Church who stood up to the bankruptcy of many churchmen in order to follow the command of the Savior “to rebuild my Church.” She was not only brilliant thinker and teacher, a reformer but she was an intense lover of Jesus. And from this posture, she is able to touch souls.

Several quotes come to mind:

“ Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.”

“You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”

“There’s a time for partridge and a time for penance.”

“God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.”

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.

Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

“A sad nun is a bad nun,” Teresa said. “I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits….What would happen if we hid what little sense of humor we had? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.”

“Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

“Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.

Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Therese of Lisieux 1896‘In spite of my littleness, I would like to enlighten souls as did the Prophets and the Doctors. I have the vocation of the Apostles. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your Name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But…one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.’

(The Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St Thérèse of Lisieux)

May the Saint intercede for the missions, at home and abroad.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith SteinSaint Teresa Benedicta said: “love will be our eternal life.” She also said, “As for what concerns our relations with our fellow men, the anguish in our neighbor’s soul must break all precept. All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love.”

This Carmelite saint of the 20th century  was killed for her love, for her abiding affection and love for her Divine Lover, Jesus Christ.

We know from experience that the measure of the person is recognized not by words, but by the actions one does in the face of diminishment, exhaustion, laziness, and persecution. Seeing ourselves in action is crucial for growing in our personal mission given to us by the Holy Spirit. Do we know what our mission is in this life?

We also know from experience based on regular self-reflection and discernment that what can sustain our hearts is the love we have for our Creator,  the Infinite, and the concern we have for the salvation of others. Of course, this concern is first based on acceptance that are saved by Grace. The concern for the destiny of others, hence, is the exact same as what Jesus had for the 12 Apostles, the disciples, and for each of us.

All this leads me to think of the ways I am a mature Christian. Recall that Saint Paul talks about the goal of Christian is to be mature in his or her relationship with Christ and neighbor, even when it we meet immaturity in the other person; to be mature in living as faithful members in the Church. We have to admit that some days this can be difficult and only the reasonableness of faith Christ and honest friendship makes this possible and beautiful. This is why Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is a beautiful and reasonable witness: she understood the goal: eternal life. Can we follow her as she points to Jesus?

Blessed Titus Brandsma

Titus BrandsmaThe Church’s liturgical calendar has a rather interesting friar, priest philosopher and martyr who is honored today:  Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., the Dutch Carmelite friar opposed to Nazi ideology and who actively worked against it at the time of the Second World War; his last days were spent at the infamous Dachau concentration camp. Brandsma died on 26 July 1942, from a lethal injection administered by a German nurse of the SS, as an experiment. He was beatified as a martyr of the faith in November 1985 by Saint John Paul II. His feast day is observed within the Carmelite Order on 27 July.

The Blessed entered the novitiate of the Carmelite friars in Boxmeer, Netherlands, on 17 September 1898, where he took the religious name Titus (to honor his father) by which he is now known, and professed his first vows in October 1899. Ordained priest in 1905, Brandsma was a scholar of Carmelite mysticism and was awarded a doctorate of philosophy at Rome in 1909. Beginning in 1916 Brandsma’s scholarly work was to translate the works of Saint Teresa of Ávila into Dutch.

One of the founders of the Catholic University of Nijmegen (now Radboud University), Father Titus Brandsma was a professor of philosophy and the history of mysticism at the school in 1923; he later served as Rector Magnificus. As a teacher he had the reputation of being accessible. In 1935, Brandsma lectured on Carmelite spirituality in the US.

Blessed Brandsma’s studies on mysticism, particularly that of the Carmelite style, was the basis for the establishment in 1968 as the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen. If you are interested you can search for his biography The Man behind the Myth.


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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