Tag Archives: Carmelite saints and blesseds

Saint Teresa of Jesus

Santa TeresaFor the liturgical memorial for Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) the Church puts on our lips for the entrance antiphon the famous line from Psalm 42: Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God; my soul is thirsting for God, the living God.

One of my favorite saints is Teresa of Avila. Her humanity, humor and intense desire to be a friend of God is attractive. Real holiness attracts. She gives good example of what it means to be attentive to the interior life. Hence, today’s gospel pericope nicely coheres with the Teresa’s remembrance: don’t pay more attention to exterior than to the interior things. The spiritually immature Christians worry more about the outside of the cup than the inside. Formalism will not lead to fruitfulness and friendship with God. The spiritually mature Christian is truly thirsting, a longing for the Divine.

Saint Teresa shows how not to be enslaved by a dysfunctional Christianity but that we are made for joy, for Eternal Life, in communion with God.

Saint Thérèse, the Little Flower

The little Thérèse, that of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), a daughter of the Great Teresa, of Jesus, is honored today by the Church. In the right perspective, both women of the Carmelite order, Thérèse and Teresa, are magnificent witnesses to another way of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church. Liturgically, we have Avila’s feast on October 15. If we understand nothing more today, know that it was the Lord who was Thérèse’s certainty, He alone her guide (cf. the entrance antiphon).

The Mass Collect identifies the central focus of Saint Thérèse: a little way. What is the little way? The little way taught by Saint Thérèse is see one’s life from a perspective of humility, that of a child (cf. Mt 18:3), that the force of love becomes a reality; the language and method of the little way is that of love, of mercy.

The Catholic Information Service (Knights of Columbus) publishes a handy booklet that you can order, or you read it as a .pdf, “The First Steps on the Little Way of Saint Thérèse Lisieux.” I can’t recommend this text enough!

Saint Thérèse, a child of the Martin family which was quite devoted: several sisters entered religious life, her parents are on the road to sainthood. She was educated by the Benedictines before entering the Carmelite.

Saint Thérèse’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul, I find a compelling narrative of going deeper but that’s only after dealing with my prejudice of seeing the autobiography as saccharine; the depth contained therein is remarkable.

Saint Thérèse Lisieux is one of the the patron saints (with Saint Francis of Xavier) of the missions. John Paul declared her a Doctor of the Church.

Let’s pray for missionaries and for a deeper understanding of Thérèse’s little way.

Saint Simon Stock

St Simon receives scapular.jpg

Saint Simon was the English Carmelite Superior General of the Carmelite Order (†1265) who is most remembered for receiving from the Blessed Virgin the brown scapular with a promise that one is not lost at death if wearing the scapular. Stock was a hymn writer, a good leader and a man of sanctity, whom the Church recognized soon after his death. The liturgical offices were approved by the Church in the 15th century.

It is said that Simon heard the Mother of God say,

Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hoc habitu moriens salvabitur.

(This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.)

The bestowal of the scapular was given to the Carmelite friars alone but now any priest can bless and enroll someone in the scapular. The brown scapular is associated with the Carmelite friars with the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The brown scapular is one 18 approved scapulars worn in devotion.

There is a lot of pious legend about today’s saint, but there are some things that we are reasonably sure about. The Bollandists write the following of Saint Simon Stock:

Saint Simon Stock was born of one of the most illustrious Christian families of England, at the castle of Harford in 1164. Certain prodigies marked him, while an infant in the cradle, as a soul chosen by the Mother of God for Her own. Not yet one year old, he was heard to say the Angelic Salutation distinctly, before he had reached the age to learn it. As soon as he could read he began to recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, and he would never cease to do so daily. He read Holy Scripture on his knees at the age of six. He became the object of the jealous persecution of one of his brothers, and at the age of twelve determined to leave and go to live in a forest.

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Saint Teresa of Avila

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St Thérèse of Lisieux

Français : Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux. Italiano...

“For me, prayer is the heart’s impulse, a simple gaze toward heaven,” Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said. And let this be our guiding thought for today.

With the Church we pray, 
O God, who ope your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed.
She tells us to keep on going, and to do things with love.
Have you read The Little Way?

Jesuit Father James Martin, talks on Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and importance for us today, material from his Who Cares About the Saints?, a DVD on saints (Loyola Productions, 2009).

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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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