Tag Archives: Carmelite saints and blesseds

Saint John of the Cross

St John of the Cross5.jpgFather, You endowed John of the Cross with a spirit of
self-denial and a love of the cross. By following his example, may we come to
the eternal vision of Your glory.

A brief bio on Saint John of the Cross
The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Saint John of the Cross

The fundamental principle of
St. John’s theology is that God is All and the creature is nothing. Therefore,
in order to arrive at perfect union with God, in which sanctity consists, it is
necessary to undergo an intense and profound purification of all the faculties
and powers of soul and body. The Ascent–Dark Night
the entire process of purgation, from the active purification of the external
senses to the passive purification of the highest faculties; The Living
and The Spiritual Canticle describe the perfection of the
spiritual life in the transforming union. The entire path to union is
“night” because the soul travels by faith. St. John of the Cross
presents his teaching in a systematic manner, with the result that it is
spiritual theology in the best sense of the word; not because it is systematic,
but because it uses as its sources Sacred Scripture, theology and personal

(from Fr. Jordan Auman, OP, Christian Spirituality in the
Catholic Tradition
, 1985)

Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

St Terese Avila GBernini.jpg

Come, Spouse of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord has
prepared for you for all eternity.

Graciously hear us, O God our Savior, that
as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Teresa, Your Virgin, so may we be fed
by her heavenly teaching and be strengthened in the love of true piety.

This is image of Saint Teresa was done by Bernini and it brings together notable themes of his life and work. Namely, the meeting of heaven and earth; God bowing down to touch the heart of man and woman. Bernini’s influence on doing this sculpture was this passage from Saint Teresa’s autobiography:

“I saw
in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a
little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and
to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out
also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so
great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this
excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied
now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though
the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now
takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make
him experience it who may think that I am lying.” (The Life of Teresa of Jesus, Chapter 29, part 13)

Recall that this saint’s life spanned from 1515-1582 and she was a contemporary with Saint John of the Cross, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Peter of Alcantara (who encouraged the Carmelite reform) was a spiritual father to her. She is also 1 of 3 women Doctors of the Church. If what you read here appetizing to read more of Saint Teresa’s life and work, I would recommend starting with the brief bio at New Advent, the Interior Castle and then or The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St Edith Stein.jpg


God our Father, You give us joy each year in honoring the memory of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. May her prayers be a source of help for us, and may her example of courage and chastity be our inspiration.

You can read any of the following for an understanding of this pivotal, 21st century saint:
from volume IV of the collected works
Brief biographies found here (from the Vatican) and here.
books by the saint

Saint John of the Cross

Father, You endowed John of the Cross with a spirit of self-denial and a love of the cross. By following his example, may we come to the eternal vision of Your glory.


St John of the Cross.jpg

THE best exposition on the spiritual life –that is, in my estimation there is no other work that captures the essence of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit with regard to the spiritual life– is the book Christian Spirituality by Dominican Father Jordan Aumann (1916-2007). Regrettably, I think the book is out of print and old copies tend to be expensive but you may search for an online copy of it. If you get a copy, don’t let it out of your sight! Nevertheless, Father Jordan’s thoughts on Saint John of the Cross easily expose the greatness of today’s saint.


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Saint Teresa of Avila sets all our hearts on fire

Oh Beauty exceeding

St Teresa of Avila St Peter's.jpgAll other beauties!
Paining, but You wound not
Free of pain You destroy
The love of creatures.

Oh, knot that binds
Two so different,
Why do You become unbound
For when held fast You strengthen
Making injuries seem good.

Bind the one without being
With being unending;
Finish, without finishing,
Love, without having to love,
Magnify our nothingness.








St Teresa of Avila.jpgThe Interior Castle is the principal source of mature Teresian thought on the spiritual life in its integrity. Chief emphasis is laid on the life of prayer, but other elements (the apostolate, for example) are also treated. The interior castle is the soul, in the center of which dwells the Trinity. Growth in prayer enables the individual to enter into deeper intimacy with God–signified by a progressive journey through the apartments (or mansions) of the castle from the outermost to the luminous center. When a man has attained union with God in the degree permitted to him in this world, he is “at the center” of himself; in other words, he has integrity as a child of God and as a human being. Each of the apartments of the castle is distinguished by a different stage in the evolution of prayer, with its consequent effects upon every other phase of the life of the individual. (from an essay by a Carmelite nun, Austria)


Graciously hear us, O God, our Savior, that as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Teresa, Thy Virgin, so may we be fed by her heavenly teaching and be strengthened in the love of true piety.

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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