Tag Archives: Carmelite saints and blesseds

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St Edith Stein in lay clothes.jpg

The youngest child of 11 of a pious Jewish family, Edith Stein was born 1891 in was a one time Germany and what is now Wroclaw, Poland). Early in life she knew what it meant to face adversity with the death of her father and four of her siblings. By the time she was a teen Edith was not practicing her faith.
Through her study of philosophy, particularly Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology which introduced her to the notion of transcendence which then led her to experience the reality of a transcendent God revealed in Jesus Christ. Philosophy was the condition of Edith’s conversion to Christianity. In 1921 Edith read the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and the catechism; in January 1922 she was baptized.
At 42, Edith Stein entered the Cologne Carmelite monastery after attending the Holy Week Services. The priest who celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass was reason for her following her heart’s desire. She wrote: “I told our Lord that I knew it was His cross that was now being placed upon the Jewish people; that most of them did not understand this, but that those who did would have to take it up willingly in the name of all. I would do that. At the end of the service, I was certain that I had been heard. But what this carrying of the cross was to consist in, that I did not yet know.” In the convent she was devoted to the Carmelite way of life and she was allowed to continue her writing. Her last work was The Science of the Cross. With the Cross in mind, at the age of 50 was killed at Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. It was reported that Edith’s interior strength allowed her to be completely centered and focussed on Christ offering her sufferings and those of others to the Crucified Christ.
Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Teresa Benedicta on May 1, 1987 and canonized her on October 11, 1998. At that time, John Paul said, “Learn from St Teresa to depend on God alone and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart. Then, like her, you will be able to say, ‘I do not regret that I have given myself up to love.'”

The liturgical prayer and some links for Saint Teresa Benedict is here…and a good biography is noted here.

Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes

St Teresa of the Andes.jpgOn the liturgical ordo of the Carmelite Order today is the feast of the relatively unknown saint outside some circles (on the Roman ordo today’s saint is memorialized on April 12). Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes was born on July 13, 1900 and died on April 12, 1920 and having spent only 11 months as a Carmelite nun.

Baptized Juanita Fernandez Solar she took the name Teresa of Jesus of the Andes. Teresa of Jesus was the first Chilean to be canonized. She is today, a model for young people. The Church concerned for holiness proposes to us today this beautiful, young and “unaccomplished” saint as a perfect model for our journey.

The spiritual autobiography, if as compelling as the Little Flower’s, can have a profound influence on someone (think also of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross who was influenced by St Teresa of Avila), so much so that the young Teresa entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of the Andes on May 7, 1919.
At Santiago de Chile Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa of Jesus on April 3, 1987 and the Pope later canonized her on March 21, 1993. Her brother Luis attended the beatification. Teresa is also the Discalced Carmelite nun to be canonized outside of Europe and the 4th “Teresa” of the Carmel Order to be canonized.
Read the Vatican’s biography of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes.

Prayer to the Trinity by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Trinity El Greco.jpgO my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You…even unto death! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to “clothe me with Yourself,” to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, “come upon me,” and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery. And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little crature; “cover her with Your shadow,” seeing in her only the “Beloved in whom You are well pleased.”

O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.

(Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, 21 November 1904)

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.

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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