Friday, July 24, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Carmelite Family
Presentation of OCDS Angeles, Pampanga
The group arrived at the monastery around 10:30 a.m. After having some merienda, the Regional Coordinator, Sis. Charito Andres, TOCarm., led the opening prayer. Bro. Benjie Syguan, TOCarm., the prior of the community, read his report regarding the status of the community and its members. The present membership of the community consists of 9 temporary professed and 4 novices. Bro. Benjie also asked if they could make their final profession but some members asked if they could defer it since the maximum required years is six (6). Also, to resolve the financial problem encountered by the community, a resolution was made that the Tarlac community transfer to the Province of St. Joseph (Bulacan/Pampanga region) upon the consent of the Our Lady of Nazareth TOC Community of Cabanatuan since both belong to the Central Luzon region. The resolution was proposed since the Province of St. Joseph has the capability to support the community.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
When Mother Teresa returned from Paris she found that the soldiers were waiting to arrest her and her community. It would seem that they had been carefully watched for some time and betrayed by a government agent. Once arrested the nuns were brought under security to Compiegne prison. Their food was meager and poor quality and they were generally ill treated. On July 12th they were told to be ready to get into carriages that were to bring them to Paris. The carriages proved to be mere carts and the floors were covered with dirty straw. They traveled in discomfort all day and all night and on the evening of the thirteenth, which was a Sunday, they reached Paris.
In Prison and Again
In Paris the group was imprisoned in the Conciergerie, nicknamed the ‘Morque’, since no one remained there for long. The aged Sr. Charlotte, unable to descend from the cart was roughly handled by attendants and fell heavily to the ground. After lying for some time motionless on the ground she was helped to her feet, her face all covered with blood. Turning to the attendants she assured them that she bore them no ill will and would indeed pray for them. As July 14th was a national holiday, no cases were tried. After spending two nights in the Conciergerie the nuns were put on trial on the morning of the seventeenth and condemned to be executed a few hours later.
During their trial the nuns refused with dignity the charges that they were spies, trying to overthrow the government and working in collusion with a foreign power. At the end of the proceedings the judge condemned each sister to death. When pressed by Mother Henriette, a former Prioress, for what reasons they were to die; the judge shouted, “You are to die because you insist on remaining in your convent in spite of the liberty we gave you to abandon all such nonsense.” The aged nun replied, “Thank you, gentlemen, that is all I wished to hear.” Then turning to the Prioress she said, “We have now heard the true reason for our arrest and condemnation. It is because of our religious beliefs that we are to die. We all wished to hear such a statement. Our eternal praise and thanks to Him who has prepared us for the road to Calvary.
The Way to Calvary
After their condemnation the sisters calmly expressed their joy and desire to offer their lives in union with the great sacrifice of Calvary. As they were led away from the dock one of the Sisters grew faint and stumbled because the group had been without food for many hours. A friend in the crowd procured them a drink of hot chocolate and sustained by this nourishment they returned with radiant faces to the dungeon to await execution. There they spent the time in prayer and in singing the Divine praises. There is a story that on the July 16th, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, one of the sisters calmly asked a fellow prisoner with more freedom for something on which to write. Then using charred twigs she composed a song of jubilee and petition to Carmel’s Queen in anticipation of martyrdom and adapted it to the melody of the Marseillaise.
Preparing to Die
In the interval between their condemnation and execution the nuns asked for a pail of hot water to wash their soiled clothes. They doffed their civilian garb and put on their religious habits, which were made so as to facilitate the work of the executioner. They did this in order to give witness to their religious profession. Here mention must be made of a group of Benedictine sisters who met the Carmelites in prison after their condemnation to death. They were later to testify to the faith and fervor of the Carmelites in their last hours. Later when the Benedictines were told to remove their religious habits they protested that they had brought no other clothing. To comply with the prison order they were given the garments discarded by the Carmelites, subsequently they were released through diplomatic negotiations and brought their prison garments with them as souvenirs. They are still preserved as precious relics in the Benedictine convent of Stanbrook.
To the Guillotine
With a roll of drums, the cart bearing the condemned nuns to execution emerged from the prison courtyard. It was the last cart in the cortege. Along the route the nuns were heartened to see among the onlookers their faithful and devoted chaplain Fr. de la Marche. As he raised his hand in blessing Mother Teresa intoned the Miserere and the nuns took up the chant. After the Miserere the prayers for the recommendation of the dying were recited together with other hymns and prayers. These included the Te Deum and the Salve Regina. Finally as the cortege turned into the Barriere de Vincennes (the modern Place de la Nation) where the platform with the guillotine was erected, the Veni Creator was intoned.
The Final Scene
In the hush that had fallen on the onlookers beside the guillotine the only voices to be heard were those of the praying nuns. Fr. de la Marche later related how one of the nuns remembered that she had not finished the Office of the day and said to Mother Teresa, “Have no worry,” the latter replied, “we shall recite the Office together when we get to heaven.” At the foot of the scaffold the nuns in turn knelt before their Prioress and asked her permission to die. They kissed her scapular and a little statue of Our Lady she held out to each one as they renewed their vows for the last time on earth. As they awaited there turn to be executed they chanted the Laudate Dominum, the Salve Regina and the Magnificat.
The soldiers had no need to help Constance, the novice, up the steps of the scaffold, for she ran up the steps like a young bride eager to meet her bridegroom. She placed her head willingly on the block and was the first to die a martyr’s death. The two eldest sisters aged seventy-nine and seventy-eight had to be helped on to the scaffold. They thanked their executioners for their help and assured them of their prayers when they came into the presence of the Lord.
The Prioress was given the option of being the last to die. After she had encouraged each of her community and received their vows she knelt down and renewed her religious profession in a clear voice, kissed the statue of Our Lady as the others had done and handed it for safe keeping to a friend who years later returned it to the French Carmelites. With the heroic courage of the mother of the Macchabees she then mounted the scaffold chanting the Salve Regina until her voice was silenced on earth and began the eternal canticle in heaven. It was around 8 pm on a dark dull evening and soon the place was hushed in silence as darkness fell over Paris.
A Sign from Heaven
Later that evening the brother of one of the martyrs, Sr. Anne Pelleras, a notary, returned home. As he entered the dark hall he noticed a light shining on the wall, a light that followed him up the stairway. As he entered the room where his wife awaited him she asked what was the light that surrounded him. He turned round to see a bright globe that faded gradually. The next day, when he heard of the execution of his sister, he realized that she had been permitted to give this sign of her entry into glory.
The Roll of Honor
From existing documents and from the precious testimony of the three nuns who escaped martyrdom we can make an authentic list of the sixteen martyrs with their religious in the world:
Sr. Teresa of St. Augustine, Prioress (Lidoine)
Sr. St. Louis (Brideau)
Sr. Anne Marie (Piedcourt)
Sr. Charlotte (Thouret)
Sr. Euphrasia (Brard)
Sr. Henriette (de Croissy)
Sr. Teresa (Hanisset)
Sr. Teresa (Trezel)
Sr. Julia Louise (Neuville)
Sr. M. Henriette (Pelleras)
Sr. Constance (Meunier)
Sr. Mary (Roussel)
Sr. St. Martha (Dufour)
Sr. St Francis de Xavier (Verelot)
Sr. Catherine (Soiron)
Sr. Teresa (Soiron)
The bodies of the sixteen martyrs, along with their heads, were taken by carts during the night and thrown into the common pit in the Garden of Picpus, a former Franciscan monastery. Here with thousands of others, the martyrs of Compiegne found their last resting place. Later the area was surrounded by a wall and became the cemetery of Picpus. In time it was bought by a company formed by the relatives of the victims and handed back to the Church. Today marble plaques there carry the names of illustrious and noble families but none more glorious than the sixteen blessed women of Compiegne.
Escapee and Witness
When Sr. Mary of the Incarnation reached Doubs with her family she had no passport and found the frontiers blocked. It had taken her a month to make the long journey. She retraced her steps and arrived back at Besanson where she overheard in a small hotel where she stayed that her sixteen colleagues had been executed. She was still being sought after because of her royal connections and she sought refuge in the lower regions of the French Alps. Later on, when peace was restored, she returned to France and sought hospitality with the Carmelite nuns at Sens, but was never reinstated as a member of the community. She lived on until 1836 and her Memoirs plus the testimony of the other sisters who escaped death provided Fr. Bruno, O.C.D, the French Carmelite, with authentic documentary evidence which he used to the full in his book entitled Le sang Carmel, ou la veritable passion des seize Carmelites de Compiegne. (Paris 1954)
It is of interest to note that St. Therese of Lisieux helped with great zeal to prepare for the centenary celebration for the martyrs in 1894 when the Carmel of Lisieux supplied special decorations for the liturgical events. Madame Catez, mother of Elizabeth of the Trinity, of the Dijon Carmel, was present in Rome when Pope St. Pius X beatified the martyrs of Compiegne on May 13, 1906. Their feast has since been celebrated by the whole Carmelite Order and by the Archdiocese of Paris on the 17th, the day of their entry into glory.
More recently the sixteen blessed martyrs have attained unexpected publicity due to the literary work of Gertrude Von Le Fort (1931) in her novel entitled Song on the Scaffold. Gertrude was of Huguenot extraction, a close friend of Edith Stein and like her a convert to Catholicism. It is a pity that this novel departs considerably from historical truth and at times gravely distorts the true facts as Fr. Bruno is at pains to demonstrate.
The work of fiction however inspired Fr. R. Bruckberger to produce a film on the subject. In 1937 he entrusted the writing of the dialogue to the well-known writer George Bernanos. Ten years later Bernanos (1947-48) composed a literary work that death prevented him from perfecting. This work, Les Dialogues des Carmelites, met with enormous success when published in 1949.
Because of the success of the work of Bernanos, it was soon adapted by A. Beguin for theater and when staged encountered unexpected success. In 1957 Les Dialogues des Carmelites was set to music bt Francis Poulence and produced in La Scala, Milan, thus further extending the work of Bernanos. Finally in 1959 Fr. Bruckberger was able to realize his dream of putting the work on screen under the direction of Philip Agostini. Thus, in quite an unforeseen way, the epic story of the sixteen martyred daughters of St. Teresa was made kown to the whole world.
It is worth noting that within ten days of the execution of the Carmelites many of those who sat in judgment on them and had them condemned to death were themselves brought before a tribunakl and sentenced to death. On July 28th, the head of Robespierre rolled beneath the knife of the guillotine. Others like Foquier and Tinville met a similar fate in due course amid cries of “down with the tyrants, down with the murderers”
By the end of August the reign of the guillotine had come to an end. Can we doubt that the brave women of Compiegne had a hand in it? There is nobody so much alive as a dead saint. The death of the Carmelite community, which was so pointless, was by no means futile or in vain. Their victory is the victory of love over hatred. As Mother Teresa of St. Augustine was wont to say: “Love will al;ways be victorious. The one who loves can do everything.” The events which took place on July 17th, showed once again the insuperable power of the love of Christ.
Monday, July 06, 2009
virgin, Discalced Carmelite Nuns
Feastday: July 13
The young woman who is today glorified by the Church with the title of Saint, is a prophet of God for the men and women of today. By the example of her life, TERESA OF JESUS OF LOS ANDES shows us Christ's Gospel lived down to the last detail.
She is irrefutable proof that Christ's call to be Saints is indeed real, it happens in our time, and can be answered. She is presented to us to demonstrate that the total dedication that following Christ involves, is the one and only thing that is worth this effort and that gives us true happiness.
Teresa of Los Andes with the language of her ardent life, confirms for us that God exists, that God is love and happiness, and that he is our fulfilment.
She was born in Santiago de Chile on 13 July 1900. At the font she was christened Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts Fernandez Solar. Those who knew her closely called her Juanita, the name by which she is widely known today.
She had a normal upbringing surrounded by her family: her parents Miguel Fernandez and Lucia Solar, three brothers and two sisters, her maternal grandfather, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Her family were well-off and were faithful to their Christian faith, living it with faith and constancy.
Juana was educated in the college of the French nuns of the Sacred Heart. Her brief but intense life unfolded within her family and at college. When she was fourteen, under God's inspiration, she decided to consecrate herself to him as a religious in the Discalced Carmelite Nuns.
This desire of hers was realized on 7 May 1919, when she entered the tiny monastery of the Holy Spirit in the township of Los Andes, some 90 kilometers from Santiago.
She was clothed with the Carmelite habit 14 October the same year and began her novitiate with the name of Teresa of Jesus. She knew a long time before that she would die young. Moreover the Lord revealed this to her. A month before she was to depart this life, she related this to her confessor.
She accepted all this with happiness, serenity and confidence. She was certain that her mission to make God known and loved would continue in eternity.
After many interior trials and indescribable physical suffering caused by a violent attack of typhus that cut short her life, she passed from this world to her heavenly Father on the evening of 12 April 1920. She received the last sacraments with the utmost fervour, and on 7 April, because of danger of death, she made her religious profession. She was three months short of her 20th birthday, and had yet 6 months to complete her canonical novitiate and to be legally able to make her religious profession. She died as a Discalced Carmelite novice.
Externally this is all there is to this young girl from Santiago de Chile. It is all rather disconcerting and a great question arises in us, "What was accomplished?" The answer to such a question is equally disconcerting: living, believing, loving.
When the disciples asked Jesus what they must do to carry out God's work, he replied, "This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the one he has sent." (Jn 6, 28-29). For this reason, in order to recognize the value of Juanita's fife, it is necessary to examine the substance within, where the Kingdom of God is to be found.
She wakened to the life of grace while still quite young. She affirms that God drew her at the age of six to begin to spare no effort in directing her capacity to love totally towards him. "It was shortly after the 1906 earthquake that Jesus began to claim my heart for himself." (Diary n. 3, p. 26).
Juanita possessed an enormous capacity to love and to be loved joined with an extraordinary intelligence. God allowed her to experience his presence. With this knowledge he purified her and made her his own through what it entails to take up the cross. Knowing him, she loved him; and loving him, she bound herself totally to him.
Once this child understood that love demonstrates itself in deeds rather than words, the result was that she expressed her love through every action of her life. She examined herself sincerely and wisely and understood that in order to belong to God it was necessary to die to herself in all that did not belong to him.
Her natural inclinations were completely contrary to the demands of the Gospel. She was proud, self-centred, stubborn, with all the defects that these things suppose, as is the common lot. But where she differed from the general run, was to carry out continual warfare on every impulse that did not arise from love.
At the age of ten she became a new person. What lay immediately behind this was the fact that she was going to make her first Communion. Understanding that nobody less that God was going to dwell within her, she set about acquiring all the virtues that would make her less unworthy of this grace. In the shortest possible time she managed to transform her character completely.
In making her first Communion she received from God the mystical grace of interior locutions, which from then on supported her throughout her fife. God took over her natural inclinations, transforming them from that day into friendship and a fife of prayer.
Four years later she received an interior revelation that shaped the direction of her life. Jesus told her that she would be a Carmelite and that holiness must be her goal.
With God's abundant grace and the generosity of a young girl in love, she gave herself over to prayer, to the acquiring of virtue and the practice of a life in accord with the Gospel. Such were her efforts that in a few short years she reached a high degree of union with God.
Christ was the one and only ideal she had. She was in love with him and ready each moment to crucify herself for him. A bridal love pervaded her with the result that she desired to unite herself fully to him who had captivated her. As a result, at the age of fifteen she made a vow of virginity for 9 days, continually renewing it from then on.
The holiness of her life shone out in the everyday occurrences, wherever she found herself: at home, in college, with friends, the people she stayed with on holidays. To all, with apostolic zeal, she spoke of God and gave assistance. She was young like her friends, but they knew she was different. They took her as a model, seeking her support and advice. All the pains that are part of living, Juanita felt keenly, and the happiness she enjoyed deeply, all in God.
She was cheerful, happy, sympathetic, attractive, communicative and involved in sport. During her adolescence she reached perfect psychic and spiritual equilibrium. These were the fruit of her asceticism and prayer. The serenity of her face was a reflection of the divine guest within. Her life as a nun, from 7 May 1919, was the last rung on the ladder to holiness. Only eleven months were necessary to bring to an end the process of making her life totally Christ-like.
Her community was quick to discover the hand of God in her past life. The young novice found in the Carmelite way of life the full and efficient channel for spreading the torrent of life that she wanted to give to the Church of Christ. It was a way of life that, in her own way, she had lived amongst her own and for which she was born. The Order of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel fulfilled the desires of Juanita. It was proof to her that God's mother, whom she had loved from infancy, had drawn her to be part of it.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago de Chile on 3 April 1987. Her remains are venerated in the Sanctuary of Auco-Rinconada of Los Andes by the thousands of pilgrims who seek in her and find guidance, light and a direct way to God.
SAINT TERESA OF JESUS OF LOS ANDES is the first Chilean to be declared a Saint. She is the first Discalced Carmelite Nun to become a Saint outside the boundaries of Europe and the fourth Saint Teresa in Carmel together with Saints Teresa of Avila, of Florence and of Lisieux.
Promulgation of the Decree of the Congregation for Causes of Saintsconcerning the miracle attributed to Venerable Angelo Paoli
On 3rd July 2009, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, received in a private audience the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Archbishop Angelo Amato, SDB. During the course of the audience the Holy Father authorized the Congregation to promulgate the Decree concerning a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Angelo Paoli, (1642-1720), Italian national and Professed Priest of our Order.
The Holy See, in consultation with the Order and the Bishops concerned, will set a date and a place for the Beatification.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
The founding members of the TOC community
Baliuag TOCs together with the relics of Carmelite saints including the relic of Bl. Maria Sagrario
The members of the Bl. Maria Sagrario de San Luis Gonzaga TOC Community together with Rev. Fr. Fernando David and the Bulacan TOCs
Note: With the founding of this community, the Lay Carmelite Province of Saint Joseph is now composed of Bulacan and Pampanga.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Joan was born at Reggio Emilia in 1428; her parents were Simon and Catherine. We know little of her early years: she had two sisters, whom she helped to get married, and a brother. Joan herself obtained the permission of her parents to become a Carmelite mantellate, a semi-religious who lived at home. After her parents had died, she joined a lady of modest means, but of great piety, who was thinking of building a monastery.
Joan took on the task of looking for a suitable place, when a widow offered herself, two daughters, and her home. They lived together from 1480 until 1484; meanwhile Joan was looking for another place that could serve as a monastery. Two other young girls had already joined them, one in 1458 and the other in 1476. Joan set her eyes on the church of St. Bernard, which belonged to the Humiliati friars; with the support of the bishop, Philip Zoboli, she obtained it from the friars' general on his way through Reggio. The beginnings of the new monastery date from 1485, with the name changed from that of St. Bernard to that of St. Mary of the People (afterwards called of the White Sisters). The inevitable financial difficulties at the beginning were surmounted through the help of a certain Christopher Zoboli. Under Joan's direction more than twenty religious made up the new community, which was entrusted to the care of the Mantuan Congregation of Carmelites and for which the Carmelites provided a confessor in 1487.
God gifted Joan with extraordinary charisms. She herself fostered a deep Marian piety (she venerated the Blessed Virgin with a special «devotion» of her own, called the Tunic of Our Lady /mainly a frequent repetition of «Hail Marys»/) and was animated by an intense spirit of penance. She died on July 9, 1491; her cult began the following year, with the exhumation of her body. In 1500 a public judgment was passed on her life, her virtues and her miracles. During the years 1767-70 the diocesan process for the recognition of cult was held, which met with the approval of Pope Clement XIV on Aug. 24, 1771. After the suppression of the monastery and of the church of the Carmelite nuns in 1797, the body of the blessed was transferred to the cathedral in the year 1803