Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux on Death and Dying

As we approach All Saints Day and All Souls Day, our thoughts turn to the topic of “Death & Dying.” Many people try to avoid thinking about that topic, as it brings on feelings of anxiety…or gloom…or fear. The fact of the matter is, we gain much wisdom by pondering death during our life. As the old saying goes: “The art of living well is in knowing how to die well.” What is death? How does one prepare for death? How do we confront our fear of death? St. Therese of Lisieux was confronted with death early in her life, from hearing about and seeing death all around her and especially in the death of her own mother when she was only 4 ½ years old. These occasions, rather than causing her to flee from the subject, enticed her throughout her life to ponder them deeply and seek the treasures of wisdom hidden therein. Yes, St. Therese had her own fears to confront. She confronted the meaning of death. She grasped the seed of faith in her belief in Heaven, beyond even her feelings. God allowed her to be purified especially in the last 18 months of her life. Her faith and embrace of God’s will and plan for her life surged forward in an ever- deeper surrender and abandonment to God. St. Therese shares her wisdom with us on this all-important topic which will help us today to prepare for that final day of this exile.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES:

Scripture:  1 Thes. 5:2; 1 Cor 2:9; Ps. 23:4;

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  #1016

Article:
“The Most Insightful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Death” by Catherine Birri, http://www.coraevans.com/blog/article/the-most-insightful-st.-therese-of-lisieux-quotes-on-death

Books: “Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Study Edition, Trans. by John Clarke, OCD; Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Living on Love!…” and “What I’ll Soon See for the First Time!…” found in “The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Trans. by Donald Kenney, OCD; ICS Publications.

“The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux and Those Who Knew Her: General Correspondence, Vol. 2,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

“St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Beginning the Journey of Sainthood

It is not everyday that we get a new Carmelite Saint, but it happened again on 16 October of 2016 when the Church Canonized Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. In this conversation Mark and Frances discuss the importance of St. Elizabeth’s Canonization, her primary message of Silence, Solitude and Prayer, and what this message might mean for the Church and the world at this time in history. It is always helpful to place a Saint in the context of both their individual experiences in life, and also the time in which they lived. This conversation then begins by identifying some of the earliest stories of young Elizabeth’s life, and also by looking at the political and social forces which were influencing her native France during the later part of the 19th and early part of the 20th Century. One of the most important theme’s in Elizabeth’s spirituality is her own understanding of her role as Co-Redemptrix, one who would willingly participate in the Redemptive work of her Spouse Jesus Christ. Indeed, one of Elizabeth’s favorite descriptions of herself was as the Bride of Christ. Her explanation of this title, and its impact on her understanding of her mission serve as important lenses into our understanding of her pursuit of sanctity and her path toward Union with Christ. Finally, as with all Saints, we want to view their lives so that we can gain some deeper understanding for ourselves how we might be guided and directed along our own spiritual journey. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity’s life then provides us with some very practical and valuable lessons. She is a wonderful example especially for those of us who are trying to live out our call to holiness in the midst of the world, as that was precisely what she did even before she entered Carmel.

Listen to or download the podcast. 

RESOURCES:

Books: “Elizabeth of the Trinity: A Life of Praise to God” by Sr. Giovanna Della Croce, OCD; Translated by Julie Enzler; Sophia Institute Press.

“The Complete Works: Elizabeth of the Trinity, Vol. One,” by Elizabeth of the Trinity; Translated by Sister Aletheia Kane, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Your Presence is My Joy: Life and Message of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity” by Conrad De Meester, OCD; Translated and Printed at Darlington Carmel.

Scripture:  Romans 12:1

Articles: “The Life and Ministry of Carmelite Mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity” by Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction; http://catholicexchange.com/life-ministry-french-carmelite-mystic-elizabeth-trinity?mc_cid=642cfebe82&mc_eid=004d986b37

“Who is Elisabeth of the Trinity – Our Newest Saints?” by Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction; http://catholicexchange.com/elisabeth-trinity-newest-saint?mc_cid=642cfebe82&mc_eid=004d986b37

Intimate Friendship with Jesus Christ—from the Perspective of St. Teresa of Avila

It was through the lens of intimate friendship with Jesus Christ that the many foundations of St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) were begun. In her book, “The Way of Perfection,” she wrote: “All my longing was and still is that since He {Jesus} has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones. As a result, I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same.” Her life was a witness and testimony to this intimate friendship with Jesus. We must be diligent in seeking the Lord and answering “His Call.” St. Teresa counsels us on how to develop this relationship: “Represent the Lord Himself as close to you and behold how lovingly and humbly He is teaching you. Believe me, you should remain with so good a friend as long as you can. If you grow accustomed to having Him present at your side, and He sees that you do so with love and that you go about striving to please Him, He will never fail you. He will help you in all your trials; you will find Him everywhere.” (“The Way of Perfection 23.2; 26.1). It is through a frequent, intimate conversation in prayer and in the sacraments, that we can more easily grown in our union with Jesus. In this program, Mark and Frances discuss the importance of developing this friendship with Christ through the life and counsel of our Mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila).

Listen to or download the podcast. 

RESOURCES:
Scripture:  1 Jn 4:17-19; Jn 15:13; Jn 14-15

Articles: “Springtime of Faith Conference: The Toolbox of Pope Benedict,” Nashville. http://www.springtimeoffaith.org/images/Springtime%20of%20Faith%20ConferenceThe%20Toolbox%20of%20Pope%20Benedict%202010.pdf

“Christ in the Mysticism of St. Teresa” by Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD. http://www.angelfire.com/ca5/stjoseph/formdocs/christ_by_kieran.htm

“Teresa of Avila and Friendship” by Susan B. Cordsen; http://nebula.wsimg.com/d072ccd7a633bf3fe455a1d59188b38e?AccessKeyId=BEEADDF369000DCF3CC9&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Books: “Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. 1,2 and 3, ‘ The Book of Her Life,’ ‘The Way of Perfection,’ and ‘Interior Castle’” trans. by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.

“15 Days of Prayer with Saint Teresa of Aivla” by Jean Abiven; Liguori.

“Let Nothing Trouble You: 60 Reflections from the Writings of St. Teresa of Avila,” Compiled by Heidi S. Hess; Servant Publications.

“Friendship with Christ: Love and Service” by Sister Mary of Jesus and St. Joseph, OCD; Carmel, Schenectady, New York, 1972.

Joy in Suffering

There is perhaps no greater challenge for those of us who are pursuing the spiritual life then that apparent dichotomy of pain and joy. St. Paul tells us that we must, like him, be a person of joy, and in fact, we should expect to experience joy even in our most difficult times. In this compelling conversation on the top of suffering and joy, Mark and Frances share some insights from one of the most well known and popular Saints of the 20th Century, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In her journals, which were only published after her death, the Church was provided a very unique view into the inner life of a future Saint. What was both remarkable and perhaps surprising for many people, was how Mother Teresa’s life was a challenging combination of both suffering and joy. Through her wisdom and also the wisdom and insight of our Carmelite Saints, Frances and Mark share important insights on how all of us can deal with this apparent contradictory experiences of suffering and joy along the spiritual journey. In addition, they support these insights with very specific verses from sacred scripture, which point out that these two opposites are in fact very much a part of the Christian process of growing in the likeness of Christ.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES:

Books:
“Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” Edited and with Commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC; Doubleday.
“I Thirst: Saint Theres of Lisieux and Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” by Jacques Gauthier; St. Pauls.
“Love of the Cross: A Meditation” from the book, “The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts” from the Collected Works of Edith Stein, Ed.ted by Dr. L. Gelber and Michael Linssen, OCD and Translated by Waltraut Stein, PhD; ICS Publications.
“Science of the Cross” by Edith Stein; ICS Publications.

Booklet:
“Joy in Suffering According to St. Therese of the Child Jesus: A Novena,” by Bishop A. A. Noser, S.V.D., D.D.; Tan Books and Publishers.

Apostolic Letter:
“Salvifici Doloris” (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”) by Pope John Paul II; Pauline Books and Media.
Scripture: Col. 1:24, Jn 15: 10-11; Mt. 22:37, 39-40; 1 Pt 1:8; 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18.

The Sign of the Cross

Think about one of the most common acts you perform every day as a Christian, the Sign of the Cross. Now ask yourself whether you truly understand the meaning of this sacramental act, or what it signifies to us Christians. In this program Mark and Frances begin by providing a history of the development of Sign of the Cross. Next they discuss the three most significant meanings expressed within this sign. Much of the material for this conversation is taken from a book written by Saint Francis de Sales, which was intended to specifically defend both the use of the sign, and also provide some insight into the real power of the Sign of the Cross. As with so many of the acts of devotion we Catholics use every day, it is important for us to understand the fuller meaning and power associated with the signs of our Faith. This particular program will hopefully provide you with some of the deeper insight and understanding that will allow you to look at the Sign of the Cross in a much more meaningful way. And, it might also cause you to gain a much deeper appreciation and reverence the next time you begin to make the Sign of the Cross.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES

Books:
“The Sign of the Cross: The Fifteen Most Powerful Words in the English Language” by St. Francis de Sales; Sophia Institute Press.
“The Sign of the Cross in the Nineteenth Century” by Mgr. Jean-Joseph Gaume; Loreto Publications.
“Fire from Above: Christian Contemplation and Mystical Wisdom” by Dr. Anthony L. Lilles; Sophia Institute Press.
“Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: A Theological Contemplation on Prayer” by Anthony Lilles; Discerning Hearts.
Catechism of the Catholic Church: CCC #1131, CCC #1670

Beginning Eucharistic Adoration with Guests: Teresa Gooding and Marika Zimmerman

What can you do to fight the suffocating plague of indifference and immorality? Eucharist Adoration!! Guests Teresa Gooding and Marika Zimmerman share the details on how to get started. What is Eucharistic Adoration and how does one go about doing this? What if your parish doesn’t have Eucharistic Adoration? How would you go about setting it up? What do the Popes say about spending time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? What did some of our Carmelite Saints think about it? There are many reasons to begin Eucharistic Adoration, not the least coming from Scripture. The benefits pay off in Heavenly dividends! It’s good to start developing a love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in our young people today, to help them become spiritually strong and virtuous.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES:

Scripture passages:
Lk. 24:29, Mt. 28:20, Jn 6:51, Jn 6:40, Jn 15:4, Mt. 26:40, Mt. 11:28, and 1 Pt 5:7

Catechism of the Catholic Church: CCC #2096, #2628

Books:
“Bread of Heaven: A Treasury of Carmelite Prayers and Devotions on the Eucharist” Compiled by Penny Hickey, OCDS; Christian Classics.
“Eucharistic Colloquies” by Mother Maria Candida of the Eucharist, Discalced Carmelite (1884-1949); Edizioni Feeria – Edizioni OCD.
“7 Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn; MercySong Ignatius.
“Manual for Eucharistic Adoration” by the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration; Tan Books.
“Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration” by Elizabeth Ficocelli; Paulist Press.
“20 Holy Hours” by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey SS.CC.; St. Paul Books and Media.

Articles:
“John Paul II and the Blessed Sacrament” by Jason Evert.
“The Spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila Applied to the Five Marks of the Norbertine Order”
“The History of Eucharistic Adoration: Development of Doctrine in the Catholic Church” by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Encyclicals:
“Mane Nobiscum Domine” (“Stay with us Lord”) by Pope John Paul II, 2004.
“Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (“The Church from the Eucharist”) by Pope John Paul II, 2003.
“Dominicae Cenae” (“The Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist”) by Pope John Paul II, 1980.
“Mysterium Fidei” (“The Mystery of Faith”) by Pope Paul VI, 1965.
“Mirae Caritatis” (“Mirror of Charity”) by Pope Leo XIII, 1902.

Websites:
www.catholicnewsagency.com for article on “24 Reasons for Spending a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament”

benefits_of_holy_hour.pdf for article on “Over 100 Benefits of Eucharistic Adoration”

www.usccb.org “The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.”

eucharistic-devotion on Eucharistic Devotion and Holy Hours.

perpetual-expositon-of-the-blessed-sacrament.cfm on Perpetual Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

www.therealpresence.org on the Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration

Purity of Heart: a Spiritual Perspective

We so often hear the phrase, ‘Purity of Heart’ but what does this actually mean. More importantly, what does it mean in a spiritual context. Many people rightly believe the definition includes such characteristics as keeping our thoughts pure or keeping our bodies chaste, and this is certainly true, but neither of these elements go far enough. According to the Danish philosopher, Soren Kiergegaard, in a book by this very title, “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.” Scripture would seem to support Kierkegaard’s argument when it tells us to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God.’ In other words, the first and most important thing in our life must be the pursuit of God and His Kingdom, and this is exactly what Kierkegaard argues for in his book. The entire text is basically an assault on what Kierkegaard calls ‘Double-Mindedness’ or the propensity of individuals to attempt to balance their pursuit of the Good, (which Christ Himself tells us is God) with their individual desires for the things of this world. According to Kierkegaard there can be no such balance. Instead, he argues, everything else must be subordinated to our pursuit of the only thing that can bring us ultimate fulfillment. Mark and Frances draw extensively from the writings of Kierkegaard for this important conversation, but then they go on to incorporate and validate his argument with quotes from some of the great Saints of Carmel. If you are looking for the reasons of so many of the apparent discontinuity in your life, and the remedy for these disconnects, then this is the program to listen to.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES:

Magazine:
“Magnificat,” August 2016; Yonkers, NY.

Book:
“Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing” by Soren Kierkegaard; Harper & Brothers.

“The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross: ‘Ascent to Mt. Carmel’” by John of the Cross; Trans. by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.

“The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, Vol. 1: Major Spiritual Writings; ‘Heaven in Faith,’ by Elizabeth of the Trinity; Trans. by Aletheia Kane, OCD; ICS Publications.

Article:
“Commentary On Kierkegaard” by D. Anthony Storm found at sorenkierkegaard.org

Scripture:
Mt 5:8, Mt. 19:17, Mt. 6:33, Rom. 3:23, Phil. 4:6-8

“How to Introduce Contemplative Prayer to Children” With Guest: Colleen Sollinger, OCDS

Parents have a very important obligation to teach their children how to pray. Secular Discalced Carmelite, Colleen Sollinger, has much to share with us on this topic. She is a mother of 6 and has homeschooled all of them. 2 of the 6 are in college now. She is also a formatter for the OCDS Community in Dayton. She shares tips on how to set the stage for prayer, providing opportunities for children to pray, and ways to make it personal and relative to their lives. She also gives ideas on how to appeal to your child’s own personality. Many resources are given to help in this most important journey to God through prayer.

Listen to or download the podcast.

RESOURCES:

BOOKS:
“A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child” by Connie Rossini; Four Waters Press.
“Loyola Kids Book of Saints” by Amy Welborn; Loyola Press.
“A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations,” by Joanna Bogle; Gracewing Press.
“Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types,” by Chester P. Michael and Marie C. Norrisey; The Open Door, Inc.
“Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” translated by John Clarke OCD; ICS Publications.

WEBSITES:
In the Heart of My Home
elizabethfoss.com

Catholic All Year
catholicallyear.com

“Catholic Apps” with guests, Jennifer Kane, OCDS and Tim Bete, OCDS

People have access to an amazing amount of technology thru their computers, tablets, and smartphones. How can this technology be used to help us grow in our spiritual life? How can it help us grow in prayer? How can we use it so it enhances our growth rather than becoming a distraction? How can it help those with a vocation to the Carmelites? CatholicApptitude.org Founder, Jennifer Kane has much to share with us. Tim Bete, techno guru, helps Carmelite Conversations’ host, Frances, interview Jennifer to get all the newest scoops and best advice on Catholic Apps.

Listen to or download the podcast

Resources:

www.CatholicApptitude.org

Scripture:
The Catholic Apptitude website/apostolate is based on Mark 4:1-2.
Catholic Apptitude is also influenced by Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Communications Day, Communication and Mercy: a Fruitful Encounter (2016).
In this light, Jennifer Kane (founder of CatholicApptitude.org) sees Catholics apps as developers (via software) communicating with users in a nonjudgmental way. Think about it. This software doesn’t presume anything about the user nor does it make judgments. The user doesn’t sense this even in the examination of conscience section of a confession app! Catholic apps are “welcoming” almost by nature. So many of them are specifically designed to “accompany” the user in his/her spiritual journey, as Francis recommends.

Book:
“Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD; Tan Books

“Humility: the Bedrock of Prayer and Spiritual Growth,” Part Three

The conversation on humility continues in this 3rd program of 3. Why is “humility” such an important virtue among all the other virtues? What does a humble soul really look like? What characteristics does a truly humble soul have? What can help motivate us to want to grow in humility? How can we conquer our natural and sinful inclinations so as to grow in humility? What are some images that serve as models of humility to motivate us? What are the rewards of humility? Finally, what are the famous 12 Steps (or Degrees) of Humility?

Listen to or download the podcast.

Resources:

Scripture:
Mt. 11:29

Articles Online:
“Treatise on Humility” by Pope Leo XIII
“Humility: 30 Short Meditations” by Fr. Richard F. Clarke, SJ.

Books:
“Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD; Tan Books.
“The Way of Transformation” by Fr. Mark O’Keefe, O.S.B.; ICS Publications.
“Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Teresian Gospel” by Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; Darlington Carmel.
“Thoughts: Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified” by Rev. D. Buzy, S.C.J.; Carmel of Bethlehem.
“The Steps of Humility & Pride” by Bernard of Clairvaux; Cistercian Publications.
“Humble Pie: St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility” by Carol Bonomo; Morehouse Publishing.
“Humility: Wellspring of Virtue” by Dietrich von Hildebrand; Sophia Institute Press.