Monday, June 25, 2012

Correction on Carmelite Saints of Guadalajara, thoughts on defending religious freedom

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Dear Ones-

As I was pulling up information on more recent martyrs and defenders of the faith in connection with our current Fortnight for Freedom, I came across more information concerning the martyrs I spoke of in connection with the movie For Greater Glory and the Mexican persecution of the 1920's. I realized that I had the wrong Guadalajara in mind! These martyrs were from Spain. The information relating to this is as follows:

Spanish Martyrs (1936-1939): After the Spanish Civil War broke out on July 18, 1936 the Church suffered one of the fiercest persecutions of her history. The number of Catholic victims under the Spanish Republic included: 13 bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 male religious, 283 nuns, and thousands of ordinary faithful. John Paul II beatified the first Spanish martyrs, three Carmelite nuns from Guadalajara, in 1987. In the following years, up until May 1998, another 231 Spanish martyrs were raised to the altars by John Paul II. Still other beatification causes for martyrs of the Spanish Civil War are underway in the dioceses of Madrid and Valencia.

My apologies for this confusion on my part.  I think many of us are pondering the price that so many Catholics have paid throughout history to defend their religious beliefs and the right to freedom of conscience, which the US bishops have asked us to pray for during this special time of the Fortnight for Freedom.  There are so many inspirational figures that truly move me in considering the union of love that these men and women had for the Crucified Christ and for their fellow neighbors as they bravely gave their lives to defend their Catholic faith.  Amongst these are three Carmelites of interest: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Fr. Jacques Bunel (Père Jacques de Jésus ), and Blessed Titus Brandsma (O'Carm). 

I would like to share the inspiring story of perhaps one of the lesser known Carmelites of the past century. His name is Père Jacques de Jésus (1900-1945).

Lucien Bunel was born in France on January 29th, 1900 and was ordained a priest in July, 1925. As a diocesan priest Lucien gained a reputation as a fine preacher and teacher. Kind, generous, hard working, and self-giving, his students called him "il santo".

Two and a half years after his ordination, Father Lucien contracted typhoid fever. During his convalescence, he felt an attraction to monastic life and realized his independent spirit needed a strict Rule of life. His friendship with a community of Carmelite Nuns, and inspired by the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, Lucien decided to enter Carmel.

In 1931 entered the Discalced Carmelite Father and became known as Jacques de Jesus. In time he was appointed director of a progressive boys' school at Fortainebleau.

Angered at Nazi policies, Père Jacques made the boys’ school in Avon, France, a refuge for young men seeking to avoid conscription for forced labor in Germany and for Jews. In January 1943, he enrolled three Jewish boys - Hans-Helmut Michel, Jacques-France Halpern, and Maurice Schlosser - as students under false names. He also hid a fourth Jewish boy, Maurice Bas, as a worker at the school; sheltered Schlosser's father with a local villager; and placed the noted Jewish botanist, Lucien Weil, on the school’s faculty.

Informed of the Carmelite friar’s activities, the Gestapo seized Père Jacques and the three Jewish students on January 15, 1944. Weil, his mother, and sister were arrested at their home that same day. On February 3, 1944, German authorities deported the boys and the Weil family to Auschwitz, where they perished. Père Jacques was imprisoned in four of the most dreaded Nazi camps.  After long days of forced labor, he continued his priestly ministry preaching of God's love and mercy. He gave away not only any extra food but the small allotted portions. He was ever mindful of those more needy than he.  After the liberation of the prisoners of Mathausen in 1945, he gave up his seat in a transport truck and walked three miles to the nearest hospital.  Three days later, suffering from tuberculosis and weighing only 75 pounds, worn out from his imprisonment, Pere Jacques died.
In 1985 the Israeli Holocaust remembrance center, Yad Vashem, posthumously honored Père Jacques as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations." Two years later, French filmmaker Louis Malle paid tribute to his former headmaster in the film, "Au revoir les enfants."

The cause for Père Jacques's beatificatroin is still open.  I leave you with the following beautiful quotes that he left us with to inspire us to always do the will of God regardless of the price, and to protect the rights and dignities of all when the state is in direct opposition to the truth that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and possess a natural right to exercise our religious freedoms which include freedom of conscience in all spheres of life. 

When asked why he had disobeyed the laws against sheltering Jews,
"I know of only one law, that of the gospels and of love."

Other quotes:

  • "We cannot hear the voice of God, who speaks without words, except in silence."
  • "Our life must be a constant, silent prayer that rises unceasingly to God. That is what constitutes our duty in life."
  • We cannot see Christ and remain as we are. We cannot exchange a look with Christ and not be overcome with a total conversion.Closing Quote (See for more information).

  • Other sources used:

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Fr. Doug's Homily on Love and Mercy

    JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ!

    Now and Forever!

    Dear Ones -

    Fr. Doug gave an inspiring homily on the pure love of Jesus and Mary as we commemorated their feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. Please enjoy a recording of this below, and let us incorporate this pure love each day into our own lives. Amen.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Grow closer to Our Eucharistic King with Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist

    JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
    Maria Candida dell'Eucaristia (1884-1949)
    Maria Candida dell'Eucaristia (1884-1949)

    It is no conincidence in the divine economy, that Bl. Maria Candida's Memorial is celebrated very close to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. She had a deep reverence and love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and found all of her spiritual strength and unitive prayer tied to this most holy of Sacraments, the very summit of our Catholic faith. I wish to share with you the homily preached by Bl. Pope John Paul II at her beatification, and additional information provided by the Vatican website. May it inspire you and strengthen you on your journey! 

    Background Information:
    Maria Barba’s family home was in Palermo, Sicily. However, Pietro Barba’s work as a Judge in the Appeal Court took the family briefly to Catanzaro in Italy and it was there that Maria Barba was born on the 16th January 1884. The deeply-religious family returned to Palermo when she was two years old.

    From the age of fifteen Maria felt called to Religious Life but her family strongly opposed this; she had to wait for twenty years before she could fulfill her calling. During these years of waiting she suffered interiorly but showed a remarkable strength of spirit and fidelity to her calling, unusual in one so young. Her trials were to last until she entered the Teresian Carmel, Ragusa, on 25th September 1919. During this time she was sustained by a special devotion to the Eucharist, in which she saw the mystery of the sacramental presence of God in the world, the concrete symbol of His infinite love of humanity, and the reason for our trust in His promises.

    Her love for the Eucharist was evident from the very beginning. “When I was still a child she testified, and before I was old enough to receive Jesus in Communion, I used to rush to the front door to greet my mother when she returned from Mass. There I stood on tiptoe to reach up to her and cried, “I want God too!” My mother would bend down and softly breathe on my lips; I immediately left her, and placing my hands across my chest, full of joy and faith, jumping for joy I would keep repeating: “I have received God too! I have received God too!” These are signs of a vocation, for one who is called by God’s free and gratuitous will as a gift for the Church.

    From the age of ten, when she made her First Holy Communion, her great joy was to be able to receive Communion. From then on, to be deprived of Holy Communion was for her ’a great and painful cross’. In fact, after the death of her mother in 1914 , she could only rarely receive Communion, so as to not offend her brothers who would not allow her to go out on her own.

    Maria entered Carmel and took the name Maria Candida of the Eucharist, which in certain aspects was prophetic. She said that she wanted “to keep Jesus company in the Eucharist for as long as possible.” She prolonged the time of her adoration, especially every Thursday, when from eleven to midnight she would be before the tabernacle. The Eucharist really dominated her entire spiritual life, not so much for the devotion, as for the fundamental effect it had on her spiritual relationship with God. It was the Eucharist that gave her the strength to consecrate herself as a victim to God on 1st November 1927.

    Maria Candida fully developed what she herself was to describe as her ’vocation for the Eucharist’, helped by Carmelite spirituality, to which she was attracted after reading Story of a Soul. The pages in which St Teresa of Avila describes her own particular devotion to the Eucharist are well known. It was in the Eucharist that the saintly Foundress experienced the mystery of the humanity of Christ.

    In 1924 Sr Candida was elected Prioress, a position in which she was to remain, except for a brief period, until 1947. She established in her community a profound love for the Rule of St Teresa of Jesus. She was directly responsible for the expansion of Carmel in Sicily, making a new foundation in Syracuse and helping to secure the return of the male branch of the Order.

    On the Feast of Corpus Christi during the Holy Year of 1933, Mother Candida began to write what was to become her little masterpiece, entitled The Eucharist, “true jewel of eucharistic spirituality”. It is a long and profound meditation on the Eucharist, which had as its goal a record of her own personal experiences and her deepening theological reflections on those same experiences.

    She saw all the dimensions of Christian life summed up in the Eucharist. Firstly, Faith: “O my Beloved Sacrament, I see you, I believe in you!... O Holy Faith. Contemplate with ever greater faith our Dear Lord in the Sacrament: live with Him who comes to us every day”. Secondly, Hope: “O My Divine Eucharist, my dear Hope, all our hope is in You... Ever since I was a baby my hope in the Holy Eucharist has been strong”. Thirdly, Charity: “My Jesus, how I love You! There is within my heart an enormous love for You, O Sacramental Love...How great is the love of God made bread for our souls, who become a prisoner for me!”

    As Prioress, Mother Candida, acquired from the Eucharist a deep understanding of the three religious vows which can be seen in a life that is intensely eucharistic. Not only their full expression but also a concrete way of living, a kind of deep asceticism and a progressive conformity to the only model of every person’s consecration, Jesus Christ who died and rose again for us: “Which hymn would we not sing in obedience to this Divine Sacrament? And what is the obedience of Jesus of Nazareth compared with His obedience in this Sacrament for two thousand years?” “After having taught me obedience how much He talks to me, instructs me in Poverty, O Sacred Host! Who is more naked, poorer than You...You have nothing, You ask for nothing!...O Jesus, let religious souls long for sincere detachment and poverty!” “If You speak to me of obedience and poverty..., what a spell of purity You have over me just by Your glance. Lord, if Your home is in pure souls, who is the soul that relating with You does not become such?” From this came my goal: “I want to be close to You through purity and love”.

    The model of a eucharistic life is, of course, the Virgin Mary, who carried the Son of God in her womb and who continues to give birth to him in the souls of his disciples. “I want to be like Mary,” she wrote in one of the most intense and profound pages of The Eucharist, “to be Mary for Jesus, to take the place of His Mother. When I receive Jesus in Communion Mary is always present. I want to receive Jesus from her hands, she must make me one with Him. I cannot separate Mary from Jesus. Hail, O Body born of Mary. Hail Mary, dawn of the Eucharist!”

    For Mother Maria Candida the Eucharist is a school, it is food and an encounter with God, a coming together of hearts, a school of virtue and wisdom. “Heaven itself does not contain more. God, that unique treasure is here! Really, yes really: my God is my everything”. “I ask my Jesus to be a guardian of all the tabernacles of the world, until the end of time”.

    After she endured months of painful suffering, the Lord called Mother Maria Candida to Himself on the 12th June 1949. It was the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

    From Bl. John Paul's Homily:

    Maria Barba became a "new creature" who offered her entire life to God in Carmel, where she received the name Maria Candida of the Eucharist. She was an authentic mystic of the Eucharist; she made it the unifying centre of her entire life, following the Carmelite tradition and particularly the examples of St Teresa of Jesus and of St John of the Cross.

    She fell so deeply in love with the Eucharistic Jesus that she felt a constant, burning desire to be a tireless apostle of the Eucharist. I am sure that Bl. Maria Candida is continuing to help the Church from Heaven, to assure the growth of her sense of wonder at and love for this supreme Mystery of our faith.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Happy Feast Day of Bl. Anne of St. Bartholomew!

    JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

    Blessed Ann of Saint Bartholomew, 1549 – 1626
    Shepherdess in her youth. Lay Carmelite at age 20 under the direction of Saint Teresa of Avila. Secretary to and close friend of Saint Teresa; Teresa died in Anne’s arms. Worked on the Carmelite reform in France. Prioress at Tours and Pontoise. Founded the Carmelite house in Antwerp in 1612. Wrote poetry, some of which has survived to today. Born: 1 October 1549 at Almeneral, Spain as Anne Garcia Died: 7 June 1626 at Antwerp, Belgium

    Bl. Anne was the Secretary and travelling companion of St. Teresa of Avila, who died in her arms. She received many spiritual and mystical graces from a young age, and would later bring the Teresian Carmel to France and Antwerp.  

    She overcame many obstacles to join Carmel. Once she arrived, she entered a darkness of the soul that left her confused and alone. She relates,

    “Scarcely had I passed a few days in the Monastery of St. Joseph than it pleased our Lord to hid Himself from me and leave me in darkness. My desolation was great. I said to this Adorable Master: “how is this? Why have you abandoned me? If I did not know you, I would think you had deceived me, and if I had known you would go away I would not have come to the monastery.”
    This abandonment lasted ruing the entire year of novitiate. At the end of the year I entered one day the hermitage of Christ at the Pillar to pray. Scarcely had I knelt down than I became supernaturally recollected, and our Lord appeared to me fastened to the cross. The first words He addressed to me were in reply to a desire I had to know whether the thirst He experienced on the cross was a natural thirst. he said to me: “my thirst was only a thirst for souls. From henceforth you must apply yourself to the consideration of this truth, and you must walk in a different path from that you have followed until now.” As if He has said to me, “child, no longer seek Me.” He then caused me to see all virtues in their perfection; they were exquisitely beautiful. I was the more impressed when I realized how far I was from their beauty and perfection. After having favored me with this light, the Divine Master disappeared, leaving my heart deeply wounded with His love, as well as by seeing Him on the cross so deeply wounded with the love of souls. This grace remained so indelibly impressed in my souls that it was with me day and night; my heart was with my Adorable Master, and my Adorable Master was in my heart; this was my usual state. Wherever I might be I experienced a zeal beyond expression for the salvation of souls and for the acquisition of those virtues that the Divine Master had shown me in the vision I have just related. He told me that it was by the way of the cross I would acquire them.”

    Bl. Anne had the following conversation with Our Lord one day: It seems that she reminded the Lord that most of the young French women joining their community were from rich, noble families. She explained to him that she was only a shepherd. Within her heart, Blessed Anne heard the Lord's answer: "With straws I light my fire."

    I will leave you with one her quotes: “Silence is precious; by keeping silence and knowing how to listen to God, the soul grows in wisdom and God teaches it what it cannot learn from men.”

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    The Movie Cristiada & its Connection with 3 Carmelite saints

    JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

    Dear Ones -

    There is a new film on our faith that many of you may know about, known as Cristiada which chronicles the Cristeros War (1926-1929).  This is about the Mexican faithful who stood firm against the Mexican government's attempt to secularize the country. I have included a trailer here.

    In addition, I want to mention that our order has three martyrs that shed their blood during this tumultuous time. Here is a blurb about their inspirational lives:

    Blessed Martyrs of Guadalajara

    Bl. Maria Pilar of St. Francis Borgia
    Bl. Teresa of the Child Jesus & St. John of the Cross
    Bl. Maria Angeles of St. Joseph
    Virgins - 1877, 1909, & 1905 - 1936 – Optional Memorial – July 24
    On July 24th, 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Communist troops murdered three Discalced Carmelite Nuns at the Monastery of Guadalajara, Spain. They were: Maria Pilar of St. Francis Borgia (age 58/born Jacoba Martinez Garcia - at Tarazona, Zaragoza on December 30, 1877), Teresa of the Child Jesus and of St. John of the Cross (age 27/born Eusebia Garcia y Garcia - at Mochales on March 5, 1909), and Maria Angeles of St. Joseph (age 31/born Marciana Valtierra Tordesillas - at Getafe on March 6, 1905).

    After having given witness to their faith in Christ the King and offered their lives for the Church. They were the first fruits, of the many martyrs of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.

    On July 22, with soldiers roaming the city, the eighteen nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph scattered through the streets disguised in secular clothes. Some found shelter with Catholic families, and Sisters Maria of the Angels, Maria Pilar, and Teresa, along with two other nuns, hid in the basement of the Hibernia Hotel. Two days later, the five left the hotel, two going to a nearby boarding house, the three martyrs making their way up a street. A soldier eating lunch in a parked jeep recognized them and shouted to her companions, "Shoot them! They are nuns!"
    Sr. Maria of the Angels died instantly when a bullet struck her in the heart. Sr. Maria Pilar, also hit, cried out, "Viva Cristo Rey (Long live Christ the King)!" The soldiers, furious at the pious exclamation, shot her repeatedly and slashed her with a knife. She died, having lost most of her blood, saying, "My God, pardon them. They don't know what they're doing."
    Sr. Teresa was not harmed, and a soldier, pretend¬ing concern, gathered some of his com¬panions and led Teresa to a nearby cemetery, apparently intending to rape her. As they went, she spoke out fearlessly against them, and they angrily insisted she praise communism. To each of their commands she cried, "Viva Cristo Rey!" (“Long live Christ the King”). Told to walk a few steps ahead, she spread her arms in the form of a cross and was shot in the back.
    Pope John Paul II beatified them in 1987

    Father, strength of the humble,
    You sustained in martyrdom the virgins
    Blessed Maria Pilar, Teresa and Maria Angelus.
    As they willingly shed their blood for Christ the King, may we, through
    their intercession, be faithful to You and to Your Church until death.
    Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns
    with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

    Fr. Doug's Homily on the Mass- The Offering of the Lamb

    JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

    Fr. Doug always provides us with so many spiritual nuggets to ponder and pray about. Enjoy this beautiful homliy from last month on the Jewish roots of the Eucharistic offering and linkages between the Old Testament and our Catholic Mass.  Enjoy!