Carmelite Events

Pope Francis Christmas Message

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

The following is the Vatican's official English translation of Pope Francis' Christmas Eve Mass homily, which he delivered in Italian.

———

"Tonight 'a great light' shines forth (Is 9:1); the light of Jesus' birth shines all about us. How true and timely are the words of the prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: 'You have brought abundant joy and great rejoicing' (9:2)! Our heart was already joyful in awaiting this moment; now that joy abounds and overflows, for the promise has been at last fulfilled. Joy and gladness are a sure sign that the message contained in the mystery of this night is truly from God. There is no room for doubt; let us leave that to the skeptics who, by looking to reason alone, never find the truth. There is no room for the indifference which reigns in the hearts of those unable to love for fear of losing something. All sadness has been banished, for the Child Jesus brings true comfort to every heart.

Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Savior of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey's end. Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem. We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle. We must set out to see our Savior lying in a manger. This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been 'born to us'; he was 'given to us', as Isaiah proclaims (cf. 9:5). The people who for two thousand years has traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy is now given the mission of making known 'the Prince of peace' and becoming his effective servant in the midst of the nations.

So when we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God's glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, 'to reject godless ways' and the richness of the world, in order to live 'temperately, justly and devoutly' (Tit 2:12).

In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God's will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.

Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: 'Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation' (Ps 85:8)."

HOLY DOOR FOR YEAR OF MERCY

Tuesday, December 08, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

The Year of Mercy was officially launched by Pope Francis on December 8, 2015 as the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Holy Father opened this year-long celebration by opening the "holy door" of St. Peter's Basilica.  The event was reported by BBC News and you can read their news coverage HERE.

To honor this event, the Diocese of Albany, New York designated Saint Teresa's Motherhouse, home of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, to be a pilgrim shrine. The "Holy Door" was blessed by Fr. Gavin, OFM with the Carmelite Sisters present. 

The following are different listings of the designated "Holy Door" according to State locations:

https://catholicpilgrimagesites.wordpress.com/holy-doors-of-mercy/

http://rcda.org/YearOfMercy/

http://www.gcatholic.org/churches/list/USA-JubileeMercy.htm

AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CHECK WITH THE PILGRIMAGE SITE DIRECTLY FOR DETAILS BEFORE FINALIZING YOUR PLANS.

Photos courtesy: Sr. Fidelis Therese, O.Carm.

Next

The following is the Holy Father's Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy ("Misericordiae Vultus")

Bull of Indiction for Year of Mercy 2015-2016 Bull of Indiction for Year of Mercy 2015-2016 (158 KB)


R.I.P Sr. M. Kathleen of the Queen of Carmel Rogan

Thursday, December 03, 2015 | Comments (4) | Permalink

  

Sister M. Kathleen of the Queen of Carmel, O.Carm. went home to the Lord on the afternoon of December 2, 2015 in the 59th year of her religious life.  Sister Kathleen passed away peacefully at St. Patrick’s Home with the Sisters at her bedside.

Born on December 18, 1918 in County Mayo, Ireland, Catherine Mary Rogan stayed on the family farm well into her 30’s, and following the death of her parents, William and Catherine (Muldoon), she journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.   Having entered the Congregation on February 22, 1956, Sr. Kathleen made her perpetual profession of vows on December 8, 1962.  During the course of her religious life she had several assignments, her lengthiest being Carmel Hall, Detroit, MI (1957-1962), St. Patrick’s Residence, Joliet, IL (1969-1976), Carroll Manor, Hyattsville, MD (1980-1990), Madonna Residence, Brooklyn, NY (1990-1995), St. Teresa’s Motherhouse (1995-2000), Ferncliff Nursing Home, Rhinebeck, NY (2000-2007) and St. Patrick’s Home, Bronx, NY (2007-2015).  It was at St. Patrick’s Home that Sr. Kathleen’s health failed steadily and it became necessary to admit her as a resident in order to provide for her needs.  Trained as a Registered Nurse, Sr. Kathleen held positions in the Nursing Department and Staff Development.  For a brief period she served as Postulant Director, and was appointed Superior in three of her Missions.  In later years, Sr. Kathleen provided pastoral care to the residents and continued to serve with dedication and faithfulness for as long as she was able. Her ready wit, twinkling eyes, and many stories about the farm endeared her to all those she came in contact with.

The Lord who gave Sr. M. Kathleen of the Queen of Carmel the gift of life almost 97 years ago has now taken His Kathleen home again……may her beautiful soul rest in eternal peace.

WAKE;

Thursday, December 10, 2015                       2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.                         

St. Patrick’s Chapel

St. Patrick’s Home                                         Evening Prayer at 7:00 p.m.

66 Van Cortland Park South

Bronx, NY 10463

MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL:

Friday, December 11, 2015                            10:00 a.m.

St. Patrick’s Chapel

St. Patrick’s Home                                        

Bronx, NY 10463

BURIAL:

Friday, December 11, 2015                            2:00 p.m.

Queen of Carmel Cemetery                         

St. Teresa’s Motherhouse                            

Germantown, NY 12526





  

 

 

Celebrating Advent!

Sunday, November 29, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

"Advent, this powerful liturgical season that we are beginning, invites us to pause in silence to understand a presence. It is an invitation to understand that the individual events of the day are hints that God is giving us, signs of the attention he has for each one of us. How often does God give us a glimpse of his love! To keep, as it were, an "interior journal" of this love would be a beautiful and salutary task for our life! Advent invites and stimulates us to contemplate the Lord present. Should not the certainty of his presence help us see the world with different eyes? Should it not help us to consider the whole of our life as a "visit", as a way in which he can come to us and become close to us in every situation?" -

Benedict XVI, Homily at First Vespers of Advent, November 28, 2009.

 

All Carmelite Saints

Thursday, November 12, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

by Sister Helena of Mary, O.Carm.

  

Photo: carmelitesofboston.org website

The Carmelite Order celebrates the feast of all its Saints on November 14th. This is a solemn commemoration and tribute given to the men and women who climbed the Mount of Carmel to seek the face of God and allowed themselves to be transformed by the Presence they found there. There were many of these Saints, although we only hear of the famous ones like Saint John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Blessed ELizabeth of the Trinity and others. Equally great in the Order are, St. Peter Thomas, St. Andrew Corsini, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, St. Raphael Kalinowski, St. Teresa of St. Augustine and the Martyrs of Compiegne, St. John Soreth, St. Elisha, St. Albert of Trapani, Blessed Titus Brandsma, St Margaret Redi and many more! These are huge personalities in Carmel and we treasure them with their lives and examples of true love of God.

It is amazing the differences in personalities, social and educational backgrounds of these Saints. But despite the differences, they shared common traits that bound them to each other and to the great Order of Carmel. They all shared a deep love of the Order and the Church, love for Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel and deep appreciation of the centrality of the cross as an expression of love and instrument of saving souls. The Carmelite spirituality is an affective spirituality. It is a spirituality that does everything to awaken love in the soul, a spirituality that uses love as instrument to attain to union with God, and a spirituality that makes love its end. St. John of the Cross is known for his "dark night" but he is called in Carmel as the Mystical Doctor of love. His poems are expressions of a soul enamored, of a lover seeking his beloved. St. Teresa of Avila was pierced by an angel's dart and the pain was an "effusion of love" that sealed the spiritual marriage between her and Jesus. St. Therese exclaimed "I have found my vocation. In the heart of my mother, the Church, I will be LOVE." Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote to her friends wanting to know what she did in Carmel, "In Carmel, there are only two things to do, to pray and to love." This centrality of love is preeminent in the writings of our saints. Love for them is not just a word, or an effervescence of momentary emotion, but something that embraces sufferings and forgets self.

Our Saints show us the promise given to the simple of heart. They embody the beatitudes spoken by Jesus. We love them because they achieved what we long to be . Their lives show us that it is possible to experience God even on this earth, in the here and now. They make a hidden life beautiful. They prove to us that Mary is our Mother and as such she is always with us and that Carmel is a land flowing with milk and honey.

"I have brought you to Carmel to eat of its fruits."- Prophet Jeremiah

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Monday, November 02, 2015 | Comments (1) | Permalink

 

by Sister Helena of Mary, O.Carm.

The Carmelite Order celebrates the memorial of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity on November 8th. Elizabeth was a beautiful soul who tasted the delights of contemplating God in the depths of her soul and invites us to do the same.

She was born on July 18, 1880 in a military camp of Avor in the district of Farges-en-Septaine, France to a military family. Her father, Joseph Catez, was a captain of the 8th Squadron of the Equipment and Maintenance Corps. Her mother, Marie Rolland, was the daughter of a retired Commandant. The couple was blessed with two lovely daughters, Elizabeth and Marguerite. The family moved to Dijon in 1882. As a child, Elizabeth was described to possess a terrible temper. She was inclined to bouts of tantrums and her early photos show her flashing eyes. It was said that a Canon close to the family exclaimed after being a witness to these outburst, “this child will either grow up to be a devil or an angel.” She is described to be quick-tempered and unable to manage her anger well. This character flaw will be foremost in Elizabeth’s mind as she strove to grow deeper in the spiritual life.

But despite this weakness, Elizabeth also was gifted with good natural qualities. She was naturally affectionate and did not think twice to show it. When one reads her letters to friends, her warmth and affectionate nature come through. She was loved wherever she went and was popular among her friends. She loved to travel and loved beautiful, fashionable clothes. She was an accomplished pianist and her soul was sensitive to everything beautiful and harmonious. It was this artistic soul that will open up for her the discovery of a Presence within her.

When her father died, Mme. Catez, Elizabeth and Marguerite moved to a smaller house not far from a Carmelite monastery in Dijon, France. In fact, it was so near to the house that Elizabeth could see the belfry of the chapel from her bedroom window. A great spiritual transformation occurred in Elizabeth during her First Communion in April of 1891. Her writings talk about her account of “being fed by Jesus.” This experience was the turning point in her life. From that moment onward, Elizabeth began a journey of self-discovery, self-mastery and self-conquest. She also discovered her vocation to Carmel.

It is wonderful to read Blessed Elizabeth’s writings because they are full of love and expressions of great longings. Her description and re-discovery of the mystery of the Divine Indwelling in her soul is so vivid that one cannot help but be immersed in what she is describing. Her writings are lofty and mystical and she spoke in the language of the mystics. She truly lived out her personal mission of being the apostle of Divine Indwelling in Carmel. Her appeal is different from St. Therese and yet Elizabeth read Therese's "Story of a Soul" while a Postulant in her Dijon Carmel. In a photo taken of her at this time with the Community, she can be seen holding this book next to Mother Germaine, her Prioress. There is a certain euphoria and excitement surrounding St. Therese but Blessed Elizabeth manifests a more subdued, serious and austere aura about her. She was very heavily influenced by the writings of Saint Paul and most, if not all of her writings, are meditations and reflections on the works of this great apostle to the gentiles. It was in one of St. Paul's letters that she discovered her personal mission in Carmel: to be "laudem gloriae", to be God's Praise of Glory. Being a praise of glory for Elizabeth meant becoming "another humanity in which Christ can renew the whole of His mystery." She expounds on St. Paul's cry of "filling up in my body what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ." All these sentiments were not driven only by a pure sense of asceticism but more so because she understood that love is proven by the crucible of the Cross. " A Carmelite is a soul who has gazed on Christ Crucified, who has seen Him offering Himself to His Father as a victim for souls; and entering into herself under this great vision of Christ's charity, she has understood the passion of His soul and desired to give herself as He did!"

Elizabeth of the Trinity teaches me that God dwells in silence. The Rule of Carmel teaches that "your strength will lie in silence and hope." When asked by her Prioress what her favorite point of the Rule was, she referred to the practice of silence as indicated in the holy Rule. It is in silence that we must seek Him and we have to acquire that virtue of silence in order to allow God to communicate Himself to us. Being silent is not just the absence of words. Being silent more so means being abandoned, docile, submissive to the Spirit so He can accomplish his works in us. Being silent means having a “single eye” to view all things.  A silent and peaceful soul is one who is convinced that nothing happens by accident, no second causes, that God ordains all, and that everything is  grace. A noisy soul is one that constantly swims upstream, who constantly sees the danger behind every sacrifice, who measures every step so she doesn’t fall. It reminds me of the song The Rose -“it’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance, it’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance, it’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give, and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live."

Elizabeth died of Addison’s disease on November 9, 1906. She was beatified by Saint Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984. Her dying words were “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life.”  In her own words:

“Let us live with God as with a Friend. Let us make our faith a living thing, so as to remain in communion with Him through everything. That is how saints are made. We carry our heaven within us, since He who completely satisfies every longing of the glorified souls in the light of the Beatific Vision, is giving Himself to us in faith and mystery. It is the same thing. It seems to me I have found my heaven on earth, since heaven is God and God is in my soul. The day I understood that, everything became clear to me, and I wish I could whisper this secret to those I love in order that they also might cling closely to God through everything."

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us!

READ MORE ABOUT BLESSED ELIZABETH

Prayer Service on the Canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin

Monday, October 19, 2015 | Comments (1) | Permalink

Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of Saint Therese, are now Saints of the Catholic Church! The Carmelite Sisters representing St. Teresa's Motherhouse in Germantown, NY and Teresian House in Albany, NY were invited to participate in a prayer service held at All Saints Catholic Church in Albany, New York on October 18, 2015.  The event was organized by Mrs. Janice Smircich.  Janice is a long time friend of the Carmelite Sisters and member of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa's Cause and Charism Commission.  The celebrant was Father Tom Lawless.

Garvey Manor Celebrates The Year of Consecrated Life

Saturday, October 17, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

by Sister Joachim Anne, O.Carm.

   

In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, Sisters from several religious communities serving in ministries in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown joined together at the invitation of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm at Garvey Manor, in Hollidaysburg on Saturday, September 19th for Mass, celebrated by Rev. Monsignor Paul D. Panza, followed by a luncheon.  Pictured are sisters who were present, representing the following Communities:  Carmelite Community of the Word, Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, Little Sisters of Jesus, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Saint Ann, Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Not able to be present, but also serving in the Diocese are Sisters of Saint Joseph and Sisters of Saint Francis.

This recently was published in our local Catholic Newspaper, The Catholic Register.

 

 

 

 

 

On The Road with Vocation Talk!

Saturday, October 17, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

by Sr. M. Sean Damien, O.Carm.

Father Christopher J. Waitekus  (Father CJ), the pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Lenox, MA, St. Patrick’s Parish in West Stockbridge, MA and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Lenox Dale, MA wanted to make his parishioners more aware of the various Religious Congregations in the Church in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life.  Father has been having a member of a different congregation speak at the Masses the first weekend of each month.  I was privileged to have been invited by Father CJ to speak the first weekend of May about the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged & Infirm.  Father asked that I address the history and charism of the Congregation as well as my own vocation story.  Since I’d been to St. Ann’s on a few occasions I knew it was a very welcoming community making it easy to say yes to Father.  Father says five Masses each weekend; 3 at St. Ann’s; one each at the other two churches.  I spoke at four of the Masses.  There was a First Communion at the Mass at St. Vincent de Paul.  Father and I agreed the focus should be on that. 

The people were as welcoming as always and a great many thanked me after Mass for sharing our story and my story.  I was able to attend a “Coffee Hour” between the two Sunday Masses and visit with the parishioners.  They were very interested in what I had shared and in learning more about us.  Most people I spoke with thanked us for our service to the Church and as so often happens, commented on how nice it was to see a Sister in a habit.  Masses were well attended and it was particularly nice to see so many families worshipping together.  I spoke at a 4 PM Mass at St. Ann’s followed by a 5:30 PM at St. Vincent de Paul’s on Saturday and then a 9:45 AM and 11:15 AM at St. Ann’s on Sunday.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to share with this faith filled people the story of our Congregation.  I brought with me many of the printed materials we have about the Congregation as well as vocation materials.  Perhaps a seed will be planted in the mind of some young woman and we will see our first vocation from Mount Carmel Care Center at some time in the future!

Reflection on Saint Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 | Comments (1) | Permalink

by Sister Helena of Mary, O.Carm.

 

The Carmelite Order celebrates the feast of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) October 15th. St.Teresa does not need any introduction. She is famous among the laity and a shining luminary in the Catholic Church. She is one of the three women Doctors of the Church, with St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Catherine of Siena, being the other two. She is known as the Reformer of Carmel, along with St. John of the Cross, and founded the Discalced Order of the Carmelite family. The Teresian reform is not the only reform in Carmel. There were other reforms including the Reform of Touraine in France (17th century) and the Mantuan reform in Italy, which effected many changes in the Order. But St. Teresa's reform was the most well known partly because of her own charismatic personality and widespread influence. She was a very influential woman of her day and collaborated with powerful people .

She wrote books dealing with her life and prayer. To mention some of her famous works: The Life (autobiographical), The Way of Perfection (written for her Nuns), The Interior Castle (on Prayer) and the Book of Foundations. There are a variety of commentaries written about these books and you can check them out at http://www.icspublications.org/

I got to know St. Teresa in 1984 after I graduated from College.  My favorite reading is her Way of Perfection . It deals with the subject of prayer. I also like The Interior Castle when I am trying to analyze what mansion I may be in! Although the Way of Perfection was written for her nuns and is tailored to those living a solely contemplative lifestyle, one can use her counsels in this book to know about prayer and how to grow in the life of prayer. She summarized three preconditions for a life of prayer: Humility, Detachment and Charity. The entire book expounds on these three criteria.

One subject St. Teresa persistently wrote about was how to pray . In her own life, she had a terrible time praying, to be specific 18 years, of not being able to pray. In her autobiography, she stated that she needed the security of a book to get her focused. Even though most of the time she did not read the book, she needed the security of having it with her for reassurance. Because of her personal difficulties in praying, she is able to explain to us through her writings difficulties we ourselves often experience. She is very insistent about imagining Christ in His humanity. She imagined him in those moments when he was most alone because she figured she will not be turned away when he is so abandoned.

I thought of presenting a little of her thoughts on Mental Prayer or meditation. I used the article presented by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello OCD “Lectio Divina and the Practice of Teresian Prayer”.

Lectio Divina (or divine reading) is not particularly exclusive to Saint Teresa of Avila. It is an old form of monastic prayer used throughout many centuries. It is a monastic designation for meditative reading of the Scriptures. According to Fr. Morello’s book, there are four steps to lectio divina:

1. Lectio -Meaning “reading”, understood as the careful repetitious recitation of a short text of Scripture.
2. Meditatio -Meaning “meditation”, an effort to understand the meaning of the text and make it personally relevant to oneself.
3. Oratio -Meaning “prayer”, a personal response to the text, asking for the grace of the text.
4. Contemplatio -Meaning “contemplation.” It is gazing at length on something. The idea behind this element is that sometimes with God’s infused grace, one is elevated beyond meditation to an experiential contact with the divine presence, to God’s truth and benevolence.

Applying the Teresian flavor to the basic elements of lectio divina, we come to the following exercise:
1. Teresa’s “lectio” Reading the Word of God with Teresa
She counsels that when we start to pray, we must be aware of the following: who it is who is praying (we are creatures), who it is we are praying to (God), what we are praying for.
Attentiveness to what one is doing and saying is the first of Teresa’s advice.


2. Teresa’s “meditatio” - meditating with Teresa.
Saint Teresa counsels that one aid to prayer is to find a companion at prayer. She is referring to taking Christ as our companion in prayer. Whether one imagines Christ within oneself or before the Blessed Sacrament (although Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament is not imagined but a reality), or in the image of the crucifix. She teaches us to think of God as very near to us or as within us, dwelling in our depths. With Teresa we go where God is. Her advice is to locate God according to one’s inclinations. There is no one way we ought to pray. We pray as we can, not as we ought. Teresa also wants us to ‘think” of Christ. We address ourselves to him, or we try to “hear” his words in Scriptures addressed to us.

3. Teresa’s “Oratio” Prayerful expression with Teresa.Teresa’s prayer is full of affectionate expression to Christ. It is the prayer that comes out of a heart that begins to be filled with love. The heart can express itself in a million ways. But here we implement the Teresian principle of making Christ the object of that prayer. You can utter words that come spontaneously to you. This is the part where prayer becomes a conversation.

4. Teresa’s “Contemplatio” Contemplating with Teresa.After going through the steps of reading the text to feed the mind, meditating on the meaning of the text to move the heart and praying the words or other emotions that come to heart. Teresa describes a state of “resting” in the Lord. A new recollection of the soul, in its innermost core, is experienced. With Teresa, we rest in the presence and take a holiday from the work of meditation.

The fruits of contemplation for Teresa is shown in the growth of virtues. For her, the virtues are the flowers in the garden of the soul.

We have explained in summary the exercise of mental prayer according to Saint Teresa of Avila. We should endeavor to learn this exercise of mental prayer for our growth in the spiritual life.

Prayer:
"God our Father, by Your Spirit you raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus to show your Church the way to perfection. May her inspired teaching awaken in us a longing for true holiness. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen" 

SHORT INTRODUCTION: 

SOURCE: CARMELITE WEBSITE

Known to her family as Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, she became the reformer of Carmel, mother of the Discalced Carmelite nuns and friars, "spiritual mother" (as is engraved under her statue in the Vatican Basilica), patron of Catholic writers (from 1965) and Doctor of the Church (1970), the first woman with Saint Catherine of Siena to ever receive this last title. She was born at Avila in Castile, Spain, on 28th March 1515 and died in Alba de Tormes, near Salamanca, on 4th October 1582 (a correction due to the Gregorian reform of the calendar that year, as the following day was officially 15th October). She was beatified in 1614, canonised in 1622 and her feast day occurs on 15th October.
Her life needs to be understood in the light of the plan which God had for her, with the great desires experienced in her heart, with the mysterious illness to which she was subject in her youth (and with the ill health from which she suffered throughout her life), and with the "resistance" to divine grace for which she blamed herself more than she should has. Running away from home, she entered the Carmel of the Incarnation in Avila on 2nd November 1535. As a result, partly of the prevailing conditions in the community and partly from her own spiritual difficulties, she had to struggle before arriving at what she called her conversion at the age of 39. But, benefitting from various spiritual directors, she then began to make great strides towards perfection.
In 1560, the idea first emerged of a new Carmel, where the Rule could be followed more closely, and this was realized two years later when the monastery of St. Joseph was founded without any endowments and "following the Primitive Rule": a phrase that needs to be clearly understood because both then and later it was a notion which was more nostalgic and "heroic" than practical. Five years later Teresa obtained from the Prior General of the Order, John Baptist Rossi, then visiting Spain, permission to increase the number of monasteries and a licence to found two communities of contemplative Carmelite friars (later to be called Discalced) who would be the spiritual counterparts of the nuns and, as such, able to help them. At the death of Saint Teresa, there were 17 monasteries of nuns in the Reform, and the communities of friars also quickly outstripped the original number, some founded with permission from the Prior General Rossi but others, especially those in Andalusia, established against his will, relying on the approval of the apostolic visitators, the Dominican Vargas and the young Discalced Carmelite Jerome Gracian (a close spiritual companion of Teresa, for whom she vowed to do whatever he asked her, as long as it was not contrary to God's law).
There followed a series of unedifying quarrels, made worse by the interference of the civil authorities and other outsiders, until in 1581, the Discalced were formed into a separate Province. Saint Teresa was then able to write, "Now all of us, Discalced and Calced, are at peace and nothing can hinder us from serving the Lord".
Saint Teresa is among the most important figures of all time for Catholic spirituality. Her works - especially the four best known (The Life, The Way of Perfection, The Mansions and The Foundations) - together with her more historical works, contain a doctrine which encompasses the whole of the spiritual life, from the first steps right up to intimacy with God at the centre of the Interior Castle. Her Letters show her occupied with a great variety of everyday problems. Her doctrine on the unity of the soul with God (a doctrine which was intimately lived by her) follows the Carmelite tradition which had preceded her and to which she herself contributed in such a notable way, enriching it as well as passing the tradition on, not only to her spiritual sons and daughters, but also to the whole Church which she served so unsparingly. When she was dying, her one joy was to be able to affirm that "I die a daughter of the Church".