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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Framing Prayer 13 Carmelites and The Cross 2

How wonderful to have synchronicity in one's spiritual life. This type of thing happens to me frequently.

Deciding to use St. Teresa Benedicta is this series was a no brainer, as she lived in horrid times of persecution of the Jews and the Church. We are at the cusp of such a time now.

Her movement back into Thomism has been another reason why I have been attracted to her, as I studied Phenomenology for so many years, becoming more and more unhappy with the system, and moving into a more disciplined study of Aquinas.

But, it is St. Teresa Benedicta's love of the cross, and her great understanding of keeping the Faith under trials which makes her a person to emulate regarding prayer.

Prayer just does not pop out of nothing. We need frameworks of prayer. For many of the laity, the rosary and daily Mass, with the readings, (an excellent source for meditations, as I have shared on this blog), form the frame of prayer. But, the richness of the orders give us so much more.

Let me share one more part of a meditation of St. Teresa Benedicta's which she wrote for sharing on September 14, 1941, less than a year before her death. I remember that my dad, who is still alive, was in Europe in the trenches fighting the same foes which would kill this lovely saint.

In this meditation, St. Teresa Benedicta reminds her readers and her listeners of the three nails in the Cross representing the three vows taken by the nuns-poverty, chastity, and obedience, three ways Christ Himself chose to live in His life on earth.

She notes that Christ did not need to embrace poverty, celibacy and obedience, as He was completely detached from all worldly things, but she writes, "Whoever follows him must know that we have no lasting dwelling here. The more deeply we feel this, the more zealous we are in striving for the future, and we rejoice in the thought of our citizenship of heaven."

Teresa was aware and shared in this meditation that the nuns may have had to vacate their monastery because of the coming persecution against orders as revenge for the bishops' statement against the treatment of the Jews. She reminded her sisters in the Lord that God did not promise them when they made vows that they could stay behind the walls. And, her insight moves to something WE must ponder, as I have mentioned this many times on this blog--life without the sacraments.

"For us they are the prescribed means to grace, and we cannot receive them eagerly enough. But God is not bound to them. At the moment when some external force were to cut us off from receiving the sacraments, he would compensate us, superabundantly, in some other way, and he will do so all the more certainly and generously the more faithfully we have adhered to the sacraments previously."

As lay people, we should not hesitate to receive the sacraments as much as possible. Father Dan yesterday stressed this as well-synchronicity, indeed. Teresa reminds us that our lives are determined by God's will if we so desire his will. Then, she returns to the ideal of obedience, pointing out that Christ's life was reparation for the Original Sin of disobedience.

"The created will is not destined to be free to exalt itself. It is called to come into unison with the divine will. If it freely submits itself to this unison, then it is permitted in freedom to participate in the perfection of creation"

Go back and re-read the perfection posts....Here, St Teresa sounds like Garrigou-Lagrange and the other teachers of prayer quoted on this blog.

"If a free creature declines this unison, it lapses into bondage. The human will continues to retain the possibility of choice, but it is constrained by creatures that pull and pressure it in directions from straying from the directions straying from the development of the nature desired by God, and so away from the goal toward which it was directed by its original freedom. With the loss of original freedom, it also loses security in making decisions. It becomes unsteady and wavering, buffeted by doubt and scruples or obdurate in its error. There is no other remedy for this than the following of Christ, the Son of Man, who not only promptly obeyed his heavenly Father, but also subjected himself to people who imposed the Father's will on him. The obedience enjoined by God releases the enslaved will from the bonds of creatures  and leads it back to freedom. Thus, it is also the way to purity of heart."

I need to rush off, so I shall continue with this meditation of St. Teresa Benedicta's later in the day. Those of us who are about to experience persecution need her comforting words.