Reaching for the Summit of Mt. Carmel with John of the Cross and Teresa of Jesus

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I followed John of the Cross
and Teresa of Jesus
inside the Carmelite Monastery,
seeing their pleasant ways
I ran up the mountain
following their path
seeking Almighty God
reaching for the
Summit of Mt. Carmel.
Here’s what I found…

I. Spiritual Guides: St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross

Opening Prayer: Love and honor to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, to Saint Joseph, Saint Anne, to our Holy Mother Saint Teresa, to our Holy Father Saint John of the Cross, whose powerful intercessions we invoke that the spirit of prayer, penance and apostolic zeal may flourish in the community. Amen

Sanctuary at Philadelphia CarmelThe Triumphal arch, with crucifix suspended, inspired by the crucifix of Fra Innocenzo de Palermo (1637) in the Church of San Damiano, Assisi. – Holy Spirit Chapel Sanctuary at Philadelphia Carmel. Photo courtesy of Friends of Carmel Pinterest.

The origins of Triumphal arch comes from the Roman era when captives were led under an arch to symbolize their submission to the authority of Rome. In later centuries the liturgical procession through the triumphal arch symbolizes Christians, as captives of Christ, being lead to the Kingdom of Heaven. The sacred space of the Sanctuary represents the Kingdom of Heaven.

teresa of Avila medallion
The round medallion of Teresa of Jesus (Ávila) as she looks upward on the altar terra cotta wall over the cloister grilles of the Sanctuary. Her feast is celebrated by the Discalced Carmelite Order on October 15.

john of the cross medallion
The round medallion of John of the Cross, with the Christ on the Cross in his arms on the altar terra cotta wall over the cloister grilles of the Sanctuary. His feast is celebrated by the Discalced Carmelite Order on December 14.

II. The Sanctuary Mosaic

altar mosaic 2The Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit Chapel; the heart, joy and beauty of Mount Carmel – Detail

From left to right, Teresa of Jesus; the sanctuary doors with the Cross; St. Elisha with hand reaching to the Lamb of God, reaching for the summit of Mt. Carmel; where the Prophet Elijah rides a chariot on the wings of a cloud. The Holy Spirit is in winged flight above St. Teresa who is in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The images of the Sanctuary mosaic express the reality of divine love in the charism of Carmel. It is love revealed by God in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New, a love that en-kindles our hearts and transforms them. Ultimately this transformation enables one to enter, body and soul into full union with God. Horizontal and spatial concepts of the mosaic echo passages of time in the Old and New Testament history of the Carmelite Order. – The Chapel of the Holy Spirit booklet, Mount Carmel Philadelphia

Symbolic images in the mosaic are:

Fire
Fire symbolizes divine love.
– St John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle 39:14, St. Teresa of Jesus Life 30:20

Fire and Water
Oh, God help me, what marvels there are in this greater en-kindling of fire by water. The water does not impede the fire though it’s the fire’s contrary, but rather makes its fire increase! – St. Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection 19:3

These lamps of fire are living waters of the spirit…although it is fire, it is also water.
– St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love Stanza 3, #8

Chariot of Fire
in Christian art, St. Elijah is carried into heaven on a chariot of fire, a symbol of Christ’s Ascension. In the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, Christ himself is referred to by the Father as a fiery chariot.Prophet Elijah in chariot
St. Elijah en-route to Heaven “You make the clouds your chariot, traveling on the wings of the wind. You make the winds your messengers, flaming fire your ministers.” Psalm 104:3-4

Elijah the Prophet is called the founder of the Carmelite ideal. There are two accounts of him being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:1-12 and Sirach 48:9). His feast is celebrated by the Carmelite Order on July 20.

The Holy Spirit (Dove)
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Sanctifier, the living Flame of Love. – Romans 5:5

teresa spirit lamb

St. Teresa of Jesus
St.Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582), the foundress of the reformed Carmel (Discalced Carmelites) is portrayed on the mosaic in Adoration of the Eucharist. In her spiritual writings one finds frequent images of fire and water. The Carmelites celebrate her memory on October 15.

The Lamb of God and the Eucharist
Fulfillment is found in Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the sacrificial lamb of god, who gave himself for the life of the world. His sacrifice is perpetuated in the Eucharist. From this divine reality the graces symbolized by the fire and the water are sought and obtained. Mt. 26;26-29; 1 John 5:6-8; Rev:5:6-14

Elisha and Teresa reaching
St. Elisha (hand raised)

St. Elisha (c. 840 BC) was the first disciple of St. Elijah. He was the leader of the prophets on Mt. Carmel.  The Carmelite Order celebrates his memory on June 14.

altarUnder the altar in Latin: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto
meaning Glory [be] to the Father.

III. The Repository Doors

repository doors
Between Elisha and Teresa of Jesus, with the Cross and triangle superimposed, are the bronze Repository Doors.

repository doors sketch
The Repository Doors Schematic Diagram. – from The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Mount Carmel, Philadelphia (Booklet)

The symbols that are employed on the doors shows St. Teresa’s image of the Interior Castle, her guide to union with God. They are:

Door
“The door of entry to this castle is prayer and reflection.” – St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle I:i,#7

Castle
The castle is the image of the soul: We consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of a very clear crystal in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places. – St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle

The soul of the just person is nothing else than a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight. I do not find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity. – St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle I:i, #1

Triangle
The triangle is the symbol of the Most Holy Trinity dwelling in the center of the soul.

cross schematicThe soul of the just person is a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight. – St. Teresa, Interior Castle

Cross
The Cross is the symbol of the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s passion, Death and Resurrection.

Blood and Water
Blood and water flowed out of our Redeemer on the Cross. The Doctors of the Church interpret this to mean that from the pierced Heart of the Son, God the Father pours out through the Holy Spirit, the saving graces of the Church’s Sacraments.

Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal clear down the middle of the city street. – Revelation 22:1-2

Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood. – 1 John 5:6

Center Room of the Castle
The castle has many dwelling places. Located at the center, is the abode of the most Blessed Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

shellShell
The shell is a symbol of Baptism, the sacrament of initiation to the divine life.

 IV. Blessed Virgin Mary

our lady w spirit 14
Discalced Carmelites are known for their deep devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, dwells with the Holy Trinity in the most profound union, supreme above all creatures, beloved Daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit Mediatrix of all Graces.  – Mt. Carmel prayer

V. Seal of Mount Carmel (Coat of Arms)

Carmelite coat of armsDiscalced Carmelite Order (OCD) Coat of Arms plaque, located on balcony in front of  Hook and Hastings organ at the Holy Spirit Chapel, Philadelphia Carmel.

organ
Coat of Arms plaque in context within Holy Spirit Chapel.

The coat of arms is a roadmap to the background and religious beliefs of the Discalced Carmelite Order. There are multiple levels of meaning and symbolism of the Seal of Mount Carmel acquired over the centuries.

The Shield of Carmel

In the center of the seal is Mount Carmel, cradle of the Carmelite Order, and the star in the mountain refers to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The two stars above are the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

Mount Carmel is the Carmelite’s place of origin located in modern day Haifa, Israel. In the 9th century BC the prophet Elijah lived there and had a profound experience of God. In that same place in the early 12th century some hermits, inspired by the memory of Elijah, gathered there, with a desire “to live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ” (Rule of St. Albert).

cross on teh summit high defThe cross on the summit of the mountain was added in the 16th Century by St. John of the Cross as a distinctive mark of the Discalced Carmelites (OCD) branch of the Carmelites. There is no cross for the Order of Carmelites. (O.Carm.)

The colors are the brown of the mountain and the white of the skies. Brown is the color of earth. White is the reflection of light. It is the color associated with the tunic of Christ at the resurrection, the transfiguration.

On this particular shield, there are three, eight pointed stars. The number three has numerous symbolic meanings; the Triune God in unity of three divine persons: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit; the three virtues of faith, hope and love; and three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The three stars also represent the three great epochs in the history of Carmel; the first, or prophetic era, represented by the star inside the mountain, denotes the time of the prophet Elijah to the time of St. John the Baptist; the second indicates the era of those hermits living on Mount Carmel before the arrival of the Latin Crusaders; and the third signifies the present epoch spanning from the first Carmelite community living under the Rule of St. Albert until the end of time.

A deeper meaning of the stars is that they stand as a remembrance to the members of the Carmelite order. The star inside the mountain represents the Carmelites who are still on their way to the Summit of Mount Carmel (Heaven), the other two stars in the sky represent all the Carmelites who have gone before us and have reached the goal of their life’s vocation; union with God in love in the eternal Joy of Heaven.
– from Croatian Carmel Province

The Crown of the King

Ducal crown with hand
Placed atop the shield is a ducal crown and an arm wielding a fiery sword, representing the prophet Elijah.

The golden crown represents  the Kingdom of God on earth, present through “Emmanuel,” “God with us,” Jesus Christ. Carmelites endeavor to serve God faithfully with “a pure heart and a steadfast conscience” (Rule of St. Albert). They understand their vocation to be a call to rooting and strengthening Christ’s Kingdom of self-sacrificing love and goodness in the world. In their service to this King they take their inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose patronage they enjoy, and Saints Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, the great reformers of Carmel.

The Sword of The Spirit

Over the crown is an arm and hand brandishing a flaming sword, signifying the fiery spirit of Elijah. Burning with zeal for the Lord “burned like a torch” (Eccl. 48:1).

For Carmelites, Elijah is the solitary prophet who nurtured his thirst for the one and only God and lived forever in His presence. Elijah is the biblical inspiration of the Carmelite life and, like him, Carmelites seek both to continually carry in their minds and hearts “the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God” (Rule of St. Albert) and to live constantly with a loving, contemplative awareness of His presence.
– Discalced Carmelite Friars, Washington Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

coat of arms detail window
Another rendition of the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD) Coat of Arms at Philadelphia Carmel, in the stained glass window of the Prophet Elijah.

Halo of Stars

In this stained glass window, the halo of twelve stars above the crown represents the prerogative of every Carmelite’s acclaim – the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom St. John saw in an apocalyptic vision as: “a woman clothed with the sun… on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).

In the coat of arms of the Discalced Carmelites these stars also signify the twelve points of the rule, which are: Obedience, Chastity, Poverty, Recollection, Mental Prayer, The Divine Office, Chapter, Abstinence from meat, Manual Labor, Silence, Humility and Supererogation. (defined as those works or good deeds performed by saints over and above what is required for their own salvation, the merit of which is held to be transferable to others in need of indulgence). – Discalced Carmelite Friars, Washington Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Also shown on this particular Philadelphia Carmel shield or seal, is the Latin legend  referring to the Prophet Elijah’s phrase: “Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercitum,” which translated means: “With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts.”

This is not present on the Coat of Arms plaque but present in this stained glass window and at the portico entrance to the Holy Spirit Chapel.

Coat of Arms Sources: Philadelphia Carmel Monastery
Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region
Croatian Carmel Province
Discalced Carmelite Friars, Washington Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

VI. St. Albert and the Carmelite Rule

st. albert half
St. Albert of Trapani (1250-1307), from Sicily, at Philadelphia Carmel.

St. Albert wrote the Rule for hermits living in the spirit of Elijah near the prophet’s spring on Mount Carmel near present-day Israel.

Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross would have both prayed to St. Albert for intersessions. He was one of the first saints of the order to be venerated. He is represented here with a lily, a symbol of purity and an urn for water he had blessed. Water is still blessed with his relics and the Carmel and is used for healing the sick.
– The Chapel of the Holy Spirit booklet, Mount Carmel, Philadelphia

VII. Hearing God in Silence

silence please
The Great Spiritual Silence. Listening, loving, believing, preserving.

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31

The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope … be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as Scripture has it – and experience teaches us – Sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and He who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. – Carmelite Rule of St. Albert, [21a]

angel architecuturally perfectAngel on guard in praying stance. Inside the Holy Spirit Chapel, Philadelphia Carmel.

And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offense, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness. – Carmelite Rule of St. Albert, [21b]

Life on Mount Carmel: Contemplation and Prayer

Carmelite spirituality proposes silence and solitude as necessary prerequisites for prayer and contemplation. Silence refers not only to external noise but also to the stilling of one’s internal noises. Silence is the condition for listening attentively to the still small voice of God. Solitude provides the ambiance where one may be alone so as to focus more attentively on the Beloved. Solitude then is not primarily separation or isolation from others, but a place of privileged encounter with the Beloved. – Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, speak of prayer and contemplation as ‘friendship with God’ and ‘union with God’ respectively.
Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

breviaire-de-therese-de-jesus-d_avila-monastere-st-joseph-medinaBreviary of St. Therese of Jesus on display at the Museo Ferias, Spain in 2014.

The soul does not use words. Is surrounds words with space, and that is what I mean by silence” – Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion

In order to foster and facilitate relationship with God, through prayer and contemplation, Carmelite spirituality proposes certain means, both personal and communal, namely meditation on the word of God, liturgy, silence and solitude, and asceticism (avoidance of indulgence). The Rule of St. Albert urges an unceasing pondering of the Law of the Lord in Scripture and the strengthening of one’s heart with holy thoughts, so that the word of God may abound in one’s heart and lips, and guide all one’s actions.  Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

cross

Asceticism is the means of freeing self from the tyranny of self-will, simplifying one’s life, and preserving all of one’s energy for journeying to God. For St. John of the Cross, the main expression of asceticism involves a radical detachment from inordinate or disordered desires and appetites. Detachment is a way of prioritizing God above all creatures. As such, it witnesses to the primacy and all sufficiency of God. Asceticism is not only at the service of a deeper life with God, but it is also geared to the demands of the apostolic ministry. – Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

chapel side aisleHoly Spirit Chapel, side aisle, Philadelphia Carmel. Holy Spirit is principle guide in spiritual life. Photo courtesy of Friends of Carmel Pinterest.

Although Carmelite spirituality highly esteems prayer and contemplation these are always in service of the apostolate. For St. Teresa, while prayer and contemplation are paramount, they are not ends in themselves but are orientated to the support, welfare, and apostolic fruitfulness of all those engaged in the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Carmelite spirituality, then, is not simply about self salvation, but a way of co-operating with God in bringing about God’s reign on earth. – Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

Finally Carmelite spirituality teaches that authentic prayer and contemplation is accompanied by and promotes growth in the human and theological virtues. This leads to a flowering in the Carmelite of the two-fold gospel commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. – Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

wheel
From credence niche side wall of Holy Spirit Sanctuary. Pattern from church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy (6th century). At the center of the radiating disc contains the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha, the symbol of creation, “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1)

Both Saints Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross teach us that God, the Blessed Trinity, dwells within the human person. Hence, one need not go out of self in search for God but enter progressively ever deeper within oneself to be with God who dwells at the very center of our being.

St. Teresa speaks of this journey within as an itinerary through a castle with seven mansions. St. John of the Cross hymns this reality:

“What more do you want, O soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfactions, fullness and kingdom – your Beloved whom you desire and seek? Be joyful and gladdened in your interior recollection with Him, for you have Him so close to you. Desire Him there, adore Him there. Do not go in pursuit of Him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and wearied thereby, and you shall not find Him, or enjoy Him more securely, or sooner, or more intimately than by seeking Him within you.” (S.C. 1:8)

VIII. The Path of John of the Cross

john of the cross window
St. John of the Cross, Poet and Doctor of the Church (1542-1591)

The model of this portrait of St. John of the Cross was the brother of one of the foundresses of the Carmel of Philadelphia. Contrary to what is seen here, St. John was actually of very slight stature, had a oval lean face with a beard, a broad receding forehead, and was also quite bald. St. John of the Cross was associated with St. Teresa of Jesus in the reform of Carmel. The writings of both these Saints speak about the deepest communion with God and the way that leads to it. – The Chapel of the Holy Spirit booklet, Mount Carmel Philadelphia.

The “discalced” in the name “Discalced Carmelites”, references the practice of wearing sandals or going barefoot instead of shoes. In the stained glass window, John is shown wearing sandals. In Teresa’ s reformed convent of St. Joseph’ s, which she founded in 1562, the nuns wore strap sandals as well.

St John of the Cross’s drawing of the crucifixion.
Drawing of the Crucifixion From Above, by John of the Cross 1641
It influenced Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross 1951.

saint-jean-de-la-croix-peinture-de-celine-martin-carmel-de-lisieux
John of the Cross said that “all prayer is reducible to the pater noster” (Our Father).

John and Teresa Team Up

St. John of the Cross, co-reformer of the Carmelite Order, was born in Spain in 1542 to a loving but struggling family.  At the age of fourteen, John took a job at the hospital of Median caring for the poor and incurable.  He spent the rest of his time learning at a nearby Jesuit school.

John eventually joined the Carmelites of Medina.  He was ordained a priest in 1567, but John became overwhelmed at the idea of fulfilling the duties of the priesthood, and decided to join the Carthusians instead.

St. Teresa of Avila who had come to Medina to found a convent for her Carmelite nuns convinced John to stay with the Carmelites, and he began to help her in the reform of the order.   But his fellow Carmelites were against his attempts at reform and they went so far as to kidnap and lock him up in a small cell.  During this time, John wrote much of his mystical poetry, from his hours of silent prayer, including:

Beloved, in you I find
The mountains, wooded vales;
Choice islands, distant, strange.
The river’s voice resounds
With ever-changing flow.
As whisper soft of breeze
Now sings our love.

After nine months, John escaped the prison cell. Several of John’s books are available on-line:

Dark Night of the Soul

dark_night

Ascent of Mount Carmel

Spiritual Canticle (poem)

John spent the rest of his life establishing monasteries, spreading his reform, and writing many spiritual works, which are now treasured by the Church.  He died in 1591 at the age of 49 – his body is still incorrupt to this day.  He was canonized on December 27, 1726, and was also named a Doctor of the Church.  St. John of the Cross is one of the Church’s most beloved mystics, known for his compassion and deep understanding of the inner workings of the soul. – Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus

IX. The Path of Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

teresa avila window full
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila, Spain 1515-1582) Doctor of the Church.

In the stained glass window above, St. Teresa of Jesus is writing at a desk. The scroll hanging from the desk reads:

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God wants for nothing. God alone suffices.”

Saint Teresa of Jesus is the foundress of the Discalced Carmelite life and is one of the thirty three Doctors of the Church, who are considered guides due to their great significance in our understanding of Church theology. St. Teresa believed in the presence of God in every person.

tersa with Jesus and nails
Jesus gives St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) a nail. Mt. Carmel Philadelphia.

St. Teresa of Jesus received a profound mystical grace during Holy Communion on November 18, 1572. Our Lord appeared to her and gave her a nail as He declared that she was His bride. At this time she entered the highest degree of the spiritual life, that of Spiritual Marriage. – St. Teresa of Jesus, Spiritual Testimonies #31 – from The Chapel of the Holy Spirit booklet, Mount Carmel Philadelphia.

teresa with child Jesus
The Child Jesus Appears to St. Teresa. Mt. Carmel Philadelphia.

This episode is recounted in the life of St. Teresa. One day the saint was passing a flight of stairs and saw a Child.

He asked her, “Who are you?”
“I am Teresa of Jesus” she replied,
“Who are you?”
I am Jesus of Teresa,” the Child said.

St. John became the spiritual director (confessor) of St. Teresa who was 27 years his junior.

It is right that you pray for all those, living and dead, who have helped us. – St. Teresa of Jesus (Foundations 25:9)

therese-de-jesus-d_avila-peinture-francois_gerard-infirmerie-marie-therese-paris
Teresa of Jesus in 1828 by François Gérard (1770-1837) – Original

Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on 28th March 1515 and entered the Carmel of the Incarnation there in 1536. She lived there for about 20 years until she felt that God was asking something more of her. After many tribulations and heart-searching Teresa, left the Incarnation on 24th August 1562 to found St. Joseph’s, a new monastery in which she planned and hoped that the original Rule of Carmel would be kept faithfully. There was a great deal of opposition to the new Carmel and it was sometime before she was able to live there in peace. Many condemned her as a woman deceived by her experiences in prayer.

teresa of avila beauty
Teresa of Ávila by François Gérard (1770−1837) detail

Eventually the hostility died down and Teresa was asked to found more of these houses of prayer in other cities of Spain. Over a period of twenty years she founded 15 more houses for the nuns and, in association with St John of the Cross, at least two for the friars. Teresa introduced a fresh orientation into Carmelite life combining silence and solitude with community living and giving the life of prayer a specific apostolic role in the Church and the world.

Prayer was to be the great outreach to others, the one and only work of her nuns. Her energy, resolution and sense of humor were unfailing, animated as they were by her immense desire to serve the Lord as lovingly as she could. She died at Alba de Tormes on 4th October 1582. She was sixty seven years old. When the bells of Avila tolled for her the local citizens said: “The Saint has gone to heaven.” Her feast day is kept on 15th October. – Carmelite Spirituality, Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region

st. teresa of jesus from Mother Pia
St. Teresa of Jesus sculpture. Shared by Philadelphia Carmel.

St. Teresa’s writings on the four states of mental prayer. In the first stage, believers learn to pray. In the second, they experience the supernatural aspect of prayer. In the third, the soul is bathed in the pleasure of God’s presence, and in the fourth, senses are abandoned in a sort of out-of-body experience where the soul feels only divine union. – from The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus of the Order of Our Lady of Carmel (Autobiography)

incorrupt right foot of Teresa of AvilaIncorrupt right foot of St. Teresa of Jesus.

Teresa entered a Carmelite convent when she was eighteen, and later earned a reputation as a mystic, reformer, and writer who experienced divine visions. She wrote the book The Way of Perfection for her nuns. Other important books by her include her Autobiography and The Interior Castle.

st teresa by bernini
The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini, Basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. 1652. St. Teresa’s life has inspired great works of art. This marble sculpture was finished 30 years after her canonization.

As St. Teresa of Avila’s friend and confidant, St John of the Cross remarked, ‘At the end of the day, it is by the quality of our loving that we shall be judged.’

In 1571 Teresa wrote to her sister about John, “The people take him for a saint; in my opinion he is one, and has been all his life.”

X. In Closing

Christ Has No Body
by Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

mount carmel signA change in seasons at Mt. Carmel.

Inserted into the cornerstone of the Holy Spirit Chapel dated April 15, 1915:

Praise and thanksgiving forever to the Triune God!


Credits:
Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia – Facebook
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia – website
The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Mount Carmel, Philadelphia (Booklet)
Discalced Carmelite of the Australia-Oceania Region website
Croatian Carmel Province
Discalced Carmelite Friars, Washington Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Friends of Carmel Pinterest
Opening poem – I followed John of the Cross… – ShrineTower 2014
Opening prayer – Love and honor to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel . . . – From the cornerstone of the Holy Spirit Chapel dated April 15, 1915.

The New Evangelization Enabler: Social Media – Sharing the Joy and Beauty of God

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journey-of-the-magi.jpg!HalfHD
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” – Matthew 10:16
Journey of the Magi by James Tissot.

The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God. – Pope Francis

I. The New Evangelization Movement: Get the Message Out

Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. – Pope Francis

Pope with Dove
Pope Francis with dove in Assisi, Italy

May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful “neighbours” to those wounded and left on the side of the road.  Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. – Pope Francis

send the message out
Christ sending out the Seventy Disciples by James Tissot.

Social media is like sending out seventy disciples multiplied by seventy thousand. With technology enabled tools that create and integrate multiple platforms, a sincere unified message can be sent out.

The Internet in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God. – Pope Francis

POPE FRANCIS MEETS PIACENZA PILGRIMSPope Francis with youth posing for a selfie in St. Peter’s Square.

The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.  . . . Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence. – Pope Francis

The New Evangelization is the most important movement in the Church today. First, because it concerns evangelization, the Church’s most basic task. – Brandon Vogt

… the Church has barely tapped its potential. Imagine telling St. Paul, St. Augustine or St. Thomas that in less than a second you could beam a message to millions of people around the world — and do it for free. Those guys would have given their right arms for such a tool. – Brandon Vogt

II. Social Media: Where People Congregate, Connect and are Active

ARCHBISHOP EAMON MARTINArchbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland. An unlikely technology leader.

“Our challenge as evangelisers has always been to reach out and encounter people where they are at, and nowadays, more and more that means online!” If only to be able to reach our young people and an increasing percentage of people of all ages, we need to be present in this new age.  – Archbishop Eamon Martin

instagram example all saints day martin
Fr. James Martin SJ, connecting Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to get the message out.

The Internet has become like the nervous system of our culture, in which more and more people are expressing and exploring their identity, picking up and discarding their values and attitudes, expressing their feelings and prejudices, befriending and unfriending each other, measuring each other’s status and importance, relevance and appearance. If our young people are living in this gigantic network, then we, as people of faith need to be in there, dialoguing with the inhabitants of this world, with the men and women who dwell in the web! – Archbishop Eamon Martin

pope francis twitter acct pageThe official Twitter page of Pope Francis. Over 4.5 million followers.

I quote from the Pope’s Message: ‘The digital highway is … a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the Internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)’.

III. Social Media Services

Everything we have received is a gift from God. We respond to his love by giving it away, by showing it in a way of serving. – David Fleming S.J.

Social Media services provided upon request. Shrines and Sacred Places bringing The Joy of the Gospel.
ShrineTower@gmail.com
@shrinetower (Twitter)

Credits:
Credits – Message of Pope Francis for the 48th World Communications Day [(6/1/14)
Credits – Brandon Vogt interview.
Credits – Archbishop Eamon Martin (Ireland) ‘The New media and the work of Evangelisation

Ignatian Spirituality at Old St. Joseph’s: God’s Creation Shines

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Image of Iganatius Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

Ignatius Loyola created a vision on the way to approach spirituality, a “way of proceeding.” These innovative ideas are showcased here in Ignatius life and his classic text, Spiritual Exercises, that today drive Jesuits, laymen and Pope Francis. Old St. Joseph’s Church guides us in our spiritual understanding of Ignatius of Loyola.

David Fleming, in his book What is Ignatian Spirituality, begins by noting in the Preface that in founding the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius was “more interested in a whole-person approach than in rules”. As a result, Ignatian spirituality may be understood as “a spiritual ‘way of proceeding’ that offers a vision of life, an understanding of God, a reflective approach to living, a contemplative form of praying, a reverential attitude to our world, and an expectation of finding God daily”. In other words, Ignatian spirituality entails a worldview and a way of life. – From Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. pastor at Old St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

I. A Vision of Life, Work and Love

road and sunlight
Sunlight Around the Bend.

Ignatius compares the gifts of God as light from sun and water from a spring source. We share with God everything we have.

“God’s love shines down upon me like the light rays from the sun” says Ignatius.

Ignatius comments that life is about God in our daily lives…all the gifts to us to know God more easily and return love more readily. As good stewards and loving persons we care for God’s world. – David Flemming S.J. author of What is Ignatian Spirituality?

nature 5 oerwout God is the light of the world. Photo by Oer-Wont.

Light is beautiful and mysterious, just like God.

God as a giver of gifts speaks to us through his giving. This is a central theme of Ignatian Spirituality, love shows itself in deeds over words. We are asked to share and give what one has.

streams source of lifeThree Waterfalls.  Ignatius vision directs us to the source of life.

Our one desire: to want and choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me. –  David Fleming S.J.

Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_1482_85Domenico_Ghirlandaio Santa Trinita FlorenceAdoration by the Shepherds by Domenico Ghirlandaio 1485. Ignatius says, “Look at how God loves.”

The real source of life is the Eucharist.

Christ is in the trenches doing the evangelizing. We are asked or called to work with him. David Fleming S.J. author of What is Ignatian Spirituality says it’s the Call of the King . . . we should think of Jesus as a king, we owe reverence and obedience. This expands to reverence for all the gifts of God’s creation that are given to us.

II. God is Love Loving

1-ignatius-recovers-from-his-wounds-at-loyola.jpg!HD
Ignatius recovers from his wounds at Loyola by Carlos Saenz de Tejada.

Ignatius says God’s gift is himself in Jesus in the Eucharist. God created Jesus.

By receiving God, we become his hands, feet and voice in our world.

All the things in this world, says Ignatius, are ways to become closer to God.

Old St. Joes altar
Old St. Joseph’s Church and National Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded by the Jesuits in 1733, Old St. Joseph’s is the oldest catholic community in Philadelphia. It is a national shrine from a historical standpoint. The current church is the third church on the site, built in 1839. St. Joseph’s University and St. Joseph’s Preparatory School were founded at Old St. Joseph’s.

III. Spirituality of the Heart

heart with old stained glass window
The Heart mosaic stained glass window at Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Mosaic windows were for church’s that couldn’t afford figured stained glass windows, which at several points over the centuries, Old St. Joe’s was in this category, a poor parish.  The heart referenced by Ignatius is the inner orientation of a person. Ignatius stressed the vision of God is from our hearts not our minds.

organ at Old St. Joesph'sOrgan at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA. Ignatius had a vision of organs playing.

While praying outside a monastery, Ignatius had a mystical vision, hearing three organs playing at the same time. This was a response from God on the question of whether four prayers should be said: to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the One God, or three prayers: to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three organ response was the answer from God to Ignatius.

2-ignatius-writes-the-spiritual-exercises-in-the-cave-at Manresa.jpg!HD Ignatius writes the Spiritual Exercises in the cave at Manresa. – Carlos Saenz de Tejada

Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, his landmark spiritual guide, in a Manresa cave after experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in March 1522. This was well before Ignatius took up religious vows.

The Call of the King is a section of the Spiritual Exercises in which the goal is a response from the heart. Ignatius says, listen to the language of the heart. This is a cornerstone to the Spiritual Exercises.

IV. A Reflective Spirituality

nature 3 oer woutBench Inviting Reflection. Photo by Oer Wout.

The Examen is a method for detecting God’s presence during the day. The Jesuits believe reflective prayer at mid-day and before retiring to sleep is a core to the Spiritual Exercises.

Examen points by Ignatius:
1. be grateful for God’s Blessings
2. ask for the help of the Holy Spirit
3. review the day and determine where God is present and where God is left out.
4. express sorrow for sin
5. pray for grace

Author’s personal note – I practiced the examen technique after reading the Fleming book. It really is an effective mechanism to review the day and where God played a role. Many things quietly surface that go unnoticed without using the examen. David Fleming S.J. says if we get any one thing out of the Spiritual Exercises it should be the examen.

V. Sin – A Lack of Gratitude

washing Christ at the Home of the Pharisee by Artus Wolffort (b 1581; d 1641)
Washing Christ’s feet at the home of the Pharisee. By Artus Wolffort d 1641.

In his book What is Ignatian Spirituality, David Fleming S.J. says one of the greatest gospel stories about sin and forgiveness is Jesus’ meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee. When the woman of ill repute anoints Jesus feet with tears and fine oil, Jesus explained she had much to be thankful for: “her many sins have been forgiven, hence she has shown great love” (Luke 7:47)

Sin is a failure of gratitude. Sin is also a lack of reverence for God. We sin because we don’t fully grasp what God has done for us.

Even though we reject God, he still blesses us.

We enjoy the bounty of God’s creation, heavens, moon, sun, stars, fruits, birds, fishes and animals. – David Fleming S.J.
bird 2
Watchful Eyes in Nature.

Ignatius says, “If people but knew you, they would never offend you”.

As we mature as followers of Christ, we grow in our sensitivity to sin, yet even sinners can respond to God’s invitation to join him. – David Fleming S.J.

VI. Spiritual Life is a Pilgrimage

wanderer by oer woutPilgrims are people on “a way”.   Photo by Oer Wout.

Ignatius used the third person to describe himself in his autobiography, using the term, “the pilgrim”. Pilgrimage is all about following Jesus. To be a pilgrim, David Fleming S.J. says is “to let ourselves be led by the Lord.”

sailboatboats booth bay meSailboat in motion.

Stay alert for the Holy Spirit. Some are on a spiritual pilgrimage, others stationary. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises outlined a “way of proceeding.”

VII. God Calls, We Respond

RESSURECTION 1Risen Christ by Tony Visco. Station of the Cross at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

Ignatius pictures the risen Christ calling every person to follow him. God takes the initiative. We respond.

The Calling of St. Matthew - Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1621.jpg!BlogThe Calling of St. Matthew by Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1621

Ignatius used the call of Matthew the tax collector as an example of Jesus inviting people to follow him. Jesus said, “Follow me” and Matthew then got up and followed him.

Active passivity captures the characteristic tone of Ignatian Spirituality. The question we seek is “What more does God want of me”? – David Fleming S.J.

Magis loosely means “the greater thing” or “the better thing”. Magis comes from within the Latin phrase Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG) translated means “For the greater glory of God”. St. Ignatius asked himself and those around him, “What have I done for God? What am I doing for God? and, “What more can I do for Him?” – Fr. Dan Ruff S.J.

“More” is the magis of Ignatian Spirituality.

sailboat at sunset2The Light of God. Booth Bay Harbor, Maine

Ignatius says the purpose of Spiritual Exercises is to facilitate the movement of God’s grace within us “so the light and love of God inflame all possible decisions and resolutions about life situations.”

VIII. God Communicates in Many Ways

Our God is a “media God”. Ignatius liked the theater and was media savy for his day, having put in the first printing press. God is media savy as well.

God’s voice is usually quiet, like Elijah said, “a tiny whispering sound”.

journey-of-the-magi james tissot 1894Journey of the Magis by James Tissot 1894.

God talked to the Magis and they followed.

adoration-of-the-magi-1619 peter paul rubensIncarnation. Adoration of the Magis by Peter Paul Rubens 1619

The Incarnation is the “media event” for Ignatius where God became human in Jesus Christ, according to David Fleming S.J.

Ignatius used this to show that God is present in his creation and uses all aspects of creation to speak to us.

IX. Prayer is a Conversation

our father imageFinding God in all things.

By “finding” God, means engaging God, meeting him and conversing with him.

According to Ignatius, prayer is a conversation with God, like talking to a good friend. He included conversations with other friends in ministries. To converse is one of the ways of loving.

Prayer takes many forms; mystical, devotional, liturgical and sacred reading. All are included in Ignatius “conversar” meaning to “talk with” or ” to converse” according to David Fleming S.J.

the-lord-s-prayer-1896 james tissot
The Lord’s Prayer by James Tissot 1896.

“Lord teach us to pray”.

prayer-in-the-garden-1459.Andrea MantegnaPrayer in the Garden by Andrea Mantegna 1459

Ignatius developed the Spiritual Exercises including prayer as a conversation after years of study before he was ordained to priesthood.

X. Prayer with Imagination

san-ignatius-1961 XUL SOLAR.jpg!Blog
San Ignatius de Loyola by Xul Solar (Argentinian painter) 1961.

While recovery from a battle injury, a cannonball to the leg, Ignatius read the Life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony. Here he saw God as the God of Love. The book as Ignatius would have seen it is shown below.

Nativity vita christi ludolph of saxony
Nativity by Ludolph of Saxony from Vita Christi (Life of Christ) read by Ignatius.

Vita Christi (Life of Christ) by Ludolph of Saxony also called Ludolph the Carthusian influenced Ignatius greatly. Ludolph proposes a method of prayer which asks the reader to visualize the events of Christ’s life. A version of this was put into the Spiritual Exercises.

MaryWeaving vita christi ludolph of saxony
Mary weaving with Jesus by Ludolph of Saxony from the book Vita Christi (Life of Christ) which Ignatius studied.

Epiphany Vita Christi Ludolph of Saxony 15th cent
Epiphany by Ludolph of Saxony from Vita Christi (Life of Christ).

They Came and Sat

While meditating on the Mystery
a mild breeze seeps through
the locked front door
as Mary, Jesus and Joseph,
came in and sat.

I dreamed of this encounter,
affirming your image
to ancient paintings
with long brilliant white robes,
yet no human can capture
your supernatural mystique
I see now.

As quickly as you entered,
you left . . .

But the transfer occurred
and I know what you said,
“Stay the course and visit Me.
I will see you every day,
every minute, every second,
for I am always with you.”
– Poem by Shrinetower

Get to know Jesus through our imagination, says Ignatius.

XI. Knowing the Jesus who is Poor.

The Jesuits associate being poor with humility.

John Millais_Christ_in_the_House_of_His_Parents_1849Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop), by John Everett Millais 1849

Jesus was a common carpenter, a relatively poor and humble man.

Ignatius joins the poor in begging for alms Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)Ignatius joins the poor in begging for alms by Peter Paul Rubens (1640)

presentation Our Lady of CzestohowaThe Presentation. Our Lady of Czestochowa National Shrine, Philadelphia PA

Ignatius felt we should experience the gospel stories especially those with travel and human interactions, like The Presentation seen here in life like stone figures from Our Lady of Czestochowa National Shrine.

I Have Nothing
In memory of Irene Gage (d 2011)

Nothing to call her own
she had a knack for asking
for the small conveniences of life
like a coat, slippers,
a grocery shopping bag,
a friend to talk to.

Her heart was open, unpretentious
her suffering visible in her face
she knew her situation;
married to a wheelchair
with a broken hip and the riddled life
of a retirement home – road show.

“I have nothing,” she reiterated daily
among her distant acquaintances.
Visible was her grace with God,
an inner family of two,
then a stray comment to put God first.
Like a squirrel she stored grace acorns
for the trip across the abyss,
where nothing was needed after all.
– Poem by Shrinetower

XII. Sharing in the Mission of Christ

unknownSculpture at Old St. Joesph’s Church.

Jesus takes the initiative. We work alongside Jesus.

Ignatius of Loyola FaceIgnatius of Loyola. Picture resides next to Francis Xavier icon at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Everything we have received is a gift from God. We respond to his love by giving it away, by showing it in a way of serving”. – David Fleming S.J. interpretation of Ignatius Spirituality.

XIII. A Way to Clarify Your Values

nature 6 Behind every tree oerwoutBattle of the Light by Oer Wout.

David Fleming S.J. says it’s the Lucifer Flag vs the Christ Flag, although the lines are not well pronounced. Ignatius talks about good and evil and the battle ensues. Our work vision is to overcome all evil in the world.

taking of christ caravaggio WSJ2Taking of Christ by Amerighi Caravaggio 1602. You are there.

Ignatius suggests we imagine we are in the Passion of Christ. In the Taking of Christ painting, Caravaggio painted himself as a witness, in the far right side with hand raised. Ignatius asks us to place ourselves in the Gospels, as witnesses of the sacred saga.

Delivering Victory

The Spirit of Darkness
despises us in victory,
deliver me
from the hands of our enemy, (1)
deliver me
from the demon Lucifer,
the fallen angel
who attacks relentlessly.
Let’s put up a shield
in the battlefield
so the Evil One doesn’t
get the victory.
(1)  Psalm 35:15
-Poem by ShrineTower

 XIV. Greatest Mark of God’s Love

Peter Paul Rubens, c.1632 The Last Supper by Peter Paul Rubens, c.1632

Everything is a gift from God. In the spiritual exercises of the third week Ignatius wants us to pray around two Gospel passages: the last supper (Matthew 26) and Christ washing the apostles’ feet (John 13), says David Fleming S.J.

The Last Supper, when Jesus gave us his body and blood, is the greatest mark of God’s love, according to David Fleming S.J.

christ-washing-the-feet-of-the-disciples Palo VeroneseChrist washing the feet of the disciples by Palo Veronese 1580s.

Jesus is willing to do whatever it takes.

Francis Xavier and the Cross 2Francis Xavier and The Cross, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

The cross is called Christ’s glory, it is saluted as his triumph. – St. Andrew of Crete

Ignatius asks us to imaginatively come into the presence of Jesus on the Cross. We are with the disciples at the foot of the cross, seeing the face of Christ and what he did in response to sin. We are to consider what Christ did in response to sin.

at manresa vision of Jesus at Mass eter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)Ignatius Vision at Mass in Manresa Monastery by Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640).

At Manresa, Ignatius has a vision of seeing Jesus at Mass. In his autobiography (recited in the 3rd person) Ignatius says, “at the elevation of the body of Christ our Lord he beheld, with the eyes of his soul, white rays descended from above … The manner in which our Lord Jesus Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament was clearly and visibly stamped upon his mind”.

station Jesus taken down from the crossJesus falls by Anthony Visco. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Station of the Cross Sculpture, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

We experience the pain and agony.

feast at simons
Sinner washing Jesus feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee
by Paolo Veronese 1570

Before Jesus gave the disciples the Eucharist, he washed their feet. We are called to be people who serve. – David Fleming S.J.

Eucharist stained glass window behind altarThe Eucharist. Stained glass window behind altar, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

The Eucharist brings us to the most intimate possible relationship with Christ. The Ignatian way is the way of the heart. The Eucharist shows God to be all heart. – David Fleming S.J.

XV. Seeking the Grace of Compassion

Jesus falls -Stations of the CrossJesus Falls by Anthony Visco. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Station of the Cross Sculpture, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Per Ignatius, our graced response to pain is called compassion. We experience the pain and agony.

Ask for the grace “to grieve, be sad and weep” over Jesus suffering. Ignatius wants us to experience it as something fresh and immediate. – David Fleming S.J.

XVI. A Way to Discern God’s Will

Bartolome Esteban Murillo Pauls SanctificationPaul’s Sanctification by Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1665.

Ignatius sites two examples of “first time” decisions, or decisions guided by our heart: the Conversion of the apostle Paul and the call of the tax collector Matthew.

MICHELANGELO conversion of st. paul 2The Conversion of St. Paul by Michelangelo 1545.

As Fr. David Fleming says in the little book we are using this year for our One Book One Parish program, Ignatius “underwent a profound conversion while recuperating from his wounds, but it was not a conversion of the intellect or will… His conversion involved his deepest desires and commitments, that essential center of the personality in which [the human person] stands before God. [Ignatius’] religious practice and intellectual understanding deepened over time, but it was his heart that was transformed.” – From the Pastor series by Fr. Dan Ruff, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

MICHELANGELO conversion of st. paul detailConversion of St. Paul by Michelangelo 1545 – detail

“The heart has it’s reasons of which the mind knows nothing”. – Blaise Pascal 1650’s

Ignatius always envisioned Jesuits and their partners as being “contemplatives in action.” He asked his first companions to reflect and pray in order to detect the presence of God in their lives. Then, through discerning Christ’s call, to carry out His mission through action. – NJN Editor

XVII. Working With Others

Ignatius chooses companions at Paris 1528 - 1535Ignatius Chooses Companions in Paris 1528 by Peter Paul Rubens (1640)

Francis Xavier Friend of Ignatius
Francis Xavier friend of Ignatius
. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Francis Xavier is known as the Apostle of the Indies and patron saint of missionaries. He has been called the greatest missionary since St. Paul.

The first seven Companions pronounce vows at Montmartre 15th August 1534 rubens jesuit instituteThe first seven companions pronounce vows at Montmartre, August 1534 by Peter Paul Rubens (d.1640)

XVIII. Being Helpful

a-storta-romersk-maleri-fra-fc3b8r-1611La Storta Vision by Romersk Maleri 1611.

The dialogue of the Ignatius vision at La Storta outside Rome:

Ignatius sees God the Father and Jesus carrying a cross. “Place me with your son”, pleads Ignatius.

“We will be propitious (favorable) to you in Rome”, replies God the Father.

Then God the Father tells Jesus, “I want you to take this man to serve us”.

The Jesus says to Ignatius, “We want you to serve us”.

As prophetized, when Ignatius went to Rome, the Pope approved the Society of Jesus religious order also known as the Jesuits.

Parable of the Workers in theParable of the workers in the vineyard.Vineyard Cesare Roberti  ca. 1590Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard by Cesare Roberti  1590.

We are partners in Jesus in His work. Ignatius guide to Jesuit service is the image of laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) where the vineyard is a symbol of God’s world. He said the work of Jesuits is to “help souls”.

laboreres in the vineyard red-vineyards-at-arles-1888 vincent van goghLaborers in the Vineyard by Vincent van Gogh 1888

jesus carrying cross?Jesus Carrying the Cross by Anthony Visco. Located behind the palms at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

XIX. Jesus is All Heart

Sacred Heart at Old St. Joe'sSacred Heart Mosaic Window. Old St. Joseph’s Church – Detail

Jesus is all heart.

The great Suscipe prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will -
all that I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours, do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.

Christ's Charge to St. Peter feed m lambs (from the Sistine Chapel) - RaphaelChrist’s charge to St. Peter: Feed my Lambs by Rapael from Cistine Chapel.

Show reverence for all the gifts of God’s creation. These gifts allow us to know God more easily, so we can return that love. We are asked to collaborate with God and care for God’s world. – David Fleming S.J.

Calling_of_the_Apostles_1481 Domenico_GhirlandaioCalling of St. Peter by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cistine Chapel 1481.

On the left are scenes from the life of Moses, and on the right scenes from the life of Christ. Also with halo is St. Andrew. There is a good chance Ignatius saw this painting on his pilgrimage to Rome.

It’s Jesus work, we just help.

XX. Conclusion – Old St. Joseph’s and Pope Francis

DSC_0133
Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania – Oldest Catholic Community in US.

The Jesuits founded Old St. Joseph’s Church in 1733 making it the oldest Catholic Church in the nation. Yet, the storied Jesuit missionaries were forced to leave Philadelphia in 1799 due to the suppression of the Society. Philadelphia became a diocese in 1808 and the center of all clergy life was at Old St. Joseph’s. In 1833, after the restoration of the Society of Jesus by the Vatican, the resilient Jesuits took back the patronage of Old St. Joseph’s.

francis drexel closeup
Francis A. Drexel, Patron of Old St. Joseph’s Church.

Francis Drexel, the father of St. Katharine Drexel, was baptized and married at Old St. Joseph’s. He supplied funding to remodel the Church in 1886.

st. Joseph looking up
Apotheosis of St. Joseph. Nave ceiling Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia PA.

The present Church is third church built on site. It was only church on east coast where a public Mass could be held legally from 1733 until after American revolution.

“Thus at least two-thirds of the Spiritual Exercises is given over to what I call the Godspell grace – spending time in leisurely contemplation of Jesus’ life in the Gospels, seeking to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.” – Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. From the Pastor series, Old St. Joesph’s Church.

Pope Francis smiling
Pope Francis 2014  On God In All Things

“Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical eureka.’ When we desire to encounter God, we would like to verify him immediately by an empirical method. But you cannot meet God this way. God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah. The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach.” – Pope Francis on Ignatian Spirituality

Pope Francis is lead participant in the World Meeting of Families in September 2015 in Philadelphia.

Papal-coat-of-arms-440x582
Pope Francis Coat of Arms. Much of the symbology reverts back to Ignatius.

The dark blue shield includes the official seal of the Society of Jesus with the blazing yellow sun and the red letters, IHS, the sign for the name of Jesus. A red cross rises up from the letter H and three black nails rest below. The bottom part of the blue shield is an eight point gold star and a gold flower, which represents Mary and St. Joseph.

The shield is surrounded a papal emblem using a gold key to represent the power in heaven and a silver key to indicate the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth united by a red cord.

Pope Francis’ motto at the bottom of the COA is the Latin phrase “Miserando atque eligendo,” which means “having mercy, he called him” (from St Bede the Venerable). The motto is based on the Gospel account of The Call of St. Matthew, the tax collector.

saile at sunsetWitness to God’s creation.

Anima Christi  by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within the wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
to praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever
Amen

image of Jesuits
The Jesuit worldwide symbol.

Credits: The Jesuit pastor at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Fr. Dan Ruff, suggested the book What is Ignatian Spirituality? by David L. Fleming, S.J. (Loyola Press 2008) as part of a One Book, One Parish Program for 2014. Much of this post is attributed to the Fleming book. Also, the One Parish, One Book 2014 Study/ Discussion Guide by Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. and the From the Pastor series by Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. were used as guides. I am a visitor at Old St. Joseph’s. Selected photos by Oer Wout. For a FREE on-line copy of What is Ignatian Spirituality? by David Fleming S.J. go here.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with St. Thérèse of Lisieux at Philadelphia Carmel

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Mount Carmel

God is love. – 1 John 4:8

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God
 of Hosts. – 1 Kings 19:10

elijah and mary final 4
Prophet Elijah reaching for Our Lady above the cloud. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia.

Opening stanza of a Carmelite hymn sung on the Feast Day Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 2014:

Queen and Beauty of Mount Carmel!

Seen by prophet’s mystic gaze;

Shown above the holy mountain

As Elijah kneels and prays.

Carmel is a place near modern day Haifa, Israel on the Mediterranean Sea where hermits have lived since the time of the prophet Elijah, well before the birth of Jesus.

In the Old Testament, Elijah sends his servant Gehazi up to look out over the sea seven times for a cloud to bring rain to end a drought. Elijah prayed and up from the sea came a cloud to Mount Carmel. According to the ancient tradition of the Carmelite Order, Elijah saw the prefigurement of Our Lady.

In the early 13th century on Mt. Carmel, hermits built their cells around a small chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. These hermits became known as the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is the origin of the devotion to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

In the tradition of salvation history, the Brothers of Our Lady claimed spiritual kinship with the prophet Elijah. They strove to perpetuate through their lives of prayer, poverty, and penance the great zeal of this Old Testament saint. In Mary they found the model for a life of dedication and service to Christ. In her they saw the ideal contemplative and they took her as their mother and guide. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

Cloud-like rising from the ocean,
Pure and free from every stain,
She has claimed his heart’s devotion
Through the ages to remain.
(Carmelite hymn sung on the Feast Day Mass Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16, 2014.)

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Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus. Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia Carmel in Pennsylvania.

The scapular is hanging from Mary’s right hand.

Tender Mother, she has clothed us
With a double garment fair.
Pledge of heavenly protection,
Is the scapular we wear.

On July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. During the vision, she revealed to him the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known as the “Brown Scapular”. Mary handed Simon Stock a brown woolen scapular and promised, “Whoever dies in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire.” The feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel coincides with the July 16th date of the apparition.

The brown scapular is the principle part of the religious habit of the Order of Carmel and has had special importance since the 13th century. Just as Our Lady wrapped the Christ Child in clothing which she herself prepared, so, too, she designated the holy scapular to be a sign of her motherly protection both in life and in death. In so doing, she takes upon herself all the consequences of her spiritual motherhood, guards her children and leads them to God. They, in turn, experience her powerful intercession, for the scapular is an habitual invocation of her whose prayer is always efficacious. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

There is a Scapular Confraternity of Carmel available to laypeople.

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The Blessed Virgin Mary; Sanctuary Window, Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Philadelphia Carmel.

Our Lady is depicted as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. – Luke 1:35

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St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face.

Also known as St. Therese of Lisieux and the Little Flower.
The “Shower of Roses” window was installed before her beatification in 1923 in anticipation of sainthood. One angel is sheathing his sword, now that the battle is over.

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The cloistered nuns are on the other side of this separator, where they pray and celebrate Mass. The Host is passed by the priest through a section that opens within the bars.

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The new Martin Family Reliquary at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Fluer Nabert.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in 2013, entrusted the relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin and St. Therese to the Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery. The Philadelphia Carmel were the originators of devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the United States, in the early 20th century.

Shown above are the three individual reliquaries, housing the relics of Therese, Louis and Azellie. This is the first family reliquary for veneration and procession. The reliquary of St. Thérèse, Doctor of the Church is placed highest. Louis and Azellie reliquary are united by wedding rings. The two white lilies are for the parents and the rose is for St. Thérèse. Design by Fluer Nabert, sculpture.

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The entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Philadelphia Carmel.

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Portico detail, front entrance.

The Latin words mean:
I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. – Is 56:7

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Portico detail.

Inscription in Latin means:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts – 1 Kings 19:10

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The walled Monastery is off limits to the public.

The Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia was founded in 1902, less than five years after St. Thérèse died. The Carmelites have been in the current building since 1910. The entire Monastery complex was completed in 1925.

Many archives from the beginning of the Monastery at Philadelphia Carmel to the modern day have survived and been preserved for public use. The Carmelites created one of the most inspiring religious websites in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It includes digitized historical content from their archives including “Lights on Liturgy” prayers, letters from Cardinals, YouTube video, photos and events. The link is here: Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia.

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The altar in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

On the left is St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila), founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with St. John of the Cross and on the right is St. Elisha with hand outstretched, a prophet who followed in Elijah’s footsteps.

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St. Thérèse of Lisieux (January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897) explains the Science of Love.

I desire only this science of love…I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is the only good ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to Divine Furnace [of God's love] and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in it's Father's arms. – St. Thérèse of Lisieux (SS 187-188)

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Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Original papal document dated 1895 of an appearance of the living face of Christ on a Veronicas Veil witnessed by many during veneration.

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The Holy Face of Jesus detail.
In Rome in 1849, a miracle occurred where the Face of Christ appeared during veneration of Veronica’s Veil. It lasted 3 hours with a bright illumination witnessed by a group that was present. An engraving of the image on the veil was made to commemorate the event and a reproduction, authenticated by the Vatican, is now housed at Philadelphia Carmel. In Latin it’s called Sacri Vultus, the Holy Face Relic.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face carried Jesus face close to her heart.

Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church in October 1997, the year of her 100th anniversary of her death, making her the youngest and most contemporary of all Doctors of the Church. Her sisters, also religious, lived to be in their 90’s. If Therese had also lived that long, she would have lived to 1963. That would put her in the same era as Padre Pio, who was born fourteen years after Thérèse in 1887 and passed in 1968 at age of 81 years old.

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Thérèse of Lisieux, a Professed Discalced Carmelite Nun at the Monastery of Lisieux.

I understand that all souls cannot be the same, that is necessary that there be different types in order to honor each of God’s perfections in a particular way. To me He has granted His infinite mercy, and through it I contemplate and adore the other divine perfections! (SS180) – Therese of Lisieux from Walking the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux, Discovering the Path of Love. Joseph F. Schmidt FSC 2012

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From the Side Shrine in Honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

St. Thérèse was canonized in 1925. The statue of St. Thérèse with the face of Jesus was donated in 1997, the same year Therese was honored as Doctor of the Church by St. John Paul II. She is holding a Doctoral biretta in her right hand.

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At the time of her death, Therese knew no more than 50 people, having lived in a cloistered, contemplative convent. As she studied and prayed the science of love from her own experiences, her wisdom blossomed.

I wanted Carmel as soon as I learned of it; I find that all the aspirations of my heart are fulfilled in this Order. – Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

“I am not dying; I am entering into life,” wrote Thérèse of Lisieux a few weeks before her death in Carmel on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.

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Chapel of the Holy Spirit after Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Day Mass, July 16, 2014.

The Carmelites host an Public Novena in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel each July. Most recently, the 111th year of the Public Novena was celebrated during July 2014.

From the Novena:

Mary, be mindful of us as we kneel before you.
By your love of God, hear us; by your fidelity to God, intercede for us;
by your power over the devil, protect us.

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Trinity Window – Pater, Flius, Spiritus Sanctus

Latin for Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Closing Prayers:

O Mary, conceived without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to Thee! From the Flos Carmeli Prayer, Latin for “Flower of Carmel” by St. Simon Stock (1165 – 1265), a Carmelite. This prayer is also a favorite at the Miraculous Medal Shrine, Philadelphia.

Several prayers said by the Nuns at Philadelphia Carmel:

On behalf of those who have said no prayers today, let us say: Our Father… Hail Mary…

On behalf of those who neglect to praise God and thank Him, let us say: Blessed be God. Blessed be His holy name.

On behalf of those who blaspheme and neglect the Blessed Sacrament, let us say: Blessed, praised, worshiped and adored be Jesus Christ on His Throne of Glory and in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. – from Night Litany for Our City.

Aura of Saints Peter and Paul on their Feast Day at the Cathedral Basilica

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Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? – Psalm 71:19

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At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones”. – Matthew 11:25

It’s the Solemnity of Peter and Paul, June 29th, a feast day of the highest magnitude at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Saint Peter.

From marble mosaic on the Sanctuary wall at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia PA. In the background is Saint Peter’s Basilica, a major basilica in Vatican City, Rome.

You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18

And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Luke 9:20

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Saint Paul.

From marble mosaic on the Sanctuary wall at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia PA. In the background is Outside-the-Walls Basilica, a major basilica in Rome.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:12

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

Inside the great dome, at the center, is Mary ascending into Heaven. Around Mary are panel paintings called the “Angels of The Passion. Within each group of angels is an emblem of the Passion; the cross, crown of thorns; twelve in total. The stained glass windows, detail is not shown, are of Blessed Mary holding the Child Jesus, with Saint Peter and Saint Paul on each side. The remaining stained glass windows are Doctors of the Church, including friends of ShrineTower; St. Augustine and St. Basil. The four pillars of the great dome are the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (cont’d).

Closer view of the great dome of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Several of the “Angels of The Passion” panel paintings can be seen.

Mary Mother of God is the patroness of the United States of America.

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Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the patron of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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The Umbralino. (Italian for “umbrella”)

The umbralino in the Sanctuary next to the Cathedra or Bishop’s chair. Whenever a Pope visits a basilica, its umbralino is opened. It could possibly be opened if Pope Francis visits Philadelphia for the “World Meeting of Families” event, planned for September, 2015.

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The Tintinnabulum.

A small gold bell is hanging below an enamel plate with a picture of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. On the other side of the plate is a picture of the Cathedral Basilica. At the top of the tintinnabulum is the papal tiara and Keys of Heaven. If Pope Francis were to celebrate the Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Basilica, the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the procession down the Basilica’s main aisle.

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Ciborium – View Looking Up.

In the center of the underside of the ciborium is the Holy Spirit symbolized as a dove. The mosaic carries in Latin an inscription which translates: “In every place there is offered and sacrificed in My Name a clean oblation.” From Malachias 1:11.

Story of St. Paul follows from a stained glass window in the apse:
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Paul’s Conversion

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” – Acts 9:3-4

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. – Acts 26:15-16

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Paul Preaching to the Athenians (Pagens in Greece).

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.” Acts 17:22-23

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Paul was beheaded in Rome.

“These are the ones, who living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord, and became friends with God.” Entrance Antiphon, Feast Day Mass, June 29, 2014.

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Saint Paul at the front entrance to the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

In Archbishop Chaput’s sermon on the Feast day Mass of June 29th at the Basilica, he said most people think of Paul’s symbol, the sword, for his martyrdom, since he was beheaded by the Romans. It really is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God where the sword penetrates our heart.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17

Story of St. Peter follows from a stained glass window in the apse:
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Jesus Giving Peter the Keys to Heaven.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19

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Peter Being Called by Jesus.

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

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Peter’s crucification.

Peter was crucified upside down, at his request, according to Origen of Alexandria.

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Saint Peter at the front entrance to the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Peters symbol are keys, which represent Jesus’ saying, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

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Peter in chains teaching the other prisoners.

On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.- Acts 12:6-7

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Successor to St. Peter: Pope Francis.

Pope Francis at Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Photo credit – VaticanRadio.com

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Building community.

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St. Peter.

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Aura of St. Peter

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Aura of St. Paul

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. – St. Paul 2 Timothy 4:7

Basil’s Family at the Basilian Spirituality Center

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Basilian Spirituality Center.

Located in Fox Chase Manor, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, the Basilian Spirituality Center is part of the Eastern Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church, under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

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The Basilian Family at the Basilian Spirituality Center.

Icons play a significant role in the Eastern Byzantine rite.

The “Basilian Family” icon, located on a wall within the retreat center is especially core to the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great. Central in the Basilian Family is Mary, her arms outstretched and the name of her Son, “IXC”, radiating from her body. In Eastern Byzantine rite this is called The Theotokos, Mary Mother of God. Macrina The Elder is to the right of Mary, to whom St. Basil attributed much of his spiritual formation. She is dressed in green, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, a woman of spiritual gifts and the wisdom of God. To the right of Macrina the Elder is St. Gregory of Nyssa, brother of St. Basil, holding the gospels as a symbol of his preaching abilities and is dressed in the ecclesiastical garb of a Bishop. To the left of The Theotokos is Macrina the Younger, Basil’s sister, in monastic garb as a foundress of the community of Neocaesarea and next to her is St. Basil also dressed as a Bishop carrying the gospel.

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Song of Songs poem.

Inscribed above the wall of the Basilan Family, is the love poem from Song of Songs v8:6-7
“Set me as a seal on your heart, for love is as strong as death, its flames are flames of fire, many waters cannot quench love.”

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Holy Trinity Chapel. The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity was celebrated here on June 15th.

The Byzantine rite is one of several Eastern rites recognized in full communion with the Bishop of Rome; Pope Francis. Its origin can be traced to the ancient city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), renamed Constantinople when the emperor Constantine relocated his capital city there from Rome in A.D. 330.

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The Theotokos.

On the rear wall of the Holy Trinity Chapel, the Chapel of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, is the “Theotokos” icon, meaning “God Bearer” or ‘Mother of God’. Mary is the Theotokos, the one who gave birth to God. This was the Council of Ephesus (in 431) and the Council of Nicea’s definition of Mary since Jesus was true God and true Man, so Mary could be called “Mother of God”. It appeared in the Archbasilicas of Rome, built by Constantine in one of the first churches ever built.

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Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane

The Eastern Ukrainian Byzantine Church has 5.5 million followers. Typically the sanctuary is separated from the congregation by an iconostasis, a screen covered with icons. Leavened bread is used for the consecration of the body of Christ in the liturgy (not called the “Mass” in Eastern rites), which is either the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or that of St. Basil the Great. Communion is received under both kinds and administered by the priest using a spoon to the faithful.

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The Pantocrator.

Located on the ceiling in the nave of the Chapel is the Pantocrator Icon, “Ruler of All”, Christ blessing his people. The Pantocrator is present in most Eastern Byzantine churches along with the Theotokos described earlier.

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Byzantine Catholics operate under a different code of canon law. They also celebrate a somewhat different liturgical year with some unique feasts and saints. Latin-rite Catholics can attend a Byzantine liturgy to fulfill their obligation to attend Mass.

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Two at the Tomb icon.

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Pysanky eggs photo on display at the Basilian Spirituality Center.

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Entrance to the Basilian Spirituality Center complex.

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Creating an icon.

Each year an icon presentation and icon writing workshops are held at the Basilian Spirituality Center in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. This year (2014), famed iconographer Rev. Damian Higgins conducted the icon workshop. Rev Damien is from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery also known as Mt. Tabor Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.

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One of the all time famous icons every created, “The Holy Trinity” by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev (1360-1370).

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Symbolism in the three spires on Holy Trinity Sunday.

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” St. Basil the Great

Norbert on his Feast Day at Daylesford Abbey

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Daylesford Abbey, Paoli Pennsylvania, with bronze sculpture, the Abbey Church, and the bell tower.

The bell tower consists of three bells that chime and resonate throughout the day. From any angle in looking at the bell tower, you see a cross.

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Detail: Bronze sculpture on Daylesford Abbey grounds.

Blessed Hugh is the lower figure. He was one of St. Norbert’s first disciples and later became first abbot of Prémontré. Above Hugh is Norbert, pointing upward to Jesus. And Jesus is the upright figure with hands raised to heaven.

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St. Norbert, founder of the Norbertine Order, at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Norbert in his own side chapel at the Abbey. The light above is from a skylight opening. It’s June 6th, the feast day of St. Norbert.

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Detail of Norbert’s right hand holding the Monstrance with the Host embedded with the insignia JHS.

The most common Christogram is “IHS” or “IHC”, denoting the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus. In Greek capitals Jesus name is ΙΗΣΟΥΣ or IHSOUS in Latin letters. Shortened this becomes IHS(ous) or IHS. In Latin the I and J are interchangeable, therefore JHS is an equivalent meaning of the Holy Name.

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Norbert painting at Daylesford Abbey, Paoli Pennsylvania.

Norbert in a state of ecstasy, receiving a vision from the Lord.
On the right is his Archbishop mitre.

On one occasion, while Norbert was celebrating Mass, a spider fell into the already consecrated chalice. To avoid desecrating the precious blood of Jesus, Norbert swallowed the large spider whole, only to have it expelled through his nose with a sneeze.

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Saint Norbert painting by Marten Pepijn 1637, oil on panel a O.L. Vrouwekathedraal Cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Norbertines at Daylesford Abbey have a deep sense for community. They use the term communio, and practice it by living in open dialogue and consultation individually and collectively with the local community. Being canons regular the Norbertines combine community activity with the contemplative life. Yet unlike monks who live in cloistered, contemplative life and sometimes engage in the community, Daylesford canons regular preach, teach, and administer the sacraments for all who participate when at the Abbey.

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Entrance to Daylseford Abbey complex.

The Daylesford Abbey Spirituality Center brings diverse and innovative programs, from world renowned national speakers like Fr. Richard Rohr, to how to write a collect for the opening prayer of a Mass. Of course the collect written won’t get into the Roman Missal, but understanding the process is fascinating. For some of the larger programs, like conferences and retreats, the Abbey offers 36 rooms for overnight guests with home cooked meals. Dinners before spirituality programs are a nice addition to the Abbey culture.

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The Daylesford Abbey nave. Like Katharine Drexel’s Shrine monastery in Philadelphia, the pews arranged in the foreground face each other.

There are several Norbertine Abbeys in the US. In addition to Daylesford Abbey, there is St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere Wisconsin and St. Michaels Abbey in California. Each Abbey operates autonomous of one another, with their own unique culture. The Daylesford Abbey would be considered left and liberal of other Norbertine Abbeys. This also differentiates the forward thinking Daylesford Abbey from other religious in the Philadelphia area.

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Cross at Daylesford Abbey Church

Since Norbert left no writings except for one small prayer, his legacy is the religious community he left behind. Following St. Augustine “those who sing pray twice” the Norbertines sing their prayers in the Divine Office and have a special devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

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Norbert with Monstrance and Staff, Daylesford Abbey, Philadelphia, PA

Norbert was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and defended the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. He is credited for driving a heretic from Antwerp who repeatedly blasphemed the Blessed Sacrament and had it removed from the cathedral and hidden. As part of this miracle Saint Norbert rescued the monstrance, returning it unharmed to the cathedral. We typically see the Monstrance being held by Norbert in paintings of the saint.

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Artwork in one of the several courtyards throughout the Abbey.

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Photo taken near the stream running through the Abbey grounds in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Goodbye to Norbert and the Abbey on Norbert’s feast day. It’s a special place for prayer, meditation and learning.

St. Philomena, The Daughter of Light

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Philomena statue Philomena in Saint Philomena Roman Catholic Church
 Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Today, May 25, is the feast of the discovery of the relics of St. Philomena.

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Catacombs where St. Philomena was found.

St. Philomena was a second century girl whose remains were discovered in 1802 in an ancient catacomb in Rome.

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The three tiles on the tomb: LUMENA / PAX TE / CUM FI.

In Latin the tomb read, “Pax tecum, Filumena”, which translates “Peace be with you, Philomena”. It also contained a vile of her dried blood and bone relics.

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Tomb of St. Philomena at the International Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino, Italy.

Several years later Philomenia’s remains were enshrined in a village in Mugano, Italy and there begins the interventions and unusual events surrounding this girl of fourteen or fifteen. So great were here intersessions and miracles, that many religious and lay people began following her spirit.

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Painting of Philomena at Saint Philomena Roman Catholic Church
 in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

She was made a saint in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI. She is the only person recognized as a saint based solely on her intersessions, since little is know of her otherwise. On the spirituality side, Philomena revealed her story to Mother Maria Luisa di Gesu, Foundress of the Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows on August 3, 1833. Here is the story of what St. Philomina said of her background.

Philomeia Church PA Exterior of St. Philomena Church in the suburbs of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The church was dedicated on May 27, 1900.

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St. John Neumann while bishop of Philadelphia, was a true promoter of St. Philomena. He said of Philomena, “to whom God denies nothing for whoever invokes her.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini carried a small statue of Philomena on her numerous journeys. The Blessed Pius IX (1792-1878) also had a deep and sincere devotion to St. Philomena.

side shrine The side shrine of St. Philomena, with a first class relic below, brought from the Shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, near Naples, Italy.

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Philomena up close.

St. Padre Pio called Philomena the “Princess of Heaven”. Padre Pio used to reply to those who doubted the existence of the Saint: “for the love of God!  It might well be that her name is not Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.”

ist class relic Closeup of the first class relic at St. Philomena Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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The Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, with the National Center for the United States, is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“My children, St. Philomena has great power with God. Her virginity and generosity in embracing heroic martyrdom has rendered her so agreeable to God that He will never refuse anything that she asks for us.” by St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars.

St. Rita of Cascia’s Powerhouse National Shrine on Her Feast Day

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St. Rita and the roses, outside the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

May 22 is the feast day of St. Rita. Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community, in her case the Augustinians. Each year, a Solemn Novena from May 13 to May 21 precedes the feast day.

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St. Augustine on watch at St. Rita’s Shrine.

St. Augustine is the founder of the order to which St. Rita belonged. The shrine complex (Upper Church and Lower Crypt) is managed and cared for by the Augustinians.

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St. Patrick on watch at St. Rita’s Shrine.

Irish Americans in the South Philly area were the first benefactors of St. Rita, just before the immigration of Italian Americans.

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The Augustinians friars wanted a parish with Rita as patroness and therefore had the church built in 1907. St. Rita had been canonized a few years earlier in 1900.

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The main Upper Church of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

The left side of the nave are Augustine themed stained glass windows. On the right side of the nave are Rita of Cascia themed stained glass windows.

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Rita supported by patron saints window.

Rita approaching the entrance of the Augustinian Convent with her three powerful patrons; St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Nicholas of Tolentine. The family strife within the community from the murder of her husband prevented her from enrolling in the convent. Upon brokering a deal with the warring families, she was later accepted into the convent. Rita is known today as The Peacemaker.

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Rays of light window.

The rays of light from the power of prayer allowed Rita, through the intercession of her patron saints, to gain entrance to the convent building through locked doors and guarded nuns.

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Stigmata window.

While praying before a crucifix, Rita received a mystical single thorn impression on her forehead (stigmata) that remained for the rest of her life. She shared Jesus’ wound from the crown of thorns. Rita had many mystical experiences during the forty years she lived in the convent. She died there while in her seventies. (May 22, 1457)

rita stained glass 2
Rose window.

In midwinter, a bedridden and ill Rita asked her cousin to bring her a rose from her family’s garden. The cousin thought the request absurd due to the winter conditions. Rita responded with her now famous saying, “My dear cousin, there is nothing impossible to God.” The cousin went to the garden to find a single rose in full bloom on an otherwise barren rose bush. The rose circulated among the nuns of St. Rita’s Augustinian order. Today, roses are blessed each year in all churches of the Augustinian Order on the feast of St. Rita.

rita muriel of Peace
The Work of Peace mural in the Lower Crypt.

St. Rita sitting under an oak tree extending an olive branch, a symbol of peace, to those drawn to her presence. To her left is Blessed Simon of Cascia, an Augustinian friar whose spiritual teachings influenced Rita. On a personal note, the boy releasing the dove, according to iconographer Anthony Visco, is Leonardo da Vinci of Sistine Chapel fame, whom he admires.

hidden saints of PhildelphiaDetail One in the The Work of Peace mural.

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Saints Intercession. Detail Two in the The Work of Peace mural.

Looking closely at the lower right hand corner of the mural are St. Rita’s three patron saints, joined arm in arm; Augustine, John the Baptist, and Nicholas of Tolentino. Behind them are Mother Katharine Drexel and John Neumann, both Philadelphia Saints with their own shrines nearby: St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center and Shrine and The National Shrine of St. John Neumann. To the right, is recently canonized Saint John XXIII and to his left, Francis of Assisi.

Since saints are in heaven close to God, we pray with the saints to God and ask the saints to intercede and navigate the spiritual universe on our behalf. We also ask the saints to pray for us. Certain saints have a particular specialty. For Rita, it’s forgiveness, reconciliation and being the peacemaker.

parishioners at feast day 2013 3rdUpper Church, Feast Day of St. Rita.
Photo credit: Father Dan McLaughlin, OSA, St. Rita’s Shrine.

Father Michael DiGregorio O.S.A., founding Rector of St. Rita Shrine, explains in the Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014), “a significant dimension of a devotion to Saint Rita includes prayers to seek her intersession before the Lord, who alone is the source and dispenser of graces.”

abbot at st ritas feast day 2013Mass Intercessions. Last years Mass on the Feast Day of St. Rita.
Photo credit: Father Dan McLaughlin, OSA, St. Rita’s Shrine.

Abbot Richard J. Antonucci, O. Praem (above) of Daylesford Abbey presiding. The Norbertines proudly augment the Augustinians on St. Ritas Feast Day.

The Mass includes the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful. Although most intercessions are beautifully scripted some can be spontaneous petitions or intentions, especially at daily mass.

During Mass, in the Creed, we Catholics profess the belief in “the communion of saints” or the relationship we have with the saints. We ask in prayer to those believers in this life and beyond.

Specifically for the Mass on the Feast of St. Rita, the Celebrant says: By their way of life you offer us an example, by communion with them you give us companionship, by their intercession, sure support, so that encouraged by so great a cloud of witnesses, we may run as victors in the race before us.

ascension of rita 2St. Rita an influencer, given special grace in heaven. Another form of intercession is from recognizing the saints life.

Fr. Michael, in the St. Rita Shrine Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014) says, “The great popularity of Saint Rita is due as much to the power of her prayerful intercessions as the the force of her testimony.” Her life story is surely a testament to her holiness.

ascension of ritaLooking up above the altar, St. Rita is received into heaven with joy. The Solemn Novena of St. Rita is a powerful method of intercession.

The Solemn Novena of St. Rita is prayer and Mass over a nine day period prior to her feast day, to obtain graces from God through her appeal.

The Litany of St. Rita are the prayers said after Mass as a subset of the Solemn Novena of St. Rita. There are many different aspects of her witness and appeal in these prayers.
Fr. Michael explains the Litany in the St. Rita Shrine Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014), “She (St. Rita) invites individuals to consider particular dimensions of her character and witness, and stirring them, in fact, to invoke her accompaniment and intercession…”

Lord, you have signed your servant, Rita
With the marks of Your love and Passion.

Pray for us, St. Rita,
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Saint John Paul II Embraces The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa

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Saint John paul II Saint John Paul II, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis canonized Blessed Pope John Paul II. He attended the Second Vatican Council initiated by Pope John XXIII, who is also being canonized on this day. Born Karl Wojtyla, Pope John Paul was an actor, poet, athlete, playwrite, priest and philosopher. As Charles Chaput, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated: He proved by his life the words of St. Irenaeus that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”

outside with JP2

St. John Paul II visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa on two occasions while a cardinal. Karol Cardinal Wojtyla first visit was in 1969 and again in 1976 while attending the Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia. He became the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church two years later in 1978. John Paul II was the first non Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI who died in 1523.

saint JP II COAT OF ARMS
Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul II with the Marian Cross. The Letter M is for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to whom he held strong devotion.

john paul at the door full view

John Paul II created Divine Mercy Sunday which is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. It is originally based on the devotion to the Divine Mercy that Saint Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus. St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun reported visions and visitations from Jesus and conversations with Him. John Paul II beatified Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska on April 18, 1993 and canonized her on April 30, 2000.

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St. Paul the Hermit, a strong influence at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The Order of St. Paul the Hermit was founded during the first half of the 13th century in Hungary. The members of the Order were actual hermits who lived in the caves in Hungary. For their patron they chose St. Paul the Hermit, thereby acquiring the name “Pauline Fathers”. John Paul II had an affection for the Pauline Fathers religious order, and helped persevere the order in Poland. The Pauline Fathers, like John Paul II, have a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their main monastery is in Czestochowa, Poland, where they continue to reside. The Pauline Order received permission from the Holy See to establish a monastery in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and subsequently built Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine.

upper church 2

In the main church is the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which was blessed by Pope John XXIII on February 10, 1962, who also became a saint. The Icon of Our Lady hangs behind the altar in the main nave and depicts the Holy Trinity. God the Father, with His arms stretched out like the wings of a large bird, enfolds Jesus Christ and all God’s people. Above them is shown a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Below them, a choir of angels, with their golden horns, extol the glory of God.

our lady of czs lower church adoration day

The Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, located at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa on Adoration Day.

This chapel is a replica of the chapel found at the Jasna Góra Shrine in Poland. At the heart of the chapel is a copy of the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, blessed by Pope John Paul II, now a Saint.

Jesus

chapel of divine mercy
The Chapel of Divine Mercy, within The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. John Paul II died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 2, 2005.

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Entrance to the shrine complex.

john paul at the door
Saint John Paul II
Feast day is October 22nd, the anniversary of his inauguration to Pope in 1978.

John the Cross – Man on Poetic Fire

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John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. Saint John the Cross was also a Spanish mystic and a Doctor of the Church. Scholars agree that John the Cross is probably the greatest poet in the Spanish language, not for the volumes produced but for the content “polished and re-polished ceaselessly” to perfection.

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Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Anne. Inside is the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. These are true gems of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

inside carmalite monestary
Inside the medieval looking Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The Carmelite nuns celebrate Mass on the other side of the reredos immediately behind the altar.

john the cross closeup
Closeup of St. Elisha the prophet on right and St. Teresa of Jesus on the left at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Mount Carmel, Philadelphia PA. The prophet Elijah is in the chariot of fire at top, being carried into heaven.

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Face of St. Elisha.

Up to John the Cross’s time, there had been very little mystical prose at all, except for poetry of the mystical experience, called the Prayer of Quiet (similar to contemplative prayer). St. John of the Cross had to invent phrases in order to express ideas which previously had no outlet in Spanish.(1) His greatest poetic work, the Spiritual Canticles was composed for the most part while imprisoned by his own religious order, the Carmelites, who resisted the change he was promoting.

A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul

(1) Reference: St. John of the Cross | Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. | From Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel–On Prayer

nuns wall

THE BRIDE

My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;
The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

- STANZAS XIV, XV, from The Spiritual Canticle of the Soul

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