Happy Feast of all the Carmelite Saints!
Last week, November 7th was the Feast of All Dominican Saints. At the end of the month, November 29 is the Feast of All Franciscan Saints. On November 1st, we had the Feast of All Saints simpliciter. And today - the feast of all our dear Carmelite Saints!
On this past Saturday, November 11 was the feast of the marvelous St. Martin of Tours (which I just realized this year is an octave away from the feast of St. Martin de Porres on November 3). I was with Carmelite friends and we began a novena to St. Therese for all priests, bishops, and our Holy Father. We wrongly guessed it would end on the Feast of Christ the King, but actually we jumped the gun, imagining Christ the King to be on Sunday November 19, when it's actually on Sunday November 26 in the new calendar this year . . .
No matter! It turns out our novena is ending on the feast of St. Raphael Kalinowski hidden behind the Sunday....except in Poland his feast is celebrated on November 20, so we can end our novena on his day and his vigil, November 19, and then thank him with festivity on the 20th!
What I LOVE about St. Raphael is his hilarious encounters with St. Therese, our dear patroness, little sister, and mischievous teaser of Marcel (and us too, come to think of it)!
St. Raphael, when he was merely Fr. Raphael of St. Joseph, O.C.D. (no, not obsessive compulsive, but of the Order of Carmelites Discalced!), wrote to the Lisieux Carmel on October 9, 1902, only five years after Therese had flown the coop, leaving this exile for Heaven. She was still simply SIster Therese, no cause or process begun . . . Father's letter is in the "Shower of Roses" included as back matter in the 1911 French edition of Story of a Soul. Forgive me for taking some liberty with the translation of this letter. I'm dependent on my guardian angel for most of my French, and like Padre Pio's angel, not to mention Therese and Marcel themselves, the little imps, my angel likes to tease me. Regardless of my limitations, you'll get the gist.
Fr. Raphael writes:
October 9, 1902
Most Reverend Mother,
The inscription at the head of this letter indicates my duty to make amends for a fault committed by me towards your little saint, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus.
Two or three years ago, when the manuscript was presented to me to do a translation into Polish of the life of this little flower of Carmel, I took the liberty of remarking that the language of our country does not suit her; that it would in no way be in the style of the original, and that reading it would cause nothing but disgust.
It was like putting a brake on the apostolate of this chosen one of God. She must have taken it to heart; and, on the other hand, not only knew how to act in such a way that the proposed translation would be brought to light, but moreover, took it directly from my person.
About eight days ago I returned to my cell, my soul tossed about by the waves of a stormy sea of inner sorrows and not knowing where to find refuge for shelter. . . And now my gaze falls on the French book of the life of the vengeful sister . . . I open it, and I come across the poem "Living on Love."
Suddenly, the storm subsides, calm returns, something ineffable invades my whole being and transforms me from top to bottom. This hymn was therefore for me the lifeboat: the amiable sister having offered herself as pilot.
So I must note that today the promise, "I want to spend my Heaven doing good on earth . . . After my death I will cause a shower of roses to fall," has truly been realized.
Fr. Raphael of St. Joseph, Discalced Carmelite, Vicar Provincial
And there follows a parenthetical comment that Fr. Raphael Kalinowski died in the odor of sanctity in the year 1907 - on November 15 (tomorrow!), Feast of all Carmelite Souls. The note continues, "His cause for beatification is submitted to Holy Church."
In fact, his cause was formally opened on March 2, 1952, when he gained the title "Servant of God." Pope St. John Paul II beatified Fr. Raphael in 1983 in Kraków, in front of a crowd of over two million people. On November 17, 1991, he was canonized when, in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope St. John Paul II declared his boyhood hero a saint.
I'd say St. Therese got her revenge all right! After Fr. Raphael translated her Story of a Soul into Polish, she got to work polishing up his sanctity, whisking him off to heaven, and eventually making him, on November 17, 1991, when he was declared a saint by Pope St. John Paul II, the first Discalced Carmelite friar to be canonized since his holy father in Carmel, John of the Cross (1542–1591), was named a saint in 1726.
Sounds like this brother and sister duo, Therese and Raphael, plus another Carmelite soul, Pope St. John Paul II, along with St. Martin of Tours on whose feast we began, would love to help us pray for our clergy, that they might be priests after Our Lord's own Heart, priests to please the Blessed Mother in their innocence, simplicity, and holiness, priests led by the guiding star that is St. Therese, the Little Flower, and Brother Marcel Van, the apostle of priests.
Let's do it, then; let's pray! Don't worry that you're joining in late - and don't worry if you forget a day. Failure is the new success and the Little Way is a perfect venue for a little novena:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly garden
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
please ask God to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands . . . that all our priests, bishops, and the Holy Father may become great saints,
and for all the intentions we hold in our hearts.
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did,
in God’s great love for me,
so that I may imitate your “Little Way” each day.
Draw me; we will run!
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