Below: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament overlooks His flock from the Carmelite church of St. Therese in the archdiocese of Los Angeles
In 1959, Mother Joachina de Vedruna of Spain was canonized - It was 105 years after she died at age 71, having been a mother in every sense: she was married as a girl, gave birth to 9 beautiful children, was widowed, raised her children and then at age 43 she founded the Carmelite 3rd Order Sisters of Charity for the care of the sick and the education of children, especially the poor.
St. Joachina lived from 1783 to 1854, the very year of the proclamation and official definition of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, and just 4 years before St. Louis Martin married St. Zelie, his beautiful and holy wife, mother of his own 9 children, 5 of whom lived to enter religious life, and youngest of whom was our Little Flower!
But don't think that St. Joachina then simply died after her busy and full earthly life. Oh no, she was born again into Heaven, the Real Life her earthly days had anticipated!
Wonderfully, her order which she founded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the charism of Carmel was joined to and became part of the overarching order I belong to, the Carmelites reformed by St. Teresa (my holy mother) and St. John of the Cross (my holy father), namely, the Discalced Carmelites, and so I have special access to St. Joachina as we start our Novena to the Holy Spirit today on her feast.
Are you ready for it? This is that first novena and leads us, as it led the Apostles and disciples and holy women, under the loving gaze and maternal presence of Our Lady, from Jesus' Ascension to the Holy Spirit's coming in a blaze of Fire, Love, and Truth on Pentecost. This year Pentecost Sunday falls on May 31st, usually our Feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin St. Elizabeth on that delightful occasion when the Holy Spirit tickled baby John the future Baptist while he was still in utero, and he leaped in Elizabeth's womb! How wonderful a conjunction of days!
Can you imagine how many experiences St. Joachina had in her life on earth? And I bet her life in Heaven has been even busier and fuller - no doubt! Here is what she says to us today:
"If only we were all on fire with love for God! If we were, we should preach love, proclaim love, and yet more love, until we had set the whole world on fire. We must have great desires: then God will give us whatever is best for us.
"We must not give in to weariness: we must spend every minute in loving God. God alone, the maker of heaven and earth, must be our rest and our consolation. The love of God is the only thing we can possess for ever: everything else will pass away!
"Love, love, and yet more love - love that is never satisfied! The more we love God, the more we shall long to love Him. And when we have Jesus in our hearts, we shall have everything else in Him and with Him."
I have been reading this morning about another religious sister, this one closer to our own day, Sister Mary Mediatrix, who was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 4, 1911, and lived until the same year as Marcel. They went to Heaven almost at the same time, so that makes them almost twins, their birthdays being nearly the same (Real Birthdays into Real Life, that is!).
Sister MM was born into Eternal Life on June 9, 1959. This was only 3 months and 2 weeks after St. Therese's "sweet echo" and sister Celine went to Heaven, and - ready for this? - only 1 month and 1 day before Marcel followed them into the Beatific Vision. I wonder if Sister Mary Mediatrix procured special graces for Marcel in his last days. I'm sure she did, because although she was a Servant of the Holy Heart of Mary, she had begun her attempts at religious life by spending about 3 years as a Discalced Carmelite! And her first name in religion, in the Carmelites? This was in the early 1930's, just a few years after our little sister Therese's canonization, and Frances Hennessey (the future Sister Mary Mediatrix) was given the name Sister Theresa!
No doubt when Sister MM, who had left the Carmelites only when asked on account of poor health, eventually got to heaven (at aged 48), she was excited to meet St. Therese, her first patroness and the one whose language she had adopted in speaking of God, Who was, to her, Merciful Love. But we can guess that Therese herself, though delighted to meet Sister MM whom no doubt she'd had a hand in bringing to Heaven to help her, was immediately occupied with delegating certain buckets of her roses to Sister MM that she might shower them on our own little Marcel, who was - we might say - in his final retreat of preparation for Heaven precisely at that time . . .
But believe it or not, both Sister Mary Mediatrix and St. Joachina are merely friends who have come to help us meet the real guest of honor at our blog today. His name, the third person I'd like to introduce you to, and in this novena time why not associate him with the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, because WOW - our newest BFF is going to knock your socks off, just like the Holy Spirit will (unless He goes the "quiet vo.ice" route with you this year) . . . his name (our guest of honor) is Fr. Aloysius Ellicuria, C.M.F
It is my honor to present this Claretian priest who, like his holy founder St. Anthony Mary Claret, is from Spain, but wonderfully for us, unlike his holy founder, spent many years in the U.S. First Fr. Aloysisus was in Illinois, where he knew Sister Mary Mediatrix from 1939 to 1942 (a period in which their love of God grew through their spiritual friendship, and their mystical gifts confirmed each other's authenticity), and then he was in Los Angeles from 1942 till his own birth into eternal life in 1981 - though this stay in Los Angeles, where he was a great and loving saint ministering with his many charisms to innumerable souls, was punctuated by years also in Mexico, Arizona, and even in Fatima (1971 - 1973) where he founded a movement that was not quite a religious order, but a band of priests, religious, and lay people dedicated to proclaiming the love and beauty of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart until the end of time.
The reason I'm caught up now in these two new friendships (and their own friendship) is thanks to an old friend of mine, a schoolmate who is now a priest in Denver and who contacted me through this website so that he could ask where to procure a print copy of Something New for St. Therese: Her Eucharistic Miracle. I've put the link right there in the title, so you can click to find the answer I gave Fr. Gary, but much more interesting is the information he gave me, namely that I needed to meet two of his friends, Sister MM and Father Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F. - both of whom had this Eucharistic miracle as well!!!
Well you coulda knocked me over with a feather, and you could again because I really need to eat breakfast (as lunchtime, or at least elevenses fast approach in my time zone as I write). Let's make this short and sweet then. Fr. Aloysius is amazing - he read souls, he healed, he lived in the Presence of God, and this last in no doubt more than one way, but most strikingly, just like the founder of his order, the great St. Anthony Mary Claret, Fr. Aloysius had this special gift Therese is just pushing and pleading for us to have too, especially now when we are deprived (seemingly) of sacramental Holy Communion.
You know Therese, don't you?
She wants ALL. She said that, as a girl when offered something from a basket of doll clothes that her older sister Leonie was ready to part with. First Celine, her next oldest up sister and bosom friend and constant companion chose from the basket. Celine was a terrific kid and later a fabulous person, and she politely and gratefully took a few things from the basket. Therese, when her turn came next, simply said, "I CHOOSE ALL!" and took the whole dang basket for her own! Did anyone object? No! Why not give her all if she wanted all? And so it went....and now she wants ALL of us to ask for ALL of God.
Spiritual communion? Great idea.
Actual Communion? WAY BETTER!
I CHOOSE ALL, she would have us say.
Pandemic keeping you from Jesus still? I don't know where you live, and I hope and pray right now that you are already reunited with Him. But if you are from where I am from, in the very archdiocese of Los Angeles where Fr. Aloysius spent so much time, then it's likely you have not yet had your reunion with God at Holy Mass.
As for me, I might be apart from His sacramental-presence-in-church-and-in-Mass-and-Holy-Communion-there for quite some time, due to my living with my dear father in law Paul who is high risk for covid so we are majorly self quarantined on his behalf. I can only praise God for this grace and privilege of tucking in Paul's feet at night, and making him nourishing and hydrating smoothies and meals the rest of the time . . . not to mention doing jigsaw puzzles with my dear niece, doing dishes while we sing Disney princess songs, and working betwixt and between long distance with several wonderful women on the East and West coasts of the U.S., in the mid-West or our sprawling country and (really and truly) in my little brother Marcel's country of Vietnam, to get the bilingual Spanish-English and Vietnamese-English Stations of the Cross with our Sister St. Therese out and available . . .
But this is a matter of Jesus' whims (what I do to look busy). The real point is union with Him.
And how can He accomplish this?
If you are asking that question, I am afraid (just a little, and amused too, so no worries) that you may not have read very far yet into Therese's magnum opus, Something New . . . You can start right now by going to the top of this page and clicking the PDF version and you will begin to know what He is wanting to do for you too!
I'll tell you something here, though, in the body of this happy blog, something new that is not in the book. A great friend of St. Therese, Monsignor Ken Loughman, told me a couple of months ago to Hurry Up for Heaven's Sake and Publish This Book (which is now done, praise the good Lord) and Please Stop Putting More People into it, because at this rate YOU would never be able to read it.
It was great advice, and he was so adamant that I just got in the old starship and went at our sister Therese's usual speed (hyperdrive), and WHOOSH the book is instantly available - FOR FUN AND FOR FREE - as an ebook, and also (for a little bit of dinero, but well worth it) as a print book . . . which gives me just a speck of time, now that my major work is done, to follow up on leads to other saints who had this miracle, and equally exciting: to share the pith of their joy here with you!
So this is the "not in this edition of the book, but man, this is AWESOME" news for today, as taken from the notes of Sister Mary Mediatrix.
April 10, 1941
After receiving Holy Communion this morning, Jesus allowed me to participate in His joy in the gift He made to Father Aloysius of remaining Eucharistically present in him from one Communion to another. Jesus exercises this Divine Power to satiate His love for souls . . .
Yep! That's it!
He's done it again!
And what do you think? Is Jesus ready for a break?
Or is He, perhaps, still thirsty for our love?
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He begged the Samaritan woman at the well for water, and He cries out from His Cross of Love, "I thirst!"
Will you give Him to drink by inviting Him to remain in you, too, as in a tabernacle?
He will do it, but you don't need to be afraid, because He will bring His own fun, as my mom used to encourage us to do. He has no illusions about what wonderful company we'll be. Of course we'll be great company! We are, after all, so darn funny! Think of the millions of silly things we do each day! How could Jesus not find us extremely entertaining? But more than that, He loves us. He just wants to sit beside us (or within us) and watch us sleep our lives away, like young parents would like to do - watch their children sleep - if only they weren't so blasted tired that they fall asleep too!
Ah, but Jesus Risen and Ascended doesn't quite sleep in the way He did back in His days on earth.
Yeah, yeah, I said He's the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He is, so don't blame me if you find Him asleep in the boat of your soul when you invite Him to remain there! But my point is that He will be so comfy in your poor boat. He loves you!
Think of the young engaged couples - do you know any? I know probably a dozen (lucky as I am to be associated with a Catholic college which will tend to produce happy Catholic marriages, and even luckier as I am to have a 30 year old son whose good Catholic friends are at that moment in their lives too). And these couples planning to get married this summer (or in the past month already) are being creative about how they do it.
Cancel the plans.
Forget the party.
Get married and live happily ever after.
It's kind of like stories from World War II - you get married quick while you can, and that way you can have the joy of marriage even amidst the suffering of a time of crisis.
I hope this isn't a time of crisis for you, but it is a bit of a plague and pandemic, so first off, congrats to all those young couples I know who are saying, "Let's do it! Let's tie the knot - all we need is a license, a priest, and two witnesses standing a good distance from us!" And secondly, major congrats to you too, because if you haven't yet invited Jesus to come live with you in the marriage of your soul with His, well, don't worry, my novena to the Holy Spirit will have that intention at the top of my long list of intentions!
St. Therese said it. "Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His Heaven gratuitously . . .Since we see the way, let us run together!"
So cancel the big "I must become a saint and then I can invite Jesus over" plans.
Forget the party - you're going to fall asleep on your honeymoon with Jesus, just like the apostles did the night they first received Him!
And just go for it - get married to Jesus, as it were - plight your troth, throw in your poverty with His riches, and live happily ever after - you, likely as idiotic as ever (nothing personal, it's the human condition!) and He as magnificently Divine as He always was, is, and always will be!
Having harangued you into happiness (I hope!) we have one more bit of housekeeping at MMM today. We need a novena prayer for saying the next 9 days or so, don't you think?
I have a gorgeous passage that comes to us from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, thanks to another saintly Carmelite sister of mine, C.M. (thanks, sis!). See what you think of it, and I hope you love it like I do. It will sound more like a reflection than a prayer, but then we can follow it up with an actual prayer from the adorable St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, a Florentine Carmelite famous (in my world) for her exuberant joy on finding a gorgeous rose on a rose bush, and leaping about the her monastery with it, singing of God's great love for her. Nothing like a little joy to make you look crazy! The story of my life, and I love knowing I'm not the first! Here we go then, and I'm so glad you are here. No worries, about anything anymore ever, least of all about whether you manage a Big Novena of This Reflection and This Prayer for 9 consecutive days. Just love and do what you will, and we'll trust God to hear us! If our guardian angels have time (in between saving us over and over) to remind us, we can keep praying to the Holy Spirit bigly, but if we are just our usual Marcel-ian weakness and forgetfulness, let's rejoice that He is Never going to forget to love us. Alleluia, He is risen and ascended as He said!
Little Jesus, we offer you this worry as a sacrifice. (And now, per Mama Mary's instructions, peace!)
Novena Prayer for Little Souls as Pentecost approaches, Mother (month of May) 2020
Reflection by St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Holy Spirit (to be read daily if desired and remembered, or simply now):
His action is different in different people, but the Spirit Himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says “the Spirit reveals His presence in a particular way for the common good.”
The Spirit comes gently and makes Himself known by His fragrance.
He is not felt as a burden, for He is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before Him as He approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind of the one who receives Him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.
Prayer Proper from St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Carmelite (feast May 25):
Come, Holy Spirit. Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word’s delight come. Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, You are the One in whom all treasures are contained. Come! As You descended upon Mary that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as You worked in her through nature and grace. Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity. Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in You.
Draw me, Holy Spirit of Love, we will run!
Let's pray, darling sisters and brothers, let's pray for each other these next 9 days, even if only through our implicit offering of all we happen to suffer (like not being in Heaven just yet!). If we fall and fail, more weakness to us and more power to God, our Father, Savior, and Friend! What a wonderful bargain - we shall be nothing, and He shall be ALL - and let's remember to repeat with Therese (this might be a more fitting novena for our very little souls):
Come Holy Spirit!
I CHOOSE ALL!
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