As Moses declares in Deuteronomy, "Our Lord is a consuming fire," that is, a fire of love, which being of infinite power, can inestimably consume and transform into itself the soul it touches. Yet He burns each soul according to its preparation: He will burn one more, another less, and this He does in so far as He desires, and how and when He desires. When He wills to touch somewhat vehemently, the soul's burning reaches such a high degree of love that it seems to surpass that of all the fires of the world: for He is an infinite fire of love.
Because the soul in this case is entirely transformed by the divine flame, it not only feels a cautery, but has become a cautery of blazing fire.
It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of love. Few persons have reached these heights. Some have, however, especially those whose virtue and spirit were to be diffused among their children. For God accords to founders, with respect to the first fruits of the spirit, wealth and value commensurate with the greater or lesser following they will have in their doctrine and spirituality.
From Living Flame of Love, St. John of the Cross
Mary Baouardy was born in 1846 in Abillin, near Nazareth. She was the first surviving child of Georges and Mary Baouardy, poor powder-makers who had lost twelve boys in infancy. Mary was born in answer to a novena to the Blessed Virgin in Bethlehem, with the promise that she would be named for her. Two years later, her brother Paul was born, and then, tragically, both parents died of an infectious disease, leaving Mary and Paul orphaned. They went to live with different relatives, and never saw each other again. These events were only the first of many sufferings in store for little Mary. Her wealthy uncle treated her well, but as was the custom during those times, he had arranged a marriage for her when she was only thirteen. Mary had always loved Jesus and the Virgin, and she did not want to marry. She prayed. The night before her wedding, Jesus spoke to her, telling her that He would help her. She cut off her beautiful long braids, wrapped the jewels she had been given in them, and sent them to her uncle. This made him furious, and from that day Mary was treated as a household slave. In her anguish, she befriended another servant, a man who was a Muslim. He promised to help her to deliver a letter to her brother in a different town. But when she went to his home with the letter, he tried to force her to renounce her faith in Christ. This she refused to do, and the angry man slit her throat. The next thing Mary remembered was a beautiful woman in blue came to her with a delicious broth that gave her strength. The woman dressed her wound, and then told her that she would enter a Carmelite monastery, make her vows in another, and die in another. This prediction proved true, because Mary later entered the Carmel of Pau, France. She assisted a foundation in India where she made her vows, and she died in the Carmel that she had helped to found in Bethlehem. Mary herself later wrote: "After my wound was healed I then had to leave the grotto and the Lady took me to the Church of St. Catherine served by the Franciscan Friars. I went to confession. When I left, the Lady in Blue had disappeared.” Awaking in a confessional in a Franciscan church located in Jerusalem, Mary began working as a domestic. A series of positions led her to the family that brought her to France, where she began her religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph of the Apparition, but her mystical graces alarmed the sisters, and they did not accept her there. Her novice mistress brought her to the Carmel of Pau, where she was accepted and given the name Mary of Jesus Crucified. She died in the Carmel of Bethlehem from a fall that wounded her leg in 1878. Mary of Jesus Crucified was canonized on May 17, 2015 by Pope Francis.
Excerpt from Mulieris Dignitatem, The Dignity of Women, by Pope Saint John Paul II: "Thus the 'fullness of time' manifests the extraordinary dignity of 'the woman.' On the one hand, this dignity consists in the supernatural elevation to union with God in Jesus Christ, which determines the ultimate finality of the existence of every person, both on earth and in eternity. From this point of view, the 'woman' is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race: she 'represents the humanity' that belongs to all human beings, both men and women. On the other hand, however, the event at Nazareth highlights a form of union with the living God that can only belong to 'the woman,' Mary: the union of mother and son. The Virgin of Nazareth truly becomes the Mother of God."
John Baptist, Michael Aloysius, and James, priests and martyrs, refused to take the oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy during the French Revolution which, among other things, demanded public election of the Pope and Bishops. Saint Pope John Paul II beatified 63 priests and religious on October 1, 1995 who had been imprisoned on board two ships stationed in Rochefort Bay, France, for ten months awaiting deportation into slavery.
The following are excerpts from Resolutions Drawn Up by the Priests Imprisoned on the Ship Les Deux Associes:
They will never give themselves up to useless worries about being set free. Instead, they will make the effort to profit from the time of their detention by meditating on their past years, by making holy resolutions for the future, so that they can find in the captivity of their bodies, freedom for their souls...
If God permits them to recover totally or in part this liberty nature longs for, they will avoid giving themselves up to an immoderate joy when they receive the news. By keeping their souls tranquil they will show they support without murmur the cross placed on them, and that they are disposed to bear it even longer with courage and as true Christians who never let themselves be beaten by adversity.
They will not show grief over the loss of their goods, no haste to recover them, no resentment against those who possess them.
They will never get mixed up in the new politics, being content to pray for the welfare of their country and prepare themselves for a new life, if God permits them to return to their homes, and there become subjects of edification and models of virtue for the people, by their detachment from the world, their assiduousness in prayer, and their love for recollection and piety.
Born in Lilo, Spain, to Ricardo Moragas and Isabel Cantarero January 8, 1881, Elvira was the first woman in Spain to become a pharmacist, like her father, at which she excelled. She entered a Carmelite monastery in Madrid, made her solemn profession of vows on Epiphany 1920, was elected prioress in 1927 and became novice mistress in 1930. Her desire to be a martyr was fulfilled when, on July 20th of 1936, (she had been again elected prioress a few weeks earlier), her convent was attacked. Mother Maria found shelter for all of her daughters in the homes of friends, but was herself arrested, along with another Sister, on August 14th. Refusing to reveal the hiding places of her daughters, Blessed Maria was shot to death on August 15th, Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her daughters survived the ordeal and were spared. She was beatified in 1998 by Saint Pope John Paul II.
Born on October 12, 1891, the youngest child of the merchant Siegfried Stein and his wife Auguste (Courant), "smart Edith," as she was called by her six siblings, lost her father at the age of three. Her strong mother ran the family lumber business in Breslau, which prospered. This Jewish family, led by her mother, kept the feasts and fasts of the Old Covenant with steadfast faith and rich observance. However, Edith renounced her Jewish tradition at an early age, choosing to pursue the study of psychology and philosophy at the University of Breslau. Later, in Gottingen, she became assistant to Edmund Husserl, a Protestant Christian who had formulated the new science of phenomenology, a branch of philosophy which seeks "the essence of that which appears." Here she met Adolf Reinach who, attracted by Husserl's ideas, had come to Gottingen with his wife Anne. He worked closely with Husserl as lecturer, and with Theodor Conrad founded the "Philosophical Society," a lively group of philosophers, including the enthusiastic Catholic Max Scheler, all of whom were influenced by Husserl's ideas. The World Wars were at that time brewing in Europe. In 1914, Edith worked as a Red Cross nurse at a military hospital. In 1917, her friend Reinach was killed on the western front. This may have been a turning point in Edith's life, because she was amazed at the composure of Anne Reinach, who was a Christian, in the face of the death of her beloved husband. In 1921, in the home of her phenomenologist friends Theodor and Hedwig Conrad, Edith was introduced to the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. whose life-story convinced her to become a Catholic. She was baptized on New Year's Day at the Church of St. Martin in Bergzabern wearing the wedding dress of her friend and sponsor, Hedwig Conrad-Martius. At that time, New Year's Day was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, the Jewish rite of the Covenant with Abraham. Today, New Year's Day is celebrated as the Solemnity of the Mother of God, a celebration of the spiritual motherhood of Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of the Church.
From her writings: "The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and antichrist rages openly, so if you decide for Christ you may even be asked to sacrifice your life. Contemplate the Lord Who hangs before you on the wood, because He was obedient even to the death of the Cross. He came into the world not to do His own will but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the Spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God. Before you the Redeemer hangs on the Cross stripped and naked, because He chose poverty. Those who would follow Him must renounce every earthly possession. Stand before the Lord Who hangs on the Cross with His heart torn open. He poured out the blood of His heart in order to win your heart. To follow Him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Christ must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought. The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the Cross stands on high and it cannot be burnt. The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity."
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