An important Marian celebration associated with the Order of Discalced Carmelites is the Memorial of ”Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace,” celebrated on July 23. What connection does this title have to “Our Lady of Mt. Carmel?” What other connections are present? How is it important for all of us? What is “grace” and what kinds of grace are available to us? How do we obtain more grace? What unique role does the Blessed Mother play? What application does that have to the beginning words of the Angelic Salutation: “Hail, full of grace,” directed to Mary? How can knowing that help us to pray more fervently?
What exactly is required of us in the spiritual journey? How do we make progress? What disposition of heart is necessary for us to be drawn into the heart of the Lord? These are important questions. If we are truly seeking the Lord and we genuinely desire to be transformed into the persons we were created to be, then these are questions we need to explore for ourselves. It is always nice, however, to have a picture, to learn from the experience of someone else who may have already traveled down a similar path. In this conversation, Mark and Frances delve into the secrets of sainthood. While looking through the lens of the life of someone who, for many, is a hidden Saint. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' own writings, and the reflections of her personal spiritual director, provide us remarkable insight into what is required of that soul who would be raised to the very heights of divine union or spiritual marriage. This exploration into the life of this Saint will look at both her total abandonment to the Lord, what she herself describes as her complete detachment from all things worldly, but it also examines her complete devotion to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Perhaps most importantly, especially for those of us who live in the world day to day, this Saint will reveal to us her secret for the practice of Recollection, and how it is that she is able to enter into herself and communicate with the Lord, even in the midst of her busy daily activities. This is an important conversation for anyone who struggles in understanding exactly what it is the Lord desires from us, if we truly desire to enter into a deeper relationship with Him.
After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph was the greatest Saint ever! In pondering the “glories” of St. Joseph, we are made aware of how God prepared him and used him for the lofty mission of being the Spouse of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. In this “live” presentation given to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Dayton, OH at their general meeting, Frances pinpoints a few of the “glories” of St. Joseph from the beginning to the end of his life. These will surely help the listener to appreciate St. Joseph ever more deeply and to imitate him in loving Jesus and Mary.
We are beginning a new monthly series of talks by Deacon Rusty Baldwin, a Secular Discalced Carmelite who gives a presentation to our Community in Dayton each month. These are recorded live during our Holy Hours. In this program, Deacon Baldwin compares the God-given gifts we have to flowers in a spiritual bouquet. How are we using our gifts? What does St. Therese, the little flower, say about our gifts?
One of the single most important disciplines we can adopt is the continual practice of the presence of God in our lives. This practice is not achieved by simply thinking about God be everywhere, though certainly He is all around us as well as in us, and we should take great comfort in this reality. Beyond this, however, we should recognize that the real challenge of the practice of the presence of God, is for us to make ourselves present to Him. It is for us to be continually aware that He is looking at us with His loving gaze, and that we should constantly be desiring to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. In this program, France Harry takes us through the very practical means St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart used to keep herself continually aware of and present to God. The central focus of Teresa Margaret's practice was her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In this regard, she not only fulfilled all of the communities requirements for adoration, but she also remained constantly disposed to a state of adoration whenever she was anywhere near where the Blessed Sacrament was retained. She would literally genuflect towards the room where the tabernacle was kept, whenever she entered the hallway outside that room. She was known to rest her head on the wall, while sitting on a bench, just outside the same room. Just as important as these physical gestures directed toward the Blessed Sacrament, were Teresa Margaret's charitable commitment to her sisters in the convent. She realized that because she herself could not actually serve Christ in a physical way, she would have to find Christ in all the individuals she came in contact with in her life in Carmel. Regardless of whether these individuals responded to her with equal charity, Teresa Margaret always labored to be as kind and patient towards everyone as she could. Indeed, if there were some who may have treated her with disdain, and some did, then Teresa Margaret sought to serve these women all the more. She always maintained the guidance provide to her by our Lord:
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,] you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40-45)
If you are seeking a little guidance, some encouragement, and a model for how to advance in the practice of the presence of God, then this is a very valuable program to help provide you all three.