Carmelite Conversations
Battling Scrupulosity and Aridity in the Dark Night: What the Experience of St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart Can Teach us

Battling Scrupulosity and Aridity in the Dark Night: What the Experience of St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart Can Teach us

August 7, 2019

In this conversation, the battle of scrupulosity and aridity in the Dark Night of St. Teresa Margaret are examined.  What is it like to be in the midst of these battles?  What is the cause of scrupulosity and aridity?  What are some good counsels and strategies we can use to overcome these trials? How does God uses these battles to purify and perfect us?  What virtues are most needed? 

The Lord Thy God is a Consuming Fire:  St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Dark Night of the Spirit

The Lord Thy God is a Consuming Fire: St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Dark Night of the Spirit

August 7, 2019

After the great grace of “Deus Caritas Est/God is Love,” the Discalced Carmelite St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus enters a stage of marked passivity in which God is purifying her soul.  This stage is referred to as the Dark Night of the Spirit and falls in the 6thMansion of the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila.  How does this purification through the dark rays of contemplation occur?  Why is it so painful?  St. John of the Cross uses the analogy of the log of wood and the fire to describe the process of purification of this more interior, darker night.  He also portrays the journey in this Dark Night of Spirit as going up a Secret Mystical Ladder of Love made up of 10 steps.  What are those steps? How do they differ from each other?  How is a soul in this darkest of nights described?  What kind of language does St. Teresa Margaret use to describe her interior sufferings?  What can we learn from all of this?

St. Teresa Margaret and the Practice of the Presence of God

St. Teresa Margaret and the Practice of the Presence of God

July 3, 2019

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.

St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and making our lives a Sacrifice to the Lord (PART 3)

St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and making our lives a Sacrifice to the Lord (PART 3)

June 26, 2019
At some point in our individual spiritual journey, most of us will decide to make a more formal, firm and specific commitment to the Lord. It may be, like many Saints, that we will choose to write out our commitment, or our oblation. This is exactly what St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus chose to do. She even went so far, with the approval of her spiritual director, to write out her oblation in her own blood. In looking at Teresa Margaret's own words, and more importantly, the details of her life, we can come to discover very practical ways for forming our own commitment to the Lord. Her own commitment included three critical elements that we would expect to find in any genuine act of oblation in the spiritual journey. They included her total commitment to Jesus, a decision to forgo any consideration of the cost associated with her decision, and an acknowledgement that there would be difficult even repugnant (in her own words) things she would have to suffer, but that she would be willing to endure them all for the Lord. In this conversation, Mark and Frances discuss the principle elements of Teresa Margaret's personal sacrifice to Jesus. They also continue the discussion on Teresa Margaret's remarkable commitment to living a life of humility, her difficult struggle with the ongoing process of self-knowledge, and her unflinching efforts to overcome her own will, in favor of God's will for her life. All of this progress in Teresa Margaret's spiritual journey was based on her commitment and the practice of becoming utterly forgetful of self. In addition to her practice of remaining silent to whatever circumstances the Lord saw fit to bring her into in her life. No matter where you might be on the spiritual journey, this particular broadcast will help to provide insight and perhaps a good deal of consolation for those who may also find themselves in a difficult phase in the midst of their own spiritual journey.

 

St. Teresa Margaret’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 2)

St. Teresa Margaret’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 2)

June 19, 2019

Following her entry into Carmel, at the young age of 17, the future St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, committed herself unflinchingly to two great Carmelite practices for those who aspire to holiness. In this program, Mark and Frances discuss how these ascetical (which in the Greek means exercise) contributed to Teresa Margaret being raised to such a high degree of union with the Lord in such a brief period of time - only five years in her case. These practices, or exercises were detachment and recollection. Consistent with the teachings of her great patron, St. Teresa of Avila, Teresa Margaret would later add the practice of humility to her program of discipline. She of course practiced many of the better known means of detachment, including fasting, praying at night, sleeping on a hard surface and always attempting to deny her own desires. But she would soon come to understand that the greatest challenge is in detaching ourselves from our own will. As for recollection, Teresa Margaret was already well schooled in this art of prayer, one which requires us to re-collect our faculties and enter within ourselves to commune with the Lord who never leaves us. Indeed, the Lord is constantly waiting in the little Bethany of our Heart for us to come and spend time with Him. Teresa Margaret perfected this practice to such a degree that she was known to lose herself, like St. Teresa of Avila before her, even in the midst of her busy chore. The prayer of recollection is absolutely essential for anyone who wishes to make progress in the spiritual journey, and Mark and Frances provide a perfect model for this practice in their discussion of the life of St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Finally, this conversation explores St. Teresa Margaret's deep understanding and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In many ways, her insights and practice of this devotion preceded and even informed Popes who would later write about and institute the formal celebrations dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This devotion, and St. Teresa's motto to "Return Love for Love," represent the very center of her great progress in the spiritual journey, and is the main reason she is so important for us to study today.

St. Teresa Margaret: The forgotten Saint of Carmel’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 1)

St. Teresa Margaret: The forgotten Saint of Carmel’s Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (PART 1)

June 19, 2019
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart is known as the forgotten Saint of Carmel. This is unfortunate as she has much to offer all of us in our spiritual journey. As sometimes happens when we read the lives of the saints, we can be put off by what we perceive to have been special graces or benefits they were granted by God. And we can become discouraged that we could never hope to attain to their degree of holiness. St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart will not leave us with this impression. Her spirituality was based on simplicity, a constant state of recollection and a desire to remain hidden in her perpetual loving gaze of the Lord. Her life was not filled with numerous mystical experiences, she did not seek her understanding of spiritual matters in academic pursuits and her life does not present us with a challenge of great and heroic acts as a requirement for sanctity. She simply took what little is required to become holy: simplicity, prayer, abandoning her own will and seeking to please and love the Lord in all her actions, and then she did her best to fulfill these requirements in every single element of her life. Hers is a spirituality for the common person, something we can all replicate in our own lives. And if we learn from her and apply her simple approach, if we dispose ourselves, as she did, to the work the Holy Spirit desires to do in each of us, then we too can become saints.
 
References:

God is Love, Saint Teresa Margaret: Her Life, by Margaret Rowe ICS Publications.

From the Sacred Heart to the Trinity: The Spiritual Itinerary of Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene ICS Publications

Introduction to the Life of St. Teresa Margaret (Anna Maria Redi) of the Sacred Heart, Part 2

Introduction to the Life of St. Teresa Margaret (Anna Maria Redi) of the Sacred Heart, Part 2

February 11, 2013

We continue the introduction to the life of St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart by addressing the challenges she faced once she left civilian life and entered the convent in Carmel.  What were the lessons she still needed to learn?  How may we profit from them as well?  Additionally, what can we learn from her ardent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?  Then, we approach the conversation of her mystical life and the famous mystical experience she had of “God is Love!”  What were the effects of this experience?  Finally, we touch on the relationship of St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical letter:  “Deus Caritas Est.”