Friday, December 11, 2009

Saint Maravillas

One of the greatest testimonies to the truth that the One True Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church under the Pope is the continuing flowering of heroic saints, whether holy martyrs (even in this century, too numerous to mention), priests after the Heart of Our Lord (such as St Josemaria Escriva), laymen living lives of perfection in the world (such as Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati), or devout virgins, such as this day's saint. (Let other denominations consider what proofs by sanctity they may adduce!)

The Carmelites keep to-day (in the modern calendar) the memorial of a new saint (beatified in 1998, canonized in 2003), a worthy successor to St Teresa of Avila, being raised up like her to revivify the Order and found many holy hives of nuns: St Maria Maravillas of Jesus, O.C.D.

This contemplative religious woman, foundress of eleven Carmels, ever active in charity (even from within the cloister, by trust in Providence, able to arrange to be built a whole suburb of homes for the poor!) and sturdy confessor of the Faith (having been imprisoned and threatened by the Communists during the Spanish Civil War, yet by God's inscrutable designs her hopes of martyrdom were not granted) is well-named: for Maravillas is the Spanish for Mirabilia, referring to the marvels and wonders that are the great works God hath wrought - she herself, by her fidelity to grace, became a signal instance of the Mirabilia Dei that we hymn in the psalms.

Born in 1891, entering Carmel in 1920, she died this day, the 11th of December, in 1974, repeating constantly the stirring words, What happiness to die a Carmelite!

May she intercede for our souls, now and at the hour of our death.


While to-day I heard a ferial Mass at the Church of the Apostles in town, at our Carmel the following Mass was said:

Entrance Antiphon (Ps 45:15b-16)

She is led to the king with her virgin companions. They are escorted with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the king.

(Is not heaven upon earth to be found in the cloister of Carmel, the garden enclosed that is the palace of the King, with whom do holy virgins continually dwell?)

Opening Prayer over the Gifts

Lord God, who drew Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus into the secrets of the heart of your Son, grant through her intercession and example, that we may work together for the salvation of souls, experiencing the delights of your love. Through...

Prayer over the Gifts

Lord, we see the wonder of your love in the life of the virgin Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus and her witness of Christ. Accept our gifts of praise and make our offering pleasing to you. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

(Her love for her neighbour was the fruition of her amazing love for God, since in all she saw Him, and her works were not fruitless.)

Communion Antiphon (Rev 21:3a-c)

I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: Here God lives among men, and he shall dwell with them.

(This is the glory of Carmel: that there, upon Carmel's height, dwell chosen souls alone with the Alone.)

Prayer after Communion

Lord God, may this eucharist renew our courage and strength. May we remain close to you, like Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus, by accepting in our lives a share in the suffering of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.

(St Maravillas endured much suffering, whether persecutions or illnesses, and accepted all these and the strictest voluntary poverty as so many sacrifices and holocausts that she could offer up in union with her Lord, for the salvation of souls, as the Apostle teaches.)


Here, too, I subjoin the appointed second reading at the Office of Readings for her feast:

From the letters of St. Maravillas of Jesus, Virgin
(Letters to her spiritual directors: 305, 254, 101, 458b)

Yesterday, Sunday, on climbing the stairs to go to the upper choir for the sung Mass, I was quite recollected, yet without any particular thought, when I heard clearly within me, "My delight is to be with the children of men." These words which made a strong impression on me, I understood were not for me this time, but rather in the nature of a request the Lord was making me to offer the whole of myself to give Him these souls He so much desires. It is hard to explain, but I saw clearly, that a soul which sanctifies itself becomes fruitful in attracting souls to God. This so deeply moved me that I offered with my whole heart to the Lord all my sufferings of body and soul for this purpose, despite my poverty. It then seemed to me that this offering was right, but what was strictly important was to surrender myself, wholly and completely to the divine will, so that He could do what He desired in me and likewise I would accept the pain along with the pleasure. I seemed to understand that what pleased Him was not the greatest sacrifice but rather the exact and loving fulfilment in the least detail of that will. In this I understood many things I find hard to explain, and how He wished me to be very sensitive in this fulfilment, which would carry me a long way in self-sacrifice and love.

I offered myself in such a way that nothing would excuse me, not even hell, (if there you can love the Lord), but then I am so cowardly. The Lord will remedy that, since I can do no more than commit myself to Him in all my misery. I began experiencing this as a desire to commit myself for souls and to be faithful for this purpose: thinking about what He had done for them, it seemed He was saying to me I could not do much, but He could, with my help. On feeling this immense desire of the Lord for the salvation of souls, it seemed so amazing that nothing remained but to be committed to God so that He could carry out all His work in the soul and thus make it, despite its poverty, capable of giving Him what He desires. Each time it became clearer to my soul so that nothing of my own remained important, except that the Lord alone be glorified.

What a treasure the Lord has given me in allowing me to live in Carmel! Here, everything is arranged with such simplicity, yet in such a way that, living it to the full, you can do everything. How can we live in the House of the Virgin, pleasing the Lord with her, yet not imitating her, as the Holy Mother desired? I felt that this is the Carmelite's way, imitating Mary, how we must grow less, to be truly poor, self-sacrificing, humble, nothing. I felt quite deeply how Jesus gives us in His own life continual examples of sacrifice, of humiliation, of making ourselves small, yet we do not understand. I felt His mercy and zeal for souls in this way, that here is the strength that can take hold of our life throught His mercy. By His grace, may I, who am so absolutely poor in everything, be well able to imitate Him in this with more ease than other creatures. I seemed also to understand that these lights were not given only for myself, but also for guiding my sisters. The sole thing I do, many times in the day, is to say to the Lord that I wish to live only to love Him and to please Him, that I desire all that He wishes in the way that He wills.

1 comment:

Anthony Bidgood said...

Dear Joshua,

Thanks so much for this post. When we were in Launceston last year we tried, unsuccessfully, to find the Carmel. Needless to write we discovered it when leaving.

There are several very 'saintly' women of the twentieth century: one of my favourites being Sister Mary of the (Holy) Trinity. Her story is providential and one I have re-read, always to profit, several times. She seemed to have been part of a group of Swiss women who converted to Catholicism between the wars: surely a potential thesis for someone?

On Thursday we have the Feast of the Expectation of Our Lady at Saint Aloysius at 06:30 so candles will be the order of the day.

In Christo,