Did you know Mother Teresa experienced visions of Jesus?

.- Even her friend of more than 30 years, Father Sebastian Vazhakala, did not know Mother Teresa had conversations with and visions of Jesus before forming the Missionaries of Charity.

It wasn’t until after her death, for the vast majority of people, that this part of Mother Teresa’s spiritual life was uncovered. “It was a big discovery,” Missionary of Charity priest, Fr. Vazhakala told CNA.

When Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization was opened, just two years after her death in 1997, documents were found in the archives of the Jesuits in Calcutta, with the spiritual director and another of Mother Teresa’s close priest friends, and in the office of the bishop, containing her accounts of the communications.

Fr. Vazhakala, who co-founded the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity alongside Mother Teresa, said he has a document handwritten by Mother Teresa where she discusses what Jesus spoke to her directly during the time of the locutions and visions.

During a period lasting from Sept. 10, 1946 to Dec. 3, 1947, Mother Teresa had ongoing communication with Jesus through words and visions, Fr. Vazhakala said. This all happened while she was a missionary sister in the Irish order of the Sisters of Loreto, teaching at St. Mary’s school in Calcutta.

Mother Teresa wrote that one day at Holy Communion, she heard Jesus say, “I want Indian nuns, victims of my love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so united to me as to radiate my love on souls.”

It was through these communications of the Eucharistic Jesus that Mother Teresa received her directions for forming her congregation of the Missionaries of Charity.

“She was so united with Jesus,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “that she was able to radiate not her love, but Jesus’ love through her, and with a human expression.”

Jesus told her what sort of nuns he wanted her order to be filled with: “’I want free nuns covered with the poverty of the Cross. I want obedient nuns covered with the obedience of the Cross. I want full-of-love nuns covered with the charity of the Cross,’” Fr. Vazhakala related.

According to the Missionary, Jesus asked her, “Would you refuse to do this for me?” “In fact, Jesus told her in 1947,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “’I cannot go alone to the poor people, you carry me with you into them.’”

After this period of joy and consolation, around 1949, Mother Teresa started to experience a “terrible darkness and dryness” in her spiritual life, said Fr. Vazhakala. “And in the beginning she thought it was because of her own sinfulness, unworthiness, her own weakness.”

Mother Teresa’s spiritual director at the time helped her to understand that this spiritual dryness was just another way that Jesus wanted her to share in the poverty of the poor of Calcutta.

This period lasted nearly 50 years, until her death, and she found it very painful. But, Fr. Vazhakala shared that she said, “If my darkness and dryness can be a light to some soul let me be the first one to do that. If my life, if my suffering, is going to help souls to be saved, then I will prefer from the creation of the world to the end of time to suffer and die.”

People around the world know about Mother Teresa’s visible acts of charity toward the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, but “the interior life of Mother is not known to people,” said Fr. Vazhakala.

Mother Teresa’s motto, and the motto of her congregation, was the words of Jesus, “I thirst.” And that they could quench the thirst of Jesus by bringing souls to him. “And in every breathing, each sigh, each act of mind, shall be an act of love divine. That was her daily prayer. That was what was motivating her and all the sacrifices, even until that age of 87, and without resting,” he said.

Mother Teresa never rested from her work during her life on earth, and she continues to “work” for souls from heaven. “When I die and go home to God, I can bring more souls to God,” she said at one point, Fr. Vazhakala noted.

She said, “I’m not going to sleep in heaven, but I’m going to work harder in another form.”

Mary Shovlain contributed to this report.

Article by Hannah Brockhaus

Link: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/did-you-know-mother-teresa-experienced-visions-of-jesus-60088/

The Feast of St. Stephen, the First Martyr | iPray with the Gospel

Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 10:17-22
A day after the celebration of Our Lord’s Birth we celebrate the death of the first martyr, St Stephen. He became the first Christian to be killed for his faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus warned his disciples of this persecution. In fact, that is a clear sign that you are on the right path: If you follow in Jesus’ footsteps, you get what He got, and you end up where He ended up. St Stephen gave witness to Jesus, but they didn’t accept his testimony. The Acts of the Apostles tells that they “stopped their ears and rushed upon him” (7:57).
They couldn’t refute anything. They just stopped their ears. But Stephen didn’t compromise the truth. And for that reason he was killed fulfilling the prophecy that we read about in today’s Gospel. They thought they had finished him. However that was just the beginning. Do you remember Saul? Saul was a young man, full of zeal. He helped the executioners stone Stephen to death. Stephen died praying for his murderers.
Saul couldn’t stand that Message; he covered his ears to stop hearing that Truth but the Truth came to him. From Heaven, St Stephen kept doing his job and eventually, the man who had been stoning him became St Paul, the Apostle, the man who changed the history of Christianity and spread that Message, that Truth all over the world. He would in turn also be killed for that same Truth.
Because the transforming work of martyrs doesn’t finish when they die. That’s just the beginning! Mary, Queen of Martyrs, help me to be steady in witnessing to that same Truth, namely, that God became a Man in Bethlehem to die for our sins in Jerusalem.

Link: http://stjosemaria.org/ipray-st-stephen-martyr/

Pope Francis: Want to see God this Christmas? Be humble

On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis noted how the coming of Jesus as an infant is paradoxical to the images of grandeur that had accompanied the prophesies on the coming of the Messiah, saying this should challenges us to go beyond the ephemeral and focus on what really counts.

“If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the fragile simplicity of a small newborn, the meekness of where he lies, the tender affection of the swaddling clothes. God is there,” the Pope said Dec. 24.

This is the “enduring sign to find Jesus,” he said. “Not just then, but also today.”

He noted how the day’s Gospel reading revealed “a paradox,” speaking of the emperor and mighty people of those times, yet God doesn’t manifest himself there.

Jesus “does not appear in the grand hall of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in the simplicity of life; not in power, but in a smallness which surprises,” Francis said.

So if we want to find him, “we need to go there, where he is: we need to bow down, humble ourselves, make ourselves small.”

Pope Francis spoke to attendees of his Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. During this year’s procession, a Vatican police officer and firefighter were chosen to carry the statue of the baby Jesus as a sign of gratitude for the 200th anniversary of the Gendarmerie, as well as the help the firefighters offered to those affected by the earthquakes in Central Italy earlier this fall.

In his homily, the Pope said the Child Jesus “challenges us” by inviting us “to leave behind fleeting illusions and go to the essence, to renounce our insatiable claims, to abandon our endless dissatisfaction and sadness for something we will never have” and rediscover “peace, joy and the meaning of life.”

The infant in the manger is a challenge, but Francis also urged attendees to allow themselves to be challenged by the children of today, “who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid mangers that devour dignity.”

Many children today hide underground to escape bombs or are forced to sleep either on the streets of large cities or at the bottom boats overflowing with immigrants, he said, noting that this reality should also challenge us.

“Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.”

Christmas is both a mystery of hope and of sadness, he said, noting how the arrival of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem points us to the indifference of many in the face of those who are discarded.

The same indifference is present modern society “when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized,” he said.

However, Christmas is also a sign of hope, because despite the darkness in our lives, God’s light “shines out.” His gentle light doesn’t make us fearful, but rather, “God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us.”

Pope Francis closed his homily encouraging everyone to let themselves be challenged by Jesus, and walk toward him with trust from the part of us in which we ourselves feel marginalized and limited.

He told them to take time to pause and look at the crib where Jesus was born, imagining the “light, peace, utmost poverty and rejection” that accompanied his birth.

“Let us enter into the real Nativity with the shepherds, taking to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds. Then, in Jesus we will enjoy the flavor of the true spirit of Christmas: the beauty of being loved by God.”

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-want-to-see-god-this-christmas-be-humble-29445/

 

Catholic Resources

A list containing some Catholic resources in various forms (e.g. music, books, video, apps or sites) 

Books

[1] Saints for Sinners by Alban Goodier, S.J. 

This book covers not only their past but the human element of the nine saints as well. Such mention of the human side of a saint, in a way- helps us to relate, be inspired and to hope that a dull pencil, when God holds it- can create masterpiece. The saints included in this book are St. Augustine, St. Margaret of Cortona, St. John of God, St. Francis Xavier, St. John of the Cross, St. Camillus, St. Cupertino, St. Colombiere and St. Benedict Joseph Labre. If my memory serves me right, this book allows me to connect to St. John of the Cross closer. A pdf copy of this book can be found in this link

Apps

[1] Verbum (iOS, Android, PC)

verbum

This app is like a book that houses several Catholic books- including the classic ones like Imitation of Christ, Introduction to Devout Life among others (some requires purchase). This also contains daily readings depicting several themes: Roman Martyrology, Catholic Daily Readings and Pictorial Lives of Saints. This app also features free book of the month which allows me to grow my Verbum library as seen in the image below.

file

Android Link

iOS Link

Web Link

Music

Before listening, it is my hope that these songs will touch you. 🙂

[1] These Alone are Enough for Me

 

[2] Shepherd Me, Oh God

 

[3] Lord, I Need You (Cover)

 

 

The Dark Night of the Soul and The Dark Night

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

Search the Internet, and you’ll find literature in abundance regarding the hackneyed phrase, dark night of the soul. Last week, the phrase surfaced again with the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

The Dark Night of the Soul and The Dark Night: Some Distinctions

In the lexicon of popular phrases, the dark night of the soul should be distinguished from the dark night as developed by St. John of the Cross in his treatise, The Dark Night.

Worries and annoyances that weigh us down each day are part of the human condition. No more, no less. Rarely are they considered the dark night of the soul. To accept and face hardship as part of the human condition is a sign of maturity.

It may surprise even spiritual directors to read that John does not use the phrase, the dark night of the soul, nor does it appear in his poem or treatise.

The Dark Night has a precise and rich context. Its focus lies on God’s innovating activity upon the soul destined for transformation.  The soul remains in spiritual darkness, passive yet docile and responsive to the divine touch.

By contrast, the dark night of the soul focuses on the individual self and one’s particular trial—any trial—that causes sadness, agitation, turmoil, or distress in one’s life. It has a one-dimensional perspective—the self.

Moses and the Divine Darkness

In the Book of Exodus 20, Moses approaches the dark cloud where God dwells. This is a metaphor for his journey into the dark of night where it is impossible to see. Darkness is a symbol for the encounter with God who is incomprehensible. Here Moses encounters God in the darkness only to be enlightened by that very same darkness.

Put another way: Moses’ eternal progress is the movement from human light to divine darkness.  The vision of Moses begins in the light.  But as he becomes more perfect, he is led by God into the darkness where he is enlightened.

Thus the life of prayer and contemplation is represented paradoxically as a journey from light to darkness.  It is only through this maze of darkness that the soul can reach God who is beyond all intellectual comprehension.   To remain in one’s own light is to die.  To walk through the darkness where God dwells is to live in the light.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (d 394), one of the Eastern Church Fathers, used Moses to exemplify and develop a symbolism of darkness. His 1Life of Moses is considered the crowning work of his mysticism.  Gregory was followed by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagate (d 5th-6th c) who became the major resource for the study of the divine darkness.

The Dark Night Proper

The Dark Night, the title of a poem and treatise on prayer, was written between 1578-85 by St. John of the Cross, the great Spanish Carmelite saint, mystic and poet (d 1591).  It complements his treatise, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, in which the soul learns to love God by pulling up and rooting out his or her vices.  Whereas vices puff up the ego, the love of God scours the ego clean.

The Dark Night is a metaphor describing the mystical union between the soul and God in prayer.  In this dark night, the soul is detached from all that is not God, undergoes privation of light but remains on the road to darkness because it will lead to the light.  Thus John builds his systematic exposition of the spiritual life upon this metaphor.

The dark night comes not at the beginning of one’s journey to God.  It usually happens when souls have entered the unitive way, that is, when their wills and hearts are united in perfect harmony with God’s.

History has proved that God consistently sends trial to the souls who seek perfection, but lay persons and consecrated men and women experience different dark nights suited to their different vocations. The biographies of saints as well as the masters of the spiritual life are in agreement.

In The Graces of Interior Prayer, Fr. A. Poulain, S.J. tells us who he likely ones are to receive these trials.  “And as persons who are leading a purely contemplative life are not obliged to undergo the arduous labors the active life entails, God sends them interior crosses by way of compensation.  And then they feel these crosses more keenly, being more thrown back upon themselves” (400).

It appears that Mother Teresa is an exception to this rule.  Her life serving the poorest of the poor was not just active.  It was arduous.  The work day of the sisters is usually between ten and twelve hours of manual labor.  Yet the Rule of the Missionaries of Charity requires them to spend at least two hours in prayer and contemplation every day in addition to other exercises—the Office, Examen, and spiritual reading.  Formed and guided by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, these sisters are true active contemplatives.

The Dark Night and Passive Purification

The Dark Night is essentially an experience of infused contemplation.  One cannot ask for it; one ought not ask for it.  In The Dark Night, the purification is accomplished by God and not by the will of the individual who could never accomplish this task.  John describes this metaphor:

A mother weans her child away from the sweetness and consolation of being nourished at the breast, and of having her child experience its own independence away from the mother.  This purification is accomplished by the mother and not by the child.  Passive purification.

The dark night first affects and purifies the individual’s spiritual senses.  These are:  spiritual pride and avarice, spiritual lust and anger, spiritual gluttony, envy, and sloth.  Persons succumb to spiritual gluttony, for example, when they seek sweetness, delight, and satisfaction in prayer, striving more to savor the sweet experiences rather than the desire to please God. Spiritual sloth delights in spiritual gratification, but when the soul is told to do something unpleasant, it remains lax.

The first and chief benefit of this dark night of contemplation is the knowledge of self and of one’s misery and lowliness but also of God’s grandeur and majesty.

The second is the purification of the spiritual faculties:  the intellect, the will, and the memory. John compares this experience to a fire consuming a log.  In both books, the soul does little more than dispose itself for the divine action.

Here are the first two stanzas of the poem anticipating the explanation of Books One and Two:

One dark night,
Fired with love’s urgent longings
–ah, the sheer grace!—
I  went out unseen,
My house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised,
–ah, the sheer grace!—
In darkness and concealment,
My house being now all stilled.

Mother Teresa’s Dark Night

We can never know what activity takes place inside another person.  Yet, we know that dryness, aridity, and restlessness in prayer afflicted Mother Teresa as well as doubt in the existence of God.

She remained a woman of joy, faithful to her religious vocation as a missionary. Read some of her reflections, marked by darkness:

“In my soul, I feel just that terrible pain of loss of God not wanting me—of God not being God—of God not existing.”

“I find no words to express the depths of the darkness.  If you only knew what  darkness I am plunged into.”

“In the darkness . . . . Lord, my God, who am I that you should forsake me?  The child of your love—and now become as the most hated one.  The one—you have thrown away as unwanted—unloved.  I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer . . . Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.  Love—the word—it brings nothing.  I am told God lives in me, and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”  The self-offering of St. Ignatius sums up Book Two and the total offering of Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calcutta:

“Take, Lord,
into your possession
my complete freedom of action:
my memory, my understanding, my entire will;
all that I have, all that I own.
It is your gift to me.
I now return it to you to be used simply as you wish.
Give me your love and your grace.
It is all I need.”

Link:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column/the-dark-night-of-the-soul-and-the-dark-night-3612/

Pope’s Morning Homily: ‘Never Converse With the Devil

Never converse with the devil, who seduces and ruins lives.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, drawing from today’s readings, which continued reflecting on the end of the world, as discussed in the Book of Revelations.

Seducer, Liar, Trickster

The Pontiff noted how in today’s reading the angel seizes the serpent, chains it up and throws it into the abyss, which is then locked and sealed, and stressed that the serpent or devil is thrown into the abyss “so that it would no longer lead the nations astray” because it is the seducer.

“He is a liar and what’s more is the father of lies, he generates lies and is a trickster. He makes you believe that if you eat this apple you will be like a God. He sells it to you like this and you buy it and in the end he tricks you, deceives you and ruins your life.

“‘But father, what can we do to avoid being deceived by the devil?’ Jesus teaches us: never converse with the devil. One does not converse with him. What did Jesus do with the devil?  He chased him away, he asked his name but did not hold a dialogue with him.”

How to Defend Oneself

Pope Francis went on to explain how when Jesus was in the wilderness, he defended himself when replying to the devil by using the Word of God and the Word of the Bible.

Thus, the Argentine Pope stressed, we must never converse with this liar and trickster who seeks our ruin and who for this reason will be thrown into the abyss.

The Holy Father also described how today’s reading shows how the Lord will judge the great and the lowly “according to their deeds,” with the damned being thrown into the pool of fire. Francis described this as the “second death.”

Not a Torture Chamber

“Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber,” he said. “That’s a description of this second death: it is a death. And those who will not be received in the Kingdom of God, it’s because they have not drawn close to the Lord. These are the people who journeyed along their own path, distancing themselves from the Lord and passing in front of the Lord but then choosing to walk away from Him.”

What eternal damnation is, he explained, is “continually distancing oneself from God.”

“It is the worst pain, an unsatisfied heart, a heart that was created to find God but which, out of arrogance and self-confidence, distances itself from God.”

Distancing oneself from God Who gives happiness and Who loves us so much, the Pontiff admonished, is the “fire,” and the road to eternal damnation.

Pointing out how the reading’s final image ends with a vision of hope, Francis noted that if with humility, we open our hearts, we will have joy, salvation, and will receive Jesus’ forgiveness.

“Hope is what opens our hearts to the encounter with Jesus. This is what awaits us: the encounter with Jesus. It’s beautiful, very beautiful,” Pope Francis said, concluding, “He asks us only to be humble and say ‘Lord.’ It’s enough to say that word and He will do the rest.”

https://zenit.org/articles/popes-morning-homily-never-converse-with-the-devil/