Great Favors through the Sacred Humanity of Christ

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a leader as is Jesus Christ can endure all things.  Christ helps us and strengthens us and never fails; he is a true friend. And I see clearly that God desires that if we are going to please him and receive his great favors this must come about through the most sacred humanity of Christ, in whom he takes his delight.”–St. Teresa of Jesus (Feast Day October 15)

(by Patricia Enk)

St. Teresa of Jesus, the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, and Doctor of the Church tells us that when we pray we must be very careful never to set aside the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ. “Many, many times have I perceived this through experience. The Lord told it to me.  I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we desire his sovereign Majesty to show his great secrets. A person should desire no other path, even if he be at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. This Lord of ours is the one through whom all blessings come to us. He will teach us these things. In beholding his life we find that he is the best example.”

Painting of Christ by Dirk Bouts that captivated St. Teresa

“Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near…As often as we think of Christ we should recall the love with which he bestowed on us so many favors, and the great things God showed in giving us a pledge like this of his love; for love begets love. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to waken ourselves to love. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the favor of impressing this love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall carry out our tasks quickly and without much effort.” 

Christ giving His Blessing -Hans Memling

My beloved passing fair,

Love has drawn thy likeness, see,

In my inmost Heart, and there–

Lost or straying unaware–

Thou must seek thyself in me.

 

Well I know that thou shalt find

This thine image in my Heart,–

Pictured to the life, with art

So amazing, that thy mind

Sees thy very counterpart.

 

If by chance thou e’er shalt doubt

Where to turn in search of me,

Seek not all the world about;

Only this can find me out–

Thou must seek myself in thee.

 

In the mansions of thy mind

Is my dwelling-place; and more–

There I wander, unconfined,

Knocking loud if e’er I find

In thy thought a closed door.

 

Search for me without were vain,

Since, when thou hast need of me,

Only call me, and again

To thy side I haste amain;

Thou must seek myself in thee.

–St. Teresa of Jesus

Statue of Jesus Scourged
St. Teresa’s moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.

 

St. Teresa of Avila – A gaze of faith fixed on Jesus

St. Teresa of Avila Icon by Patricia Enk
St. Teresa of Avila, Feast Day Oct. 15th Icon by Patricia Enk

“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before the generations of the new millennium.  Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.”

–Pope St. John Paul II

Contemplation is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus in silent, loving, attentiveness. It is a gift and a grace from God. Theologians have written volumes about what has been called by the Catechism of the Catholic Church “the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer,” yet when the Catholic Church wants to teach anyone about contemplative prayer it invariably directs them to St. Teresa de Jesus, Doctor of the Church and Foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order.  St. Teresa is a “down-to-earth” sort of saint who can explain prayer to us in the most understandable terms.  “Contemplative prayer” says Teresa, “in my opinion is nothing more than a close sharing between friends, it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

Image of the Holy Face of Jesus that captivated St. Teresa
Image of the Holy Face of Jesus that captivated St. Teresa

St. Teresa suffered for years as a religious from an inability to pray, so she gives some solid advice to those who struggle as they seek the Face of God in prayer: “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ.” We cannot come to the Father except through Him.  Intimacy with Jesus draws us into the life of the Trinity. “If we can, we should occupy ourselves in looking at Him Who is looking at us; keep Him company; talk with Him; pray to Him; humble ourselves before Him; have our delight in Him.”  St. Teresa complained that she didn’t have much of an imagination, so she found it helpful to have an image of Christ to look at as she prayed, especially an image of Jesus in His Passion. “Speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord and a Spouse–and, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another.  He will teach you what you must do to please Him… Remember how important it is for you to have understood this truth–that the Lord is within us and that we should be there with Him.”

He is only waiting for us to look at Him!

Statue of Jesus Scourged St. Teresa's moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.
Statue of Jesus Scourged
St. Teresa’s moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.

 

“The World is all in Flames”: Join World Prayer for Peace March 26th

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“The world is all in flames…and are we to waste time asking God for things of little importance?”  This was the lament of St. Teresa of Jesus as she contemplated the wars, conflicts and divisions of her own time.  March 28th marks the 500th anniversary of her birth.  Today, ever increasing wars, terrorism and violence seem to rage in every corner of the globe. Yes, “the world is in flames!”

St. Teresa of Jesus, Doctor of the Church
St. Teresa of Jesus, Doctor of the Church

We (the sons and daughters of Holy Mother Teresa, the Discalced Carmelite Order of Friars, Nuns and the Secular Order) would like to offer her a 500th birthday present, of which, she would approve; we invite all persons of good will to join us in an hour of prayer for World Peace, which we hope will fill the day with prayers for peace, as people unite in prayer around the world, on March 26 (beginning at 6:00 GMT)and continuing till March 27th. This is the proposal of the Father General of the Discalced Carmelite Order, Fr. Saverio Cannistra.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has looked kindly on this initiative and on March 26th will unite with us in supplication to God, Father of us all, so that through the intercession of His Son Jesus Christ, He will pour His Holy Spirit over all the nations, so that dialogue will triumph over violence and conflicts that scourge our world.”  Please share this message and join with us on this day, “holding tightly to the power of the redeeming Cross of Christ” and lifting our eyes to heaven, let us beg the Father to look upon the Face of His Son, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, and grant us the gift of peace  Not the peace the world gives, but the peace that Jesus promised us, which nothing can take from us. Through the powerful intercession of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother the Queen of Peace and St. Teresa of Jesus let us also “beseech God for the opportunities for dialogue and encounter among men, that we learn to ask for forgiveness so that peace may grow in the world like the fruit of the reconciliation that He has come to bring us.” Nothing is impossible with God!

Pope Francis adoring The Eucharistic Face of Christ
Pope Francis adoring The Eucharistic Face of Christ