October 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 201

LITURGY for Sunday and Monday, October 15-16, 2000

SUNDAY, October 15, 2000

      First Reading: Wisdom 7: 7-11
      Psalms: Psalm 90: 12-17
      Second Reading: Hebrews 4: 12-13
      Gospel Reading: Mark 10: 17-30
Though superseded by the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 15th is the traditional Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Religious and Doctor of the Church:

Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Religious and Doctor of the Church
        Probably no religious reformed the Church more than the great Saint Teresa of Avila who was born of Jewish descent in Avila, Spain on October 4, 1515 as Teresa de Cepeda y de Ahumada. Teresa was educated by the Augustinian nuns but at the age of 17 she was forced to leave the convent because of ill health. Regaining her strength she succumbed for a short time to the world and the wealth of Spain which was regaling in the golden age of riches garnered from the New World and the many superb spiritual treatises emanating from Spain. Teresa, like Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony, longed to become a missionary and receive the crown of martyrdom at the hands of the heathen Moors. But this faded from memory as she regained her strength and gave into vanity and the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil. It was while reading the writings of Saint Jerome that she realized the error of her ways and sought to become a Carmelite nun at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila in 1535. Shortly after her profession in 1537, she again became ill and was dispatched for treatment in 1538. Two years later she returned but remained an invalid for several years. After nearly 20 years as a nun she was greatly touched by the Confessions of Saint Augustine, in particular his description of the image Ecce Homo and dedicated the rest of her life to prayer and reform of the Carmelites. During the two years of 1556 and 57 Teresa experienced mystic occurrences with visions and locutions. Because she thought this was satan mimicking Our Lord and Our Lady she was thrown into great anguish until she confided in her new spiritual advisor Saint Peter of Alcantara who convinced her they were authentic from all she had conveyed to him. The Messages from Heaven prompted her to found St. Joseph Convent in Avila despite fierce opposition and ridicule from those who derided her for founding a convent to live the strict Carmelite rule rather than the relaxed rule that was being taken advantage of and being lived in most every convent of that time. In 1567 the Prior General of the Carmelites Father Rubeo gave Teresa permission to establish other convents with the same strict rule as established at St. Joseph's. This gave rise to a bitter struggle from the calced Carmelites who feared their easy-going lifestyle was threatened by this ultra conservative upstart nun. At the General Chapter Convention at Piacenza in 1575, Fr. Rubeo was forced by the majority to place strict restrictions on Teresa's group. The bitter struggle continued for the next five years but Teresa was undaunted and prayed diligently that the Will of God would prevail in this struggle. Joining her in this tireless crusade to reform the Carmelites was a young priest John Yepes who is better known as Saint John of the Cross. With his help she founded the first monastery for men under the strict decalced rule and continued to travel throughout Spain establishing more monasteries as she continuously turned over to St. John the duties of each in the formation of the friars. This responsibility, not to mention the constant harassment and struggle for control, all contributed to the doubts and void John felt in which he wrote about in his now famous "Dark Night of the Soul". Yet, he and Teresa persevered and in 1580 Pope Gregory XIII through the encouragement of the King of Spain King Philip II officially recognized the two distinct branches of the Carmelites - Calced and Discalced and made the latter a separate province free from the influence of those who sought to discredit Teresa. During her travels and drawing from her mystical experiences, Teresa wrote her autobiography The Life in 1565, The Way of Perfection in 1573, and the work The Interior Castle in 1577 - all classics in spiritual literature. Teresa, considered one of the greatest mystics of all time, confounded many who met this saint for she was deeply spiritual and intelligent but could be as stubborn and bullheaded as they come. Add to this that she combined her highly active and political life with a love for deep contemplation which she passed on to all she met, founding 40 new foundations throughout her lifetime to totally reform the Carmelites and put the life of a religious back on the track God intended. Teresa, greatly worn by her travails, travels and trials died at Alba de Tormes in the Province of Salamanca, Spain on the evening of October 4, 1582 - the very same evening the new Gregorian calendar replaced the old Julian calendar and moved everything up ten days, thus the confusion of when Teresa died because the new calendar would have her called home to Heaven on October 14th. It was symbolic that the new had replaced the old for Teresa had replaced the stagnant, liberal lifestyle of the religious with a more dedicated and reverent contemplative way of life in keeping with the vocation they were called to; and she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. In 1970 Pope Paul VI honored her as the first woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church.

Monday, October 16, 2000

    Monday October 16:
    Weekday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious and Mystic and

    Feast of Saint Hedwig, Married woman

    Green or White vestments

      First Reading: Galatians 4: 22-24, 26-27, 31; 5: 1
      Psalms: Psalm 113: 1-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 11: 29-32

Feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious and Mystic

        This simple Visitation nun was born Margaret Mary Alacoque on July 22, 1647 to Claude Alocoque and his wife Philiberte Lamyn Alacoque at L'Hautecour in Burgundy, France. When Claude died in 1655, Margaret was sent by her mother to the Poor Clares' school in Charolles where she stayed with her uncle who mistreated her badly. This in turn translated into rheumatic fever that found her bedridden for five years until she was 15. During this time she developed a special devotion for the Blessed Sacrament. Though she was courted by suitors, she declined all invitations to marriage and instead longed to be a bride of Christ as a Visitation nun at their convent at Paray-le-Monial and became a professed nun the following year. In 1667 she experienced her first mystical vision of Jesus. On December 27, 1673, when she was 26, Our Lord began the series of revelations to her that would last over a year and a half. Jesus confided to her that she was His chosen instrument to convey to the world all He revealed to her including Devotion to His Sacred Heart and the devotion of Nine First Fridays and Holy Hour and the graces inherent from observing these as well as establishing a feast specifically for His Most Sacred Heart. St. Margaret Mary in obedience went to her superior Mother de Saumaise but she was strongly rebuffed as all this being superstitious. Sr. Margaret was obedient but continued to pray that Mother Superior would see the light as Jesus continued to appear to her offering her guidance and a reassurance she was doing the right thing. Even though a group of theologians were called in to investigate, they refused to accept any of it as valid and this further alienated her from the members of her community and Mother de Saumaise who all thought Sr. Margaret was making a circus out of all of this. The only one who believed was her confessor Blessed Father Claud La Colombiere, who declared the visions genuine and valid. Sr. Margaret's prayers were answered when Mother de Saumaise was replaced in 1683 by Mother Melin, a dear friend who believed. She in turn selected Sr. Margaret as her assistant. Because of this appointment and the support of both the Father Confessor and Mother Superior the rest of the community changed their tune and began to believe. Shortly after that Sr. Margaret Mary was appointed Mistress of Novices and was overjoyed to see Mother Melin ordain that the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be officially celebrated at the convent on June 21, 1686. Two years later a chapel honoring the Sacred Heart was built at Paray-le-Monial with a beautiful painting commissioned to be painted on the standard of the king of France King Louis XIV. This was later adopted in France, Spain and in the western Alps. Soon the observation of this feast was spread to other convents throughout the Visitandine network and to other Orders. On October 17, 1690, with her work for Jesus complete, and at the fairly early age of 43, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, while in prayer at her convent, closed her eyes for the final time on this earth to be forever with Jesus in Heaven. 75 years later devotion to the Sacred Heart was officially recognized by Holy Mother Church and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765. In 1920 Pope Benedict XV canonized Sr. Margaret Mary along with her spiritual advisor and Saint John Eudes, all of whom the Holy Father proclaimed as "Saints of the Sacred Heart." Her visions and the subsequent embracing of all Jesus conveyed is another example of how private revelation is so slow to be received, yet when surviving the test of time and bearing good fruit, can add greatly to Holy Mother Church as God wills.

Feast of Saint Hedwig, Virgin, Religious and Mystic

        This little known saint Saint Hedwig, who was known as the Duchess of Silesia, was the daughter of Count Berthold IV of Bavaria. Hedwig was born in 1174 into a very devout Catholic family with royal ties. Her two brothers were both bishops and one sister was an abbess while another, the mother of Saint Elizabeth was the queen of Hungary, and still another who was married to King Philip II of France. Hedwig had been educated by the Benedictine nuns in the Kitzengen Monastery in Franconia and developed a great love for the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. But the religious life was not meant for Hedwig and, at the age of 12, she was married to Duke Henry I of Silesia . They had seven children. When Henry's father died in 1202 he succeeded to the dukedom and at Hedwig's urging he built a Cistercian Monastery in Polish Trebnitz, which became the first monastery for nuns in Silesia. Hedwig, who was a devoted wife and mother and totally giving in her generosity of time and money, along with her husband, founded many more monasteries as well as hospitals. Two of their children Henry II and Conrad came to bitter blows over the division of territories made by their father in 1112. Though Hedwig prayed and tried to counsel them, they still resisted and war brokeout between Henry I and Swatopluk of Pomerania for territorial rights. Siding with Henry I was Duke Ladislaus while Conrad sided against Ladislaus, lusting after the latter's lands. When Ladislaus was slain by Ladislaus' men in 1227, Henry II waged war against his brother Conrad. It was only through Hedwig acting as a peacemaker that the two brothers were reconciled. Hedwig's husband Henry I died in 1238 and three years later her son Henry II was felled on the battlefield near Wahlstadt at the hands of the ruthless Mongol Tartars. With both her husband and son gone, Hedwig retired to the Monastery at Trebnitz in Poland where she lived for another three years, passing away peacefully on October 15, 1243. She was canonized less than a quarter of a century later by Pope Clement IV in 1267 with many miracles attributed to her. She is considered the Patroness of Silesia which is today western Poland.

October 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 201

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