March 28, 2015 Marks the 500th Birthday of St. Teresa
A Day To Remember—Our Mother’s Birthday
As a climax to this 5th Centenary Year of the Birth of St. Teresa of Jesus, Mother of the Discalced Carmelites, we hosted a Solemn Mass celebrating the Votive Mass of St. Teresa on March 28th, 2015, the actual day of her birth. Despite the timing of which her birthday falls this Year (the day before Palm Sunday) we celebrated this most memorable of days as her Carmelite daughters with the blessings of our own Bishop Michael Jarrell who has so graciously promoted this Year in her honor throughout the Diocese. Beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God sounded within the Chapel walls accompanied by flutes and the singing of the Sisters. A full Chapel of many devotees of Carmel and our Secular Carmelite groups from Lafayette and the surrounding areas gathered for this big day.
Fr. Michael Champagne, CJC was the main celebrant and homilist for our Mass. He praised our most beloved “Mother Teresa” on this her birthday and shared with us what a big role St. Teresa has played in his life and vocation both to the priesthood and religious life. Reading a biography of St. Teresa of Avila at the age of 19 “changed his life.” He then focused on the theme of water, so prevalent in the Gospel passage of the Samaritan woman, which was read, and also throughout the writings of St. Teresa. Fr. Champagne continued by saying how his heart “swelled” when he read for the first time the image St. Teresa uses in the Life about the 4 ways of watering the garden. “The Lord takes delight to walk in the garden of our soul.” He then explained that the gardener must be very diligent in watering the garden and caring for it. He also noted that sometimes we may become “spiritually dehydrated” by our mediocrity—going through the motions without making much progress. We must yearn for and seek this “living water”, which both Jesus and St. Teresa promised if we are faithful and persevere in prayer.
To conclud his homily Fr. Champagne quoted Pope St. John Paul II: “The great mystical tradition of the Church of both East and West . . . shows how prayer can progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved, vibrating at the Spirit’s touch, resting filially within the Father’s heart. This is the lived experience of Christ’s promise: ‘He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him’ (Jn 14:21). It is a journey totally sustained by grace, which nonetheless demands an intense spiritual commitment and is no stranger to painful purifications (the ‘dark night’). But it leads, in various possible ways, to the ineffable joy experienced by the mystics as ‘nuptial union’. How can we forget here, among the many shining examples, the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer. . . . (NMI #33)