Thursday, May 25, 2006
Carmelite Spirituality for Amateurs
I really like this image of St. John of the Cross. It was painted by Pauline Martin, who was the older sister of “The Little Flower”, St. Therese of Lisieux . Not bad for an amateur painter, is it?
Pauline actually entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux before Therese did, and she became the prioress. Maybe someone can help me out with the Latin words on it… I think they are a reference to the story in which St John of the Cross had a vision while praying in front of a painting of Christ. In the vision Christ asked “What do you wish from me?” St John answered “To suffer for you.”
I’m a great admirer of the great Discalced Carmelite mystics and Doctors of the Church. I admire the spirituality of St. John of the Cross in particular, even though some of what he wrote is hard to understand.
I thoroughly enjoy reading St Teresa of Avila and St Therese as well, although as a male, I find some of their references to Jesus as lover (especially by Therese) a little unsettling, and hard to relate to.
The popular spiritual writer Fr. Ron Rolheiser knows a lot about Carmelite spirituality, and writes about it in a way that is very accessible and easy for the “amateur” to understand. Here are some really good articles he’s written that are available in PDF format. They are worth taking a look at.
John of the Cross: The Man, The Myth and The Truth
John of the Cross and Human Development: The Dark Night of the Soul - A Contemporary Interpretation
Our Perennial Fascination with Therese of Lisieux
Key Elements in Therese's Spirituality: The Little Way, Noticing the Unnoticed Drops of Blood
On the less serious side, here is an old Connection radio program with Chris Lydon about St Teresa of Avila as saint, businesswoman, and feminist icon.