When I was wondering what to do with my life, I found within myself a deep desire to be able to touch everyone, wherever they might be, even if they had existed decades or centuries ago, even if they had not yet been born. I discovered that prayer, union with God, a life centered on prayer, had no boundaries and would enable me to be present to everyone in God, offering God’s love, hope and peace.
Edith Stein, our Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, has expressed this reality in these simple, profound words.
Once you are joined to the Lord, you become as omnipresent as He is. Instead of offering assistance in one particular place, doctor, nurse or priest, in the power of the Cross you have the ability to be everywhere at once, at every scene of misery. Your compassionate love, drawn from the Redeemer’s heart, can take you in all directions, allowing you to sprinkle on every side the Precious Blood that soothes, heals and redeems.
“The lord is my Shepard there is nothing I shall want.” Psalm 22
Sr. Emmanuel is an inspiration to those privileged to live with her, and to all others who know her. She has been a Carmelite for over 70 years and truly finds her joy in the Lord. She has a lovely and gracious smile for everyone she meets and readily offers her prayers to those in need.
There is a prayer very dear to me, based on a text of Saint John of the Cross, I believe, which every day rises in my heart:
“My soul and all its wealth, Lord, I give to Thee.” My soul and all its love, and all its reverence, and all its obedience, and all its trust, I give to Thee, Lord.
“However softly we speak, He is near enough to hear us. Neither is there any need for wings to go find Him. All one need do is to go into solitude and look at him within oneself” (St. Teresa, The Way of Perfection).
I love this quotation because it is simply stated, yet profound. St. Teresa encourages all of us to have confidence that Jesus is present within our minds, our hearts, and our spirits whatever may be going on in the outer world at any given time. We can always enter a sacred space within ourselves, look at Jesus with our inner eyes and receive the loving gaze of Jesus as he looks back at us.
You already know that God is everywhere. …There is no need to go to heaven in order to speak with one’s Eternal Father or find delight in Him. Nor is there any need to shout. However softly we speak, He is near enough to us. Neither is there any need for wings to go find Him. All one need do is to go into solitude and look at Him within oneself and not turn away from so good a Guest, but with great humility speak to Him as a Father. Tell Him about your trials; ask Him for a remedy against them. Saint Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection, Ch. 28
As my understanding of the Carmelite charism has grown in my time here, I have come to realize what St. Teresa expresses in the above quote- that to find God what is needed is a constant sense of His presence within you. To me, this quote spells out the goal of Carmelite life- deep love of and union with God.
Sister Katharine Mary Toher
“My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Magnificat
In this year 2018, I will praise and thank God for sixty years of consecrated life. It has been a great joy to spend each day in the Lord’s service!
Jesus, in the Gospel, calls his disciples, “Come, follow me.” I heard this call as well; I wanted to follow Jesus, but not in religious life. My Mother, who wanted me to become a Sister, frequently repeated this to me. In order to prove to her that I was not called to be a Sister, for her peace and for mine as well, I decided to enter the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I did this also to find out what Jesus truly wanted of me. I was almost sure that the religious life was not for me. I told myself ‘I will stay two weeks and then I will return home.’ Of course I didn’t tell me Mother this reservation!
My entrance day turned out to be a golden day for my Mother and for me. My Father drove me to the Mother House, and when, coming out of the car, I tripped on the running board, he said to me, “Don’t hesitate now.” I rang the bell. Two sisters came to greet me. It was the custom for the candidate to kneel, to request admission and to kiss the crucifix presented to her. The minute I kissed the crucifix, I knew without a doubt that Jesus was calling me to be a Sister. I was to celebrate my 18th birthday in two months. I am now 91, and want to continue to follow Jesus.
I am very grateful that on that entrance day Jesus offered me a golden platter, the great gift of my vocation. It led me from my vocation to the Sisters of Saint Joseph to my vocation to Carmel. Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, He will not disappoint.