Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Madre's Day

Today in Discalced Carmel we celebrate the Solemnity of our Holy Mother, St Teresa of Jesus - Madre as many of us call her.  In Carmelite houses all over the world extended liturgies will be succeeded by a festal meal and, for those who drink, a little glass of wine, and perhaps even a little pudding!  Yesterday, according to tradition we observed the fast in preparation, and, in true Teresian spirit, now we observe the feast. 
To celebrate, perhaps a few of her poems. St Teresa is famous for her mystical writings, but she was also an accomplished poet.  First something sublime:
If, Lord, your love for me is strong
As this which binds me unto you,
What holds me from you Lord so long,
What holds you Lord so long from me?
O soul, what then do you desire?
Lord I would see you, who thus choose you.
What fears can yet assail you now?
All that I fear is but lose you.
Love’s whole possession I entreat,
Lord make my soul your own abode,
And I will build a nest so sweet
It may not be too poor for God.
A soul in God hidden from sin,
What more desires for you remain,
Save but to love and love again,
And all on flame with love within,
Love on, and turn to love again.
There is the famous one, beloved by so many:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
     no hands but yours,
     no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
     Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
     doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

Then there is the lovely hymn she wrote asking the Lord to deliver the community from lice.  Apparently, having led a procession of the sisters through the house singing this song, the community no longer had problems with lice, a deliverance, I'm told, lasts up to today.  Teresa believe the Lord worked a miracle, and he might have seeing that lice were a constant problem for all classes in Spain at the time.  In response to the miracle the sisters gave the Lord a new title: the Christ of the lice.  No comment!  Here's one translation of the hymn.

You clothe us with apparel new,
Heavenly King!
Should creatures vile invest our frieze,
Deliverance bring!

These tiresome creatures much disturb
in time of prayer
Minds which are ill established
in things of God.

Should creatures vile infest our frieze,
Deliverance bring!

You who've come here prepared for death,
Yield not one whit,
And such vile creatures great or small,
Fear not at all.

You've clothed us now in livery new,
Heavenly King.
Should creatures vile infest our frieze,
Deliverance bring!

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