My experience with Carmelite Saints
From Magon519 – the writer of this blog site
1. Since I remember as a young child (around age 4), my main care giver who was my maternal grandmother had presented to me the Carmelite spirituality through the devotion that she inherited from her parents. They were from the countryside but not too far from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city (maybe 2.5 hours away in the province of Cartago). Each October 15, we would be there at this farm to celebrate the St. Teresa of Avila’s feast day. My grandma’s dad had donated the land and the materials to build a church called Santa Teresa de Capellades, which was also the name of this tiny village, some 15 minutes from another little bigger town called simply Capellades. We would celebrate what we called un “turno” or with 3 days of gatherings from people around and priests would come to celebrate Mass. Otherwise, this church would not be used, except that every Sunday afternoon, my grandma’s three single sisters would pray to the Holy Trinity and a few village people would come. Sunday Mass was not celebrated since there was no priest available. One would have to walk one full hour to Pacayas to attend Mass. No cars. No paved road. During the rainy season, these roads were muddy and difficult to transit.
2. However, at each meal during the year in the house of my great-grandpa (by now a widower) and these three sisters or his daughters, we would read small parts of the life of St. Teresa of Avila. She was to me like a grandma also! In the mean time, my grandma (we lived in San Jose), used to tell me that St. Therese of Lissieux had come to visit me when I was 2 years old. One early morning at 4 AM and the sunlight just barely making an entrance, as my grandma would sit on her bed to pray the Rosary, which for many years I would see her do, St. Therese’s picture right on top of my crib on the wall, came off the wall and my grandmother in horror realized that it would hit me as I as laid sound asleep. She got up and went around her bed and by the time she got to my crib, St. Therese was back on the wall. I still have this picture in California…
So, I grew up thinking of St. Therese as my sister (I was an only child). I visited her in 2002 in France and it was a great meeting. For almost two years in 1992, a friend of mine, a permanent Deacon, allowed me to have a first class relic of St. Therese … I took her everywhere in my purse. I had just finished with the first major persecution in my professional life and had started working in Steubenville, Ohio in a hospital with an anesthesia department headed by a doctor and he was not treating me well. However, her company meant a lot to me.
3. In 1985, after my first major persecution, I decided to stay home for a year with $100,000 in the bank, in order to let these anesthesiologists (co-directors) who decided to persecute me to cool off for the writing of a reference letter for my next job. In time, they even cried to my husband for what they did to me… It was in this year off that I read extensively the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross… It was St. John of the Cross, the one who introduced me to accept my cross as a gift from God!
4. In the same year of 1985, I became a great friend of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, whom I just found out (2014) may be canonized very soon. I used to call her Eli and still do. I read everything in her letters that I could and finished reading the “Story of a Soul” from my sister Therese.
5. In the late 90’s, EWTN started airing the life of St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes which was produced in Chile. In the early 2000’s, I wrote via Internet to the Carmelite Order and convent in the Andes where St. Teresa lived for a short time before she died, and they sent me two second class relics of hers (a piece of her habit). I gave one to my then Toledo, OH Bishop, now Archbishop in Connecticut. I still have mine. I also keep in contact with these Nuns and every year they send me a beautiful Christmas greeting via Internet. When I had a major gastric bleeding this past August, I sent them the story in Spanish.
6. In 2003, I used to meet with others once a month with a Carmelite priest who would travel from Wisconsin to celebrate Mass with us in Toledo, OH. I was invited to be present by this good friend and Third Order Carmelite to whom I sent the Novocain. She wanted me to become one. I was not sure about it… I always felt that I was a Carmelite at heart since childhood. One month, I had to drive this priest to the Greyhound bus station in downtown Toledo and in route I asked him if my story with my Carmelite friends was enough to make me a Third Order member, and he said, “Absolutely. You are one.” So, as you can see, I ended up knowing the Jesuit spirituality because my Lord sent my four sons to the same Jesuit high school and that helped me enter into St. Ignatius spirituality, but my formation is Carmelite since I was a baby. I carry pinned on my clothes the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and have done so for many years.