November 13 is the first anniversary of Contemplative Homeschool. The 14th is the Feast of All Carmelite Saints. To celebrate, I’d like to introduce you to a few Carmelite saints and blesseds you may not know. In the future, I hope to delve deeper into the spiritual insights of more Carmelite saints here on my blog.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880 in France. Her father was in the army. He died when Elizabeth was seven. She, her mother, and sister moved to a home in Dijon that overlooked a Carmelite monastery.
When Elizabeth made her first Communion, the mother superior told her that Elizabeth meant “House of God.” That impressed the young girl. It became the central idea of her spirituality–the realization that the Holy Trinity lived in her soul. She made a private promise of virginity at age 14 and entered Carmel at 20. She spent only five years in the cloister before her death from a prolonged illness in 1906.
During the last three months of her life, she wrote four spiritual treatises. The first was a ten-day retreat for her sister Marguerite, who was married with children. She instructed her sister on how to live a contemplative life in the world.
Following St. Therese, Elizabeth offered herself as a victim to Divine Love. She wrote, “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls into interior recollection, by helping them go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which they will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.”
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was born Edith Stein in 1891 in Breslau, Germany. Her family was Jewish. As a teenager, she lost her faith in a personal God. However, as she studied philosophy under Edmund Husserl, she became interested in Christianity. When friend and fellow student Adolph Reinach was killed in world War I, Edith sought to comfort his widow. Instead, she was comforted by Mrs. Reinach, who had recently become a Christian. One night while staying at her home, Edith Stein picked up St. Teresa’s Life and read it straight through to the end, staying up all night. When she finished, she said, “That is the truth.” Soon afterwards she was baptized.
Edith taught high school girls and postulants at a Dominican convent. She also studied and wrote about Thomas Aquinas. Finally, she became a Carmelite nun and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She continued her philosophical writing. She also wrote The Science of the Cross to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of St. john of the Cross.
Teresa Benedicta offered herself “as a sacrifical expiation for the sake of true peace,” and for the safety and conversion of the Jewish people. In 1942, the Dutch bishops officially condemned the deportation of the Jews. The Nazis responded by arresting Catholics of Jewish descent, including Teresa and her sister Rosa, who had moved to Holland to escape danger. They spent time in two Dutch concentration camps before being transferred to Auschwitz. They were probably sent to the gas chamber upon arrival on August 9.
St. Raphael Kalinowski
Joesph Kalinowski lived a varied and at times dangerous life. He was born into a noble Polish family in 1835. He lost both his mother and step-mother at a young age. As an adult, he entered the Russian military, but was disturbed when he learned that Byzantine Rite Catholics were being forced to enter the Russian Orthodox Church. After Russia sought to suppress a Polish revolt in 1863, he asked to be discharged. He eventually joined the rebels, but was later arrested and sentenced to death. His family interceded and he was exiled to Siberia instead.
Joseph found his escape from oppression in prayer. He assisted the local priest, taught the children of other detainees, and performed acts of charity.
After his release in 1874, he became the tutor of Polish Prince Augusto Czartoyski, who was beatified in 2004. They lived in Paris. Joseph was at the time discerning entering a religious order. He settled on the Carmelites and joined them in 1877. There was only one Carmelite monastery in Poland at the time. Fr. Raphael, as he was called, wanted to revitalize the Carmelite Order in Poland. He established a monastery in Krakow.
Fr. Raphael told the friars under his care, “Our first obligation in Carmel is to have a conversation with God by our every action.” He longed for the unification of all Christians. He spread the Brown Scapular and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel throughout eastern Europe.
Fr. Raphael died in Krakow in 1907.
Share with us: Who is your favorite Carmelite saint? What other Carmelite saints would you like to learn more about?