171. Jesus Christ seen/heard over centuries. Part three
Jesus Christ appeared many times and gave instructions to St Teresa regarding the establishment of a Carmelite convent of Saint Joseph’s for nuns. This was the first house of its kind in the world. It was a small, bare house, where 12 nuns started living in poverty, austerity and prayer. There was severe opposition to its formation by general public, church officials, Mayor and City Council. The struggle lasted for years. The main reason for their opposition was the concern that from where will the money for the living expenses of these women come? Now, there are thousands of these houses, both for men and women, in the world. Here is the start:
‘One day, after Communion, the Lord gave me the most explicit command to work for this aim with all my might and made me wonderful promises___ that the convent would not fail to be established; that great service would be done to Him in it; that it should be called St Joseph’s; that He would watch over us at one door and our Lady at the other; that Christ would go with us; that the convent would be the star giving out the most brilliant light…’
As soon as the news of this project spread, severe persecution started.
‘Worn out, I commended myself to God and His Majesty began to give me consolation and encouragement. He told me that I could now see what those saints who had founded religious Orders had suffered: they had had to endure much more persecution than I could imagine and we must not allow ourselves to be troubled by it’
Since everybody was against the project, the Provincial changed his mind and refused to sanction the plan of the new convent. She and a friend went to a very learned person of a certain Order. After consideration, the learned man advised them not to give up the plan. Other saintly persons also supported her thinking that it was an idea from God. They were secretly ready to purchase a small house. When her confessor learnt of the Provincial’s opposition he wrote to her. She writes:
“For, amidst this multitude of persecutions, my confessor, whom I had expected to console me, wrote that I must now have realized that all that had happened was just a dream and that henceforth I must lead a better life and not try to do anything more of the kind or talk about it any further, since I now saw what scandal it had caused. He said other things, all very distressing. But the Lord, who never failed me…..told me at once not to distress myself and said I had not offended him in the matter at all but had rendered him great service. He told me to do what my confessor ordered me and keep silence for the present and until time came to resume the project.”
St Teresa was silent about the project for 5 to six months.
‘One day, the Lord told me not to be worried, for my distress would soon be over. I was very glad, supposing his meaning to be that I was soon going to die.’
She proceeds: “I thought the house was too small, so small that it seemed impossible to turn it into a convent. One day, after I had communicated, the Lord said to me: ‘I have already told you to go in as best as you can’, and then added a kind of exclamation: ‘Oh, the greed of mankind! So you really think there will not be enough ground for you! How often did I sleep all night in the open air because I had not where to lay my head!’
To continue with the struggle for the convent; in the monastery of St Dominic she had a rapture so great that it nearly drew her out of herself altogether. She narrates:
‘I thought I saw myself being clothed in a garment of great whiteness and brightness. At first I could not see who was clothing me, but later I saw Our Lady on my right hand and my father St Joseph on my left, and it was they who were putting the garment upon me. I was given to understand that I was being cleansed of my sins…….Our Lady suddenly took me by the hands and told me that I was giving her great pleasure by serving the glorious St Joseph and I might be sure that all I was trying to do about the convent will be accomplished and that both the Lord and the two of them will be served in it…….: As a sign that it was true, she said, she would give me this jewel. Then she seemed to throw around my neck a very beautiful gold collar, to which was fastened a most valuable cross….to imagine the brightness of the vision which it was the Lord’s will to send me….”
‘The beauty which I saw in Our Lady was wonderful, though I could discern in her no particular detail of form: it was her face as a whole so lovely…… and the amazing whiteness and splendor of her vestments, though the light was not dazzling’
‘Our Lady looked to me quite like a child……. I seem to see them ascending to heaven with a great multitude of angels. I remained quite alone, but so greatly comforted and exalted and recollected in prayer.’
To be continued