17th July - Blessed Teresa of Saint Augustine and Companions (Compiegne 1794) - Virgins and Martyrs
OC: Optional Memory
As the French Revolution entered its worst days, sixteen Discalced Carmelites from the monastery of the Incarnation in Compiegne offered their lives as a sacrifice to God, making reparation to him and imploring peace for the Church. On 24th June, 1794, they were arrested and thrown into prison. Their happiness and resignation were so evident that those around them were also encouraged to draw strength from God's love. They were condemned to death for their fidelity to the Church and their religious life and for their devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Singing hymns, and having renewed their vows before the prioress, Teresa of St Augustine, they were put to death in Paris on 17th July, 1794. They were beatified by Pope Saint Pius X on 13th May, 1906.
Entrance Antiphon -
Let the virgins praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is supreme; its majesty outshines both earth and heaven.
you called Blessed Teresa of St Augustine and her companions
to go on in the strength of the Holy Spirit
from the heights of Carmel to receive a martyr's crown.
May our love too be so steadfast
that it will bring us
to the everlasting vision of your glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans - 8:31-39
Neither death nor life can ever come between us and the love of God.
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us--he rose from the dead, and there at God's right hand he stands and pleads for us.
Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. As scripture promised: For your sake we are being massacred daily, and reckoned as sheep for the slaughter. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.
For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Responsorial Psalm - Ps. 125:1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6 (R. 5)
R/. Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.
When the lord delivered Sion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs. R/.
The heathens themselves said: 'What marvels
the Lord worked for them!'
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad. R/.
Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap. R/.
They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves. R/.
Gospel Acclamation - Mt. 5:10
Happy are those who suffer persecution in the cause of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
A reading from the Gospel according to John - 15: 18-21
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too.
Jesus said to his disciples:
'If the world hates you,
remember that it hated me before you.
If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
because my choice withdrew you from the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you:
A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me,
they will persecute you too;
if they kept my word,
they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on my account that they will do all this,
because they do not know the one who sent me'.
Prayer over the Gifts
we celebrate the martyrdom of your holy virgins.
May we offer the sacrifice
which gives all martyrdom its meaning.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon - Rom 8:38-39
Neither death nor life nor anything in all creation can come between us and Christ's love for us.
Prayer after Communion
we have been refreshed with bread from heaven.
May we confess your name
with the same steadfastness
which Blessed Teresa of St Augustine
and her companions
obtained from this sacred banquet.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Office of Readings
Second Reading: From the Way of Perfection of St. Teresa of Jesus
It all sems very hard work, this business of perfection - and so it is: we are waging war on ourselves! But as soon as we get down to it God becomes so active in our souls and showers so many mercies on them that whatever has got to be done in this life seems insignificant. And as we nuns do so much already, giving up our freedom for love of God and subjecting it to someone else, what excuse have we got for holding back when it comes to interior mortification?
That is where the secret lies of making all the rest so much more meritorious and perfect, not to mention doing it more easily and peacefully. The way to acquire it, as I have said, is to persevere bit by bit in not doing our own will or fancy, even in tiny things. till the body has been mastered by the spirit.
Let me repeat that it is all - or nearly all - a matter of getting rid of self-interest and our preoccupation with our own comfort. If you have started serving God seriously, the least you can offer Him is your life! If you have given Him your will, what are you afraid of? If you are a real religious, a real 'pray-er,' and want to enjoy God's favours, you obviously can't afford to shy away from wanting to die for Him, and undergo martyrdom. Don't you realize, sisters that the life of a good religious - a person who wants to be one of God's really close friends - is one long martyrdom? I say 'long' because in comparison with those whose heads have been chopped off in a trice we can call it long, but all our lives are short, very short in some cases. And we don't even know whether our own won't be so short that it will come to an end an hour, or even a second, after we have made up our mind to serve God fully. That could happen. We have just got to take no account of anything that will come to an end, least of all life, for we can't count on a single day. If we remember that every hour might be our last, is there a single one of us who will feel inclined to shirk?
Well, there is nothing you can be more certain of, believe me! So we must train ourselves to thwart our own wills in every way; then, if you try hard, as I have said, though you won't get there all of a sudden, you will gradually arrive, without realizing it, at the peak of perfection.
R/. Rejoice that you share the sufferings of Christ, * for when His glory is revealed you will be filled with joy.
V/. Blessed are you when you are persecuted for Christ's sake, * for when His glory is revealed you will be filled with joy.
Prepare your lamps, you wise virgins, for behold, the Bridegroom is coming: go out and meet Him
You virgins of the Lord, who have endured the great ordeal, come and rejoice with God forever.