advice

Pesky Reptiles and Other Creatures, Oh My!

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere, In the Interior Castle, St. Teresa talks about “pesky reptiles” and other creatures. What exactly does she mean when she is saying these things? Dear Friend, Those “pesky reptiles”! When you come across a snake unexpectedly, what is your immediate reaction? Well, unless you are a herpetologist it is probably fear, dread or surprise. Let me […]

What is a novena and why do Catholics pray them?

Dear Sister Benedicta Marie, What is a novena? Where did they come from and why do we pray them? Dear Friend, Novena comes from the Latin Language and means nine. As used by Catholics this means a series of nine prayers. Usually the series refers to a prayer or devotion offered on nine consecutive days, but the series could be […]

How Can I Get Out of My Patterns of Sin?

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere, How can I deepen my relationship with God when I am stuck in patterns of sin that I can’t seem to break? I’ve asked this question to several people at different times, but I really can’t seem to figure this out or make any progress. I am really grieved over this. Dear Friend, It seems to […]

Ask a Carmelite: One God, Many Religions

Dear Sister Benedicta Marie, If there is only one God, why are there so many religions in the world? Dear Friend, With apologies to Shakespeare, the fault, Dear Reader, lies not in our God, but in ourselves. God indeed, if I can say it this way, knows how to be truly Three, and absolutely One. We do not. And in […]

Ask a Carmelite: Help! Sometimes Prayer is So Frustrating

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere, In the second mansion St. Teresa strongly emphasizes the need for perseverance. Can you help me understand how this works in a practical way? I really struggle to keep a consistent prayer time and to stay focused when I pray. Sometimes it is so frustrating that I just give up. I know this doesn’t help but […]

Ask a Carmelite: What is the Goal of Carmel?

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere, I know that all Catholic spiritualities are centered on Christ and the Gospel.  But what is the ultimate goal of Carmelite Spirituality? Dear Friend, Life is a journey through time and every journey has a beginning and an end. The goal of every journey is to reach the end having fulfilled the purpose of the journey. […]

Ask a Carmelite: Meditation and Contemplation… What’s the Difference?

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere, I have heard of meditation and contemplation and sometimes the words seem to be interchangable. Is there a difference between the two? Dear Friend, Let us begin by saying that the basic difference between meditation and contemplation is that meditation is a human mode of prayer whereas contemplation is divinely infused prayer. In her autobiography, St. […]

Why do priests keep celibacy?

Dear Sister, Why do priests in the Catholic Church keep celibacy? Dear Friend, I have always been surprised at the apparent vexation this discipline stirs among some Christian people, especially since it is explicitly recommended in the New Testament. Paul is very clear about its value for those who are, as we might phrase it today, “in ministry.” After discussing […]

Ask a Carmelite: “Is my prayer good enough?”

Dear Sister, My prayer experiences don’t seem good enough or holy enough, long enough or intense enough. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can pray better? Dear Friend, Yes, I do have a few suggestions. That’s easy… First of all, I suggest not using the expression “prayer experiences” at all. Hit the delete button on that one. […]

Ask a Carmelite: “Does this mean I’ve lost my faith?”

Dear Sister, “Sometimes I struggle in understanding God or some of the teachings of the Church.  Does this mean I’ve lost my faith?   How does one lose faith?   Can faith be restored if it has been lost?” Dear Friend, If understanding certain aspects of the Faith is a struggle you are certainly not alone. As a matter of fact, you […]