Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Notices of new Carmelite books (4) PHILIP HARVEY

Damien Peile, the Provincial Delegate for The Carmelite Family, issues a Monthly News via email.  These bulletins include my own notices or brief reviews of books of interest to readers in Carmelite spirituality and history. Here are two more. Philip Harvey.

The Carmelite Order is unusual in having a Rule composed not by a founder or member of the Order, but by Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, early in the 13th century. The Library has several translations of the Rule, including one by the previous librarian, Paul Chandler. The cultural and political world of the eastern Mediterranean during this time of crusades is a constant presence in the Carmelite historical imagination. Mount Carmel is central, but so too is Mount Zion. The Library is dedicated to collecting works that inform us of that period of religious ferment.

‘Jerusalem, 1000-1400 : every people under heaven’ (Yale University Press, 2016, ISBN 9781588395986) is the magnificent folio-size catalogue of an ambitious exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:    Patrons and artists from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions alike focused their attention on the Holy City, endowing and enriching its sacred buildings and creating luxury goods for its residents. The results are here to enjoy at your leisure. Essays and discussions on more than 200 works of medieval art describe in fascinating detail the material world which would have been instantly familiar to the earliest Carmelites.

-          Philip Harvey (May 2019)     

Michelle Jones lives and works in the Porongurup Range in southern Western Australia. She is also a consecrated woman affiliated with the Carmelite Monastery of Quidenham in Norfolk, England. Her book on one of the contemplative nuns of that community has just been published: ‘The gospel mysticism of Ruth Burrows : going to God with empty hands’ (Washington, D.C., ICS Publications, 2018, ISBN 978-1-939272-51-5) It is the first full-scale study of Sister Rachel of Quidenham, i.e. Ruth Burrows, a woman described by Ronald Rolheiser as “one of the renowned spiritual writers of our time.”

Rolhesier says elsewhere in the book’s Foreword, “She challenges us to live a mystically driven life.” He answers his own question: “Can we be practising mystics? Yes, and Ruth Burrows tells us how … Mysticism is being touched by God at a level that is deeper than what we can understand, articulate, imagine, or even affectively feel.” The book follows her growing understanding of spiritual life before talking in depth about what she calls “the Yes of Jesus Crucified”. Michelle Jones opens up new ways of reading and understanding her subjects, which are Sister Rachel and the spiritual life itself.

-          Philip Harvey (February 2019)

Two books: Rowan Williams & Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Two holiday reading recommendations from Philip Harvey published in The Melbourne Anglican, December 2019

Biography, selective by nature, may reveal as much about the biographer as its subject. The twenty lives attended to in ‘Luminaries’ (SPCK, 2019) are written by Rowan Williams to “illuminate the Christian way.” They also sparkle with his original insights and present preoccupations. “We can’t plan to be difficult and unique saints,’ he says of Florence Nightingale, “We manage normally to be rather average sinners.” Or of the modern Carmelite saint and philosopher, Edith Stein: “Go far enough with the disciplines of this world in honesty and integrity, and God is waiting for you.” His account of Meister Eckhart’s sermon style could be self-descriptive: “An unusual mixture – both very colloquial and relaxed and extremely intricate and technical.” These brief lives are models of concise meaning.  

“As love is union, it knows no extremes of distance.” A favourite poetry discovery this year is the Mexican Phoenix, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Like other 17th century poets, say John Donne, she moves confidently between sacred and profane. Such was her love of learning from an early age, Sor Juana finally went to one of the few places where this passion could be met for a woman of her time: she entered the convent. “I don’t study to know more, but to ignore less.” The church was uncomfortable with this feminist and controversialist, even conducting an inquisition. She acquitted herself, according to one observer, as “a royal galleon might fend off the attacks of a few kayaks.” Edith Grossman’s translations (Norton, 2014) deliver lively poetic access to her varied thought. Once met, hard to forget.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Saint Raphael Kalinowski BERNADETTE MICALLEF

On Wednesday the 6th of November, Bernadette Micallef conducted a Carmelite Conversation in the Library on Saint Raphael Kalinowski OCD (1835-1907). Here is Bernadette’s introductory paper to the Conversation.
                                                                 Since our saint for today’s conversation is fairly new to most of us, I’ll start with a brief overview of his life before going into any specific details. The back cover of one of my main references, a book by a Polish author I’ll call SP, gives a good summary.
[Raphael is the name he took in religious life. Joseph is the name given him at birth.]
“Little known outside his native Poland, Joseph Kalinowski (Kul/IN/ov/ski) (Raphael of St. Joseph, OCD) was born in 1835 and became, by turns, an engineer, a military officer, a leader in the 1863 insurrection against Russian domination, an exile in Siberia, a tutor, and eventually a Discalced Carmelite priest. He died in 1907 at the Carmelite monastery he had founded in Wadowice, the city where Karol Wojtyla – the future Pope John Paul II who would later beatify and canonize him – was born only 13 years later. Today Raphael Kalinowski is remembered especially as a man of boundless charity in the Siberian prison camps, a restorer of Carmel in Poland, a skilled confessor and spiritual director, and a tireless promoter of Marian devotion and of unity between the Eastern and Western Churches. In 1991, he became the first Discalced Carmelite friar canonized since St. John of the Cross [in 1726].”
All saints, indeed all people, need to be understood within the context of their particular time in history. This is especially true for Joseph Kalinowski who lived his whole life in an occupied country. If you look at an animated map of the borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since its established in 1569, it morphs in size and shape as surrounding powers tussle over territory until Poland and Lithuania are completely erased off the political map. This final eradication occurred in 1795 with what’s called the Third Partition of Poland.
SP, in describing the history of his own country, writes, “The Polish-Lithuanian territory … was brutally divided … by three foreign powers; Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The Polish and Lithuanian peoples never agreed to this arrangement, nor did they ever accept this kind of injustice. They showed their patriotic love and unconquerable desire for liberty in continual insurrections against the occupying forces.” SP8
This political situation “had a disastrous effect on religious Orders. Carmel had been established in Poland in 1605 and before the partitions had 17 monasteries of friars and eight of nuns. This number was reduced to one monastery of friars at Czerna (Cherna) near Cracow, and one convent of nuns at Cracow (in the Austrian sector). (1MC42)
This is the political/religious situation into which Joseph Kalinowski was born.
Early Life – Catholic and Patriotic
Joseph was born on 1st September 1835 in Vilna/Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania) and had one older brother, Victor. Andrew, his father, was a mathematics professor at the Institute of Nobles in Vilnius and later headmaster there. Josephine, his mother, died two months after his birth. He and Victor were then raised by Josephine’s sister Victoria whom their father later married. They had three children together but Victoria died when Joseph was 9 years old. His father re-married again, Sophie, who was only seven years older than Joseph. She then had four children, making Joseph the second-eldest of nine siblings. Joseph attended the Institute of Nobles from the age of 9 and graduated with honors at 15. I presume some of his brothers went there too.
SP writes that in both his home and at school “the whole ideal of his existence is delineated in these two components: to be a Christian and to be a Pole.” Joseph tells us in his Memoirs about the school, “The Institute was a private [residential] school and only on Sundays were parents or family members allowed to bring their sons home. Discipline for boarding students was in fact very strict. Except for the Director ..., the entire administration of the Institute was in the hands of Polish professors, who conducted themselves with us in an exemplary way. The most esteemed of all the professors was Father Mokrezcki, a Dominican priest, one of the [few] religious still able to remain at Vilna. But our joy at having him as our professor was short-lived. Because of a patriotic sermon he preached for the feast of Saint Hyacinth, he was sent to Siberia.” SP9
So this was Joseph’s experience growing up, and probably not a one-off experience, that people who publically professed their patriotism were arrested and sent to Siberia. Upon leaving school, this climate of living in an occupied country now presented a dilemma to the young Joseph and his family. SP writes, “He wanted to pursue higher studies in this field [mathematics and geometry] but like every other Polish or Lithuanian student he was confronted with a dilemma; either go abroad to study, or enrol in a Russian university. ... one of the first edicts of the Czar closed every Polish and Lithuanian university.” SP10
At their father’s suggestion, Joseph and his brother Victor enrolled in the Hory-Horki Institute of Agriculture near Orsza in Russia, similar in distance from their home town as Melbourne is to Geelong. But being more interested in mathematics Joseph was a reluctant student and after two years changed to engineering. The only vacancy for engineering was at the Military Academy of Engineering in St. Petersburg. He enlisted in the Russian Army and completed his studies there. St. Petersburg was then the capital of Russia and much further away from home than the Institute of Agriculture. (Today it’s about a ten hour drive.)
St Petersburg
The years at St Petersburg have been described by some authors as “the saddest period” of Joseph’s life, “years marked by a crisis of faith and searching for the meaning of life.” SP10
The main source of information about his life, at that time, are letters he wrote to his brother Victor. I have no access to these as they have not been published in English, so rely on snippets quoted in other works. But it seems to me a particular selection of these letters can be quoted to present a certain picture of Joseph in keeping with the author’s intention: to present a saint in the making or simply a ‘typical’ young man in his twenties, living and studying away from home. Let’s hear from Joseph himself.
In letter number 2, often quoted, he wrote, “I am inclined toward the vanities of this world and am seeking in them a medicine for myself, but I do not find interior peace this way.” Perhaps the ponderings of a saint-in-the-making for Joseph had a great capacity for self-reflection and interior observation. He describes his condition as “a moral malaise” (SP11) and yet, in that same letter, he wrote, “I would like to tell you a lot about a girl, Marguerite, for whom I have completely lost my head. It is actually strange that I have to go through such experiences every December; this year, last year and also two years ago.” (2MC45 quoted as also Letter 2) Marguerite was an English actress whom he had met at one of his visits to the theatre with other officers and noblemen.
He had previously been seriously interested in a young lady called Celina but her mother objected to the marriage. He later referred to this disappointment and wrote, “My heart has now cooled down and I have little regret.” TT12 However, with various failed relationships he seems to grow cynical about marriage. He wrote, “Is there anything more enjoyable than the unity of two beings when they give themselves to each other fully and totally. However, the whole idealistic picture quickly disappears while we are experiencing the reality of life with all its meaningless details. Indeed, the world can deeply disappoint us, so every time I was close to achieving something significant, I quickly realised that actually it meant nothing; just emptiness.” Even in the greatest happiness on earth, “there is always some void, which nothing and nobody could really fill ... In my case, I feel that I will never be able to fulfil myself, as I will always be lacking something.” 2MC47
He recognises his lack of inner peace and senses the meaningless of life but can find no remedy.
After graduating, he remained at the Academy for eighteen months as a Professor of Mathematics and was promoted to rank of Lieutenant. During this time he suffered a serious illness and an operation. He wrote, “I’m sitting in my room all day, my head shrouded in bandages, I wait for the end of my treatment with a patience and resignation that is not at all like me. .... My diversion consists in reading and meditations; ... when I consider the piles of books I have read and the knowledge I have gained, I feel like a crook who steals from others and I don’t give anything to anybody. That uselessness of my life is often a cause of remorse for me: what consoles me in my tranquillity, that I have good will.”  TT21
“In the spring of that year, [1857 at the age of 22].... Joseph was attending Mass with a sermon preached by a famous French Dominican, Dominic Souaillard. After the Mass, strange emotions began to fill his heart. On his way home, while passing the Catholic church of St Stanislaus, he felt a strong need to go inside the church. And then something unexpected happened, as he writes in the Memoirs: I knelt down near the confessional, but unfortunately there was no priest in it, nor was there a soul in the church. I began to weep.” 2MC48 
Some see this as his definitive moment of conversion, however, a month later he wrote in a letter to a friend, “In these last days of Carnival, let me speak to you about some worldly things, because tomorrow Lent will begin with its huge torrent of sermons that we will have to listen to, and other pious acts of Christian repentance and penance, which will imprison for forty days my freedom of thinking.” 2MC49
Also in his memoirs he writes of his time in St Petersburg, “I abandoned religious practices, but from that time a craving for these things awakened in my soul. But I was not faithful to that interior voice.” 2MC 44 9 (I haven’t been able to place this quote in the time-line – he seems to be going to Mass and listening to sermons. He is also reading devotional books.)
Working for Railway company
He eventually requested to leave St Petersburg and then worked as a surveyor on the Kursk-Kiev-Odessa section of the Trans-Siberian Railway. SP writes, “Only then, as he traversed the swamps and muddy fields of these regions of the Ukraine and Russia for his work, and reflected in solitude, did he discover interior peace.”
He wrote to his brother Victor, “In this solitude I succeeded in forming interior peace within myself, and I confess to you sincerely that this continual work with myself and on myself, far removed from people, produced a great change for the good. I could fully acknowledge the value of familiar religious ideas, and, finally, I turned toward them.” SP11
He also met ordinary Russian people and was deeply touched by them. In particular an elderly Orthodox clergyman/sacristan, with whom he had regular contact. He told Joseph: I live from your prayers, and you live from mine. Joseph was so struck by this man that he even wrote down his words in Russian. 2MC49
Brest-Litowski Fortress
In November 1860, at the age of 25, he transferred to the fortress of Brest-Litowski and became the Engineer Superintendent for Maintenance. Eighteen months later he was appointed as Captain of the General Staff.
SP writes, “At Brest, Joseph took note of the sorry plight of Catholics [in communion with Rome], persecuted by czarist powers that often succeeded in involving even the Orthodox Russian church.... In his heart he always had a very vivid desire for the union of the churches. In Brest he also saw the sad plight of youth, especially the poor who could not even study because the czarist government had closed the Polish schools. Joseph then took it upon himself to found a little Sunday school in which he himself became a teacher.” SP12
During a vacation he witnessed a patriotic demonstration against Russian domination at Warsaw in connection with the funeral of the Polish Prince, Adam Czartoryski. He was becoming increasingly aware of the state’s persecution of the church, and of the Polish people, and increasingly uncomfortable being in the Russian military. He was developing a compassionate other-centered approach to life. SP12
He wrote around that time, “It is only in prayer – if indeed one still knows how to pray – that one is able to find peace, if only for a few moments. God gives courage and perseverance to the unhappy and the suffering. I’m sadder at the lot of the blind who reject suffering and seek comfort in diversions, which they ought to avoid.” TT25
Perhaps identifying his younger self who was “inclined toward the vanities of this world” and “seeking in them a medicine for myself” at a time of life that he felt “I will never be able to fulfil myself, as I will always be lacking something.” 2MC47 
January Insurrection: 1863
Joseph relates events leading up to his involvement in the insurrection in 1863 which is referred to, in history books, as the “January Insurrection.”
He writes, “... I saw Russian Soldiers on Sundays and Feast days singing insulting anti-Polish songs. A young artist came to see me one day and talked to me about insurrection. He advised me to visit Warsaw and meet the leaders of the revolutionary movement. I took his advice, but the man I spoke to was such a demagogue that I got up and left. I had never come across anyone with such theories. Events followed one another quite rapidly. At the beginning of the year 1863, a National [Revolutionary] Government was set up in Warsaw and a state insurrection was proclaimed.” TT29
Shortly afterwards, he writes, that in Vilnius, the National Government representative “was replaced constantly because the police had caught the members in a net thrown widely across the country.” TT32
To cut a long story short, he always felt the insurrection would fail. He knew the might of the Russian army. However, he wrote, “All the details were not immediately evident to me but the general situation was quite clear. You had to give yourself and sacrifice yourself without hope of success but only from a sense of duty. Others were sacrificing themselves, could I be allowed to remain indifferent?” TT32/33
According to Timothy Tierney, he continued to have qualms about becoming involved and needed to consult a confessor before making a final decision. TT33
He made his decision and in May that year, he resigned from the Russian Army and returned to Vilnius which he described as “a gigantic prison” presumably meaning as it was controlled by the occupying forces. He joined the revolutionary movement and was co-opted to become Minister of War for the Vilnius region.
So he was now an ex-Russian Army officer working as Minister of War against the Russian occupation.
During the coming months, his spiritual journey led to a significant event on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption: he went to confession. In most writing about St Raphael much is made of this event. He himself says, in a letter to a friend, “after 10 years of desertion, I have returned to the bosom of the church – I was at confession and great good it did me; I boast about it to you, because I consider this return of mine to religious ideas to be an important event in my inner life.” 1MtC45
Timothy Tierney writes at length about the circumstance around this event, the influence of his sister Mary, and his mother Sophia. He wanted to get a crucifix from Mary to give as a keepsake to a prisoner but Mary’s condition was that he could have it only if he went to confession. TT42/43
Seven months later, in March 1864, he was arrested in his home at midnight, by the Russian authorities, TT51 and imprisoned in a former Dominican monastery commandeered by the authorities. He was sentenced to death by firing squad but his sentence was commuted to 10 years forced labour. According to one of the insurrectionists, “The Russians themselves called him a Polish saint. And it was this reputation that saved Kalinowski from the gallows. [The officer who had ordered his arrest] wanted to hang him at all cost, but one of his generals pointed out that the Poles and even many Russians venerated him as a saint; and consequently, if he were hanged, he would be venerated as a martyr. SP f/n 59  to avoid this outcome he was allowed to live.
If the dates are correct, it seems that over the seven months since his confession/conversion (according to some), while being involved with his fellow Poles in his position of Ministry of War, he had developed a reputation of being a saint. And this was before he went into exile and developed his altruism. People used to say of him “Here comes the saint.” [This may have been during his time of exile rather than at this point.]
Exile: 1864 – 1874
Joseph writes, “On the very feast of the solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, near midday, the long file that we composed snaked its way through the streets of Vilna toward the train station. An enormous crowd lined the streets and Cossacks on horses kept back anyone who tried to come close to us; many people were watching from their windows. It looked like a funeral cortege. But from the beginning of the insurrection how many such convoys had preceded us! Among us were people of every age and every condition.... We took our places in the train cars, where they piled one person on top of another .... when the train departed, people moving along the heights that dominated the railway threw flowers on it as they do on graves of the dead at cemeteries.” SP14
Joseph describes one particular place along the way. “The city of Perm was a place where they assembled the condemned, and from there they were dispersed throughout eastern Russia. Near the same city of Perm and finally in the Far East, in the immense plains beneath and beyond the Urals, vast and boundless cemeteries were made for tens of thousands of victims who had been taken from the heart of their mother country. There they are buried forever!” SP15
He wrote in a letter to his family, “Outside of prayer I have nothing to offer to my God. I can’t fast, I have hardly any alms to give, I’m unable to work. The only thing remaining for me is to pray and to suffer. But never before have I ever had such great treasures and I desire nothing more.” SP 15
Ten months after leaving Vilnius they arrived in Usolye. Timothy Tierney writes, “In the small impoverished town of Usolye they found in place the huge boilers which were used for evaporating the water in order to make salt. These were situated on a spacious island formed by two branches of the river Angara. It would also be the site of their prison which consisted of a large chamber designed to hold 60 to 80 people. Families, however, were billeted in homes in the town along the banks of the river.” TT74
“Their job on the island was to extract the salt crystals from the boilers after evaporation. They also had to collect various deposits of lime, marl and other minerals from the containers and dispose of them. This was an extremely difficult job as the deposits strongly adhered to the inside of the boilers. If you were unable to accomplish this task then you would have to pay someone... to do it for you.” This quote raises the issue of money. Apparently the exiles needed money and Joseph regularly petitioned his family for assistance. They scraped together what they could and sent it to him. He mostly gave it away to others who were with him in exile.
Later on, “the prisoners were allowed to leave the island and live in houses previously used by government employees.” TT74 The work too changed over the years and a degree of ‘freedom’ developed within limitations.
The Vatican website says, “With an admirable strength of spirit, patience, and love for his fellow exiles, he knew how to instil into them the spirit of prayer, serenity and hope, and to give material help together with a word of encouragement.”
In 1868, four years after beginning his exile, Joseph was dispensed from hard labour and became a ‘deportee’. TT88 More than a year later, with this new classification, he moved to Irkutsk and found work tutoring students. It seems deportees had to support themselves financially. In 1871-1872, as a deportee, he also conducted meteorological research for the Siberian subdivision of the Russian Geographical Company. TT90 and also participated in other scientific research.
He was finally granted his freedom on February 2, 1874, however, the impact of those years and the Russian occupation followed him. He felt compelled to earn a living and repay to some extent his financial debt to his family. His vocation to the religious life was not easy to pursue. “All religious monasteries in Poland were suppressed by the occupiers, and no religious order could admit novices. For Joseph there remained only one possibility: migrating to the West.” SP16
To the West
He migrated to Paris and took up the position of tutor to the young Prince Augustus Czartoryski. During the time he spent with him, the prince was diagnosed with tuberculosis and Joseph accompanied him to various health destinations in France, Switzerland, Italy, and other parts of Europe. Joseph was a major influence on the young prince (known as “Gucio”), who later became a priest in the Salesian Order and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
In a letter to his parents late in 1876, Joseph relates his choice for the Carmelite Order, “a year ago too, I heard a voice that sounded only like an echo, from beyond the grille of a Carmelite monastery. That very voice was probably the most serious one I have ever heard in my life; it was directed at me, and now I have accepted it as my deliverance, sent to me by the most infinite Mercy of God.” The voice was Sr. Maria Czartoryska, the aunt of Gucio, and Joseph had met her only once before when he had accompanied the young prince on a visit to the Carmelite convent in Cracow. Shortly afterwards, he received from her, ‘when he least expected it’, the words of St Teresa’s bookmark prayer: May nothing disturb you.”. He wrote to his parents, “Every day I strengthen myself with the lines of Saint Teresa.” 1MC46
In a letter to this Carmelite nun, written in July 1877, four months before entered Carmel he wrote, “It is purely this thought of penance that leads me to Carmel, and I cast aside every other thought. So in reading what I have written here, please accept these words of mine as the literal truth, rather than looking for any expression of humility in them.” 1MC46
Life in Carmel
From the time of his ordination to his death, he worked to promote Carmel in Poland. He founded monasteries of friars and convents of nuns. He served as Prior and made provincial visits to the nuns. He was a sought after spiritual director and spent long hours hearing confession. He provided supportive pastoral care for all those who sought it.
To fill out his later spirituality, I’ll read two rather lengthy extracts. A letter to a friend Helena, who was on her own with four children while her husband was away. This is a rather poetic letter with an emphasis on the different stages of life, and her current situation as a wife and mother. TT292
And an address to a community of sisters in his role of Provincial Visitor. His emphasis here is on the love between the sisters in the community. TT303/4/5
In 2007, one hundred years after his death, the Polish Teresian Carmel observed a Year of St Raphael.
I’ll finish with the closing words for a letter by the two Polish Provincials, from the Province of Cracow and the Province of Warsaw. “We extend to everyone our wish that the year 2007, the Year of St Raphael, will bear fruit in numerous encounters with the saint and a deeper delving into the mysteries of his life. In them, God is hidden. And this is, after all, the mission of the saints – to lead us to God.’ 2MC 41/42
1MC = Mount Carmel: A Review of the Spiritual Life, Volume 55/3, July – September 2007
2MC = Mount Carmel: A Review of the Spiritual Life, Volume 55/4, October – December  2007
TT = Timothy Tierney OCD, Saint Raphael Kalinowski (Apprenticed to Sainthood in Siberia), Balboa Press, 2016
SP = Szczepan Praskiewicz OCD, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: an Introduction to His Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, 1998

Disclaimer: I’ve done my best to be accurate in the story presented here but found it difficult to reconcile varying accounts and certain discrepancies in the time line in different references. I still have questions myself about the sequence of events, particular around his ‘conversion’. I’d encourage you to do your own reading and delve deeper into the mysteries of his life that can lead us to God.
Bernadette Micallef
Carmelite Conversation
Wednesday 6th November 2019
The Carmelite Centre Melbourne.