Thomas á Jesu
Thomas á Jesu (1564 – 24 May 1627) was a Discalced Carmelite and writer on mystical theology who is principally known for establishing the Carmelite hermitages known as deserts, and for his writings on prayer.
Mystical theology is the branch of theology that explains mystical practices and states, as induced by contemplative practices such as contemplative prayer.
Thomas was born in Baeza in southern Spain.His parents were Don Baltasar de Avila and Dona Teresa de Herrera. While studying law at the University of Salamanca (he graduated in 1583), he read some of the unpublished writings of Teresa of Avila and in 1586 he became a monk in her order.
Baeza, formerly also written as Baéza, is an Andalusian town in the province of Jaén in southern Spain. It lies perched on a cliff in the Loma de Úbeda, the range separating the Guadalquivir River to its south from the Guadalimar to its north. It is now principally famed for having some of the best-preserved examples of Italian Renaissance architecture in Spain. Along with Úbeda, it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 2003. The former Visigothic bishopric of Baeza remains a Latin Catholic titular see.
The University of Salamanca is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the city of Salamanca, west of Madrid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest university in the Hispanic world and the third oldest university in the entire world still in operation. The formal title of "University" was granted by King Alfonso X in 1254 and recognized by Pope Alexander IV in 1255.
He filled many offices as a priest and founded both "desert" hermitages and ordinary convents across Europe while writing on Catholic theology.He died in Rome in 1627.
Thomas's deserts were in the tradition of the 16th-century Carmelite reform movement, facilitating intensive, personal, deep relationships with God.They were inspired by the life of the first Carmelites who lived on Mount Carmel in Palestine in the 1150s. He founded the first, es:Desierto de Bolarque, in Bolarque, Spain, in the summer of 1592.
The Discalced Carmelites or Barefoot Carmelites is a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. The order was established in 1593, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross.
Mount Carmel (Hebrew: הַר הַכַּרְמֶל, Har HaKarmelISO 259-3Har ha Karmell; Arabic: الكرمل, Al-Karmil, or Arabic: جبل مار إلياس, Jabal Mar Elyas is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. The range is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. A number of towns are situated there, most notably the city of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, located on the northern slope.
A desert consisted of about 24 small apartments, each with its own walled garden, and a common chapel, kitchen/refectory and library.Four hermits lived there permanently, while the remainder of spaces were occupied by priests from elsewhere who were allowed to spend one year living the desert life, after applying and being deemed able to withstand the strict rules. The monks maintained absolute silence. They kept the hours of the Divine Office and spent their time in prayer and manual labour. They ate a vegetarian diet and practiced fasting. Even smaller buildings dotted around the property (which was allowed to grow wild ) were used for monks who wished to live in total isolation for Advent or Lent.
Monastic silence is a spiritual practice recommended in a variety of religious traditions for purposes including facilitation of approaching deity, and achieving elevated states of spiritual purity. It may be in accordance with a monk's formal vow of silence, but can also engage laity who have not taken vows, or novices who are preparing to take vows. Monastic silence is more highly developed in the Roman Catholic faith than in Protestantism, but it is not limited to Catholicism. The practice has a corresponding manifestation in the Orthodox church, which teaches that silence is a means to access the deity, to develop self-knowledge, or to live more harmoniously. Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, placed the virtue of silence on par with the faith itself in a synodal letter from AD 400. "Monks—if they wish to be what they are called—will love silence and the Catholic faith, for nothing at all is more important than these two things."
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office or Work of God or canonical hours, often referred to as the Breviary, is the official set of prayers "marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer". It consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns, readings and other prayers and antiphons. Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public prayer life of the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours also forms the basis of prayer within Christian monasticism.
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". The term "Advent" is also used in Eastern Orthodoxy for the 40-day Nativity Fast, which has practices different from those in the West.
Thomas founded four deserts in Spain: at Bolarque, Las Batuecas, Las Nieves and one in Catalonia.Other priests went on to found deserts in Santa Fe, Mexico (1606), Varazze, Italy (1616), Czerna, Poland (1631), Mannersdorf, Austria (1644). The movement reached its peak, with 22 deserts, in the 17th century, but only one, at Las Palmas, Spain, survived dissolution by church leaders in the 19th century.
The Batuecas is a Spanish valley region of the Sierra de Francia in Salamanca Province, Castilla y León.
As Neves is a municipality in Galicia, Spain in the province of Pontevedra. It has 4,429 people (2010). Until 1904 it was called Setados.
Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.
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Like many Carmelites, Thomas wrote extensively.His division of prayer into three states: "ordinary meditation, acquired contemplation, and infused contemplation" is still used and is considered one of the distinctive contributions of the Carmelites to Christian theology.
The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel or Carmelites is a Roman Catholic mendicant religious order founded, probably in the 12th century, on Mount Carmel in the Crusader States, hence the name Carmelites. However, historical records about its origin remain very uncertain. Berthold of Calabria has traditionally been associated with the founding of the order, but few clear records of early Carmelite history have survived.
Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, author, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Active during the Counter-Reformation, she was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time; the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor John was alive when the two orders separated.
John of the Cross was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded since the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to become aware of and reflect upon the revelations of God. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God.
The Interior Castle, or The Mansions, was written by St. Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D., the Spanish Discalced Carmelite nun and famed mystic, in 1577 as a guide for spiritual development through service and prayer. Inspired by her vision of the soul as a diamond in the shape of a castle containing seven mansions, which she interpreted as the journey of faith through seven stages, ending with union with God.
Saint Peter of Alcantara, O.F.M., was a Spanish Franciscan friar canonized in 1669.
The Prayer of Quiet is a term from Christian theology. It is regarded by writers on mystical theology as one of the degrees of contemplation or contemplative prayer, and must be distinguished therefore from meditation and from affective prayer. It holds an intermediary place between affective prayer and the Prayer of Union. As the name implies, the Prayer of Quiet is considered a state in which the soul experiences an extraordinary peace and rest, accompanied by delight or pleasure in contemplating God as present.
Centering Prayer is a method of meditation used by Christians placing a strong emphasis on interior silence. The modern Centering Prayer movement in Christianity can be traced to several books published by three Trappist monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating. The name was taken from Thomas Merton's description of contemplative prayer as prayer that is "centered entirely on the presence of God". In his book Contemplative Prayer, Merton writes "“Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one's deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being”.
Balthazar Alvarez was a Spanish Catholic mystic and was the spiritual director of St. Teresa.
The Way of Perfection is a 1577 book and a method for making progress in the contemplative life written by St. Teresa of Ávila, the noted Discalced Carmelite nun for the members of the reformed monastery of the Order she had founded.
The Carmelite Monks or Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is a cloistered contemplative religious community of diocesan right dedicated to a humble life of prayer. They are known for their loyalty to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and to the ancient traditions of Carmel. Their life includes strict separation from the world and the living of the cloistered Carmelite spirituality and way of life established by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus. In accord with the Carmelite Rule, they engage in manual labor and the study of Carmelite spirituality in the solitude of the mountains, with the firm hope of attaining to Union with God.
The Constitutions of the Carmelite Order stand as an expression of the ideals and spirit of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Foundational sources for the Constitutions include the desert hermit vocation as exemplified in the life of the Prophet Elijah. For the Carmelite the contemplative vocation is exemplified par excellence in the life of the Virgin Mary, beloved to the Order under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Additionally, the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert and the Book of the First Monks comprise fundamental points of reference in the life and spirituality of the Order.
The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, officially Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Saecularis (OCDS), and formerly the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and of the Holy Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus, is a religious association of the Roman Catholic Church composed primarily of lay persons and also accepted secular clergy.
Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. was an Italian Discalced Carmelite nun. During her brief life of quiet service in the monastery, she came to be revered for her mystical gifts. She has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
Francisco Palau y Quer, O.C.D., was a Catalan Discalced Carmelite friar and priest. Growing up in the chaos of the Peninsular War in Spain, he followed both the life of a hermit and of a missionary preacher in the rural regions of Catalonia. He founded the School of Virtue—which was a model of catechetical teaching for adults—in Barcelona. In 1860 he founded a mixed Congregation of Third Order of Discalced Carmelites, including both Brothers and Sisters, in the Balearic Islands. The legacy of this foundation is carried on by two religious congregations of women who serve throughout the world.
Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew - born Ana García Manzanas - was a Spanish Roman Catholic professed religious and a professed member from the Discalced Carmelites. Manzanas was also known for being a companion to Saint Teresa of Ávila and she led the establishment of new monasteries of in France and the Lowlands. But Manzanas sometimes struggled with her superiors as she set about setting new convents and holding her position as a prioress while later settling in the Spanish Netherlands where she opened a house and remained there until she later died. Manzanas was a close friend and aide to Saint Teresa of Ávila and the saint died in her arms in 1582.
Teresa de Jesús is a Spanish film mini-series that premiered on national broadcaster Televisión Española in 1984. It presents the life of Teresa of Avila, a Spanish saint and mystic, and an unsuccessful candidate for patron saint of Spain. Its dialogue is in Spanish, but versions with English subtitles are available. The film stars Concha Velasco as Teresa. Also appearing are Gonzalo Abril as Lorenzo de Cepeda, María Massip as Juana Suárez, Francisco Rabal as Peter of Alcantara, Héctor Alterio, and Marina Saura as another nun. It tells the story of Teresa's life from age 23 until her death at age 67.
Saint Juan García López-Rico was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest from the Trinitarian Order who would establish a branch of his order which he named the Order of Discalced Carmelites. Later in his life he assumed the name of "John Baptist of the Conception".