At Mass today, we heard about how opportune it is that the feast of Saint Therese of Jesus, whom we Hispanophones call Santa Teresa de Ávila, who reformed the Carmelite Order, should fall this Sunday. In many Hispanic countries, Santa Teresa is depicted with a birrete octogonal laureado con borla grande y flecos (tufted and tasseled eight-sided laureate biretta), the Spanish headpiece for academic doctors. It is, however, not uncommon to see the saint in a bonete de cuatro picos (four-pointed biretta).
This Sunday happens to be the first Sunday after the centenary of the last apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima, on which occasion one of the three visions that appeared was that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Suffice it to say that the Carmelite connection does not end here. The more interesting part about this is the fact that the Gospel sung in today’s Mass resounds in the writings of the Doctor of the Church.
We now draw attention towards a more extraordinary link between Santa Teresa de Ávila and today’s Gospel, wherein we hear the Lord telling the chief priests and the pharisees the parable of the great banquet. Like the parable of the wedding feast, this parable takes place in a wedding. In Spain and in her former possessions, Santa Teresa de Ávila has a proper Office and Mass. In the third antiphon of the first vespers of the Spanish saint and mystic, we read (and sing) the following:
Clavo déxteræ tuæ subarrhásti me, Dómine : et tamquam sponsam decorásti me coróna. Says the antiphon: With the nail of Thy right hand Thou hast espoused me, O Lord; and as Thy spouse Thou hast crowned me with a diadem.
Here, we observe the use of subarrhatio in the verb form, evoking spiritual union, a word that takes its root from arrha, more commonly encountered in its plural form arrhæ, which is arras in Spanish. Beyond doubt, this antiphon wondrously recalls the wedding feast of today’s Gospel.
Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.