Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Cynthia Montanaro’s beautiful first book, Diary of a Country Mother. Her latest work, Diary of a Country Carmelite: A Year in the Garden of Carmel, is as much of a gift.
Montanaro began life as a secular Carmelite in 2007 with a “desire to live in the world and to walk in the light of the Gospel in the spirit of the Teresian Carmel and under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” This diary takes place in 2015 when she was making her final profession, taking the name Ana Thérèse of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. In this year, she talks about her family of elderly parents, husband, grown children, and grandchildren, and ponders questions of vocation, purpose, and faithfulness, but her primary focus is on introducing readers to the vast variety of Carmelite saints on the liturgical calendar.
While many people are familiar with the famous Carmelites such as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. John of the Cross, Montanaro provides short biographies of lesser-known saints and blesseds. In these pages, you will make the acquaintance of such notables as St. Kuriakos Elias of 1800s India who founded two Carmelite orders, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation who lived in France in the 16th century and helped bring the Carmelite order to France, Blessed Elia of St. Clement of 20th century Italy who was known for her needlework and for offering her suffering to God, Blessed Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit Mazurek who was a Polish martyr in the second world war, St. Teresa Margaret Redi who was an 18th century Italian known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who lived a short life but who had a great devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more.
Diary of a Country Carmelite is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the Carmelite way of life.