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Archive for July, 2011

“When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. . . Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,” Elisha replied, “I will not leave you.” And so the two went on together. Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two stopped at the Jordan, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground.When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” (2 Kings, 2)
What is this double portion Elisha asked for from this holy prophet? Some say the the ‘double spirit’ of Elijah is prayer and mortification. These certainly are the cardinal virtues of a Carmelite. Others say it is prayer and preaching. After all what is a prophet without words? Many say it is the spirit of zeal –
 “Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum” (I am on fire with zeal for the Lord God of hosts [I Kg 19:10]) – a reflection of his passion.
In the New Testament recall that John the Baptist was to come in the spirit of Elijah. Obviously, this means that Elijah had received the Holy Spirit in an exceptionally strong manner. Elijah is for Carmelites a special Father whom God had given the Holy Spirit with particular strength. This prophet possessed the spirit of unique holiness and left a double portion of it to Elisha. 
A double share of his spirit, that is -the Holy Spirit- twice as much
The Holy Spirit brings with Him gifts- precious, beautiful gifts. Chief among these gifts stands the Gift of Wisdom. Elijah had this gift and he was a great contemplative for it is by this gift that one contemplates. Whenever Elijah’s contact with the world exhausted him or whenever he was persecuted, he would flee to the mountain, into solitude, in order to enter into contact with God.  Then by contemplation he would be renewed in strength. – This is a great lesson for all Carmelites.
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Torches

Mount Carmel was a solitary mountain where the prophet Elijah lived a retired and solitary life. There on Mount Carmel he lived in the continual presence of God, truly recollected, and contemplating divine things. Carmelites look to the prophet Elijah for their identity.  
If the world ought to be renewed, as indeed it ought to be, it is through Carmel. We, as Carmelites, ought to be as torches – scripture says so…
“And Elias the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch.” (Ecclesiasticus 48:1, Douay-Rheims Translation) 
This is as carmelite as it can be!


The torch is the image of the Carmelite life. In the Carmelite crest the arm holding the flaming torch represents light and love. As the torch illuminates the night, so too, we as Carmelites are to illuminate the darkness.
The love and light of God ought to be in our souls.

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Gratitude journal….joining Ann and community over at A Holy Experience

#381 ~ beautiful Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

#382 ~ chanted Marian hymns sung a capella in a beautiful church

#383 ~ mosquitoes and mosquito bites

#384 ~ marsh marigolds and magenta shooting stars

#385 ~ a high mountain lake

#386 ~ the rushing of water flowing swiftly over rocks in a creek

#387 ~ mountain heather

#389 ~ a faithful priest serving in the missions

#340 ~ determination to reach full potential…

. . . despite obstacles

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Mary is the first disciple of Jesus. Not only is she the first disciple, she is the model disciple. Perhaps this is why the hermits on Mount Carmel were so fond of Mary and is why they named their first chapel after her. The Brown Scapular is the habit of the Carmelite Order and is a symbol of Mary’s protection. It is also a reminder for those who wear it to strive to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ. Mary gave the Scapular to the Order as a sign of her motherly protection. This gift came with a promise that if you remain faithful to the Carmelite vocation until death, then you will be given the grace of final perseverance. The Scriptures support this idea, “Remain faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).
Those of us who wear the Scapular have made a commitment – to follow Christ like Mary. Mary shows us the way to follow Him and teaches us many things. The Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us:
~ to be open to God and whatever He wants in our lives

~ to listen to His Word through the Sacred Scriptures believing what they contain and putting them into practice


~ to pray always and at all times aware of His presence

~ to be attentive to the needs of others.
[The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Catechesis and Ritual]

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The Christian lives a life that tends toward God. Actually, it is more of a flight towards God and it is a movement that is above all interior. This is contrary to life as viewed by the post-postmodern world. Today, life is viewed as an end in itself; however, for the Christian life is not an end in itself, it is a means. For the Christian life is to love. 
When we think of love we think of the heart. St. Teresa of Avila wrote of the heart as having a capacity of willing and choosing. If we want to have a better Christian understanding of the relationship between the heart and love then the post-postmodern world needs to understand that for the Christian “God is love”. Yet, Christians understand that their hearts are poor…poverty of spirit is what they call this. Their capacity is small. Christians desire above all to have this capacity expanded and filled. This desire then is for God. This poverty of spirit is because one cannot desire God in a supernatural manner unless God gives this desire and communicates it through humility. 
Therefore, the Christian expands this life, this capacity to love, through prayer. Prayer – contact with God. And what do Christians ask of God? 
for the gift of Himself
for His grace
for the gift of the Kingdom
The life of a Christian is and ought to be a continual prayer. Surely, then one can see that this is interior. But, all prayer attracts or leads to an act of love (at least it ought to). 
There is another condition that is in effect for the Christian: that is suffering, the cross. Why? Because in order to have the Christian life in you, you have to renounce your natural life. The Christian renounces natural life by turning away from selfish joys and from seeing life as an end in itself. Then the Christian is able to turn towards that end which is the true goal – God. This renouncement is a death…mortification.
The moment one enters the Christian life – one enters into opposition with those who do not live it. The world does not understand them.
One final note is that Christians hold fast to the Church for this is a place that also expands this life. Christ gave the Church power; power to administer sacraments and to guide past obstacles to eternal life. Without the Church there is no truth, no sacraments, and no sure direction for the Christian.  

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Wisdom and Silence


Wisdom…
prevents
awaits at the door
presents herself along the way
precedes
guides
Never leave her presence
Observe all her movements
Know her voice and her silence!
When she speaks not, it is especially then that she spoke.


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Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11: 28-30)
Jesus is truly the living way. He is asking us to become His disciples, to accept His doctrines. For He truly is meek and humble and accordingly does not wish to impose burdens which we cannot bear ourselves. His yoke is easy and it is not a heavy burden.
Jesus took on the yoke of obedience. He was obedient to the Father, to the Father’s will. This yoke of obedience He bore unto death.
Obedience before all. As Seculars we “promise to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience”. We make this promise not as an end in itself but as a means; therefore, we too should be keeping in mind the end- which is perfection. Obedience is most important in the light of perfection. 
When we are under obedience we are not free to do what we wish. We are to set aside our preferences, our tastes, our desires and even those things that repulse us and to consider just one thing – God wills it.
When someone has been legitimately elected as the superior or as the one in authority over us, from the fact that this person accepts, God communicates in an invisible manner His authority to this person. When we obey this person we must keep in mind that it is God who is the end of our obedience and not this person. Therefore, when the superior commands it, it is God who commands.
St. John of the Cross in his Precautions offers some particularly important advice in the matter of obedience in his second counsel against the devil:
“Let the second precaution be that you always look on the superior as though on God, no matter who he happens to be, for he takes God’s place. And note that the devil, humility’s enemy, is a great and crafty meddler in this area. Much profit and gain come from considering the superior in this light, but serious loss and harm lie in not doing so. Watch, therefore, with singular care that you not dwell on your superior’s character, mode of behavior, ability, or any other methods of procedure, for you will so harm yourself as to change your obedience from divine to human, being motivated only by the visible traits of the superior, and not by the invisible God whom you serve through him.
Your obedience is vain and all the more fruitless in the measure that you allow the superior’s unpleasant character to annoy you or his good and pleasing manners to make you happy. For I tell you that by inducing religious to consider these modes of conduct, the devil has ruined a vast number of them in their journey toward perfection. Their acts of obedience are worth little in God’s sight, since they allow these considerations to interfere with obedience.”
Whenever we regard the person who is commanding or judge this person’s acts, or whenever we are looking at the human elements (qualities and defects) we do not have the qualities of obedience.
On a final note, those who are in positions of authority over others ought to show the way. That is, they should only teach. St. Blanc of St. Bonnet says “to govern is to teach others to govern themselves”. The example of obedience Jesus Christ gave us is one always worth pondering.

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