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Archive for September, 2013

This is our work: seeking union with God.

Carmelites devote themselves to the spiritual life. This does not mean that we shut ourselves up as hermits, living in isolation from others where we can live quiet, undisturbed lives. Our concern is for others and their welfare. This means that we are not only to desire, but to work, act and  suffer for the salvation of others. To do this we concentrate all our efforts on seeking God and trying to live a holy life in order to please Him. Then we will be “acquiring a power of action and impetration capable of obtaining the salvation of many souls.” (Divine Intimacy, #317 by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

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The Little Flower Novena begins today. The novena can be found here. Ask our friend in heaven for a favor!

550px-Say-a-Novena-to-St.-Therese-the-Little-Flower-Step-1

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“I was doing a lot of spiritual reading – Lives of the Saints – Joan of Arc, St. John Bosco, St. Benedict, I was going through St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel and the first parts of the Dark Night for the second time in fact, but for the first time with understanding.

The big present that was given to me, that October, in the order of grace, was the discovery that the Little Flower really was a saint, and not just a mute pious little doll in the imaginations of a lot of sentimental old women. And not only was she a saint, but a great saint, one of the greatest: tremendous! I owe her all kinds of public apologies and reparation for having ignored her greatness for so long, but to do that would take a whole book, and here I have only a few lines to give away.

St_Therese_of_Lisieux

… However, no sooner had I got a faint glimpse of the real character and the real spirituality of St. Therese, than I was immediately and strongly attracted to her – an attraction that was the work of grace since, as I say, it took me, in one jump, clean through a thousands psychological obstacles and repugnances.

And here is what strikes me as the most phenomenal thing about her. She became a saint, not by running away from the middle class, not by abjuring and despising and cursing the middle class, or the environment in which she had grown up; on the contrary, she clung to it in to as far as one could cling to such a thing and be a good Carmelite. She kept everything that was bourgeois about her and was still not incompatible with her vocation: her nostalgic affection for a funny villa called “Les Buissonnets,” her taste for utterly oversweet art, and for the little candy angels and pastel saints playing with lambs so soft and fuzzy that they literally give people like me the creeps. She wrote a lot of poems which, no matter how admirable their sentiments, were certainly based on the most mediocre of popular models.

To her, it would have been incomprehensible that anyone should think these things ugly or strange, and it never even occurred to her that she might be expected to give them up, or hate them, or curse them, or bury them under a pile of anathemas. And she not only became a saint, but the greatest saint there has been in the Church for three hundred years – even greater than the two tremendous reformers of her Order, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

….What can such a one do with his new idol? Stare at her picture until it makes him dizzy. That is all. But the saints are not mere inanimate objects of contemplation. They become our friends, and they share our friendship and reciprocate it and give us unmistakable tokens of their love for us by the graces that we receive through them. And so, now that I had this great new friend in heaven, it was inevitable that the friendship should begin to have its influence on my life.”

(Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain)

primary-merton

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St. Albert of Jerusalem
The Lawgiver of Carmel
Bishop and Lawgiver of Carmel
Albert Avogadro was born in Italy in the middle of the twelfth century. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross and was elected prior in 1180. In 1184, he was named Bishop of Bobbio and of Vercelli in 1185. In 1205 he became Patriarch of Jerusalem. Sometime between 1206 and 1214 he was approached by the hermits living on Mount Carmel with the request that he would prepare for them a written rule of life based on the traditional patterns of their contemplative communal life.

This Rule inspires Carmelites all over the world. It is one of the shortest of the great rules giving the Carmelites a Way of Life.  It is obvious when reading the Rule that St. Albert lived every moment the Gospel, having internalized it so completely that the words of the Bible are used to express his thoughts. Writing the Rule for the hermits on Mount Carmel, it is quite notable that he relied on the Scriptures.  The Rule is steeped in the Gospel’s message; though there are not any explicit passages quoted, there are many allusions to Sacred Scripture.

As Carmelites, we too should be personally familiar with the Scriptures in our daily encounter with them. Then as St. Albert says of St. Paul in number 20 of the Rule we may have “both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words.” The sacred texts should be in our minds and expressed in our thoughts and words. As Carmelites our day is filled with opportunities to meditate on the Scriptures: Mass, Morning and Evening Prayer, Night Prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina.

Teach me, O Lord!

Saint Albert,
you have given us a Rule of Life
according to the Gospel
to guide us on our journey
towards perfect love.
Help us always to keep watch
at our prayers, to live in
allegiance to Jesus Christ,
and to serve him
faithfully until death.
Through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

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sorrowful mother

Mary lived only for her Son and accepted all that happened to Him. This was an excruciating martyrdom for any creature to endure. Her love cost her indescribable suffering – to see her child in so much pain. Yet, this scene at the foot of the cross expresses her love for us too. Her love aided Christ in His mission. She united herself to Jesus by her presence at the foot of the cross uniting her will to the Father’s will at this moment and for this purpose, joining with this her prayers and sacrifices.

She will continue to carry out her mission to lead souls to her Son until the end of time. It is still her mission to help convert sinners and to help believers to grow in holiness.

Oh! What love our Mother has for us! In order to bring us to life she had to give her Son up to death!

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The Triumph of the Cross

“Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree.  And if life had not been nailed to it, there would  be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be canceled, we should not have obtained our freedom, we could not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.”

 (Taken from the Office of Readings – A discourse by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop)

triumph of the cross

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Mary-and-Baby-Jesus

Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
As a child has rest in its mother’s arms,
even so is my soul. (Psalm 131)

 

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