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Archive for the ‘habit’ Category

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a little habit. It is the Blessed Mother’s habit. The Brown Scapular is an outward sign of the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our sister, mother and queen. It is a symbol of her protection given to the Carmelite Order which includes all its members and associates. Anyone who wears the scapular and practices the spirituality of the Carmelite Order has an affiliation to the Carmelite family and shares in the graces traditionally associated with the Brown Scapular.

Wearing the scapular indicates that the wearer, devoted to Mary, will follow Mary by living a deep interior life. The Blessed Mother is our model for the contemplative life. She is the ideal of this life consecrated to seeking God and toward an intimate union with Him. Everyone who wishes to imitate Mary will soon realize that her soul was a beautiful garden of virtues. Silence and peace reigned in her soul even amidst the turmoil of the world around her. We too must strive for this interior peace and silence.

Silence and peace in the soul comes when the noise of our passions and attachments have ceased within us. This comes with a habit. St. Teresa of Jesus exhorts us in this truth when she wrote, “Remember the importance of habit and of starting to realize what a serious thing it is to offend God.”  She reminds us that God is within our soul, and we should take great care in avoiding all occasions of sin and anything else that might keep us from growing closer to Him.  Even with this determination we can fail from time to time due to weakness and not having confidence in God. However we should remember “the Lord will help us and the habits we have formed will be of assistance to us so that we shall not offend him; we shall be able to walk in holy freedom.” (Way of Perfection, ch 41)

Detachment and control of the passions can help our soul to be like Mary’s – silent and solitary- and filled with the presence of God.


“O, Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.” (Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

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St Teresa strove to serve the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose habit she wore. She also strongly desired that the Blessed Mother would be served by all the monasteries that she had founded. St. Teresa approached the Feast of the Nativity of Mary with great joy because whenever this day came she would renew her vows. One day on September 8, 1575, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Teresa and the saint writes, “it seems to me I renewed them in her hands and that they were pleasing to her.” (Spiritual Testimonies, 43)

 

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St. Teresa experienced numerous obstacles in setting up the monastery of St. Joseph’s. Additionally the nuns were treated unfairly before taking the habit. Before entering the new foundation, St. Teresa experienced a vision of Christ while she was at prayer. In this vision she saw Jesus placing a crown on her head and heard Him thanking her for all that she had done for His Mother.

Then at another time while all were at prayer in choir after compline she wrote: “I saw our Lady in the greatest glory clothed in a white mantle; it seemed she was sheltering us all under it. I understood how high a degree of glory the Lord would give to those living in this house.” (The Book of Her Life, 36:24)

A mantle is a large sleeveless cloak worn over clothes. It is usually used to cover or surround something else. Symbolically a mantle represents preeminence or authority.

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In this life there will always be opposition in our path as we strive to live a holy and good life. This image of being sheltered under Our Lady’s Mantle is a comforting one. I like to use this image in my own prayer asking the Blessed Mother to place me, and all of my family, under “her mantle” knowing that she will protect and guide me until I enter into eternal glory.

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St. Teresa was no stranger to the experience of illnesses. She suffered some severe physical torments especially at the beginning of her adult life. At one point her illness at this time had become so intense that she remained insensible for four days. Everyone was expecting her to die, so she received the last Sacraments. They had even dug a grave for her in the monastery grave yard! However, she did recover from this and writes that she gained many graces from this particularly: patience in dealing with the illness, bearing with all of it without complaining, and the will to confess what she had done wrong, even venial sins.

sicknessShe then began to live a distracted life even while still suffering a variety of different illnesses, some severe others not so. She had given up prayer. Her father believed that the reason she had not been praying was because of her sicknesses. However, she writes in her autobiography that, “I saw clearly that there is no excuse for giving up prayer.” She told her father that it was all she could do to keep up with the choir duties. But she says, “ this was not sufficient cause to set aside something for which bodily strength is not necessary but only love and a habit; and the Lord always provides the opportunity if we desire.”

 Sometimes there are occasions or sicknesses which will prevent us from being able to have free hours for the solitude necessary for prayer. Nevertheless, “there is no lack of other time when we have the health for this.” She expounds further that a soul that loves can offer the sickness up, accepting what is happening and conforming the will to God’s. This is an act of love. “Prayer is an exercise of love, and it would be incorrect to think that if there is no time for solitude there is no prayer at all.” So even our illnesses can become prayer and transformed into an act of love.

There is never a good excuse for giving up prayer.

(The Book of Her Life, St. Teresa of Avila, ch 7)

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Stop over at Suscipio and read this lovely post by Theresa who blogs over at  my desert heart.

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St. Teresa of Jesus, explains in The Way of Perfection, her own way of recollecting the mind in order to center the soul on the Lord. She proposes that a companion be found and what better companion than the master Himself. “Represent the Lord himself as close to you and behold how lovingly and humbly he is teaching you.” (Way of Perfection 26:1) Get accustomed to having Him at your side, she says, letting Him see that you are striving to please Him. You will be unable to get away from him; he will never fail you; he will help you in all your trials; you will find him everywhere. Do you think it’s some small matter to have a friend like this at your side?

All she is proposing is that we just look at Him. No need to make long drawn out meditations or reasonings with the intellect; just look at Him since He never stops looking at us.

The practice of recollection is a habit. A habit is acquired through repetition. Begin today the practice of having Christ present at your side.

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