New Podcast Episode: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Photo Credit: The Speakroom (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Philippines)

New on The Mystical Life podcast, in honor of today’s Feast Day for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Father Robert Elias Barcellos, OCD, explains the role of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the life of the Carmelite order.

You can listen to this episode below, or subscribe on iTunes (and on Apple Podcasts) or iHeartRadio or your other favorite podcast app.

Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD: Marian Devotion

Braga, Portugal. Photo credit: thespeakroom

(REPOST from July 2017)

As the shekinah glory, the glory of God which was the palpable presence of God came into the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament, so Christ incarnate made His Holy of Holies in Mary. She became the tabernacle, the ark of the new covenant. Just as the old ark of the covenant would carry the stem of Jesse, which was a foreshadowing of the springtime of the savior’s birth, so Mary carried Jesus as the justice of God that would come in the world. Just as the ark of the covenant contained the commandments and the manna, the bread from heaven, so the Christ is the giver of the law, the bread of life, and the savior of the world.

Mary contained in her womb, He who the whole cosmos could not contain. He who is larger than the universe that He himself made as the work of His hands, was now in her womb. And He who is all-powerful was becoming the most vulnerable as an infant. ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’

She is the New Eve, the new Woman, because she is the mother now, of the Almighty author of life. The first Eve, was the first mother, the mother of the living. However, as the Church Fathers say, by the First Eve’s decision, deceit, and disobedience through the subtle lies of the Prince of Darkness in the form of a serpent, opened death into the world. The fruit of that sin was death, and therefore Eve is no longer the mother of the living.

Mary, conceived without sin, that she may be the perfect dwelling place of God’s only-begotten Son, is now the mother of the author of all life, and at the foot of the cross, at Jesus’ dying wish was that she would be the mother of all the living, especially who are his friends and disciples. The second place Jesus refers to Mary as Woman is at the cross, the climactic moment of His incarnation. He says, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ If Jesus had other brothers, he wouldn’t have had to entrust Mary to John. He wouldn’t have had to entrust His mother to someone else’s care. As tradition says, Joseph had already passed on.

More importantly, John stands in proxy for all whom God desires to be His beloved disciples. That’s all of us who would believe in Him. Mary, the perfect Mother, blessed among all women, Jesus’ prized possession on an earthly level, that gift of His human life would be given to us as well so that we would be able to enjoy the sheer gift that God the Father gave Him; the most perfect mother imaginable, the most beautiful woman ever has become our Mother.

That’s not a narrative, a religious idea, or a far-off ideal. We cannot say ‘Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit,’ as Saint Paul says. We do not say this just with our lips, but to say it conviction and with fervent hope and love, is to proclaim it from the depths of our hearts. ‘Yes, Jesus is my Lord. I believe that He is alive, He is risen, He is real.’ The Holy Spirit helps us to know Jesus personally. The Holy Spirit gives us an encounter with the Risen Christ, an encounter that changes our life, an encounter that helps us to believe that God does love us, not simply because I heard someone else talk about it, not simply because I would hope or wish so, but because I know so from my experience. In the depths of my poverty, in the moment I needed Him most, when I was most hurting and most alone, I knew and I believed. And I received the truth that God does love me. Not because I’m worthy, or I earned it, or because I’m better than anybody else , and I’m perfect – because I’m not and the last to deserve it – but because He is perfect. By Christ, I am His child and beloved by Him, and when I was at my worst, God loved me most. The Holy Spirit allows that truth to become a reality. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes God come alive.

The same Holy Spirit who makes God come alive makes Mary alive to us as Catholics. The Holy Spirit, the spouse of Mary, by which Jesus is conceived in her womb, introduces us to Mary in spirit and in truth. We do not worship her, but we must know who are spiritual mother is. We must know the one who prepared the way for us as believers in Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals to us how beautiful, how real, how motherly she is.

On a natural level, I have always felt comfortable taking refuge in Mary. She has always been a source of consolation. But after my conversion, I felt very close to Jesus, and He became real and alive to me. He became my brother, my best friend, my redeemer, my Lord. But God the Father always felt very distant. Why? Because I never knew my earthly father. Until I was 21, I never had any contact with my earthly father whatsoever. Part of my conversion was meeting my father again, and now we’re best of friends. But I remember that even as a Carmelite Brother in seminary, there was a special time when Jesus was healing my heart and introducing me to the Father’s love. A special part of conversion and deepening of faith is to have all the areas of our lives where we have been wounded filled with God’s love, however He wants to communicate that. And He communicates that love so well, through Mary, not so she can replace Christ, but as the replica of Christ.

In his apostolic letter on the rosary, Saint John Paul II says that Jesus received His divinity from His Father, but He received His humanity from His mother. Therefore, He was a striking resemblance of Mary, and when we pray the rosary, we are at the school of Mary, contemplating the face of Jesus, whose resemblance is that of His mother. Mary reflects Christ as Christ reflects her. There’s a beautiful mother and son connection there. When we put the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the same level as the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it doesn’t mean that they are equal in dignity; it doesn’t mean that we are worshiping her as we worship Jesus. Not at all… (to be continued)

Copyright 2017 Father Robert Barcelos, OCD; transcribed by Teresa Linda

Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Fatima

REPOST FROM JULY 2017

On October 13th, Our Lady displayed the miracle of the sun, as she had foretold. During the last apparition that took place after that miracle, Our Lady showed herself as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as representative of the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The apparition had a tremendous impact on the 70,000 people who saw it, many of whom were reporters.

As for the historical context, at that time, atheism was thriving in Portugal, freemasonry had a strong hold on the government, and the people in the government thought that they were going to wipe out religion from Portugal for good, despite the fact that Portugal had a long history of being thoroughly Marian – their kings and queens had consecrated their land to Mary for centuries. These modern atheistic politicians thought that they were going to stamp out religion once and for all, hoping that Lisbon would be the second Moscow.

Mary’s greatest revelation took place at the same time of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Communism was just about to spread. There was the threat of nuclear war, as well as the threat of a totalitarian political system spreading; it did spread, throughout the world. Worst than that, it was a form of government that was anti-religion; it was anti-God.

Communism is an atheism of the will, in contrast to Darwin, who preceded Stalin, which was an atheism of the intellect. Darwinism tries to redefine the origins of humanity on rational terms, according to a particular scientific approach of the origin of the human species. And it ultimately breeds an atheism of the intellect, built on the belief that we can identify where we come from apart from any reference to God, solely based on reason and what we know of life in this world. Marx’s philosophy, however, was an atheism of the will, a deliberate and militant approach to combating religion, as being an obstacle to progress in society, a cause of war and division.

Marxism was being enforced as a political system and wedded to a government. Therefore, it was no longer legal to practice faith freely; people were unable to have bibles, to wear a crucifix around the neck, or go to church publically. The government had legislated churches, but they had control over them, and over what was said. There was a great deal of oppression that was based on a philosophy that was essentially opposed to God.

Mary saw all of this taking place from heaven. And as the first and most important missionary of God, in union with the Lord and in her will united to God’s will, she saw this danger on the rise, and chose to intervene and send a wake-up call to humanity as an echo of the gospel. Fatima is a call to faithfulness, for first of all, the believers.

Mary is the first person to have faith in God’s promise of her Son, as Savior. At the Annunciation, when she said ‘yes’ to God’s will that she would be the mother of the Messiah, she was the first to believe in the Messiah, as it was directly communicated to her by the Archangel, Gabriel.

The first to believe became the most important of all believers. As the first Missionary, she didn’t just receive that gift and keep it to herself. Right away, she went out of herself to share it with others. Even in heaven, after the drama of all that had unfolded in redemption, from the wood of the crib to the wood of the cross, to Pentecost and ultimately the Coronation, Mary was integrally interwoven with all the important events of salvation from the life of Our Lord. She was there, participating fully, in the most important events of Jesus’ life. Whether physically and immediately present, as at the foot of the cross, or in the manger, or amidst the apostles during Pentecost, or whether from a distance, participating spiritually, as in Jesus’ ministry, one way or another she was always there.

In the disposition of the handmaid of the Lord in the service of her son, and as the spouse of the Spirit and the daughter of the Father, she was there. And she continues to be there. She continues to be a mother who is in love with her children and who has a profound love for them. She cannot keep silent in the face of her children being in danger. When she sees her children in danger, she has to speak out, and she does.

Fatima is one of the most prophetic Marian apparitions, one of the most timely, and relevant for our day and age. From Pius the XIIth to most recently Pope Francis, and everyone in between, especially Saint John Paul II, with the assassination attempt on his life on May 13th, the day commemorating Our Lady’s first apparition, all of the popes of the past century have said how important the message of Fatima is to us still today. Pope Benedict XVIth and Saint John Paul II said that the message is even more applicable than it was in 1917.

What happened back then? On May 13 until October 13, 1917, our Blessed Mother appeared. Historically, this was right after the first World War and before the second World War, the most horrific wars in recorded history. Mary prophesied that if men did not repent and convert, there would be a far worst war than the first. And certainly, the events of the Holocaust and WWII were worst than those in the first World War.

In the horizon, she saw a possibility, that if people did not seriously change, something catastrophic would happen, just as God told the people of Nineveh through Jonah. Through the preaching of Jonah, the people of Nineveh did change and nothing happened, because there was a change of life, and therefore, a change of outcome. The accumulated consequences and the worsening sins of the people of Nineveh, didn’t catch up with them. At Fatima, Our Lady wanted to reach out to her children as loving Mother.

Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Fatima

(REPOST from June 2017)

Fatima, Photo credit: The Speakroom

The first time I went to Fatima, and this has never happened since, I walked into the square. When it is cold outside and when you go into a house as you open the door, a wave of heat just comes over you. When I walked into the square, a wave of Mary’s motherly love came over me, and it almost brought me to tears. It took my breath away. I felt the affectionate care of a mother. I’ve had a wonderful mother, and my upbringing helps me easily relate to Mary by nature. But what is so beautiful about God’s redemption is that He brings good out of everything.

Whether we’ve had difficulty with our relationships with our mother or our father, God can fill in the voids in our life – the absence, the neglect, whether through divorce, death, separation – God can fill those gaps with His love as Father, and His love as mother coming to us through Mary. As an instrument of God’s love for us, Mary helps us to know the maternal affection in a spiritual way that is specific for a woman to give. It is uniquely her, but it points to the divine.

Mary is at the heart of salvation history, biblically, and in our own time. We can understand this biblically through the lens of the simple word, ‘Woman,’ with a capital W. When Jesus uses that term, he uses it to identify Mary as the New Eve, just as Saint Paul identifies Jesus as the new Adam. What does this mean? A new humanity. God is starting over. He is giving us a way to be healed, to be set free, to be made new, through the New Adam and the New Eve, by baptism, through His life, death, and resurrection. We become regenerated, born again, receiving a new life and identity. As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, our dignity becomes super-elevated to share in God’s divine nature. We’re given a new destiny.

Jesus uses the term ‘Woman’ at very important moments – at the wedding feast at Cana, when we see the intercession of Mary among the disciples; we see that amidst this family celebration of love, at a moment of crisis, amidst this feast, was a dilemma. The disciples, in their dilemma, went first to Jesus’ mother and whispered their need to her. She simply made that need known to her Son and Jesus replies, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with me?’ This event is poorly translated in English and unfortunately, many Protestants poorly misinterpret Christ’s words as a sign of disrespect to Mary, almost as if Jesus or John the Evangelist foresaw that Catholics would one day “worship” Mary and this is the biblical proof, when only the Bible alone has authority, 1500 years later. That is an absolutely false theology.

Jesus doesn’t say “Woman” as a show of disrespect but as a show of exalted honor. In so doing, He says, ‘Mother, you are the New Eve. You are going to share with me in this mission, and if I manifest my divine identity, if I let who I am out by this miracle, then Calvary is just around the corner. It’s going to go down! Get on the roller coaster, and put on your seat belt, because the moment this miracle happens, it will all start. Are you ready for this?’ He says, ‘My hour has not yet come! The moment that I was born for, to give my life to save the world, the moment I manifest the miracle, that hour will be upon us. The enemy is going to be looming, and you’re going to be there with me. Are you ready?’

And He performed the miracle. What does Our Lady do? She nonchalantly returns to the disciples, not wanting the limelight, and very humbly, modestly asks them, ‘Do whatever He tells you. If you know what’s for your own good, if you know what’s in your best self-interests, if you want to spare yourself unnecessary suffering, if you want the recipe for sanctity, if you want happiness – do whatever He tells you.’

Sister Lucia, the only surviving visionary of the three Fatima children, and who later became a Carmelite nun, in her book, The Call to Fatima, says that ‘Do whatever He tells you’ is Mary’s only commandment. Her only commandment is seen in Cana. ‘Listen to Him,’ just as the Father said at the Baptism and the Transfiguration. Listen means obey, which means submit – in submission. Enter into His Mission for your life. That is the model of Mary’s vocation. She leads us to obedience and to a life of allegiance to Jesus. Her only desire is that we lead a life in allegiance to Jesus, not allegiance to her.

Welcome to “The Mystical Life”

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In our first podcast, Father Robert Elias Barcelos explains that true holiness and joy come from abiding and sharing in perfect Love, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as exemplified by Saint John of the Cross

You can listen online here, or just search for “The Mystical Life” on the Apple Podcasts app or iTunes, and you’ll see this image:

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Brother John Mark Charlesworth, OCD: The Holy Trinity

The Sea of Galilee, Photo credit: Miriam Lopez
Click on the triangle to listen to Brother John Mark, OCD sing his composition of a song about The Holy Trinity

NOTE: Brother John Mark is a friar at Mount Saint Josephs Monastery in San Jose, California. One of his many hobbies is writing poetical lyrics and transposing them onto well-known Catholic tunes.

What love henceforth comes from my heart,
To Thee my God, as One yet Three,
But how can I in Thee take part?
By what Each One does lovingly.

I thank Thee Father for Thy love,
For deigning I, created be,
Sustaining too, that high above,
I someday love eternally.

For sharing now with love Thyself,
For gift of faith, for Church of Thine,
And all relations, vows, and health,
As all’s by Providence, Divine.

I thank Thee Jesus, loving so,
For Incarnation, life on Earth,
Thy granting grace, that love may grow,
For Passion having endless worth.

For Sacraments, such gifts, sublime,
And by them, grace throughout my days,
For Mary, being Mother, mine,
Enkindling love with loving gaze.

I thank Thee, Spirit, Love, Divine,
For love enflaming deep within,
That I may love with love of Thine,
As Heaven, here below, begins,

For having one so weak proclaim,
No matter what, deep love and praise,
For having love change all to gain,
As in Thy hands, I’m all my days.

O Trinity, with love of Thine,
Art reaching deep within to me
Thy very Self, Thy Love Divine,
I love unto eternity! Amen.

Father Robert Elias, OCD: who do you say that I am?

Christ at the Column by Gregorio Fernandez (1619, Avila, Spain). Photo credit:thespeakroom.rog
Christ at the Column by Gregorio Fernandez. Avila, Spain (1619). Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Jesus asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter responds, “You are Christ, the son of the living God.’ In your contemplation, plumb the depths and implications of what Christ, Cristos, really means. Who is this anointed? This Y’shua? What does he mean to me? Jesus doesn’t ask, ‘Who do people say that I am? What are they talking about in the streets? What does the media say? What’s the public opinion?’ No. He asks, ‘Who do YOU say that I am?’

Ultimately, our destiny comes down to a decision. ‘Who do I say He is?’ In your answer to that question, how will you respond with your life?’

The person of Christ is unparalleled in history. There will be never anyone like Him, and there was never anyone like Him before He came on earth. He revolutionized human creation and redemption; he revolutionized our destinies.

Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a godly man or a religious figure; he was God made man. Some religions have incarnations of a mystical kind. However, Christ wasn’t just someone to be spoken about in mythological terms; His being is concrete and historical. The mystery of His humanity became an event in a specific time in history, with huge implications, and it only took Him three years to turn the world upside down. What He did is unlike anything else.

What Christ came to offer and invites us into is not just one religion among many; it is not something that we have invented and discovered. It is not just a human idea or philosophy. It’s God’s revelation of our eternal destiny in Him. What Christ has done is something that has been revealed. He invites us into a relationship with Him.

In many of his writings, Saint John Paul II writes about the theme of gazing, of contemplating upon the face of Jesus Christ. He describes the glory shining on the face of the risen Christ, as ‘supremely beautiful.’ During the Transfiguration, John, Peter, and James, and the two great figures of the old covenant, Elijah and Moses, gaze upon His face. We too are invited to do the same, that our lives may be transformed. By the discovery of who God is, we discover who we are.

When Saint Peter exclaims, “You are the Christ,’ Jesus responds, ‘That didn’t come from you.’ Peter did not come to this conclusion on his own. It was a gift from God that was infused in him so that he would have this knowledge, awareness, and epiphany.

After his epiphany of coming to know Jesus, our Lord gives Peter an epiphany of coming to know himself. Jesus says, ‘You are Peter. You’re no longer Simon, son of Jonah.’  Simon means sand;  before Peter’s infused knowledge of Christ, he had very little stability. Only after Peter is able to gaze at Christ with the eyes of faith and know Him, does Jesus change his whole identity. He names him Peter, which means the rock.

And on this rock, Christ has built His Church. From Peter’s human weakness, Christ brings glory out of brokenness  (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Father Robert Elias, OCD: ‘Do you love me?’

Click on triangle to play. SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Friar’s Conference, May 2019.
Father Robert Elias, OCD

NOTE: I am reposting this to include the audio. All posts on The Speakroom in June will come from previous posts. Our team needs this month to work on back-end projects like developing more social media presence through Instagram, Facebook, Podcasts, and products on Shopify.

JOHN 21: 1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

by John August Swanson

One of the most popular books in the past is The Five Languages, a book about how people by their character, communicate love.  Most of us are better at one or two rather than all.  The languages are

  • Words of Affirmation – People who speak words of life in their ordinary life, are able to see the Lord in the other person; they can acknowledge a person’s beauty and purpose, and draw it out of them. They validate a person’s sense of being lovable; this gift is not that common
  • Touch – Giving expressions of love through embrace and touch
  • Actions – Giving through works of devotion & service; this gift is usually found in men (as in household repairs). Doing something that is helpful.
  • Gift giving – The ability to find and give gifts that expresses the essence of a person
  • Quality Time –Spending important time together.  Even though it doesn’t feel like we’re doing something productive, I’m here for you.

The gift of Quality Time is the lens through which we must understand prayer and contemplation – being with God.

In today’s Gospel Jesus asks Peter the most important question – Do you love me? The first two times he asks, Jesus says, in the Greek translation, “Do you agape me?”  He was asking Peter to go to the next level of living in His love.  Agape is that self-sacrificing, self-annihilating love.  It is a radical, divine love that we’re all capable of –but it requires stripping.  It is the white, hot love that is divine and eternal, yet it happens now.

Agape love is summarized in John 15, ‘That you lay down your life for the one you love.’  There has to be a sacrifice, a holocaust and cost to self for the other. As a result, the gift of self is amplified.

Our Lord asks this important question, ‘Do you love me?’ –  to Peter, who is being put on the spot in front of his friends by the charcoal fire. And he is being humbled by it that he may learn the lessons of humility in order for him to truly love. 

The last time Peter was at charcoal fire, he denied having known our Lord, when he had just earlier in the day, sworn that he would do anything for Him.  Peter’s disordered self-love prepared the way for his fall, though he really did love Jesus.   He really did love the Lord, but Peter was fearful. 

Peter reveals that fight between flesh and spirit in every human being, the weakness of humanity left to ourselves apart from the grace of God.  Left to ourselves, we’re no better; like Peter, our real character and virtues are seen in positions of adversities.

But Peter was transformed after his own experience of cowardice and weakness apart from Our Lord. We have to have a true sense of who we are apart from God so that pride can’t get in the way of real love –humility allows our soul to be better cultivated for a lasting fruit of Love that doesn’t come just from human motive, but from God.

In this exchange, Jesus calls Peter Simon, Son of John. Why?  Peter represents rock; Simon represents sand.  Peter is the title he had been endowed with by Christ-  ‘the boss in charge,’  ‘the head hancho.’  Jesus doesn’t call him by his title but by his humanity. He calls him by his old name, by which those who knew him as a child knew him, and reminds Peter who he is left to himself.

Jesus wants to speak to the child, the vulnerable in Peter because He wants to bring strength in his weakness.  He is bringing him back to Galilee, his first calling and first love.   As you remember, Jesus called Peter first as he was fishing.  Now, He is renewing Peter’s calling at a time when Peter was about to give up his vocation, and just wants to go back and continue fishing.

Jesus asks ‘Do you love me’ three times to make reparation for the three times Peter denied him.  In so doing, He gives Peter the chance to renew his calling and to repair his vocation to Love.  Now, Peter learns the humility and has the proper foundations to be a servant of Love.

In the Greek translation, Peter does not respond with the agape word for love, but with the word, eros, which is a friendship love.  Before, when he overestimated himself, he could say that he could give Jesus the agape love.  But now, after having been humbled, he is finally acknowledging and can admit that he can’t love Jesus in the way Jesus has loved him. 

The third time, Jesus asks the question, He says, ‘Do you eros me,’ and that is when Peter is able to say, ‘Yes, Lord.’  This shows us that Jesus accepts us as we are and not as we should be.  The Lord knew that Peter had no more to give and wasn’t ready to give an agape love, but He still appointed him to be the leader and shepherd of His Church.

Jesus accepts us as long as we are giving all that we can give, and it is His Love that allows as to grow in Love.  According to Saints John of the Cross and Teresa, we are unable to give that agape love until the 5th mansion, which is where the Holy Spirit is doing all the work.  We can’t get to agape love without the Holy Spirit.  

But before that, God has to purify us, and we have to be willing to undergo the painful, humiliating journey.

Eventually, at Pentecost, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, after he had been purified, Peter is able to love with the agape love.  After Pentecost, Peter is able to rejoice that he was counted worthy to suffer insult for the sake of Jesus’ name.  Only the agape love of the Holy Spirit was able to bring this about in Peter and can bring it about in us.

Jesus’s love is so profoundly and scandalously humble. In the Book of Revelations, we see the lamb being glorified and exalted. Why not the eagle or the lion?  The lamb is the sacrificial animal, which represents the sacrifice of Love. The Most High became the most low for our sake.  He didn’t need to do it; God doesn’t need anything. But He did it all for us.  He says, ‘I am giving my life – for those whom I love.’

The whole universe exalts in the victory of the Lamb.

From the shore of Galilee, Jesus asks the disciples to put the net on the right side of the boat. The moment Peter obeyed, he received a super abundance of grace.

Peter had to be stripped and emptied, which is represented by his ‘stripped’ clothing during this account, when he tucks his garments and swims toward Jesus after recognizing Him. Similarly, once we choose God’s will over ours, and strip ourselves, that is when we really begin to live a more abundant life, through the Lord’s provision and not what we do ourselves. 

At first the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, which represents a spiritual journey that involves a dynamism of awareness and mystery.  They only realized who he was at the breaking of the bread and at the feeding of fish, and when He acknowledges that He will feed them with that agape love.

The humility of God is so radical. When St. Augustine had not yet discovered God in his life, when he was seeking truths in the wisdom of the day and all its eloquence, he was at first disappointed by Scripture; it was too simple and lacked the language of the sages he studied.  However, as he grew in faith, he discovered the hidden wisdom of Christ that exuded from scripture. 

That is how God always works – he chooses the humble instruments to hide His grace. Only the humble can find the hidden treasure.

In Eastern iconography, the paintings are stark, but they are a bridge to prayer. Only when a person enters into the simplicity of the image in prayer, can they experience God’s grace and beauty in the icon.  Only through prayer can that be received.

And there’s nothing more humble than the Eucharist, which is where we receive God’s agape love.  He calls all of us to be his lambs and to live a life of Love.  He trains us through a life that is nourished by sacrifice; this is the action of God’s movement in us. 

The measure by which we unite ourselves with the light of Love through The Lamb, and the transformation of love in this life, is the measure that we will we share in His blessing forever and ever.

SOURCE: Santa Clara Order of Discalced Carmelite Seculars (OCDS) Formation, Father Robert Elias Barcelos, May 2019

Teresa Linda, ocds: poems of resurrection

Zion

In having breathed in the dust of the Holy Lands
Where my Lord once taught, healed, bled–and died,
He who loved me first and has loved me eternally –was resurrected
In the landscape of my soul, the New Jerusalem.

At the Sea of Galilee. Photo credit: Lorelei Low, ocds (2018)

Adoration

I only have now and in this moment,
The prayers of the Church,
All the hosts of angels and saints,
And creation from the beginning of time, until the end of time,
Are united with mine.

The Promise

Deep calls to deep,
Where all time and all space,
Are all in the Almighty,
The Word of God,
Made Flesh by the power of the Spirit
Who dwelt among us, who dwells within us

The Mystical Chase

When it is dark, and the last rays of the day
Dip into the horizon and inflame the blue ocean of sky,
I run to catch a glimpse of You, my Beloved

Father Robert Elias, OCD: at the Holy Sepulcher

A loose transcription of the Homily is below:

The Word, Jesus Christ, penetrates this great mystery of mysteries in being welcomed and privileged to enter into the Holy of Holies, the innermost dwelling place, God’s sacred heart.  God so loved the world that He revealed to us this Holy of Holies of who He most deeply is.   This is best expressed, and imparted through His Son. God the Father, the eternal, I am who am, Adonai, Eloahim, El Shadai – communicates His love, divine affection and identity in His Word made flesh.

And His Word, God’s self-understanding and knowledge of Himself, is given to us out of love, in His Son, who was born into the world. The Creator entered into His own creation to give His life through the cross. This was the impetus, the pulling of Jesus’ life; He was magnetically pulled to Jerusalem the whole thirty-three years of His life. He came into the world to die because His death would be the greatest life this world would ever see, and it would be life-giving; it would destroy death and the obstacles to being made in God’s image and likeness.

Every human being – whether they believe in God or not, whether they know Jesus or not, whether they are Christian or not – have been built in the image and likeness of God , and are built with an innate potential to know and love God. This potential – for which we are all made – for everlasting happiness through a knowledge of God and His truth is tapped into in an unprecedented way in Jesus Christ. God’s love is given to us in a universal, unrepeatable manner in Yeshua, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

In Christ’s baptism, God the Father declared to His Son, ‘This is my beloved.’ This is the one I want to give you to know Me. Because no one can come to the Father except through the Son. And there’s only one mediator, one bridge between heaven and earth, and His name is Jesus of Nazareth. There is no other name under heaven by which we shall be saved than by the name of Jesus.

This is God’s greatest self-communication out of compassion – the full revelation, the full splendor, the full beauty of His truth is revealed in Jesus and His Holy Face. We cannot look upon the face of God in all its glory and majesty apart from Yeshua.And when we meditate on the cross of Jesus – this greatest sermon of the Prophet above all prophets; who shares in the divine being and nature of the Father, Jesus the only begotten Son of the Father;  whose whole life is perfectly revealed on the cross, the capstone of His sacred humanity – we see the whole mission of Jesus.

Remember, He lived thirty years hidden and in obscurity, and only three years in public ministry. We can never for a moment dare to think that those thirty years were not important, even though they were obscure, hidden, and unknown. Though he wasn’t manifesting publicly, those hidden years are utterly important because by His very love, He was redeeming the world. 

His hidden years remind us that our hidden life – every sacrifice we make; every ‘No’ we say to sin in the secrecy of our thoughts and the allurements to the world in the desires of our hearts; every ‘No’ that we make to Satan in fighting temptations in our spiritual battles, seen to no one else but the eyes of God – are all very important for our salvation, and what it means to live by the Spirit of Jesus and not by the flesh. The hidden battles are all very, very important to work out our salvation and to allow our faith to be built up by love. 

And what is love? It isn’t about our feelings, but our choices.  ‘Even though I don’t feel Jesus, I choose Jesus.’  That’s love. ‘At whatever cost to myself, I choose You, Jesus, even when I don’t understand – be it done unto me as the Lord wills ; not my will but Thy will be done.’ That’s salvation working itself out. That’s the Holy Spirit coming to new birth in you by your being crucified with Christ.

Why do we meditate on the Passion? -to inspire love and courage to say ‘No!” to the world, the flesh, and to Satan.  And ‘Yes!” to Jesus; to inspire the determination to persevere until the end, – as a believer, a disciple, and a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. 

That is not easy. It will require spiritual warfare, a war against my flesh, against secular mentalities that are opposed to the Lord, a war against Satan’s cunning and snares, and who will try and keep me from being wholly united to Christ for the glory of God.

As Christian Catholics, we meditate on the Passion so that we can grow in the love beyond all telling – to love even though it hurts, to see our crosses, our inconveniences, our discomforts, our contradictions, our unknowing, our mysteries, our afflictions – to unite all that to Jesus in order to receive a proper redemptive perspective, a resurrected vision to everything we have to go through to get to heaven.

We meditate on the Passion to know that the victory is ours. No matter what you go through, it will grow you.  The victory belongs to us.  God will bring good out of everything and we need to be reminded of this because we are all prone to discouragement.

Your human nature is no different from mine. My human nature is no different than yours.  Our human nature is no different from any of the saints whom we honor because they help us give greater glory to God. We’re all in the same boat – we are all sinners.

But as Christian Catholics, we are all beggars and we know where the bread is. It is in the Word of God and the Word of God made flesh in the Blessed Sacrament: as true presence and not symbol; as a bringing back to life again the sacred mysteries of Jesus;  as an extension of the incarnation;  as a feasting of victory; as an entering into – now – who we shall be with God for all eternity.

We are here, in a modest chapel that is meant to represent coming out of the tomb because though Jesus is on the cross in our churches to symbolically remind us of the love and price of our salvation, and to inspire us to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, we know that in heaven, Jesus is no longer on the cross.

The Holy Sepulcher: the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection.
Photo credit: Lorelei Low, ocds (Jerusalem, 2018)

Jesus is risen! He is resurrected! He is victorious!  And He already prepares a mansion and dwelling place for us to share in this victory – and we are all called to share in His victory of love over evil, of life over darkness.

Where does that battle start? It starts in my thinking and my attitude – I must convert my attitude and my way of thinking. Then the conversion must go to my speaking, my words. I must live in the light of God’s love, His truth, and His grace. The whole battle begins in my thoughts and is in the mind.

Our thoughts are formed by our past experiences, relationships, and emotions.  I must claim the victory of Jesus’ resurrection and the significance of that resurrection for me as His child and beloved friend. 

I must allow the significance of the resurrection to change and transform me in my identity. I’m still moody, I can still get depressed, I can still get nervous and anxious.  We all do! We’re all on the same boat. We all have the same flesh. If you hit me, I am going to bruise and bleed just like anybody else.

But we use the truths in Jesus as a weapon of strength to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, to know God’s will in what is true, good, and beautiful, and to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice of praise to His glory.  This is how we live by the Spirit.

If we don’t start with our thoughts and our words, it will be very hard to control our choices and actions.  We will be guided by our impulses.  The battle and the victory all starts in the mind, which connects to the heart.

Today, we give our hearts to Jesus, that He may bring about a resurrection now.  To be a Catholic Christian in Christ means that Jesus’ resurrection has impacted my life personally. Jesus is real to me.  He is not just a historical figure, or an image or statue in my house; He is a living being, a living savior in my heart and soul. The resurrection has given me new birth.

I am still weak, I still have faults, and I still make mistakes – but my savior is with me, and I know in whom I place my trust. And nothing is impossible for His mercy.

His mercy will accompany me.