Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: become the canvas of God

The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

note from the editor: the image above is the one that inspired Dali (previous post).  The canvas that Saint John of the Cross chose for his depiction of Christ was actually no more than 4X4 inches. This relic is housed in La Encarnación in Avila, Spain. Saint Teresa started her vocation there and eventually became a prioress in the Carmelite order.  Later she moved on to reform the order, founding the Discalced Carmelites. Her first foundation, Saint Joseph’s Monastery, is walking distance from the La Encarnación.

Many of the photos on this blog that are attributed to thespeakroom.com come from Spain and will offer you a rare glimpse of original relics and paintings. The saints would love for you to share these images with others, but if you do so, please do your part in the work of the Holy Spirit, and link back to this blog. Thank you!

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We must become the canvas of God. Ultimately, that comes in understanding that God is the only One who is supremely beautiful, and we encounter that beauty by the revelation of His love; it is love that is beautiful. God is the fullness of love and therefore, He is beauty itself. It is God’s love that makes us truly beautiful. We have to acknowledge and see that; we have to receive and nurture that. Wherever there is love in the soul, God sees beauty. If there is love in your heart, God will look upon you and your beauty as His beloved.

In scripture, Our Lord often says, ‘You are sacred in my eyes and precious, and I love you… I have chosen you…Fear not, I am with you, and you are mine.’ This language of covenant expressed in scripture is nuptial language. It is spousal language. It is the same language used by the mystics, especially St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. Ultimately, our faith life is a love affair with the love of loves. El amor de los amores.

Speaking to artists, Saint John Paul the II says, ‘Beauty is the key to the mystery of life and a call to transcendence.’ To seek transcendence means to pursue that which is beyond what we see with our senses. It is an invitation to savor life and dream of the future. When we see beauty, especially the beauty of creation – of mountains, landscapes, of broad, wide horizons, the sunset or sunrise, the ocean – there is something that touches deep down within our spirits that brings about this longing for something great. We long for something greater than the limitations and brokenness of this life.

The beauty of created things cannot satisfy. It stirs up a hidden nostalgia for God, which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine can express in comparable terms. ‘Late have I loved you, oh Lord. Beauty so old, and so new. Late have I loved you.’

During the Middle Ages, there was an era of study of the faith when Aristotle was being translated into Christian terms, and Christian philosophy was being refined as a catalyst for theology and an understanding of God. St. Thomas Aquinas is the beacon of that era, the Scholastic Period. For the Scholastics, the definition of beauty was ‘the splendor of truth.’ … That takes my breath away. I hope that just hearing that phrase awakens in us a longing to contemplate, a longing to let that resonate inside. Let that longing open up and rest in you.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, a great Russian Orthodox writer of the nineteenth century, said that in the world, there is only one figure of absolute beauty – Christ. That infinitely lovely figure is an infinite marvel (to be continued).

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

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

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Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: ‘charismatic refueling’

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Christ of Saint John of the Cross, by Salvador Dali (1951)

John 14: 1-7

“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.”

In our spiritual walk, we must strive to seek the face of Christ, to seek, in the words of Father General Saverio Cannistra, a ‘charismatic refueling.’ Don’t categorize ‘charismatic’ in terms of what you might know of charismatic groups in your local parish, and whether or not you like them. Charisma – the essence of this word means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The dazzling, dynamic gift of the Holy Spirit, is a creative, life-giving, and transforming gift. A charismatic refueling requires that we seek the face of Christ’s eternal youthfulness as risen Lord.

Remember that Jesus died at the age of 33. His life and mission in his sacred humanity was completed by that young age, and his public ministry lasted for only three years. It doesn’t take long for God to do what He needs to do, as we see in our Lord’s life, and the life of saints like Saint Therése. God can accomplish much in a short amount of time.

In God’s divine providence, pre-planned and destined, the fullness of Christ’s mission, the whole work of His embracing all the cosmos -all of creation, and all of humanity who would believe in Him – was consummated in His sacred humanity and completed in only three years.For three hours, the author of life, the creator of the cosmos, hung on the cross, and was crucified; for just three days He was in the earth of his own creation.

In the outburst of the resurrection, of the new creation, Jesus roamed the world for fifty days in His risen body. This expresses and captures the reality that out of every agony, God’s glory is far surpassing. His love conquers, overwhelmingly, over every suffering and trial, transforming trials into triumphs. He makes the triumphs surpassingly greater than the suffering. When sin increases, grace increases all the more.

This eternal youthfulness of Jesus as risen Lord expresses something primordial and essential about us. Jesus says, ‘unless you become like a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Therefore, in order to truly grow and mature spiritually, we have to become small, little, young again. As the Psalms and Isaiah say, God’s love ‘renews our youth like the eagles.’ God renews our experience and sense of freedom, that our hearts may sore like an eagle, with the freedom of knowing what it means to be loved. Many saints and mystics have noted that in heaven, everyone is young, and that the expression of our personhood is at our prime.

In this life, even if we are well into our retirement age, our hearts can experience the eternal newness of Jesus’s life in us. That experience of what it means to be alive and to be loved in Christ can happen at any age. Our external age is accidental in comparison to our soul’s age in relationship to God. A spiritual new birth can happen in someone’s life in their eighties. Conversion, this becoming like a child, renewed, this discovering of our deepest, truest self in Christ, is an ongoing discovery, an ongoing exodus, an ongoing romance and adventure with our Lord (to be continued).

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

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

 

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What to expect in ‘seculars speak’

Carmelite saints, like Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Therése of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (the Little Flower), Saint Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein),  and Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity were avid poets and writers. It is no surprise, then, that there are many Carmelite seculars who are themselves, drawn to the word. In this section, you will soon find testimonies and thoughts by secular Carmelites and other lay people who have a particular devotion to Carmelite spirituality.

Father Matthew Williams, OCD: Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16

San Jose Mercury News (7/15/16) – Three Berkeley students missing, a fourth dead after a terror attack in France

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John 19 26-27

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag’dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”

It is with great joy that we gather to praise this woman of faith, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We thank her for her protection over the Carmelite Order, and over all peoples, as we look to her as our example of discipleship that we are called to follow.

We know that from the very first, the original founders of Carmel had a deep, abiding love and devotion to Our Lady. History tells us that the first chapel of the Carmelites on Mount Carmel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was her who provided inspiration to the first hermits; it was she who watched over these men of faith as her own sons, guiding them to Jesus.

As we come to this mass, under the protective mantle of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the gospel account of Mary and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross, gives us two insights on how we can imitate the Virgin Mary in our own walk as disciples.

The first insight is this: As the Virgin Mary followed Jesus, her son, we are to do the same. If there is one characteristic that is clear from the gospel accounts of Mary, it is that she follows Jesus every step of the way in His journey to His passion, death and resurrection. She is there, of course, at the Annunciation, when the Holy Spirit overshadows her. She is there at the Presentation of Jesus, where Simeon prophecies of Jesus being the Savior of the world, while at the same time telling Mary about the sword of sorrow that will pierce her heart. She is there at the first miracle of Christ, the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns the water into wine, and thus saves a young couple’s wedding feast. Mary follows Jesus as he journeys throughout Galilee and Judah, proclaiming the kingdom of God. Finally, the Virgin Mary is here, at the foot of the cross, where she is witnessing the death of her son.

This image of Mary, at the foot of the cross, is so important for us in today’s world. We live in a time of tremendous violence. Week after week we see examples of death coming suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically. A truck drives into a crowd, and eighty-four innocent people lose their lives. Policemen killed because of hatred. Seemingly innocent people, gunned down. Not only that, but we continue to see and feel in our world hatred, injustice, racism, intolerance, and it is overwhelming, it is distressing, we experience our seeming helplessness, and we wonder: how do I live my faith in the midst of so much violence?

How to live my faith? By doing what the Virgin Mary did: follow Jesus. St. Paul tells us to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2Cor. 5:7), and that is what she did. With the eyes of the world, Mary can see violence committing evil upon her son. With the eyes of the world, she can see that her son lost the battle, and Jesus will die and be forgotten. But Mary walked by faith, not by sight. By faith she knows that death, sin, evil, the forces of darkness cannot overcome the power of her Son, Jesus our Lord. In the depths of her Immaculate Heart, she knows that victory belongs her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This our invitation to imitate Our Lady of Mount Carmel, by following Jesus as she did, even unto the cross, and by faith, know that victory belongs to God. So, we, like the Virgin Mary can see and experience the violence around us in our world, but we, like Mary, continue to walk by faith, following wherever Jesus leads us, for we know that it is only in Jesus, only through the power of His resurrection, that we and the world will be saved. Evil can never have the last word; rather it is our crucified Savior, who gains victory over all evil, that has the last word. We might not see it now, but like the Virgin Mary, we walk by faith and not by sight, and by faith we know that when we follow Jesus as Mary did, the forces of sin, death, and darkness will never have final victory over us.

Our second insight is this: like the Beloved Disciple, we need to make a home for the Virgin Mary. This is what the first hermits did on Mount Carmel; they made a home for Mary, where she is welcomed and treasured. We are being invited by Jesus to do that very thing today – make a home for Mary.

The first place where we need to invite Mary is in our hearts. The problems and violence of today’s world is not so much a problem of laws (though they are important), but a heart problem. Jesus tells us: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Mt. 15. 19-20)

The heart is where true discipleship takes place; it is where we focus upon Jesus, the mystery of Jesus in us, Jesus in our hearts, and this is where the Carmelite life is lived. To have our hearts centered upon Christ, as is that Immaculate Heart of Mary, is what we strive for as Carmelites; this intention is ever before us, for as Jesus becomes the center of our hearts, we are able to share with others the great wonder that is faith in Christ.

Secondly, we become welcoming in our relations with others, for that is what the Beloved Disciple did when commanded by Jesus to make a home for Mary – he welcomed her. This welcome to Mary is extended by us to all those that we encounter in the church and in the world. The Beloved Disciple welcomes the Mother of all the faithful, and he did that at the foot of the cross. The violence of the cross did not harden the heart of either Mary, nor of the Beloved Disciple, but enlarged them – this is our vocation in today’s world, to realize that at the foot of the cross, and new family of humankind is being formed by Jesus, a family that is led by a holy mother, where her sons and daughters imitate her, with enlarged hearts, as they welcomed each other through the power and glory of Jesus from the cross.

These two invitations, imitating the Virgin Mary by following Jesus as she did, and taking Mary into our very lives, is what marks Carmelite devotion to Our Lady. We give our lives to Jesus, as did Mary. We invite Mary into our very lives, as Mary did, and have our hearts become like her Immaculate Heart. When we do this, we will truly become like those first hermits that lived on Mount Carmel, we will be like that great cloud of Carmelite witnesses, like St. Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, like all those great men and women of Carmel whose names we do not know, like living saints, disciples of Jesus, following the example of the Virgin Mary.

We ask Our Lady of Mount Carmel to pray for us, so that the Holy Spirit will come upon us and overshadow us, like it did her. That our hearts will be like hers, so that we can live in the presence of her son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, worshiping and praising the Holy Trinity, in the company of all saints, for all eternity.

Copyright Fr. Matthew Williams, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena, Day 9

 ravennaiconinyork06Saint Brocard (left), prior of the hermits on Mount Carmel and recipient of the Rule of Saint Albert, and the prophet Elijah (right)

A PRAYER

Abba, Father. We exalt you, through Yeshua, your awesome Son, our beloved Savior, who promised that we who believe in You through Him, that supernatural wellsprings would open up inside of our souls, springing up Your infinite presence.

We exalt You, Lord. We magnify You.  In  allowing our hearts to be exposed to Your light, and coming before Your Face in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, may the impact of Your profound mercy embrace us, Lord, for You are Emmanuel, God with us. The same yesterday, right here, right now, as You are in eternity.

Lord, overwhelm us with Your love and Your truth that we may be consumed and taken ever more deeply, and closer to You. Father, I pray in Jesus, that all our guardian angels may intercede and stand watch at our side, that all the entities that are opposed to our alliance with You may be bound, diminished, and expelled.

May the Holy Spirit saturate us in all the areas we need to be instructed and loved, to find freedom and hope. I ask Saint Gabriel, the first to announce the gospel to give us His blessing, that we may experience new birth in the Word, that Jesus may be made flesh in our humanity.

With Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we magnify you.  Lord God, we come before You as our King. We ask You to come in triumph and reign. Rain down the triumph of Your Spirit. Overshadow us with the power of the Most High that we may understand how truly awesome and real, how ravishingly great you are.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, AMEN.

May almighty God, bless us, protect us from evil and bring us to everlasting life.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Opening Prayer, Young Adult Retreat 2011. “The True Rebellion of Saints”)

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 8

 

crucified

The Crucifixion

In the Book of Kings, after Elijah prayed seven times, ‘the rain fell in torrents’ because of Elijah’s prayer. The Book of James chapter 5 says that there is power in prayer with faith than can move mountains, and it recalls Saint Elijah as an example of a powerhouse person of faith in prayer. James says, ‘If you have the faith in God’s promise, nothing will be impossible for you.’

‘Then the rain fell in torrents’ on the Mount of Carmel. This is a symbol of the outpouring of the Spirit in power. Yet before the outpouring, what happened? ‘The sky grew dark with clouds and storm.’ In our natural world, before the rain really comes down, it looks dark and spooky. Many times, just before a breakthrough, we need to hit rock bottom. Sometimes, when striving for the season of unprecedented favor, things get worst before they get better.

Look at the cross and resurrection. Everything escalated and there was a momentum that was building. Jesus became more and more amazing, and everyone was ready for something spectacular. The best was yet to come. But before they got there – the scandal of the cross! This totally disillusioned His followers. The persecution and the opposition became more fierce. They were expecting the best, yet the worst smacked them, as Jesus suffered before them. So too in our lives. There’s a momentum of God acting. And just before the really big outpouring, come the dark clouds, the storms in our lives.

What seemed to be a terrible setback became a set-up for tremendous blessings. Trials were transformed into triumphs. St. Paul says, the proof that you are chosen and blessed is when you experience that surging of the Spirit inside; that holy longing for greater union with God; that deep spiritual desire springing up from within, reaching out toward eternity. Jesus says, ‘For those who believe in me, a wellspring shall flow from their heart, reaching out into eternal life.’ Saint Paul says, ‘The Spirit within you cries out, Abba! Father! My Lord, and my God!’

Jesus Christ is Lord, and to say it from the deepest part of yourself, because there has been an encounter that has brought about a conviction from experience is the proof, He says, that ‘You are blessed. You belong to me, the Lord God of hosts.’ When you are able to taste that, there are moments that are so good that you cannot help but say, ‘I never knew life could be this good. I never knew it could be this good. Somebody catch me because I’m falling in love!’ When God’s Holy Spirit comes upon us, we begin to fall in love with God.

Saint Paul says, ‘We are no longer slaves.’ We’re no longer fans of Jesus – we’re friends. We are no longer a Catholic because of culture or obligation, but because of conviction, which has brought about the most amazing celebration. You have to fan the flames and don’t let nothing or nobody stop you from being a child of God, the saint you are made to be. Harness the chariot. Get ready. It’s not going to be easy, but don’t let anything stop you from getting to the top of Mount Carmel, from living your God-given purpose.

One great Carmelite said, ‘The ascent is arduous, but the summit is bathed in sunlight.’ God bless you. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Feast of OLMC 2013, Saint Therése Church, Alhambra, CA)

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

FullSizeRenderOur Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 7

Sunrise over SF Bay, June 2016
Sunrise over SF Bay, June 2016

 

In living out our vocation, we must always remember the lesson taught to us by St. Elijah’s faithfulness of prayer on the Mount of Carmel. The spirit realm precedes everything that comes to pass in the natural realm. We have to be totally convinced of God’s presence and His purpose for our life, as active in our lives.  We have to believe it in our hearts and receive it. Once that belief has taken root in our minds, and taken shape in our hearts, God’s plan for us will begin to happen.

You have to believe it here, in your heart, before it can take shape out there, in the situations of your life. We need to be ripe to receive what God has promised. There’s an appointed time. Some of us have not received the greater outpouring of the Spirit because we’re not ready for it yet.

In the Acts of the Apostles, before Pentecost, in the first chapter, Jesus says to his apostles, ‘I want you to prepare yourselves for the promise of the Father, who will come upon you with power.’ And they said, ‘Really? When is it going to happen? When are you going to do this? When are you going to do that?’ But Jesus replies, ‘Wait, hold on! It’s not for you to know times and seasons.’ They were trying to fit God into their calendar. They wanted to know the details of how God was going to do what He was going to do. Jesus says to them, ‘I promise to bless you abundantly, but not necessarily according to your expectations or schedule. You’re not going to know the time, or the season, but I will be there.’

‘I will be with you. I promise.’

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us. (to be continued)

(SOURCE: Feast of OLMC 2013, Saint Therése Church, Alhambra, CA)

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

FullSizeRenderOur Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16
 

Feast Day: June 12, Saints Zélie and Louis Martin

The Family Reliquary of Saints Therése, Louis, and Zélie, located at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia

IMG_8790   thPRAYER

God of eternal love, You give us Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérese, as an example of holiness in marriage. They remained faithful to you in all the duties and trials of life. They desired to raise their children to become saints. May their prayers and example help Christian family life blossom in our world today.

If it be Your will, grant me the grace I know ask of You, through the intercession of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, and through Jesus Christ,our Lord. Amen.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena,Day 6

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That brings us to the Scapular: What is the scapular? It represents a sign of our devotion to Mary, a sign in our hearts of our belonging to our mother, who is also the Mother of God.   It is a gift of ownership. The scapular is a sign of being wrapped in her mantle – the covering of protection, as a mother protects and guards her child.

When we wear the scapular, we also accept her purity, which in turn,  protects us.   Yet the scapular should not be worn superstitiously. Those who wear the scapular must recognize the responsibility of living out a life of purity. We must be reminded of our identity and our belonging to Jesus, through the offering of His mother.

The offering of ourselves that Mary makes to Jesus,  mirrors the Mass in the Eucharist. During the Offertory, something that is initially represented as the bread and wine, becomes something new in Christ. The bread and wine represent our lives. As they are transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, we too must be transformed, and become new, so as to be more and more united to Christ.

Everything, who we were this past week, and what we will become in this new week; everything about us must be offered to Him that we may be united to His Sacrifice, which will give new meaning into our lives. Our spiritual progress must be worked out in seeking the perfection of charity, in the practice of love.

In John 17, Jesus says, ‘Father, you have given me the gift of faith to realize I was made for you. I offer my life in union with your self-offering as a sacrifice of praise and glory to you. Use me according to your will.’ Our lives must become an act of thanksgiving to God in sacrifice. As a result, we become a part of Christ’s sacrifice in a new way.

To live the Mass is to live in His charity, so that a freshness, through the power of the Holy Spirit can come forth. Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ He is the vine, the garden of Carmel; we are His branches. We must allow ourselves to be pruned so that He may produce abundant fruit in us. Our vocation is to mirror Jesus’ love for Mary and Mary’s love for Jesus.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(Source: May 2015, Santa Clara OCDS Meeting Notes).

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 5

 

Carmelite Monastery, Cebu Philippines

What does the title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, represent? How does this title fit and represent Mary? Our Lady is the patroness of contemplatives. Through the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we seek her assistance through our contemplative lives.

Our Church has several litanies of Our Lord and of the Blessed Mother, which try to express the grandeurs of the grace of God. Contemplating and praying the litanies is like looking at a crystal, and looking at the Son and Our Lady at different angles. The Litany to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the Litany of Loreto, for example attempt to give us a glimpse of who Mary is in God’s eyes.

However, these litanies cannot express it all. In God’s eyes, Mary is tremendous and we can never give her more honor than the honor that Jesus gave to her. Our separated brothers and sisters have a genuine love for Our Lord, but they do not understand why we place so much importance in Mary. But as a vessel for our Lord, she surpasses every human being in purity and perfection.

Think of Mary in Scripture. There, she is depicted as trustful and pondering on the Word. When Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart, she remains quiet, and ‘keeps these things in her heart.’ At the foot of the crucified Christ, she ‘wept’ silently, yet she never turns her eyes away from her son. We too must be trusting, silent, obedient, and clinging to the promise of God’s presence. She is the patroness of those seeking union and quiet in God.

The meaning of the word, Carmel, is ‘The garden of God.’ Carem – el. Carem means garden, a lush orchard; el stands for Elohim.  Those of you who have visited the Holy Land know that Mount Carmel is not just a single mountain. Carmel is a whole mountain range that runs alongside the Mediterranean Sea. It has the highest elevation and its soil is very rich. Lush flowers and plants can be found there, a fertile ground for life. From the time of Elijah to today, people have sought the mountain of Carmel for prayer, and to seek union with God.

Part of living the contemplative life is for our soul to be a fertile ground and soil so that our lives may bear fruit through grace. Mary is the model and guide par excellence, for this life of love and contemplation. She still had to endure the pain of obscurity and suffering, but through her life of prayer and obedience, her beauty stands out among humans as magnificent and insurpassable. We too, as followers of Christ are called to be bathed in the beauty of God’s glory. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(Source: May 2015, Santa Clara OCDS Meeting Notes).

Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

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Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16

Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA