After Easter and Christmas, for Carmelites, the most important day is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mary of Mount Carmel represents that beauty of what we’re made for and what God is capable of accomplishing in our lives. Sacred Scripture celebrated the beauty of Mount Carmel in thirty different places in the Old Testament. There, we see the prophet Elijah, defending the purity of faith in God. Elijah bowed down to the ground. His body language expressed his disposition of heart, his humility.
Through Christ, humility is the doorway to recovery and breakthrough from anything that keeps us as slaves; anything that has control over us, but we don’t have control over it. The first stage of the Twelve Steps in healing from addiction is recognizing that you can’t heal yourself. That’s humility. Spiritually, we have to recognize that we cannot save ourselves, nor be a saint by ourselves. We just can’t do it. Elijah recognized that and he bowed down to the ground.
In the first letter of St. Peter, he writes, ‘bow down before God’s mighty hand, and in due time, He will raise you up.’ Jesus says, ‘Whoever humbles himself, shall be exalted.’ That’s what Our Lady of Mount Carmel exhibits, the human person exalted in fullness of grace. That’s who Mary was.
We all have a hunger and longing to know God more profoundly in love. However, there was no human being who lived as perfectly as Our Lady did. Jesus was not simply a human being; he was a divine person who took on human nature. But among humanity, there was no one more beautiful than Mary, and her union with God, through faith. Even she – bowed humbly to the Lord. Even she – recognized her lowliness before Him, and that she was nothing without Him.
Elijah prayed, and the results weren’t immediate. He bowed down to the ground, prayed fervently, and asked his servant to look, if he could see anything. The servant went out to the cliff on Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, but saw nothing. ‘There was nothing at all.’
Have you ever prayed your heart out, gone out to see the signs and results of that prayer, only to find nothing? ‘There was nothing at all,’ was what Elijah faced. A great man like him faced those dry times, those spiritual seasons of drought, when it seemed like God was not answering his prayers. It was as if God were checked out on vacation and couldn’t be found. There was no sign to express that God was listening. But Elijah did not stop praying.
Have you ever prayed, and felt like something just wasn’t right, that you were distracted or dry? Of course you have, that’s part of our human condition. Scripture says that we don’t know how to pray as we ought, so don’t get discouraged. You’re not doing anything wrong, but without God’s help and intervention, and left to ourselves, that is bound to be the outcome. 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.
Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.