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.
Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16