Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 4

 

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Our Lady: Saint Clare’s Catholic Church, Santa Clara, CA

To everything, there is a season, spiritually speaking. There is a time and place when God’s place and purpose comes to pass. ‘When the appointed time had come,’ is something very specific in God’s providence that He Himself has designed. As the master architect, full of compassion in desiring us to know Him, He designates specific times and places for our purpose to take a greater shape in knowing Him – in being convinced in His love for our lives. First love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Everything else must come second to Him.

Scripture says, ‘in the fullness of time’ – when the moment was right for it to happen, it happened. The appointed time for God to become man happened when Mary conceived Christ, through the Spirit. Mary represents the cloud Elijah saw. From the earliest times, from the first centuries of Christianity, the Fathers of the Church, the great masters of the spiritual life, interpreted the cloud Elijah saw as a type, a sign of Mary.

At the appointed time, she would conceive and give birth to the eternal Son of God, who would be the wellspring of salvation. From her womb came Jesus Christ, the fountain of life. She is that womb, that sign of hope, that the blessings of God’s unimagined mercy is upon us. She mirrors Him perfectly. Mary’s greatness is, as St. Elizabeth said at the Visitation, ‘Blessed are you, who believed, that what God promised to you would come to pass and would be fulfilled.’ In other words, ‘Way before you saw the proof, because He promised it, you believed that He could accomplish it, and you received it, you accepted it, and it began to happen!’

The Church Fathers also say that Mary conceived in her heart with faith, before she received in her body. What does that mean? First, through faith, she conceived in her heart. She heard God’s word, the gospel, God’s dream for her life. She believed it, and by her faith, she received it in her heart. Right there, she conceived in her heart. From that, came forth the conception in her body.  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.

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Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16

Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 3

mountCarmelCloudA single cloud upon Mount Carmel

The Lord God would not leave unfinished what He had started. He had brought Elijah this far, had done amazing things in his life, and was not going to leave him stranded. Once Elijah sees the sign from God, he says to his servant, ‘Harness the chariot,’ Elijah tells him, ‘Brace yourself, because the blessings will now come down.’

We need to celebrate the little blessings that God brings us along the way. There are times, when we pray for something very specific, and expect something great, which is fine. God wants us to have bold expectations as an expression of hope. God’s plans inspire a desire for something really bold, a magnificent blessing upon your life, based on His goodness, and you have a birthright to that. But before you get that, He prepares you by giving you smaller blessings that lead up to it. God’s actions keep you hungry for more, to keep you in a state where you are teachable, in order to train you more deeply.

When you celebrate the little blessings along the way, you have the humility to recognize, ‘I’m not experiencing the whole outpouring yet, but I have a drop. I’ve got a taste, a sign that God is acting. I might not see the full results yet, but I have enough proof to believe and be convinced that He is on the job. There are good things to come. My prayer in His name is never in vain.’

‘He gives me what I need, when I need it. Right when I thought I couldn’t hold on much longer, I see the cloud. He gives me a word in prayer. He speaks to me through scripture. He speaks to me, even through a homily, a friend, or a perfect stranger who had no idea what I was going through; who had no idea about the emotional challenge I was facing in my family; who had no idea of the question I was asking God in my mind, in the secrecy of my thoughts. And this perfect stranger says exactly what I was asking for, from God.’

That’s the cloud. That’s the cloud that encourages us to keep going because there are greater things to come. He gives us enough to keep us holding on to the next one. Even though the blessing is small, the size of a crumb, I assure you, those crumbs will eventually become a banquet upon you. The blessings will get bigger and better. The clouds will get bigger and better.

Celebrating the small things along the way also means having the the humility to say this, ‘I may not be right where I would like to be, spiritually, but I’m better. I know I’m not there yet. I know I have a lot of room for improvement. But I am better. I might not come to Mass daily, in the way I like. I might not have been able to fulfill my desire to spend a holy hour everyday, but compared to last year, I am better.’

We have to celebrate being better, and give thanks to almighty God. We have to be at peace with the process and not be restless until the end, until we have received the full fulfillment. We have to enjoy it along the way.  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.

FullSizeRender

Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16

Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 2

Fortunately, we’re not left to ourselves. In Romans 8, Saint Paul writes that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will know how to pray, as we ought, according to the heart of God. The Holy Spirit begins to pray in us, but we have to keep working and be diligent at it. Eventually, the Holy Spirit will honor your efforts, and He will begin to anoint your weakness with strength. The Holy Spirit allows you to see that in and of yourself, you don’t have the strength to accomplish great things. But He says, ‘I have. I can enable you to accomplish great things.’ God teaches us how to be humble and be dependent totally on Him

How many times have you prayed that your children, your parents, or loved ones return to the Church? And you look out into the sea, to see if there is any difference in them, but there is nothing at all. Maybe they’re just as indifferent to matters of the faith, as they were before. Elijah’s example has a great deal to teach us.

In the beginning, when Elijah prayed, there were no results, but he didn’t stop. Scripture says that he kept praying seven times. Seven is a biblical symbol of perfection. He persevered in prayer, until the appointed time for him to be blessed, the time that God had ordained to begin to manifest Himself.

Elijah had to first exercise his will and put the effort and responsibility that was expected of him. When he had done his part, then God began to take over, and to fulfill the hopes of what He Himself had begun to inspire. Seven times, Elijah prayed. Scripture expresses our need to persevere in prayer. The book of Hebrews says that we need patience to do God’s will, and to see, fulfilled in us, what God promises to do. Even though Elijah did not see anything, God was listening and preparing.

What was the first sign of hope? Elijah’s servant says, ‘Now there is a cloud, and it is as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ That was the first sign. Something was happening. Elijah knew that it would be so, and that is why he persevered, but now, God was acting.

For the first time in the natural world, Elijah sees the sign of God acting. An assignment is coming to pass. The blessings are now at hand. The season has come.

Notice the size of the sign. ‘A small hand’ in comparison to the broad sea. A cloud the size of a person’s hand arising from the sea is practically a mist. It seems so insignificant. Sometimes, the signs of God’s presence, in comparison to the problem, might not seem to be a reason for hope.

Notice Elijah’s response to this seemingly insignificant sign. Though the sign would not have meant anything to anyone else, Elias knew what God was saying through this sign. He knew exactly what it meant. He was convinced that it was God’s way of saying, ‘I am with you. Do not give up, and you will see great things.’

He saw what God promised coming to pass, and he acted on it, with full confidence, that God would not leave His work undone.  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.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16

 

 

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 1

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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.

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

Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Our Lady of Mt Carmel from Carmel of St. Teresa Discalced Carmelite Nuns, Alhambra CA