Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Marian Devotion

Ubeda, Museum of St. John of the Cross. Photo Credit: thespeakroom.org

According to Saint John Paul II, we honor and venerate Mary more than any other human being, more than any faithful disciple of God, more than any saint, but she is still nowhere near her Son. Many of the saints describe that difference as the difference between the glory of the sun, the bright star of day, in comparison to the radiance of the moon. There’s no comparison. The moon receives all of its radiance from our sun. The moon is important at night and brightens the night. Though the moon is nothing compared to the sun, at night, in comparison to the stars of the galaxy, is far superior than any star. So too, Mary is far superior to any saint, but nowhere near her son, the source of her holiness.

Archbishop Sheen says that Mary, the Woman “is not a goddess, she is not divine, she is entitled to no adoration… without Christ she would be nothing.” It almost sounds irreverent and disrespectful, but it’s truthful and is Catholic doctrine. In the Magnificat, when Elizabeth honors her and says, ‘I am not worthy to be in your presence because you contain my savior, the mother of my Lord.’ And in the presence of His tabernacle, she genuflects before Mary who contains the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Blessed are you among all women. Blessed are you for your faith. Blessed are you who believed that what the Word promised to you would be fulfilled, which has allowed God’smiracles to happen in the world by the author of all miracles being born through you. After all that, Mary herself says, ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. ’ It’s not about me. ‘My Spirit rejoices in God my savior because He has looked upon my nothingness.’ I am nothing. He is everything. That is Mary’s Magnificat and represents her attitude. She is so pure and so full of grace. Because she is so selfless, God lives in her. Mary is such a perfect instrument of the Holy Spirit. She is so radiantly immaculate that she is the perfect pure vessel for God to work through her.

When we read Saint John of the Cross, we read about how awesome God is and what He is capable of accomplishing in a human soul; He transforms us to such an extent that we can share in His divine nature, as Saint Peter and Saint Paul say. Saint John of the Cross expresses what this exalted stage of transforming union with God looks like and says that this person who has been transformed in God is so filled with the presence of God that they are like a conduit for God to work through them, to think through them, to speak through them, to act through them, to accomplish God’s work in them. They are so magnificently filled with God that you would think that you are looking at God, but you’re not. It is a human being transformed by the grace of God. If we can say that about an ordinary human being, how much more can we say that about the greatest of all human beings, the mother of the divine redeemer. She’s not divine, but she’s so transfigured by grace, that she is the most perfect instrument of the divine. Not of worship, because that’s for God alone and we should have no false gods before us; we only worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The most perfect worshiper of God ever, was Mary. Nobody ever worshiped God with such a perfect love, a purity of heart, with zealous devotion and generosity of spirit than Mary. She had the most intimate relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit than we can ever imagine or ever duplicate. There’s no greater model. There’s no greater mother. To disrespect her is to disrespect one of God’s greatest gifts, after the Holy Spirit. For us as Carmelites, she is the model of our desire for union with God. It’s her like union with God that’s the inspiration for ours. Our whole identity as Carmelites is to honor that by living it, by allowing Mary to reproduce in us the quality of divine intimacy that she possessed with the Holy Trinity. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Marian Devotion

Braga, Portugal. Photo credit: thespeakroom

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

The First Call: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22

797px-Alexander_Ivanov_-_Christ's_Appearance_to_Mary_Magdalene_after_the_Resurrection_-_Google_Art_ProjectChrist’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene,  Alexander Ivanov (1835)

Mary Magdalene, with her eyes of love and faith, was the first to be called by Christ to share the good news of His resurrection.  Mary Magdalene, with her utmost confidence in Jesus, was the first to testify and bear witness to His glorified body, despite opposition and ridicule from the apostles.  She was the first evangelizer. When the men who were closest to Jesus had given up hope, she called them back to Him, and they responded.   St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

We, like Mary Magdalene, are called to share and live in the joy of Christ’s resurrected body, though some are called to a consecrated life. Do you know anyone who might have this particular call?

The Call: Discalced Carmelite Friars – Western Province

http://discalcedcarmelitefriars.com.  “As Teresian Carmelites we strive to live a zealous life of allegiance to Jesus for the salvation of souls, in the contemplative and missionary spirit of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.”

Source: Discalced Carmelite Friars, Western Province (May 2015)

 

The Call: Discalced Carmelite Nuns

“These are Movie Clips compiled to reach out to the modern viewers about the Carmelite Vocation, Carmelite Saints, and Carmelite Spirituality. Featuring Carmelite entrance, investiture, solemn vows. I wanted to depict Contemplative life as a powerhouse of prayer and sacrifice, love of God and the world, and interior joy. The Video Clips are taken from the movies of the following carmelite saints: St. Teresa De los Andes, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Edith Stein.

There are several movies that the clips are showing. You can buy these movies at any Catholic Bookstore or Amazon online: (1) Thérèse with actress Catherine Mouchet (2) Edith Stein: The Seventh Chamber (3) St. Teresa of the Andes Miniseries (4) The Passion of the Christ (5) Therese with actress Lindsay Younce. Also recommended Carmelite movies: Saint Teresa of Avila with actress Concha Velasco” (MaryVeronica JMJ).

Source: MaryVeronica JMJ Discalced Carmelite Nuns (2011)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD, Feast of Saint Elijah: July 20

elijahs-cave

The entrance to a cave on Mount Sinai

(1 Kings 19: 10-14 )

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

———–

Our faith is tested to really see the reality of who it is we believe in. In other words, we have to go before the mouth of the cave, as Saint Elijah did, when he was on Mount Sinai. The Lord told him to go out before the mouth of the cave because He would be passing by. The Lord did not pass by in the many ways Elijah expected, not in the same ways that the eternal Lord and God manifested to Moses in Sinai, those magnificent ways, through the power of the elements of creation. All that took place before Elijah, but God wasn’t present there. He was present in an unexpected manner, in a way that surprised him; in a way that was utterly simple and ordinary, and yet the fullness of His presence was there, concealed and hidden.

The Spirit told Elijah inside of his soul to go out before the mouth of the cave, and there it was — God’s silent breeze. The breath of God passed by, and Elijah recognized whose presence he stood, and he bowed down in worship and adoring silence.

When we come to Carmel, oftentimes, there are a series of steps and graces that God gives us to be able to experience His call and to be convinced of it. Definitely, certain blessings accompany the graces, to build up our confidence, and our faith, hope, and love, to be able to abandon ourselves to that extent.

And then, when we finally enter, we might expect God to manifest in certain ways. We might expect certain things to happen, but sometimes, it doesn’t. Part of the spiritual life, inevitably, is that we become entirely aware – we thought and expected ecstasy. Instead, we are immersed in our own poverty, and so aware of the reality of our need for healing, in respect to what it means to be whole and holy in the Lord. That can be such a scandal to ourselves because we thought we were so much better than that!

Yet, God knew exactly who you were, better than you knew yourself, when He called you. You’re just starting to figure it out now. He knew who you were from the beginning, but He loved you anyway. Our weaknesses don’t get in His way, and neither does our poverty. Quite the contrary. Our weaknesses are where He wants to be born. That’s the manger. That’s the Bethlehem.

He doesn’t want the palace. He didn’t come for the perfect. He came for those who were lost and in need of Him, and who recognized their need for Him. He wants to be born in the mess of the manger. When He is born there, that mess can gradually become immaculate, amidst the messiness of it all. We can become so changed that what makes our lives most radiant, is the way God has touched us in our wounds, in the way God has transfigured us in our weakness. St. Elijah, pray for us.

(SOURCE: “Transforming Union With God” Retreat, 2013)

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

Click here for the Office of Readings, Feast of Saint Elijah, (St. Louis OCDS)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Marian Devotion

In scripture, whenever Mary is exalted or honored, she doesn’t want to be the center because she wants God to be the center. Who honors her? Not just anybody – an archangel is the first to honor her at the Annunciation. If you were to examine in scripture of every time an angel appeared to humanity, it was always at a pivotal moment in salvation history, when God was allowing his covenant of love to unfold and deepen. To concretely establish this relationship, an angel would prepare the way and serve as agent of His will.

Whenever an angel appeared, the human person that he was appearing to would prostrate on the floor. That person would think he was in the presence of God because the angel was so much more beautiful, more magnificent, and more luminous than anything that he had ever seen before. He did not think he could look at God face to face in His presence, and felt that he was unworthy of beholding such beauty. Every time, a person prostrated on the floor, the angel would ask him to get up, and say ‘I’m not God. Don’t worship me. Get up.’ And the angel would give a message.

Here, in the fullness of time, when the Son of God was meant to go into the world through a woman’s womb, an angel appears to Mary, and he genuflects. The angel honors her with the highest salutation possible. He doesn’t even call her by her earthly birth name. He calls her by who she is in God’s eyes – the only one who is full of grace, full of the goodness of grace. He looks at her with awe and essentially says, ‘Wow!’ – ‘Hail full of grace.’

Mary doesn’t powder her nose and say ‘Oh I know,’ but she immediately asks, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ The angel says, ‘Actually, God wants something, and you won’t believe what He wants from you. He wants you to be the mother of the Messiah that you have been waiting for and praying about. He has chosen you to be the mother of the Messiah.’

She responds, ‘You must have the wrong girl. God knows I made a vow to Him to be a virgin to God for the rest of my life. How could I possibly be a mother?’ I’m paraphrasing the Greek and putting it in contemporary terms. The angel responds, ‘You won’t have to break that vow. You won’t conceive by the seed of man, but the power of the Holy Spirit will be your spouse. Through this Word that you have just heard, through His seed, if you let it into your heart, it will bring about a harvest through your conception of the Christ. All you have to do is say Yes.’

And she says, ‘Behold, here I am, I am yours’ (to be continued)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima Way of the Cross

AUDIO FOR STATIONS 7 to 10

The Seventh Station: Jesus falls for the second time

The Eighth Station: Jesus meets the three women of Jerusalem

The Ninth Station: Jesus falls for the third time

The Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his clothes

AUDIO FOR STATIONS 11-14

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed on the cross

The Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is placed in the tomb

NOTE: the painted images are from members of the congregation of St. Wulfran’s parish, an Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima Way of the Cross

NOTE: the painted images are from members of the congregation of St. Wulfran’s parish, an Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England.

The First StationJesus is condemned to death

The Second StationJesus carries His cross

The Third StationJesus falls the first time

Fatima marker stone

The Fourth StationJesus meets His mother

Fatima marker stone

 

The Fifth StationSimon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross

 

The Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

(to be continued)

SOURCE: Fatima Pilgrimage 2017 with Father Robert Barcelos, OCD

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima – from love to Love

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left. Father Robert’s talk refers to Lacrae’s ‘Blessings.’ (You Tube video above).

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Fatima Pilgrimage June 2017. All Rights Reserved

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Gospel – Jn 6:51-58
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Monument to the Fatima Seers. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org 2017

Reading 1 – Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.