Father Robert Elias, OCD: As certain as the dawn

The Tax Collector and the Pharisee, Creative Commons

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Jesus addresses the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee to those who believe themselves to be most righteous, yet despise others.  The Pharisee does the right things for the wrong reasons; what he does has no effect because he sees himself as more superior rather than loving. Jesus reminds us that our loving relationships must grow. Love for others is a necessary condition to truly grow in our relationship with God and our knowledge of Him.

Father Robert Elias, OCD: seek yourself in Me

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During one of her locutions, Saint Teresa heard Our Lord speak the words, “Seek yourself in Me.”  Saint Teresa understands these words to mean that God meets us and accepts us where we are in our lives, and our thirst and love of the truth is Someone, Yahweh moving among His people.

SOURCE: Order of Discalced Secular Carmelite (OCDS) community meeting, March 2018.

Father Robert Elias, OCD: a listening heart

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What does it mean to be a contemplative? Father Robert Elias discusses  the chapter, “A Listening Heart” from the book Seasons of the Heart, written by Father John Welch, O.Carm.  Through Christ, God calls us to a relationship with Christ that is a self-discovering liberation in the context of friendship and trust. This contemplative relationship, which is built in silence, is not an escape, but enables us to enter more fully in solidarity and compassion with our poverty and the world’s poverty.  As a result, we are able to love and see the world as He loves and sees the world.

SOURCE: OCDS Meeting, May 2018

 

 

Sister Theofila, Putri Karmel: current grace, a prophetic flow

Sister Theofila at Mount Saint Josephs Monastery. Photo Credit: The Speakroom

The present moment is ever filled with infinite wonders. It contains more than you have the capacity to hold. Faith is the measure –  believe and it will be done to you accordingly. Love also is the measure. The more the heart loves, the more it desires; and the more it desires, the more it will receive.

The will of God presents itself to us at each moment as an immense ocean that no human heart can fathom, but what the heart can receive from this ocean is equal to the measure of our faith, confidence and love. Thus, walk in the light of faith, execute His command and accomplish His will with joy and generosity each moment. We will enjoy life on earth; heaven on earth.

Holiness consists in great love as Jesus taught us and in great adherence and fidelity to God’s will. Do small things with great love. It will lead you to holiness. Our daily activities consist in doing small routine things, for faith, hope and love are the measure of all things.

Sometimes we think that holiness is only for priests, nuns and ordained people. No, holiness is for all people, as it is written in Matthew 5:48 “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) said, ‘Do all things with great love and for the sake of loving God.’ If everyone of us will do the same thing as St. Therese did, we will be canonized one day.

Miracles often happen in doing small tasks. Not everyone has an opportunity to do a big task, for instance being a speaker or doing miracles during a healing service. But if we have do have that opportunity, do it for the glory of God.

Mostly, our activities consist of little things, such as cooking, washing laundry, gardening, or in ministry: arranging chairs, cleaning, preparing the food, helping in registration, and so on.

Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love,” said Mother Teresa.“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing,” wrote St. Therese of Lisieux.

God created us out of love. He invites us to share in that love. But remember, He just invites, and He doesn’t force. We are given the ability to freely choose either to accept God’s love or to reject it.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water that I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:13-14).

As St Augustine said, “You have made us for You o Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” Yes, we are made for God, for the Infinite, and that is why anything else that is finite, anything else except God, will never fulfill our hearts.

By encountering and experiencing God’s love personally, you are able to do little things with a great love and become a witness of God’s merciful love.

Sister Aurelia, Sister Theofila, Father Robert Elias, Sister Salverina, and Sister Jacinta. Photo credit: The Speakroom

About the author: Sister Theofila is the Prioress of the Daughters of Carmel, located in Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Visit Daughters of Carmel website for more information. Sister Theofila gave this conference during a Charismatic Renewal event.

Sister Theofila, Putri Karmel: current grace, a prophetic flow

The Daughters of Carmel visiting the Carmelite Fathers of Mount Saint Josephs Monastery. Photo credit: The Speakroom

We must always strive toward conversion to the love of Jesus, which changes life and makes of the Christian a witness of the Love of God. The Church expects this witness of Christian life and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the coherence of the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit leads us to live in holiness. Every moment in our lives has a meaning that can draw us to grow in holiness and do God’s will.  Whether we collaborate with God’s grace or not depends on us, because we have free will.

God provides for us in each and every moment of our lives. Each and every day, each and every moment is a gift from God. If each and every day and each and every moment is a gift from God, He also offers us the graces to fulfill it so that we may experience Him and attain the goal of salvation. St. Paul says: “My grace is enough for you…” (2 Cor 12:9).

God never commands the impossible and His grace is always sufficient for us. God makes it possible for every one of us to fulfill our daily tasks with love and generosity.

The tasks entrusted to us in each moment, both big and small alike, in the ordinary routine of our lives are an expression of God’s will for us. Thus, live in the present moment and carry out your tasks and offer them up to the Lord for love of God. In such a way, we accept the grace of God and His will for us and cooperate with the grace of God for the present moment.

By trusting and abandoning ourselves to Him, we will experience His amazing divine Providence and this will help us to advance in our spiritual life, as our will becomes more and more aligned with the will of God.

When we are aware of God’s grace in the present moment, it helps us to understand more clearly how we should live from day to day trusting in God and in a spirit of self-abandonment.

Most people don’t trust God anymore because of many reasons, but ironically, they trust totally their GPS. Sometimes  your GPS can lead you to  the wrong direction, but Jesus never leads you on the wrong path. Jesus brings you to the truth.

(to be continued)

About the author: Sister Theofila is the Prioress of the Daughters of Carmel, located in Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Visit Daughters of Carmel website for more information. Sister Theofila gave this conference during a Charismatic Renewal event.

Sister Theofila, Putri Karmel: Current grace: a prophetic flow

During his talk in Rome for the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Rome last June 2017 Pope Francis said, “You have received a great gift from the Lord. You were born of the will of the Spirit as “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.”

The Church is like a great orchestra, where every instrument is different from another and the voices are also different, but all are necessary for the harmony of the music.   And as a whole Church, have only one head, only one Lord: The Lord Jesus.  And we can say this with the strength that the Holy Spirit has given us, because no one can say “Jesus is the Lord” without the Holy Spirit.

What is the first gift of the Holy Spirit?  The gift of Himself, who is love and makes you enamored of Jesus. And this love changes life. Because of this, it is said that we are “to be born again to life in the Spirit.” Jesus said this to Nicodemus. As Christians, we have received the great gift of the diversity of charisms,a  diversity that leads to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, to the service of the Church.

Grace is a word that bears the weight of multiple meanings, both in English and in Greek (charis, gratia). Grace is at once the fruits of God’s acting upon us and a free supernatural gift of God to help us attain eternal life. Grace empowers our intellects and wills to understand God’s will and obey it, yet at the same time it leaves us free to resist if we choose.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that grace heals the soul by helping us recognize the good while empowering us to desire the good, do the good, persevere in the good and reach glory.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  “Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body.  As an” adopted son” he can henceforth call God ‘Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church (1997).

As God’s children, we all receive grace abundantly in our lives. We can choose not to collaborate with God’s grace , and we can ignore it, never knowing that every moment in life is a grace.

Now you are here because you want to respond to God’s grace. There’s no coincidence in our lives. Everything is in God’s plan. God has a wonderful plan for each of us. He wants us to have a happy life, the genuine happiness can be only found in God.

Outside of God there is no genuine happiness. Sometimes, you think you are happy due to your wealth, your position as a leader, and so on.  But if you want to be honest with yourself, neither your wealth, job,  nor your hobbies will not make you happy inside. Perhaps in your appearance you look happy, but on the contrary, you realize in the depth of your heart there is still emptiness or unhappiness.

God gives us His actual grace to do many things, but we don’t realize it. The grace that God pours out upon us is like the sun. It depends on our receiving it. If we want to get a suntan, we have to leave our houses and go to the beach. If we stay inside, we will never get a suntan.

It’s only a metaphor, but it’s the same thing with grace from God. He always gives it to us even though we are sinners. But we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to receive God’s grace.

(to be continued)

Copyright 2018, Sister Theofila

About the author: Sister Theofila is the Prioress of the Daughters of Carmel, located in Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Visit Daughters of Carmel website for more information. Sister Theophila gave this conference during a Charismatic Renewal event.

Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s bookmark – attachments

What are some of the attachments that disturb you? What are the situations that hinder you from being loving and respectful to others? Are you attached to personal ideas, to political views, to personal concepts about God, and how to serve Him? Are you attached to being “right” and find pleasure in pointing out how others are “wrong”? Do you get upset when things don’t go your way, revealing your desire for external power and control over people and situations?

What can we do? We must start by identifying the disordered attachments in our life, and address them through a practical plan of detachment. If we don’t break the attachment, we find ourselves endlessly repeating the same situation over and over again.

This kind of compulsive, addictive, behavior actually feeds a false, or phantom self which is the ego. Egoism and pride are deeply embedded in the human spirit and as Father Garrigou-LaGrange explains, “They must be purified from every human attachment to their judgment, to their excessively personal manner of seeing, willing, acting, from every human attachment to the good works to which they devote themselves.”

We can be so unconsciously identified with our ego that we don’t even know that we are its prisoner. This is why Jesus emphatically demands that, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk. 9:23) Saint Paul affirms that, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24)

Basilica grounds, Iria de Cova Fatima. Photo credit :thespeakroom.org

Once purified, we are able to experience a greater freedom and to be open to the gifts that God wishes to lavish on us. As Jesus promised, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” (Mt.5:8)

The beginning line of Saint Teresa’s bookmark, “Let nothing disturb you” is advocating emotional detachment and a loving indifference, where we accept whatever happens in our lives with equanimity and an absolute trust in God and His will for us. This is expressed by St. John in his poem, Glosa a lo Divino:

“From creatures now my soul is free,

Detached from all created things;

Now she at last has taken wings

And lives her life delectably.

To God, and God alone, she clings.”

Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds

About the author: Erin Foord has been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for 40 years.  He served as President of the California-Arizona Provincial Council from 2014-2017. He gave this conference as part of an Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s bookmark – the present moment

With closer examination, we find that clinging to our disordered attachments actually resist God, and refuse His will for us. His will is represented by the present moment and what actually “IS”. This can be difficult to understand, but the only reality that exists, is the present moment.

God is only in the present moment and the only way we can embrace union with God is in and through the present moment. The concepts of past and future only exist in our heads as mental constructs. The illusion of a past based on memory and an imagined future have no reality of their own. Nothing ever happened in the past, it happens in the present. Nothing will ever happen in the future, it happens in the present.

We cannot affect change in the past—its gone. Nor in the future, it hasn’t happened yet. In actual fact, there is never a time when our life is not “this moment” and the only place where true action can occur is right now. This ever flowing, now, is always our only opportunity for interaction and communion with God!

So by its very nature, an attachment which is a clinging or preoccupation with some past event, is a serious detriment to our spiritual life. This is why the healing and purification of our memory is so important. The memory is the reason for our unwillingness to honor and acknowledge and embrace the present reality.

This resistance is always characterized by some form of negative judgment or complaint. To complain is always non-acceptance of what “IS” and signals an underlying disordered attachment. Don’t complain, either accept a situation or acknowledge that it exists and change it.

In serious cases the soul becomes trapped in its compulsion to deny the present reality and to live through memory and anticipation. This separation from our Divine Source will be experienced as guilt, regret, shame, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of unforgiveness.

These experiences are the fruit of clinging to a disordered past expectation that was unsuccessful, replaying it over and over in our head where we ignore the present reality – God, who essentially becomes an enemy that must be resisted or denied.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat.6:24)

(to be continued)

Copyright 2018, Erin Foord, ocds

About the author: Erin Foord has been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for 40 years.  He served as President of the California-Arizona Provincial Council from 2014-2017. He gave this conference as part of an Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

Father Robert Elias, ocd: confidence in God & mothers day

NOTE: Click on the triangle to listen to Father Robert’s Homily on 5/12/18 on confidence in God –and Mothers Day as he discusses “Seasons of the Heart” by John Welch, O. Carm., Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, and his past.

Painting by Brother Frank Sharma, OCD

 

 

Teresa Linda, ocds: motherhood

Photo credit: The Speakroom, Toledo Spain 2015

During Holy Week, my mother, who is in her late seventies, had her sixth ischemic attack, her worse one yet. This time, rather than simply forgetting a conversation just five minutes beforehand, she could not recognize anyone in the family, not even my father.

Everyone thought that this would be her last battle. But one morning, she came to – repeating the words, “Everything is nothing, except God.” Saint John of the Cross, with his  doctrine ‘nada, nada, nada’ (nothing, nothing, nothing) must have been teaching her spirit.

As Mother’s Day approaches, after having almost lost my mother to an instant emptying of all her memories, I contemplate what these words mean for my own motherhood.

Mothers cannot help but cling to their children. How can we not?

My clearest memories are of those first moments after my children were born – the smell of their foreheads mixed with that of the hospital bed, the size of their toes next to my thumb nail, and the way each of them instinctively tightened their grip around my pinky, when I applied the slightest pressure against their small palms.

As I embraced each of them, with all their fingers wrapped around one of mine, I wanted the moment to last forever. But of course, it couldn’t.

I spent most of my motherhood believing that I was learning to let go of my children, but instead, I was finding ways to hold on to them as tightly as they held on to me when they were newborns.

Almost twenty years ago, my husband and I flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco on a one-way ticket. He had a new job, but that was it. We had no long-term housing, and all our belongings, except for what we carried in our suitcases – were in storage.

It felt liberating to finally leave what was then the crack-ridden streets of Philadelphia and the limited education options of an urban neighborhood that had just been red-lined – for the dreams and possibilities that were open to my husband and my children in California.

I knew I was walking away from a Pennsylvania teaching credential – something that required $30,000 in student loans and included seven years of being a tenured middle-school and high school teacher. I also turned down a teaching position in a Main Line Philadelphia private school. I thought that I was letting go of my own dreams – so that my husband and children could follow theirs.

It took me a long time to realize it, but what I was really doing was holding on even tighter, replacing the ambitions and expectations I had for myself – upon them. In those moments when I would see that anyone in my family might fall short, I did everything in my power to fill the gap – often times at great personal expense.

Of course, none of this was helpful to anyone.

For “whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly,” writes Saint John of the Cross.

Because ‘Everything is nothing, except God’ – then the best way to be a mother, or for that matter, for anyone to grow in holiness, is to let go of everyone and everything – except God.

How do we do this?

On the day of His resurrection, Jesus tells Mary Magdala, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

Our Lady is a Mother who knew how to let go of her son,  even through the terror of witnessing His crucifixion, so that God the Father could complete His work in Him, with Him, and through Him.

I’ve always wondered why, although our Lady was present as one among those who “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer” (Acts 1:14) after Jesus’ Ascension, she is not present with the disciples in any of the gospel accounts of His Easter resurrection. Where was she?

She must have been alone, pondering in her heart.

The most important conversations I have had with my children have been hidden behind closed doors. I picture Our Lady in a room with a closed door, being greeted with love beyond all-telling, by Jesus  in His glorified state, on the day of His resurrection. Their encounter is one of immense joy and intimacy, one deserving of a mother who gave her son over completely to the will of God the Father.

But she kept all these things in her heart.

I have always been ambitious for myself, my husband, and my children, but I know now that this is a clinging to straws.

As a mother, I have to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to God – and that’s it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you beautiful women who have and are raising children! May God grant you the grace to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to Him in your motherhood!

About the author: Teresa Linda is the Formation Director of the Santa Clara, CA Order of Secular Discalced Carmelites (OCDS). She has four children, ages 15-26, has been married for 28 years, and is a community college English professor.