Father James Geoghegan, OCD: a brief history of Carmel

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

In honor of yesterday’s Feast of Saint Albert of Jerusalem, Bishop and Lawgiver of Carmel, it is fitting for us to listen to Father James Geoghegan’s discussion of the origins of the Carmelite Order, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s relationship to those who love her as mother and queen. (Hoping the link works this time!)

SOURCE: Homily by Father James Geoghegan, OCD.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena Mass, July 2017.

Copyright 2017, Father James Geoghegan, OCD. All rights reserved.


Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: immaculate communion, divine life in Christ

The one whom we seek, the living God, has a face and a personhood. Jesus of Nazareth is not simply a godly man but God made man. Not simply someone who is so good, but the author of All Good. He is not just one great figure or hero of history, but He is the One who is the center of the cosmos, the source, the summit, the beginning, and the end of everything.

And yet, He entered into our human experience in everything, except of course, for that which would compromise our destiny. He didn’t embrace sin. But He embraced everything else. He embraced our weaknesses, our vulnerability. He embraced all of our limitations and fought against them. He fought against temptations.

He had to really fight to do what was right. It wasn’t always easy for Him. During the Agony, He said, ‘Father, please, please let this pass from me!’ That was His sacred humanity, but also, His perfect faith. Theologians describe it so profoundly – in His spirit, He knew not to allow the weakness of the humanity that He had temporarily assumed. In that moment of time, He didn’t allow human weakness to have the last word. His faith in the Father’s will had the last word.

There are times when we’re wrestling inside of ourselves; we can experience a conflict, a combat, a warfare within. We experience a warfare for our own welfare between the flesh and the spirit, between fulfilling our destiny in the Lord, and all the spiritual forces and wickedness that would want to interfere with that fulfillment in our life.

There are times when our human nature will resist, our human nature will be intimidated, will want to run away, will want to make excuses, and that resistance might always be there. That’s okay.

But the point is that our faith always prevails. Our faith allows our prayer to tap into the living God, to give us a supernatural grace that doesn’t come from ourselves; our faith allows us to tap into ourselves within the deepest part of our person, that we may find a potential of God’s power to prevail over the problems, and to overcome them in such a way that what was once over our head – can be placed beneath our feet.

What tried to defeat us becomes the source of new victory for us because of Him who is on our side and who fights the battles on our behalf. All He asks is that we have the faith to continue to say yes, to pick up our cross and to keep moving forward and not turn back. He does the rest. That means He ends us doing more in us, with us and through us, more than we were ever thought we were capable of, more than we ever thought was possible for our lives.

He ends up doing more in us, with us and through us, more than we were ever knew we could do because the power and strength is no longer ours. It’s Him doing the work. He can take over right when you least expect it. Right when you thought you have nothing left to give, He takes over. We’re not left to ourselves to do it all on our own. He is Emmanuel.

Let us immerse ourselves in the presence of Emmanuel through the holiness of God present in the Mass, which is the mission of Jesus brought back to life in the world, the mission of His mercy to embrace everything in Himself; His life, His death, His resurrection re-presented, presented again, brought back to life – that His life may become new and operative in each of us. May the Lord prepare us to celebrate the sacred mysteries of who God is and what God is doing in me, and in you, right here and right now, in Jesus’s name, Amen.

SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014. Copyright 2017, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: immaculate communion, divine life in Christ

The call of Christ to freedom and wholeness is a call from where we are now. It’s a call to become more of Him in us, which will bring about more of us, than we are today. In other words, we’re being opened to an inflowing, an outpouring of God’s presence in such a way that everything God’s presence touches, changes where it moves. Like fire and water, whatever God touches no longer remains the same, despite the pain. Or rather, not despite the pain, but especially because of the pain, something has changed. I am no longer the same and what remains is better than what was before.

But we need faith to get to the other side, to see the fruit and the effect. We need faith to get to the other side, to allow God to fulfill His promise amidst the problems; we need faith to allow a dawn to scatter our darkness without giving up on the way there. It takes faith to get there. Sometimes, that act of faith, that yes will take everything that you’ve got.

As a result, you’ll receive God in a way you’ve never known Him before. As big as the battle was to get there, the beauty of Christ, newly experienced, eclipses the darkness. We will easily forget about the blood, the sweat, and the tears when you experience the new birth that was meant to serve.

Scripture, of course, expresses this through the image of a mother giving birth to her child. In the Gospel of John, the apostle talks about when a woman is in labor, the labor pangs are ferocious, excruciating. Maybe for some women the third, the fourth, the fifth child, it got a little bit easier, but the labor pains with the first one is never that easy.

The labor pangs of childbearing is what scripture refers to as analogous to the spiritual purifications that we have to pass through in walking by faith and not by sight; it is the faith that transforms in the fire of love.

I was there when my mother was giving birth to my awesome brother. It looked like she wasn’t going to make it. She was 38 years old at the time and it didn’t look like she was going to make it. In the middle of labor, she was ready to give up. It was scary.

And yet, after getting to a point of acute suffering, there is a breakthrough and the childbirth takes place. Our faith life is similar. Right at the place when it feels like we can take no more, something breaks loose. After the breakthrough, finally you’re able to take a breath and to recollect yourself and the pieces fall into place. And you have the child that’s put in your lap and in your arms. How easy it is to forget, to forget the pain and the cost of the sacrifice because a child is so worth it.

So too in our lives, Saint Therese says, suffering is required to save souls. If we want to save souls, we can’t expect to be exempt from the cross.

Ouch, I know it hurts. It hurts for all of us, but it’s the truth. It’s the reality. Yeah, it’s painful. Sometimes, you can feel the nails in your hands and in your feet, can’t you? You’re walking around with pierced hands and feet. Nobody sees it but you and God. It’s all part of seeking communion in an immaculate way with God Almighty in His perfect love. It’s all part of it.

But how can we be renewed when we’ve been wiped out by it? You know, when you’re just tired and sometimes, maybe even bored, not by God but by the other things that can misrepresent God or get in His way.

We’re called to reach out to Him anew, to seek His face, not so much in the marvelous, the extraordinary, or even the charismatic, but rather, in the presence of God that burns within us, who gives and reveals divine life, the life of the Trinity. We must allow ourselves to be caught up in that embrace (to be continued).

SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014. Copyright 2017, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: immaculate communion, divine life in Christ


Matthew 11:25-29 – 25 At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

We are called to come to rediscover the face of God. The true God revealed in Christ as a lover, our savior is essentially that – a warrior who is a lover, a lover who desires to bring about a beautiful revolution in our lives. We are called to come to rediscover the revelation of our wondrous God of Love who is looking for space in our hearts. He is looking for a place to pitch his tent in our souls, to be made flesh again in our lives.

This wondrous God calls us to be open to new growth and no one is exempt from this invitation to love. No one is excluded. No one is written of. No one is counted as not good enough. No one is counted as incapable of receiving what God wants to give. All are invited to this banquet of love because that’s who God is, and also, because that’s who we are. We are made in His image and likeness, which means we are made in the image and likeness of love; we re made for love, and it’s love that satisfies our hearts in this life, and it’s love alone that will last forever in the next.

This invitation, this call to love is ever ancient and ever new. It never gets old. It’s forever vital, and it’s what gives us vitality, not the call itself, but Him who calls. This is especially relevant to people who feel unable to change, to people who may feel stuck, who despite their best efforts, don’t see any difference.

In this talk, “Immaculate Communion: the light of Carmel, divine life in Christ,” I am going to communicate what that means gradually. My primary sources in expressing the gospel through this theme is sacred scripture and experience, first and foremost, and secondly, Saint John of the Cross’s Living Flame of Love, especially as it is captured by Ian Matthew in the Impact of God. I will be spring boarding and drawing from this text as a primary source, and seasoning with my own words. In the background, of course will be the Catechism of the Catholic Church because all the mystical theology, the grandeur of God’s love and how we’re called to experience that in Jesus Christ in a personal life-changing way, is all contained in the Catechism.

The Catechism is the sacred doctrine behind the liberating truths of God’s grace through the gospel of who Christ is, manifested in so many ways. In addition to the Catechism, to make it more fresh, and to give it that pulse of the Spirit, which I find so prominent in Pope Francis, I will be drawing from the first part of the Joy of Gospel.

We seek God because in some sense, we’ve already been sought out by Him. We’ve already been found by Him, and that’s why we have the thirst to look for Him, and to drive the extra mile to find Him. When the Lord says, ‘Seek and you will find,’ the word seek isn’t meant to be a wimpy expression. It’s not just, ‘Give it a shot. Try it out. If it doesn’t work, then let it go.’ Seek means hunt it down. Really go after it, and don’t let anything get in your way in finding it because it belongs to you. You have a birthright to have it. To get it, to find it, sometimes, you really have to fight for it. Sometimes, you have to be willing to take a beating to get it, but you will get it if you look for it with all your heart.

But what we’re looking for is not an it or a something, it’s Somebody. It’s not simply a treasure, or far less, a reward for the good that I do. The only reward that we’re after is Him. That’s it. He’s our only reward. He’s our only merit. He’s everything. He is our hope. Our trust is not in our work, it’s in His work. Our faith is not in my love for God, but God’s love for me. It’s that focus of faith that transforms, when the focus is on Him, and not on myself, on the relationship that He offers and not on the religion that I practice.

The two aren’t mutually exclusive; the relationship isn’t at odds with the religion. But the structure, the rubrics, the institutions behind the religion, and all the customs, and the doctrines, are all at the service of this transforming union. Every aspect of the Church that Jesus Christ established and founded on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith comes through the seven sacraments. The Church continues from generation to generation, in a very specific way, in a manifold manner of grace and truth.

The grace that comes thorough the sacraments, through the infallible Word of God, the infallible interpreter of the Word, the pillar and bulwark of the Church – this whole encompassing universal reality of love that Christ established in His is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, are all at the service of the transforming union of love, the enrichment of what Jesus means when He said, ‘I came that you might have life, and ever more abundantly.’

This is a call to freedom, to full-fledged freedom! To be fully human, fully alive, set free; to be the perfect fulfillment of your dreams, to get the most out of life possible. This is what Jesus came to offer. This is what Jesus came to provide by the sacrifice of His life in exchange for ours. The primary thing He needs to bring about this agreement, this covenant, this contract, this exchange, the primary requirement is faith. And faith isn’t always easy. Faith isn’t always easy. Our faith will be purified on so many levels, so many times, in so many ways that we never expected when we first said yes! And it’s when we say yes, even when it’s so hard to do so- that’s the faith that transforms. That’s the faith that allows God to perform miracles (to be continued).

SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014. Copyright 2017, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: August 26 – the transverberation of Saint Teresa of Avila II


The Transverberation of Saint Teresa (Sevilla) Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Transverberation of Saint Teresa (Sevilla) Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

NOTE: If you would like to get a virtual tour of the sepulcre where St. Teresa’s heart is kept, click on this Alba de Tormes link

St. Teresa was so profoundly the temple of the Holy Spirit. She was so filled with the zeal and spirit of Saint Elijah, that God’s love in her heart was confirmed through the Transverberation. The Transverberation is a special grace that is typical of souls whom God has exalted and elevated to the sixth mansion predominantly, but slightly overlapping with the seventh mansion. St. Teresa is famous to have received this grace.

She wasn’t the only one, of course. St. John of the Cross probably experienced it, but he just didn’t say it, which was very typical of St. John. He knew and expressed the grace so well that it’s likely that he also received the same grace. St. Thérese received something very similar to the Transverberation in the Choir of her convent. Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified, we know for a fact, received that grace, as did the most wonderful and illustrious St. Father Pio, in the confessional.

These special graces are insignias; they are signs of what God has done in a person’s soul already, but is manifesting in a special and specific way. In St. Teresa’s case, the Transverberation was such a profoundly spiritual experience that it had a physical effect, as the doctors found out when examining the mortal remains of St Teresa’s actual, physical heart. This is kind of perplexing and paradoxical because when we speak of the heart like the Sacred Heart of Jesus or when we speak of God dwelling in our “heart” we don’t necessarily mean specifically, the physical organ of the heart, but the center of the person’s soul. Nevertheless, St. Teresa’s physical heart did receive the effect of that spiritual manifestation.

These graces are accidentals in the lives of the saints. St. Teresa wasn’t declared or made a saint because she had these spiritual experiences. She was declared and made a saint because she had the infused virtues of what unites us to God: Faith, Hope, and Love! That’s what made her a saint! This is what is necessary. This is what is essential to be united with the splendor of God’s truth.

These infused virtues are most beautiful. They bestow the transfiguring love of God’s eternal life, enlarge our lives and enable us to share in His holiness. It was Saint Teresa’s cooperation with the grace of God’s inspirations, in obedience to His divine will that allowed the kingdom of God to make in her, His temple. That’s what made her a saint! Her ‘Yes,’ her fiat, her agape, her ‘Be it done unto me according to thy will. Here I am I was born for you! What do you want of me? I am yours!!’

That fundamental disposition is what led to St. Teresa’s transformation, and as the book of Hebrews says, ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God.’ In other words, without faith we’re not open to friendship with God. Our Lord says in so many ways in the gospels that it’s not enough to be religious. Being religious isn’t what saves us; it is obedience to His will and uniting our hearts to His, according to how He wants us to love – not in the way we want, in conformity to our comforts.

Jesus expresses this truth in the gospels when He says, ‘Not everybody who says Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my heavenly Father.’ In other words, we can be very religious, have statues and pictures, and even pray rosaries, but if we’re not living what we believe by aligning our lives with the love of God and how He asks us to love in our daily circumstance, then according to God, our talk is cheap. We need to live what we believe. When we say, ‘Yes,’ when we live what we believe and make that sacrifice, that death to self in order to be lifted up in Him – then that transformation can begin. Otherwise, our faith is superficial and only on the surface.

The saints show us what is beyond the surface, the depths of our own identity, the depths of who we are each called to be in His divine mercy. The saints reveal to us the glory of God’s love for everyone, for it is the saints who have the courage to say, ‘Yes’ to the maximum. The saints had the courage to let themselves be loved to the full. That’s all God wants of us – to let ourselves be loved to the full. This is a gift and the greatest gift we could possibly have – more than our physical life, more than our jobs, more than our own family, more than all the physical necessities of our daily life, or of what makes life pleasurable. Our greatest gift is faith! Without faith we have Nada! Nada! Nada! — Nothing!!

Without faith, even the beauty of the most magnificent churches passes away, for that beauty is only meant to point us to Him. It is meant to point us to Him in friendship. It is meant to inspire this ‘Yes Lord, live in me. Be it done unto me according to your will.’ Salvation began with the ‘Yes’ of Mary. God’s mission of the Messiah, Emmanuel, began to embrace the world with the simple ‘Yes’ of a woman so humble, with Mary just saying ‘Yes’ to Him.

Amidst this invitation and this beauty of what we are called to and who we are called to be in His love, there will be a battle. We hear in scriptures, in the reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians, that there is a battle; there is a spiritual world behind the material scenes of the world.  Our world is the stage where we will each decide whether we will be a winner or a loser; whether we will be victorious by saying ‘Yes’ to God’s love and allowing that to transform our lives; whether we are able to share in the only love that overcomes death and sin that cleanses us from within. And this decision will determine our ultimate destiny.

In order to be faithful to this love, we need to put on God’s armor in the midst of the battle. We need to be protected; we need to fight to defend this dignity. We need to fight a spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our primary General is Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent, who is full of grace and conceived without sin. It is she who can help us to be united to the victory of her Son.

As we prepare the stage of our lives, we ask Jesus for the grace to grow more and more in His love, in holiness and the perfection of charity. We ask that God’s love be brought to maturity in the whole of our identity and personality. In St. Teresa – this illustrious human being , in all of her warmth, intelligence, and humor of her personality – shines a love that is larger than life and out of this world. She points us to God’s love, as God draws us to Himself. Through the intercession of St. Teresa, may we receive the grace to be faithful to the end that our faith may be set fully on fire. Saint Teresa, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Alba de Tormes, Spain, 2014)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

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Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: the transverberation of Saint Teresa of Avila I


The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  (circa 1650)

This week we celebrate a wonderful occasion! We celebrate one of the most exquisite graces, one of the most special gifts that God did in Saint Teresa’s soul. We refer to that gift as the Transverberation. Saint Teresa is the seraphic doctor of the Church…seraphic meaning, that she is full with fire. Her greatest virtue, her greatest gift was the love of God.

In First Corinthians 13, Saint Paul writes, ‘If I have all of these things, and have not love, what does it amount to? It is useless, it is nothing.’ What does he use as examples? He doesn’t say, ‘If I have the latest pleasure in terms of a worldly treasure’, he doesn’t say, to use common terms, ‘If I have the latest Lexus, and have not love, I will be an empty dog,’ or ‘If I have all of these other legacies and luxuries, but have not love, I have nothing.’

Instead, as examples, Saint Paul uses the most amazing qualities of God’s grace in a soul! He refers to the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of tongues, and working mighty deeds through the power of faith, and miracles. If I have all these extraordinary gifts of God, to be such a warrior for the Lord…and yet have not love—nada…it amounts to nothing.

Saint Teresa’s greatest attribute, quality, and gift, were not the extraordinary mystical experiences she had. It was her love of God…and it was this love of God that was sealed; it was consummated through the experience of the Transverberation of her heart. We can date this with confidence to the year 1559. That’s important because she experienced the Transverberation, this mystical grace, three years before her first foundation of the renewed Carmel of St. Joseph, the first of her seventeen foundations.

It was not, as it was generally supposed, a single vision, as what many might assume from Bernini’s artwork and depiction of this experience. Rather, the vision was repeated several times over a period of days.

What happened? Saint Teresa describes what happened to her in her Life when she writes her autobiography under obedience to her spiritual director. In the 29th chapter of her Life, about halfway through it, she writes:

I saw in the hands of this beautiful cherubim angel a large golden dart and at the end of the iron tip there appeared to be a little fire. It seemed to me this angel plunged the dart several times into my heart that it reached deep within me [in Spanish she says, “it reached into my entrañas”]. When he drew it out, I thought he was carrying off with him the deepest part of me; and he left me all on fire with great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan, and the sweetness this greatest pain caused me was so superabundant that there is no desire capable of taking it away; nor is the soul content with less than God. The pain is not bodily but spiritual, although the body doesn’t fail to share in some of it, and even a great deal. The loving exchange that takes place between the soul and God is so sweet that I beg him in his goodness to give a taste of this love to anyone who thinks I am lying.

The entrañas… What is that depth of her being that was touched so intimately by God? Saint John of the Cross describes this as the intimate center of the substance of the soul; in common terms -the heart of hearts, the spirit, and the depth of one person’s being. Saint John of Cross says that God’s purpose in granting this kind of deep communication of Himself to someone else’s depth ‘is to exalt the soul, to enlarge it, and enrich it.’

Saint Teresa’s mystical experience must not be confused with mysticism, as it is popularly known on the level of cultural or television mysticism. On that secular level, mysticism is often associated as a grandiose or paranormal psychic adventure, and that’s not the point of this experience at all. For our holy mother, Saint Teresa, authentic mysticism always had an ecclesial dimension, in other words, genuine mysticism always involved mission for others; it wasn’t just for herself.

One of our Carmelite opening prayers expresses this aspect of mysticism leading to mission. ‘Almighty God, you filled the heart of Saint Teresa, our mother, with the fire of your love and gave her strength to undertake difficult tasks for the honor of your name.’

This is really important because Saint Teresa experienced the Transverberation before all of the marvels of her foundations…and before all that God did through her. Saint Teresa says about her mission in Carmel:

 ‘If our Lord hadn’t granted me the favors he did, it doesn’t seem to me that I would have had the courage for the works that were done or the strength to support the trials suffered and the statements and judgments made against me.   So after the foundations were begun, the fears I previously had in thinking that I was deceived, left me. I grew certain the work was God’s and so I threw myself into difficult tasks, although always with advice and under obedience. As a result, I understand that since our Lord desires to revive the original spirit of this order, and in His mercy he took me as a means, His majesty had to provide me with what I was lacking, which was everything, in order to get results and better manifest His greatest through so wretched a thing’ (referring to herself).

This grace was a catalyst, a turning point in her life, just like the Transfiguration was to the Apostles. The mystical experience that the three Apostles had on Mount Tabor of seeing Jesus transfigured, left a special mark on their souls and it prepared them for their mission…but more so, it prepared them to endure the crisis of the Cross before they were endowed and equipped for their mission. It was a special turning point.

In the life of Saint Teresa, Allison Peers writes, “At the time of the Transverberation, though she could not have known it, she was nearing the end of the quarter century during which she had been an obscure daughter of Carmel, and she was standing on the threshold of the lifework which was to make her be immortal.”

The Transfiguration in the lives of the Apostles, and the Transverberation in the life of Saint Teresa, show that God communicates Himself in times that we need Him most, and in the times that we need it most. An authentic relationship with God is always going to have an impact on our relationships with others. God’s grace, in granting us an extraordinary experience of His love, is always…that we may have an extraordinary love for others and be willing to share in His mission for the salvation of souls.

To use one Mass Offertory Prayer, ‘Lord God, we offer you this victim of charity, may He kindle in us a love as intense as that which let Saint Teresa of Ávila to offer herself a living sacrifice for the Church.’

May we, like our holy mother, Saint Teresa, have a generous, determined, and courageous spirit to endure all things for Christ who strengthens us…that we may be filled with the infinite fire of His divine love!  Saint Teresa, pray for us.

(SOURCE: San Jose, Mt. Saint Josephs Monastery Homily, STJ 500, 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

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Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

On this Solemnity, Father Robert Barcelos explains the victory over death that already belongs to those who follow Christ in Mary, and exhorts us to embrace that victory even when sometimes, it appears that we are without hope.

SOURCE:  Homily, 8/15/17, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Copyright 2017. Father Robert Barcelos, OCD.

Gospel:  Lk 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me,that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.


Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima and holy audacity

NOTE: I am reposting this talk with much better audio, so you can learn more about Jacinta’s beautiful soul. Big thanks to Jackie Johnson OCDS of St Therese, Alhambra for providing this recording for us!

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left.

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.)

Reading 1 – 2 Cor 3:4-11
Brothers and sisters:
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit
for anything as coming from us;
rather, our qualification comes from God,
who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant,
not of letter but of spirit;
for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious
that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses
because of its glory that was going to fade,
how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious,
the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.
Indeed, what was endowed with glory
has come to have no glory in this respect
because of the glory that surpasses it.
For if what was going to fade was glorious,
how much more will what endures be glorious.

Blessed Alexandrina: The Fourth Fatima Seer


Photo credit: thespeakroom.org. Blessed Alexandrina, Balasar Portugal 2017

Here is a short video with Father Robert standing in front of Blessed Alexandrina’s house. He explains how she hurt her spine, the paralyzing injury that she offered as a sacrifice in reparation for souls in need of God’s mercy. Thank you, Jackie Johnson, OCDS (Alhambra Community) for this video clip.

Click on the links below for more information on Blessed Alexandrina:

Mystics of the Church: Blessed Alexandrin da Costa – Mystic and Victim Soul

A Tribute to Blessed Alexandrina – a miracle of the Eucharist.


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