Father Matthew Williams, OCD: Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16

San Jose Mercury News (7/15/16) – Three Berkeley students missing, a fourth dead after a terror attack in France

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John 19 26-27

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag’dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”

It is with great joy that we gather to praise this woman of faith, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We thank her for her protection over the Carmelite Order, and over all peoples, as we look to her as our example of discipleship that we are called to follow.

We know that from the very first, the original founders of Carmel had a deep, abiding love and devotion to Our Lady. History tells us that the first chapel of the Carmelites on Mount Carmel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was her who provided inspiration to the first hermits; it was she who watched over these men of faith as her own sons, guiding them to Jesus.

As we come to this mass, under the protective mantle of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the gospel account of Mary and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross, gives us two insights on how we can imitate the Virgin Mary in our own walk as disciples.

The first insight is this: As the Virgin Mary followed Jesus, her son, we are to do the same. If there is one characteristic that is clear from the gospel accounts of Mary, it is that she follows Jesus every step of the way in His journey to His passion, death and resurrection. She is there, of course, at the Annunciation, when the Holy Spirit overshadows her. She is there at the Presentation of Jesus, where Simeon prophecies of Jesus being the Savior of the world, while at the same time telling Mary about the sword of sorrow that will pierce her heart. She is there at the first miracle of Christ, the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns the water into wine, and thus saves a young couple’s wedding feast. Mary follows Jesus as he journeys throughout Galilee and Judah, proclaiming the kingdom of God. Finally, the Virgin Mary is here, at the foot of the cross, where she is witnessing the death of her son.

This image of Mary, at the foot of the cross, is so important for us in today’s world. We live in a time of tremendous violence. Week after week we see examples of death coming suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically. A truck drives into a crowd, and eighty-four innocent people lose their lives. Policemen killed because of hatred. Seemingly innocent people, gunned down. Not only that, but we continue to see and feel in our world hatred, injustice, racism, intolerance, and it is overwhelming, it is distressing, we experience our seeming helplessness, and we wonder: how do I live my faith in the midst of so much violence?

How to live my faith? By doing what the Virgin Mary did: follow Jesus. St. Paul tells us to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2Cor. 5:7), and that is what she did. With the eyes of the world, Mary can see violence committing evil upon her son. With the eyes of the world, she can see that her son lost the battle, and Jesus will die and be forgotten. But Mary walked by faith, not by sight. By faith she knows that death, sin, evil, the forces of darkness cannot overcome the power of her Son, Jesus our Lord. In the depths of her Immaculate Heart, she knows that victory belongs her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This our invitation to imitate Our Lady of Mount Carmel, by following Jesus as she did, even unto the cross, and by faith, know that victory belongs to God. So, we, like the Virgin Mary can see and experience the violence around us in our world, but we, like Mary, continue to walk by faith, following wherever Jesus leads us, for we know that it is only in Jesus, only through the power of His resurrection, that we and the world will be saved. Evil can never have the last word; rather it is our crucified Savior, who gains victory over all evil, that has the last word. We might not see it now, but like the Virgin Mary, we walk by faith and not by sight, and by faith we know that when we follow Jesus as Mary did, the forces of sin, death, and darkness will never have final victory over us.

Our second insight is this: like the Beloved Disciple, we need to make a home for the Virgin Mary. This is what the first hermits did on Mount Carmel; they made a home for Mary, where she is welcomed and treasured. We are being invited by Jesus to do that very thing today – make a home for Mary.

The first place where we need to invite Mary is in our hearts. The problems and violence of today’s world is not so much a problem of laws (though they are important), but a heart problem. Jesus tells us: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Mt. 15. 19-20)

The heart is where true discipleship takes place; it is where we focus upon Jesus, the mystery of Jesus in us, Jesus in our hearts, and this is where the Carmelite life is lived. To have our hearts centered upon Christ, as is that Immaculate Heart of Mary, is what we strive for as Carmelites; this intention is ever before us, for as Jesus becomes the center of our hearts, we are able to share with others the great wonder that is faith in Christ.

Secondly, we become welcoming in our relations with others, for that is what the Beloved Disciple did when commanded by Jesus to make a home for Mary – he welcomed her. This welcome to Mary is extended by us to all those that we encounter in the church and in the world. The Beloved Disciple welcomes the Mother of all the faithful, and he did that at the foot of the cross. The violence of the cross did not harden the heart of either Mary, nor of the Beloved Disciple, but enlarged them – this is our vocation in today’s world, to realize that at the foot of the cross, and new family of humankind is being formed by Jesus, a family that is led by a holy mother, where her sons and daughters imitate her, with enlarged hearts, as they welcomed each other through the power and glory of Jesus from the cross.

These two invitations, imitating the Virgin Mary by following Jesus as she did, and taking Mary into our very lives, is what marks Carmelite devotion to Our Lady. We give our lives to Jesus, as did Mary. We invite Mary into our very lives, as Mary did, and have our hearts become like her Immaculate Heart. When we do this, we will truly become like those first hermits that lived on Mount Carmel, we will be like that great cloud of Carmelite witnesses, like St. Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, like all those great men and women of Carmel whose names we do not know, like living saints, disciples of Jesus, following the example of the Virgin Mary.

We ask Our Lady of Mount Carmel to pray for us, so that the Holy Spirit will come upon us and overshadow us, like it did her. That our hearts will be like hers, so that we can live in the presence of her son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, worshiping and praising the Holy Trinity, in the company of all saints, for all eternity.

Copyright Fr. Matthew Williams, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena, Day 9

 ravennaiconinyork06Saint Brocard (left), prior of the hermits on Mount Carmel and recipient of the Rule of Saint Albert, and the prophet Elijah (right)

A PRAYER

Abba, Father. We exalt you, through Yeshua, your awesome Son, our beloved Savior, who promised that we who believe in You through Him, that supernatural wellsprings would open up inside of our souls, springing up Your infinite presence.

We exalt You, Lord. We magnify You.  In  allowing our hearts to be exposed to Your light, and coming before Your Face in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, may the impact of Your profound mercy embrace us, Lord, for You are Emmanuel, God with us. The same yesterday, right here, right now, as You are in eternity.

Lord, overwhelm us with Your love and Your truth that we may be consumed and taken ever more deeply, and closer to You. Father, I pray in Jesus, that all our guardian angels may intercede and stand watch at our side, that all the entities that are opposed to our alliance with You may be bound, diminished, and expelled.

May the Holy Spirit saturate us in all the areas we need to be instructed and loved, to find freedom and hope. I ask Saint Gabriel, the first to announce the gospel to give us His blessing, that we may experience new birth in the Word, that Jesus may be made flesh in our humanity.

With Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we magnify you.  Lord God, we come before You as our King. We ask You to come in triumph and reign. Rain down the triumph of Your Spirit. Overshadow us with the power of the Most High that we may understand how truly awesome and real, how ravishingly great you are.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, AMEN.

May almighty God, bless us, protect us from evil and bring us to everlasting life.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Opening Prayer, Young Adult Retreat 2011. “The True Rebellion of Saints”)

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

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

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 8

 

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The Crucifixion

In the Book of Kings, after Elijah prayed seven times, ‘the rain fell in torrents’ because of Elijah’s prayer. The Book of James chapter 5 says that there is power in prayer with faith than can move mountains, and it recalls Saint Elijah as an example of a powerhouse person of faith in prayer. James says, ‘If you have the faith in God’s promise, nothing will be impossible for you.’

‘Then the rain fell in torrents’ on the Mount of Carmel. This is a symbol of the outpouring of the Spirit in power. Yet before the outpouring, what happened? ‘The sky grew dark with clouds and storm.’ In our natural world, before the rain really comes down, it looks dark and spooky. Many times, just before a breakthrough, we need to hit rock bottom. Sometimes, when striving for the season of unprecedented favor, things get worst before they get better.

Look at the cross and resurrection. Everything escalated and there was a momentum that was building. Jesus became more and more amazing, and everyone was ready for something spectacular. The best was yet to come. But before they got there – the scandal of the cross! This totally disillusioned His followers. The persecution and the opposition became more fierce. They were expecting the best, yet the worst smacked them, as Jesus suffered before them. So too in our lives. There’s a momentum of God acting. And just before the really big outpouring, come the dark clouds, the storms in our lives.

What seemed to be a terrible setback became a set-up for tremendous blessings. Trials were transformed into triumphs. St. Paul says, the proof that you are chosen and blessed is when you experience that surging of the Spirit inside; that holy longing for greater union with God; that deep spiritual desire springing up from within, reaching out toward eternity. Jesus says, ‘For those who believe in me, a wellspring shall flow from their heart, reaching out into eternal life.’ Saint Paul says, ‘The Spirit within you cries out, Abba! Father! My Lord, and my God!’

Jesus Christ is Lord, and to say it from the deepest part of yourself, because there has been an encounter that has brought about a conviction from experience is the proof, He says, that ‘You are blessed. You belong to me, the Lord God of hosts.’ When you are able to taste that, there are moments that are so good that you cannot help but say, ‘I never knew life could be this good. I never knew it could be this good. Somebody catch me because I’m falling in love!’ When God’s Holy Spirit comes upon us, we begin to fall in love with God.

Saint Paul says, ‘We are no longer slaves.’ We’re no longer fans of Jesus – we’re friends. We are no longer a Catholic because of culture or obligation, but because of conviction, which has brought about the most amazing celebration. You have to fan the flames and don’t let nothing or nobody stop you from being a child of God, the saint you are made to be. Harness the chariot. Get ready. It’s not going to be easy, but don’t let anything stop you from getting to the top of Mount Carmel, from living your God-given purpose.

One great Carmelite said, ‘The ascent is arduous, but the summit is bathed in sunlight.’ God bless you. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(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.

FullSizeRenderOur Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 7

Sunrise over SF Bay, June 2016
Sunrise over SF Bay, June 2016

 

In living out our vocation, we must always remember the lesson taught to us by St. Elijah’s faithfulness of prayer on the Mount of Carmel. The spirit realm precedes everything that comes to pass in the natural realm. We have to be totally convinced of God’s presence and His purpose for our life, as active in our lives.  We have to believe it in our hearts and receive it. Once that belief has taken root in our minds, and taken shape in our hearts, God’s plan for us will begin to happen.

You have to believe it here, in your heart, before it can take shape out there, in the situations of your life. We need to be ripe to receive what God has promised. There’s an appointed time. Some of us have not received the greater outpouring of the Spirit because we’re not ready for it yet.

In the Acts of the Apostles, before Pentecost, in the first chapter, Jesus says to his apostles, ‘I want you to prepare yourselves for the promise of the Father, who will come upon you with power.’ And they said, ‘Really? When is it going to happen? When are you going to do this? When are you going to do that?’ But Jesus replies, ‘Wait, hold on! It’s not for you to know times and seasons.’ They were trying to fit God into their calendar. They wanted to know the details of how God was going to do what He was going to do. Jesus says to them, ‘I promise to bless you abundantly, but not necessarily according to your expectations or schedule. You’re not going to know the time, or the season, but I will be there.’

‘I will be with you. I promise.’

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.

FullSizeRenderOur Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16
 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena,Day 6

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That brings us to the Scapular: What is the scapular? It represents a sign of our devotion to Mary, a sign in our hearts of our belonging to our mother, who is also the Mother of God.   It is a gift of ownership. The scapular is a sign of being wrapped in her mantle – the covering of protection, as a mother protects and guards her child.

When we wear the scapular, we also accept her purity, which in turn,  protects us.   Yet the scapular should not be worn superstitiously. Those who wear the scapular must recognize the responsibility of living out a life of purity. We must be reminded of our identity and our belonging to Jesus, through the offering of His mother.

The offering of ourselves that Mary makes to Jesus,  mirrors the Mass in the Eucharist. During the Offertory, something that is initially represented as the bread and wine, becomes something new in Christ. The bread and wine represent our lives. As they are transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, we too must be transformed, and become new, so as to be more and more united to Christ.

Everything, who we were this past week, and what we will become in this new week; everything about us must be offered to Him that we may be united to His Sacrifice, which will give new meaning into our lives. Our spiritual progress must be worked out in seeking the perfection of charity, in the practice of love.

In John 17, Jesus says, ‘Father, you have given me the gift of faith to realize I was made for you. I offer my life in union with your self-offering as a sacrifice of praise and glory to you. Use me according to your will.’ Our lives must become an act of thanksgiving to God in sacrifice. As a result, we become a part of Christ’s sacrifice in a new way.

To live the Mass is to live in His charity, so that a freshness, through the power of the Holy Spirit can come forth. Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ He is the vine, the garden of Carmel; we are His branches. We must allow ourselves to be pruned so that He may produce abundant fruit in us. Our vocation is to mirror Jesus’ love for Mary and Mary’s love for Jesus.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(Source: May 2015, Santa Clara OCDS Meeting Notes).

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

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

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA, Feast Day July 16

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Mt Carmel Novena, Day 5

 

Carmelite Monastery, Cebu Philippines

What does the title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, represent? How does this title fit and represent Mary? Our Lady is the patroness of contemplatives. Through the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we seek her assistance through our contemplative lives.

Our Church has several litanies of Our Lord and of the Blessed Mother, which try to express the grandeurs of the grace of God. Contemplating and praying the litanies is like looking at a crystal, and looking at the Son and Our Lady at different angles. The Litany to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the Litany of Loreto, for example attempt to give us a glimpse of who Mary is in God’s eyes.

However, these litanies cannot express it all. In God’s eyes, Mary is tremendous and we can never give her more honor than the honor that Jesus gave to her. Our separated brothers and sisters have a genuine love for Our Lord, but they do not understand why we place so much importance in Mary. But as a vessel for our Lord, she surpasses every human being in purity and perfection.

Think of Mary in Scripture. There, she is depicted as trustful and pondering on the Word. When Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart, she remains quiet, and ‘keeps these things in her heart.’ At the foot of the crucified Christ, she ‘wept’ silently, yet she never turns her eyes away from her son. We too must be trusting, silent, obedient, and clinging to the promise of God’s presence. She is the patroness of those seeking union and quiet in God.

The meaning of the word, Carmel, is ‘The garden of God.’ Carem – el. Carem means garden, a lush orchard; el stands for Elohim.  Those of you who have visited the Holy Land know that Mount Carmel is not just a single mountain. Carmel is a whole mountain range that runs alongside the Mediterranean Sea. It has the highest elevation and its soil is very rich. Lush flowers and plants can be found there, a fertile ground for life. From the time of Elijah to today, people have sought the mountain of Carmel for prayer, and to seek union with God.

Part of living the contemplative life is for our soul to be a fertile ground and soil so that our lives may bear fruit through grace. Mary is the model and guide par excellence, for this life of love and contemplation. She still had to endure the pain of obscurity and suffering, but through her life of prayer and obedience, her beauty stands out among humans as magnificent and insurpassable. We too, as followers of Christ are called to be bathed in the beauty of God’s glory. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

(Source: May 2015, Santa Clara OCDS Meeting Notes).

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

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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 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.

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 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.

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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 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