Father Robert Elias 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, Saint Therése Church, Alhambra, CA)

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

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 Elias 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 Elias 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 Elias 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, Saint Therése Church, Alhambra, CA)

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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

 

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.