Father Robert Elias, OCD: ‘Do you love me?’

Click on triangle to play. SOURCE: Santa Clara OCDS Friar’s Conference, May 2019.
Father Robert Elias, OCD

NOTE: I am reposting this to include the audio. All posts on The Speakroom in June will come from previous posts. Our team needs this month to work on back-end projects like developing more social media presence through Instagram, Facebook, Podcasts, and products on Shopify.

JOHN 21: 1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

by John August Swanson

One of the most popular books in the past is The Five Languages, a book about how people by their character, communicate love.  Most of us are better at one or two rather than all.  The languages are

  • Words of Affirmation – People who speak words of life in their ordinary life, are able to see the Lord in the other person; they can acknowledge a person’s beauty and purpose, and draw it out of them. They validate a person’s sense of being lovable; this gift is not that common
  • Touch – Giving expressions of love through embrace and touch
  • Actions – Giving through works of devotion & service; this gift is usually found in men (as in household repairs). Doing something that is helpful.
  • Gift giving – The ability to find and give gifts that expresses the essence of a person
  • Quality Time –Spending important time together.  Even though it doesn’t feel like we’re doing something productive, I’m here for you.

The gift of Quality Time is the lens through which we must understand prayer and contemplation – being with God.

In today’s Gospel Jesus asks Peter the most important question – Do you love me? The first two times he asks, Jesus says, in the Greek translation, “Do you agape me?”  He was asking Peter to go to the next level of living in His love.  Agape is that self-sacrificing, self-annihilating love.  It is a radical, divine love that we’re all capable of –but it requires stripping.  It is the white, hot love that is divine and eternal, yet it happens now.

Agape love is summarized in John 15, ‘That you lay down your life for the one you love.’  There has to be a sacrifice, a holocaust and cost to self for the other. As a result, the gift of self is amplified.

Our Lord asks this important question, ‘Do you love me?’ –  to Peter, who is being put on the spot in front of his friends by the charcoal fire. And he is being humbled by it that he may learn the lessons of humility in order for him to truly love. 

The last time Peter was at charcoal fire, he denied having known our Lord, when he had just earlier in the day, sworn that he would do anything for Him.  Peter’s disordered self-love prepared the way for his fall, though he really did love Jesus.   He really did love the Lord, but Peter was fearful. 

Peter reveals that fight between flesh and spirit in every human being, the weakness of humanity left to ourselves apart from the grace of God.  Left to ourselves, we’re no better; like Peter, our real character and virtues are seen in positions of adversities.

But Peter was transformed after his own experience of cowardice and weakness apart from Our Lord. We have to have a true sense of who we are apart from God so that pride can’t get in the way of real love –humility allows our soul to be better cultivated for a lasting fruit of Love that doesn’t come just from human motive, but from God.

In this exchange, Jesus calls Peter Simon, Son of John. Why?  Peter represents rock; Simon represents sand.  Peter is the title he had been endowed with by Christ-  ‘the boss in charge,’  ‘the head hancho.’  Jesus doesn’t call him by his title but by his humanity. He calls him by his old name, by which those who knew him as a child knew him, and reminds Peter who he is left to himself.

Jesus wants to speak to the child, the vulnerable in Peter because He wants to bring strength in his weakness.  He is bringing him back to Galilee, his first calling and first love.   As you remember, Jesus called Peter first as he was fishing.  Now, He is renewing Peter’s calling at a time when Peter was about to give up his vocation, and just wants to go back and continue fishing.

Jesus asks ‘Do you love me’ three times to make reparation for the three times Peter denied him.  In so doing, He gives Peter the chance to renew his calling and to repair his vocation to Love.  Now, Peter learns the humility and has the proper foundations to be a servant of Love.

In the Greek translation, Peter does not respond with the agape word for love, but with the word, eros, which is a friendship love.  Before, when he overestimated himself, he could say that he could give Jesus the agape love.  But now, after having been humbled, he is finally acknowledging and can admit that he can’t love Jesus in the way Jesus has loved him. 

The third time, Jesus asks the question, He says, ‘Do you eros me,’ and that is when Peter is able to say, ‘Yes, Lord.’  This shows us that Jesus accepts us as we are and not as we should be.  The Lord knew that Peter had no more to give and wasn’t ready to give an agape love, but He still appointed him to be the leader and shepherd of His Church.

Jesus accepts us as long as we are giving all that we can give, and it is His Love that allows as to grow in Love.  According to Saints John of the Cross and Teresa, we are unable to give that agape love until the 5th mansion, which is where the Holy Spirit is doing all the work.  We can’t get to agape love without the Holy Spirit.  

But before that, God has to purify us, and we have to be willing to undergo the painful, humiliating journey.

Eventually, at Pentecost, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, after he had been purified, Peter is able to love with the agape love.  After Pentecost, Peter is able to rejoice that he was counted worthy to suffer insult for the sake of Jesus’ name.  Only the agape love of the Holy Spirit was able to bring this about in Peter and can bring it about in us.

Jesus’s love is so profoundly and scandalously humble. In the Book of Revelations, we see the lamb being glorified and exalted. Why not the eagle or the lion?  The lamb is the sacrificial animal, which represents the sacrifice of Love. The Most High became the most low for our sake.  He didn’t need to do it; God doesn’t need anything. But He did it all for us.  He says, ‘I am giving my life – for those whom I love.’

The whole universe exalts in the victory of the Lamb.

From the shore of Galilee, Jesus asks the disciples to put the net on the right side of the boat. The moment Peter obeyed, he received a super abundance of grace.

Peter had to be stripped and emptied, which is represented by his ‘stripped’ clothing during this account, when he tucks his garments and swims toward Jesus after recognizing Him. Similarly, once we choose God’s will over ours, and strip ourselves, that is when we really begin to live a more abundant life, through the Lord’s provision and not what we do ourselves. 

At first the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, which represents a spiritual journey that involves a dynamism of awareness and mystery.  They only realized who he was at the breaking of the bread and at the feeding of fish, and when He acknowledges that He will feed them with that agape love.

The humility of God is so radical. When St. Augustine had not yet discovered God in his life, when he was seeking truths in the wisdom of the day and all its eloquence, he was at first disappointed by Scripture; it was too simple and lacked the language of the sages he studied.  However, as he grew in faith, he discovered the hidden wisdom of Christ that exuded from scripture. 

That is how God always works – he chooses the humble instruments to hide His grace. Only the humble can find the hidden treasure.

In Eastern iconography, the paintings are stark, but they are a bridge to prayer. Only when a person enters into the simplicity of the image in prayer, can they experience God’s grace and beauty in the icon.  Only through prayer can that be received.

And there’s nothing more humble than the Eucharist, which is where we receive God’s agape love.  He calls all of us to be his lambs and to live a life of Love.  He trains us through a life that is nourished by sacrifice; this is the action of God’s movement in us. 

The measure by which we unite ourselves with the light of Love through The Lamb, and the transformation of love in this life, is the measure that we will we share in His blessing forever and ever.

SOURCE: Santa Clara Order of Discalced Carmelite Seculars (OCDS) Formation, Father Robert Elias Barcelos, May 2019

Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD: The Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast Day Homily by Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD – Mount Saint Josephs Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA  (2018)

NOTE: Click on the triangle to play.

(Fatima, 2017)

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

Photo credit: The Speakroom, (Rome 2018)

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, 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.

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

 

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

Photo credit: The Speakroom (Rome, 2018)

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, 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.

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

Father Robert Elias 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:  Santa Clara OCDS Meeting).

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 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.

FullSizeRender

Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Feast Day July 16

Mt. Saint Joseph Carmelite Monastery, San Jose, CA