When encountering suffering—whether in ourselves or in someone else—the important question is not “How can God love us when these things are allowed to happen? but rather “We know that God loves us, so what is God’s meaning in allowing such sufferings?”
‘Why doesn’t God, who is almighty, interfere?” many ask. But God’s power is the power of love. And “love” is patient, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things” (1 Cor 13:4, 7).
God refuses to be dragged into the spiral of violence. If God were to use power and authority to end all evil in the world, he would be no better than we are. God does not dictate; he respects us.
God has given us the unfathomable honor of letting us be collaborators in the work of creation. He has shared his intelligence and freedom with us and let us participate in the completion of creation. That God has taken a great risk in doing so is something we experience daily.
But God has esteemed us so highly as co-creators that he doesn’t hesitate to pay the price.
If God wasn’t love, it would be easy for an all-powerful God to take away our freedom and reduce us to marionettes and mechanical puppets. Then everything in the world would be perfect. But we would also be robbed of our dignity.
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
O Lonely Christ of Charing Cross
O lonely Christ of Charing Cross, Rue de la Paix, Boulevard Anspach; O lonely Christ of a thousand celebrated thoroughfares and foreign-sounding streets. Why is it that I have to meet you here, so far from home, When I have seen you lonely, too, in Harlem and Fifth Avenue? In Edmonton, Yukon, and Portland, Oregon; in Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Kalamazoo, you were lonely too.
O lonely Christ of everywhere, why stand you there and here, so still, so sad, looking at the hurrying crowds who pass you by—Why?
Why are your eyes so full of hunger, longing, pity and compassion? Why do you lift your nail-torn hand and then let it fall again with so much sadness, as though you were a beggar about to beg, alas?
Why is it that I have to meet you across all continents, all celebrated thoroughfares, small, dingy streets and palatial avenues, as well as wild and distant places?
You answer nothing. You just look. O Christ of Charing Cross, so lonely, you weep because the multitudes are hungry for your love and know it not. And because you hunger to be loved by those who know you not.
Give me the key, Beloved, so that I may open your loneliness and, entering, share its weight. Behold my heart that you have wounded with your love. Make it a door for all to come to you. Give me your voice and words of fire that I may show them you.
Grace guards that moment when the spirit halts to watch the Magdalen in the mad turbulence that was her love. Light hallows those who think about her when she broke through crowds to the Master’s feet or ran on Easter morning, her hair wind-tumbled and her cloak awry. What to her need were the restrictions of earth’s vain formalities? She sought, as love so often seeks and finds, a Radiance that died or seemed to die.
One can surmise she went to Calvary distraught and weeping, and with loud lament clung to the cross and beat upon its wood till Christ’s torn veins spread a soft covering over her hair and face and colored gown. She took her First Communion in His Blood.
O the tumultuous Magdalen! But those who come upon her in the hush of love claim the last graces. A wild parakeet ceded its being to a mourning dove, as Bethany had prophesied. We give to Old Provence that solitude’s location where her love brooded, too contemplative to lift the brief distraction of a wing. There she became a living consecration to one remembering.
Magdalen, first to drink the fountained Christ Whose crimson-signing stills our creature stir, is the Blood’s mystic. Was it not the weight of the warm Blood that slowed and silenced her?
~ A Poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
“Most of all I imitate the behavior of Mary Magdalene, for her amazing – or, rather, loving – audacity which delighted the heart of Jesus, has cast its spell upon mine.”
– St. Therese of Lisieux, O.C.D.
Wishing all of you a very blessed feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene!
Saint Mary of Magdala, apostle of the apostles, ora pro nobis!
This is the edge of time; this cliff encounters the valleys of the measureless unknown and the great surges of those outer seas where swim Orion and the Pleiades. I like to come here in the night alone.
I like to seek this arched and alien window, lean into night and lift my restless love to pastures where an ancient prophet tethered horses of fire. I cry, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the driver thereof!”
Where dwells this lonely eremite I know not, hid by what torrent, by what ravens fed; but when the moon suggests his solitude, my mind has taste of an unearthly food; where the night shines, my heart is visited.
He who has swept by fire to time’s suspension, yet to be slain and in the judgement tried— is he not closer to our human pity than those who triumph in a lasting city, the far impassible beatified?
Here I touch space that borders the eternal; here, undistracted by the clock’s poor rhyme, I stand, an emigrant of earth whose place is nearer heaven, being near to grace, and hold my heart out, over the sill of time.
~ A Poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
Wishing all of you a very blessed feast day of Saint Elijah, Leader and Father of Carmelites!
O Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.
Devotion to our Lady of Mount Carmel indicates a strong call to the interior life, which, in a very special way, is Mary’s life. The Blessed Virgin wants us to resemble her in her heart and mind much more than in externals. If we penetrate into Mary’s soul, we see that grace produced in her a very rich interior life: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted giving of herself to God, and of constant contact and intimate union with Him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone where no creature has ever left an imprint; here reign love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men.
Those who wish to live truly devoted to our Lady of Mount Carmel, must follow Mary into the depths of the interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, of life wholly consecrated to seeking God and tending wholly toward the divine intimacy; and she who best realizes this very high ideal is Mary, Queen, Beauty of Carmel. “Judgement shall dwell in the wilderness and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness and security forever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence.” These verses, taken from Isaias (32, 16-18) and repeated in the Office proper to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, delineate very well the contemplative spirit and, at the same time , they are a beautiful picture of Mary’s soul which is a real “garden” (Carmel in Hebrew signifies garden) of virtues, an oasis of silence and peace, where justice and equity reign; and oasis of security completely enveloped in the shadow of God, and filled with God. Every interior soul, even if living amid the tumult of the world, must strive to reach this peace, this interior silence, which alone makes continual contact with God possible. It is our passions and attachments that make noise within us, that disturb our peace of mind and interrupt our intimate converse with God. Only the soul that is wholly detached and in complete control of its passions can, like Mary, be a solitary, silent “garden” where God will find His delights. This is the grace we ask of Our Lady today when we choose her to be the Queen and mistress of our interior life.
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
Wishing all of you a very Blessed Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
I entered into the dim lit chapel and there you are sitting with your beloved holy child in your arms. I sat nearby and began to pray, then you turned your gaze to me and invited me to enter into your sacred and tender heart.
Oh Mother of Carmel, your brown habit and your blessed baby’s white spotless tunic, so beautiful and pure. Am I dreaming? Am I awake? This precious moment by your side, in your presence. I can’t help but to reflect on your life with your divine baby, Jesus. In your arms cuddling with you, while you tenderly and carefully took care of him and his needs.
How many times a day would you have contemplated his holy face? I’m sure you were mesmerized by his sweetness and gentleness. Those tender moments of intimate bonding with you and Joseph—those days living with him, watching him grow and play happily in your sacred space, being safe in your holy home.
And when evening came, I can picture Joseph resting peacefully in his bed watching you both cuddle with each other while getting ready to sleep. How many prayers did you recite him? Did you talk to him about his Abba?
And at dawn, your precious child waking up in your arms and looking at your motherly loving eyes. Your face was his first sight after his peaceful and restful night as he encountered the look of love. Then, after you fed him, you wrapped him in your arms and embraced him so close to you with so much tenderness and profound love that your hearts were beating as one.
All those precious moments, you pondered in your heart. So blessed, such intimate moments with God’s Son. Oh, Mother most holy! How was your heart keeping it all together? Filled with so much love and wonder!
Then, Jesus grew into a beautiful and gentle child. Always by your side and Joseph’s. So eager to learn the things of his Father. Those quiet and silent years of solitude and communion together as a holy family in Nazareth. Living together in pure contemplation. Those moments of intimate conversations and prayer at home, the three of you.
Then, comes that fateful trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover—How many times you travelled that route, but this time was different. On your way back, you and Joseph realized that your beloved child wasn’t there in the caravan with the group. The anguish that you both must have felt. I could only imagine. Those terrible days searching for him everywhere and not finding Jesus. Till you went to the Temple, and found him there talking with the elders and scribes. In his Father’s house.
Oh holy Mother! What did your heart understand at that moment? What did God the Father reveal to you and Joseph? And Jesus telling you— He’s doing the things of his Father—preparing for his mission ahead. Did you understand the enormity of it? Did your heart receive the gift of detachment then? To surrender your Son to his Father totally?
How difficult this must have been for you! You trust in God and you ponder all these things in your heart. Teach me Mother of love, to ponder the things of God in my heart, to trust Him completely, to seek God’s will alone in my life.
Holy Mother of Carmel, and Mother of mine, this is my prayer: May our hearts always learn to trust in the Lord. May our hearts always learn to love God more and more. May we always live to love Him for ever more.
As I leave the Chapel, I gaze at your loving eyes Blessed Mother and I thank you for this encounter and for this special moment of grace. To God be all the glory!
That long brown habit hanging on the door recalls me a solid human body, tall and straight, reliable and steady as Gibraltar, the guard of that ancient sea and all its craft.
I touch it with my reverent hands I rest my cheek against it. I feel at home and safe at last, within our mutual Beloved’s arms; He holds me lest I fall. He has my head against his heart. His left hand clasps it close, his right hand “doth embrace me.” Such indestructible enclosure makes me laugh at threats and turns my tears to precious stones he links into a chaplet and puts upon my head.
The brown habit was your robe when you said Mass for us within my home— a blessing and a treasure past all reckoning and it was you who brought it to me across the heaving oceans and cold, autumn skies, and then presented it as gift and grace adornment for my poverty, crowning for my solitude, proof of the Christed love between us.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears…” ~ Psalm 56:8
There is a mystery about tears sometimes, when they appear as gift divine, descending like a torrent or a flood which nothing can deter or stop or dam. They come unbidden, swift. Their flow is free, and yet they are a weight that prostrates a soul to earth and seems to push it in the dirt, until the soul is one with it.
There is a mystery about tears sometimes, as if they were not human but divine; as if the heart of God could not contain its pain and in his love has found someone to share his tears.
There is a mystery about tears sometimes, when one knows, without knowing, that his soul must cry. For only tears like these can pierce a stony heart that does not want to love.
~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
“You’ll make me cry!” His gentle fingers stroked her cheek. “You couldn’t— even if you tried. No one ever mourns or weeps once they’ve arrived and known the true embrace, the everlasting kiss of peace.”
~ An excerpt from the poem ‘Dialogue” by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.
We bear a tremendous responsibility for one another.
Each of us is a minister of Christ.
Each of us has to witness to him.
Everything we do, say, or even think has either a positive
or negative effect on others.
Nothing is neutral.
Bad example, carelessness about faults, lack of charity;
all these things effect the purity and love of a community.
And following from that weaken the charity of the whole Church.
St Paul entreats us no to trifle with the precious grace of God.
This grace, which is nothing less than God offering himself is available now.
Now is the acceptable time,
Now is the significant time.
If we had a lively faith, grasped this fact, we would indeed give no offence —
put no obstacle in another’s way.
Do not trifle with the precious gift of God.
~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.
For a Proud Friend, Humbled
In that least place to which all mercies come I find you now, settled in peace, at home, poor little one of Yahweh.
On your face only response of love lies, with no trace or drifting hint of what had brought you low.
Down steps of like unworthiness I go weighted with heart (and how heart can oppress!) to see you humbled into gentleness (and into innocence) so utterly.
Pray me, my blessed, into your company.
~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.