Night Prayer: To The Prophet Elijah

Prophet Elias

Prophet Elijah ~ Encaustic icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai – VII century

 

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. 

 

Grotto of St Elijah

Interior of the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa, Israel. It is the largest Carmelite Monastery and world center of the Order, built on the site of earlier churches and monasteries of the Byzantine and Crusader periods. The Church was built over a cave associated with the prophets Elijah and Elisha. (Photo credit to Rafael Gomez)

 

Stella Maris

The cave of Saint Elijah is a grotto written about in the Hebrew Bible, where the prophet Elijah took shelter during a journey into the wilderness (1 Kings 19:8). Photo taken by me during my pilgrimage to Israel in October 2010.

 

candles at the grotto

Inside St. Elijah’s grotto … Four candles lit by me ❤ prayers offered for my family and for others intentions. Photo taken by me.

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed feast day of Saint Elijah, Leader and Father of Carmelites! 

Holy Prophet Elijah, ora pro nobis!

Like The Bright Seraphim

under is wings2

In The Shadow of Your Wings, art by Daniel F. Gerhartz

 

Like your bright brothers seraphim
who veil their faces with their wings,
you hide your face, and yet I know
that when the pinions stir and blow
you peer at God and me and things.

I love those glances of your soul,
so shyly sent. I stand aside and watch,
with deeper pleasurings,
the hidden face behind the wings,
a Sanctus waiting to be cried.

Ah, guard this native secrecy!
Know, child: those angels chief in grace
who stir when Splendor breathes His name
and wake and slumber in His flame
alone use wings to hide their face.

~ A Poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

Flower of Carmel

 


O Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.


 

Our Lady of Mt Carmel photo taken by me in Alba de Tormes

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, photo taken by me at Iglesia de la Anunciacion y Sepulcro de Santa Teresa de Jesus in Alba de Tormes, Spain on July 16th, 2017

 
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!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Star of the Sea

 

Mary, Mother of Carmel, Mother of Mine

Decor Carmeli

Décor Carmeli, Taranto, Italy (Unknown artist)

 

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!

Mater Salvatoris, Flos Carmeli, ora pro nobis!

~ My Personal Reflection

 

Virgen del Carmen y yo en Toledo

Last year’s visit to the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, Spain. This photo of me is taken a few days prior to the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Unforgettable blessed days in Spain ❤

 

 

A Brown Habit

 

Carmelite Brown habit

Photo source unknown

 

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.

~ A poem by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Carmelite Scapular2

 

~ What is the Brown Scapular?
http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/what-brown-scapular

~ The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Fr. Camilo Maccise OCD, Prior General.
http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/brown-scapular-our-lady-mount-carmel

~ Brown Scapular Catechesis: 
http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/scapular-catechesis

~ Brown Scapular: A “Silent Devotion” By Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD
http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/brown-scapular-silent-devotion

 

Investiture of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Saturday, June 16th, 2012 Feast of The Immaculate Heart of Mary ~ A visit to the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of St. Joseph with our OCDS communities. Holy Mass presided by Father Dominic, my Admission to Formation to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites and Receiving the Brown Scapular of the Order… A very special and blessed day… Eternally grateful!

 

 

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Mystery of Tears

 


“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears…” ~ Psalm 56:8


 

woman art by karen wallis

Art by Karen Wallis

 

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. 

 

 

Gift and Witness

 


If only you knew the gift of God. ~ John 4:10


 

blue jay

Photo credit to Jeffry Westerhoff

 

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.

 

friends by the water

Photo source unknown

 

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.

 

 

Thoughts on Contemplative Life

 


“All things hide a mystery; all things are veils hiding God.”
~ Blaise Pascal


 

bird art by susan hall

Contemplation, art by Susan Hall

 

The vast separation between the good life and the holy life is always far more than we realize. The difference is not evident simply in the exterior activity of life. The generous accomplishments of a good person may outshine the limited works of the holy person. What distinguishes the holy person is the interior quality of a soul seeking God, and this is often not seen so visibly. The good life will always be observable to some degree, but whether or not a life is truly holy can easily be concealed in its essential truth. The most important acts of a holy life take place in secret, within quiet depths of the soul. And these most important acts are the offerings it makes for others. There is no great love of God unless a soul is great in offering itself for others. And this begins in the intensity of its prayer, where God alone sees.

The word holiness ought not to be tossed about too lightly, as though the reality were easily reached. There is a danger that an overworked and casual evocation of holiness as the goal of life reduces the immense challenge of giving all to God to a manageable habit of steady, low-cost generosities. Dorothy Day kept on her bedside table a striking phrase of Dostoevsky that conveys, by contrast, the starker reality of a true offering: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”  It is precisely the harsh and dreadful nature of sacrificial love that makes such love and the offering that accompanies it most fruitful for the salvation of souls.

A task in prayer that must be repeated with regularity: to search for the deeper solitary region of the heart where a single word spoken in silence has more impact on our soul than hours of replete eloquence taking place at the shallows of life.

 

~ A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty, ‘The Contemplative Hunger’

 

Jesus and Saint Teresa of Jesus art by Maccha chmkoff

Apparition du Christ à Thérèse d’Avila, art by Macha Chmakoff

The Mystic Face

I never try to probe the sky’s blue span:
I never look to deep into the sea
But the dim face of a tragedian
looks out at me.

Neither the night nor day can find a place
where I have not been shaken with surprise
at the white beauty of a holy face 
and two great lonely eyes.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

A Heart of Compassion

 


“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”  ~ Luke 6:36


 

Jesus and me by unknown artist 2

Artist Unknown

 

God is the author of all tender-heartedness and goodness.

Misericors — a heart always inclined to another in compassion, a pitiful heart. A heart that is always good — that is, wishing good to another. Wherever we meet these qualities, there, we can be sure, is God.

We have to be perfect as our Father is perfect, and especially as he is perfect in these qualities.

Let me look at my heart. Is it unfailingly tender towards others? Unfailingly bent on their good? Or do I see that there is a lot of hardness there?

Am I perhaps kind to some, but not to others? Kind at sometimes but not always? Not when I am upset, put-out, hurt . . . ? Do I wish well to others only when their good doesn’t conflict with what I think is mine?

God is the fount of tender-heartedness and goodness. Ask him for the grace to drink deeply of this fountain. Want these God-like qualities with all your heart. Seize the opportunities each day offers to exercise them, no matter how much it costs pride and self-interest.

~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, ‘Living Love” ~ O.C.D.

 

Sacred Heart of Jesus burning in love for us

Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning for love of us, inflame our hearts for love of Thee. . .


The Kingdom of God

Not towards the stars, O beautiful naked runner,
not on the hills of the moon after a wild white deer,
seek not to discover afar the unspeakable wisdom,—
the quarry is here.

Beauty holds court within,—
a slim young virgin in a dim shadowy place.
Music is only the echo of her voice,
and earth is only a mirror for her face.

Not in the quiet arms, O sorrowful lover;
O fugitive, not in the dark on a pillow of breast;
hunt not under the lighted leaves for God,—
here is the sacred Guest.

There is a Tenant here.
Come home, roamer of earth, to this room and find
a timeless Heart under your own heart beating,
a Bird of beauty singing under your mind.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

Does God Really Speak?

mountain bounty by jeremy cram

Photo credit to Jeremy Cram

 


It is only meaningful to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him if he speaks.


Does God really speak to us? Are there not many people who, instead of hearing God speak, feel they are encountering absolute silence? And among those who do hear him speak, are there not a good many who are merely hearing themselves, their own thoughts and fantasies?

There are people who, no matter what they do, feel affirmed by God. If they have success, it is clear that God is with them and blessing their plans. If they have opposition, it is even more clear that they are doing right. Everything that comes from God should be marked by the Cross, they say. Did not Jesus himself fail . . . ?

Are you hearing your own voice or the voice of God? Is it you who are speaking to yourself, or are you listening to God speaking to you? Perhaps the question is not nuanced enough. It need not be a question of either/or. God can speak through your own self. And that is usually what he does, provided that you stand before him in all honesty and live from the basic attitude of wanting to do his will. As soon as you want to listen to the Holy Spirit, he becomes active in you, for no one can begin to listen to God on his own initiative. The will to listen is already a work of the Holy Spirit. “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16), so the Spirit speaks together with our spirit about what God’s will is. The Spirit uses our deep, true self to make understand what God wills.

I am often asked the question: “Does God want me to enter a monastery?” My immediate reply is: Do you want it? Do you have the desire to enter a monastery, not only with a theoretical, abstract desire, but are you drawn there, do you believe you will be happy and find your home there? If you truly want it, it is likely that God wants it also, that he wills it through you. Then it remains to be seen if you have the necessary qualities of physical and psychological health, common sense, and a certain spiritual maturity, and if the religious community to which you are drawn wishes to accept you. A vocation consists mainly of these three elements:
(1) a personal desire; (2) the capacity to live the life; (3) a religious community that opens its doors to you.

God seldom speaks directly with audible, perceptible words. He speaks, for the most part, indirectly, via your own deep, truth-seeking will. I say “deep” will. For alongside the deep will there are many superficial “wills” , namely, all the small opposing desires that often drown out the deep will.

God also speaks through events, circumstances, encounters with other people, and through books. Much of what is happening around you contains a secret message from God. It is a question of deciphering and interpreting it. In everything that happens, you can gradually learn to recognize a You. The impersonal becomes personal. Apparently random events become personal messages from God.

God speaks uninterruptedly. He instructs, encourages, challenges, and comforts. He truly walks in our garden of Eden (cf. Gen 3:8). Yes, our life becomes again something of a paradise when we continually meet God.

If we read the Bible, it is, among other things, to learn this fact: that God is constantly speaking to us. “And God spoke to Moses and said. . . ” How often we read that phrase! It does not mean, of course, that Moses constantly heard God’s voice. But he was so in harmony with God, so completely on the same wave-length, that he thought the same thoughts as God. For the most part, we deserve this mild reproach from God: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts” (Is 55:8). But that can change! We can come to the point where we think God’s thoughts, where God thinks with our understanding and loves with our heart.

We can eventually receive “the mind of Christ” (see Phil 2:5) and, like him, encounter the Father in all things. When he admired the lilies of the field and saw how the birds were fed without sowing or reaping, he saw in this the Father’s love and care (Mt 6:26-29).
When he heard talk of the collapse of the Tower of Siloam (Lk 13:4-5), he saw it as a call to conversion. In everything he met a You.

It would be wise to take few minutes each day to examine one’s conscience and ask oneself: What has God wanted to teach me today? Where have I encountered him, or where should I have encountered him?

If you object that one should consider one’s sins during the examination of conscience, I can answer that this is one of our greatest sins: that we do not recognize God, who walks in our garden.

~ A Reflection by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.