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

 

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.

 

Almsgiving

words the power of words art by dolores DeVelde

The Power of Words, Art by Dolores DeVelde

 

Not everyone can give alms in money, but we all can give alms in words.

Alms of warm, kind words are like a mother’s lullaby to the elderly, who have a kind of hungry loneliness. These words bring peace and joy to those who are sad and anxious, and make the unwanted feel loved and needed once more.

Do you see that child? Have you an extra moment to speak to him? Befriending a lonely or unloved child, be he rich or poor, is to bring Christ to that little one. Take the child into your heart. You will be taking Christ into your heart, and surely, in eternity, He will reverse the process!

~ By Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 


“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” ~ Matthew 25:35-36


 

The Uninvited

There is a city that through time shall lie
in a fixed darkness of the earth and sky,
and many dwell therein this very hour.
It is a city without seed or flower,
estranged from every bird and butterfly.

Who walked these streets of night? I know them well.
Those who come out of life’s sequestered places:
the lonely, the unloved, the weak and shy,
the broken-winged who piteously would fly,
the poor who still have starlight in their faces.

They are the outcast ones, the last, the least,
whom earth has not invited to her feast,
and who, were they invited in the end,
finding their wedding clothes too frayed to mend,
would not attend.

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

 

woman art by gustav klimt

Golden Tears, art by Gustav Klimt

 

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


O Jesus, grant that I may penetrate the secrets hidden in Your divine Heart.


 

Sacred Heart of Jesus2

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, art by Jose Luis Castrillo

 

After we have contemplated the Eucharist, a gift crowning all the gifts of the love of Jesus for men, the Church invites us to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. We may call the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the feast of His love for us. “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary; “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” the Church repeats to us today, showing us that it is truly “in the Heart of Christ, wounded by our sins, that God has deigned to give us the infinite treasures of His love” (cf. Collect). Today’s liturgy inspired with this thought, reviews the immense benefits we owe to the love of Christ and sings a hymn in praise of His love. “Cogitationes cordis ejus,” chants the Introit of the Mass” “The thoughts of His Heart”—the Heart of Jesus—“are to all generations” to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine.” The Heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sin, to wash in His Blood, to feed with His Body. The Heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, disillusioned by the vicissitudes of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. Jesus Himself is our support on the hard road of life. “Take up My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, Alleluia” It is impossible to eliminate sorrow from our life; yet if we live for Jesus we can suffer in peace and find in the Heart of Jesus repose for our weary soul.

~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

 


“O Jesus, now that I have been brought into Your most sweet Heart, and it is a great good to be here, I do not want to let myself be easily torn away from it. Oh! how good and pleasant it is to dwell in Your Heart! Your Heart, O good Jesus, is a rich treasure, it is the precious pearl which I have found in the secret of Your pierced Body, as in a furrowed field. Who could cast aside this pearl? Rather I will give all the pearls in the world, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and affections and I will purchase it for myself. I shall entrust all my cares to Your Heart, O good Jesus, and without fail it will support me. I have found Your Heart, O Lord, O most benign Jesus: the Heart of my King, my Brother, my Friend! Hidden in Your Heart, what is there that I shall not ask of You? I shall ask that Your Heart be mine also. If You, O Jesus, are my Head, can I not say that it is mine as well as Yours? Are not the eyes of my head also mine? Then the Heart of my spiritual Head is my Heart.  What joy for me! You and I have but one heart. Having found this divine Heart which is Yours and mine, O most sweet Jesus, I beseech You, O my God: receive my prayers in that sanctuary where You are attentive to them and, even more, draw me entirely into Your Heart”
~ Saint Bonaventure


 

 

My painting of Jesus Sacred Heart

This is a little prayer area I have in my house and I placed there a painting I did of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ❤  “Choose the divine Heart for your sacred oratory, wherein to offer to God your petitions and prayers that may be pleasing to Him.” ~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus ❤

Love For Love

 

Corpus Christi

“Corpus Christi is one of God’s most beautiful and precious gifts. It is beautiful because it encompasses the reality of the Trinity being present , and precious because it is a gift which we do not deserve and yet was given to us freely and unconditionally. Many Saints and spiritual writers spent many long hours of contemplation before our Eucharistic Lord, and put down in writing what they have experienced during those hours of prayer and contemplation. And yet, all of them would tell us that there is no word to describe the gift of this Presence of Jesus in this simple piece of bread. The Holy Eucharist is both a unifying doctrine for those who accept in faith the words of Jesus, “This IS My Body!” in the passage of the Last Supper, and a stumbling block for those who do not yet believe. For us, Catholics, the Holy Eucharist is not just a representation of Jesus, it IS Jesus Himself, the Real Presence. It is not just the product of a collective imagination of pious people but a mystery presented to us which can only be apprehended by faith alone. The Holy Eucharist is one of those mysteries of “believe to understand,” as opposed to “understand to believe.” (paraphrasing St. Augustine).” *
*https://srhelena.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-eucharistic-lord.html

~ A Reflection by Sister Helena of Mary, Carmelite nun

 

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by Saint Teresa of Avila:


“Once after receiving Communion,” St. Teresa wrote, “I was given understanding of how the Father receives within our soul the most holy Body of Christ, and of how I know and have seen that these Divine Persons are present, and how pleasing to the Father this offering of His Son is, because He delights and rejoices with Him here—let us say—on earth. For His humanity is not present with us in the soul, but His divinity is. Thus the humanity is so welcome and pleasing to the Father and bestows on us so many favors.”


“What a powerful insight! In our reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we become connected to Christ’s humanity. We are united with God-made-man and experience the most intimate communion possible between two human persons. He becomes one with us, and we are united with Him. We are right to wonder at this great mystery of our faith! We can say nothing more profound than Thank You (which is what the word “Eucharist” means in Greek) when we experience the indescribable blessings that result from our communion with God’s only Son.”*  * http://stlouisreview.com/article/2012-07-25/eucharist-sacrament

 

Holy Eucharist4

Holy Eucharist, by unknown artist

 

The Real Presence

Jesus is present in the Eucharist with all His divinity and all His humanity. Although His humanity is present “per modum substantiae,” that is, in substance and not in corporeal extension, it is whole and entire in the consecrated Host—body and soul, and this latter with its faculties of intellect and will. Therefore our Eucharistic Lord knows and loves us as God and as Man. He is not a passive object for our adoration but He is living; He sees us, listens to us, answers our prayers with His graces. Thus we may have, with the gentle Master of the Gospel, living, concrete relations which, although imperceptible to our senses, it substitutes for what we do not see or touch; “sola fides sufficit,” says St. Thomas, faith alone is sufficient (Pange Lingua). As Jesus, disguised as a traveler, once taught the disciples of Emmaus, and inflamed their hearts, so too, Jesus hidden under the Eucharistic veil illumines our souls, inflames them with His love and inclines them over more effectively toward sanctity.

Jesus is there, in the consecrated Host, true God and true Man; as He became incarnate for us, so for us too, has He hidden Himself under the Sacred Species. There He waits for us, longs for us, is always ready to welcome and listen to us. And we need Him so much! God, pure Spirit, is present everywhere, it is true; and in His Unity and Trinity, He even deigns to dwell within our souls, vivified by grace. Nevertheless, we always have need of contact with Jesus, the Word made Flesh, God made Man, our Mediator, our Savior, our Brother, and we find Him present in the Eucharist. Here on earth we are never closer to Him than when we are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

 

Jesus and the Holy Eucharist


LOVE FOR LOVE

White Host set in tabernacle gold,
Real Presence no eye can behold,
Called down from heaven by priestly words,
His name is Jesus, Savior long foretold.

What love our Savior has for us,
To make himself a prisoner of love.
Asking for nothing but giving everything
Dwelling in silence, patiently waiting.

My soul, awaken!
Do you hear him sighing?
The God of heaven,
For your love is thirsting.

O Jesus,
how often we have neglected you.
Distracted by the works we have to do.
Missing those moments,
We could have spent with you.

Lord my God, in the tabernacle
You are always there.
If only we find few moments to spare.
Returning the love that keeps you there
A Prisoner for us whom you hold so dear.

~ A poem by Sister Helena of Mary, O.Carm

 

Let us celebrate this day of devotion with much love. Let us return Love for love ❤

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast of Corpus Christi! 

The Visitation


O my Mother, most holy Virgin Mary, be always my model, my support, and my guide.


 

The Visitation by Bradi Barth

The Visitation, art by Bradi Barth

 

“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.” These words are from today’s Gospel (Lk 1, 39-47). Mary, in the exquisite delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help. Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.

If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity. However, she was in no way disturbed: charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says: “Charity seeketh not her own” (1 Cor 13,5). How many times, perhaps, have you omitted and act of kindness, not to spare yourself a hard journey, but only to avoid a little trouble. Think how uncharitable you are and how slow to help others. look at Mary, and see how much you can learn from her!

Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature. Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God. Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more. Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such, even in respect to her neighbor. In your case, perhaps, although you know how to humble yourself before God and recognize your lack of perfection in the secrecy of your heart, it displeases you to appear imperfect before your neighbor, and you quickly resent being treated as such. Are you not anxious to have your dignity, education, and ability recognized, as well as the more or less honorable offices or charges which have been entrusted to you? Your dignity is a mere nothing, and yet you are so jealous of it. Mary’s dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures.

~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

The Visitation2

Art by Bradi Barth


O Mary, how great is your humility when you hasten to serve others! If it is true that he who humbles himself will be exalted, who will be more exalted than you who have humbled yourself so much?

“When Elizabeth caught sight of you she was astonished and exclaimed: ‘Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? But I am still more astonished to see that you, as well as your Son, came not to be served, but to serve… It was for this purpose that you went to Elizabeth, you the Queen, to the servant, the Mother of God to the mother of the Precursor, you who would give birth to the Son of God, to her who would bring forth a mere man.

“But your profound humility in no way lessened your magnanimity; the greatness of your soul was not opposed to your humility. You, so small in your own eyes, were so magnanimous in your faith, in your hope in the Most High, that you never doubted His promises, and firmly believed that you would become the Mother of the Son of God.

“Humility did not make you fainthearted; magnanimity did not make you proud, but these two virtues were perfectly combined in you!

“O Mary, you cannot give me a share in your great privileges as Mother of God; these belong to you alone! But you want me to share in your virtues, giving me examples of them in yourself. If, then, sincere humility, magnanimous faith, and delicate, sympathetic charity are lacking in me, how can I excuse myself? O Mary,  O Mother of mercy, you who are full of grace, nourish us, your poor little ones, with your virtues!”
(cf. St. Bernard).

 

 

God In Your Neighbor

 

love of neighbor hear my plea art by rochelle blumenfeld

Art by Rochelle Blumenfeld

 
Since God has become human, he himself has become your closest neighbor. He so identifies with us that we can meet and love him in each and every human being. “If you have met your brother, you have met God,” the desert fathers said.

We can only truly love our neighbor if we see him or her as God does. God sees right through our exterior into our depths where the Spirit witnesses that we are children of God (Rom 8:16). God says of every human being: This is my child, my beloved (Mt 3:17).

Jesus Christ is the light of each of us, a light that shines in the darkness (Jn 1:4-5). Love sees this light. To encounter this light is to meet the most personal in your neighbor, the center where he or she is most authentic.

Humanity is most human in the divine. John of the Cross writes: “The center of humanity is God.” Love doesn’t attach itself to nonessentials: talents, character, intellect. Love jumps over all obstacles that the other might have erected, and meets him or her in the center. When you behold the core of your neighbor, you love and revere God in that one and that one in God.

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