Oh, my planet, I am so in love with you. And you seem to love me back. We are an item. Daily, you swerve, slow-dancing with the sun, seducing me with new angles of interpretation so that my peonies manifest themselves in color swatches, shades shifting from apricot to blood. And my lawn, licking up necessary light, grows, greens into a small hay field to swoon in. Even the promiscuous dandelions reflect the generosity of light.
Your seasons’ musical compositions, themes and variations—apogee, perigee, the lengthening of days, then nights. Your planetary rhythms—the same every year, and every year unique.
Waking, early morning ‘s heavy shadows shorten and blanch, and then there’s noon, and then again, a lengthening to dusk until, complete with stars, dark wraps me in fleece. By nightfall in the companion dark, my desire gives away to dreaming, the way lovers ease into sleep after passion is spent.
“For contemplation is nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love.” ~ Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.
On Saturday, February 16th, I professed my Definitive Promises to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Our OCDS Community gathered for a special day of grace and fellowship followed by a beautiful Mass officiated by our spiritual Father Dominic.
I was admitted to our OCDS Community in June 16th, 2012 and made my First Promise on April 25th, 2015. Over these years of spiritual formation and growth within my Carmelite family, I’ve been discerning my call to this rich spirituality and gift from God and I feel so grateful to my Beloved Lord to lead me into this blessed way.
I have a long way to go and so much to climb up the mountain of God, but with His grace and blessing and inspired by the Holy Spirit, I pray that I will continue faithfully to my journey in Carmel and be an instrument of God and His living flame of love in the world.
I’m eternally grateful, my Beloved Jesus, for calling me to Carmel!
O living flame, O living flame, O living flame, living flame of love!
How gently you wake in my heart. How tenderly you swell my heart with love, O living flame of love!
O lamps of fire, O living flame, O lamps of fire, our warmth and light!
Sweet cautery, delicate touch of life, sweet cautery, living flame of love!
O living flame, living flame of love O living flame, my living flame, My flame of love!
~ Based on “Living Flame of Love”, by St. John of the Cross, O.C.D.
O.C.D.S. (Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites)
“By the promise made to the community . . . the person becomes a full member of the Secular Order.” (Constitution 12) The promise is highly significant for Secular Carmelites and the process of formation moves the person toward making a life promise. The wording of the First Promise and the Definitive Promise differ only in the last phrase.
I, (name), inspired by the Holy Spirit, in response to God’s call, sincerely promise to the Superiors of the Order of the Teresian Carmel and to you my brothers and sisters, to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Constitutions of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, for three years [for the rest of my life]. I confidently entrust this, my Promise, to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel.
A significant part of formation is coming to understand the commitment made by the promise. It is a promise to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes and in the spirit of chastity, poverty and obedience. Each of these commitments has a separate paragraph in the Constitutions of the Secular Order.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of chastity
13. The promise of chastity reinforces the commitment to love God above all else, and to love others with the love God has for them. In this promise the Secular Carmelite seeks the freedom to love God and neighbour unselfishly giving witness to the divine intimacy promised by the beatitude “blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The promise of chastity is a commitment to Christian love in its personal and social dimensions in order to create authentic community in the world. By this promise the Secular Carmelite also expresses the conscious desire to respect each person as required by God’s law and one’s state of life, as a single person or married or widowed. This promise does not prevent a change in state of life.
The commitment to the promise of live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of poverty
14. By the promise of poverty the Secular Carmelite expresses the desire to live in accordance with the Gospel and its values. In evangelical poverty there is a wealth of generosity, self-denial, and interior liberty and a dependence on Him who “Though rich, yet for our sake, became poor” (2 Co 8:9), and who “emptied Himself” (Ph 2:7), to be at the service of His brothers and sisters. The promise of poverty seeks an evangelical use of the goods of this world and of personal talents, as well as the exercise of personal responsibilities in society, in family, and work, confidently placing all in the hands of God. It also implies a commitment to the cause of justice so that the world itself responds to God’s plan. In combination with these, evangelical poverty recognizes personal limitations and surrenders them to God with confidence in His goodness and fidelity.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of obedience
15. The promise of obedience is a pledge to live open to the will of God, “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Ac 17:28) imitating Christ who accepted the Father’s will and was “obedient unto death, death on a cross” (Ph 2:8). The promise of obedience is an exercise of faith leading to the search for God’s will in the events and challenges in society and our own personal life. For this reason the Secular Carmelite freely cooperates with those who have responsibility for guiding the community and the Order in discerning and accepting God’s ways: the Community’s Council, the Provincial and the General.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the beatitudes
16. The beatitudes are a plan of action for life and a way to enter into relationship with the world, neighbours and co-workers, families and friends. By promising to live the beatitudes in daily life, Secular Carmelites seek to give evangelical witness as members of the Church and the Order, and by this witness invite the world to follow Christ: “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
I find You everywhere in the splendor of the day. I find You in the trees and in the gentle movement of the leaves. I find You in the breeze of the summer afternoon by the bay. I find You in the beauty of the sunset. I find You in the love and care of good friends.
I find You in the beauty of the monarch butterfly flying carefree searching for the sweet nectar of each flower. I find You in the sunlight that passes through the green leaves. I find You in the beauty of the scenery of this country road. I find You in the joyful songs of your happy birds… I find You in the hummingbirds, blue jays, and woodpeckers.
My heart is overflowing with love for Your creation. Oh Beloved, your grace is sufficient for me. I find Your beauty everywhere in the splendor of the day.
These days at the cottage with dear friends
and the blessings of each hour enjoying each other’s company.
Sharing meals together. Our early evening swim at the bay, admiring Your beautiful sky and all the cloud formations.
Bike riding after so long…Thank you Lord Jesus for making my body strong again.
There is so much to give You thanks my Beloved! Your Bread of Life I received on Sunday Mass at the Martyr’s Shrine.
My heart is so full of gratitude.
And how can I forget about the starry nights, the sky is Your canvas. I find You in the sounds of nature, the crickets chirping at night and the birds at dawn. They wake me up with their sweet melody.
Thank you! Thank you, my Beloved! for I find Your grace in the splendor of the day.
~ My Personal Reflection
All photos are taken by me from the beautiful area of Georgian Bay, Ontario ❤ in August 2018
It’s May and It’s My First Year Blog Anniversary! 🙂
Thank you all so very much for following My Carmel! ❤
I feel so humbled to be part of such a creative and wonderful blogging community here on WordPress! I learn a lot from each of you. Thank you for your interest and your support!
A year ago I felt inspired to start blogging about Carmelite Spirituality and I love it!
As a Lay Carmelite (O.C.D.S.) I feel so blessed in sharing the inspirational writings of many great saints of Carmel and other great spiritual writers, prayers, meditations and my own reflections and poems about this rich spiritual treasure to the soul which is the Carmelite charism.
Carmel is an ancient path for today’s pilgrim…
“Carmel stands for the intimate encounter which God brings about between the person and God in the midst of all that is most ordinary in life. The expression and source of this encounter, God’s gift of contemplation, is the very heartbeat of what Carmel is and what it desires to be. Saint John of the Cross described contemplation as the inflowing of God’s grace into a human being. Carmelites speak of contemplation as a gift of God that can be nurtured by a life of prayer, community, and service.”
“Our Carmelite Spirituality is focussed on Christ, and inspired in a particular way by the patrons of the Order—the prophet Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary—as well as by the saints of the Carmelite Family over the centuries.”
“Our mission in life is to know and love God, and to make God known and loved. And share the Good News of Christ, that God loves humanity with a deep passion.”
I look forward to another great year of blogging and sharing with all of you!
Wishing you all much joy, peace, love… and many blessings always!
Carmel has been likened to a garden, a sanctuary of peace, hidden in the depths of an individual. No matter where a person is in time or in place, he or she may take refuge in the garden, to dwell in its serenity and embrace the world with prayer. Prayer is so very good for the growth of one’s soul and for all the souls in the world. In the tranquil garden of Carmel, wisdom is cultivated into the land of the soul. Through wisdom, a thriving soul keeps body and mind together. Gifts from the soul keep elements in a person’s values, goals and activities neither excessive nor ungrounded, but sustained within a spiritual symmetry. No one will ever completely understand or appreciate his or her Carmelite garden until eternity. At times it may be frightening inasmuch as it is a place of singular, ever-unfolding, terrible beauty. Yes, even in the summer tranquility, thunderstorms can cause unexpected delight and horror. What will be revealed when spiritual lightning strikes one’s soul? The inner landscapes change with the seasons of a person’s days and years. The terrain is a ground of mystery, ever in transition. A pilgrim never knows what he or she will find. Beauteous foliage springs from seeds of self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice originates from God’s love within the heart and finds expression in love for others. As the sun rises and sets in the passing of time, so do the mysterious beauties in one’s Carmelite garden. To know the rose is to know a glimpse of the beauty of God. To know that the faded rose will bloom again is to have a glimpse of eternity. A pilgrim gazes long at cactus deserts, urban parks, pine forests, country meadows, fruited plains, rolling hills or rocky mountains. Each has a place in the garden of the soul. No matter where a person is on the road of life, he or she can wander in a garden. It is a place of retreat and repose. A Carmelite rests in the quiet and experiences prayer as ultimate mystery. In the peace of one’s soul a pilgrim remembers people with restless, shallow or empty souls and nourishes them with silent prayer. Soul care is the most profound and essential concern for humanity. Carmelites vest themselves and their efforts into this phenomenon which will extend into eternity. It may rain or shine fiercely in one’s Carmelite garden, but both are needed for it to survive and thrive.
My Beloved is night time in my garden. I feel so weary. I come here to be with You. To be in your presence. I need to rest in your precious heart, a place where I find all consolation and peace. I need to be wrapped around your arms and feel whole once again. Oh Blessed Jesus,
thank You for coming to be with me in my garden at night.
Beloved, at times the path gets so foggy and it seems uncertain where I’m stepping. It is so dark sometimes, that I can hardly see. I guess the way towards light and truth is filled with some dark spots, and that is why I need to be close to You in those moments.
Oh my Beloved friend and teacher, at times I feel tired and hopeless in this narrow path towards holiness. It is an arduous road till I caught a glimpse of You along the way and everything transforms and becomes new and alive in me. Your peace fills me and brings me trust and consolation.
Lord, why do I feel so discourage if I know that You are my faithful companion along the way? Why is so difficult Blessed Lord? This path is difficult but knowing that I’m walking by your side, all fog and confusion is dispelled.
Oh my Blessed Jesus, giver of life and love, allow me to be as close as I can to You. When darkness sets in, your light is a refreshing balm of peace and assurance that all is well and will be well. Lord, I know this is part of growing into You. All those growing pains are making me whole. I can go on in this journey only if You meet me here and instruct me and encourage me on the way.
Sweet Jesus, strengthen my mind, body and soul to continue in my journey towards wholeness and inner freedom, a journey that You invited me to trod next to You long time ago.
My Beloved, you transform my night into day. My inner noise into quiet calm. You bring hope and light into any difficult moment. Your presence is all healing. Your gentleness is all I need. Divine friend and lover of my soul, stay with me, I pray.
May your light and inspiration be always within me. May your love and peace filled me
day by day, night by night. My Rabonni, my God and my all. Thank You for coming to our meeting place,
is night but soon will be day.
“Where are you, my God?” I seek you all about me and you are not there and yet you seem to tell me: Here I am. Everywhere. Nowhere.
I never leave you, but you have to realize I use disguises. If you persist in seeking me under that disguise I used a month, a year, ago, you will be hurt and disappointed. I change, and you must change with me, or be left alone, bereft, bewildered, lost.
“But why do you do it?” That you may know me better. You are my Chosen one who must discover me beneath a multitude of impermanent changes of attire and behavior. I remain myself, absolute, infinity…and close as a lover’s kiss.
You have to learn to recognize me. It’s hard, I know. You come running to me…arms outstretched to be enfolded by what I was to you when the season was different, and you were ardent and your heart bursting with untried love, your every gesture and word a lyric, your very speech a poem! It was beautiful, but it was only the prelude. Now the flowers have seeded, the petals are all gone, the scent is blown away on the wind. And yet…
and yet, how beautiful this autumn is! The prelude to our consummation by my death in you, and your resplendent life in me.
The wings that stretched the heavens like clouds I climbed upon. And long and ardently they bore me in their easeful flight. They were strong. Fireless they were…I was a puny burden, no more than dust. The long, smooth surge I rested on became my final trust.
The heavens’ span and all the wide, thronged space of universes is to these wings an habitable room, a stretching place for leisurely tours and comfortable journeyings. What, now that I have cast myself upon their strength, have I to fear? And yet my heart is humbled into awe to be so near.
Easing myself into the peace I slip over the brink of sleep, into your arms.
I lie there my head against your breast one hand at your heart’s steady beat the other crooked behind me and all is quietude and still repose.
Your arms enfold me. They make a rampart holding all my fears at bay.
Your breathing is the universe you recreate each second through your love. You are that mighty Word resounding to make creation dance and sing in procreation.
Wedded for the first time in my life, blessed, consecrated, vowed and ringed, I now belong with you, love’s circlet mutual and pledged with sacramental grace.
Cherished and safe, cradled and defended by the stronghold of your promise I hold out in my trusting hand to you all my love throughout eternity.
Lovers always say “for ever”… and then betray each other. But we have made our deathless troth that enemies cannot destroy nor many waters quench nor catastrophic earthquake turn to rubble.
Our “for ever” opens up eternity in us where I lie cradled in your quiet arms your steadfast heartbeat here beneath my hand so that I believe, and trust, and render up my all into your care whose dower is to me the universe.
~ By Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S. ‘The Marriage of All and Nothing’
Come and visit me in my garden, the flowers are wild and unkempt, but they like to grow freely in your space, breathing from your air and soaked in your warm rays.
Come and stay my Beloved, the birds greet you with reverence, and I am still, sinking everything in.
My garden is your abode. It’s our meeting place…Oh how much I thank you my Jesus! I thank you for this space filled with the joy of you. This is my place of retreat, where I come to learn all your mysteries and rejoice in your unfailing love.
My Rabonni, your eyes seek me and I encounter yours in an unending song of praise! How do you love me so much? How do you seek me so much? I am breathless…my heartbeat stop at your majesty. I close my eyes, and I lay in your arms, and my garden transforms into an eternal bliss of me in you and you in me.