“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).
The madness of love Is a blessed fate; And if we understood this We would seek no other: It brings into unity
What was divided, And this is the truth: Bitterness it makes sweet, It makes the stranger a neighbor, And what was lowly it raises on high.
“God has saved me many times. He was really merciful to me. He turned all my difficulties, illnesses, even my imprisonment into great spiritual values. He is able to turn human muck into spiritual treasure.” ~ Ladislav Záborský
A much-admired Catholic painter of religious themes, Ladislav Záborský arguably most famous canvas, that of Christ as a Worker, was first shown at an exhibition in Košice in March and April 1949. Before long, it became widely known throughout Slovakia. Záborský’s success also became the source of his difficulties with the State Security apparatus. His painting was declared corrupt and a ban was imposed on the further depiction of Christ as a worker. His situation steadily worsened, and in June 1954 he was accused of treason and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. On Christmas day in 1957 he was conditionally freed. Once in his own home he lost little time in transcribing from memory poems he has composed without pen or paper while in Valdice prison. A small collection of these was published in Zvolen, Slovakia, in 2003 under the title Združenie Jas (Association of Light). Since 1957 he has had a highly productive career as a religious artist and a designer of stained-glass windows for churches, primarily in eastern Slovakia.
~ An excerpt from the book ‘The walls behind the curtain’ by Harold B. Segel
“… such nice thoughts just like the Holy Spirit had inspired me and dictated those words to me, so I wanted to write them down. I borrowed some soap and soaped the outer side of my basin. I also borrowed a comb and broke one tooth of it. I was afraid that they could catch me. I wrote my poems on the outer side of basin, you know, since it was soaped it glinted in the light under the window and I had only a couple of hours to memorise it because days were short and some of my poems were almost two pages in length. In my opinion, it was a miracle that I managed to memorise it so quickly and word by word. Then I recited those poems every day because I didn’t want to forget even one word and to break their rhythms.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
Vo väzení (In Prison)
That I sit here alone and do not hear the voice of culture? It is not so entirely empty here. I am, after all, the hero in a great theater the director of which is God himself. I also have a film showing any time: I just have to turn on the living spring of my imagination, because I have in my head a projector of many films. The most beautiful books are human souls in which beneath the surface flows a strange life. I even have a radio in this empty cell of mine, when the voice of God reads in my soul and awakens feelings with open arms. Because heaven broadcasts continuously throughout the entire world, you merely have to listen and know how to understand.
~ A poem by Ladislav Záborský, translated from Slovak by Harold B. Segel
“Five months in the isolation cell were for me spiritual exercise. Board and accommodation were assured. Exercitation was led by the Holy Spirit. He dictated me those poems. I wrote them down as rapidly as possible and until night I learnt them by heart. Those poems helped me live in jail.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
When the Lord was baptized in the river Jordan; On that bright day before all the people, The Heavens on high became wide open, And the angels drew near to the water.
At once St. John was filled with fear On feeling the Heavens breathing so near. The Spirit Almighty as a dove descended, To rest on Christ, God’s Son beloved.
In this way God sanctified the waters, And when the Lord rose up from it, A strange voice was heard from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to what He will tell you about Me. Obey Him so that you can find joy in Me. Obey Him so that you can crush every devil, And be received as my sons in Heaven.”
Dear brothers we were baptized also; Sanctified by the Spirit Almighty And, in Christ’s army we are called to fight, And in eternity to glorify His love and might.
When the Lord was baptized in the river Jordan; On that bright day before all the people, The heavens on high became wide open, And the angels drew near to the water.
~ A poem by St. Nikolaj Velimirović of Žiča
Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!
“We don’t always know the reason why friendships are severed, but one thing is for sure, it leaves a void in those who were part of it.”
I remember the time not long ago
When we laughed and shared it all.
We were the very best of friends,
Or at least that’s what I thought.
I often wonder why friendships end.
What happens to sever that tie?
How can someone once so close
Just wave you off with a goodbye?
I must have been lacking.
I must have been wrong.
I wasn’t the friend to you
That you were to me all along.
I thought I was loyal.
I know I was true,
But something went wrong.
Now there’s nothing to do.
A friendship lost
Is a very sad thing.
The angels weep instead of sing.
~ A poem by Brenda J. Metz
Jesus was broken on the cross. He lived his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs, but as a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships.
How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.
As 2018 comes to an end, I can only feel gratefulness in my heart. I’m so grateful for everything that I experienced and lived throughout this year. I’m grateful for the blessings of God in my life and the life of my loved ones and others. My prayer for the New Year is to live always with hope, to follow Jesus more closely and faithfully. Always with a grateful heart.
May every heart be filled with love for You my Beloved Lord, full of gratitude for the gift of life and faith and may we all have a deep desire to know You, love You and serve You.
Pax et Bonum!
“My heart is always united to Jesus, who more and more consumes me. Oh my most sweet Jesus, I would wish to be all dissolved in the midst of the flames of Your Love. Oh, how can I correspond, my God, since You have given me so much? Who will help me in this? To Your Mercy alone I owe the little love that there is in my poor heart for Thee.” – St Gemma Galgani
Wishing you all a Very Joyous, Healthy & Blessed New Year 2019!