The Cloud of Carmel

 

Virgo Maria
Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Art source unknown)

 

“The Lord promised that He would dwell in a cloud.”
~ 2 Chronicles 6:1 

 

Symbol of star or lily of the snows,
rainbow or root or vine or fruit-filled tree:
these image the immaculate to me
less than a little cloud, a little light cloud rising
from Orient waters cleft by prophecy.
And as the Virgin in a most surprising
maternity bore God in the mysteries of grace
beseech her: Cloud, encompass God and me.

Nothing defiled can touch the cloud of Mary.
God as a child willed to be safe in her,
and the Divine Indweller sets His throne
deep in a cloud in me, His sanctuary.
I pray, O wrap me, Cloud, . . . light Cloud of Carmel
within whose purity my vows were sown
to lift their secrecies to God alone.
Say to my soul, the timorous and small
house of a Presence that it cannot see
and frightened acre of a Deity,
say in the fullness of your clemency:
I have enclosed you all.
You are in whiteness of a lighted lamb wool;
you are in softness of a summer wind lull.
O hut of God, deepen your faith anew.
Enfolded in this motherhood of mine,
all that is beautiful and all divine
is safe in you.

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

For a Lover of Nature

I recently got back from a wonderful trip to Scotland. My daughter and I visited the beautiful and magical city of Edinburgh and later on we took a full day tour to visit the Scottish Highlands—It was such a wonderful experience to be surrounded by majestic mountains and valleys, visiting small Victorian little towns, cruising the dark and deep waters of Loch Ness with breathtaking views followed by a visit to Urquhart Castle. And feeding the Highlands Cows—Unforgettable! What an amazing day we had!

I’m feeling very humble and blessed by the extraordinary experiences we had with my daughter during our visit to Scotland. So thankful to our Beloved Lord for blessing us with this amazing opportunity to travel together and treasure those moments for a lifetime.

Here I share a few of the photos I took during our visit to this beautiful land of many treasures. . .

 

EDI122
Relaxing at sunset with a view of Edinburgh Castle in the background (My photo – July 2019)

 

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Our climb to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh…Philippians 4:13  (My photo – July 2019)

 

EDI saint patrick church
Attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Edinburgh on July 16th Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel ❤ A very blessed day! (My photo – July 2019)

 

EDI Little Flower
Saint Thérèse ❤ you are always near! Thank you Little Flower! At St. Patrick’s Church, July 16th 2019 (My photo)

 

Edi Lochness 2
Cruising on Loch Ness…Enjoying all the beauty and wonder! God’s creation is awesome and a precious gift to us all! (My photo – July 2019)

 

Urquhart castle
Visiting the ruins of Urquhart Castle. . . (My photo – July 2019)

 

Highland coo
Visiting the Highland Coo! They are so docile and cute! (My photo – July 2019)

 

roses in EDI
Beautiful roses everywhere in Edinburgh and The Highlands…The climate favors them for their growth and beauty! Here I took this photo in the Victorian town of Pitlochry (July 2019).

 

EDI me and my baby girl
The Highlands! So grateful to God for this unforgettable trip! (My photo – July 2019)

 

For a Lover of Nature

Your valley trails its beauty through your poems,
the kindly woods, the wide majestic river.
Earth is your god—or goddess, you declare,
mindful of what good time must one day give her
of all you have. Water and rocks and trees
hold primal words born out of Genesis.

But Love is older than these.

You lay your hand upon the permanence
of green-embroidered land and miss the truth
that you are trusting your immortal spirit
to earth’s sad inexperience and youth.
Centuries made this soil; this rock was lifted 
out of aeons; time could never trace 
a path to water’s birth or air’s inception,
and so, you say, these be your godly grace.
Earth was swept into being with the light—
dear earth, you argue, who will soon be winning
your flesh and bones by a most ancient right.

But Love had no beginning.

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

 

 

 

 

 

An Inner Fire

Dove with rose
Art source unknown

 

Every human being has an innate longing for an inner fire. The fire we long for is the Holy Spirit. Once the Spirit begins to burn in us, all the old, bad habits will successively be driven out. For this reason, the fire will create conflict. It isn’t our purpose to create conflict, but we must not be afraid of it when it comes. Conflicts, be they exterior and interior, are signs of health if they are a consequence of the Spirit burning within us.

Do not be afraid of the anxiety that the arrival of the Spirit may bring. Don’t go back to the lifeless peace which may have characterized your life up till now. Let yourself be shook up by the Spirit. The peace Jesus promised presupposes a complete reorganization of your life. Don’t be afraid to leave old habits behind; it’s natural at first to feel insecure and unsure. Don’t be afraid of the truth, even if it is uncomfortable.

Do not be afraid of becoming a sign of contradiction either. If the Spirit burns in you, you necessarily become a different person. You become a stranger in the world, a pilgrim on the earth. You will disappoint some people; others will consider you naïve. But you are not seeking the world’s peace. Jesus says: “…my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (Jn 14:27).

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

 

Come, Holy Spirit, come! 

 

 

Happy & Blessed Pentecost Sunday!

 

 

 

Contemplation

 

lavender
Photo source unknown

 

The path to the prayer room
runs beside a bed of herbs —
rosemary, sage, holy basil,
chervil, chives.

Lavender. Walking,
I pluck a stalk and crush
the woolly flowers lightly in
my hand, pausing
to inhale the fragrance.

I carry the sprig down
the steps, into the place of 
contemplation. My body stills,
but thumb and finger lift
the purple flame, an oblation.

The aroma is itself a prayer,
a reaching, a receiving. I sit
in silence, breathing what God is
telling me: he is in me
as he is in the flower.

Thanks be to God.

~ A poem by Luci Shaw 

 

Journey Inward

 

journey inward by elizabeth wang
Art by Elizabeth Wang

 

Somewhere along the road of life, by the grace of God, my soul awoke. And it was hungry, hungry for God.

Its hunger became a fire, a fire that consumed me and ate me up with its intense, devouring heat. I could not rest anywhere except in motion, that long, endless journey that every soul must undertake if she is to meet her God.

It is a strange journey, across arid plains and verdant valleys, across dried parchment-like deserts. A journey of many crossroads and endless sharp turns that confuse and make one clamour for a rest.

But the hunger for God knows no rest. So I go on and on and on.

Yes, it is a strange journey, that slowly makes me shed all the baggage I took for it, baggage I took before I knew that it would be too heavy a load for this kind of journey.
I don’t know where I felt it—somewhere back there by some crossroad.

Now I am baggageless, but still too heavily burdened. My hunger drives me on. For speedy traveling. I must start to shed my clothing.

There on this stone I lay the cloak of selfishness that kept me warm. It is cold without it, but I can walk faster, as my hunger urges me to.

Here on this branch, I hang my dress of selflove and compromise with the world. I shiver now in earnest, but my feet have wings. Yet this sheltered rock begs for my underwear.

Slowly, reluctantly, I shed my undergarments, one by one. Here goes self-indulgence. Tidily, next to it, I lay greed for possessions and love of ease and comfort. Next, not so tidily, go helter-skelter all the things in me that are not God’s.

Lord, behold I stand naked before thee, with wings on my feet. Wings on my feet! Now my journey inward will be swift.

But it is not. For I still stumble and fall and walk haltingly, inches instead of miles, while the hunger for God flays me and urges me to make haste.

Oh, I had forgotten my shoes, the heavy, comfortable shoes that have shielded my feet. Shielded my feet from the cutting stones, from the sharp pebbles. I must unlace my shoes, my comfortable stout shoes, the last covering of my naked soul. The last stronghold of my non-surrender to God.

I hesitate. The narrow path upward is so hard. It has so many sharp stones. So many knife-edged pebbles. But the hunger for God flames in me, a furnace of fire unquenchable, the fire of love, of passionate, utter love of God. I must go on, on that journey inward that alone will bring me face to face with him for whom I hunger constantly, without ceasing.

Quickly, I bend and with hasty, clumsy fingers unlace one shoe, then the other. My eagerness expresses my hunger. Recklessly I throw one shoe this way, the other that, not caring where they fall.

Now I am free, I am free and naked, and my feet have wings, huge wings that carry me across sharp stones and knife-edged pebbles without harm. Now the brambles and thorns that edge the path turn and point the other way.

I am a naked soul, free and untrammelled, driven by the hunger of my love for God, driven by my love for God, on and on, on this journey inward.

I did not know it would be so easy, once I shed all my garments. But now I know, for my hunger is being assuaged, satiated, filled, even as I fly on winged feet along the steep path upward. It is being filled, that hunger of mine, so much, so well, that I can feed others with the surplus of the food given to me so abundantly.

God meets half way the soul that starts on its journey inward, provided that the soul, driven by hunger of love for him, strips itself naked.

That is the secret of his love and of his kingdom, which begins even on this earth. But the price, I repeat, is nakedness complete, even unto discarding shoes.

 

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

Listen to yourself so as to find the path to God within the frail walls of your humanness.
Listen to yourself, for it is you alone who will lead yourself to him, or away from him.
Listen to yourself, listen to God, when you have led yourself to him.
Listen well, for if you hear his voice you will be wise with the wisdom of the Lord, and then you will be able to hear the voice of men, not as a surging sea, or as a mob.
But each man’s speech is his own, a treasure given to you beyond all expectations, because you led yourself to him and listen to his voice.

~ A poem by Catherine De Hueck Doherty 

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

 

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.