A gift from the Hermits

I received such a lovely email today from some Carmelite hermits in the USA. I post a few excerpts here, lovely for meditation. You can find out more about them or donate to support them at their website.

How I’d love to show you the lovely infinite horizon beyond creation that I experience and contemplate… He reveals and makes Himself known to souls that really seek to know and love Him. Everything on earth… seems to shrink, to lose value before the Divinity which, like an infinite Sun, continues to shine upon my miserable soul with its rays. Yes. I have a heaven in my soul, because God is there, and God is heaven.”
-St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes

“Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary specifically under her glorious title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel entails a certain realization and acknowledgment of the primacy of the spiritual life, of the interior life of human beings who are endowed with a spiritual soul created in the image of God and made for eternal union with Him.”

“As we gradually grow in a knowledge of the mysteries of the Catholic faith revealed by the Son of God incarnate through His Church, we will find the depths of our souls enkindled in love and zeal for God and His eternal, immutable Truth. This divine love will sanctify and purify our souls and dispose them for more intimate interior communication and union with God, in anticipation of the fullness of union with Him in Heaven, for which we have been made, and which alone can make us truly happy, no matter how much the world, the flesh, and the devil lie and deny that fundamental truth of human existence.”

Yesterday’s feast of Our Lady of Carmel was touching, and reminded me how very dependent we are on God’s mercy not only for our mere existence, but for every sustenance. That He gave us His own Blessed Mother to keep us, console us and guide us is a treasure. Here is another image of Our Blessed Mother, from Avila, Spain.

Flos Carmeli

Tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of Carmel. This is very widely celebrated in Brazil, but not necessarily in other places. Our Lady of Carmel is one of those devotions I seem to have by accident, along with Saint Benedict. They just keep accumulating in my life without much planning on my part, so I take that as God’s work and go along with it.

I did go to Avila once. It was really neat to see the places and things associated with Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, though I always find it a bit painful when sacred objects are displayed as museum items. Spain is one of several countries I’ve been to where a lot of sacred places and objects have been confiscated by the state and turned into stuff for tourists. There’s plenty of prayer to be done in such places.

I had a large antique rosary that had belonged to a Belgian Carmelite. It was a connection to someone with a deeper life of prayer than mine, and I treasured it for a while, even though I was sure such a thing should properly have been buried with its original pray-er. The medals were worn from being touched. I must have given it away, as today I went looking for it to pray for the feast, but it was no where to be found. I’m guessing I gave it to a Carmelite friend.

The story of the origin of the Carmelites is fascinating. It’s worth a long read from the Catholic Encyclopedia for the full immersion version of the story!

I am most grateful for the repeated blessings, tenderness and guidance of Our Lady of Carmel and various holy Carmelites in my life.

Space!

I’ve joked with friends that being an introvert in the Catholic Church is a particular challenge. Going to Church has inevitably been a very social undertaking: from the greeting rituals as one enters and leaves to navigating the shoals of the secretary’s office and other treacherous territories.

Today, thanks be to God, I was able to go to a normal Mass in a normal Church for the first time since March, and to my peace I discovered that the yellow tape obligated us to all sit several meters apart. Which utterly precluded the usual pre- and post-Mass chit-chat, as well is the in-Mass live commentaries,* besides sparing me the stress of snuggling up next to a stranger. It was an atmosphere that permitted me to actually read the readings and prayers, meditate, pray, and pay good quality attention to the sermon (a rare thing).

I even arranged to have lunch with a friend afterwards. She’s an introvert, too.

In fact, nearly every time I’ve said “I should write a book called ‘Catholicism for Introverts’ dozens of people say “Sign me up for a copy!” (Feel free to take the idea, I don’t have the time or interest to write it, but there seems to be a need.)

Any more said would probably just be complaining, and I’ve done enough of that. I’m very grateful. The Sacraments are a precious treasure.

*When the person sitting next to you makes clever or critical remarks in response to things that happen.

One of my favorite depictions of Holy Mass.

Come, Holy Spirit

Today is Pentecost. Here is my favorite medieval illumination:

And a lovely bit from the readings in Matins today:

While they received the visible presence of God in the form of fire, the flames of His love enwrapped them. The Holy Ghost Himself is love whence it is that John saith “God is love.” Whosoever therefore loveth God with all his soul, already hath obtained Him Whom he loveth, for no man is able to love God, if He have not gained Him Whom he loveth.

(from a homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great, speaking of the scene in the image above)

And later:

“And My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” O my dearly beloved brethren, think what a dignity is that, to have God abiding as a guest in our heart…

Salve Maria.