Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel! Wow! What a beautiful day for rejoicing (and perhaps for giving my poor abandoned blog some new life)! Today we celebrate, with all of the Carmelites worldwide and with everyone who faithfully wears the Brown Scapular, the Fruitful Vine and the Splendor of Heaven – the Blessed Mother of God!
I’m not sure if you experience this problem but in my own spiritual life, I sometimes find that my devotion to Our Lord and to His Blessed Mother becomes ever so abstract. That is not to say that I lose devotion all together but I must admit that I feel like the things of Heaven are so distant and immaterial as compared to the things of this earth which are tangible and right in front of my face. Such times may be compared to a “spiritual jungle,” you feel so alone and stuck. Still if you want to get out, you need to stagger forward, even blindly if necessary, and rely all the more on the love and mercy of Our Lord and the intercession of His Mother.
The Carmelite spirituality has a very beautiful answer this problem and it was adopted by the very first hermits when they first started living on Mount Carmel in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These early Carmelites developed a deep and abiding devotion to Our Lady. Indeed, the Gospel that was proclaimed for today’s feast (John 19:25-27) teaches us:
‘”Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple He said , “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.”
As Carmelites, we are called with the rest of humanity to accept Jesus’ gift of His Mother, and to welcome her into our home and heart. Furthermore, Carmelites look to Mary not exclusively as a mother but as a sister as well. This is significant to understanding how to move forward when we feel lost in the spiritual life. While as a mother propels us forward by gently beckoning and drawing us toward herself, a sister takes a slightly different approach. A sister is one who will stand at our side, either with a hand on our shoulder or a finger in our back. Still one must realize that neither approach will move us forward in the least if we are not first willing to take the step. Thus in Carmel, when we feel lost in the spiritual life, we can confidently call upon Mary in our need. In exercising her roles as both mother and sister, if we resign ourselves totally to her, Mary will lead us to Our Lord.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Pray for us!!!