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Friday, July 16, 2010



Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity has some beautiful words on what it means to be a Carmelite:

"I still remember the first secret you shared with me at Gemeaux, you were very little, but already the Master had taken your little heart captive, and my soul felt drawn toward yours! ... A Carmelite, my darling, is a soul who has gazed on the Crucified, who has seen Him offering Himself to His Father as a Victim for souls and, recollecting herself in this great vision of the charity of Christ, has understood the passionate love of His soul, and has wanted to give herself as He did! ... And on the mountain of Carmel, in silence, in solitude, in prayer that never ends, for it continues through everything, the Carmelite already lives as if in Heaven: 'by God alone.' The same One who will one day be her beatitude and will fully satisfy her in glory is already giving Himself to her. He never leaves her, He dwells within her soul; more than that, the two of them are but one. So she hungers for silence that she may always listen, penetrate ever deeper into His infinite Being. She is identified with Him whom she loves, she finds Him everywhere, she sees Him shining through all things! Is this not Heaven on earth! You carry this Heaven within your soul, my little Germaine, you can be a Carmelite already, for Jesus recognizes the Carmelite from within, by her soul. Don't ever leave Him, do everything beneath His divine gaze, and remain wholly joyful in His peace and love, making those around you happy!"


As a Secular Carmelite novice, I'm excited that someone actually thinks the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has something to do with the Carmelites and Carmelite spirituality and prayer!

My own pastor gave a homily about St Simon Stock having a vision of Our Lady, to the effect that anyone who wears the scapular and prays the rosary of the Little Office or at least prays 3 Hail Marys per day, will not go to hell. This is a traditional formulation, but most people are not aware this is not what the Carmelites teach today. For one thing, the St Simon Stock vision is generally agreed by Carmelite historians today to have been legendary rather than historical. The original meaning of the "scapular promise" was that through the intercession of Our Lady, Carmelites who persevere in their vocation to the end will be saved. During the time of St Teresa of Avila, the small devotional scapular began to be promoted to laity who wished to be affiliated with the Carmelites for spiritual benefit or affinity, with the familiar traditional promises. For various reasons, the Order's guidance and about the practice of the Scapular devotion have changed, particularly to clarify the relationship between the Scapular, and the Order of which it is the habit. The doctrine about the devotion currently approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship makes it clear that the scapular is fundamentally the Carmelite habit, and signifies being part of the Carmelite family to some greater or lesser degree, and the wearer of the Scapular should practice Carmelite spirituality (there are no particular vocal prayers to say). It's also understood today as symbolic of "being clothed in Christ", a child of Mary. It's also been understood and affirmed by various Popes as a means of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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