Everyone Wants to be a Carmelite

If this title sounds like a broad and perhaps exaggerated statement, allow me to present my case. While there are many supporting statistics, such as the number of St. Therese devotees, the popularity of the brown scapular, and the perennial interest in St. John of the Cross, I would like to relate two very unbiased and objective examples.

They are Feathers and Chunker, respectfully. (Now please, a more respectful response than that!)

Feathers and Her Young

Feathers is a mourning dove that made her nest outside Sister Julianna’s window. So enraptured was she by our life, that she (the bird of course, not Sister) just had to raise her young within the walls of Carmel. Not only does she reside here “with” us, but she and her brood have even taken up chanting the Divine Office. (more…)

Published in: on August 28, 2010 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  

“I Came to Carmel to Save Souls and to Pray for Priests.”

These words from St. Therese really do encapsulate what is at the heart of every Carmelite. Our Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus (from Avila) wanted her daughters to be at the spiritual service of those who are at the front lines: priests.

I am reminded of this daily in many ways. It was, in fact, the most attractive aspect of Carmel for me when I was looking into religious life and now it is my greatest joy to pray and sacrifice for priests. A few days ago we had two priests who are with us for their vacation come to the kitchen to make dinner for our community. I was there to “help” but really, they had everything under control.

For inspiration, they were listening to Gregorian chant. It was a joyful, relaxed atmosphere and we were all enjoying the simple pleasure of preparing a meal. The tone changed ever so subtly to be slightly more reflective when the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus began to be heard from the CD player. One priest said to the other, in a reminiscent voice, “Remember that day?” Later, we also heard the Litany of the Saints. Again the almost wistful question, “Remember?” “It is possibly what I remember the most, lying prostrate on the floor during my ordination.” (more…)

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 10:42 am  Comments (2)  

Feastday Celebration

Usually when you tell a story, you start at the beginning. Well, let me turn the tables a bit and begin with the end…

As the last rays of the sunset were fading in the sky, a harmonious group of voices rose gently from the softly lit garden. Over a hundred Carmelites were spread through the curving pathways behind the convent and all had their attention fixed on a small statue of Our Lady, illumined by a garden light. What were they doing, gathered in the growing dusk? What was the cause for the peaceful smiles that played on their faces as they sang? What drew them together on this summer night?

Was it the riotous game of baseball that had shortly preceded the singing? The sport had been full of adventures, including several home runs, a stolen base by a sister well past seventy, and a trip onto the roof to retrieve a stray ball. Yes, this spirit of communion expressed in joyful play was certainly a part of the evening. (more…)

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm  Comments (1)  

Good Things Come in Sevens

Seven days in a week, seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven colors in the rainbow. Yes, seven is a perfect number. And now we have been blessed with seven Aspirants.

So what’s an aspirant? Exactly what it sounds like! Or rather what she sounds like. Still not clear? Let me explain.

About a year or so ago seven young women began their journey to Carmel. They left their families and moved to Duarte, California. They prayed with us, worked with us, and began to learn our life. But they kept their own cars, their i-pods, phones, and wardrobes. We call this initial stage Candidacy and so they were called Candidates. After 365 days (more or less) of waking up at 4:45 a.m. and many other rather-challenging-Carmelite-things, they have been approved to enter Carmel. (more…)

Published in: on August 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Carmel’s Top Ten

In about one hour I will begin my annual retreat. And so for the next eight days we will be having Grand Silence on this blog. (Translation: no new posts.) As a preparation, I thought I would make a “Top Ten” list, the most frequently quoted phrases from our Carmelite saints. No official study was conducted, so the results are pretty subjective. Be all that as it may, be assured that the fifty of us going on retreat tonight will keep you in our prayers! Now enjoy a word from our sponsors…I mean our saints!

10. God save us from sour faced saints! (St. Teresa of Jesus)

9. If you love the Crucified, nothing will be difficult for you. (Ven. Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament)

8. I came to Carmel to save souls and to pray for priests. (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face) (more…)

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Santa Teresita’s 80th Jubilee

We just returned home from Santa Teresita where we joined all our sisters and our residents and their families for a Mass celebrating our 80th Jubilee. I know I’ve said this often, but it really was glorious.

“A jubilee is a wonderful time to reflect how good God is,” said Bishop Oscar Solis during the homily. How very true. The bishop did not hesitate to remind us that we can see that God’s ways are not our ways, but that with Him we can measure the true meaning of success: to be instruments of God’s grace, to live our calling as a Christian, to impart Gospel values. All of us joined him in a prayer for “success not only in this world but forever in Heaven with Jesus our Lord.”

Mother Regina Marie also addressed the congregation at the end of Mass. Allow me to repeat a few of her words: “We (the sisters) are the privileged ones who live along side those who are truly rich with the wisdom of years. They have been under the gaze of their Loving Creator for seventy, eighty and even a hundred years and radiate this grace out. We have a power house of grace in our residents who accept whatever our Lord sends. One day they will receive an unlimited flood into their souls: Heaven.” (more…)

Published in: on August 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)