Ignorance is Bliss

Before I say anything else, let me just preface this entry by saying it does have a happy ending. We all got home safe.

What do you get when you combine three adventuresome Carmelites, a beautiful December day, and a mountain stream? Wet feet and a really good story.

It started out with a simple picnic by a stream. A man-made platform made lunch quite comfortable and safe. After our sandwiches, fruit, and chips had disappeared most of the group was ready to head home. But three of us had not quite had our fill of nature for the day and the stream just seemed to be begging us to go exploring. So we waved good-bye to those returning home and set out on our way into the Los Angeles National Forest. (more…)

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 10:11 am  Comments (2)  

A Carmelite Advent: St. John and Likeness to Christ

St. John and the Advent Wreath in our Chapel

“This law holds:/ That the lover becomes/ like the one he loves;/ For the greater their likeness/ The greater their delight.” St. John of the Cross

Perhaps the popular acronym “WWJD” should sometimes be “WHJD,” for What Has Jesus Done. To speculate what He would do in a particular situation is only possible if we are thoroughly familiar with what He has already done.

We as Christians profess we take Christ as the model of our life. Then His first act must be our first act, the foundation of our life. “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son.” When applied personally to my life, I can understand this to mean, “God was so madly in love with me, that His desire was communion with me and He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this union. It is His great delight.”

And so the Second person of the Blessed Trinity became like me. But His likeness is patterned on my true self. Sadly, in my sinfulness, I have fabricated a false self. Communion with God and this false self is impossible. The remedy is complete surrender and dependence as we see in the Incarnation. (more…)

Published in: on December 15, 2010 at 8:43 am  Comments (1)  

A Carmelite Advent: St. Therese and Our Lady

St. Therese in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “You know, dear Mother, that I am happier than you? I have you for Mother, whereas you do not have the Blessed Virgin to love.”

Let’s explore this incredible privilege that is ours: Mary is our Mother.

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our Chapel

Perhaps a good place to start is actually to re-phrase that statement: Mary is MY Mother. Her relationship to me and mine to her is not a general, all encompassing, group package. It is a personal give and take between the Queen of Heaven and me.

This leads directly to another point: MARY is my Mother. Not an image, not a statue, not a thought passed down and elaborated through the ages. She is a real individual, with her own personality, albeit perfect, but nonetheless human. She is strong, humble, aware of details, tender hearted, and reflective. She is gracious and dignified, absolutely understanding. And she has a sense of humor. Completely real.

There are two more words in our little phrase. Let’s take a look at the last: Mother. Once a mom, always a mom. You can’t take birth back. Mary is Mother with all her being- for me! My life is Christ and Mary gave me Christ, so she gave me life. She is not my fairy godmother who waits to give me whatever I may ask of her. She is my Mother who knows my needs and what is good for me beyond what I can see. Even my most humble needs, in my helplessness, she is aware and intercedes for me. (more…)

Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Carmelite Advent: Blessed Elizabeth and the Incarnation

“O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come upon me and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery.” Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

What if Advent was not about preparing for Christ’s coming anywhere but in my own life? What if I spent these weeks doing everything in my power and asking for every grace I need to be able to say on December 25, “Christ lives in me in a new way!” What if the members of my household are not so impressed by the lovely packages under the tree but by the presence of Christ in me?

So many are looking forward to seeing the Babe asleep in the manger, but how many are depending on seeing Our Savior in me? In fact, it seems the former would be pretty pointless in my life without the latter. (more…)

Published in: on December 6, 2010 at 9:50 pm  Comments (1)  

A Carmelite Advent: St. Teresa and Christ’s Humanity

As I mentioned in a privious post, the Carmelite Saints have almost countless references to Advent in their writings. While the actual word “Advent” may not be used, themes pertaining to the season are certainly numerous. This Advent we’d like to share with you some reflections based on their words. It is our hope that it serves as a help to your own preparations for the Birth of our Savior.

“I see clearly that if we expect to please Him and receive an abundance of His graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through His most Sacred Humanity, in which God takes delight.” St. Teresa of Jesus (more…)

Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment