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July 2016 Newsletter

 

July Newsletter, 2016                  
 
 salve regina
In This Edition :
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Dear Friends of Carmel,
 
Blessed and Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
 
Of course it is a special day here in Carmel, and in joyful preparation, and we will be keeping vigil tonight in prayer before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  With all the works of the day completed, we will be able to devote our minds, hearts and souls to simple, recollected prayer.  And the helper of our prayer will be the tender Mother of Carmel.  Her generous soul is the example to all of her children of a precious "garden enclosed," the resting place of God within us.
 
Devotion to Our Lady under this title is perhaps the oldest in the Church; in fact, it may have been used within her own lifetime.  It is believed that she visited on Mount Carmel the spiritual descendants of Prophet Elias and the "Sons of the Prophet," who still lived a life of solitary prayer in that mountain range.  These men had received the preaching of St. John the Baptist, and after Pentecost embraced faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving Death and Resurrection.  The precious link that Mary was to these men, assisting them with her interest and prayers, gave them a close tie to her, so much so that they built a chapel in her honor, believed to be the first in the world.  They became known as the Brothers of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelite Order sees its origin in these souls of good will, prayer and holiness.  All Christians share this "precious link," the Mother of our Lord and God and our Mother; we also enjoy her interest and prayers, her true help to us in our daily life through Christ her Son. We read of these things in our Divine Office for this Feast, and what a beautiful meditation it is for us - and for you on this special day.
 
One of the prayers during our Novena the past week expresses the particular standpoint  that devotion to Our Lady under this title means.  It recalls the little cloud seen by Elias the Prophet from Mount Carmel, which prefigured the Virgin, from which "fell a kindly rain," symbolic of the graces that come to us from God through her.  It also is a prayer that humbly acknowledges our misery and sorrows, both spiritual and temporal throughout life, and how the maternal heart of the Mother of God is a heart ever open to her children.  It is a plea that this kindly Mother obtain from Blessed Jesus the heavenly gifts of humility, chastity and meekness, which were ever the fairest ornaments" of her own immaculate soul.  Lastly, this beautiful prayer petitions our merciful Mother: "And when the days of our earthly pilgrimage are accomplished according to God's holy will, grant that my soul may obtain the glory of paradise, through the merits of Christ and your intercession.  Amen."
:
 St. Elias
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts,
because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant.
They have destroyed thy altars,
they have slain thy prophets with the sword.

                                                                        - 3 Kings 19:10
St. Elias, Feast Day July 20
 
It is from the Old Testament that these words come, from a figure who seems to us far away and mysterious, almost mythical.  Who was St. Elias, whose feast day Carmelites celebrate July 20th?  How is it that this figure who comes in and out of the Old Testament, rebuking Kings, setting pagan altars ablaze, and raising the dead to life, is looked upon as the Father and founder of Carmel? 
 
All of the answers to these questions would be too much for us to try and explain here.  We have
recommended in the past the book Prophet of Carmel as an excellent way to get to know this great saint, priest and prophet of God, and we again The Prophet of Carmelurge its reading.  His life was extraordinary, beginning with the unusual events surrounding his birth, and ending with his departure from earth in a chariot of fire.  But rather than narrating episodes from his life, what we would like to speak about today, is why these words of this man, "With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of hosts," have become the Carmelite motto.
 
Zeal is scarce in our day!  Our materialistic age is incredibly efficient at destroying this virtue in our souls.  Too often, we put the emphasis on quantity over quality, action over intention, what is done over how it is done; passion and enthusiasm are slowly extinguished.  This lethargy spreads like a poison, leaving us heartless and thoughtless, bored and mechanical, even - and especially - in the practice of our spiritual life.  We become inert and find ourselves struggling to maintain our fervor for loving and serving God as true Christians.  The politically correct era in which we live condemns passion, is afraid of passion, especially if that passion be wholly and entirely directed toward the glory of the living God. 
 
Our younger Sisters have come from this world of “live and let live,” where convictions (especially about religion), if you have any, must be kept to yourself, confined to your own private world.  Enthusiasm equals fanaticism, or at least is looked upon as “over the top.”  How much has the Internet, social media and technology in general contributed to this problem?  "Emoticons" are hardly adequate to express true human emotion; and how often are those of you who have typed “lol” into an instant message or email actually laughing?!  What a new world it was for these young Sisters, upon entering Carmel, to find the passion and enthusiasm that motivates our life here, zeal for the Church, for God, for souls.  How much easier they have found it to climb the steep mountain of perfection, when one's whole heart and soul are longing to get there!  How much easier it is to persevere through trials in prayer, when your heart is breaking for the world who is crying out for God.  This kind of zeal is a gift from God, not something to be feared or utterly suppressed.  It is part of being human, and it is meant to fuel our hearts during the difficult journey towards Heaven and the overwhelming amount of work to be done in this world for souls.

Where is the fire that Our Lord wished to enkindle on earth?  Where is the fire that Elias wielded with his sword?  Where can we find that spark to enkindle our own souls? 
St. Thomas teaches that love is like fire.  It produces a flame, and the flame of love is zeal.  If the fire burns intensely, then the flame will also be intense and devouring.  True apostolic zeal is the spontaneous result, the normal fruit of the intimate contact of the soul with God through love.  The more a soul is united to God by love, the more it becomes enveloped in the flame of His charity, participating in His infinite love for men, in His eternal zeal for their salvation; thus it necessarily becomes apostolic.                        - Father Gabriel, Divine Intimacy
Our Carmelite contemplative vocation is necessarily an apostolic one.  St. Elias drew his strength for the great tasks assigned to him by cultivating a deep union with God, for the Lord separated him from the rest of men to live in solitude, dependent upon Him alone. Elias learned, through trial, fear and disappointment, through earnest prayer and God's timely interventions in his life, to "stand before the face of God" always.  This was his life and the source of his zeal for God's interests. (3 Kings)  
 
We find this charism of Carmel again, centuries later, in the life of our second founder, St. Teresa of Avila.  In the time of St. Elias, the Israelites had abandoned God for the priests of Baal.  St. Teresa's time witnessed an upheaval in society and within her beloved Church that really has never been healed.  It was for these reasons, and to remedy in some small way these disorders, that she founded the Carmelite monasteries of the Reform.
... that since He [Christ] has so many enemies and so few friends, the friends should at least be good ones.  So I determined to do the little I could, which was to follow the evangelical counsels with all the perfection of which I was capable, and to influence the few around me to do the same, trusting in the great goodness of God who never fails to help anyone who has resolved to leave all for His sake ... to spend our time in prayer for those who defend the Church of God...
                                 –Way of Perfection
As well, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus wrote unforgettable words that burn like a bright lantern in the modern day darkness;  she, whose obscure and tranquil life was spent entirely out of the limelight, but whose apostolic zeal would earn her the title Patroness of the Missions:

St. Therese, patron of the missionsO Lord of hosts, who hast said in the thy Gospel: "I am not come to bring peace but a sword," arm me for the combat.  I burn to do battle for Thy glory, but I pray Thee to enliven my courage.  
My sword is love!  With it I will drive the strangers from the land, and I will have thee proclaimed King – over the Kingdom of souls.  I will do battle then, for thy love, until the evening of my life.  And give to us souls, dear Lord….We thirst for souls! O My Beloved,  I know the warfare in which I am to engage;  ...  I will do battle then, for Thy love, until the evening of my life. ... I would travel to every land to preach Thy name, O my Beloved, and raise on heathen soil the glorious standard of Thy cross.  One mission alone would not satisfy my longings.  I would spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, even to the most distant isles.  I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but were it possible, from the beginning of the world till the consummation of all time.            
From what source did these great souls, these great Saints, draw their inexhaustible energy and fiery passion for the glory of God?  What secret did they possess, which has perhaps eluded us?
According to the measure in which the love of God takes possession of our heart, it creates and nourishes in us an ever increasing love for our neighbor; this love, being supernatural, seeks only the supernatural good of our fellow men and thus becomes zeal for the salvation of souls.  If we have little love of God, we shall have little love for souls, and vice versa; if our zeal for souls is weak, this means our love of God is also weak.  In fact, how could it be possible to love God sincerely without loving those who are His children, the object of His love, of His care, and of His zeal? 
                   – Divine Intimacy
This virtue is not confined to the enclosure of Carmel.  Our world needs passionate, enthusiastic warriors outside the walls as well as within, warriors that can be found in any walk of life.  God’s will presents to us many challenges during the day, tasks to be done, sufferings to be born, sacrifices to be made.  Sometimes life can seem exceedingly monotonous, and sometimes even somewhat pointless.  But all of these things are potentially so many treasures of grace and merit, if we have only the heart to be attentive to them and exploit them.  “Pick up a pin for the love of God and save a soul.”  It is charity and the flame of zeal which transformed ordinary daily lives of ordinary people into the lives of Saints.  It is the very things that we believe to impoverish us and weigh us down that will become our riches and our weapons and which will carry us up to the heights, for  nothing is impossible to Him who gives us strength.  
 
The great Prophet Elias asked the children of Israel who had forsaken God's  covenant, “How long do you halt between two sides?  If the Lord be God, follow him.” (3 Kings 18:21)  Whether in or out of the cloister, we all can see a world that is ever slipping back, as the Israelites did, from worshipping the true God and honoring the commandments of God.  The Great Choice will again be given at the end of time, before the final and pivotal spiritual battle, when, as Holy Scripture tells us, St. Elias will return with his fiery sword, to confront the sum of evil personified in the person of the antichrist (Malachi 3:23-23).   Let us not be among those who halt between good and evil.  But rather,  let us join in the fight, wielding the greatest weapon God has put at our disposal: loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God...enkindling a spark that will set the world on fire.

Website News


Our Lady of Mount Carmel, resin statueOver the last few months, the Sisters have been taking time to find new sacramentals, books, and other items that may be of interest to you, our faithful customers.  As many of you know, we like to keep an eye out for new items every now and then so that we can continue to offer you many devotional items that become available.  One such find is a new statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  The image is unique, since Our Lady is seated, as a queen on her throne, and she presents her Son and the scapular as her gifts to her children.  You may like to peruse the other resin composition statues  we have made available.  Less expensive than the very special wood-carved statues, they also make very nice gifts.

Sacramental - The Brown Scapular

Our handmade brown scapulars are ever in demand, and the Sister in charge of making them sometimes is barely able to keep up!  We very often receive emails from people asking questions about this sacramental of the Church.  As simple as this devotion is, there are aspects to it that sometimes cause confusion.  This is why we have dedicated an entire FAQ page on our website to the brown scapular - its history and the devotion, as well as a page under our Doctrine and Devotion section.
 
We always believe that the best way to think of the Scapular is that it really is a piece of clothing - it is a religious habit, the "livery of Our Lady," the sign of one's dedication to her and of being clothed in her Mary in her scapular promisevirtues, which are nothing less than the holy virtues of her Divine Son.  The small scapular the faithful wear is a miniature version of the renowned but simple, brown large scapular we Carmelites wear as part of our habit.  Recently, a superb book, Mary in Her Scapular Promise, was reissued.  Originally published in 1940,  it was a popular classic of its time, and we are happy to make this very appealing and helpful book available to you.  It explains the beautiful history of the scapular, the development of this devotion, the importance of Our Lady's promise, the many miracles that have taken place through the scapular, and it addresses many of the practical questions commonly asked about this devotion.  One of our Sisters read this book and commented that it not only was a good source of information and devotion, but it also helped her to appreciate even more the great gift of the holy scapular.  We hope it will help you, too, in fostering a greater love for Our Lady and the sign she bestowed of her love and protection: the Brown Scapular.

Wood Inlaid Crucifix Story

St. Benedict Crucifix, italianAs most of you know, for years we have offered a variety of hand-made ebony and rosewood  inlaid crucifixes.  For well over 100 years, through both world wars and many a European conflict, a family business in France labored to make these beautiful crucifixes.  The business was passed on several generations, and the crucifixes became well known and treasured in Europe and around the world, especially here in the United States.  Last year, however, this family had to make the sad and difficult decision to close their centuries-old business.  Our supply dwindles, but as long as we have them in stock, we will make them available to you.  It has been our privilege to offer these very devotional and beautiful crucifixes, and although saddened by this sign of the shifting paths of the society and culture in our times, we have been able to forge ahead to find another source for wood inlaid crucifixes.  They are Italian-made, and though not hand crafted, are well made with sturdy materials. This new company does not offer the same variety of designs, since their work is exclusively the St. Benedict crucifix.  These handsome and devotional crucifixes, crafted in both ebony and  rosewood, are offered in many different sizes and styles.  See them here:
To view a variety of other new items, please visit our website: New Items
 catholic children's books, saint books, books for kids
New Children's books - Stories of the Saints
 St. Joseph, patron of the universal church, framed pring
Beautiful new framed print of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church.
 Jesus King of Love
New Books about the Sacred Heart, including a book about the Enthronement.
 

Community News

 
wasp nest removalAs we write this letter, we are enjoying a breeze at the nearby window bringing into the monastery the fragrance from a linden tree in full bloom.  It is just one element of the beautiful summer we are having.  The regular winter storms and the multiple spring snowstorms watered trees and other plantings far better than we ever could do - and what a difference it makes from so many dry and draught years we usually have here in Colorado.  From the smallest perennials to the grandest of our trees, the verdant growth is more like the Midwest that our semi-desert plains.  We are enjoying it while we can, since we know this is not typical.
 
But abundant blooms bring pollinators, mostly welcome, some unwelcome.  Some sort of wasp or hornet has been finding a happy home all around us - and being a general nuisance.  One or two somehow got into the house, they were often loitering in the grass beneath maple trees, and finally not only one of the Sisters was stung, but the puppy, too.  Calls to local "pest control" companies were unsuccessful in helping us, since spring is their busiest time, and they were all booked solid for weeks with appointments for raccoon/squirrel/bird nest removals.  But we were fortunate to find one small company whose only pest is those of the buzzing/tiny-winged kind!  He's a beekeeper named Lazarus, who manages a number of hives around the city and beyond, and he was able to remove the 2-3 hives that we could see (small, papier-mâché-type) on different parts of the house and in one of our garden sheds.  These were all inactive, however - nobody living in them.  A week or two later, though, we still noticed the hornets flying near the house.  Then one day, while a Sister was reading under a maple tree, she heard the buzzing and looked up.  Right above her head, about 10' from the ground, an active nest - "traffic" going in and out.  We snapped a photo to show our beekeeper friend and now share it with you.  When Lazarus returned to remove the nest, he noticed yet another one in a nearby branch.  We'll be seeing Lazarus again as the summer goes on, since yet another nest was spotted by one of the Sisters...
german shepherd puppygerman shepherd puppy training













 
 
 
 
We've had many requests for an update on Zelie.  Besides getting stung by the  hornet, she's been learning to chase small rabbits and birds, run at top speed, and play hide-and-seek behind bushes.  She is also learning to be a good, obedient, protecting dog.  She has a friend in the UPS man, who regularly brings her treats.  (We think he does this because he's a little afraid of her bark!)  She "helps" in the garden - that is, her nose is practically right in the soil where Gardening Sister has her hands; and she bites at the stream of water coming from the hose when we water the plants and trees; setting a sprinkler is pretty much like taking a shower, we get so wet.  Zelie seems to prefer getting wet during these hot summer days.  We have had help with Zelie's training in a man we are certain the good Lord has provided - a man who knows German Shepherds well and who has been fascinated to see the unique situation for this particular German Shepherd.  As everyone knows, dogs (GSDs especially) usually attach themselves to one, maybe two, people.  Or at least the family situation is smaller.  What our friend has found so interesting is that Zelie loves and obeys ALL of the Sisters.  Although one Sister in particular does the real training, all of us help out with the various needs the dog has - feeding, brushing, playing and the rest.   Zelie has successfully completed her early, sometimes obnoxious and troublesome puppyhood (and we survived it!) and is now becoming calmer and more predictable.  The fact that she's smart does tend to make her training easier for us.  She had what seemed for a while a real neurosis over anything with wheels - like our refectory carts and garden carts outside.  With the help of our good friend, she's at last overcome that, for which we breathed a sigh of relief... 
 
She is a tremendous snifferMost dogs are, but she does seem sometimes to be an extraordinary sniffer.  The other night, noticing a baby toad that had come up to our patio from the ponds next door, she nearly smashed it into the pavement with her nose.  She also can be a bit stubborn and self-willed.  When we take her outside, sometimes the summer grass is just too inviting, and she will plop right down in a dead weight, immovable.  She knows she needs to take care of business, but instead, she stretches out on the grass - again sniffing hard the pleasant, fresh grass.  Only food can arouse her - and sometimes not even that.  Her puppyhood is quickly passing, and though it is nice to have her more obedient and calm, we know we will miss her cute little puppy ways.  We include a few photos to tell more of the story of her progress.
Sister irons vestment fabricOur vestment work continues, as we go forward on another set in honor of the Holy Spirit.  Not as elaborate as the "Solemn" set we completed a few years ago, it will be used throughout the year for daily Masses.  The red fabric for this project has intricate liturgical symbols woven in and is stunning and a joy to work with.  Yard and garden work, summer cleaning projects, and daily duties in the monastery keep us busy and never bored!  But we had a little drama the other day when a funnel cloud was spotted north of us and was headed in our direction.  We heard the tornado warning issued over the weather radio, and we even got a message from our very own meteorologist (a family relative) that this time, we really might be wise to take better cover.  Baseball-size hail was already noted in nearby Black Forest.  For the first time ever, it really did seem wise to go to a safer spot inside the house.  So we all headed  to the crawl space, puppy in tow and huddled around the weather radio, cheerful and waiting.  Our little adventure was rather short-lived, since our meteorologist soon sent the message, "You're out of danger and can come up for air!"  Coming out of the crawlspace, we saw that the strong rain and wind had only taken some leaves off of trees, and just a trace of hail was on the ground - thanks be to God, no damage.  He spared us again, through our Protecting Angels!  The storm passed, and that evening saw us all outside as the sun set in a clear sky.

Tonight, taking our turns before Our Lord throughout the silent hours of night, we will be remembering the friends of Carmel in our prayers.

In Our Blessed Mother, Beauty and Queen of Carmel,
 
Your Carmelite Sisters
 
 Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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