- The Coming of the Holy Spirit
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COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
O King of glory,... You have ascended triumphantly into heaven! Do not leave us orphans, but send upon us the Promise of the Father, the Spirit of Truth, alleluia!
Dear Friends of Carmel,
We pray that you received the beautiful graces of the Paschal season, exulting in the Resurrection of Our Savior, His victory over sin and death. These graces were more vividly brought before us as death touched the families of several of our Sisters during Lent, even on Good Friday. With hearts filled with confidence and gratitude, we commended the souls of our loved ones to God, reflecting deeply on Christ’s most fruitful labors unto death on Calvary, and “loving with all our hearts this work of mercy,” as the liturgy prays.
And now, we have had the joy of celebrating our blessed Redeemer’s Ascension into heaven. The Fathers of the Church speak eloquently of this closing event in Our Lord’s earthly life, remarking that since we belong to Him, “We have not only been confirmed as possessors of paradise, but in Christ, we have pierced through to the very heights of heaven!” (Pope St. Leo, 5th century). The liturgical hymns for the Feast of the Ascension pour forth the praises of Our Savior, calling upon Him as “Jesus, Author of man’s salvation and delight of his heart…our leader and the way to heaven” and beseeching, “May You also be the goal on which our hearts are set, our joy in tribulation and life’s sweet reward. Amen.” (from the Hymn for Lauds and Vespers)
United with Our Lady and the Apostles, “steadfast in prayer” with them (Acts 1), we await the coming of the Holy Spirit once again upon earth on Pentecost. An excellent way to spend these days is prayerfully to read again the wonderful chapters of St. John’s Gospel (14-16), which are the Savior’s own teaching about the Holy Spirit, the “Promise of the Father” and “the Spirit of Truth”. Father Gabriel, the revered Carmelite author and director of souls, offers this helpful commentary for us, urging us to draw some practical applications from these precious chapters:
First of all, we must fervently prepare ourselves for Pentecost, so that the coming of the Holy Spirit will be renewed in us in all its plenitude. Since sin is the obstacle to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, our preparation must consist in a very special purity of conscience. Sin must be destroyed in us, not only in its actual manifestations, even though they may be slight, but also in its deepest and most hidden roots.
We must be convinced, furthermore, that a certain action of the Holy Spirit is never interrupted in a soul in the state of grace; this is even more true of a soul who tries to correspond faithfully to the divine motions. This action does not necessarily have to be perceived and consoling. In aridity and despondency the Holy Spirit also works in the faithful soul; His action is secret and hidden, but also real and effective. Its chief purpose is to purify the soul and dispose it for union with God. If the soul is convinced of this, it will remain confident, even in difficulties, and, if it neither understands nor sees its path, it will trust in the Holy Spirit, who sees and knows well the goal to which He is leading it.
Finally, the Gospel invites us to invoke the action of the Holy Spirit on the Church and on the whole world: on the Church, to govern and direct her in the accomplishment of her mission; on the world, to convince it of the truth which it rejects...
~ Divine Intimacy, Chapter 168, “The Great Promise”
You know our habit of recommending spiritual reading, and we have some wonderful books about the Holy Spirit and increasing our knowledge and understanding of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, Who is often called “the Forgotten Paraclete”. The season after Pentecost comprises the remaining months of the liturgical year, and it is sometimes called “The Reign of the Holy Ghost”. During these months, the fruits of the Redemption are poured out upon the Church through the feastdays that commemorate and honor them. After the Feast of Pentecost, these feasts come in quick succession: Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart, Precious Blood. Learn more about these magnificent mysteries and devotions through meditatively reading about them.
Besides spiritual books, sacramentals serve as conveyors of grace, as reminders of truths that we hold close to our hearts through faith. This is why we offer these simple objects that can be the means of progress in our spiritual life, the means of comfort when our souls are troubled or sad. To instill and even proclaim the mysteries of faith, devotion to the Holy Spirit for example, some people will wear a simple ring that depicts the way the Holy Spirit appeared in the world through the dove. The same symbol in a picture or on a medal, or even a small rosary box, can serve to prompt us to remember God and to pray.
We have had many requests for fitting greetings and gifts for Priestly Ordinations, and we are happy now to offer two dignified cards for this very special occasion. It is one of those occasions in life that affects us all—the life of the Church and the life of so many individual souls—and it is not an easy occasion to “shop” for! We have discovered that a gift so appreciated by seminarians and priests, more meaningful than others, is a devotional crucifix. One priest we know, a seminary professor, always gives his seminarians a reliquary crucifix—because he treasures the one he himself received during his priestly training. As we know, many priests, in imitation of the missionary priests of old, love to use the crucifix when preaching. The wood inlaid crucifixes we obtain from France offer a fine selection for gifts for those who are so specially called by God. We use these same crucifixes on many rosaries found on our Rosary Gallery that were made especially for priests.
As many of you already know, our happiest news is the Final Profession and Veiling of one of our young novices. We present a few photographs of the day to share a little of that joy with you. The religious habit and veil in our days often raises questions. Although there is a definite “return to tradition” in the Church and among her religious orders, the habit is not that often seen. “Why a veil?” is a frequent query. The Catholic Encyclopedia acquaints us with a bit of the historical basis and reasoning behind the wearing of the veil by consecrated Religious women. We learn that in ancient Rome, a red veil, or a veil with red stripes, distinguished the newly-married women from the unmarried; so it was actually the married woman who wore a veil, to reveal to the world her status of belonging to one man. From the earliest times, Christ was represented to the Christian virgin as a husband, the only person, according to St. Paul (Corinthians 7:34) she had to think of, live for and please. It was natural that the bride of Christ should adopt the veil, which thus symbolized not only the purity but also the inviolable fidelity to Christ which was to be reverenced in her. “The taking of the veil then suggested an obligation of constancy.” In our own Veiling Ceremony, after the veil is blessed, the Sister sings this phrase from Psalm 118: “Accept me, Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live; and do not confound me of my hope.” And the celebrant, the bishop or priest who gives the veil, answers, “Receive the sacred veil, the symbol of modesty and reverence; and may you so ever carry it to the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may possess life everlasting and may live forever and ever. Amen.” It is worthy to note that the white veil of the novice is not blessed, only the black veil of Perpetual Profession; and it is the custom for us reverently to kiss our veil each time we put it on, the constant reminder of loving gratitude for our holy vocation of belonging only to Christ!
A beautiful part of the Profession and Veiling Ceremonies is the final Kiss of Peace. The newly-veiled Sister goes to each member of the Community, embracing all the Nuns with devotion and respect, and saying to each: “Mother, pray for me,” or, “Sister, pray for me.” The moving hymn sung during this ceremony is Ecce Quam Bonum, which is Psalm 133: “Behold how good it is and how pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity!”
Our thoughts and prayers have been with the many towns and families who have been experiencing hardships because of the nation’s violent spring weather. God protect them and help them recover! Spring came very slowly to Carmel this year, and at times, it seemed it might never come! After a snowy Easter, a few days of warmth gave over to cold again. We had snow and frost well into May. But it worked surprisingly in our favor, for here at the altitude of 7000 feet, trees, flowering shrubs and perennials were preserved, blooming later but marvelously now in early June. We heard from friends and family who live in town, 1000 feet lower, that the warm spells brought out the leaves and buds earlier and the cold and frosty late April and early May ruined the blossoming. We have been enjoying the loveliest lilacs ever since planting them some years ago around the new part of the monastery. Some good friends of the Carmel donated two cold frames for raised garden beds, so we are trying a few herbs and vegetables again. So far, so good! Although the nights are still quite cool for June, the plants are cozy and growing… We should have lettuce by the end of June! We will let you know what comes of this little farming venture. Over these many years, both the short growing season at 7000 ft. and lack of time have made us unable to keep up a vegetable garden. But we are assured that the cold frames, which are like small greenhouses, extend the growing season and should not take much time, since weeds will be minimal. We are just hoping that the rabbits around here keep their distance from the plants!
Until next time, please be assured of our prayers, especially for the graces of a holy Pentecost Feast and season. May the Divine Spirit, the love of the Blessed Trinity and Guide of souls, fill the hearts of all with His precious Gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety and Fear of the Lord!
In Our Lord,
Your Carmelite Sisters
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