In this Edition:
- Advent: The Advent wreath
- The Community: Upcoming clothing
- The Monastery: Building update
- The Two Christmases?
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Greetings to all as we begin this holy season of Advent. Though a time of penance, it is also a time of intense joy as we renew in our hearts and minds the expectation of our Savior and His coming to earth. By His merciful Incarnation, He became one of us and as the old hymn says, “taught us how to live and die”. The liturgy of Advent places before our eyes the many beautiful prophecies of Isaias, who saw in mystery the Hope of the Nations, Who would be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Strong One, Ruler, Prince of Peace. Advent not only commemorates the coming of Our Lord in time, but also looks forward to His second and final coming at the end of time. May we all prepare our souls with loving welcome!
A time-honored and holy custom of Advent is the family Advent wreath. It is a simple, blessed evergreen wreath with four candles, one for each week of Advent, three violet, one rose. The violet, of course, is the liturgical color of penance, while the color rose indicates a lessened penance for the third Sunday of Advent. The four weeks of this liturgical season represent the roughly 4000 years that the Messias was awaited by the world. Each candle is lit as each week passes. Usually the Advent wreath is placed in the family dining room and lit nightly when the family comes together for evening dinner, the prayer of each week added to the blessing before the meal. In Carmel, however, we have our Advent wreath in the choir, and the blessed candles burn throughout the recitation of the entire Divine Office throughout each day. The value of this sacramental of the Church, as with all of her sacramentals, is that it conveys grace to those who use it. And the special grace of this sacramental is that it pours forth light in darkness, preparing souls for the Feast of Light!
The Sisters are all happily preparing for the upcoming clothing in the Holy Habit of our youngest Sister on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. Several of our young Sisters are excitedly looking forward to their first Advent and Christmas in Carmel. The first year or two in Carmel may have an element of homesickness as we recall happy family memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Soon enough, though, the power of this precious vocation overcomes those things, and we treasure the grace that God has given to leave all to follow Him and live for Him alone! Still, these memories are precious to us, and often our recreations are filled with the Sisters’ family stories.
Certainly you all must be curious about the progress of the addition to the Monastery! We are making good progress and hope to have the foundation in before the end of the year. During the past year, St. Joseph has heard our many prayers and has sent us a wonderful builder for this addition. How often have we seen in the last year that this man is key to the entire project and its success. Your interested and charitable support with donations to our building fund has been truly a blessing. To those who have sent donations, some of which have been anonymous, we take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely! We need just a little more assistance. There is great need to complete this project as soon as possible for the vocations waiting to enter. They are from France, Brazil, the U.S.A. and Ecuador. As you can see our thermometer has not reached the top yet, but we are now only $100,000 from our goal! Won’t you help us to be done with this fundraising? We thank all of you for your good prayers for God’s blessings on this humble but important project of ours. Every week we hear from some of you with encouraging messages and promise of prayers. They mean so much to us and we thank this good God of ours daily for sending us such faithful and concerned friends – our family of Carmel!
We hope to share more good news about the monastery addition in our next newsletter, but this month we can tell you about November 18th, which was Tree Moving Day. Our good friends from CLazyT Tree Movers were here to do the work. A large portion of our enclosure “wall” consists of ponderosa pines transplanted from our small wooded area by these men over the years. This time they moved about a dozen of our ponderosas, Austrian pines and blue spruces from the future building site to various spots within our enclosure. One of the trees to be moved was just about the biggest these seasoned tree movers have ever moved. And what a process it is! In order to keep branches from breaking, they “zip” it with heavy equipment by wrapping strong rope from the bottom nearly to the top.
We have a beautiful old outdoor statue of St. Joseph, which for many years has been in a shady spot surrounded on one side by ponderosas. Each year we plant there a simple, small garden. With the monastery addition soon to be built too near the spot to make it secluded and prayerful any longer, we decided St. Joseph’s Garden would need to be relocated. Planning to move the statue ourselves on another day, we found that the area was just right for one of the large trees to be planted there. The tree completely covered and dwarfed St. Joseph! But he knows well that we depend on him to oversee everything that happens in our Carmel and so wasn’t content to stay behind that tree even for one day! And so near the end of a long day of hard work for these men, one of them came to ask us, “Where would you like that statue?” We certainly welcomed their generous offer, since that statue weighs easily several hundred pounds! So these two good men carefully loaded up dear St. Joseph with the Child Jesus into the shovel of their nifty Bobcat and slowly drove him to his temporary place nearer the present house and facing where he can watch over the future building progress. After they had swept the ground and leveled it and reverently lifted the statue to its place, one of these men, both non-Catholics, said with a smile, “He looks happy there!”
It seems that in our busy, modern world two distinct holidays called Christmas have developed. One is the original, which honors the Birth of our King; the other, of far more recent origin, has much of the world’s population rushing around to shop until they drop! Our effort has been to present on our web site gift items that make these two into the one they should be: a time of prayerful joy and of giving in remembrance of the unspeakable Gift bestowed upon us on the first Christmas Day. Your patronage of our web site is also another perfect way to support our Carmel. Please consider using the following as a shopping list for your family and friends:
- Greet family and friends near and far with our elegant Nativity Christmas cards, imported from Italy.
- Our Christmas ornaments and decorations all bring the mind back to Bethlehem: holly porcelain carol and angel ornaments, Infant Jesus and Holy Family nativity figurines, holy water fonts, superb framed art and Della Fonte and Salerni sterling silver art depicting the Holy Virgin and Child.
- Hear the choir of the Carmelite Sisters on our new choral CD recording of Gregorian Chant and Polyphonic masterpieces.
- Choose from our many books, which offer the gift of comfort and guidance in prayer and the spiritual life.
- Rosary boxes are such a unique gift, and one that most people would never buy for themselves. The ones we offer are of porcelain, wood and/or sterling silver – one of our favorite gift items.
- A variety of quality statues, crucifixes, medals, and rings give plenty of ideas for gift-giving.
- And of course, our own handmade rosaries and chaplets make treasured gifts that last a lifetime. As well, be sure to see the new badges and relic badges we have added to our selection.
- Gift Certificates are always available!
Blessed Advent to all! You remain in our grateful prayers.
Your Carmelite Sisters