In this Edition:
- Our Lady of the Rosary
- Community News
- Website News
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Some of you have not heard from us in over six months, and so we must begin this newsletter with a little of our philosophy on computers. We sent out our last Newsletter in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th. However, due to snafus of a computer sort, the letter made it only to a relative handful of our friends. As those good people know, we tried delivering this letter at least four times, with unhappy, and perhaps annoying, results. We decided not to fret or worry, however, but rather to be glad that the seemingly all-powerful computer/Internet technology proved itself but fallible and not quite as efficient as the world depends on it to be. It pulled us back from depending on it ourselves, and we rejoiced to reflect that only the good Lord is perfect and without error!
October finds us again giving tribute to Our Lady in a special way, this time in honor of her Rosary, since it is the Church’s appointed devotion for this month. It gives us reason to be grateful for the rosary apostolate God has given and provided for our Carmel. It is our honor and joy to make rosaries, and the Sister who first did this work and taught the rest of us also taught us to pray, with each rosary we make, for the person who will use it. And so we do. But we also, of course, pray the rosary and have been doing so most especially for the victims of the many storms and other natural disasters that are occurring upon our troubled earth. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us all!
October is also the month of two important Carmelite Saints—St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. Although we could write at great length about them both, it might be helpful to some who are not familiar with them to distinguish between the two, especially since they share a name. The first is St. Teresa of Jesus, whom we Carmelites reverently and most affectionately call “Our Holy Mother St. Teresa”, since she began the reform of the Carmelite Order in the 16th century in Spain. To her, we and all Carmelites owe the holy Rule of life we follow, as well as guidance in prayer and the spiritual life that is unsurpassed in wisdom, prudence, and common sense. Her love for God inspired her to lead many souls in the life of prayer and perfection. The parents of our second saint named their child after Our Holy Mother, for they desired their child, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, to inherit her love and zeal for God and His glory. St. Therese became a Discalced Carmelite at the tender age of 15 and died at 24 in the year 1897. But those nine years were fruitful beyond imagining, and the Little Way to holiness that she bequeathed to the world remains a solid and sure path for all souls, since it is essentially the way of the Gospel: faith, self-denial, and trustful surrender to God and His Merciful Love and Providence. No one mistakes the spiritual teaching of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa for something other than the challenging doctrine that it is. However, over the century or so since “Little” St. Therese lived, many indeed have misunderstood her life and purpose, mistaking her Way of Spiritual Childhood and making of it something childish and superficial. Even Pope Pius XI, who canonized her in 1925, protested this tendency: “Say and have it given out that they are making the spirituality of St. Therese much too insipid. How strong she is and how virile, a ‘great man’ whose whole doctrine preaches renunciation…” These words of a pope echo the statement of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa who writes in her renowned work, The Way of Perfection, that she wanted her nuns to be “strong men” in the spiritual battles for God and His Church! The more recent St. Therese has, by God’s design, been a wonder-worker in the years since her death, and St. Pius X’s prophecy that she would be the greatest saint of modern times has come true. How we love and learn from both Our Holy Mother and our Holy Sister!
You know by now that your Carmelite Sisters are never idle! We continue to receive numerous inquiries regarding the vocation to the religious life and have had visits of young ladies interested in our Carmel. We now prepare for the entrance of a postulant later this month and ask you for prayers as she begins her Carmelite vocation. Nearly 10 years ago, we constructed our enclosure wall, but at that time we could only afford to put up the main part that exposed the monastery to the area around the public chapel. We have used a “wall of trees” elsewhere, since they were less expensive to “build”—we had them moved in from a mountain forest to here on the prairie. But now, with the help of a dear benefactor, we can complete the rest of the enclosure, and we are glad about that.
Last spring, we planted a number of young trees within the enclosure—deciduous types—to give a bit of relief from the universal pine wall around us. We have watched them leaf, endure the hot summer, and now turn to their fall colors. One apple tree even had two apples on its branches. It has been a bit like watching children take their first steps! But the true summer’s harvest has been brought to the Monastery in abundance through the good and kind services of a gentleman who delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to our turn regularly. He and we both have dubbed him our “Ring-and-Run Man”, since most of the time he drops off the boxes of wonderful things, rings the doorbell and takes off before we can answer the door! The wealth of fresh produce has kept us on our toes, since the Kitchen Sister summons us all, front and center, to process/freeze/cook, so as not to waste a single bit of God’s gifts left at our door.
But God provides a rest for His Carmelites too. Our Mother Prioress likes to provide that we each take our annual retreat of 8 days during the summer months when the weather will be pleasant and the Sisters will be able to spend more time outdoors. So week by week, as time has permitted, each one has gone on retreat. Perhaps you are wondering what “gone” on retreat must mean at Carmel? We, of course, do not “go” anywhere, but take the time to be alone with Our Lord, attending with the Community only Holy Mass and the Divine Office. Otherwise, we pray alone, work alone, and do not attend community recreations. It is a much-needed time of silence and rest each year, and we thank God for it. You would perhaps be surprised how much harder everyone must work to take up the daily duties of the Sister on retreat! But it is a joyful and loving burden we are glad to carry so that each of our Sisters may be refreshed and strengthened for the year ahead.
Our website also keeps us quite busy, as we work to keep it growing and interesting for visitors and those looking for the sacramentals of the Church. With the help of our dedicated “Web Administrators”, we have been able to add two useful new features to our website. First of all, at the top of every page you will find a new search field. Do you have a devotion to St. Therese and want to know about every St. Therese item we offer? Now it’s easy…just type “Therese” into the search field and click “Go”! Also, at the bottom of every page, you will find a new “E-mail this page to a friend” feature…perfect for telling a friend about an item or informational page that you know will interest them.
Our Rosary Gallery has proven to be both popular and helpful to folks who are looking for really special rosaries, as well as for those who want ideas for designing their own. We have added nearly 20 rosaries to the Gallery and invite you to take a look at the wonderful combinations available to make this favored sacramental of Our Lady.
You will again find many new books on the website, including the wonderful ones that tell the life of the parents of St. Therese, Zelie and Louis Martin, authoritatively written by Celine, the saint’s older sister and childhood companion. Please check out our Children’s Titles—we now have some excellent books for young readers on the Life of Christ, Angels and more! Many of our website customers have asked us for a good book that presents Catholic doctrine simply and thoroughly. Upon reflection, we realized that the best answer to that need is the old-fashioned, but never out-dated Baltimore Catechism. This is the best Baltimore Catechism available, in an excellent lay-flat paperback from The Seraphim Company. You will be glad to have this book handy, and all these titles will make excellent Christmas gifts for young and old!
Please view our expanded selections of beautiful greeting cards for Christmas. We are especially pleased to offer new Christmas cards in authentic illuminated manuscript.
Lastly, we call your attention to the new Stations of the Cross crucifixes imported from Germany. This is religious and devotional art at its finest, we believe. It is most difficult to find a stations crucifix, as we discovered last year when we wanted to find one as a gift for a priest. Each station is finely depicted around the image of Our Lord crucified, with a wood cross to fulfill the requirement for gaining the holy indulgence for this fruitful and prayerful devotion.
Please know of our continual remembrance of you in our prayers. May God reward you for your support and faithful friendship to our Carmel.
In Our Lady,
Your Carmelite Sisters