In this Edition:
- Feast of St. Bartholomew
- Website News
- Community News
Greetings, good friends of Carmel,
So many months have passed since our last letter to you, and there is much to share! As you know, we always try to send our letter to arrive on special days or seasons of the liturgical year. Today, August 24, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles, may not seem to be such a special day to the outside world, but within Carmelite monasteries it is special indeed. It is a day of joyful remembrance and thanksgiving for it is the anniversary of the founding by our holy Mother St. Teresa of the first monastery of the Carmelite Reform, now 444 years ago. The Saint endured great interior struggles and outward opposition to accomplish God’s will in this foundation. To her, after God and His holy Mother, we owe our cloistered, contemplative vocation: prayerful, sacrificial consecration to Christ, living “alone with the Alone”. You can read the very interesting story of this first foundation at Avila, Spain, in St. Teresa’s Life (Volume 1 of The Collected Works). It is one of the customs observed today that we ourselves read again these words of our holy Mother. We also have a solemn procession throughout our own monastery since every Carmel is meant to be a living image of that first one, and we chant the Te Deum, the ancient hymn of thanksgiving. The procession ends in the Choir (our enclosure chapel) where we chant this beautiful antiphon: “Holy Mother, Teresa, look down from Heaven upon us, consider the vineyard which you have planted; visit it by your presence and perfect the work which your right hand has planted.” Join with us in thanking God for this Saint, this day, and this holy vocation!
We continue to add new features to our website’s Build-a-Rosary feature, and the most recent is what we call the “side medal”. In the work we do repairing rosaries, we have found it remarkable how many of these old rosaries, sometimes over a century old, have small devotional medals attached, so those building a rosary on our site can now do the same. All of the patron saint medals, as well as new “figurine” medals, are available to add to the rosary you design.
We are pleased to announce that the book Divine Intimacy is back in print after over a year of being unavailable. This wonderful book, written by the renowned Carmelite friar Father Gabriel and reflecting true Carmelite spirituality, guides the soul in prayer through the texts of Holy Scripture, the Fathers of the Church and many Carmelite saints and religious. We cannot recommend enough what this book has to offer for those who seek to enrich their spiritual life and keep it grounded on the solid foundation of doctrine and truth.
We have added several new crucifixes to the website in answer to the request for wall crucifixes. Several are American-crafted, and one is imported from Germany. The very special addition to our crucifixes, however, is the French-manufactured Profession Crucifix for religious. For the many priests, religious brothers and sisters, and religious communities who have contacted us for habit rosaries and other sacramentals, you will be very happy to know that there are still craftsman who make religious items in the old style.
We have also added to our religious art a famous image of the Sacred Heart of exceptional beauty, that of the Mexican artist José Maria Ibarrarán y Ponce (1854-1910). The prints we offer are direct reproductions of the original painting. Almost all other prints of this image that you will find are a reproduction of a painted copy that doesn’t have the same emotion or color quality as the original.
We are busy at work adding other new items to the website too, in preparation for the Christmas gift season, which comes upon us so suddenly each year!
Mother Prioress assigns to one Sister the task of reviewing the world news each day, gathering reports that will be of concern and interest to the Community. These, Sister shares at our daily recreation where we discuss all sorts of topics “from soup to nuts”! So sadly, the news in our days is of trouble, violence, injustice, war. Jesus Christ taught by His own example how much we can assist our neighbor by prayer and sacrifice, however distant that neighbor may be from us. Our prayers are with those who are suffering all over the world, and we keep them ever before Our Lord at the holy altar.
Those of you who received our letter in April, just before Easter, will recall that we were preparing for the clothing day (Reception of the holy Habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) of our newest Sister. The beautiful ceremony on April 30th was made all the more special by the attendance of all of Sister’s immediate family, originally from Poland and now living in California. God continues to give growth to our Carmel, and we are now looking forward to the entrance on September 8th of two new postulants. Please keep in your good prayers these young vocations, called by God to a life of loving service to Him and His Holy Church.
This summer has been very full and quite exhausting for us! It has been two years since we completed the monastery addition, and both time and funds were too limited for us to be able to do the necessary landscaping after such a project. Generous gifts from several benefactors enabled us to tackle the enormous work of beautifying our enclosure yard. We labored in all sorts of ways—from logistical planning to purchasing to clearing dead branches to lifting, loading, and planting! Our Colorado plains location has a small forest of ponderosa pines, and as you know we have added to these over the years. But all of the Sisters were anxious to try trees with LEAVES that would provide much-needed protection from the harsh summer sun on the new monastery building. We did our research to know what would grow well and survive at our altitude and very dry climate. Maples, an oak, some hawthorns, and ash are the result. We also chose some Colorado blue spruce and white fir. The Sisters dug most of the holes for these trees—quite a daunting task at first—but the heavy planting work was accomplished by a few brothers and nephews of the Sisters. The new trees are already giving shade to the yard, and that pleases all the Sisters very much. But our work did not end with the trees! We also cleared the old trees of dead branches, put in a stone walk, dug and planted shrub beds that border the entire west side of the new building, created a pleasant, hidden cove for growing herbs in large pots (this has also become a favorite spot for Sisters to read and pray), built a small stone “staircase” up a slight slope from the house to the little forest we have here, and planted a garden on that slope. Our new novice who had never before done a bit of gardening has joined the ranks of experts!
And all of this could not help but remind us of how the soul is compared to a “garden enclosed”… So in spite of being as busy and challenged as we could be this past summer, there was always the spirit of things—God’s reminders—keeping us united to Him in all things, even the heavy work in soil and stone.
As another summer ends and families and students start back to the school routine, we will be keeping you in our prayers. There is no part of our lives, whether we be students, soldiers, sales experts, or hidden religious, that does not need God’s grace to sustain it. We leave you, then, with one of our favorite prayers, which cannot but help us in our daily life
Go before us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, in all our doings, with Thy gracious inspiration, and assist us with Thy continual help, that every prayer and work of ours may begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Blessings to all of you in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Your Carmelite Sisters