In this Edition:
- Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
- Website News – Preparation for Christmas
- Community News
Dear Friends of Carmel,
On November 9th, Carmelites celebrated the centenary of the holy death in 1906 of a saintly, young Sister who loved God ardently and most fruitfully. It is Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, born in France in 1880. Her story is of interest to many souls because, like most of us, she was a person who had to struggle valiantly against herself and her faults to find God and true peace. She was a proud little thing as a youngster with a strong tendency to anger, and she was quite boisterous in pursuing her own will. But with the grace of her First Holy Communion came also the grace to fight to overcome these defects in her character to become gentle and generous and a loving, devoted, loyal friend. Her grace of attraction was to foster, by silent, interior prayer, a strong faith in the true, living presence of God within her. The doctrine of the Divine Indwelling in the soul was the hallmark of her life and led her to give her life to God in Carmel. She entered the Dijon monastery at 21 years of age in 1901, and lived the Carmelite life only 5 years. But she achieved the holiness of life that God destined for her in her short life. Her ambition was to guide other souls to God by the same doctrine that she followed: living each day and moment in God’s holy Presence within us. “In Heaven,” she wrote, “I think my mission will be to lead souls to interior recollection, by helping them to go out from themselves in order to adhere to God by a simple, wholly loving movement, and to keep them in this great inner silence which allows God to imprint Himself on them and to transform them into Himself.” Her most famous saying expresses most simply this way to God: “I have found heaven on earth, since heaven is God, and God is in my soul.”
You will remember that November is the month dedicated by the Church to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. As we have mentioned in past years, devotion to the Holy Souls is very great in Carmelite life. It is nourished by the example of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa and the prayers for them “built in” to our daily life: in the Divine Office, Chapter prayers, even processing to and from the refectory for meals. Do remember these souls and the good that you can do for them through your own prayers and good works. We have endeavored to provide on our website excellent books on Purgatory that explain this beautiful dogma of the Catholic Church, which so manifests God’s tender mercy for each soul. New to our site is the renowned masterpiece by St. Catherine of Genoa, called Fire of Love. This small book shares the revelations of God to this Saint and is truly a treasure for learning about this place of purification and union with God after death. Also, for the purpose of helping the Holy Souls through prayer, our Purgatory Chaplet includes many of the Church’s indulgenced prayers for the Dead.
Last year, we found ourselves quite at a loss when requests came to us for Christmas ornaments. We were disappointed not to be able to find more “spiritual” ornaments: Christmas decorations that celebrate the true meaning of this great event and feast of Christendom. But this year we are happy to share with you ornaments that express the true Christmas—simple and lovely things that you will be proud to display…or even to give as gifts! Please also see our selection of Christmas cards, which includes many new devotional designs for sending prayerful greetings to family and friends.
We are pleased to offer this year a number of superb Christmas books—carols, stories, customs. These wonderful books will make perfect gifts for young and old alike! But we would especially like to tell you about the book The Intimate Life of Saint Therese Portrayed by Those who knew Her. The particular interest of this book is that it tells about the work of St. Therese for individual souls, not only during her life, but after her death, and the spread of her doctrine of the “Little Way”. The anecdotes by and about her family members, especially her own blood sisters with her in Carmel, answer many questions that those devoted to St. Therese often ask and will enrich their knowledge of the importance and value of her hidden life on earth and her glorious and busy life in heaven. Please note two other special books that are authoritative explanations of two of the Church’s most powerful sacramentals: the Miraculous Medal and the St. Benedict Medal.
Throughout this past year we have added to our selection of crucifixes, medals, hand-gilded illuminated prints (we now have the Beatitudes), general greeting cards, First Communion and Confirmation items, and so much more. We have observed with delight that the relic badge in honor of the Infant Jesus that we introduced last year has been nearly the most popular all year long. It makes an especially appropriate gift at Christmas. If you have not seen the lovely devotional rings on our site, you might consider them as a distinctive gift for someone dear to you. These rings can be worn as “chastity rings”, and the Nuns pray without ceasing for every chastity ring wearer. Last, but of course never least, our rosaries continue to be the reason for most visits to our site. And we are most edified by the sincere devotion to Our Blessed Mother that shines forth in our many rosary customers. We are always adding new selections to our Rosary Gallery. You can also design your own custom rosary from a wide selection of beads and accessories, which now allow over 4 billion different rosaries to be built right on our website! (Our webmasters one day emailed us with that statistic for what they laughingly called our “gee-whiz file”.)
Our new postulants have settled in well and learn new things every day. At the simple ceremony of their Entrance, we sing a hymn that begs Our Lady of Mount Carmel to “shelter them” as they begin their new life under the protection of her mantle. So, it was a day of special excitement for them and the entire community when the new, large image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel finally arrived, after 8 months of waiting and many problems. The huge truck came to our new back gate, and a friendly deliveryman had no idea what was in the large crate he was bringing to the monastery. But he smiled and said, “Thank you, God bless you too!” when the Sisters thanked him and said goodbye. Little events like this are cause for celebration: this time, in honor of our Mother and Queen.
The much-discussed trees from our last letter to you gave us great pleasure with their lovely autumn colors. A recent blizzard in our area put an end to most of that, but even now the leaves on an oak and a pear tree hang on tenaciously in rich russet hues. The Sisters “never have a dull moment” and are ever busy with the duty of keeping these trees watered and mulched, as well as the other duties and projects that come our way: statue repair, sewing projects, novitiate classes, rosary orders…
So many of you have asked to know more about Carmelite life and customs. One very old and beloved custom expresses the high place held by the Blessed Virgin Mary here in Carmel: it is the solemn chanting of the Salve Regina every Saturday and on the eve of her feast days. The ceremony begins with a silent procession into the choir, led by the youngest Sisters. The Nuns carry large lighted candles and wear the long, graceful white mantle, which is used only for Mass and other solemn occasions. (Click on the photo at the very top of our newsletter.) The Sister who leads the Office for the week begins the hymn, “Salve Regina!—Hail, Holy Queen!” Then the ancient chant’s beautiful melody flows forth from each voice and heart as we honor our Queen and Mother. The hymn ends with the plea, “Ora pro nobis!—Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!”
We close with this prayer for all of the Friends of Carmel, begging God’s blessings upon you and your loved ones.
Your Carmelite Sisters