In this Edition:
- Queen of the May
- Website News – Book Reviews by the Sisters
- Community News
Dear Friends of Carmel,
We do not want to let the month of May pass without giving a loving tribute to our Blessed Mother, “Queen of the May”. A holy Jesuit wrote nearly 70 years ago, “All year long the hearts of Catholics are united to the heart of Mary. Each day has its Ave, its Rosary; each month is graced with some special feast in her honor. But May is especially the month of Our Lady.” Here in Carmel, the Sisters cherish a tender affection and dedication to Mary. Our May custom is to have two baskets, one empty and one filled with small slips of paper on which are written by the Sisters different intentions, prayers, and special little acts of penance or sacrifice to place in the powerful hands of our Mother. As each Sister performs the prayer or devotion, she places the slip of paper in the empty basket at the feet of our large image of the Blessed Mother in our choir (monastery chapel). Child-like custom, you may say? But if you could know the profound matters and vital issues that make up these requests, affecting the good of the Church and the salvation of souls!
Something about this great Mother of ours pulls at the heartstrings, and, more importantly, the deepest parts of the souls of her children. She is always calling us to new conversion, greater love of her Son, more sincere charity towards our neighbor. We invite you to read more about devotion to Our Lady for this month of May in the Catholic Devotions section of our website.
For fostering devotion to Our Blessed Mother, in addition to the holy Rosary, we offer five additional chaplets in her honor, all with beautiful prayers and meditations dwelling on all Our Lady has done for us.
Weddings, Confirmations, and graduations fill these months of spring and summer, and everyone looks for that special gift for the occasion. May we recommend a “His and Hers” rosary set, custom-designed for the wedding couple (see our Rosary Gallery for ideas), or perhaps the hand-gilded illuminated wedding vows print? For those receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, special rosaries and medals, as well as excellent books may be found on our Confirmation Gifts page. To help our graduates consider the spiritual side of their exciting future, perhaps a patron saint medal, or crucifix or spiritual book would be fitting. Father’s Day is also coming up, and we have a variety of gifts and greeting cards for that day to honor all of the “Fathers” we have, not only Dad, but uncles, teachers, priests, and friends who have filled that important position throughout our lives. Of course, our Gift Certificate is a perfect solution for any of these special occasions in the lives of your dear ones—let them choose!
We are pleased to be offering three new Carmelite books for those many friends of Carmel so interested in Carmelite saints and spirituality. Our Sisters provide brief reviews:
From the Sacred Heart to the Trinity: The Spiritual Itinerary of St. Teresa Margaret (Redi) of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D.Many writings about St. Teresa Margaret give us an outward sketch of this saint, but only this book reveals some of the hidden sufferings and spiritual progress as she grew in sanctity during her short life. This closer look at St. Teresa Margaret, written by the renowned and holy Carmelite, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, reveals the strength of character and maturity of a great saint whose desire to keep it hidden makes her even more worthy of admiration! God is wonderful in His saints! —Sister Y.
The pages of the Old Testament come alive in the excellent book about the Prophet Elias, The Prophet of Carmel. Since we call this great man “Our Holy Father St. Elias” as founder of the Carmelite Order, we are very pleased to see this book back in print. The prayerful study of this amazing man of God provides most interesting reading and reveals so much that a cursory look at those old Bible stories just cannot give. —Sister F.
For those who seek a model and teacher in the way to Divine Union, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is the “big sister” they will love to follow. Her book, called The Praise of Glory, shares her secrets to living the interior life most faithfully. She herself tells us that her mission would be to teach and to assist souls to live this life with God, and this book is a fulfillment of that mission and promise. Reading it will help lead souls to recognize the life of the Triune God within: the Divine Indwelling! —Sister T.
We have often been asked to explain the different clothing the Sisters wear at the different stages of the religious life here in Carmel. The answer fits in very well with the community news for this month, since we have Sisters at all the different stages now in our Carmel. By glancing at the photo at the top of our newsletter, you will be able to see the attire or habit of each phase of the religious formation as it is described.
The first step in becoming a Carmelite begins with the time of the Postulancy. During this period of six months to a year, the new Sister wears a black jumper, a black cape and black veil with a white band. On March 18th, our senior postulant received the habit and became a Novice. Not only was it a happy day for all of the Community, but as Sister’s family lives nearby, they were all present to see the ceremony and visit with Sister afterwards. During the clothing ceremony, the postulant receives the brown wool tunic which is gathered at the waist by a leather belt or cincture, from which hangs the large black habit rosary. She also receives the scapular and the white mantle. She wears a white veil, but does not receive this formally, as the official veil of the Carmelite Religious is the black one, when she professes Final Vows.
On May 1st, our senior novice took her Temporary Vows. What a special day it was for Sister, and for each one of us! The taking of the vows is a private ceremony in Carmel. It takes place early in the morning when most of the world is still asleep, and is witnessed only by the Sisters…and of course, the Court of Heaven. Perhaps it is because it is hidden that it is such a treasured event in a Carmelite vocation: the holy event of the exchange of gifts between a soul and her God. Sister remains a professed novice under Temporary Vows for three years. Her habit is the same as the newly clothed novice except for the profession crucifix which she now wears under the scapular.
It seems our infamous winter of 2006 has finally played itself out—but not without a last farewell blizzard in late April. Our new postulant from California gazed in wonder at more snow she had ever seen in her 19 years. Although the storm wasn’t as severe as the others, God “saved the best for last”. Because the snow was extremely wet, the heavy ice that formed on power lines caused an electrical outage for nearly 24 hours. Praying the Divine Office with small flashlights in the darkness of pre-dawn reminded us of the early monks who prayed by candlelight. Our new Sister came through the ordeal just fine, but is happy to wait until next winter to find out what a “full Colorado blizzard” is like!
With all the ceremonies past and the milder weather upon us, Mother Prioress is glad to let the Sisters work outdoors to clean away all the winter wear from the grounds and do a little more landscaping. All of our new trees made it through the rough winter weather and have sprouted their tiny new leaves at last. We are so enjoying the fragrant blossoms on lilacs and fruit trees!
Our prayers are with each of you as we spend this beautiful month of Our Lady—and always.
Your Carmelite Sisters