In this Edition:
- The Month of the Sacred Heart
- Website News
- Community News – Sorrows, Joys, and Work
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Many months have passed without a newsletter from Carmel, and we have much to catch up on, don’t we? So before we receive another gracious e-mail from a friend hinting to us that we haven’t written in a long time, let us see if we can rectify the matter. Our news is abundant, so you may need to read it in installments!
We begin by reminding you that June is the month dedicated by the Church to honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion has a wondrous history, which really begins on the night before Our Savior died. For it was then that St. John the Apostle rested his head on the breast of the Master and heard the beating of that Heart filled with love for us. That is what the Saints tell us through the centuries, from the time of St. Gertrude the Great in the 13th century to that of St. Margaret Mary in the 17th. The latter Our Lord Himself named “Apostle of My Sacred Heart”. The great task Our Lord gave to His “Apostle” was to labor for the establishing of a liturgical feast in His honor, under this title. This Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is truly the feast that celebrates the love of God for us, given and expressed through the Heart of Christ. What more beautiful devotion could there be than that of recalling, contemplating, confiding in, and returning God’s love for us? To learn more (and love more!), please visit our Catholic Devotions page about devotion to the Sacred Heart. Two sacramentals we make that deepen this dedication to the Sacred Heart are our Sacred Heart Badge and the Sacred Heart Chaplet.
The Sisters here have a tender devotion to the Sacred Heart and we have all read numerous books on this devotion. But by far the best book we would recommend is the book written by Father John Croiset, S.J., The Devotion to the Sacred Heart. This excerpt from the foreword of the book is, we feel, the best means we can use to urge you to read it: “…the book was written at the request of Our Savior Himself, conveyed to Father Croiset by St. Margaret Mary; in her letter to him asking him to compose this book, she assured him on the part of Our Savior that he was to receive special assistance, and when the work was near completion, she told him that it was so completely in accordance with the wishes of Our Lord that it would never be necessary to make any change in it. The book, then, rests on the authority of Our Lord Himself; as He promised, no change in it was ever found necessary—even now, after the lapse of two and a half centuries during which time innumerable books on the devotion have appeared, it still remains the most practical book on the devotion to the Sacred Heart.” We would only add that numerous popes, but especially Pope Pius XII, advocated this devotion and insisted that no Catholic should feel free to disregard it in living the Christian life. To receive a beautiful prayer card of the Sacred Heart—our gift to you—that will assist you in your own devotion, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address at the end of your e-mail.
Our work on the website continues to be interesting and challenging. We were surprised to learn that this past May was one of our busiest, biggest months ever—a distinction which usually comes at Christmastime. The hands of all rosary-makers (11 of the 12 of us!) have been busy for First Communion, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day gifts. We have printed many of the commemorative First Communion holy cards too, keeping in our prayers through all of this the little ones receiving Our Lord for the first time in the Holy Eucharist. Sometimes we hear the personal stories of special graces in the lives of those who receive the sacramentals we make, and they remind us that God works in hidden ways, conveying His blessing through the smallest things. Weddings have also been the occasion for people contacting us for gifts. Through our “Build a Rosary” option, we have been working with couples and their loved ones to make rosary sets to commemorate this important event, and sacrament, in their lives.
We are gradually adding new medals, crucifixes, books, rosary boxes, and other items to the site. Take a look and see what’s new if you haven’t visited the site in a while. Truly, we have more ideas than we can accomplish for this apostolate of ours! But we are planning in future months to offer more sacramentals we feel will be valuable for the deepening of your spiritual life and that of all those you love.
Our winter was long here in Colorado. It was a time of personal loss and of worry for the members of our community—the death of two of our Sisters’ dear mother, the illnesses and troubles of elderly parents and other close relatives, deep concern for brothers and nephews being sent to the Middle East, etc. But times such as these are when we most feel, by faith, the nearness of our Divine Bridegroom. These are the times of earnest prayer and sacrifice, of offering all our sorrows in union with those of our Crucified Master for all the many intentions of His Heart, for His Church, and for all the souls He loves. It is in times like these that contemplatives know most poignantly their vocation as true “laborers in the harvest”. Not by preaching, nor by counseling or administering the Sacraments, but by the hidden life of sacrificial love do we labor for the Church and especially for her priests, and in union with them.
In the midst of these good and fruitful graces from Heaven, we of course have kept busy! We had the special joy of collaborating with a most excellent and dedicated seamstress in making a set of vestments. We ALWAYS hesitate to mention publicly that we make vestments, because it tends to our being flooded with inquiries and requests to do so! However, let it be known—our list of vestment projects is too long for us to be able to take on any more of this type of work. We simply cannot commit to it. But this set was to be the gift of our Carmel, along with another religious community, as well as the family of a beloved priest, for his 35th priestly anniversary in April. Our part in the work was to make the orphreys. “The what?”, you must be asking! An orphrey is the ornamental border, or embroidered band, that you often see on ecclesiastical vestments. These bands typically form a y-shaped cross on the front and back of the chasuble, as well as other pieces of the vestment. We made these from fabric we had to have dyed to the proper color—an exquisite blue—for these vestments were to be in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Besides the meticulous measuring, backing, and sewing of these pieces, we embroidered on them a gold metallic decorative “M”. We also prepared the three large appliqués depicting Our Lady in glory. Two of these were actually from antique satin banners, probably over 100 years old. The tarnished cloth of gold fabric on these banners made them unsuitable for use, but the appliqués were still in excellent condition. They presented challenges to our Sister seamstresses! Just safely getting them off the old fabric gave us some crisis moments! This whole project really was the work, not only of a few brilliant sewing Sisters, but of the entire community. For there was always an iron to hold, or fabric to cut, or mistaken stitches to remove (always those…) for the least sewing-savvy among us. It was, as it always is, a happiness for us to do it, knowing it would be used for the Holy Sacrifice and in honor of our Blessed Mother.
After a peaceful Easter and Paschal season, in early May we celebrated the First Profession of one of our novices. This ceremony is completely private to the Community—no guests, no family, no clergy present. Our Holy Mother St. Teresa desired it to be truly an intimate, family celebration. In this ancient ritual, it is significant that after the young Sister professes the Vows, she receives again all the parts of the holy Habit of Mount Carmel—she is clothed for a second time. It is another beginning, another “putting on of the new man”. A very moving part of the ceremony comes at the end, when, after receiving the crown of roses from the Prioress, she greets each member of the community. She kneels down before each one to receive a sisterly embrace and promise of prayers. All the while, the Community is chanting Psalm 133, Ecce Quam Bonum: “Behold how good it is and how pleasant, for brethren to dwell together as one…” These words depict truthfully the joy of living community life in Christ and for Christ. We can never thank God enough for our holy vocation, and we are ever begging Him to make it—however hidden and obscure—fruitful for His Church.
Spring cleaning projects were in order again this year. And this spring we knew we must undertake the project of replacing the flooring and repainting in the old part of the monastery—now twenty years old. Not a small job, that! But our good God has sent us strong, young hands and hearts, and the venture went more quickly than expected. However, it did have its uneasy, if amusing, moments, in spite of the efforts of the novices to be efficient. The fact that the flooring was to be replaced was something of which the young ones took the greatest advantage. No need to take the time to cover the carpet to protect it from drips. So drip they did! There was no effort gently to dip the roller into the edge of the paint puddle in the roller pan. The novices enthusiastically dipped the roller into the middle of the puddle for quicker coverage. One unfortunate novice accidentally sat in a recently emptied roller pan as she was washing out her brush in the utility sink. Happily, we had several old habits the Sisters could wear. Because the paint was a light color, by the time the painting was finished, we had some trouble distinguishing whether they were Carmelites or Dominicans!
The new flooring came the following week. Twenty years of Carmelite-sandaled feet had worn a few places pretty thin. We had little trouble moving our small bit of furniture out of the way—except in the library. The bookcases are modestly sized, but full of books they are of course quite heavy. The logical plan would be just to remove the books and lift both books and shelves away separately. But our dear Mother Prioress, ever the engineer, thought up a plan that would save time and work—and that included saving the backs of the Sisters, too, from so much lifting. Needless to say, it worked out perfectly, as most things work under obedience, and the library was moved in short order. The flooring people did a beautiful job, and now the old wing of the monastery looks all bright and new. There is nothing like it to lift the spirits and take us into the summer—and the next 20 years!
As always, we send our prayers and pledge of prayers for all. May the love of the Heart of Our Lord be your life’s joy and consolation!
Your Carmelite Sisters