In this Edition:
- Divine Providence and the Holy Souls in Purgatory
- Website News – Sacramentals
- Community News
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Blessings to you all this month of October! Time passes and the seasons blend, one into another, summer into a beautiful autumn here at our monastery. Time also passes, each day presenting to us and to millions new and troubling news of the unsettled world we live in… Who among us is without personal, family, health, and economic troubles these days? We hear from so many good people who ask for prayers and advice about these difficult matters. Of course, Carmelites are neither family, health, nor financial advisors! But how should we all face these trials, sometimes so overwhelming and so humbling?
The Christian’s answer lies in the beautiful mystery of Divine Providence. Divine Providence is God’s loving care for us, and the Catechism tells us that it is “God’s plan for guiding every creature to its proper end.” Holy men and theologians go on to tell us what that proper end, that destiny, is: “that all creatures should manifest the glory of God, and in particular that man should glorify Him, recognizing in nature the work of His hand, serving Him in obedience and love, and thereby attaining to the full development of his nature and to eternal happiness in God.” By faith we believe that the all-powerful God has all things in His care; by our own experience in living that faith with loyalty and love, we come to know that every detail of our life is arranged by the benevolent guidance of a loving Father.
There is a divine purpose in whatever occurs in our lives, and we must strive to see that purpose in every person, every event, every joy, and every pain that we experience. That divinely intended purpose is to bring us closer to God. He never fails in His protection of us, and His guiding Hand is ever upon us. As we go forward, then, in all of life’s decisions, challenges, and sorrows, let us steady our hearts and minds by trusting in this holy and loving Providence, certain that we are ever safely in His keeping! (Search for “Divine Providence” on our site for two excellent books on the subject.)
The month of November will shortly be upon us, and our thoughts turn toward purgatory and the holy souls who dwell there for a time, expiating their faults. Holy Mother Church admonishes us to pray more especially for these souls, both known and unknown to us, during November. A custom we keep in our chapel here is to place the names of family and other deceased loved ones on our chapel altars, and our priests faithfully remember these souls at each Mass offered during the month. We wish to invite you to write down the names of loved ones who are deceased, and we will be pleased to include these souls in this great benefit of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for their speedy release and eternal peace. As many as five Masses each day are offered here at our chapel, and you are welcome to visit the page we have provided on our web site for this special benefit: Remembrance of Deceased Loved Ones in November Masses.
Our website news is closely connected with our community news this time, since we have been working a great deal over these last few months to concentrate more on our sacramental apostolate. Several priests who are counselors and good friends of our Carmel have encouraged us in this work for the good of the faithful who are so thirsting to be close to God. Our work has included prayerful searching and selecting of sacramentals that will assist souls in living faithfully their Christian life.
Just what are sacramentals? We always like to explain what they are by borrowing a definition most familiar to Catholics of all ages: A sacramental is an outward sign, instituted by Christ through His Church to give grace. In these simple words, we see just how closely aligned these objects are to the very signs of our salvation, the sacraments themselves! To learn more about these “things”, these “objects” which are made holy, and may make holy those who use them with devotion, please visit our Catholic Devotions pages and read about what Holy Church teaches about sacramentals. In our searching-and-selecting project, our great emphasis has been to present quality religious pieces in the traditional artistic style. Let us now share with you some of the fruits of our interesting and prayerful work.
We are pleased to be able to offer hand-carved wood nativity sets, exquisitely done and very devotional. Nativity sets are so widely and commercially used that it is easy to forget that they may be blessed by the priest and used as a sacramental. They are a wonderful aid to prayer and instruction of little ones, while we contemplate the wonder of the Incarnation at Christmas time. But of course, a nativity is really a perfect gift for occasions other than Christmas. It makes a perfect wedding gift that will be treasured for a lifetime and passed onto future generations, especially if you are weary of giving the same old waffle iron or popcorn popper!
You will see new crucifixes among our sacramental offerings. Most of the crucifixes we offer are imported from Europe and are masterpieces of devotion and craftsmanship. French, German, and Italian artists, all from families who for generations have crafted these beautiful crucifixes, are pleased to be making them again at our request, since many of the more traditional styles were for some years not in demand. But now these strikingly beautiful depictions of Our Lord’s holy sufferings are available again to the faithful and becoming just as much sought after as in earlier years. Among the new offerings is the unique reliquary crucifix, as well as more designs of profession crucifixes and wall crucifixes.
Our wood-carved statues have become very much in demand in the past year, so we have decided to offer images of Our Blessed Mother and beloved saints: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Family, St. Joseph, St. Francis, St. Anthony and St. Nicholas.
As you may recall from our past newsletters, this past summer we finally completed the shrine to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in our entrance courtyard. We have received numerous compliments on this lovely image of our Blessed Mother and so thought we might just make it obtainable to those searching for just such an image—Third Order Carmelite communities, seminaries, convents, and schools. One woman we know is even considering it for her back yard garden. Additionally about this statue, through an occurrence whose detailed story is more than we can elaborate on here, we are able to offer one of these statues at approximately half the price given on our website. Please contact us for more details.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Guadalupe are two of the most beloved images of Our Lady. We ourselves have framed portraits of these two images in the monastery. Again, at the request of interested friends and customers, we have added these two portraits of Our Mother, superbly framed to place in the home, classroom, or small chapel.
The Sisters always have new, creative ideas for our rosaries. The new silver Sacred Heart beads rosary seems like an antique in its old-fashioned beauty, we think, along with a rosary bracelet made with these same unique beads. And now that we have two Sisters who are expert at making the strong knots for cord rosaries, we are pleased to offer these in olive wood with the fine wood inlaid crucifix. You will even find a few new scapulars handmade by the Sisters.
The St. Benedict medal is, as you know, one of the most powerful and favored sacramentals of the Church. We are pleased to have found a very nice large St. Benedict Medal (4 inches). It has long been a revered custom to place the large St. Benedict medal over the entrance doors of the home to invoke God’s protection from all evil.
Prayers are also sacramentals, and as you know we have a number of excellent prayer books on our website. A recent addition of note is a little booklet called Catholic Prayers, a fine collection of beloved prayers for young and old. Many beloved prayers and devotional information are also found in the popular Seraphim Liturgical Calendar—the 2009 edition is now in print and available.
We mentioned earlier that we are having a beautiful autumn season here. A tree called Autumn Brilliance is putting on a stupendous show for us this year, having spent the summer reaching its branches higher than ever before. Although we still have roses blooming, winter-ish weather is expected in a few days. We have been fascinated this fall to see how quickly the colors are turning, how anxious our trees seem to be to begin their long winter’s nap! The changing seasons always give us food for thought and prayer…
Besides our adventures on the website, we have been busy cleaning up the garden for winter, canning fruits and vegetables, diligently staying up-to-date with our correspondence, repairing habits, and keeping up with sewing projects. Each day in Carmel has its surprises and its blessings, its burdens and its sorrows. But each day also brings with it God’s providential grace to see us through to the end, to our goal, heaven! With this thought ever before us, each morning in the Divine Office, we lift our hearts and voices to God with the prayer, “Let the light of Thy countenance to shine upon us, Lord. Prosper the work of our hands for us, prosper the work of our hands! Glory be to Thee…”
This prayer we also offer for you in all your plans and works before God. May He give you prudence, light, and blessing in all your decisions…all the events of your life each day!
In the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother,
Your Carmelite Sisters
P. S. You, the Friends of Carmel, will have a special remembrance in our daily rosary during this month honoring Our Lady of the Rosary.