In this Edition:
- Lenten Devotions and St. Joseph
- Website News – First Holy Communion
- Community News
Greetings to the friends of Carmel during this holy season of Lent—
We break our customary silence during this season of Lent at the request of many of you for some bit of news, and especially a little spiritual “uplift”! Although the time of Lent is now more than half spent, perhaps it would be good to remember what this season is all about. And, if you must admit that you have hardly done anything yet to keep the spirit of Lent, it isn’t too late to respond to the call of the Lord, Who says, “Be converted to Me with all your heart!”
Lent is like a retreat and, for all the faithful, a season of reflection and prayerful examination of conscience. We should never let this time loom over us with an attitude of dread and threat—nothing could be further from the truth about this season of mercy and peace. Let it be a time of earnest endeavor to grow in your knowledge of Our Divine Savior—and of your own heart, mind, and soul, as after the Petitions of St. Augustine: “O Lord Jesus, let me know myself, let me know Thee…” And let not the penitential nature of this season discourage anyone, for, coming to know ourselves, we will inevitably—and beneficially—come to know the truth of our weakness and sinfulness. An excellent prayer for Lent—short, to-the-point, and easy to pray often—is: “Holy Spirit, source of truth, make me to know my sins as You know them—and hate them as You hate them.” The practices of penance and reparation are all for the purpose of obtaining and knowing and glorifying the mercy of our good God. For the mercy of Jesus requires conversion of heart rather than condemnation. During this time, we come to a better understanding of Christ’s sacrificial death for us, and we unite our daily sufferings with His. Read what a holy and learned Dominican writes about the fruitfulness of this reparative suffering in union with Our Lord:
After Christ died on the cross and sanctified suffering, He infused divinity into it, so to speak, and made it a kind of sacrament by means of which the graces of heaven descend upon earth. Suffering is the living cross on which and through which every man must be redeemed and saved. Christ redeemed us by giving us the power to redeem ourselves by means of His grace and His Cross. Every Christian is another Christ and as such must suffer and die in order to attain the glory of the resurrection… The fact is that suffering is the great agent of our purification.
You may benefit from reading about the beautiful doctrines of this important liturgical season of the year in the Lent section of the Catholic Devotions page on our website. Like a broken record, we have repeatedly recommended spiritual reading to you—but we have the saints’ example in the recommendation and in the practice! Nothing can so assist us and move us to constant conversion, especially during Lent, as the reflective reading of Divine Truth. Very naturally, it leads a soul to ponder again and again—and more deeply each time—the consoling and strengthening certainty of what we believe. We hope our books for Lent, as well as other books on the spiritual life and prayer, will assist you in observing fervently the remainder of the Holy Forty Days.
We timed this letter to come to you a few days before the feast of beloved St. Joseph, or as Our Holy Mother St. Teresa called him, “The Glorious St. Joseph”. In our Carmel, we have experienced so many times the gracious assistance of this saint, whom we have learned to know and love as a father. Indeed, he was God’s representative on earth to love and care for His Son, our Savior, and what he was for Jesus he is for us—one of God’s great means of expressing His love for each one of His children. The Church takes the words referring to the Old Testament patriarch to urge her children to trust in the intercession of this saint: “Go to Joseph!” An excellent little book of prayers and devotions can be found on our web site, Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph—one of our most popular titles. A good friend recently ordered 50 copies!
These coming months of spring are traditionally the most common time for an important event in the lives of many Catholic children: their First Holy Communion. When one reflects with faith on the wondrous Treasure we have in the Most Blessed Sacrament, it is impossible not to realize that our First Communion Day is the most important day in Catholic life. So it happens that many requests come to us for suitable, dignified gifts that will really mean something to children—and be cherished for years to come. We cannot count the number of old—sometimes very old—First Communion rosaries we receive for repair. We know that sometimes that rosary—the first one that is our very own as a child—remains a constant reminder during life of the lessons of faith and prayer that we learned when very young. We know, too, that these mementos of the happiest day in life have been the means of bringing back to the Faith those who have been long away from the Church—and of renewing their fidelity. That is why we work hard with researching and designing to make the loveliest First Communion rosaries we can, ones that bear special center medals and side medals engraved with symbols of the Blessed Sacrament.
More First Communion gifts ideas include our new Holy Eucharist relic badge, which has cloth touched to the relic of the Upper Room in Jerusalem and the other gifts pictured here in our newsletter. You may also want to think ahead to Mother’s Day, as well as upcoming weddings, ordinations, confirmations, etc., and visit our Rosary Gallery for some excellent gifts for these special occasions.
We are preparing for the Final Profession of our senior novice in May. Flowers, remembrance holy cards, invitations to the public veiling ceremony, arrangements for guests traveling from a distance to attend—all of these and more must be taken care of. But most essential of all is Sister’s own spiritual preparation for this true wedding with Christ through the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We ask you to join your prayers with ours for Sister during these last months before Profession. And we promise to share more about this event in Carmel next time.
We are now never without a vestment project—and sometimes more than one! Other sewing projects, too, fill our work time each day: habit repairs, new altar linens and new lace for them, ceremonial scapulars, and even digitizing embroidery designs. Of course, rosary orders and repairs challenge the time and talents of most of the sisters in the community, in some way.
Though most people think of spring when March rolls around, for us here on the high plains of Colorado, shadowed by Pikes Peak, winter tends to be long and in conflict with the season change. As one friend recently wrote us, “Summer and winter will duke it out for a couple of months around here, and I hope summer wins by mid-May!” All of us who live in Colorado know the truth of that! Our winter continues as we receive frequent, if only short-lived, snowstorms and flurries, leaving light blankets of white.
We close with our promise of prayers for you, especially during our daily Divine Office, for the graces necessary to persevere in observing Holy Lent prayerfully and fruitfully. May Our Lady, the Mother of Sorrows, assist us and be our encouraging example in the coming weeks, as we re-live the mysteries of redemption.
Your Carmelite Sisters