In this Edition:
- Suffering in God’s Providence for us
- Community News
- Website News
Dear Friends of Carmel,
The events of this long, difficult summer have kept us from writing a newsletter sooner! Our sincere thanks to all who have emailed and written with concern to ask about our safety during the June forest fires and the heavy rains and floods of September. Yes! We are were and are safe, thanks be to God and the protection of our Guardian Angels, with no real problems, except a bit of hail damage and a leaky roof discovery in one small section of our building addition from nearly 10 years ago! We have never seen such torrents of rain, and our prayers have been constantly with the less fortunate people who did suffer serious damage and loss – and even death.
Who cannot witness these tragic events without sorrow and astonishment at the destructive power of nature? Sadly, many who have not faith, question how a loving God could allow such devastation to take place. And even those who do have faith very often do not understand why we suffer. Why are we left to our loneliness and loss? Has God forgotten us, our troubles, our need?
On the contrary, the God of heaven and earth – our sovereign, strong, living God – sends and permits trouble and sorrow for the very purpose of making us know our need and to draw us from the superficial things of life. And let us not doubt that sometimes, indeed, it is to punish. Having created us for Himself and for an eternal happiness, He wills that we struggle, endure, and with His help, overcome suffering. Did not Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, suffer? And the greatest benefit came to the world from what He suffered. The assuring answer comes to us, even in the midst of our misfortune and strife: “I am the salvation of the people,” saith the Lord. “In whatever tribulation they shall cry to Me, I will hear them; and I will be their Lord forever.” (Ps.77:1) But faith is necessary to believe this, and so in this same Psalm, He goes on to say, “Hearken, My people, to My law; incline your ears to the words of My mouth.”
“Suffering, when accepted in the right spirit, enhances the understanding: it reveals the secret nature of things and shows everything as it is. All other creatures, deceive, suffering undeceives. Suffering, in consequence, gathers up the soul from all that is not God. Moreover, suffering is, so to speak, a source of light. Man’s enlightenment (and that sometimes in the natural order) is in proportion to his sufferings; for what doth a man know who hath not suffered? ‘Knowledge by suffering entereth…'” Such were the words of the saintly Mother Mary Austin of England. God gives wisdom to His friends, the truly holy people, the Saints. And these great souls are also our friends. Let us take heart by listening to their encouraging counsels about how to see – and accept – suffering in our lives:
God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. – St. Augustine of Hippo
Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end . . . and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal. – St. Teresa of Avila
If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross… Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently… – St. Thomas Aquinas
If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain… The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. – St. Ignatius
In tribulation, immediately draw near to God with trust, and you will receive strength, enlightenment and instruction… Divine light comes through divine suffering. Such suffering takes away all darkness; removes grief and gives peace. ‘The purest suffering bears and carries in its train the purest understanding.’… See that you are not suddenly saddened by the adversities of this world, for you do not know the good they bring, being ordained in the judgments of God for the everlasting joy of the elect. – St. John of the Cross
Let us accept all from the hand of our good Father, and He will keep us in peace in the midst of the greatest disasters of this world… – Fr. de Caussade
Shortly after the containment of the Black Forest fire, which was only a few miles from us, we were advised to do some “mitigating”. What in the world is mitigating? When it comes to forest fires, it means making conditions less potential for a fire to start and spread. One of those threatening conditions is dry pine needles covering the forest floor – and we had plenty of those! So, over the last weeks of June and into July, the entire community worked to clean up our 25+ years’ worth of needle-drop. We worked only in the evenings, when the heat of the day was somewhat less and the trees shaded us. It was dusty, heavy work, but with the Sisters toiling together and cheering one another on, it was also happy work.
We continue the spiritually rewarding work of vestment embroidery and sewing. We learn so much every day, not only about Church history and symbolism, stitches and types of metallic thread, but also, of course, the virtue of patience! The meticulous work can be quite tedious and trying. But we know that it is in these very little things that the testimony of our love for God finds its worth… for His glory and for souls.
Earlier in the summer, we were asked by a friend about our “famous apples”! We all got a good laugh over that and explained that the very late and very cold winter/spring froze all the buds on our apple trees this year. But not to be daunted, and thinking practically for the community’s needs, we did raise basic vegetables in our raised gardens and other sunny spots. Tomatoes took center stage, however, and did “famously” – they became monsters and produced in good supply for us. For this we were glad, since tomatoes are expensive at the farmer’s market! And now, with our first hard frost, we are glad to put our gardens to rest – and have a good rest from it ourselves! Of course, canning of fruits and vegetables filled more than a few days, too, during the last days of summer.
Happily, we were able to take a well-earned rest from mitigating, sewing and gardening to celebrate a peaceful July 16th, Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Towards evening, in the cool of the day (80s, rather than upper 90s!), we held a prayerful procession around our enclosure. Our hymns rang out in the quiet evening as we walked, expressing our grateful hearts for Carmel’s loving Mother and our holy vocations.
Our rosary work, as you know, is one of the joyful apostolates of our Carmel. It is a daily work in which most of our Sisters have a share. This being the month of the Holy Rosary, among the several books we offer about the rosary, one of our Sisters warmly recommends a little rosary meditation book, From the Rose Garden of Our Lady: A Book of Rosary Meditations. Not only does the book offer perceptive commentary on the mysteries of the rosary, but beautiful meditative illustrations as well. Our rosary apostolate includes assisting with the design of gift rosaries for special occasions. We’re more pleased than we can say to be working with outstanding Catholic companies that produce exquisite crucifixes and centerpiece medals that are true devotional art. Their selection is vast and always growing, which allows us to provide rosaries for many and all occasions.
… Which brings us, to the subject of that oft-mentioned, not-yet accomplished new web site! The duties of life have kept us from accomplishing this work, but we have made progress in the necessary research and have a workable plan at last. We are eager to make this much-needed change, and God willing, you will see progress in the coming year. For now, though, we can tell you that the 2014 Seraphim Liturgical Calendar is available, and we continue to add to our Christmas card selection.
We have also been able to add to the present web site one new woodcarved image: Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For several years, we have been requesting and working with the woodcarvers in Italy to design this image. When they said basically, “You tell us how you want it to look, we’ll see what we can do,” we sent them photos of the traditional images, along with detailed descriptions for the stance, colors, facial expressions, etc. As with all of the woodcarved statues we offer, the photos do not capture their actual beauty; the face of the Virgin is gentle and motherly. The Sisters designed and embroidered the small wool scapulars in the hands of Carmel’s Mother and her Child, which they extend as a gift to all making their way up Mount Carmel.
Hoping to send another letter in the near future, we assure you of our prayers for God’s continued love, protection and consolation in joys and sorrows. Please remember with us the people of Colorado – farmers and so many others who have lost loved ones, property and livelihoods… so many who continue to deal with the aftermath of our September storms.
God love you and Our Lady be with you!
Your Carmelite Sisters
P. S. Remember to give spiritual help to your departed loved ones and all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, by praying for them and having them remembered at our daily Masses during November.