In This Edition :
- Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist
- Our New Website
- Community News
“Behold this Heart which has so loved men.”
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Shall we begin our newsletter with an apology for being so long out of touch? We do ask your forgiveness for such a lengthy absence of letters with news, and we thank you for your continued interest and kind support of our Carmel. This newsletter, we hope, will go far to explain our long silence – and perhaps make up for it. Our new look will give you an inkling as to what we’ve been up to all these months and what our big news is: we have a new website!
But first things first – and that is always the good God and His work in souls. Holy Mother Church rejoices today to celebrate the beautiful Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She dedicates this entire month of June to the Sacred Heart, encouraging her children to this devotion, which is, simply enough, devotion to the love of Our Savior, of which His Heart is the symbol. “My Son, give Me your heart,” God says to all souls (Proverbs 23:26). St. John the Apostle wrote to the early Christians, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him… Let us therefore love, because God first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:16, 19) Returning love for love is what this devotion is all about.
God our Father, through His Divine Son’s Redemptive sacrifice on Calvary, has provided us with ample proof of “the infinite wealth” of His love for us. The Heart of Jesus is the human expression of this Divine love, and Our Lord continually renews His sacrificial work in each Mass that is offered. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive the Heart of Jesus, His affection and concern for us, His merciful care of us. Fittingly, then, does this feast follow closely upon the much older feast of Corpus Christi (13th century), which we joyfully celebrated last week.
In the ages since that night of the Last Supper, when He instituted this great Sacrament, Our Lord has willed to re-affirm the truth of His True Presence in it and to revive in the hearts of men their limping faith. One example of this took place in the 8th century, when a priest, after pronouncing the words of consecration, had a strong temptation to doubt the Real Presence of Jesus. Before the startled priest’s eyes, the Sacred Host visibly changed its appearance into a circle of flesh. The appearance of the consecrated wine likewise was changed – into bright red blood, eventually coagulating into five small clots, different in form and size.
Four authentifications have been performed throughout the centuries, but the last verification, ordered by the Holy See in 1970, is the most scientifically complete. Microscopic studies showed that the flesh is real human flesh and the blood is real human blood. But most touchingly, the studies revealed that the flesh is composed of muscular tissue of the heart. As the official conclusions state, “In the flesh we see present in a cross-section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium. The flesh is a heart complete in its essential structure.” Studies of the blood revealed it to be “type AB”, the “universal recipient” blood, so expressive of the generous love of Jesus, who shed His precious Blood for the world’s salvation, and said, “Come to Me, all…”
The Lord had pity on his doubting priest – and gave him His Heart to prove the truth of His promise (Jn. 6:32-67) and the reality of His Presence in this Sacrament. The miracle is ongoing, since after more than 1200 years, with no evidence of preservative, as the 1971 study showed, the flesh has not fallen to dust – as either flesh or bread would have done hundreds of years ago. The blood also preserves the chemical makeup of fresh human blood. To learn the complete story of this merciful condescension of God to men, read the fascinating and inspiring book, Eucharistic Miracles. And let us exult in faith to pray often the prayer Holy Church puts in our hearts:
O Lord, Who under this sacrament have left us a wonderful memorial of Your Passion, grant we beg of You, so to venerate the sacred mystery of Your Body and Blood, that we may always feel within ourselves the fruit of Your Redemption.
Contemplating this stupendous aspect of Our Lord, the charity of His Heart, must increase our faith and lead us to deeper understanding of God’s purposes and plans for us, as well as a closer union with Christ. We invite you to learn more about devotion to the Sacred Heart in our Doctrine and Devotions section, to which we have added prayers and information about Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home. Please see as well excellent books about this fundamental devotion, especially a wonderful booklet called, simply enough, Devotion to the Sacred Heart. Also, we are pleased now to offer a wood-carved image of the Sacred Heart that is very expressive of the mercy, wisdom and love of Our Lord under this title.
All we can say is that we are amazed at what we had to learn and have learned – and that we are glad it is done. At least the first huge portion of it is done. We are looking forward to knowing what you think of it, how it works for you when you visit and how you think we may make improvements. Already, if you have clicked on pages of this letter, you have entered the site. Every single Sister made a contribution to the new website. Our meetings about it were lively, interesting and sometimes quite hilarious… but always productive! St. Joseph was our patron as we chipped away at the building of each piece and put it into its proper place. Although we have joked that the younger Sisters “were born thinking like a computer,” the older Sisters learned the tasks that go into something like this. As you might guess, the tasks were repetitive and tedious at times! And we do not hesitate to give honorable mention to the small team of helpers outside the monastery, who contributed time, talent, energy and patience, as they clicked away on their keyboards accomplishing those monotonous tasks that bear such beautiful and important results. God reward each of you!
Here are just some of the changes, great and small, you will notice. Basing so much on the brilliant work of our former website creator and the ideas and requests you have given us over the years, we have greatly re-designed and developed the Build a Custom Rosary feature. Our goal was to give you as much flexibility as possible. You can now choose your own crucifix and centerpiece, add extra side medals, and design 15 and 1-decade rosaries. This single-decade rosary has been a pretty frequent request from people who pray the rosary while they drive – a little safer while holding the wheel! We have also worked custom features into building a cord rosary, chapletsand rosary bracelets, introducing a few more choices, including the new cord rosary bracelet.
Other features we have for such a long time wanted to have on our site are:
— the “Shop by Occasion” and “Shop by Devotion” sections, where searching for a gift is simple;
— expanded Book categories and an increasingly wide range of titles;
— a “New Items” selection, which includes a greater selection of statues.
All of these features – and others too numerous to mention in this letter – we hope will make the new site a welcoming place to visit for finding religious items that will be treasured sacramentals and gifts.
Reading about our website, you have learned a big part of our Community News already. The day-in, day-out concerted effort on this important project for the Community’s welfare and support began in September, when we had our Final Decision Making meeting, which summarized countless hours of previous research and discussions. We began the meeting with a beautiful prayer to St. Joseph the Worker, which you can read on our new Devotion to St. Joseph page. From that morning on, we took the plunge in earnest, designing the new appearance and sifting through hundreds of ideas for how best to structure every detail. To spend hours on a computer during the winter months wasn’t so bad, but once springtime brought warmer weather, it wasn’t easy staying put in front of a screen. So one Sister just packed up the laptop one day and settled herself next to the St. Joseph fountain garden for a few hours’ session. The camaraderie among the Sisters during such a project really supported the entire effort. Bouncing ideas off all the creative minds here in Carmel always bears interesting and fruitful results, thanks be to God!
As we look over the months since we have written, we are a bit stunned at how much has happened besides the website in that time! Projects present themselves in God’s holy and providential direction of our lives, and we take up the work with all the love and willingness we can muster. The projects “happen” when a need arises or a problem is noticed. For example, new, heavier doors and quick-exit locks at the monastery were required by the local Fire Department as a repercussion of last year’s forest fires so near to us. We were blessed to find a local company who does superb work, but the unexpected problems, decisions and delays prolonged this undertaking, now happily completed. Other needs were the kitchen counter replacement and the courtyard entrance re-landscaping. Hard to believe, but 10 years have passed since we built the monastery addition: 10 years’ worth of wear in our well-used kitchen shows! Concerned about cleanliness and the tendency of worn counters to collect germs, we knew it was time for an update. Similarly with the courtyard. Unfortunately, the beautiful grouping of aspen trees that towered over the monastery had become diseased, and the spruce we planted over 25 years ago, had outgrown its spot, especially when a small side-shrine was added to the chapel. This old spruce tree had come to look like a Halloween decoration! Now, in the place of old, diseased trees, we have 3 young deciduous trees that will eventually offer shade, and flowering shrubs in garden beds along the choir and enclosure walls.
Other gardening includes our two cold-frame beds – without tomatoes. Last year, the bumper crop of tomatoes had our Kitchen Sister, who incidentally loves tomatoes, scrambling for ways to use them and preserve them. She made us promise this year only three plants. For lettuce varieties, however, no such limit was stipulated, so we have been blessed with it in good supply! New to the “produce section” of the garden is a small kitchen herb garden.
We had just the spot for this little raised garden only a few steps outside our kitchen door. With plenty of sunshine and being so close to where Sisters will use the herbs, it is ideal. One of the novices, who knows very little about planting or keeping a garden, bravely offered to do both for the herbs. So far, so good. It has been a mild spring for us, so non-produce gardens have been blooming nicely and giving a serene beauty to our enclosure and enjoyment to the Sisters.
Last year in our newsletters, we mentioned several times our little re-modeled hermitage. The family of one of the Sisters wanted to make a special gift of a crucifix for this small place for prayer, but this crucifix was a year in coming from Spain and only arrived last week! We are so pleased to have this important project at last completed, especially for the Sisters taking their annual retreats.
We are now preparing for the upcoming summer Silver Jubilee anniversaries of two of our founding Sisters, as well as the Final Profession of one of our novices. These occasions are a source of peaceful joy for all the Community – a time of deep gratitude for our holy vocations and our life in Carmel. Carmel, where joys and sorrows are sanctified by loving trust in the One Who has called us to give all for all. And this evening, if you could enter our enclosure, you would find all of the Sisters kneeling together in the presence of Christ our King, renewing our consecration to His Heart, to His love, to His holy Will. There we will remember you especially to His Heart’s loving care of you.
Your Carmelite Sisters
HELP US CONTINUE OUR LIFE OF PRAYER AND SACRIFICE