He has risen – the Good Shepherd –
Who laid down His life for His sheep,
Who saw fit to die for His flock.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Dear Friends of Carmel, Blessed and glorious Easter to all! This truly is the day the Lord has made, and we must be glad and rejoice in it. St. John Chrysostom on this great day urged his people to rejoice from the heart and has given the great reason for that rejoicing
Let us celebrate this greatest and most shining feast, in which the Lord has risen from the dead. Let us celebrate it with joy – and in equal measure, with devotion. For the Lord has risen, and together with Him, He has raised the whole world. He has risen, because He has broken the bonds of death.
How great should be our gratitude for the gift the Savior has given us – eternal life. St. Paul calls this grace “God’s unspeakable gift!” Mindful of the graces and progress God has granted to our Lenten penances and prayers, let us give Him loving praise and thanks. And let us, in the face of the unbelieving world that surrounds us, reaffirm a strong faith in the great Work of Redemption wrought by Crucified Love. Let us make the prayers of the Holy Mass and Liturgy our own:
“O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, by Your death gave life to the world… grant us to show forth in our lives what we profess outwardly in this celebration… and that we may gain perfect freedom and advance to eternal life…”
The Paschal Candle is the great sign of Christ Risen, and this beautiful symbol remains with us all throughout the 50 days of the Paschal season. The ceremony for its blessing contains gestures and prayers that proclaim Christ’s sacrificial death and burial – all to be revealed in this one sign of Resurrection. At the Paschal Vigil ceremony, the fire is blessed that will light this candle, and as the single light is carried into the darkened church, all proclaim, “Lumen Christi! Deo gratias! – Light of Christ. Thanks be to God!” Then, from this one great flame, all the candles of the congregation are lit, passed onto one another in silent joy.
We, also, behind the grille of our enclosure, receive the flame, and with it light the several vigil candles we keep always burning within the monastery. The longstanding custom of our community is to keep this Paschal flame burning throughout the year. As these vigil candles burn low, we take the flame to re-light them all each week, trading the flame from one candle to the next, always preserving the original blessed fire and flame from the Paschal Vigil. Only twice in over 25 years have we mistakenly “lost” the flame from the Paschal Candle. It is a prayerful, spiritual reminder of our union with Christ, our Redeemer and Bridegroom – and all He accomplished for each of our souls and the souls for whom we pray. We like to recall a beautiful prayer from the Vigil, just after the great pillar is lit: “May the light of Christ in glory rising again dispel the darkness of heart and mind!”
The days, weeks and months pass so very quickly in Carmel. We have gradually continued the needed repairs in the monastery, which have included replacing flooring in the north cloister, clearing up a mysterious plumbing pump problem, and having our large back enclosure gate fixed. In addition, we had a surprise on our web site for the first time: after Christmas, rosary orders did NOT slow down. It seems devotion to Our Lady’s Rosary is not waning, and that’s a good thing. But we’ve not really had our accustomed little break in bending wire this year! And with the approach of Easter, people are reminded of First Communion Days coming up, along with Confirmations, Ordinations, Weddings, etc. – so these gift rosaries have been taking precedence the last few weeks.
We had two more big snowstorms during Holy Week, so the “White Easter” no one here was dreaming of, gave us another last, little penance to offer. Easter Lilies for the altar were expected Wednesday, the day of a severe blizzard – and of course, the truck from Denver never arrived that day. Not until Holy Thursday, barely an hour before the special liturgy was to begin, did the heavy lily plants finally come, a bit bedraggled for their extra time snugly packed in their boxes and delayed arrival. But later that night, the Sisters unpacked them, and next morning finished preparing them for the Easter altars, adding the pretty foil liners and white bows. The monastery has a heavenly fragrance these days of Paschaltide!
We appreciated the interest our readers took in Zelie, the Carmelites’ new puppy. We valued the little pieces of advice, the personal stories of those who know well German Shepherd puppies, and especially the remark of one good friend: “Enjoy her puppyhood, which it seems will never end – and which flies by so quickly!” We can surely appreciate that now, as we watch Zelie grow… she really changes daily, gaining weight and height at what sometimes seems an alarming rate! Tall enough to get up to tables, not yet quite heavy to knock us down – yes, we’ve got a handful. But the training is going well, and as young as she is, she’s learning how to behave – little by little. She seems to be quite fearless, unafraid to approach new things and people – sometimes starting out with a little barking. The funniest thing is to see her trotting down the cloister with some stolen object – sandal, garden glove, napkin, small book, etc…. (If it is a slightly heavier object, she sort of waddle-trots.) She glances behind as she trots away and can gauge the value of the stolen object by the manner of the Sister in hot pursuit. So we have learned not to panic and to be more “casual” in our response to her mischief: “No, those black winter necks scarves crocheted by a dear friend for the entire community, mean nothing at all to us! And, of course, that pin cushion (with pins sticking out dagerously over all) is nothing to worry about…” Zelie then seems to lose interest in it more quickly.
But besides being a little thief, typical puppy behavior, she is a real joy to the Community, and we are confident she will one day be a wonderful protector of the Community, too.
Know of our prayers for you during this holy Paschal season. May the graces the good Lord granted during Lent for our conversion, great and unmistakable, bring about in all of us a deeper, truer love of our God and a life more resolutely His.
In Our Redeemer and His rejoicing Mother,
Your Carmelite Sisters
HELP US CONTINUE OUR LIFE OF PRAYER AND SACRIFICE