In This Edition :
- Our daily duty
- The Rosary, The Green Scapular
- Community News
The roar of the world is in my ears.
Thank God for the roar of the world!
Thank God for the mighty tide of fears
Against me always hurled!
Thank God for the bitter and ceaseless strife,
And the sting of His chastening rod!
Thank God for the stress and the pain of life,
And Oh, thank God for God!
– Joyce Kilmer
Hello, dear Friends of Carmel –
Once again, the months have passed, and with them another season. Leaves are changing on the trees. Shorter days of sunlight – but not shorter days of work! And we will tell you more about that “work” later in our letter. But we find ourselves more and more inspired by the root of the message of Fatima: prayerful, sacrificial, loving fidelity to our daily duty, the sacrifice most pleasing to the good God for calling down His blessings on a profoundly troubled world.
It was this feature of our last newsletter that resounded in the hearts of so many of our readers. We cannot count the number of messages we received about this very point – and what help, direction and consolation these words of Our Lord to Sister Lucia have given: “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.” And: “More than all else, accept and bear with resignation the sufferings that God may send you.”
Yes, what a strong, steady and encouraging impetus to all of us to keep on a sure path. Our daily works – hidden, unremarkable – are precious in God’s sight, since they express our love, our fidelity, our trust. We have as our model, as always, Our Lord Jesus Himself, Who said, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me.” And to what else would He be referring when teaching us to take up our cross daily to follow Him – except daily duty? Assured of this, we can find our way to be able to pray in our hearts with the poet, “Thank God for the bitter and ceaseless strife…”
“God provides,” is a saying that always proves itself true. As these months of 2017 have been marching on, it seems that among the Sisters, all that each one chooses for her spiritual reading from our good monastery library keeps pounding away at this very same point. It has truly become the “Theme” of our year! We have been startled and almost amused at the fact, and by now are always expecting it. May we share with you a few of the treasures God has providentially placed in our hands and before our eyes?
“To live the Christian life is to live by Christ, to see all things through Him by the light of His grace, to love through His adorable Heart, to pray through His own divine prayer, to work through Him and for Him in order to bring the whole world back to Him, to suffer with Him, and to make up what is wanting to His redemptive Passion.
But if we are not to remain in the domain of pure theory and speculation, we must actualize all these in a deep interior life that is permeated by a lively faith and a generous love. . . This is not the work of a single day; it requires sustained effort and constant and ever-renewed generosity in the face of our inevitable tendency to backslide… [W]e must do with Him and in Him everything that God expects of us, accomplishing our humble duties of each day generously, lovingly, and with a view to our final goal…
These perspectives should illumine our souls as we perform our daily tasks, for such concepts dignify our work and elevate it to the level of the Redemption. Once again, it is important that our views should not remain in the speculative order. Some persons delude themselves by constructing beautiful theories based on the concepts of baptism, grace and the Mystical Body, and then do not live by them. The dogmas at the root of our piety must become incarnate in the humble task of the present moment, in obscure sacrifices, in the renouncement of a thousand selfish quests, and in fidelity to what God asks here and now, hour by hour, through the obligations of our state in life. That is the touchstone of true love. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” Outside of that, there is nothing but illusion.”
– Fr. Ernest Mura, In Him is Life
Somewhere in Fr. de Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence, a book someone is always reading in Carmel, he so emphasizes the importance of finding God’s will in daily duty, that he uses the term “sacrament of the present moment” to express its sacredness and opportunity for growing in holiness. Then there were the special, heartening counsels our Mother Prioress had found from her own reading for us on the morning of the Renewal of our Vows, September 14th:
“My Heart is all love and it embraces all souls, but how can I make My chosen souls understand My special love for them and how I wish to use them to save sinners and so many souls who are exposed to the perils of the world? For this reason I would like them to know how much I desire their perfection, and that it consists in doing their ordinary actions in intimate union with Me. If they once grasped this, they could divinize their life and all their activities by this close union with My Heart… and how great is the value of a divinized day!”
“I will tell My chosen souls that My love for them goes further still; not only shall I make use of their daily life and their least actions, but I will make use of their very wretchedness… their frailties… even of their falls, for the salvation of souls.”
“I ardently desire My chosen souls to fix their eyes on Me and never turn them away.”
– Words of Our Lord to Sister Josefa
from the book Way of Divine Love
“… Prayer, in a wider sense, must consist of more than mere words beseeching God’s mercy; it embraces everything we do with a dedicated spirit of faith in the service of our Creator.” – St. Bede (from a homily)
Abbot Marmion wrote to a student, “What you tell me of your progress in your studies much consoles me, for true piety, real love of Jesus urges us ever to do our best to fulfill our duties of state.” (Union With God)
Her way, that is, at every moment of her every day, in all her duties, in all her works, joys and sufferings, was confidence and love. St. Thérèse, sometimes called the “saint of the itsy-bitsy,” found treasures in the smallest happenings, the smallest tasks – all met, all accomplished, with a simple and pure love for God and neighbor. She also found sanctity.
And if there be difficulty in our daily duty, obstacles to its accomplishment, opposition presenting itself at every turn, what better way to make of it, and of ourselves, a “living sacrifice” to our God, Who surely receives it with paternal love and care? Our Holy Mother St. Teresa experienced this constantly in her life. Thinking all would go well with a foundation of a monastery (the work that became her daily duty for nearly 20 years), “On the contrary, everything went wrong. Teresa herself could not have believed (for more than a few hopeful moments) that she would escape the usual mysterious opposition which is the cross and the triumph of all activity truly Christian.” (Walsh: Saint Teresa of Avila) St. Teresa herself experienced weariness and worry about this work: “While thinking about whether they might be right who thought it was wrong for me to go out to found monasteries, and thinking that I would do better to be always occupied in prayer, I heard the words: “While one is alive, progress doesn’t come from trying to enjoy Me more but by trying to do My will.'” (Spiritual Testimonies, Vol. 1, Collected Works)
We cannot fail to add this one remark of our Holy Mother St. Teresa, which is like “the last word” on fidelity to daily duty:
“We shouldn’t build castles in the air. The Lord doesn’t look so much at the greatness of our works as at the love with which they are done. And if we do what we can, His Majesty will enable us each day to do more and more, provided that we do not quickly tire.
But during the little while this life lasts – and perhaps it will last a shorter time than each one thinks- let us offer the Lord interiorly and exteriorly the sacrifice we can. His Majesty will join it with that which He offered on the cross to the Father for us. Thus even though our works are small they will have the value our love for Him would have merited had they been great.”
So how do we get the help we need to be and to remain faithful in our daily duty? Well, by asking for it, by praying for it! Now we further share below a few beautiful, short prayers, little meditations, that can help keep good-willed souls on track.
Go before us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, in all our doings,
with Thy gracious inspiration,
and assist us with Thy continual help,
that every prayer and work of ours may begin from Thee
and by Thee be happily ended,
through Christ Our Lord. Amen!
Indulgence of 300 days
Another often-said prayer with the private renewal of vows is the following one, also indulgenced by the Church for Religious; but nothing keeps any Christian soul from making this prayer to Our Lord:
O Jesus, Victim of charity, make me a living sacrifice to Thee, holy and pleasing to God!
(300 days for Religious who renew their vows with this invocation)
In the early morning hours of each day, we offer stirring prayers in the Divine Office that are a dramatic plea for God’s assistance in the day before us – for the help we will need in our weakness, the blessing upon our works that make them worth anything at all, the peace of knowing we are in God’s Hand all throughout the coming day. And we pray these petitions not only for ourselves, but for the whole Church, for all her members, for our dear ones:
Lord God all-powerful, Who have brought us to the beginning of this day, by Your power, keep us on the road to salvation. May our thoughts and our works be so directed that we may not fall into any sin this day, but always lead us in the way of Your justice…
Look down with favor on Your servants, Lord, and on the works of Your hands, and direct their children… followed by a phrase from Psalm 89 (90): May the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours: Direct and prosper the work of our hands for us, yes, prosper the work of our hands!
Deign, O Lord God, King of Heaven and of earth, to direct this day our hearts and our bodies, our thoughts, words and deeds in Your law and in the fulfillment of Your commandments, so that here and in eternity, by Your help, we may be saved and freed, O Savior of the world …
The Divine Office
May the all-powerful Lord order our days and our deeds in His peace! … Our help is in the Name of the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth… May the Lord bless us and defend us from all evil, and bring us to life everlasting.
Lastly, there is the matchless prayer of St. Ignatius, a man well-schooled in accomplishing with love the daily tasks that produce true sanctity:
Lord, teach me to be generous,
To serve You as You deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and ask for no reward,
Save that of knowing I do
Your Holy Will.
The whole point here is that we truly strive, moment by moment, ever to be of one mind and heart with Our Savior. As St. John the Apostle bluntly wrote to his beloved children, “He who says that he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1Jn 2:6) Our intentions and purposes must ever be what His are – our goal, what His is, for each one of us and for all the world. No one so possessed the mind and intention of Christ as His own Mother. And it is she who has come to us to bring His instruction, light and peace. Our confident, hopeful prayers, offered in a life of love will obtain from our Heavenly Father the help we so desperately need to be faithful. And each sacrifice of a day of fidelity has a wide expanse of results.
Remember Our Blessed Mother’s promising words to all of us at Fatima: that our prayers would obtain the end of war, the conversion of sinners, peace to a deeply troubled and disordered world. Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. If this has not been done, and many now realize and believe that it has indeed not been done according to her explicit instructions, how else can it be accomplished, for the good of an entire world of souls and nations, except that we “pray and sacrifice”? Hear the merciful words again: “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.” May our efforts bear much fruit for His glory and for His peace upon our world!
We do wish that we had found the time to make this badge sooner, but we could not let the year go by without adding this particular one to our website – a relic badge of Our Lady of Fatima. It is another way in which we are commemorating the 100th year anniversary, and another attempt to spread the devotion. While we thought long and hard about what “invocation” to put on the back of this badge, a simple “Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of Peace, pray for us,” seemed to sum up best of all what we wanted to say. We need peace. The world needs peace! It has been made clear that there will be none in the world, except through Our Blessed Mother, and through the fulfillment of Her requests made at Fatima.
Over the years, one request has remained almost constant when we ask what people would like to see featured in our newsletter: “tell us about how to pray the rosary” or “do you have any good books about how to pray the rosary?” We tried to address this somewhat in a past newsletter, but when it comes to learning what the rosary is and how to pray it, a few paragraphs is hardly adequate! We thought we would do something a little different, and share with you an excerpt of a talk that was given to our community last year on the Feast of the Holy Rosary. We hope that you profit from it as much as we did! You can listen to the fifteen minute clip below.
Recalling the anniversary of the miracle of the sun, we are reminded that during that miracle Our Lady also appeared to the children as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the Brown Scapular. The Brown Scapular is one of the great sacramentals (along with the Rosary) given to us by Our Lady. Being Carmelites, the religious order that originally received this sacramental through St. Simon Stock, we are particularly attached to this devotion, and we have talked about it often in past newsletters. If you are not familiar with this devotion, we urge you to look at our Devotions pages and FAQ page to learn more.
But this time, we would like to talk about a far less known scapular called the Green Scapular. This scapular was also given to us through Our Lady, during an apparition to a Daughter of Charity, Sister Justine Bisqueyburu on September 8, 1840. Our Lady appeared holding her Immaculate Heart in one hand, and the Green Scapular in the other, asking that this scapular be made and the devotion spread. She promised Sister Justine that “If it be given with confidence, there will be a great number of conversions.” And there have been a great number of conversions! There have also been a great number of miraculous cures to those who are given the green scapular. A small prayer is given to be said by the person wearing the scapular (or the person giving it, if the person receiving it will not or cannot say it): “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” Once again, our good Mother is coming to share with us the great richness of her Heart, and through it to lead us to Her Son and eternal salvation. While wearing the Brown Scapular is for Catholics the devotion and pledge of loyalty given to Our Lady, and a promise of salvation to those who practice the devotion correctly, you might say that the Green Scapular is the same thing for non-Catholics and is very powerful in bringing them to the Faith
Please note that we do not hand-make these scapulars, but are pleased to offer them now, due to popular request.
We want to recommend just a few books, two of which were mentioned above and that Sisters have been reading. Years ago, Dominican scholar and spiritual director, Fr. Jordan Aumann joined with others to publish a series of books on the spiritual life. All of the books of this wonderful series are now out of print, so especially happy we are to have many of them in our library. The Fr. Mura book, In Him is Life, is one that would be particularly fruitful read by lay people. Although we Sisters garner much indeed from it, it does have a good deal to do with spiritual life and apostolate out in the world. An excellent review of the practical working of the doctrines of our Faith in everyday life, it is a call to a prayerful life, a life lived in union with Christ. We happen to have three copies of this book on our shelves; and we were able to find several more in fair – good condition. These we are offering on our website, first come, first serve. Right now, we have 5 available, but may be able to obtain a few more at a slightly higher price.
The Passion of Thérèse of Liseiux is one of THE best books on this Carmelite Saint. This wonderful book chronicles and studies St. Thérèse in the aspect of the illness that took her life. Her “little” way is often trivialized somewhat, and her doctrine of “spiritual childhood” often misunderstood as childishness. This book wipes away those notions and reveals once and for all the fortitude of her soul. There is no other book like it, and there is no better way to know her as a teacher of the Gospel, a counselor, a fellow-traveler on the thorny path of life – than simply to study the way she dealt with the sickness God sent her. Of course, her spiritual trial accompanied the illness, and the dramatic, mysterious days of suffering gave her perfect opportunities to live her “little way” every inch of the way: she became a perfect holocaust, received by God…
Lastly, we want to mention A Companion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Life and Work & the People and Places In Her Story. How interesting this book is! Through it, one learns of details that fascinate and edify, as well as fill in certain gaps and wonderments when one looks at her life. Aspects of her family life and community life, as well as the apostolate she would carry on after her death, throw light on her path to sanctity – and invite us to “come along”!
The 2018 Liturgical calendar
is now available!
- Elegant and classic reproductions for each month
- All Feast Days accurately listed
- Includes special guide, summary of truths of the Catholic Faith, Patron Saints and Prayers section
It seems far too early to be thinking about Christmas. The year has been flying by so quickly! So we were startled when we started receiving orders for Christmas cards. However, we congratulate all of you who are so organized and ahead of things! We have put up several new designs for you to choose from.
Remembrance of the Holy Souls
A custom we keep in our chapel here is to place the names of deceased family members and other loved ones on our altars, and our Priests faithfully remember these souls at each Mass offered during the entire month of November. We wish to invite you to send us, before November 1st, the names of your loved ones who are deceased, and we will be happy to include these souls in this great benefit of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Please click here for more details and to enroll the names of your deceased loved ones.
“And just what are the daily duties keeping those Sisters so busy?” you must be asking. Oh, well, the usual – and the unusual, too. It has been a FIX-IT time, with our “Brother Rick” visiting from Wisconsin again to help out. Everything from replacing flooring and bathroom fixtures, to changing wheels on garden wheelbarrows and finding equipment for our rosary work – Rick’s been up for it for Carmel! The Sisters work hard to get things ready for his work, searching and purchasing as needed. But other labors continue, of course. Yet another big sewing/embroidery project – which we can’t really tell you about until next spring; garden work – picking beans and tomatoes as they ripen, nursing along a couple watermelons, transplanting roses and other perennials, canning fruits and vegetables, generally just getting ready for the winter. It was a big job cleaning out and reorganizing the root cellar a few weeks ago. Website work to keep everything running smoothly, rosary and sacramental orders shipped promptly, everything up to date. All these and more keep our days full, as usual. Then, each evening, we meet for recreation and pick up our rosary/badge/domestic sewing tools – and along with sometimes rollicking conversation, the work continues… Our daily duty…
Some of you may recall that a few years ago, the manufacturer of our wood inlaid crucifixes closed his company in France. He was ready to retire, and there was no one to take over the work for him in what had been a family business for over 100 years. It has not been uncommon for us to come across much older crucifixes made by his company (his father or grandfather perhaps?) in our rosary repair work. We were very disappointed when he closed, for we have not yet found a source for crucifixes of the same quality, which required dedicated artistry, time, and love. For him, for his family and his workers, it was more than just a business; it was a devotion. And it showed in every piece he made.
Before finally closing his business, this kind gentleman, who with his wife have become good friends, sent us as many crucifixes as he still had on hand, as well as numerous “partly finished” crucifixes, all in the varying stages of the manufacturing process. They needed the figure of the corpus attached, holes drilled, etc. One project for “Brother Rick” during this visit was to help us to find the equipment we needed to complete these crucifixes – a challenge made all the harder for him, since he knows that none of us are woodworkers in any sense of the word! And this is very fine, meticulous work, indeed. Well, now we almost have the process, excuse the pun, “nailed out.” While we don’t plan on becoming woodworkers or metal workers anytime soon, we do hope that we will be able to assemble all the pieces that were sent to us, and continue to offer these beautiful pieces a little while longer yet.
This past spring and summer, we were invaded by some pleasant visitors. Hundreds of ladybugs decided to set up something of a colony on the inside of one of our enclosure walls, and our garden was happily and plentifully populated with them for most of the summer. Of course, our Gardening Sister rejoiced heartily at this irruption of one of the best cleaning agents God can send to a garden to keep it healthy and free of nasty aphids and other undesirables! She also learned, to our great surprise, that most wasps/yellow jackets/etc. are of equal value for the same job. So we are no longer destroying all wasp’s honeycomb-like nests, watching them carefully, and keeping Zelie away from them. In the recent weeks, we’ve seen more than the usual amount of butterflies pass through on their migration south. They are Painted Ladies, and they’ve been enjoying nectar from the blooms of mums, salvia, phlox and even the hummingbird feeder. We’ve been enjoying these particular “plagues” and are grateful that God decided to send them this year instead of the usual one: Miller Moths! About those perhaps we can tell you another time. Zelie, whose newest, slightly neurotic, obsession is chasing and killing the flies which find their way in (and she is surprisingly good at it), will love miller moth season. At least one of us will! But may God be praised in all of His creatures, even moths.
Zelie has another important job these days, keeping up with the newest addition to the family, Meika. She has become quite the mother to this little puppy and is taking some of the hard work out of training. Zelie scolds her when she tries to jump up on things and encourages her to lay down and go to bed at night. She is also saving our arms and habit hems from the terror of German Shepherd puppy teeth, which truly are like needles! The story as to how and why we now have this little puppy is more complicated than we can tell; it was sooner than we were planning for another puppy…..But Meika, completely different in temperament from Zelie, is certainly a joy to have! She and Zelie keep each other entertained and tire each other out. And that is especially helpful when we are at prayer.
One event that we know that made quite a splash in the news was the solar eclipse that occurred in August. We did not have a full eclipse here in Colorado, but we did have about 98 percent coverage. No, we did not buy eclipse glasses, and no, we did not look at the eclipse without them. But we did spend some time outside to enjoy the mystery of the darkened, shadowed-sunny morning. And we tried to take a picture of the sun by pointing our camera in that direction. Someone who knows more about camera lenses and how they work may be able to tell you what exactly is going on in this picture (we are sure you have all seen much more stunning pictures of the eclipse), but we were happy to see the “sliver of the sun” that shows up in the bottom of it. We couldn’t help but think of another “solar event” that happened one hundred years ago, one that was witnessed across large parts of Portugal – one that was much more spectacular, and miraculous, and merciful. What must have it been like to witness that event?
Let us keep the remembrance of Our Lady’s gracious visits to the little holm oak tree on the hills surrounding Fatima, Portugal. She had much to say in relatively few words, over those six months of 1917. All was spiritual, supernatural and heavenly – yet all was about the conditions of earth, the here-and-now realities of a world gone astray from God. In silent prayer, to read these words is both enlightening and consoling – but also fortifying. Yes, there is something medicinal and restorative in all she said – as Heaven meant it to be.
As always, you are in our prayers!
Your Carmelite Sisters
HELP US CONTINUE OUR LIFE OF PRAYER AND SACRIFICE