our King and Lawgiver,
the expected of the nations and their Savior,
come to save us, O Lord our God.
– Magnificat antiphon, Dec. 23rd
Dear Friends of Carmel,
During the weeks of Advent, the Church has prayed and prepared for the coming of the Savior. We have pondered the Old Testament prophecies of Isaias. We have heard the warnings of St. John the Baptist, that great herald of the Messias, urging us to repentance and a change of heart, since “the axe is already laid at the root of tree.” We have prayed in silence with Our Blessed Mother, joining our yearning to hers. We have contemplated her humility and purity of heart, so irresistible to the Word of God that He chose to make her the vessel of Redemption: “He whom the whole world could not contain, closed Himself up in thy womb.” Over and over, the liturgical prayers, lessons, and verses have repeated the plea: Come, come to save us!
“O Emmanuel!” (God with us) This is the last of the “O Antiphons,” and it will be sung today during Vespers. It is the final heartrending plea of Holy Mother Church before the great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. We must all make this plea our own, perhaps more than ever before in our own lifetimes.
The holy Liturgy is timeless. Far more than just a happy remembrance or commemoration, the precious and pivotal moments of salvation history are actually renewed upon the altar. At Holy Mass, the moments of Christmas night in the cave of Bethlehem are made present to us, moments of profound hope to the world. But we are also offered a foretaste and participation in that final and infallible victory, the completion of Christ’s coming, which has yet to take place in time. The great mystery of Redemption, both its beginning long ago, and its consummation yet to come, are united in the present moment, realized in each individual soul during the moments of the Mass. What joy should be ours! What other battle-weary army is given such a consolation? A true sharing in the victory already won!
It is no wonder that the true joy of Christmas has always been irrepressible and unstoppable, keeping our Holy Faith alive through war, bitter persecution and the darkest of times. And it will continue to do so, for those who cling to it. A difficult year it has been for most, and many are plagued by fear at the thought of what the coming year may yet bring. But the Joy of Christmas is also ours. It is like a great, flaming torch that we can hold ever higher above our heads, the flame of God’s love, turning despair to hope, sorrow to joy, and death to life. This torch cannot be extinguished, and it is a living flame in the hearts of those who cling to Christmas and all it means for the world.
Know that you are all in our prayers as we celebrate this great Feast! “Today you have known that the Lord is coming, and tomorrow you shall see His glory” (Matins, Christmas Eve).
In Our Infant King,
Your Carmelite Sisters
A Meditation from St. Teresa for Christmas
Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting
to him who possesses God.
God alone suffices.
– St. Teresa’s Bookmark
Late one evening, as Our Holy Mother prepared to climb the convent stairs after locking up for the night, she encountered a little boy on the steps. The Child spoke to her and said, “Who are you?” Teresa answered, “I am Teresa of Jesus. But who are you?” The Child answered with a radiant smile, “I am Jesus of Teresa!” We can, each one of us, substitute our own name in the Child’s reply, for truly we possess Him and He possesses us—through sanctifying grace, through faith, hope and charity, and through this Holy Season!