Ecce Mater Tua
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
– Excerpt from the Stabat Mater
Dear Friends of Carmel,
October and autumn! Season of change and challenge, every year without fail. But it does seem that with each newsletter, the entire world has been altered in ways we have not seen in our lifetimes. Prayer and fidelity to our holy Faith give the solid ground on which to stand amidst these changes. The immutable God and His unchanging goodness keep us stable and safe, whatever storms come…
The greatest gifts are often given to us in the midst of trouble and sorrow. We may not recognize them at the time, but later on, when time has passed and we are out of the storm, we gain some understanding of the treasures bestowed in sorrow. Behold the hill of Calvary and the Holy Cross – no treasure can compare with the wealth of good that came to all the world, for all time, to every soul from Love Crucified.
With redemption and the victory over sin and death, we also received a Mother. The Church’s honoring of Our Lady of the Rosary, especially during this month, brings clearly before us this Mother of Joys, Sorrows and Glory. Passing joys we are all given by God, and then glory after a life spent in His loving service. But sorrows are ever with us in this life – this valley of tears. With the simple word, “Behold your mother,” Our Lord Jesus bequeathed to each of us a friend full of compassion and love. Yes, in speaking to His beloved disciple, He was giving to her all his disciples forever!
In the history of the Church, God’s Mother and ours has revisited her sorrows by visiting earth – always with a message of compassion for our peace.
We recall in particular Our Lady’s copious tears before St. Catherine Labouré at rue du Bac in Paris. At La Salette, holding her face in her hands, Our Lady again wept before the children, Melanie and Maximin, lamenting that souls offended the good God by sins of blasphemy and their failure to keep Sunday holy (See our Lenten newsletter on the Holy Face Devotion). Lastly, we remember Our Lady of Fatima, who, as Lucia often remarked, “never smiled.” Though welcoming and tender, she always spoke of serious matters, with warnings prophetic of sorrow (see past newsletter The Sacred Hearts and Fatima).
What can we learn from our compassionate and sorrowful Mother? What lessons does she teach those she called at La Salette “my true children, the children of my faith”? Again we share this beautiful meditation from an unknown source:
Our Lady had no sin of her own to expiate by suffering and no penalty to pay for the sin of Adam. Yet the waters of bitterness overwhelmed her soul. Who then can doubt that suffering is the portion of God’s elect, the seal of His favor, the badge of our conformity with Christ? The Mother of Sorrows rebukes with her gentle example our self-love and shrinking from pain. She repeats the great lesson of sacrifice which her Son has taught; and she encourages us to bear patiently the sorrows and trials that God may send us. She does more: she moves all souls who are devout to her to seek after suffering and to welcome it for the love of her Son.
Mary was present on Calvary to offer up her Divine Son for our redemption, to consent to His death that we may live. This is the real significance and value of her Dolors.
Only those who stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross really know what the Passion means, and no one who keeps watch with her is denied a share in her love and her sorrow.
In a beautiful homily, the brilliant, fatherly St. Robert Bellarmine assures the fearful, uncertain and lonely of the stupendous and eternal gift Our Lord gave to us from His Cross:
Who could not envy (John) the beloved of the Lord, who in the absence of the Son of God had the presence of the Mother of God? But, if I am not mistaken, by our prayers we can obtain the same favor from the Word, who became incarnate for our sake and in His great love was crucified for our sake. In His kindness, He will say to us also, “Behold your Mother”; and concerning each one of us, He will say to His Mother, “Behold your son.”
Today’s Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted in celebration of a great Catholic victory of the 16th Century, the Battle of Lepanto. It was not the first nor the last time that Christian civilization was saved from the brink of apparent collapse by invoking the intercession of Blessed Mother of God. How often have we urged you to pray the rosary?! And we continue to do so, repeating the request of Our Lady herself at Fatima, “Pray the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world.” One of our priests has often called the Rosary “the entire Liturgical Year in your pocket,” since it puts us in intimate contact with all the mysteries of Redemption and of Our Lord’s life.
While we meditate on these mysteries, Our Lady guides us, teaching us to think her thoughts and love with her heart…all to bring us, with all the world, closer to her divine Son. How remiss we would be to neglect this great spiritual weapon given to us by our Mother! We would be like soldiers running into battle without their swords….
In a similar style as the Holy Face plaques we introduced in our March newsletter, we are now producing a wood plaque image of Our Lady of the Rosary, as well as a new rosary box with this same image. Our Lady, radiant with simplicity and innocence, is shown in prayerful contemplation. May this beautiful image draw souls to the same contemplation of the Rosary mysteries – the mysteries of our redemption!
HOLY SOULS REMEMBRANCE – 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 month of November. We wish to invite you to send us 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 for their speedy release and eternal peace. As many as five Masses are offered here at our chapel each day, and a remembrance of your deceased will be made at each Mass, each day of the month of November, starting on Holy Souls Day. ENROLL NOW
St. Therese the Little Flower
This Carmelite, whose Feast day we celebrated just a few days ago, was called by St. Pius X “the greatest Saint of modern times.” Her “little way” of simplicity and love has been leading souls to sanctity by the same path she herself walked to become a saint: childlike trust, doing the smallest things with the greatest love. She let no moment pass without finding in it an opportunity for loving sacrifice, thereby gaining great merit in her practice of virtue in a complete, trustful submission to God’s will: “Everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events – to the heart that loves, all is well.”
Hope is a rare virtue these days. As we go about our daily lives, we should ask St. Therese to not only help us find and take advantage of all the sacrifices God puts on our path, but also to rely entirely on God as she did: “Since all that we can do is very little, it is of the greatest importance that we put our confidence in Him who alone sanctifies those works and that we recognize that we are indeed useless servants, hoping that the good Lord will give us through grace all that we desire.” Not only will we find peace of soul in a hectic world, but we will find holiness. And we just may accomplish great things for souls and for God’s Church, as she did.
A plaque of St. Therese now hangs in our new oratory (more about this in community news), and we decided to make this available to all on our website.
What, do you think, might be the subject of a spiritual book called Stronger Than Steel? If you guess, “Maybe something about the Church? Or the martyrs? Maybe ecclesiastical architecture??” you would be incorrect on all counts. Stronger Than Steel is about the Little Flower – and the beginning years of the fulfillment of her promise, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” The book is a collection of letters and testimonials of soldiers who experienced her kindly aid on the battlefields of the Great War, hardly 20 years after her death. Yes, she was really with them on those desolate fields of war and death. Tender devotion, along with manly strength, characterize each entry. What a wonderful testimony of how strong the Catholic Faith was among men in those days.
Once again we are pleased announce another wonderful old title now back in print – and it is an important one, we think! It is The Imitation of Mary by Thomas a Kempis. Very similar to his timelessly-read My Imitation of Christ, it offers nearly all that this holy monk wrote in devotion to Our Lady. Fittingly for the Rosary devotion, the chapters are arranged according to the mysteries of Mary’s life: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. Readers will find a treasure here, with short, memorable counsels, helpful for your spiritual life.
Lastly, we introduce an obscure book we had never known about – St. Teresa’s Bookmark, a meditative commentary on the beautiful poem/prayer of Our Holy Mother. This reprint published by our good friend in Australia is simply wonderful. Father Luke of St. Joseph, General of the Carmelite Order during the World War years, finds much in the recent history and current events of his own time to make especially poignant St. Teresa’s short lines. But, of course, since our own times reflect those troubled years of history, the wisdom of Father Luke’s commentary gives new light to those timeless lines, as shown in this brief quote: “God presides over all the changes, but He Himself does not change or alter His thoughts. He listens to the prayer of the penitent, to the sigh of the unfortunate; to the sweet canticle of innocence; yea, and to the horrible blasphemy of the apostate; but He is changeless; and He is never in haste.”
Beeswax Advent Candles – However hard it is to believe, Advent is just around the corner! The artisan who makes our hand crafted beeswax candles has added Advent candles to her line of products. If you do not have Advent candles for your Advent wreath already, you might like to give these a try. As is the case with all the Sacramentals that we sell, if you want us to have the candles blessed before shipping them to you, just mention it in a note at checkout and we will be happy to do that for you.
We have been making our crocheted relic badges for over 30 years now –longer even than our rosaries! Over those years, our technique has not varied much: formatting, printing, cutting, trimming, attaching the relic and finally, the crocheting – a bit of a process! But we finally decided to “bring it up to the 21st century,” as the Sisters said. Although we ourselves are choosing the art, editing it and formatting it, we found a company to produce the pictures, front and back, on heavy, coated cardstock that allows for more vibrant and detailed images. With supply shortages everywhere, the plastic disks used to encase the pictures have not been available for quite a few months, so we also “updated” the disks. These new ones are a much sturdier plastic. So overall, the new, “updated” badges are stronger, more durable, and (in our opinion at least) more beautiful. So far, we have available only the new Our Lady of Mount Carmel (in both blue and brown) and St. Joseph badges, with all of the other styles and Saints coming soon.
For a long while, it has been our desire to add to our collection a badge for St. Michael the Archangel. In our September, 2020 newsletter, we discussed his great Patronage over the Church and the Liturgy, as well as his important role (along with all the Angels) in our battle against Satan. Of course, St. Michael is spirit having no body, and therefore no relics. But we were able to obtain a small rock from his shrine on Mount Galgano in Italy. If you do not know the story of the shrine, we encourage you to look it up. Under St. Michael’s direction, it was dedicated to him and has been a place of pilgrimage and miracles for the past 1500 years. So we are pleased to announce that the new (long overdue!) St. Michael relic badge is available for pre-order, complete with the new, sturdy plastic casing and higher quality prints.
- Filled with inspiration and devotion
- Finest Traditional Calendar available today
- Elegant and classic reproductions for each month – depicting the most beloved liturgical scenes
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- Includes special guide, summary of truths of the Catholic Faith, Patron Saints and Prayers section – useful to all Catholics
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Order Now (U.K and E.U. customers Order here)
We are hoping, in coming months, to add to our selection of wood-carved statues. However, fittingly for this newsletter, we have added the beautiful image of Our Lady of Sorrows. The traditional depiction shows our dear Mother’s heart pierced by a sword of sorrow, as prophesied by Simeon when our Infant Lord was presented in the temple (Lk. 2).
Announcement for United Kingdom and E.U. Customers
We have continued to work on streamlining the order process for United Kingdom and European Union customers through eBay, required now because of the recent Value Added Tax (VAT) laws, as we explained in our last newsletter. We are starting to add more of our website products to the eBay storefront, and if you have other items you want to purchase that you do not see, please just let us know! We can set up custom products and carts to help you order rosaries or other items.
The biggest and happiest news we have to share is the First Profession of our novice. Profession of Vows in Carmel is a simple private ceremony, with none but the Sisters present according to the wish of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa. It is said that when Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew took her vows, she was wrapped in ecstasy in front of an entire congregation. This it was that made St. Teresa decide that from then on the ceremony should be a secluded one.
After a short exhortation from the Prioress, the novice kneels, holding a small card on which she has written the formula of her Profession of vows. She places her hands in the hands of the Prioress while pronouncing them, after which the Prioress gives her the Profession crucifix to kiss. She will wear this crucifix over her heart for the rest of her life. She is then clothed again in the holy habit (see newsletter with details of the Clothing Ceremony) and prostrates on the cross of flowers while the Te Deum is chanted. Lastly, Mother Prioress places on her head the crown of roses, and Sister goes around to the members of the Community to receive the Kiss of Peace – while the Sisters chant the beautiful hymn, “Ecce Quam Bonum” (“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together as one!” Ps. 132:1).
Since in years past, we did not have a permanent “Chapter Room,” our Profession ceremonies took place in the Choir. Those of you who have seen some of our past newsletters, might remember that when we built our new work rooms in “Loreto,” we planned on making our old sewing room into a permanent oratory/chapter room. Over the past few months we finally started the project of renovating the room somewhat to make it a fitting room for prayer, including moving in a small altar, setting up a large crucifix, and printing images for the walls – the Prophet Elias, Our Holy Mother St. Teresa, Our Holy Father St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese.
The day chosen for the ceremony was September 8th, Our Lady’s birthday. We realized later quite by accident, that we had chosen the same date that was St. Therese’s Profession day. A few days before the ceremony, one of the Sisters stumbled across the narration given of the Saint’s Profession in one of the many books about her life.
The memoir told of how the Community processed from the Choir to the Chapter Room “on the second floor” (just as we would do to our new Chapter Room…) and also mentioned that the Sisters placed a small image of the Infant Mary on the altar for Therese’s profession ceremony. So we did the same – with a statue from Mexico, given to us over 30 years ago as a gift.
The quiet ceremony was followed by Mass, and during the exhortation Father gave to Sister, we were all reminded of the great beauty of the vows, Father describing them as resembling the Old Testament holocaust. Each of the vows is a perfection, a striving after, one of the three theological virtues: hope through poverty, charity through chastity, and faith through obedience (as we described in our past newsletters: obedience, chastity, and poverty). We have put a portion of this beautiful sermon on our website for those who might be interested in listening to it.
First Profession Sermon
Scarcely a week later, on Sept 14th, the entire Community gathered again in the new Chapter Room for the renewal of vows. September 14th, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, not only begins the Carmelite Fast, but is also one of the two days during the year chosen by St. Teresa for this ceremony. One by one each of the Sisters knelt before the Prioress, joyfully to pronounce again the Vows she made on her own Profession day.
These are difficult times. Everyone, without exception, has some burden, suffering or sorrow to bear, whether it be anxiety over the direction of world events, or more personal troubles. Sickness, death, financial worries – they are all part of everyone’s life in some way or another. Just since July, we here in Carmel have four times mourned the loss of loved ones – by sickness, old age, or sudden tragic circumstances. The Cross touches everyone.
In the world, the tide of evil sweeping through society seems unrelenting and unstoppable. How easy it would be to lose hope; how easy, to believe there is nothing we can do about it all, and just surrender and give up. But all this is just a deception of the devil, who wishes to silence your prayers and stifle your sacrifices, however small and silent they may be. God has always accomplished His victories in silent, hidden, and as we said above, sometimes sorrowful ways. Just as it was in the dark silence of Calvary that Jesus Our Lord redeemed the world, it was in the quiet of the tomb, that He rose from the dead – and conquered it.
We would like to share with you these words, written by the Benedictine Abbot, Dom Paul Delatte, which our Mother Prioress read to us before we renewed our vows. May they encourage you all to continue on…. “to fight the good fight”!
“But perhaps you will say to me: ‘What can I do about it, with my petty little life? How am I, with my poor supernatural energy, how am I to shift the immense inertia of the entire world?’ Note, the Church is sustained only by the holiness of her children. God’s victories are always won by inner acts. It is by inner supernatural acts that one moves the world. And do you realize what the weight of a supernatural act can be? There are physicists who have claimed that not a single atom can begin to vibrate in the universe without the echo band repercussions of that vibration being felt in the entire world, so close, so real and so profound is the organic correlation that exists among all the atoms of the universe…. I believe in the Communion of Saints, and I know very well that by virtue of the profound correlation that exists among all the members of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ. We cannot perform, in the secrecy of our heart, the most straightforward, the simplest, the gentlest supernatural act without there being an echo, a repercussion from that act throughout the whole supernatural world.”
God bless you as we all carry on in life, hoping against hope (Rom. 4:18) in the certainty of God’s protection and promises. He has foreseen all, knows all, planned and provided for all. Let us fight that good fight in a holy confidence and peace that no one can take from us!
Our Blessed Mother be with you,
Your Carmelite Sisters