FLOWER of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.
Saint John Paul II said in 2000: “As I look at these mountains, my thoughts turn today to Mount Carmel, praised in the Bible for its beauty. We are, in fact, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On that mountain, located in Israel near Haifa, the holy prophet Elijah strenuously defended the integrity and purity of the chosen people’s faith in the living God. On that same mountain some hermits gathered in the 12th century after Christ and dedicated themselves to contemplation and penance. The Carmelite Order arose from their spiritual experience.
Walking with the Blessed Virgin, the model of complete fidelity to the Lord, we will fear no obstacles or difficulties.
Supported by her motherly intercession, like Elijah we will be able to fulfill our vocation as authentic “prophets” of the Gospel in our time… May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we call upon today with special devotion, help us tirelessly climb towards the summit of the mountain of holiness; may she help us love nothing more than Christ, who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.”
I’ve been spying on what the Discalced Carmelites are doing to honor a great figure as Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) for the Fifth Centenary of her birth. Last evening I read a brief piece on Pope John Paul’s “Carmelite leanings” with his intense emphasis on love. The writer of the essay argued John Paul was captivated by the work and witness of Teresa and John of the Cross. In recent years I have been interested in the Carmelite approach to the spiritual life primarily because I’ve seen others radically changed by it. I have to admit, though, my soul is not Carmelite at the level of radical substance yet I am draw to what Teresa and John had to say.
The Discalced Carmelites report that in Asia interest in Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross is increasing. A recent title at a conference reveals interest in Asia, “A dialogue between the spiritualities of Ignatius of Loyola and of John of the Cross.”
So, it is reported that hundreds of registrants in Asia are participating in courses designed to introduce inquirers of Carmelite spirituality through the eyes of two great Carmelite saints; there’s been collaboration even with the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan have sponsored similar Teresian courses. More work is scheduled for Israel later in 2014.
Those of us who are devoted to the spiritual maternity of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) will note that her method of teaching us to pray begins by engaging in an inner dialogue with Jesus Christ, “whom we know loves us,” in an attitude of silence and listening. These days the Carmelites of the Discalced tradition are preparing themselves (and the rest of us) for the Fifth Centenary of the Birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus.
The Carmelites a working to create and disseminate songs of harmony, simplicity, and beauty, will aid in praying in the style and thought of Teresa: the point is to pray with the words and spirituality of Saint Teresa so that the persons will be led to contemplate the beauty of the Lord. Here the friars are giving “loving attention” to the role of musical harmony for prayer.
The Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites Father Saverio Cannistrà recently met the Holy Father at morning Mass and gave him the latest biography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux written by Bishop Guy Gaucher, OCD. It is known that that Pope Francis is follows the way of Saint Thérèse.
Today’s feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel begs us to open the door to more of what it means to follow the life of a Carmelite vocation, in other words. At this point in life I know little of what the Carmelite charism is about and its place in the Schools of Spirituality. However, Veronica Scarisbrick of Vatican Radio speaks with Father Reginald Foster, an American Discalced Carmelite priest now living back in the USA after decades of service to the Church working as a Latinist. Foster was chiefly responsible for the Holy Father’s Latin works. At one time, Father Reginald, with a few others, had to make sure papal documentation
was published in Latin was correct. Father Reginald was also very famous for his Latin classes in Rome. If you graduated from his classes, then you spoke and read Latin well.