Sunday, July 16, 2006

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.

1. The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life. She, the Immaculate, full of grace from the first moment of her conception, takes our souls stained by sin, and with a maternal gesture, cleanses them in the Blood of Christ and clothes them with grace, whichh, together with Him ahe has merited for us. We can truly say that the garment of grace was woven by the blessed hands of Mary, who day by day, moment by moment, gave herself entirely, in union wih her Son, for our salvation. Legend tells of the seamless robe which the Blessed Virgin wove for Jesus; but, for us - and in reality - she has done much more. She has cooperated in obtaining the garment of our eternal salvation, the wedding garment in which we shall enter the banquet hall of heaven. How she longs that this robe be imperishable! From the moment we received it, Mary has never ceased to follow us with her maternal gaze, to safeguard within us the life of grace. Each time we are converted and return to God or rise again after falling into sin - be it great or small - each time we increase in grace, all, everything, is effected through Mary's meditation. The scapular, the little habit, that our Lady of Mount Carmel offers us, is only the external symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation. "My beloved son," Mary said to St. Simone Stock, "take this scapular...whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire." The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear worthily her little habit.
"Those who wear scapular," said Pius XII, "profess to belong to Our Lady." Because we belong to Mary she takes special care of our souls. One who belongs to her cannot be lost or be touched by eternal fire. Her powerful maternal intercession gives her the right to repeat, for her children, the words of Jesus: "Holy Father....those whom Thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost" (Jn 17, 12).

2. Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel indicates a strong call to the interior life, which, in a very special way, is Mary's life. The Blessed Virgin wants us to resemble her in heart and mind much more than in externals. If we penetrate into Mary's soul, we see that grace produced in her a very rich interior life: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted giving of herself to God, and of constant contact and intimate union with Him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved to God alone where no creature has ever left an imprint; here reign love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men.
Those who wish to live truly devouted to our Lady of Mount Carmel, must follow Mary into depth of the interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, of life wholly consecrated to seeking God and tending wholly toward divine intimacy; and she who best realises this very high ideal is Mary, Queen, Beauty of Carmel. Judgement shall dwell in the wilderness and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness and security for ever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence." These verses, taken from Isaias (32, 16-18) and repeated in the Office proper to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, delineate very well the contemplative spirit and, at the same time, they are a beautiful picture of Mary's soul which is a real "garden" (Carmel in Hebrew signifies garden) of virtues, an oasis of silence and peace, where justice and equity reign; an oasis of security completely enveloped in the shadow of God, and filled with God. Every interior soul, even if living amid tumult of the world, must strive to reach this peace, this interior silence, which alone makes continual contact with God possible. It is our passions and attachments that make noise within us, that disturb our peace of mind and interrupt our intimate converse with God. Only the soul that is whholly detached and in complete control of its passions can, like Mary, be a solitary, silent "garden" where God will find His delights. This is the grace we ask of Our Lady today when we choose her to be the Queen and mistress of our interior life.

"O Mary, flower of carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of heaven, who brought forth the Son of God yet remained a Virgin, sweet and Immaculate Mother, grant the favours your children implore, O Star of the sea" (St. Simon Stock).
"O most Blessed Virgin: has anyone ever invoked your aid without being helped? We, your children, rejoice with your for all your virtues, but particularly for your mercy. We praise your virginity, we admire your humility; but for the needy, mercy has even a sweeter savour. We have a more tender love for mercy, we recall it mmore often, and we invoke it more frequently. Truly your mercy has obtained the redemption of the world; together with your prayers, it has secured the salvation of all mannkind. Oh Mary, who can measure the length, breadth, height and depth of your mercy? Its length reaches to the end of time, to help all who call upon it....Thus your most powerful and merciful charity is poured over us like a compassionate and helpful love" (St. Bernard).