Sunday, November 30, 2008

KEEPING VIGIL-The Spirit of Advent

On our way home after visiting family for Thanksgiving we passed by a strip mall and saw people pitching tents to wait for the the store to open at 4am.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to come across this same scene at our parish church? Wouldn't it be wonderful to see people pitching tents and lining up waiting for the doors to open in great anticipation to spend time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? We can ask ourselves the same question: Would I wait in line for hours to receive the Eucharist? To receive the Sacrament of Penance?

The early Church Fathers, especially those Fathers of the Eastern Rite speak about keeping vigil. They speak of sleeping part of the night and praying part of the night. In this short excerpt they talk about the soul living the life of the Spirit which includes fasts and vigils.

From the Philokalia, Volume IV, pg. 109:

Those who cleave to the Spirit and are totally committed to the spiritual life live in accordance with God's will, dedicated to Him as were the Nazirites. At all times they labour to purify their souls and to keep the Lord's commandments, expending their blood in their love for Him. They purify the flesh through fasts and vigils, they refine the heart's dross with tears; they mortify their materialistic tendencies through ascetic hardship; they fill the intellect with light through prayer and meditation, making it translucid; and by renouncing their own wills they sunder themselves from passionate attachment to the body and adhere solely to the Spirit.

There are many religious who keep constant vigil for our needs and the needs of the world.

In our own family of Carmel, the cloistered sisters keep vigil on our behalf throughout the day. Please remember them in your prayers.
The Carthusians especially keep the night watch on our behalf. Here is a short description of their prayer life:

Our monastic days begins at 1.00 a.m. with a prayer to Our Lady, who never ceases to engender spiritually the life of Christ in us.

At 1.15 a.m., we hasten to church for the night office. A time of singular importance in the Carthusian liturgy, the night vigils are a clear sign of the orientation of our life: for through them is expressed the watchful expectation for the Savior, and the prayer that a dawn of resurrection may rise over the darkness of the world.
During this Advent Season let us keep watch with Our Lady. May She help us to be vigilant in our prayer for the coming of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit give us the grace to be holy sentinels--souls constantly on guard looking for Our Savior wherever he may wish to reveal himself to us.

150th Anniversary Of Our Lady of Lourdes

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes
1st Day
Our Lady of Lourdes, Immaculate Virgin, pray for us. Our lady of Lourdes, at your feet I ask for the grace of (mention your request) my trust in your power is unshakable, you can obtain all from your divine Son.
You who kindly accepted to come down on earth to bring us the graces of this same Son, obtain for us the grace to merit them.
Hail, Wonder of the Most High, we praise you for your glorious privilege, and joyfully repeat a thousand times: She is Immaculate. Our Lady of Lourdes, who graciously accepted to visit us!
Resolution: Purity of intention in all our actions. Queen of Virgins, pry for us.
2nd Day
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest yourself shining with light, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes,saying to the child St. Bernadette: " I am the Immaculate Conception!" O Mary Immaculate, inflame our hearts with one ray of the burning love of your pure heart. Let them be consumed with love for Jesus and for you, in order that we may merit one day to enjoy your glorious eternity. O dispenser of His graces here below, take into your keeping and present to your Divine Son the petition for which we are making this novena. (mention your request)
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Day 3
"You are all fair, O Mary, and there is in you no stain of original sin." O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. O brilliant star of sanctity, as on that lovely day, upon a rough rock in Lourdes you spoke to the child Bernadette and a fountain broke from the plain earth and miracles happened and the great shrine of Lourdes began, so now I beseech you to hear our fervent prayer and do, we beseech you, grant us the petition we now so earnestly seek. ( make your request)
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.
Day 4
Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom Jesus can refuse nothing, pray for us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, you have power over your divine Son's Heart, prevail upon Him to be favourable to us. Ask, Heavenly Queen, and you will be heard. See our misery and our need, and have pity on us. O Mother of goodness! Bestow generously the treasures of heaven on those who pray before your altar.
Virgin most powerful, pray for us.
Day 5
Our Lady of Lourdes, you who cure the sick,pray for us. Our Lady of Lourdes, health of the sick, you who heal bodies and even more heal souls, be favourable once again to our fervent prayer. Be the hope of our dear sick, may their confidence in you be rewarded. Merciful Virgin, whose very name recalls wonderful cures, show us that you are once again our hope. Intercede for us and for our dear ones, Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the sick, pray for us.
Day 6
Our Lady of Lourdes, Immaculate Mother, it has never been known that anyone called on you in vain, Those in distress, the unhappy, all who suffer: broken-hearted, wounded souls, sick bodies yearn for your loving care, most kind Virgin! If you so wish, no one will be left forsaken, and leave without feeling the effect of your powerful intercession. If we imitate your virtues you will intercede for us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of Christians, pray for us.
Day 7
Our Lady of Lourdes, who wept over our sins, grant us true repentance for our faults,. Help us to detest all that can wound the Heart of your divine Son. Make our contrition perfect by a sincere resolution not to offend Him again. Give us that Christian force which does not hesitate before any sacrifice in Order to merit the forgiveness of sins committed and the grace not to fall again.
Our Lady of Lourdes, refuge of sinners, pray for us!
Day 8
Our Lady of Lourdes, protect our Holy Father the Pope...,fill him always with the light of the Holy Spirit, may we always have for him a filial love. may we always be faithful to his voice, may those who have gone astray come back to the Church to console the heart of our beloved Pontiff.
Our Lady of Lourdes, bless all priest, especially all those who make you known and loved.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!
Day 9
Our Lady of Lourdes, do not forget the children of the Church Militant, nor those of the Church suffering. Give them "rest, light and peace." The church, our Mother, asks this each day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Hear their cry for help, and answer the prayers of those who pray to you for them. We wish to expiate for the souls of our relatives: father, mother, husband, wife, friends. For these dear departed grant grace an d mercy, Our Lady of Lourdes, so that they may sing your praises in Heaven.
Our Lady of Lourdes, the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spiritual Life Dictionary

Today's Term: Contemplation

The communication of God untied to the senses, of the particular, received passively by the spirit in an attitude of faith an love, of general loving attention. Also called mystical theology. May be referred to as infused because the soul receives it passively, just as one receives sunlight by doing no more than opening the shutters. Takes away the satisfaction associated with discursive prayer.

Matthew 7: 14 - How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Many people are intrigued by contemplative prayer. They think it is very complicated. We who study the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus have come to learn that deep union with Christ in contemplation is a very simple prayer of the heart. So, as we are progressing in the spiritual life, our prayer should become more simple.

St. John of the Cross tells us that many people begin the road of prayer but few there are who follow through once the hard work of dying to ourselves begins. As the scripture above states, few there are who accept the Lord's invitation to take up our cross and follow him.

St. John of the Cross gives three signs that the Holy Spirit is leading a soul out of meditation and into the gift of contemplation.

Sign #1: An inability to practice discursive meditation or receive satisfaction from it as before. Meditation must be discontinued only when the soul is placed in that peace and quietude to be spoken of in the third sign.

Sign #2: An awareness of a disinclination to fix the imagination on other objects, exterior or interior.

Sign #3: The third and surest sign is that a person likes to remain alone in loving awareness of God, without particular considerations, in interior peace and quiet and repose, and without the acts and exercises of the intellect, memory and will. Such a one prefers to remain only in the general loving awareness and knowledge we mentioned, without any particular knowledge or understanding.

To leave safely the state of meditation and sense and enter that of contemplation and spirit, spiritual persons must observe within themselves at least these three signs together.

Excerpts from The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, Chapter 13
From the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross Translated by Kieran Kavanugh

Let us pray for each other: that we be given the gift of true contemplation.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Catechism Quote

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #2656

One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep.

The Carmelite seeks the face of God in prayer not only for our personal holiness but on behalf of the whole Church.

The Carmelite desires to imitate Our Lady who pondered the Word in her heart.

"Our devotion to Mary, then, must not be soft and sentimental, but must be based on living as she lived: receiving his divine word in our hearts and putting it into practice each day."
From A Commentary on the Rule of Life, by Michael Griffin, OCD

From our Rule:

The liturgical life, as a perennial participation in the Paschal Mystery, nourishes the Secular Carmelite in his daily pledge to follow Christ crucified and risen, toward an ever more perfect union with God, by making the pains and joys of his life an offering of praise and glory to God.

His liturgical life will express itself chiefly in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in the recitation of the church's Divine Office. He will, as far as possible, assist at Mass daily ....

St. Teresa of Jesus burned with such fervor in reciting the Divine Office and receiving Eucharistic Communion that more than once she was elevated to the highest contemplation of mysteries during the canonical hours of the celebration of Mass.

St. John of the Cross contemplated the Bread of the Eucharist with the eyes of an ardent faith as the source of life, as the pledge of eternal communion with God toward which he tended in a very special way.
From A Commentary on the Rule of Life by Michael D. Griffin, OCD

From the Decree on the Liturgy, #2:

The Sacred Liturgy is the outstanding means by which the faithful can express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church... For in the Liturgy, God speaks to His people, and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.

As Carmelites we are striving to be a Eucharistic people. We try to live and respond in charity from one communion to the next. If we are truly living the Carmelite life we are a joyful people, and we can cry out with the psalmist: God is my strength and my song!

O Bread of Life, O Lord of Love, give us the strength that is your might!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carmelite Quote

Recently we celebrated the feast of All Carmelite Saints, and I was thinking of the type of death the saints experienced. In the Living Flame of Love, St. John of the Cross speaks of the death experienced by the soul taken with love.

If the death of other people is caused by sickness or old age, the death of these persons is not so induced, in spite of their being sick or old; their soul is not wrested from them unless by some impetus and encounter of love far more sublime than previous ones; of greater power, and more valiant, since it tears through this veil and carried off the jewel, which is the soul.

The death of such persons is very gentle and very sweet, sweeter and more gentle than was their whole spiritual life on earth. For they die with the most sublime impulses and delightful encounters of love, resembling the swan whose song is much sweeter at the moment of death.

St. John of the Cross-Living Flame of Love, Stanza I #30
Is this the kind of death you long for? The soul who experiences this death is the one whose heart has been purified so that it may see God. We could say that we do not "go" to heaven, but that heaven embraces us.
St. John of the Cross' Prayer of a Soul taken with Love


Lord God, my Beloved, if you still remember my sins in such a way that you do not do what I beg of you, do your will concerning them, my God, which is what I most desire, and exercise your goodness and mercy, and you will be known through them. And if you are waiting for my good works so as to hear my prayer through their means, grant them to me, and work them for me, and the sufferings you desire to accept, and let it be done. But if you are not waiting for my works, what is it that makes you wait, my most clement Lord? Why do you delay? For if, after all, I am to receive the grace and mercy that I entreat of you in your Son, take my mite, since you desire it, and grant me this blessing, since you also desire that.Who can free themselves from lowly manners and limitations if you do not lift them to yourself, my God, in purity of love? How will human beings begotten and nurtured in lowliness rise up to you, Lord, if you do not raise them with your hand that made them?You will not take from me, my God, what you once gave me in your only Son, Jesus Christ, in whom you gave me all I desire. Hence I rejoice that if I wait for you, you will not delay.With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart?
According to St. John of the Cross there are three paths that lead to union with God:

1. Purgative Way-The purification of the soul that takes place when one begins the life of prayer and desires to become perfect. The soul will normally pass through the "night" of the senses and the "night" of the spirit.

2. Illuminative Way-The soul begins the life of the spirit having mortified its passions and appetites. Nothing in the physical world satisfies the heart longing for God.

3. Unitive Way-After having passed through the purgative and illuminative way the soul reaches the highest union in this life: spiritual marriage.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Carmelite Memorial-St. Raphael Kalinowski, OCD

St. Raphael Kalinowski, OCD

Lord God, You made Your Priest St. Raphael strong in adversity and filled Him with a great love in promoting Church unity. Through his prayers make us strong in faith and in love for one another, that we too may generously work together for the unity of all believers in Christ. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
For more information on his life, please visit:
Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nov. 14-All Saints of Carmel-Feast Day

Happy Feast Day to all Secular Carmelites!

Let us pray for each other: that one day we may experience forever the vision of the Most Adorable Trinity in the company of our Blessed Lady of Mt. Carmel, and all the Carmelite Saints in light.

From the Carmelite Proper for All Carmelite Saints:

St. Teresa of Jesus:

All of us who wear this holy Carmelite habit are called to prayer and contemplation. This is what we were founded for. We are descended from those holy fathers of ours on Mount Carmel, those who went in search of that treasure--the priceless pearl we are talking about--in such solitude and with such contempt for the world.

We must remember those holy fathers of ours who have gone before us, the hermits whose lives we are trying to imitate. We must remember our real founders, those holy fathers whose descendants we are. It was by way of poverty and humility, we know, that they came to the enjoyment of God.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Perpetual Adoration in the Chapel of the Heart

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity discovered her great vocation within her vocation: I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself (L 335).

In her writings Bl. Elizabeth declared that she wanted her heart to become a "Bethany" for Our Lord. A haven where he could rest peacefully in her soul. She prayed, "I offer you the cell of my heart...Come rest there. I love you so..."

Bl. Elizabeth is one of my favorite saints because of the above statement. I've thought about it often....we say we are "going" to adoration at a particular church. And that is wonderful; it is a beautiful endeavor to adore Our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament. In our Carmelite tradition, we who are seeking union with God through contemplative prayer have the goal of spiritual marriage. We realize that Our Lord is always present in our soul and we can adore him 24 hours a day in the


It is my belief as a Carmelite that we can enter this chapel of our heart and enjoy perpetual adoration of the Most Holy Trinity, even amidst our duties of every day life. This great gift of continual awareness of God's presence in our soul is the goal of everyone who longs for holiness and who desires never to be separated from the Beloved.

I believe this teaching on the indwelling of the Holy Trinity is what Bl. Elizabeth was referring to when she stated: "Always love prayer, and when I say prayer, I don't mean so much imposing on oneself a lot of vocal prayers to be recited every day, as that elevation of the soul toward God through all things." We can follow her teaching by lifting our minds and hearts to God throughout the day.

Enter the chapel of your heart by a simple look toward heaven as St. Therese describes her simple way of praying. The Lord is present waiting for our visit. Even though are minds be consumed with many things, he treasures one moment of our heart turned toward Him.

Stay near the tabernacle in the chapel of your heart like the sanctuary lamp that is ever-present and on fire near his presence. At this stage in your spiritual life, is your lamp burning brightly, or just a tiny flame about to die out, or a flame somewhere in between?

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit ignite our love for the Lord ever-present in our soul. May he give us the strength to detach ourselves from earthly things and be content with spending time with the Lord in the silence of our hearts.


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS