Sunday, December 30, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family

Photo: R.Massaro (c) Spirit Singing-Sorrowful Mother Shrine Bellevue, Ohio 
Deuteronomy 5:16

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, that you may have a long life and prosperity in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.

 Prayer to the Holy Family:

God our Father, in the Holy Family of Nazareth you embraced our world with great tenderness and love, and renewed family life in the pure and noble dignity you intended from the beginning.

To Mary and Joseph who walked the path of faith with courage and fidelity, you entrusted Jesus, your Son, to grow in stature and wisdom and in favor with all. Enfolded in the love and warmth of that family the beginnings of our redemption took hold.

Lead us to grow in the warmth and gentleness of the Holy Family, that 'gentle image of the Trinity', poor in the eyes of the world, rich in the treasures of heaven, hidden and unknown on the earth, contemplated by the Angels.

Like Jesus, Mary and Joseph who contemplated your will, Father, as it unfolded, may we, too, hold your Word, ponder it in our hearts, and respond with courage and generosity as Jesus makes his home in us.

Deepen our love for one another and enable us to live in peace, united with you and with each other. Inspired by the way of life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, lead us to union with your Divine Son.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.



Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, in You we adore the eternal origin of all life.  Born of God the Father before all time, You were born of the Virgin Mary in time.  In Your humanity and Person You sanctified motherhood from the first instant of conception through all stages, for our salvation.  Recall all people to these divine blessings to appreciate the unborn as person and to enlighten every human being coming into this world.  In Your mercy avert Your just anger from the enemies of life, to allow God's infants to give Him glory and to be crowned with the heavenly life of grace.  From the cross You called, "Behold your Mother."  Amen.



 The Sisters of Life

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God,
comes down the road:
if only you'll shelter her.
St. John of the Cross


Will you shelter her?

"In the history of the Church, the Order of Carmel has come to be known for its dedication to a life of prayer and to Mary, the Mother of Jesus."

This quote is from Fr. Emmanuel J. Sullivan, O.C.D. from his work entitled, Mary and the Holy Spirit in the Writings of St. John of the Cross.
As we reflect on this quote by by Fr. Sullivan, let's keep this theme in mind: shelter.

Fr. Sullivan tells us that Carmel is known for its life of prayer, but not just a life of prayer, but dedication to a life of prayer. As Secular Carmelites, we can ask ourselves these questions: Are we dedicated to our life of prayer that the church has called us to? Are we dedicated to imitate the Virgin Mary who pondered the Word in her heart. Do we look forward to the time of mental prayer?

We can be assured that if we make a place for Mary in our lives, we are creating a holy shelter for Christ as well. Because wherever Mary is present, Christ is present.

"You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride." Songs 4:12

The image of the enclosed garden (the monastic cloister or enclosure) has come to represent the life of Carmel, the life of intimate prayer with the Beloved, where we remain with Him in the shelter of our heart. We often say that we have chosen Carmel, but is it not the Lord who first chose us to follow this path?

He asks us and all men to find a shelter of rest in Him. "Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest." Yes, holy rest of contemplation; His gift to us in which we do not have to labor with our intellect or imagination during the time of prayer.

We can turn to our Holy Father Elijah to see the symbolism of shelter in his life. In the book of Kings we read that Elijah took shelter in a cave. But the Lord cried out to him, "Why are you here?" He responds with the famous anthem of the Carmelites, "I have been zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts." He was asked a second time, "Why are you here?"

Elijah took shelter in fear for his life, but because he listened to the voice of God, and was intent on doing his will, the Lord fed him with bread for the journey (a prefigurement of the Eucharist) and sent him on mission. Carmelites continue the mission of Elijah in the world today. By our prayer life, regular reception of the Holy Eucharist, our dedication to the Mother of God, and to the Church, we provide a holy witness to the world. A deep prayer life is a powerful witness against secularism, materialism, and individualism. These are the idols worshipped today that we must denounce with our promises of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

During this Advent season, Let us meditate on this same question that was asked of Elijah. Why am I here? Why am I in the family of Carmel?

The vocation of prayer in Carmel is not for ourselves alone, but for the Church and the world. We have to leave the shelter of our prayer life to attend to daily duties. This can be extremely difficult. St. Teresa tells us it is painfully difficult for people who are given to prayer to attend to duties of business. But we know, too, that the Lord sends the Holy Spirit to help us and we may be given the type of prayer that we can go about our daily duties while being in deep communion with the Lord. Sometimes, we may find that it is a mystery and an especially delightful one as to how this takes place.

Our local Secular Carmelite community is named after the Holy Family. In these remaining days of preparation and waiting for the Lord, let us meditate on the theme of shelter. How do we shelter the Holy Family in our spiritual life? How do we shelter and keep company and find rest in the Holy Family of the Most Holy Trinity?

Let us look to Our Lady, the Daughter of the Eternal Father, the Mother of the only-begotten Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, she who is caught up in the mysterious love of the Holy Family of the Trinity. Mary will obtain for us the grace we need to become holy Carmelites, to be holy dwelling places of God.

The tabernacle is a holy shelter for our Eucharistic Lord. We are living tabernacles where God is ever-present in our soul!

If we provide a place for Mary in our lives, we welcome the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well.

Peace be with you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012



                    Photo: (C) R.Massaro Nativity Cave & Chapel (Replica) Nativity of the Lord Jesus Church Akron, Ohio 

 ‘And the Word became flesh.” That truth became a reality in the 
manger at Bethlehem. But it was to be fulfilled in yet another form: 
‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life”. The 
Savior, who knows that we are human beings and will remain human beings who have to struggle daily with weakness, comes to our assistance in a truly divine manner. Just as the human body is in need of daily bread, so also does the divine life in us require constant nourishment. ‘This is the living bread which came down from heaven’. Whoever really takes this as his daily bread, experiences each day the mystery of Christmas. The Word made flesh. And that is doubtless the surest way to maintain constant union with God, to grow each day more firmly and deeply into the mystical Body of Christ.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD (Edith Stein)
Excerpt from The Mystery of Christmas-Incarnation and humanity

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday of Our Lady

"Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them." 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, December 14, 2012

Carmelite Saint of the Day


Photo: R. Massaro (C) Spirit Singing

I hope you enjoy this little video I put together on a poem by St. John

The music is by Kyiv Chamber Choir. Watch the video directly from YouTube and find the link to buy the music. 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spiritual Direction with St. John of the Cross

From the Dark Night, Chapter 16, No. 1:

We already said that the darkness the soul mentions here relates to the sensory, the interior, and the spiritual appetites and faculties, because this night darkens their natural light so that through the purgation of this light they may be illumined supernaturally. It puts the sensory and spiritual appetites to sleep, deadens them, and deprives them of the ability to find pleasure in anything. It binds the imagination and impedes it from doing any good discursive work. It makes the memory cease, the intellect become dark and unable to understand anything, and hence it causes the will also to become arid and constrained, and all the faculties empty and useless. And over all this hangs a dense and burdensome cloud that afflicts the soul and keeps it withdrawn from God. As a result the soul asserts that in darkness it walks securely.

Does this description of a soul in deep purification by God frighten you?  It appears to be a paragraph full of negatives.  However, those of us in Carmel know that the teachings of St. John are not filled with doom and gloom. They are words of wisdom filled with light and beauty.

The soul described here is being led from attachment to pleasure of the senses and the pleasure and delight that come from spiritual consolations. One who is suffering through this dark night is a blessed soul indeed.  You may ask, "How can one who suffers darkness, dryness, and spiritual abandonment be so blessed?" If you suffer these things, be mindful of our Lord's words: "Many are called, but few are chosen."  Yes, indeed, we only need to look at our society and see that few indeed are chosen to follow Him in intimate friendship and spiritual union, yes, even to the heights of spiritual marriage.

This purification involves all of the powers of the soul: the intellect, the memory, the will.  We can read in this passage that the intellect becomes unable to understand anything and the memory ceases to function! What is happening? The poor frightened soul experiencing this spiritual purification may run to their doctor and say, "I'm getting Alzheimer's!"  It will take a wise and knowledgeable spiritual director to help the soul through this purification.

How do we know one is experiencing a true "dark night?" Many spiritual people love to call any inconvenience or trial a "dark night."  A person in a divinely led dark night will remain faithful to their Catholic faith.  Nothing, not even the gates of this living hell of purification will separate them from being faithful to the Church and their vocation in life. They will remain faithful to prayer, no matter how difficult it becomes.

Another genuine sign one is experiencing a true dark night is that no one around this person will know about it!  Wow! Go figure!  How is that possible?  Haven't we encountered spiritual people who are quick to tell us about every spiritual ache and pain they suffer. We only need to look at the lives of the saints to understand the life of one living in a true dark night. St. Therese is one example.  Many people do not know that she suffered a frightful trial of faith many years before she died. She was so petrified of losing her faith and knowledge of heaven that she wrote the Creed with her own blood; her small effort to show herself and God that she was living by faith and love alone.

Another example in our time is that of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  A book was written recently, detailing her spiritual dark night that lasted for years upon years.  And who would have known?  She exuded love and peace to all she met. Yet, she traveled this dark night alone in her heart, yet not alone, for she was led by the One whom we know loves us, as St. Teresa would say.  This was not hypocrisy on her part as some have claimed.  This is a true Christian embracing the cross of her spouse in an intimate union of mystery that we should not even try to comprehend. This secret and hidden love between the soul and the Bridegroom is not to be shared. She did not reveal the "secrets of the King."  This love of the soul and the Bridegroom reflects the love between Jesus and the Father. A mystery we will never comprehend.

In this year of faith, let us keep in mind this teaching of St. John of the Cross. The dark night is full of light, because we are led by faith alone.  If we suffer dryness and feelings of being abandoned by God, do not lose heart. He is beginning a good work in us that He will see through to completion. Are we willing and trustful enough to be led by the hand through the dark night of this earthly life?

One Dark Night,

fired with love's urgent longings
--ah, the sheer grace!--
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
Excerpt from the poem "The Dark Night"
by St. John of the Cross

Let us pray for each other.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Carmelite Saint of the Day


St. Maravillas: Founded numerous monasteries, even surpassing
the number founded by Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

On December 8, 1974, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception,Mother Maravillas was anointed and received Holy Communion. On December 11,1974, surrounded by her community in the Carmel of La Aldehuela, Madrid, she died. At the time of her death, her sisters report that Mother Maravillas kept repeating the phrase: “What happiness to die a Carmelite!” She was beatified by
Pope John Paul II on May 10, 1998.

Read more about this holy Carmelite

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday in the Year of Faith

St. Maravillas of Jesus
Discalced Carmelite Nun
Feast Day: December 11

We only have to live by faith and then everything becomes easy.  Who could see Him acting so kindly towards us, so full of love, so attentive to our needs, and then not live for Him alone and love Him madly?

What does it matter if someone does not feel faith, provided they are living every moment by it?

Always live a life full of faith and trust, letting the Lord steer your boat and even sleep in it if He wants.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Blessed Bartholomew Fanti, Carmelite Priest

Bartholomew Fanti was born in Mantua: the year is unknown, but in 1452 he was already a Carmelite priest of the Congregation of Mantua. For thirty-five years at the Order’s Church in Mantua he was spiritual father and rector of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which he composed a Rule and Statutes. He is especially remembered for his love of the Eucharist. He died in 1495.

Lord God,
you made Blessed Bartholomew Fanti
outstanding in his zeal for devotion to the Eucharist
and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
May we experience in this regard
the same fullness of spirit that was his.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Scripture Readings
Ezeckiel 34:11-16; Gospel - John 15:9-17.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds