Sunday, May 5, 2013




The early Church understood that post Easter many of the mysteries of faith that had been entrusted to the  newly initiated needed time to "sink-in" and mature. Mystagogia is the seeping in period, in which all believers are able to take time and more deeply contemplate the Church's life and sacraments, which we so joyously celebrated in the past weeks. 
Source: Catholic Online

Today, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, the members of our secular community renewed their Carmelite promises. Secular Carmelites throughout the world do this at some point in the Easter season.  While I always view this annual renewal of promises as a "new year" (so to speak) in the spiritual life. I have been thinking more of late about the gift of "mystagogia," The Holy Spirit's gift that is given to new Catholics. It is a gift that helps them to understand in a deeper way the mysteries of our faith. The beautiful period of mystagogia during this Easter season is for all Catholics. 

As Secular Carmelites, we too, are neophytes beginning once again, in this Easter season, to help each other in our resolve to follow Christ more closely in our Carmelite vocation. Let us ask ourselves if we desire a deeper union with God? Do we desire a deeper love of the mysteries of our faith? The Holy Spirit will fulfill our heart's desire! Let these remaining days of the Easter season be a period of mystagogia for us. Let us be docile students of the Holy Spirit, ready to be formed in the ways of holiness by the Spirit of Love.

In the life and teaching of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), she speaks of her own mystical experiences in which she was given understanding of the mysteries of our faith.  These mystical experiences were short, extremely short.  She tells us that during prayer, in an instant of time, she was given light to understand heavenly things. And even though she could not explain this knowledge in human terms, the truth imparted to her remained ingrained in her heart and in her memory for life.

If one cooperates with the gifts given during the period of mystagogia, and one is faithful to a life of prayer, then the Lord draws this soul into union and spiritual marriage with him.  From mystagogia one can enter the delightful and holy wine cellar that St. John of the Cross speaks of in the Spiritual Canticle.

 "The wine cellar is the last and most intimate degree of love in which the soul can be placed in this life...and we can assert that there are seven  of these degrees or wine cellars of love. They are all possessed when the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are possessed perfectly  according to the souls's capacity for receiving them.1"

This is where the saintly dwell. When the Church considers one for sainthood they study the life of virtue of the candidate. They must possess all of the virtues, no exceptions.
1 Kirean Kavanaugh, "The Collected Works of St. John of  the Cross", ICS Publications (1991) SC, Stanza 26, No. 3, Pg. 575.

The Secular Carmelite descends the stairs of the wine cellar on a daily basis. Perhaps we've just placed our trembling foot on the first step, afraid of the dark night that awaits us. Perhaps we are fearful of dying to self and embarking on the unknown.  Do not be afraid! We follow Christ! He is the light that leads the way. He is waiting for us in the wine cellar, in the depths and the mystery of his love for us.

That eternal spring is hidden,
for I know well where it has its rise,
although it is night.
From the Song of the soul that rejoices in knowing God through faith by St. John of the Cross

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

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