Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit- Fourth Hymn of Virtue: Generosity

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017Spirit Singing-St. Genevieve Church Calmoutier, Ohio

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Fourth Hymn
of Virtue: Generosity

Continuing this series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit I would like to talk about Generosity in light of Fr. Emmanuel Sullivan's work entitled Mary and the Holy Spirit in the Writings of John of the Cross.

Fr. Sullivan writes that the early Carmelites gathered together for a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ. Allegiance to Jesus Christ was, and is the main point of the Rule written by St. Albert of Jerusalem. This is the Rule that is still followed today by the religious family of our Order. We know from our Carmelite history that the early hermits of Mt. Carmel were dedicated to Our Lady.

Each of us has a story to tell of how we came to enter the family of Carmel. But we must remember that it was the Lord who inspired in us the grace to answer this call. From the Vatican Document, Lumen Gentium 44,2.

Thus the religious vocation is given only to those whom God has especially marked out, but the gift, which they have received, becomes the common heritage of the People of God.

We must be generous in answering this special call to Carmel, not only for our own personal holiness but for the entire Body of Christ and the world. We must never lose sight of the fact that our humble prayer, no matter how weak or imperfect, has merit in the sight of Our Lord.

Many people, even Secular Carmelites, believe it or not, are under the impression that Secular members are simply "wannabees" of the Order. This is simply a perverted notion of our vocation. Our Rule states:

The Secular Order forms an integral part of the Carmelite family; its members are therefore sons and daughters of the Order, and share in fraternal communion, though in a state of life essentially different from that of the religious, its same vocation of holiness and its mission in the Church.
Article 1

St. Therese certainly appreciated her vocation of prayer within the Order. Although she was cloistered, this did not deter her from her desire to spread the Gospel to all parts of the world. She knew that her Carmelite vocation of prayer was the life-blood of the Church and that her prayer helped priests and missionaries and the entire Body of Christ. She is the poster child for the hymn of the Carmelites: "I have been zealous for the Lord, God of Hosts!" Most of us would agree, that she is one of the most generous souls we have come to know and love.

Since we are discussing the fruit of "generosity," let's look to Our Lady, our spiritual model, that we as Carmelites are called to imitate. We know that she gave her whole being to God with her Fiat. She held nothing back from the will of God for her life. We see her union with God in her glorious generosity of body and spirit. She imitated God the Father who gave his only Son for us-his most generous gift of salvation and redemption for all mankind. Jesus opens the gates of paradise for us. Who can fathom his gift of generosity, with his gift of eternal life for us in his kingdom, with Mary, and all the saints? Who can fathom His gift of generosity in remaining with us in the Blessed Sacrament? Who can fathom Our Lady's gift of generosity in giving Jesus, our Savior, to all mankind?

Our Carmelite vocation is the gateway to spiritual marriage with the Holy Trinity. Prayer and the reception of the sacraments are the key to the mystical life. The Carmelite life, the Christian life is not a boring life. It is a great adventure of discovering "deep caverns" of the mystery of God, as St. John of the Cross describes.

Fr. Sullivan also writes that Mary belongs to each member of Carmel.

As Carmelites, we have placed the desire to fulfill our promises in her hands. We have asked her to lead us up the summit of Mt. Carmel to Christian perfection and holiness.

Our promise/vow formula:I,___________of the ____________,desiring to follow the Crucified and Risen Christ in the Secular Order of Carmel, renew my profession/vow, and I promise to tend toward evangelical counsels of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Rule of life of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.

I confidently entrust my promise/vow to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel.

We may not be able to understand in this life how it is possible for her to care deeply about each of us individually, but we can get some idea of this mystery by knowing that God has enlarged her heart, because she is "full of grace." She is Mother of the Church. She is Mother of each individual member of the Body of Christ!
There is room in her heart for you!

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing Regina Health Center Richfield, Ohio

In our family of Carmel, our priests, brothers, and religious sisters place themselves under the authority of the Abbot, or the Mother Superior. How much more should we place ourselves under the authority of our Blessed Lady? How do we do this? I think it takes childlike simplicity.

Scripture tells us to call on God as "Abba" or "Daddy." Then, why should we not cry out "Mama" to Our Blessed Mother? She will fly to us as a concerned, loving mother if we desire to increase in holiness.

Our Lord tells us, "By their fruits, you shall know them." Let us ask ourselves: 

Am I bearing fruit as a Carmelite? 

Am I a generous Carmelite?

A sign of an authentic prayer life is total generosity with God. Let us ask ourselves:

*Am I generous with the time I give to God in mental prayer?

*Do I offer my time and talents to my Carmelite community?

*Am I generous in praying for others, or are my needs the focus of my prayer?

*Am I content with doing the minimum that the Order requires?

*Do I give Jesus, through Mary, all that I am, and all that I possess, or do I hold back a selfish, particular attachment to the world?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful with the spiritually sweet fruit of generosity. May we make a generous return to the Lord for all he has done for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS


Julia said...

This is wonderful...thank you so much for sharing it.


Rosemarie said...

Thank you, Julia. Let us pray for each other as we journey up to the summit of Mt. Carmel, with Our Lady leading us by the hand.