Saturday, 16 July 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Oddly enough, there is a Scottish Episcopal Church in this Diocese dedicated to her.  it's one of the very few medieval buildings we own (Kirkcudbright, Butt of Lewis and Blair Atholl being the others).  The Priory Church of St Mary of Mount Carmel at South Queensferry was a 15th century Carmelite Priory.  (And is rather wasted on the Evangelicals who "planted" it IMHO).  The Carmelites have been an influence on my own spirituality through St John of the Cross's writings at University and latterly through some dipping into Teresa of Avila and Therese of Liseux.  And knowing Carmelite nuns in both Dysart and Falkirk.  Their vocation is primarily to the Interior life. An authority on Carmelite spirituality, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, OCD,  wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

"a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary's soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. ... Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, 'Queen and Splendor of Carmel'."

Most of us can't manage that but we can aim to deepen our intimacy with God in silence and prayer. Like this by the Carmelite martyr Edith Stein, convert from Judaism, philosopher and nun murdered by the Nazi's in Auschwitz in 1942:

"O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. 
Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me 
along the next stretch of road before me. 
I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived 
where the horizon now closes down, 
a new prospect will prospect will open before me, 
and I shall meet it with peace."  

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross -Edith Stein

1 comment:

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