Posted by: fvbcdm | July 17, 2013

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16 July 2013)

Today is the commemoration day of Our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It gives us the opportunity to think of the rich legacy of prayer and the contemplative life that Carmelite spirituality has given to the Church and the world.  When you are right in the middle of a historical development, it is difficult to discern it because we humans live by the day, week, month and year, and historical movements are measured by centuries.  But I can assure you that in the centuries to come, this present time will be recognized as one of the “golden ages” of Carmelite spirituality in sacred history.

Why do I say that? Go back with me just [116] years from now, which is not long as the Church measures time. In that year, Saint Therese of Lisieux died—the Little Flower, as the world has come to know her. Her death was followed very quickly by the phenomenal spread of devotion to her throughout the world, the publication of her writings, her beatification and then her canonization. And while that was going on, another young Carmelite nun in France was achieving sanctity in the monastery at Dijon; she, too has been beatified and we call her Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. She died in 1906. In 1917, Our Blessed Mother appeared to the three children at Fatima, and on the day of the last and greatest apparition, the Mother of God appeared to the children wearing the brown habit of the Carmelites—a beautiful sign of her pleasure with Carmelite spirituality.

A little later, two persons emerged in the history of Europe. One was a Dutch Carmelite priest by the name of Titus Brandsma. He was a brilliant man who served for some years as the rector of the Catholic University at Nijmegen in Holland. When the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940, he continued to teach and write and to denounce the paganism and grossly immoral policies of the Nazis. He was arrested, sent to the concentration camp of Dachau on the outskirts of Munich in Germany, and there killed by lethal injection in 1942. Beatified by Pope John Paul II, he is now Blessed Titus Brandsma. Just a month later, there died in a gas chambers of Auschwitz the remarkable Edith Stein. A German Jewess, a philosopher, and one of the outstanding teachers in Germany during the period between the two World Wars, she became a Catholic after reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila. She became a Carmelite nun in Cologne in Germany, but when Hitler began his genocidal policy of exterminating all Jews, she was sent to a Carmelite convent in Holland. But when the Nazis invaded Holland, there was no escape for her. She was gassed and cremated in Poland as Blessed Titus was poisoned in Germany. She is now Saint Edith Stein, canonized by Pope John Paul II.

In addition to these important moments in Carmelite history, there have been the proclamations by the Church that three women are now Doctors of the Church: our own Dominican Saint Catherine of Siena, and then the two Carmelites: Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux. All of this within the relatively short period of 110 years. You see why I call this a golden age for the Carmelites similar to their earlier golden age when Saint Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross were laying the foundations for Carmelite religious life and spirituality in the 16th century. With the Church, we pray today: Queen and Virgin, Beauty of Carmel, pray for us. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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