Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 28 • JUL 14 - 20, 2018

01 Cover

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:05 PM ]


03 Index

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:15 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:12 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:13 AM ]


05 Editorial - Mary’s Song

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:06 PM ]

This year is a very significant one for us, and for our life in the Apostolic Carmel Congregation, on completing 150 years of a journey of a small seed that was sown in France, which took roots in India, as well as in a few other countries. We would like to thank God the almighty for the special grace He bestowed on Mother Veronica to start our Order. What could be a better way of thanking the Lord, if not with the song of thanksgiving and praise – Mary's Magnificat. Mary's song is the perfect expression of our Praise and Thanks to God for all the Blessings that all of us have received in our congregation and in our lives until now.

It is not mere devotion to Mary, but Mother Veronica's identification with Mary in the important events and mysteries of her life that brings her very close to our Blessed Mother. It is no surprise, and not just a coincidence, that Mother Veronica, our beloved Foundress, chose July 16 – the day of our Lady of Mount Carmel – to found the Apostolic Carmel Congregation in Bayonne, France.

Mary, the Mother of God, lived in a small town of Nazareth, and she came from very humble surroundings. She did what all other women of her time did - the daily chores: she cooked, mended, drew water and went about the everyday concerns and activities of the most common life. She found God in and through those activities. She found no disconnect between prayer and activity, but rather found a union in the harmony and integration of her life and prayer.

This made her open to God's Presence in all things and circumstances that prepared her to conceive Him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary is filled with deep joy that has undoubtedly sprung from an encounter with God. She speaks for herself and for her community, the people of God throughout history, in her song of Praise and thanksgiving.

The "fiat" of Mary gave the necessary space for Christ to be born, and thus, she cooperated with the plan of God. Through her, God now has a human face. This prophetic call has come to a lowly peasant woman to partner God in the great work of redemption.

Our Lady serves as a model for us, as her faith led her to a total surrender and complete trust in God, without any conditions. She listened attentively to the Word of God, and did what God asked of her. In this way, she came to the fullness of life. The Scripture tells us, "She treasured all these things in her heart." This treasuring, this pondering is contemplative prayer. Sitting and being quiet in the presence of God, being open and receptive to God are the very attributes of contemplation she models for us.

Her contemplation and union with God led her to resolute action. As the Model of the Perfect Contemplative, she invites us to be mothers of God, for isn't God waiting to be born in us?

In the second part of the Magnificat, she moves to show the Action of God, that is, God's compassion to the oppressed through love for the neighbour. Mary goes on to show that our God is coming to build a just and an inclusive society. The lowly groups of people are defended by God, while the arrogant end up losers. Mary continues as a prophet of the poor and those who are marginalised.

We are asked to be Contemplatives as well as Active in today's world in the midst of our everyday and ordinary lives. We need to be constantly aware of God's presence within us and in the people we meet.


Sr M. Nirmalini AC is the Provincial Superior of the western province, Mumbai

06 CARMELITE SPIRITUALITY and its Relevance for Today - Sr M. Vincent AC

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:06 AM ]

Catholic Spirituality is rooted in Scripture, Catholic Doctrine, in the teachings of the spiritual masters of the Church and in the makeup of graced human nature. Spirituality is both personal and communitarian. Spirituality is found to be at the person’s inner core. The core is influenced by one’s genetic heritage, environment and knowledge, and largely by the deep experiences and options in life. It is at this core of our being that the Spirit moves us, acts in us, transforms us and energises us through His grace.

Spirituality has a distinctly mystical, human, ecological and social significance. Holding together the diverse energies of life, it integrates them, discovers their inter-relatedness and enables one to connect meaningfully with God, people and the universe.

Each school of spirituality proposes a particular style of living the Gospel in a concrete situation. It emphasises a particular aspect of the mystery, personality and mission of Christ and the Church. It offers the history of lived experience, knowledge, means and models to live the values and render concrete services which characterise the Religious family. Those belonging to the Carmelite Order and the numerous groups of religious congregations and secular institutes affiliated to the Order have their roots in the same spirituality with varied expressions and emphasis.

The earliest Carmelites were pilgrims and hermits who settled on Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel, at the end of the twelfth century. They lived near the fountain of Elijah. They looked for a way of life that flowed from the gospel. Following Christ was the focus of their attention. They were close to the people, sharing the Word of God with the people from their hearts.

Albert, the patriarch of Jerusalem, gave the hermits on Carmel “a Way of Life” in the thirteenth century, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV, and later confirmed by Pope Gregory IX. The fifteenth century saw the emergence of the first convents of Carmelite cloistered nuns in France.

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07 Core of Carmelite Spirituality — Eco-consciousness - Sr Snehanjali

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:05 AM ]

We live in a world of opportunities and contradictions. On the one hand, we take pride in all the advancement that has taken place to make our lives more comfortable, but on the other hand, we are responsible through our actions for the suffering caused to our brothers and sisters. We say we have eradicated some endemic diseases such as polio, smallpox etc. and on the other, we have invented weapons of mass destruction that have indiscriminately killed and maimed many. We have been able to map out the human genome, but continue destroying our environment at an ever increasing and dangerous pace.

It is during times such as these that we are called to look at the Divine Presence, a Power beyond the ordinary. The month of July for us Carmelites takes our attention to the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and opens for us the doors to grow in an important aspect of Carmelite spirituality - the eco-consciousness. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ asserts our connection with Nature and Creation, and our need to learn from and protect it, as God’s gift to all humanity.

The first Carmelites had gathered on Mt Carmel in the late 12th century to devote their lives to God. They settled in the Wadi Ain-es-Sah, near the traditional spring of Elijah. The mountainside they chose contained small valleys filled with springs of water flowing from among the rocks. According to Fr Bellarmino Bagatti, OFM, the Wadi “met all the requirements of the eremitical life: solitude, grottos, water, vegetation for the domestic animals, wood for construction and heating, the proximity of a town. They built a special bond with the land and the resources of this sacred ground. The distinct paradigm of “sacred space” within Carmel’s foundation story challenges us to live in partnership with whatever environment we live, pray and minister. The Carmelites, like many other orders, seek to have a deeper relationship with God. They gather twice a day and pray the psalms, among other prayers, in community. These psalms help to constantly uplift us to the power, grandeur and sacredness of God’s Creation. This prayer serves as a major means of reverence and respect for the goodness of God’s Creation. Moreover, Carmel’s commitment to contemplative prayer and silence affects how we view and relate with the world around us.

The Carmelite saints were very close to God’s presence in and around them. St Teresa of Avila uses the images of water and garden to enable us to be led from “doing” to “being” within the spiritual life; her focus being on the idea of prayer. She details four ways to water a garden. Each way helps the garden to grow and thrive, but as one moves to the different stages of watering, they rely less on their own labour and more on the “being-ness” of who God is, the Lord of the garden. Her four ways of watering the garden explain how one moves from doing for God to finally just being with God. This inspires us to find God in Nature.

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08 Carmel  Captivates - The Carmelites

posted Jul 11, 2018, 11:02 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 11:02 AM ]

Spiritual Marriage – an Interior Option at the service of humanity!

Queen Beauty of Carmel, Mary our Mother, bursts into exultant praise of God: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord...’, in response to the admiration of her kinswoman Elizabeth. With Mary, every Carmelite’s spirit rejoices in God; for to be led into the land of Carmel is to enter upon a journey culminating “so close to God, that a soul is transformed into a flame of love, in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are communicated to it… that it enjoys a foretaste of eternal life.” The Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt Carmel, in the famous ‘scapular promise’ assures all who die wearing it, eternal life. What she really wishes is that (rather than wait to deliver a soul from purgatory after death), we begin experiencing eternal life already here on Earth. Two mystical doctors of the Church - Saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross - Carmelites, teach us of these mystical heights which all the baptised are invited to, yet so few arrive at. Indeed, has not St Paul himself said that the Holy Spirit reveals to those who love God those things no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived, things which God has prepared for those who love Him? (cf. 1 Cor 2:9,10)

“Each one of us has a soul, but since we do not prize souls as is deserved by creatures made in the image of God, we do not understand the deep secrets that lie in them,” says St Teresa. In the state of Spiritual Marriage which is the highest attainable in this life, ‘all three divine Persons communicate themselves to the soul, speak to it, and explain the words of the Gospel that He (Jesus - the Word) and the Father and the Holy Spirit will come and dwell with the soul that loves Him and keeps His commandments. God dwells secretly in all souls (even those in mortal sin), or else they would not last. In the soul in which less of its own appetites and pleasures dwell (i.e. love of and desire for material things, obsession with food, fashion, trends, sport, entertainment, distractions, etc.), He dwells pleased, rejoicing as a Bridegroom over his bride (cf Is 62:4 ff). ‘O then, soul, most beautiful among all creatures, rejoice to see that all your good is so close as to be within you or better that you cannot be without Him. What more do you want? – It will never satisfy. What else do you search for outside – zapping, zapping and more zapping – ‘when within you possess all your riches, delights, satisfactions, fullness, and kingdom’? Like the wise merchant (Mt 13:44), sell all you possess i.e. forget your possessions, internet and apps, all created things which pass away, hide in the secret chamber of your spirit. There, close the door, which is your will or desire for everything else, and pray to your Father in secret (Mt 6:6). You will experience Him, love, enjoy and delight with Him in a way transcending all language and feeling. Yes, ‘the Almighty works marvels – Holy is He’; hear His call to holiness.

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09 MARY - The beauty of Carmel - Sr Fiona D’Cruz, C.M

posted Jul 11, 2018, 10:59 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 10:59 AM ]

Mary fills the history of the Carmel with her presence. Carmel is proclaimed as completely Marian, and sees in Mary the ideal of consecrated and contemplative life. The month of July is special to all the Carmelites who honour Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. She is also looked upon as a mother of the anchorites, solitaries and hermits; her arms are set to save the ones who plead for her maternal protection. Seated on the throne of Mount Carmel, she is considered to be all beautiful and infinitely lovable.

The great Carmelite mystics also drew their inspiration from the prophet Elijah who was a man on fire with love of God. His basic message was "the Lord lives in whose presence I stand." His cry of triumph: "I burn with zeal for the Lord God of hosts" has been rejuvenating the Carmelite Order. The profound spiritual experiences of the mystics also bear the mark of the beauty of the desert and solitude. Blessed Francisco Palau, the founder of the Carmelite Missionaries, states in his writings this personal experience, “I went up quickly to the peak of the mountain; it was filled with clouds and covered with the glory of God. The cloud gathered upon the mountain, and a voice was heard: this is my beloved child.” This has been the experience of many holy men and women. Mary, our mother, treasured this experience deep down within her. The saints of Carmel – Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Child Jesus, Edith Stein and many others lived the same experience and also did Bl. Francisco Palau. In their isolated experiences, they experienced the unconditional love and immense beauty of God. Fr Palau discovered that his mission was to let people know the infinite beauty of the Church with Christ as its head. For him, the Virgin Mary reflects and marvellously represents the holiness of the Church. She exemplifies the life of that mysterious reality of communion and is always contemplated in the Church and with the Church, of which she is the most beautiful mirror. Carmel looks on her as its lady and mother, protector and trusted friend, model and ideal of its life of consecration. Our contemplative spirit leads us to experience the beauty of our Creator and His Creation within and around us, with the assistance of Mary who is a spotless mirror, in which we gaze upon the Holy Church in all her perfection. The life of our Lady impels us to imitate her virtues in order to make ourselves and the world more beautiful.

In our world of individualism, secularism, corruption and chaos, Mary shows the path of selflessness and sensitiveness to the needs of others, joy and fidelity, silence and solitude. She encourages us to overcome superficiality with interiority, interiority that helps us to grow in self-knowledge by keeping ourselves constantly on the path of conversion and cultivating a true sense of belonging to God, neighbour and the cosmos. One can approach Our Lady without hesitation to wade through the troubled waters of life with unwavering faith, fixing our loving gaze on the Almighty. She teaches us to go up to God in prayer, and go down to carry out the works of mercy. She encourages us to sing a song of praise to the Creator of the flowers and the thorns, the wheat and the weeds. She is the most beautiful gardener who sows, waters, and joyfully enjoys the fruit. She lays emphasis not only on the external beauty, but also the interior beauty which originates and is sustained by God, despite all the vices that surround it. Our Lady preserved this beauty perpetually, and bestows it on all those who call on her maternal care and protection.

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10 Would you like to Try?

posted Jul 11, 2018, 10:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 10:56 AM ]

Chanting psalms at 5:30 in the morning in the silence of a chapel surrounded by greenery…
Cooking lunch for a family of 40, or sometimes even more than 50 ….
Setting aside everything to rush for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration…
Spending a lot of time to gently coax a child to finish her meal…
Snapshots of daily life, but which and whose life? And what is the connection with Carmelite spirituality?

We may start from the very beginning that was on Mount Carmel on the coasts of Palestine, in the 12th century. There, small groups of men, inflamed by the desire to give their all to God, spent long hours in silence and prayer. Their aim was to unceasingly seek the Lord, to unendingly contemplate Him, the only One for whom it is worthy to give up with joy and without regret all that the world may offer.

These first hermits planted the seed of a tree that in the course of time has grown to spread its branches, in places farther away, bearing abundant fruits of holiness and service to the Church. This tree of ‘Carmelite spirituality’ has its hallmark in an unceasing search of God, in the desire to contemplate Him and in the aspiration to live continuously in His presence.

It is now an imposing secular tree, made strong by a long and tested tradition, that continues to flourish with green and fresh new branches. Among these branches, there is also a small shoot, quite hidden and humble, yet striving to draw the vital sap of this luxuriant tree.

This small shoot has a story, too, that started much recently, in 1941, in a village on a hilly region in North Italy. There, a parish priest and his community desired to live a true Christian life, searching for the Lord and serving Him above everything else. In their journey towards God, they found in their midst reliable helpers, allies and guides. But the ones to truly lead them in their search for God were the poor and the needy of the parish, and those marked by sickness and handicaps. Didn't Jesus Himself say: I was hungry and you gave me to eat… I was sick and you came to visit me. When you did this to one of my little ones, you did it to me. (Mt 25:31-46) They also realised that Mount Carmel, where their predecessors sought the Lord, was close to them. It was right there in their parish. They could see Jesus in the faces of their suffering brothers and sisters. This awareness encouraged the parishioners to gather the persons in need, and welcome them in a house near the parish church, where they would be treasured and cared for by the entire community. >>>>

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11 The Scapular Devotion - Sr Angela Joseph CCR

posted Jul 11, 2018, 10:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 11, 2018, 10:54 AM ]

The Promise of Protection and Interior Life

The journey of Interior Life of the Carmelite traditions goes back to the time of Prophet Elijah in the Old Testament, when there had been a community of men who were hermits dwelling at Mount Carmel. Their solitude and prayer lasted for many days, and the tradition continued for long. From this small beginning, the Contemplative Order of the Carmelites emerged. These monks were forced to flee to different lands due to persecutions. They went to Cyprus, Sicily, France and England. It was at the first Chapter Meeting of the Order that Fr Simon Stock was elected as the first Father General of the Order of Our Lady of Mt Carmel.

The Carmelites are known for their extraordinary devotion to Mary, under the patronage of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. It is through the protection of Mary, the Carmelite Order began to grow and flourish, first in Northern Israel, and then in the other regions of the world as well. The Carmelite Order, specially devoted to Mary, has always regarded her as its Queen and Mother.


The Roots and the Spread

St Simon Stock, as the General of the Carmelite Order, had made remarkable developments. He established Carmelite houses in four university towns viz. Carmelite Bridge, Oxford, Paris and Bologna, which resulted in a large number of young men joining the Order. St Simon also established many foundations in England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain and various other European countries. During his time, the Carmelite Order went through a lot of struggles and harassment from outside the Order. It was during this stressful time that the Blessed Mother appeared to St Simon Stock and gave him the Brown Scapular. Mary appeared to him, holding the Scapular of the Order in her hand, and she said, “This shall be a Privilege to you and all the Carmelites; he who dies wearing it shall be saved.” This was a sure sign for the Carmelites that Mary’s maternal protection was a genuine reality.

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