Thursday, November 22, 2012

Remembering God in a world that forgets

On this Thanksgiving Day, we remember the countless blessings of Almighty God. Simply our grateful remembrance of God is transformative and inclines us to become more and more vessels of Divine Charity, other "humanities" (as Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity would say) wherein Christ can live His Paschal Mystery.

From the Soliloquies of St. Teresa of Jesus: “My soul grew greatly distressed, my God, while considering the glory You've prepared for those who persevere in doing Your will, the number of trials and sufferings by which Your Son gained it, and how much in its greatness love [which at such a cost taught us to love] deserves our gratitude. How is it possible, Lord, that all this love is forgotten and that mortals are so forgetful of You when they offend You? O my Redeemer, and how completely forgetful of themselves they are! What great goodness is Yours, that You then remember us, and that though we have fallen through the mortal wound we inflicted on You, You return to us, forgetful of this, to lend a hand and awaken us from so incurable a madness, that we might seek and beg salvation of you! Blessed be such a Lord; blessed be such great mercy; and praised forever such tender compassion!” (3.1).

Let us always remember ... and give thanks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The lineage of holiness...

St. Teresa of Jesus, foundress and reformer
I am in Brighton, MA for a gathering of the Plenary Provincial Council, which is a consultative body composed of the provincial, his council, the superiors of all our monasteries, and elected delegates from the various communities.

Today, for the Feast of All Carmelite Saints, Fr. Santulino Ekada, OCD, the prior of our monastery/student house in Nairobi, Kenya, preached on the responsibilities incumbent upon us friars who are "descendants" of the saints of Carmel.  He spoke strikingly of the African mindset of lineage.  It is of primary importance in the African culture to maintain the bloodline, to pass on the heritage of father to son, and to assure the continuity and growth of the clan or the tribe.  Still more, Fr. Santulino told us that one who breaks the lineage is considered accursed. And so, those religious and priests, who do not have biological children for the growth of the tribe, are also regarded accursed.

Analogously, it is the Discalced Carmelite community existing TODAY that bears aloft the call to holiness in Carmel.  As St. Teresa wrote, "...if those of us who are alive now have not fallen away from what they did in the past, and those who come after us do the same, the building will always stand firm. What use is it to me for the saints of the past to have been what they were, if I come along after them and behave so badly that I leave the building in ruins because of my bad habits?" "Any of you who sees your Order falling away in any respect must try to be the kind of stone the building can be rebuilt with—the Lord will help to rebuild it" (Foundations, 4.6,7).

Carmel is not a history to be learned, nor simply a spirituality to be studied, but a life to be lived.  May the Lord keep us faithful one day at a time that we may be counted one day among the saints!