Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Happy feast day!
Sacred Scripture celebrates the beauty of Mount Carmel in Palestine as the place where the Prophet Elijah defended the purity of Israel's faith in the living God. In the 12th century, a small group of hermits withdrew to the mountain. This led to the founding of the Carmelite Order. What does it mean to be a Carmelite today though? We asked Bianca Murray, Administrative Assistance with the Diocese of Lansing, who is a Third Order or Lay Carmelite. Here’s what she had to say:
“Carmelites are consecrated to Jesus, through his Mother, Mary who is venerated under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As a Carmelite, Mary’s protection comes under the mantle of the brown scapular worn externally by priests and religious and underneath every day apparel by Third Order Carmelites and those lay faithful with devotion to Mary under this title.”
“Profession to the Carmelite Order comes with the expectation to cultivate a fruitful interior life in order to ascent to complete union with God. For priests and religious this can be a difficult task given their many community obligations, but it at times seems increasingly difficult for a Third Order Carmelite (Lay Carmelite), living in the world today as we must remain faithful to our promises as well as our state in life. The world is clamoring for our attention with constant interior and exterior distractions such as chimes and rings of texts, tweets, emails and notifications, but with Mary as our protector and model we can be assured that if we continue to follow her example we will not be led astray.”
“Mary is a perfect example for our interior life. There are many examples in the Bible of Mary’s contemplation on God’s Word. We see her reflectiveness in the Annunciation (Lk 1:29), the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:19) and in the finding of the Child in the Temple (Lk 2:51). She kept these things in her heart and pondered them throughout her earthly life.”
“The charism for the Carmelite Order is contemplation, which is something we cannot aspire to on our own, but is a gift from God. By nurturing our contemplative spirit we are better equipped to go out and serve the communities in which we live. Therefore, the spirit of Carmel is not only focused on prayer, but is action oriented as well. Growing in our relationship with God will allow our service and interactions with society be all the more fruitful.”
“It is critical to set aside time for quiet prayer; calming our minds and hearts to be attentive to the voice of God. The more we tend to this garden of prayer the more fruitful our harvest will be. It is no coincidence that Karmel in Hebrew translates to fertile land.”
Thank you Bianca. Have a happy and holy feast day. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
• Credit: Additional material from Catholic Culture: https://www.catholicculture.org/