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 Bianca has to say:
We honor our Mother under various titles – Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Our Lady, Queen of Victory; Our Lady, Undoer of Knots; Our Lady of Good Counsel; etc. However, one of my favorite titles is Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patroness of the Carmelite Order.
As patroness and protector of the Order, Carmelites have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and they venerate her in many ways throughout their daily lives with the recitation of the rosary, recitation of the Little Office of the Bl. Virgin Mary and by the brown scapular they wear. On the front of the scapular is the BVM Christogram representing our Mother and on the back is IHS, representing Our Lord, Jesus. At first glance, this may appear disordered, but the main essence of the Carmelite Order is “To Jesus, through Mary.”
Mary is the Carmelite model to a deeper relationship with her Son. No one who walked this earth followed Jesus more closely. As mother, Mary carried Jesus in her womb. There is no greater bond than this, two persons sharing one body, one heart. This is exactly what we, as Carmelites and Christians strive for, to be a holy and singular vessel for the indwelling of our Lord – one mind, one body, one heart.
As we celebrate this special feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel I encourage each of you to spend a few minutes today reflecting on a moment in the life of our Holy Mother and ask her to draw you into deeper union with her beloved Son.
Yours in Carmel,