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.