Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I always have seen this feast as a mystical one; belonging to an order that draws its spirituality from the prophet Elijah and that produced great mystics like John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, the Little Flower and more.
Some Christians who went to the Holy Land in the 11-12 centuries decided to establish themselves as a community on Mount Carmel near Elijah’s cave. Tradition has it that a community lived there since the times of Elijah so that this new Christian group saw themselves as the spiritual heirs of the first. In 1206 the prior of this community, (Brocard), received the rule of life which the community asked for from the hands of Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Because of persecutions the community had to resettle in Europe. The superior of the Order was Simon Stock. Whilst at the priory of Aylesford here in the UK, (about 20 minutes drive from this parish) the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and gave him what is now known as the Brown Scapular. In 1247 the Carmelite rule was adapted to the new circumstances by the Dominican Pope Innocent IV.
What Our Lady gave to St Simon is clothing. This is the tenderness of a mother towards her children who clothes them in time of need, indeed she is the one who enables us to put on Christ. This day reminds me of the tenderness of the mother, tending a fragmented Church locked in fear in the Upper Room, assisting the first bishops by praying for them and with them. Today’s feast reminds us that our heavenly mother still offers us this clothing. If in fear, in the wilderness, forced away from Mount Carmel, or locked in any room, Our Lady prays with and for us, and gives us a new clothing, enables us to put on Christ. And if Christ is with us, who can be against us?

No comments: