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A Message For the Year of Consecrated Life

Thursday, March 12, 2015 | Comments (0) | Permalink

 

The Year of Consecrated Life, which began some months ago is for us Carmelites an occasion for reflecting on some fundamental aspects of our life and charism. On this occasion, we, the Superiors General of the Carmelites and Discalced Carmelites, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral and Fr. Saverio Cannistrà, decided to send a brief messaage to all the members of the Carmelite Family spread throughout the world to encourage you to make this year part of your life, a year that coincides with the 5th Centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila. Here we have a very important event for all of us, and Teresa, ever the mystagogue and spiritual master, comes to us even now as a model and guide in the renewal of our religious consecration and as an inspiration in facing new challenges. This happy coincidence may be an extraordinary opportunity for reflection and for deepening our sense of identity as religious and as Carmelites.

For this reflection we were given something very important to help us. In November of last year Pope Francis published his Letter to all the Consecrated. While avoiding every kind of unwarrented pessimism, the Letter calls on all of us, consecrated men and women, to be witnesses, to the Church and to the world, of the beauty of our vocation and our life. The letter contains a call that we should not ignore: “No one should feel exempted in this year from a serious evaluation of their presence in the life of the Church.” (II, no.5)

  The reflections that follow are intended to be a help towards this “serious evaluation”, that it may begin, or continue with even greater commitment where it has already begun.

In the heart of the Church

1.         From the Letter it is abundantly clear that Pope Francis has no desire to hem consecrated life in, limiting it to its own circle, but rather to place it at the heart of, or in the depths of the Church, against very broad horizons that draw it out far beyond itself. In the heart of the Church, because  consecrated life is a gift of the Church, it is born in the Church, it grows in the Church and its directed towards the Church” as Cardinal Bergoglio said in his address to the 1994 Synod of Bishops (cf. III, no.5), moving out to very broad horizons, because, along with the Church, consecrated life is called to go to the “existential peripheries”, where, alongside the materially poor, the suffering of children and of the elderly, there are those who are “rich with goods and empty of heart” (II, no.4). It’s like as if we were hearing again the call that Saint John Paul II made to the whole church on the 6th of January 2001 at the end of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, “Duc in altum”, Cast out into the deep. Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is opening up in front of the Church as a vast ocean where we are to take on the adventure, relying always on the help of Christ” (Novo millenio ineunte, no. 58)

  For us, who by the grace of God have been called to Carmel, inspired by the Rule of St. Albert and by the example of many saints who over the centuries committed themselves to this ideal; for us who are called in a special way in this jubilee year to walk in the footsteps of Teresa of Jesus, to see ourselves as “sons and daughters of the Church” and to respect the great needs of the Church (Relations, 3,7), to “pray for the spreading of the Church” (Foundations, 1,6) and to remain in the “heart of the Church, my Mother” (Ms B 3v), this is not a futile exercise, but a gift. The words of the Pope to the Bishop of Avila, last 15th of October, seem particularly apt: “There is nothing more beautiful than living and dying as children of this mother, the Church!” When people do not experience this maternity, that nourishes and educates, they cannot avoid, even though they may not be aware of it, being spiritual “orphans”, even within a religious family like ours.

2. In the time immediately after the Council, Hans Urs von Balthasar observed, talking about vocation, there was first a concern about asking, What are the needs of the Church, the needs of our time, or, “even worse”, the needs of the priest or the religious? and people no longer asked What might God need? Pope Francis, in his Letter, wrote:  “I expect that each form of consecrated life will question what it is that God and people today are asking of them.” (Letter, II,5) This is the capital question that we also, Carmelite religious, have to ask ourselves again. “What is God asking of us at this time?  A first response can be found in the Pope’s letter: “We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere.” (Letter, II,1)  If we say to ourselves and to others that “Only God suffices” we cannot be content to serve him in any old way (“they deal only roughly with pleasing God”, Way of Perfection 4,5). St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, just a few years later, wrote in somewhat courageous terms to Pope Sixtus V, recommending to him that the Church should be more and more like Christ: “Pay attention, pay attention, Holy Father, to that kind of imitation, I mean, that you be stripped entirely of Yourself, and be clothed in Him”:  “Induimini Dominum Jesum Christum”  (RC, 66)

The joy that can «engolosinar las almas»

3.         “Where there are religious there is joy” the Pope wrote (Letter II,2) If we do not want to build our joy on the sand of feelings, we have to found it on the solid rock of personal individual and community experience of the love of God. “Oh gentle Repose of my God’s lovers” Teresa of Jesus wrote (Solliloquies, XV,2) In speaking to the Bishop of Avila about the joy in the life of Teresa, Pope Francis wrote, “And knowing the love (of God) within her, a contagious joy sprung up in her, which she could not hide, and which she spread to all around her”” His brief but striking description of the joy of Teresa is something upon which our communities should reflect, in order to see to what extent, even allowing for the different sensitivities, it is truly present. (cf. The Sixth Mansion, 6,12)

 The year just gone by saw the beatification of Pope Paul VI. Forty years after the publication of the exhortation on Christian joy Gaudete in Domino, his message is still very relevant, even more so because, as the blessed Pontiff wrote, Teresa of Avila, and other saints, in the matters of joy and holiness, have been genuine teachers. For the other Teresa, Thérèse of Lisieux, this same joy became “the courageous pathway of self-abandonment into the hands of God”. Blessed Titus Brandsma, at the time that he was already suffering the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp, kept trying to encourage his prison companions, because he was convinced that the life of a Carmelite cannot be other than a sign of joy and hope for everyone.

4.         As each one of us has experienced more than once, joy, just like everything that is good, both spreads out to others (Jn 15,11) , and draws in those who encounter it and know it (cf. Ps 92,5) That too is the way it is for the Church as a whole and for consecrated life in particular. The Pope writes, “the apostolic effectiveness of consecrated life (...) depends on the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.” (Letter II,1) If for the sake of hypothesis we were to ask Teresa of Jesus to say in her words what the Pope was saying,  she would say that her one purpose in life was to “engolosinar las almas” (Life, 18,8), that is to entice, nourish, fascinate people and bring them to God.

Is that perhaps not what the Pope too asks of us, and that we, as Carmelites, are called to give witness to, when we follow the example of Teresa of Jesus and the other saints of Carmel? In order to draw others we first have to be drawn. In the same way, in order to share with others the “joy and the beauty of living the Gospel and of following Christ” we must first have experienced all of that. Teresa recalled that she had heard Gracián say one time, “we must not try to win souls through the power of arms, the way we do with bodies.”  (Letter of the 9th of January, 1577)           

If we do not want to become simply managers of the sacred in the lives of others, and in our own, we should pay great attention to these words of Teresa:  “Oh no, Lord, don’t let me be deprived, don’t let me deprived of the joy of enjoying in peace your wonderful beauty. Your Father gave you to us. Let me not, O Lord, lose such a precious gift” (Solliloquies, 14,2)      

A communion for the world

5.         The Pope reminded us that as religious we are called to be “experts in communion” (Letter II,3)  In Christian revelation everything is marked by communion, the three Divine Persons are communion, faith is communion, prayer is communion, the Church is communion, the liturgy is communion, and, finally, consecrated life is communion. A Christianity that is not able to create communion, is no longer Christianity. If it were not so, St. John Paul II’s call, taken up by Pope Francis, to make the Church a “house and a school of communion” (Letter, II,3, cf. NMI, 43) could well be reduced to an exhortation that we take for granted and that has no effect on life, on real life, that is. In a Church that is enlivened by communion and that works in order to build communion, we Carmelite religious cannot be content to be mere spectators. As Teresa said when writing to Fr. Gracián, “love, when there is love, never gets much sleep.”  (Letter, 4th of October, 1579)

There is a lot of work ahead of us: with patience, and determination, we are to live, work and pray so that communion, theological from the very beginning, may become the anthropological principle, the mentality, the habitus and criterion in the light of which the community and each individual member live and make their choices.  John Paul II asked that the “spirituality of communion”, become an principle of education everywhere the faithful are being formed, and hence consecrated men and women also. (NMI 43) Pope Francis, in the message he sent to the General Chapter of the Carmelites (O.Carm.) in September, 2013, with words that were clear and direct, made a strong appeal to Carmelites to live out the contemplative dimension of our lives, as a seed of communion for the world. “Today, perhaps more than in the past, it is so easy to allow ourselves to be distracted by the cares and worries of this world and to succumb to false idols. Our world is fractured in so many ways, rather the contemplative unites and powerfully builds the call to unity. Now more than ever is the moment for you to discover again that inner pathway to love through prayer and to offer to the people today in your preaching and mission the witness of your contemplation, not easy solutions but that wisdom that comes from pondering “day and night the Law of the Lord”. The Word always brings one near to the glorious cross of Christ. (Letter to the O.Carm. General Chapter, 2013)

On the 22nd of September Teresa of Jesus recounted the vision of the Trinity that she had on the feast of St. Matthew. That account contains an indication of a pedagogic nature that may be useful to ensure that communion can turn into a way of life. Teresa wrote:  These three Persons love one another, communicate with one another, know one another” (Favours of God, n.33) (Seventh Mansion, 1.6) Without mutual love communication is something merely formal, and knowing is always superficial. St. Teresa never tired reminding us of that: “I believe that we will never come to love our neighbour  perfectly, if that love does not rise from the love of God as its root” (Fifth Mansion, 3,9);  “Let us understand, my daughters, that true perfection consists in love of God and neighbour” (First Mansions, 2,17). Pope Francis reminded the Bishop of Avila, that the “way of fraternity” was the “providential answer” that Teresa gave to “the problems of the Church and of society in her time”.

Finally, communion will keep us safe from the “disease of self-absorption”. (Letter, II, 3) and from the “temptation to adopt an intimistic and individualistic kind of spirituality” (NMI 52) In this sense we are happy to note that the road travelled by Carmelites and Discalced Carmelites over the past decade, in a climate of collaboration, knowledge of one another, and fraternal spiritual communion, has become a sign and a very positive call in this direction.  

But fraternity too has its masks. The most insidious is pretence, and appearance. In the life of our houses that takes on a certain shape, when, as Zygmunt Bauman might say, we decide to live “together on our own”.

6.         Pope Francis has left us a task that at first sight we might feel is something beyond our capacity: “I expect of you that you will “awaken the world”, because prophecy is the characteristic note of consecrated life.” (Letter, II,2)

The first condition for “awakening the world” is not to be afraid of the world and of people (cf. Jn 16:33; Lk 12:4) but to want to know them in both their positive and their negative aspects, when what is good helps them to grow, and what is evil mortifies them, when they are open to the encounter with Christ and when they reject it.

In the question of taking on the world, Teresa has much to teach us. Pope Francis in his letter to the Bishop of Avila, said, “Her mystical experience did not separate her from the world or from people’s preoccupations. (...) She lived the difficulties of her time, which were so complicated, without yielding to the temptation of bitter lament, but instead accepting them in faith as an opportunity to take another step on the path.” Then he concludes, “This is Teresa’s realism, in the way she looks for works more than emotions, and for love more than dreams.”

The second condition for “wakening the world” has to do with ourselves as individuals and with our communities. In the school of the prophet Elijah and of the ancient prophets, we are called to be the “voice” of God, above all in those “existential peripheries” where the need to hear that voice is greatest. When that happens, thanks also to our witness, people come to know what mercy, forgiveness and true communion are. In our becoming the voice of God, we must never forget that Christ is the Word of truth (cf. Col 1:5), that people today just as they did in the past, so badly need. Pope Francis asks each one of us the burning question, “Is Jesus, (...) truly your first and only love, as we said he was when we professed our vows?” (Letter I,2) Turning to the words of our Rule, we might ask ourselves: “Do we want, today too, to live “in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve him faithfully with pure heart and stout conscience”? (Rule, 2)

Looking to the future

7.         After the II Vatican Council, consecrated life went through a series of profound and not always constructive changes. Today many religious families have to deal with a considerable reduction in the number of their members and a refashioning of their structures. (cf. Letter I,3). Before looking at any of the problems, the year dedicated to consecrated life is an occasion for looking at the past with gratitude” (Letter I,2) “It is entirely necessary to tell one’s own story, in order to hold on to our identity”, the Pope wrote. We look at the past, not as a way of escaping the present, but to live in the present “with passion” (Letter I,2). As it was for our saints, the criterion we use to evaluate this “passion” is always the Gospel. Those who live in the present with passion are able also to look at the future “with hope” (Letter I,3) because they know that in every age the Holy Spirit is the guide and strength of the Church. The words that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his prison before the nazis took his life, are very apt for us: The one who does not have a past for which to answer and a future to shape is a transient.”

If we as Carmelites feel that we are standing in the “heart of the Church” it is for us to feel even more in communion with the entire Christian people, to which we ourselves belong. Throughout the centuries many Christians, in their condition as lay people, chose to share the ideals, spirit and mission of our Orders, thus giving rise to what is truly a charismatic Carmelite family (Letter III,1) In the different geographical settings, may the year of consecrated life be for each one of us an occasion to be ever more conscious of belonging to this “charismatic family”, and in it, together with everyone else, give praise to God. “And believe me, the whole affair does not lie in whether or not we wear the religious habit but in striving to practise the virtues, in surrendering our will to God in everything, in bring our life into accordance with what He ordains for it, and in desiring that His will not ours be done.” (Third Mansion, 2,6)

  8.       A sense of belonging to the life of the Church, a joyful adherence to our vocation, a fraternal communion that is open to welcome the other: these are the fundamental points based on which we are to carry out that serious examination of our religious life that Pope Francis has called for. We wanted to recall them and emphasise them so that the celebration of this year of consecrated life may not pass us by and leave us indifferent and inactive. We have work to do on ourselves, constantly, and that is the precise counterpart of the grace we have received. It is only through the work that we do to assimilate our past and to grow to maturity in the present that our religious family may look forward to a future worthy of the hope to which we have been called (cf. Eph 1:18)

May Teresa of Avila and the great multitude of saints that Carmel has known throughout its long history, and, above all, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the star of the sea, guide our steps and give us the strength and courage to live out our consecration with fidelity, creativity and generosity ....

Fernando Millán Romeral O.Carm.

Prior General

Saverio Cannistrà, OCD.

Superior General

Rome, 12 March 2015

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOUND ON CARMELITE WEBSITE

Letter of Prior General (O.Carm) and Superior General (OCD)

Sunday, September 14, 2014 | Comments (0) | Permalink

 Source: Carmelite Official Website

September 13, 2014

 

 Greetings from Rome!

Conscious of the common heritage and spirituality that we share, and as you may already know, our two Orders, O.Carm. and O.C.D., have been developing different joint projects over the past two decades, we would like to invite your participation in the work of conservation on Mount Carmel.

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Letter of Prior General for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Friday, July 04, 2014 | Comments (0) | Permalink

  

 Fernando Millán Romeral O.Carm.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Carmelite Family,

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is approaching, and another year has gone by. I would like to offer you my best wishes. The day means a lot to all of us, a joyous and deep-felt moment in which we celebrate our devotion to the Mother of the Lord, under the very popular title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. One year more: I would like to commend to her intercession, our dreams and projects, our missions and apostolates, our joys and our concerns. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Sister, enlighten, guide and accompany us, so that we may be always faithful to our vocation, and know how to respond generously to the insistent call from Pope Francis to the whole Church, for all to be true evangelisers.

As you may perhaps recall, last year I suggested a possible interpretation of an icon that is typical of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: the Blessed Virgin who descends into Purgatory and saves by her scapular all those who are suffering there. I would ask you therefore that, in imitation of Mary, we might each descend into the purgatories of today and in solidarity and compassion, help those who are suffering to emerge from those purgatories of every kind, of which there are many in the world of today.

On this occasion I would ask that every Carmelite, (friar, cloistered nun, sister of the apostolic life, tertiary, member of a confraternity, lay Carmelite member of one of the many groups that make up the Carmelite family) be united in contemplating, sharing, increasing the beauty which is all around us (even, if at times, somewhat hidden). Right from the beginning Carmel has been closely linked to beauty. Mount Carmel is synonymous with beauty in the First Testament, and we ourselves refer to Mary as the Mother and Ornament of Carmel (Mother and Beauty of Carmel). Our Order has been characterised down through the centuries by that tendency towards the poetic, the artistic ... the beautiful.

Therefore, my desire is that our lives should be a song of praise to God for the beauty that surrounds us, and also a generous commitment to ensure that beauty will not be diminished or tarnished by what is evil, by sin, by the suffering of so many innocent people, who are the victims of selfishness and all its ramifications, (injustice, violence, inequality .....).

May our lives as Carmelites, each in accordance with our specific situation, become a song of praise to the Creator, and may each of us, in imitation of Mary, humbly proclaim the wonders that the Lord has worked and continues to work in our lives. (Lk 1:46-55) It may be that one of the most tragic features of the modern world is the inability to generate beauty or to discover beauty.  At times, beauty finds itself reduced to something that is purely aesthetic, self-centred, with no notion of solidarity, and therefore no beauty at all, not authentic, producing only a sense of too much and of nothing. The ancient scholastics used to say, the good and the beautiful, “bonum” et “pulchrum” always coincide. That’s the way it is.

When we want to discover what is beautiful, Mary, the teacher and master of spirituality, points our gaze in another direction: towards what is small and humble, what is of no account ..... Mary leads us to discover the beauty in the complexities of life, in all that is noble and heroic, which at times we fail to see in day to day life.

May the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with its novenas and devotions, its liturgies and celebrations, be itself a humble and peaceful song to beauty. We must not settle for mere routine, half-hearted celebrations, the remains of a glorious but very distant past. We must also avoid mere external beauty, nothing more that pomp and rubrics. No, on that day we must lift up our hearts, through the calm beauty of the liturgy, over the misery of humanity, and look at the “star of the sea” so that she may guide us to Christ, Our Lord.

Happy Feastday! May Mary, our Mother and Sister be with you always.

With brotherly affection,

Fernando Millán Romeral O.Carm.
Prior General

 Source: Carmelite Website

 

 


NEWS: A Message to the Carmelite Family

Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Comments (0) | Permalink

The following article was taken from "Carmel in The World", 2013 Vol. LII N.2

This was the message sent by our Holy Father Pope Francis to the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Father Fernando Millan Romeral, and the Carmelite Family, on the occasion of the recent General Chapter of the Order held in September 2013.

The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm are also busy preparing for their General Chapter to be held in September 2014.  The delegates continue to meet with their respective Commissions.  May the Holy Spirit and the message of Pope Francis help to guide the works of the Chapter in the months ahead!  

 

Pope Francis and Father Fernando

To the Most Reverend Father Fernando Millan Romeral,

Prior General of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel

 His Holiness Pope Francis

I address you, dear Brothers of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, as you celebrate in this month of September the General Chapter.  At this time of grace and renewal that calls on you to discern the mission of the glorious Order of Carmelites, I would like to offer you a word of encouragement and hope.  The ancient charism of Carmel throughout these past eight centuries has been a gift for the whole Church, and still today continues to offer its special contribution to building up the Body of Christ, showing the world its luminous and holy face.  Your contemplative origins spring from the land of the epiphany of God's abiding love manifested in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.  As you ponder your mission in Carmel today, I would ask you to consider three things that might guide you in the full realization of your vocation that is the ascent of the mountain of perfection: love as allegiance, as prayer and as mission.

 Allegiance

The Church has the mission to bring Christ to the world and it is for this, as Mother and Teacher, she invites each one of us to draw near to him.  In the Carmelite liturgy for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel we contemplate the Virgin as being “near the cross of Christ.”  This is also the place where one finds the Church: near to Christ.  It is also the place for every faithful member of the Carmelite Order.  Your Rule begins with the exhortation to the brothers to “live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ”, to follow him and to serve him with a pure an undivided heart.  This close relationship to Christ happens in solitude, in fraternal assembly and in mission.  "The fundamental choice of a life that is concretely and radically dedicated to following Christ" (Ratio Institutionis Vitae Carmelitanae 8) making of your lives a pilgrimage of loving transformation.  The Second Vatican Council recalls the role of contemplation on the journey of life: the Church has “in fact the characteristic of being human and divine, visible and invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world as pilgrims" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 2).  The early hermits of Mount Carmel retained the memory of that holy place, and even if exiled and distanced from it constantly kept their gaze fixed on the glory of God.  Reflecting on your origins and history and contemplating the vast lineage of those who lived the Carmelite charism down through the centuries you will discover again your present vocation to be prophets of hope.  It is precisely with this hope you will be reborn.  Often what is new is only something very old seen in a new light.

Within your Rule is the heart of the Carmelite mission then and now.  As you approach the eight centenary of the death of Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 2014, you will recall that he formulated "a way of life.", a space that enables you to live a spirituality that is totally orientated towards Christ.  He outlines both external and internal elements, a physical ecology of space and the spiritual armor needed in order to fulfill one's vocation and mission.

In a world that often misunderstands Christ, and in fact rejects him, you are invited to draw near and to unite yourselves more closely with him.  It is a continuous call to follow Christ and be conformed to him.  This is of vital importance in our world so disoriented, "for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim" (Lumen Fidei 4).  Christ is present in your fraternity, your common worship and in the ministry entrusted to you: renew the allegiance of your whole life!

 Prayer

The Holy Father Benedict XVI, before your General Chapter of 2007 reminded you that "faith’s inner pilgrimage towards God begins in prayer", and at Castel Gandolfo in August 2010 said to you that: "You are the ones who teach us how to pray".  You speak of yourselves as contemplatives in the midst of the people.  If it is true that you are called to live on the heights of Carmel then it is also true that you are called to witness in the midst of the people.  Prayer is that "royal road" that leads to the profound mystery of the One and Triune God, but it is also the narrow pathway to God in the midst of the people as pilgrims in the world towards the Promised Land.

One of the most beautiful ways for entering into prayer is through the Word of God. Lection Divina brings you into direct conversation with the Lord and it opens for you wisdom's treasure.  The intimate friendship with the One who loves us, enables us to see with the eyes of God, to speak with his Word in our hearts, to treasure the beauty of that experience and to share it with those who are hungry for eternity.  Returning to the simplicity of a life centered on the Gospel is the challenge for renewed Church, a community of faith that always finds new ways of evangelization in a world continually changing.  The Saints of Carmel have been the great preachers and teachers of prayer.  This is what is needed once again from Carmel in the 21st century.  Constantly throughout the length of your history, the greats of Carmel have sought to call you back to your prayerful contemplative roots, roots always fruitful in prayer.  Here is the heart of your witness: the "contemplative" dimension of the Order, to be lived, cultivated and transmitted.  I would like each one of you to ask yourself: how is my contemplative life?  How much time during my day do I dedicate to prayer and contemplation?  A Carmelite without this contemplative life is a dead body!  Today, perhaps more than in the past, it is so easy to allow ourselves to be distracted by the cares and worries of this world and to succumb to false idols.  Our world is fractured in so many ways; rather the contemplative unites and powerfully builds the call to unity.  Now more than ever is the moment for you to discover again that inner pathway to love through prayer and to offer to the people today in your preaching and mission the witness of your contemplation, not easy solutions, but that wisdom that comes from pondering "day and night the Law of the Lord".  The Word always brings one near to the glorious Cross of Christ.  United in contemplation and austerity of life is not a secondary aspect of your life and witness.  There is a very strong temptation even for you to fall into a mundane spirituality.  The spirit of the world is the enemy of the life of prayer: never forget this!  I exhort you to a more austere and penitential life, according to your authentic tradition, a life distant from all worldliness, distant from the world's criteria.

Mission

My dear Carmelite brothers, yours is the same mission as Jesus.  All the planning and Chapter dialogue will be of little use, if the Chapter does not realize this above all else as a way to true renewal.  Your Carmelite family is seeing a wonderful "springtime" across the world, that fruit, a gift of God, and the missionary involvement of the past.  Today the mission brings its heavy challenges as the Gospel message is not always accepted or even violently rejected.  We must never forget, even if thrown into murky and unknown waters, that the one who gives the mission will also give the courage and the strength to put it into practice.  So celebrate your Chapter with the hope that never dies, with a strong spirit of generosity regaining your contemplative life and the simplicity and austerity of the Gospel.

Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter's Square  I said: "Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others, and live the Gospel, and testify to God's love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties.  Be missionaries of God's love and tenderness!  Be missionaries of God's mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly." (Homily 19th May, 2013).  The witness of Carmel in the past is one of a deep spiritual tradition that grew into one of the great schools of prayer.  It has evoked courage in men and women facing danger and even death.  We are only too aware of two great contemporary martyrs in Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Blessed Titus Brandsma.  I would ask you then: today among you, do you still have the endurance, the courage of these saints?

Dear Brothers of Carmel, the witness of your love, and your hope radiating from your deep friendship with the living God, can reach like a "gentle breeze" renewing and re- awakening your ecclesial mission in today’s world. To this you have been called.  Your Profession rite puts on your lips these words: "I entrust myself to God that by His grace and with the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary  I may attain perfect charity in the service of God and the Church."

Our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel, accompany your steps and make fruitful your daily journey towards the Mountain of God.  I invoke upon all the members of the Carmelite Family, and most especially you Capitulars, the abundant blessings of the Holy Spirit and to all I heartily impart the Apostolic Blessing.

Franciscus

Click on photo to enlarge

 

Commission on Community, Vocation and FormationCommission on Spirituality and MinistryCommission on Government and Finance

Letter to the Carmelite Family

Friday, November 15, 2013 | Comments (0) | Permalink

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO: Rev. Fr. Fernando Millan Romeral, O.Carm.-  Prior General and the General Council

Rev. Fr. Carl Markelz, O.Carm. Bursar General

Reverend Father Provincials, Commissaries, Priors and Mother Prioresses

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Carmel:

Sad Greetings from the Philippines! Facing these realities that hit us in less than a month, we are doubly shocked as a nation and as a people. While we are still recovering from the aftermath of the 7.8 richer scale earthquake that hit Central Visayas, particularly in the island- provinces of Bohol and Cebu last October 15, 2013 where millions were affected as their houses, buildings, roads, bridges and churches collapsed and destroyed. There were also hundreds of deaths and injuries from the said provinces. The Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph, our nuns’ monastery in Lila, Bohol has so far no major cracks in their buildings, but most importantly our nuns are safe. But the houses of our six (6) Carmelite Friars and one (1) Associate who hail from Bohol were either completely damaged or partially damaged. The San Alberto Carmelite Formation Center, our monastery and seminary in Cebu City had also some cracks in some parts of its buildings (flooring, walling, ceiling, etc.), while rehabilitation and repairs are being planned, the strongest typhoon this year struck the country three days ago.

On November 8, 2013, Friday, typhoon HAIYAN ( Yolanda) hit Central Philippines and had six (6) land falls in Central Philippines with more 340kms/hour and its magnitude is more than 200 kms. The typhoon brought strong wind, heavy rains, storm surge and debris flow left thousands dead and missing in the devastated provinces, cities and towns in the Visayas and in Palawan before it exited thru the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on its way to Vietnam yesterday, November 9. The immediate needs now in evacuation centers are food, water, medicines, tents, etc. So far, our Carmelite Friars and Associates are safe in these affected places and there was no reported casualty from the Carmelite Family. However, our houses (monastery, center, parish, school) were badly damaged that needed immediate repairs and reconstruction. The badly damaged structures are:

1. ORMOC CITY, LEYTE. The Carmelite Spirituality Center in Ormoc City, Leyte where or house, chapel, garage have completely no roofs, ceilings, some parts of the walls had cracked and collapsed. In the meantime, our friars temporarily stay in a tent. The houses of our Lay Carmelites of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in downtown Ormoc City were also damaged and partly destroyed.

2. ESCALANTE CITY, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL: Mount Carmel Monastery in Escalate City, Negros Occidental including our parishes in Escalante: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Sta. Cruz Mission Station together with the Chapels of our Basic Christian Communities were either completely or partly damaged. Some houses of our lay parish lay leaders were also badly damaged. Some parts of Mount Carmel College buildings and in the Magdalen Wellness Center-Carmelites were also affected and partly destroyed (roofing, ceiling, windows, etc.), including the uprooted trees and plants damaged.

3. ROXAS CITY, CAPIZ: We have already received an update from our nuns from the Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Roxas City, Capiz which is also devastated by the typhoon. They are fine but the neighbors are still in need of food, water, electricity, and difficult telecommunication signal, etc. We are appealing to all our Carmelite brothers and sisters, and all who have kind and generous hearts to please help us in this time of needs where our country had suffered heavily from the recent natural calamities-- earthquake and typhoon. In this regard, we appeal for whatever financial aid you can give and share to partly support the victims’ immediate needs, such as food, water, medicines, etc. who are presently in evacuation centers and the immediate replacements and repairs of our houses—its roofing, ceiling, walling, flooring, windows, doors and strengthening in some building posts. The Province has created the Task Force CarmelCARE to take charge of the relief & rehabilitation, and the task of replacements & repairs of our houses. We are really in need of your kind support and please continue praying for us; especially those who died from the typhoon and earthquake, those who are still missing, and to those who are grieving. May the Lord be with us in this time of mourning, healing, hoping and rebuilding. May the Lord bless all our endeavors and undertakings.

May the Lady of Mount Carmel protect us in her loving maternal care.

Fraternally in Carmel,

Rev. Fr. Christian B. Buenafe, O.Carm. and Provincial Council

Prior Provincial Philippine Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma

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Final General Chapter Message to Our Carmelite Family

Thursday, October 31, 2013 | Comments (0) | Permalink
A WORD OF HOPE AND SALVATION (Const. 24)

 0. We, Carmelite Friars, gathered in General Chapter at Il Carmelo, Sassone, Italy (3-20 September 2013) from all over the world, greet our brothers and sisters of the Carmelite Family: grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. We believe that God’s creative love revealed definitively in the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit calls us to continual transformation. Walking on this journey of transformation, enlightened by faith, demands both a personal and communal encounter with Jesus Christ who is the source of our hope and salvation.

2. Through conferences, reflections and group sharing over the days of the Chapter, we have been reminded and in turn remind you, our brothers and sisters, concerning the serious issues that confront us: understanding our world, discerning well the signs of our times and moving to act with grace and wisdom in our various contexts. To be able to offer any sense of hope in our various situations demands that we be brothers and sisters rooted in the experience of God, brothers and sisters of faith, hope and love. To be sharers of hope, we are challenged to be attentive and open to our world and the Word of God.

3. Discerning the Signs of Our Times

We are living through a period of rapid transition in a changing world. We are aware that these factors, in the hands of human beings, are both positive and negative. What we see, notice and recognize in our contexts demand that we offer responses following deep discernment of the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. The world situation offers us opportunities for developing new ways of presence, accompaniment, dialogue and action inspired by our sense of Christian and Carmelite discipleship. We feel that we are called to walk with the people of our time through the varied experiences of rootlessness, dependency, isolation, activism and spiritual emptiness but only when we ourselves are rooted in communion with Jesus Christ and are of one heart and mind in our community living.

4. Acting in Response to our World

We are aware that we are a small Order regarding the number of friars. However, we have a rich spiritual tradition and history of over 800 years since we received our Rule from St Albert of Jerusalem, the centenary of whose death we are celebrating. Especially during the days with representatives of other groups in the Carmelite Family, we experienced that there is a large number of nuns, sisters, hermits and lay people who participate in our spirituality. We feel energized to make decisive but ongoing responses to the realities that weigh heavily upon the citizens of the world in our localities. Our sharing has challenged us to make a difference in our world by committing ourselves to:

a.      Being People of Prayer

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said: “You Carmelites teach us how to pray”. Pope Francis has challenged us to reflect more deeply on this value of prayer: ‘You speak of yourselves as contemplatives in the midst of the people... Prayer is that “royal road” that leads to the profound mystery of the One and Triune God, but it is also the narrow pathway to God in the midst of the people as pilgrims in the world towards the Promised Land… A Carmelite without this contemplative life is a dead body!’[1]. Indeed, our Order is rightly seen as a school of contemplation. Blessed Titus Brandsma reminds us that ‘God is so close to us. All things existing exist because of his work and in his presence… We should sense his presence and learn from our ancestors how they associated with him intimately, talked with him and listened to him. Life will look very different then’.[2] Through our being we are to sensitize people to the fact that Carmels are spaces for the quest of God in silence and solitude. We feel called to building praying communities,  whose major ministry is to teach people how to pray in the places where they are and in on-line ministry, by leading people into a culture of prayer, through our discourse, through our celebration of the Liturgy in a way that is participative and contemplative, through the practice of lectio divina and our attention to other forms of prayer. We value the monasteries of the nuns of our Order and we are proud of them. They remind us always of the values of prayer and the search for God. 

b.      Building Community

We seek to create Carmelite communities of encounter with Jesus Christ and other people, communities of trust, friendship, belonging, hospitality, collaboration and shared responsibilities. We note that the healthy balance between prayer and fraternity leads to tenderness and compassionate outreach. The integration between prayer and prophetic mission leads to greater conversion and the joining of  prophetic mission and fraternity leads to solidarity with our people. Therefore,  we are to renew our personal commitment to being  praying/ contemplative fraternities at the service of the Church and the world. We note that the non-negotiable elements of this community building are presence at community exercises: the Liturgy, community meetings, meals, and fraternal gatherings and a healthy balance between solitude and activity.

c.       Promoting  Vocations, Initial and Ongoing Formation

We urge all Carmelites, personally and communally, to take responsibility for vocation promotion by: authentic and joyful living of the Carmelite way of life; being interested in youth ministry; participating in communal projects of vocation promotion; cooperating with community, provincial and diocesan vocation promoters and other orders. Acceptance in the Carmelite formation program marks the beginning of human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation that lasts a lifetime. We urge that capable candidates be chosen for higher studies in keeping with our charism.

d.      Cultivating Discernment

A deep Christian and Carmelite quality is discernment. Making our communities places of welcome, we need to renew our commitment to silence, listening and discernment of the will of God in the events of our daily life and the people we come across. Considering the sense of fragmentation and dis-connectedness that is the experience of many persons, we urge the cultivation of the right balance in ourselves and others in all realities: between individuality and community; silence/solitude and speech;  prayer and ministry/action; mysticism and social involvement. Community meetings are precious tools for practicing discernment.[3]  

e.       Taking the Right Decisions

To be effective in our localities, we need to promote accountability, listening, responsive and servant leadership qualities at all levels of Carmelite governance structures. We are conscious that certain difficult decisions will need to be made considering our declining numbers in certain regions as well as those regions experiencing growth in numbers. Whatever the decisions, the guiding principles that should be at the fore are faithfulness to Christ, fidelity to the charism of the Order and discernment of the signs of the times.

f.        Engaging in Mission

Our mission is to live our charism. The heart of our witness is to realize the contemplative dimension of the Order, to be lived, cultivated and transmitted.[4] Let us witness to the effectiveness of the gospel through transformed lives as well as engaging in dialogue with the poor, with cultures, religions, and systems. People will be drawn to Christ when they notice our gospel based lives of simplicity, solidarity with the marginalized, celebration of unity in diversity, and the creation of safe environments for the children, teens and adults to whom we minister. Thus we hope to share in our own particular way in the new evangelization to which the Church is insistently calling us.

5. Keeping Hope Alive

The present situation of our world is not a cause of despair; rather what humanity is experiencing presents us with opportunities of expressing who we are. It is as if the world is saying: will Carmelites stand up and be counted? Let us therefore stand up and be seen to be authentic and credible witnesses in the Spirit. It is because of our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father and our faith in Christ, that in the power of the Holy Spirit, we see so many hidden opportunities in these challenges. Christ Jesus is the Word of hope and salvation and so we hope to make the difference in our communities and localities by the way we live.

With Mary our model and inspiration and the Prophet Elijah who stood in the presence of God, we want to learn to wait in hope for the salvation that comes from the Lord alone. We entrust ourselves to their support and guidance as we journey into the future.

Issued on this, the 20th day of September 2013, at Il Carmelo, Sassone, Italy

 


[1] Letter of Pope Francis to the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral.

[2] Titus Brandsma, Fragmenten. In: Mystiek Leven. Editor: Bruno Brochert. Gottmer. Nijmegen, 1985, 159.

[3] Rule of St Albert, chapters 10 and 15.

[4] Letter of Pope Francis to the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral.