Thursday, July 16, 2020

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel is in a richly forested area at the southern end of a long fertile valley known from ancient times for its wine and oil production. From the summit of the mountain can be seen the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, making it a strategic site for defence of the rich land below. Stone age people dug caves into the side of the Mountain. As far as the Scriptures are concerned, Mount Carmel is known chiefly as the site of a contest between Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (both false gods.) (1 Kings 8) 

The area is famous for its flower blossoms, shrubs, and fragrant herbs. The beauty of the bride in the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 7:5) is compared to the mountain's beauty. On its slopes are plentiful pastures (Isaiah 33:9, Jeremiah 50:19, Amos 1:2) Through the ages, monks sheltered in the caves, as did Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 18:19, 2 Kings 2:25.) Reference to Mt Carmel frequently suggests God’s care and generosity. The Hebrew name 'karmel' means 'garden land' and 'a fruitful place.'

Today we celebrate the foundation of the Carmelite religious order in the 12th century. Berthold, the founder of the order, is sometimes said to have been a pilgrim to the area (perhaps to the cave of Elijah), sometimes he is said to have been a crusader. Tradition says that he originated in southern France and was venturing in the Holy Land when he encountered fierce soldiers. Receiving a vision of Jesus, he went to Mount Carmel and built a small chapel there. Before long he was joined by hermits who all lived there in community in imitation of Elijah. After his death, it seems that St. Brocard became leader of the hermits eventually leading to the establishment of the Carmelite Order in the 12th century. 

In Carmelite tradition Mount Carmel is understood to have been a place of deep devotion and monastic-style prayer since the time of Elijah. So they built an actual monastery there, and it was dedicated to the the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she was 'Star of the Sea' – the cloud of life that dwells over the sea promising rain and fertility (1 Kings 18:41-45). (Remember that the Mediterranean is seen from Mount Carmel and is a garden of life.) Throughout the monastery’s long history, there were periods of sadness, especially when it fell under Islamic control, becoming a mosque known as El-Maharrakah (the place of burning, referring to Elijah’s challenge to the pagan prophets.) In the 18th century, Napoleon established the location as a hospital, but this was destroyed in 1821. Funds were collected by the Carmelites, by then a worldwide order, and they restored the monastery, which is considered the order's spiritual home.

As time went by, the Carmelite order built monasteries throughout Europe and other parts of the world. It is not unusual for nuns and monks to receive visions from Mary and Jesus. 

Fr. John Malley, O.Carm., writes:
'For Carmelites Our Lady is the perfect model of the life of prayer and contemplation. She primarily points Christians to Jesus, saying to each what she said to the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.” For Carmelites, Mary is a spiritual Mother. The Carmelites believe deeply that God is always present among us. This was the basic insight that Jesus taught in His sharing among the people. God treasures every individual with a personal and everlasting love. In the words of St. John’s Gospel 3: 16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him – might have eternal life.”

'God has first loved us and continues to share that love with us day by day in so many personal ways. God is always with us, caring for us, supporting, and providing for us in all our needs. As the first Carmelites strove to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to follow His example, this fundamental message of the Gospel became paramount.

'Carmelites have this ideal: to seek and search for God, to give and spend time with God (vacare Deo is the traditional Latin phrase), to be with God by their commitment to follow Jesus, and thus “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all you mind.” (Luke 10:27)

'This ideal excites and inspires us still. It opens a horizon that calls, provokes, and challenges us to try to empty ourselves so that we might be filled with the God who created us, guides us, and speaks to us today. (Psalm 94)'

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Holy Catholic Church Railway

Regular readers will remember that I have already made reference to the artist Thomas Noyes-Lewis (1862-1946) HERE and HERE. A staunch Anglo-Catholic, he was for many years a worshipper at my parish church - All Saints’ Benhilton in the south of London - and, indeed, a server at the altar. He was a professional artist, an illustrator of prayer books and children’s books.

I dsicovered another example of his work over at Project Canterbury. He provided the cover illustration (above) for the charming children’s catechetical booklet published by The Faith Press (date unknown), called The Road to Heaven by the Holy Catholic Church Railway. The text was written by R. A. Kingdon, and is Childermote Manual No. 16. Go HERE for the complete text.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Some Eucharistic Devotions

Here are some great traditional language prayers of preparation for Holy Communion, prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion, and traditional prayers of reflection on the Holy Sacrifice.

Before Mass (Bishop Thomas Ken)
Before Mass (William Vickers)
Before Mass ("Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Angels")
Before Mass ("Lord, come to me that thou mayest cleanse me")
Before Mass (". . . incline thy merciful ears to our prayers")
Before Mass ("Cleanse our consciences, we beseech thee O Lord")
Before Mass ("As watchmen look for the morning")
Before Mass (Desiderius Erasmus)
Before Mass (From the Non-Jurors' Liturgy of 1718)
Before Mass ("Like as the hart . . .")
Before Mass (From the Diocese of Bathurst "Red Book")
Before Mass (May this offering avail . . .)
Before Mass (S. Thomas Aquinas)
Before Mass (Bishop Lancelot Andrewes)
Before Mass (Bishop Thomas Ken)
Before Mass (Bishop John Cosin)
Before Mass (Thomas Comber)
Oblation (From the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church)
Uniting Heaven and Earth (Bishop Jeremy Taylor)
Encountering Jesus (Eric Milner-White)
The Holy Sacrifice (William Jervois)
The Holy Sacrifice (Charles Wesley)
Ave verum corpus (Attributed to Pope Innocent VI)
To Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (Favourite medieval prayer of Father John Hope)
Acclamation ("O Sacrament most holy . . .")
The Holy Sacrifice (William Bright)
To Jesus, the Risen Lord (i) (Brian Moore, adapted)
To Jesus, the Risen Lord (ii) (Brian Moore, adapted)
Drawing Near (From the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church)
To Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament
To Jesus, the Lamb of God (Charlotte Elliott)
Act of Spiritual Communion 
(when attending the Eucharist of a Church whose discipline 
does not yet allow us to receive Holy Communion sacramentally)
Gratitude (S. Richard of Chichester)
Communion (From the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church)
To Whom shall we go?
After Communion (Bishop Thomas Ken)
After Mass (Bishop Jeremy Taylor)
After Mass (S. John Henry Newman)
After Mass (S. Basil the Great)
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
To Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
Litany of Christ, our Eucharistic King
Adoration in the Christmas Season
Desiring Jesus (Father Ignatius of Llanthony)
Adoro Te (S. Thomas Aquinas)

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Sunday we've been waiting for - at last!