The Year of the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ju­bilee of Mercy and the Carmelites

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE - Fr Her­mann Dun­can O.Carm

The Carmelite Or­der around the world re­cently re­ceived a spir­i­tual let­ter from our Prior Gen­eral Fr. Fer­nando Mil­lán Romeral and the Provost Gen­eral of the dis­calced Carmelites, Fr. Save­rio Can­nistrà, on the oc­ca­sion of the Ju­bilee of Mercy. This let­ter en­ti­tled “May God be blessed for­ever, He who waited for me so long!” was sent to all the broth­ers and sis­ters of the fam­ily of Carmel.

The let­ter was writ­ten af­ter the Prior Gen­eral and Provost Gen­eral, ac­com­pa­nied by their Coun­sel­lors and Defin­i­tors, paid a visit to St.Peter’s Basil­ica in the Vat­i­can City, Rome on the 11th of June this year, and crossed the Holy Doors to re­ceive indulgences.

In this let­ter the Vir­gin Mary, to­gether with the Carmelite Church Doc­tors; St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Je­sus and St. Thérèse of the Child Je­sus as well as the Carmelites, St. Mary Mag­da­lene de’ Pazzi who this year is cel­e­brat­ing the 450th an­niver­sary since her birth and Blessed Ti­tus Brandsma are men­tioned. There are many beau­ti­ful points made in the let­ter, ac­knowl­edg­ing that we are un­der the pro­tec­tion of the Mother of Mercy, our sis­ter and Lady, the Vir­gin Mary of Mount Carmel.

The writ­ers start off by re­lat­ing how when they en­tered the Basil­ica of Saint Peter it was as if en­ter­ing a sanc­tu­ary of mercy, to find them­selves sur­rounded by Mercy made flesh, de­sirous of in­ti­mately par­tic­i­pat­ing, like the Vir­gin Mary, in the mys­tery of di­vine love: Je­sus Christ (cf. MV 24).

The let­ter makes us aware of how great God’s mercy is to­wards us. Both Su­pe­rior Gen­er­als re­mind us how we are called to be “pure in heart and stout in con­science to be unswerv­ing in ser­vice of our Master“(St.Al­bert, Rule 2). Fur­ther­more they write that the Vir­gin Mary al­ways helps us to be true dis­ci­ples of the Lord and show mercy to oth­ers. The writ­ers in­vite us to con­tem­plate Christ with the sup­port of the Blessed Vir­gin, to help con­vert to be­ing apos­tles of God, who show­ers on the Carem­lite Or­der, on the Church, and on the world, His great mercy.

The let­ter men­tions the teach­ings of St. Mary Mag­da­lene de Pazzi and how she en­cour­ages us to un­der­stand that mercy is a di­vine at­tribute, syn­ony­mous with peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. For Her all Di­vine Mercy is con­densed in Christ, per­ceiv­able in each one of his ges­tures and words where He is all for­giv­ing. He even for­gives the aban­don­ment by his dis­ci­ples in the Gar­den of Olives when, they fell asleep, and left him alone in the midst of His agony, un­able to ac­com­pany Him even with their prayer.

The let­ter goes on to men­tion how St. John of the Cross al­lows us to deepen into and in­crease our un­der­stand­ing of the per­sonal di­men­sion of Di­vine Mercy, which does not con­sist solely in the Fa­ther turn­ing his eyes away from our de­fects, but through His mercy he makes us grow, lifts us up, and in­vites us to act the same way with oth­ers. Ac­cord­ing to to St. John of the Cross, God wants to be ours, to give Him­self to us. St. Thérèse of the Child Je­sus also un­der­stood God’s mercy in this way, and this be­came a fact of her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, where she said “This is the mys­tery of my vo­ca­tion, my whole life“. In Her Last Con­ver­a­tions she says “He is the hen who wants to mer­ci­fully gather her young un­der her wings the world does not un­der­stand his ten­der­ness; it re­jects it”, which is why she threw her­self into the arms of the mer­ci­ful Fa­ther of­fer­ing her­self as a vic­tim.

For the blessed Ti­tus Brans­dma the ex­pe­ri­ence of God is not the priv­i­lege of a spir­i­tual elite. Ev­ery­one is called to en­joy the com­mu­nion and in­ti­mate union with the mer­ci­ful God. Dur­ing his life he pro­vided the great­est ex­am­ple of unity with God, when in the con­cen­tra­tion camp in Dachau, he suf­fered tribu­la­tions and hu­mil­i­a­tions, and at the end of his life, he im­i­tated mer­ci­ful Je­sus who from the cross for­gave His en­e­mies. Ti­tus was the coun­te­nance of mercy even for the nurse who fin­ished off his life, as she her­self con­fessed years later in her se­cret dec­la­ra­tion, giv­ing her his rosary be­fore dy­ing.

Saint Teresa of Je­sus de­scribes in her writ­ing the mys­tery of the to­tal gift of God to man. She rec­om­mends that to­gether with her, we pro­claim how good and great the Lord is.

The let­ter ends with the Su­pe­rior Gen­er­als re­quest­ing the in­ter­ces­sion of our Sis­ter, the Blessed Vir­gin of Mount Carmel, of her Spouse Saint Joseph, and our Fa­ther and Lord, that the heart of the fam­ily of Carmel con­tin­ues burn­ing with the fire of knowl­edge and love for Je­sus Christ. It is truly a let­ter which fills us with courage and helps us bet­ter un­der­stand God’s in­fi­nite mercy.

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