The Year of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and the Carmelites
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.