One of the greatest and efficacious truths taught to us in our early years of catechism is that of the Presence of God. We were taught that God is everywhere – He is in Heaven and on Earth. He is continually present with us and His eye is ever upon us! No one ever was so mindful of this Presence of God as Mary! We can call upon Her and ask Her to help us to be as mindful of this as She is. Think of a world where everyone was mindful of the Presence of God! It could be an amazing novel – it would be Heaven on Earth! Even if just the entire Catholic Church did this – what a world we would live in!
What a consoling thought for us that wherever we turn, God is always with us! Not only is He in the Heaven above where His Beatific Vision is the joy of the blessed; not only is He here below in the sacred tabernacle, hidden under the lowly appearance of bread, to be the spiritual food of the faithful; He is always with us – forever at our side. He is with us at our rising, calling upon us to dedicate to Him our first thought of the day; He is with us at our work, helping us by His grace to sanctify our labors; He is with us at our going out and coming in, and when we take our rest, He is with us, watching over us. There is no spot, however secluded, where we can hide from His sight; there is no thought of our heart that He does not read, no action that we perform with which He is not familiar with. If God pervades the entire universe with His Presence, if He is ever near, beholding our every thought, our every desire, our every act – shouldn’t we be most careful, like Mary, never to offend His Divine Majesty? Shouldn’t we be most anxious, like Mary, to please Him in all we do and say?
It is most advantageous to a soul to live in imitation of Mary practicing the Presence of God in our hearts, minds and souls. It helps him wonderfully to avoid sin, to practice virtue and to maintain a loving union with his Creator. To walk in the Presence of God consists in this; to recall from time to time the fact that He sees and hears us, that at all times and in all places He is near us; and to make it our habit to raise our heart to Him frequently and to offer fervent little prayers of praise, adoration and thanksgiving such as Mary did (and does) throughout our entire day. Nothing is more efficacious than this to preserve us from sin and to help us to grow in holiness and in union with God. If we practice the Presence of God, we will perform our duties well and faithfully, to act uprightly, to keep ourselves modest and pure, to be regular in our religious exercises, to be most careful in avoiding occasions of sin and to crush self-love which is the deadly foe of virtue.
If in this sublime path we encounter obstacles and hindrances such as conquering human respect, repugnances of nature, persecutions from others, then the thought that God is with us and that He sees us will encourage us to surmount all and to endure all for Him. We will say with David, “The Lord is at my right hand, that I be not moved.” He is with me like a valiant warrior to protect me; my enemies will be put to flight, they will have no strength against me, they will be put to confusion. The victory will be on our side. Many of the saints knew and understood this. This is what gave them courage. Like Mary, let us continually lift our hearts in prayer at all times of the day; when we wake, when we travel, in the car, when we answer the phone (or hang it up), when we open or close a door, when we eat, when we greet others, before we retire to bed. During all of these times we can lift our hearts to God and say something simple but from the heart. “My God – how I love You.” “Sacred Heart of Jesus, may Your Kingdom come.” “Holy Mother Mary, pray for us.” “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” “Jesus, Mary, I love You, save souls.” All of these examples are good but there are many more. If we say them at different times of the day – how they will add up. How they will lift our hearts to God. How we will pray without ceasing! How we will keep His Presence always before us – like Mary!
The greatest reason to practice the Presence of God is to grow closer to Him in order to have the most rewarding moments spent in His True Presence before the Blessed Sacrament. If we find Eucharistic Adoration difficult, practicing the Presence of God throughout our day (it is a habit to be formed) will tremendously help us to be attentive to His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. We will be able to place ourselves before Him in a more efficacious way because of our little darts of love given to Him throughout the day. We will be ready to truly give of ourselves and consequently truly to receive His many graces during this Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. It will be our Heaven before Heaven.
May we Practice the Presence of God in imitation of Mary in order to be true imitators of Mary as true adorers of His Eucharistic Presence during our Hours of Adoration. May we be present to Him as He is present to us.
May Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us!
JESUS GIVES US HIS MOTHER
Why Calvary? Why would Jesus wait to “officially announce” His gift of His Mother at Calvary? Many Catholics would say – Well, He is leaving this earth – it is a good time to give us His Mother – as He departs for Heaven. Like all of Scripture – it is deep and every word, phrase and chapter needs prayer and reflection. At the moment She pronounced her fiat, Mary was already in truth the co-operatrix of Christ in the work of our Redemption, and She would have merited this title even if She had died at the birth of Her Son. It is worthy to note that Jesus was the cause of all of Her sufferings known to us, from the trial occasioned by St. Joseph’s troubled mind at her mysterious maternity to the death on the cross. It was on Calvary especially she suffered in her heart ALL that Jesus suffered in His Body and in His Soul. Many saints and theologians, in their writings, have declared more and more often that God had called Mary to suffer with Her Son on Calvary and thus had enabled Her to collaborate with Him in the work of Redemption. Also, in the writings of some Popes, we read in their texts that it was by God that Mary was called to co-operate with Redemption, namely, the co-operation with Christ the Redeemer and in Her role as the Distributor of all Graces, and they hold the latter as a consequence of the former.
The reparation offered to God by Mary for the sins of Her children is in itself powerless to expiate their sins; but, when united to Christ’s, it adds to the glory of God and induces Him to forgive their offenses. There is more love in each act of reparation offered by Mary than there is malice in all the sins of men. One may wonder why. Mary was sinless and was united in the sufferings of Christ; therefore, Her merits gain favor with God. For Mary, it was an untold consolation to participate, not only in the sufferings of Her Son, but also for the glorification of the Father and the salvation of souls. Christ’s thirst was Her thirst.
Now we can understand “a little” of Mary as our Mother. She is our Spiritual Mother. It was God’s will that the Mother of Christ should be Mother also of His Mystical Body; this spiritual maternity demanded that she co-operate by meriting grace for us. Certainly, She would have already been our Mother, in a certain way, by the mere fact of having given us Christ, our Life; but now She is also known as the Dispenser of all Graces. She would not be our Mother in the supernatural order if Her sufferings were only a suffering of simple compassion like that of St. John and St. Mary Magdalen. Mary gave birth to us at the cross through Her union with Her Son; meaning -Her will was perfectly united to that of Jesus – Her prayers, Her suffering, Her reparation, and Her offering. All from a sinless Divine Mother united to Her Divine Son. How much better do we appreciate Her motherhood because She brought us forth on Calvary amidst the most anguishing of labor pains!! How much stronger is Her ability to distribute to us all graces when we recall that She Herself actively co-operated in meriting them for us, and at what a price! Without this Co-redemption, Mary would not be for us all that She is.
Many miss this understanding of Mary and consequently only manifest a sentimental, intermittent and almost fruitless devotion toward Her. Many are tempted to discredit the true role the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ has. Those who do understand the role that God has confided to His Mother in the work of our redemption, give her an essential place in their lives. The more one meditates upon it, the more one will strive to bring their Queen and Mother into all of their spiritual and apostolic activities and the more proofs they see of Her Divine Intercession. Mary’s role in the mystery of our Redemption is itself certainly a consequence of Her Divine Maternity, but a consequence whose necessity is not clearly seen by many in the Church today. Let us not lose sight of the fact that Jesus Himself gave us this gift of Queen and Mother not only for St. John but for all of us. May we all realize that it is the will of God that we humble ourselves as Jesus did in accepting Her as Mother and may we understand that devotion to Mary is so efficacious only because of the redemptive mission of this Blessed Queen and Mother. Let us be true imitators of Jesus Christ and call Her Mother!
Holy Mary, Mother of God and of His Mystical Body, pray for us.
St. Elijah is an important Feast in Carmel, July 20th – a Prophet used by God to steer people clear of false gods. How we need this Prophet today!
Elijah stood up boldly for God in a time when idolatry had swept his land. In fact, his name means "My God is Yah(weh)."
The false god Elijah opposed was Baal, the favorite deity of Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. To please Jezebel, Ahab had altars erected to Baal, and the queen murdered God's prophets.
Elijah appeared before King Ahab to announce God's curse: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)
Then Elijah fled to the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan River, where ravens brought him bread and meat. When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to live with a widow in Zarephath. God performed another miracle there, blessing the woman's oil and flour so it did not run out. Unexpectedly, the widow's son died. Elijah stretched himself on the boy's body three times, and God restored the child's life.
Confident of the power of God, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel for it to once again rain. The idolaters sacrificed a bull and cried out to Baal from morning until nightfall, even slashing their skin until blood flowed, but nothing happened. Elijah then rebuilt the altar of the Lord, sacrificing a bull there.
He put the burnt offering on it, along with wood. He had a servant douse the sacrifice and wood with four jars of water, three times, until all was thoroughly soaked.
Elijah called on the Lord, and God's fire fell from heaven, consuming the offering, the wood, the altar, the water, and even the dust around it.
The people fell on their faces, shouting, "The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God." (1 Kings 18:39, ) Elijah ordered the people to slay the 850 false prophets.
Elijah prayed, and rain fell on Israel. Jezebel was furious at the loss of her prophets, however, and swore to kill Elijah. This brought on a dark night for him despite all of this success. When Queen Jezebel sent her men to hunt him down for slaughtering most of her false prophets, at the showdown in Mount Carmel, Elijah went into hiding and despair and begged God to take his life (1 King 19:1-4). Instead, the prophet slept, and an angel brought him food. Strengthened, Elijah went 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb, where God appeared to him in a whisper.
Elijah was both a man of prayer and action. He lived in Mount Carmel to savor the delights of deep contemplation and left it only when sent by God to do His bidding. He was a man of no compromise, a man who spoke the truth when it wasn’t popular, a man who allowed himself to be guided by his zeal for the Lord God of Hosts. He was also a man of deep compassion and sensitivities.
God ordered Elijah to anoint his successor, Elisha, whom he found plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. Elisha killed the animals for a sacrifice and followed his master. Elijah went on to prophesy the deaths of Ahab, King Ahaziah, and Jezebel.
Like Enoch, Elijah did not die. God sent chariots and horses of fire and took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, while Elisha stood watching. (2Kings 2: 9-12),
The story of Elijah is always an inspiring one. He is very relevant to us in our modern age. The basic needs of the human heart never really change. The ways of expressing these needs may vary because of culture and time, but the realities of thirst for the supernatural, search for truth, dissatisfaction with the false gods of power, wealth, ambitions and prestige, longing for a deeper respect for human life, the need to call on a power greater than our own, experiences of fear and despair when faced with forces greater than our own, remain the same. Faced as we are in this modern era with materialism, secularism and intellectual atheism, we most often straddle important issues of our day and adopt a “politically correct” and overly simplistic approach to life’s most important questions.
Elijah did not find solutions to his problems by himself but always had recourse to God through prayer. He allowed himself to be filled and guided by God in moments when he sought Him in prayer. He did not weigh the consequences of his actions in the sense of acting only when there was assured victory. He was totally abandoned, docile and trusting that God would finish what he had begun. Even in his dark night of spirit he was docile and humble. He was not afraid to lend a voice to his despair and to acknowledge the fact that he was afraid and inadequate. He desired death because the fight became wearisome. He felt abandoned thinking he was the only one left among the followers of Yahweh. He was ready to give up. Yet, it was through this fear that true courage was born. It was through this emptiness that the cup was filled. It was in this nothingness of man that God was manifested as God.
As a Carmelite, we pray that the spirit of our holy father Saint Elijah be given to us. His double spirit of prayer and action is the hallmark of true Carmelite spirituality. In our age of intellectual rationalizations, the voice of this great prophet is once again heard: How long will we straddle the issue? If we believe in God then we must follow him unreservedly, with docility and courage, and trust. What does this mean? It means not counting the cost, not acting only because of assured success, not worrying too much about the good opinions of others. We accept the fact that we will never understand everything that happens to us despite our greatest and honest efforts. We must trust in God – He alone matters.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel pray for us!
Being a saint for Jesus Christ does not have to be difficult if we know and understand the easy way to Jesus. We know that this easy way is effective because it is so hidden by the enemy who does not want us to grow closer to Jesus. THIS SECRET IS MARY. All who have wanted to enter on the narrow way of perfection, all who are desirous of living true, holy Christian lives, have need of many helps, many assistances; we have much to overcome; we have many hindrances in the way of perfection; we have many stumbling blocks, old habits, predominant passions, selfish inclinations, so very much opposed to the reign of Jesus Christ. It can be overwhelming to walk this narrow way by ourselves. God knew that and therefore He gave us His Mother. She is the Mother of God. She is a model, our guide and our help during this trying time on earth.
This blog will help us grow closer to Her in order to be united with Him. Excerpts from the saints will be given to enlighten us to a deeper devotion to Her so that we may invoke Her aid and draw closer to Her Son.
We will begin with St. Louis deMontfort from his book, “Love of the Eternal Wisdom”.
In it, he states that there are four means of obtaining possession of this wisdom needed to identify ourselves with Christ:
This blog is a gift to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and I beg Her graces and intercession in making this fruitful so that many souls will discover this great secret - The Secret of Mary!
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 41 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 5 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!