Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
© 2024 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210   CRA No. 20010720 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara
Wednesday 17th January 2024 The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity We have come a long way since the Octave of Christian Unity was first introduced in 1908. Father Paul Wattson who was born in Maryland, U.S.A. in 1863 was the one who suggested this title, which remained in force until 1963 when it was officially changed to the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian unity’. Fr. Paul was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1886. In 1898, in collaboration with an Episcopal sister, Lurana White, he helped to found the Society of the Atonement, known as the Graymoor Franciscans. From the beginning they were committed to promoting Christian unity. Although they were established as an Anglican order, they became Roman Catholic in 1909. The Octave is kept every year, beginning on January 18th and closing on January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, though Christians in the Southern Hemisphere, more often keep it between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost. In January 1964 Pope St. Paul VI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople met, and embraced, in Jerusalem and in 1965 they lifted the mutual excommunications their churches had imposed in 1054. Pope Francis marked the anniversary of this momentous reconciliation after his Angelus address on January 6th this year (2024) when he told the crowd in St. Peter's Square that the two leaders had ‘broken down a wall of incommunicability that had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart for centuries’. He went on to say ‘Let us learn from the embrace of those two great men of the church on the path to Christian unity: praying together, walking together and working together.’ Some of the highlights in Vatican ecumenical relations over the past year include: Pope Francis' ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan on February 3rd 2023, with Anglican Archbishop Welby and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Church of Scotland; The Vatican visit of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, Egypt; and Pope Francis' announcement that he added the 21 Coptic martyrs murdered by Islamic State terrorists in 2015 to the Roman Martyrology, the list of saints' feast days; and finally, the ecumenical prayer vigil that preceded the opening of the Synod of Bishops on synodality. We give thanks that in recent years participation in ecumenical dialogue and shared worship, has changed the outlook of many people towards other churches. Clergy fraternals, ecumenical prayer groups, Lent courses and study groups have become so usual that it can become easy to forget that we are still on a journey towards full unity, but it is something we should always bear in mind. Each year Christians in different countries choose a theme and prepare the prayers and reflections for the ‘Week of Prayer for Cristian Unity’. This year they have been prepared by an ecumenical group of Christians in Burkina Faso and they focus on the theme, "You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself". There has been a serious security crisis in Burkina Faso since 2016 and Christians have been targeted in jihadist terrorist attacks, forcing hundreds of churches to close. Yet, the situation has prompted Christian communities not only to pray for peace, but to work together to care for people displaced by the fighting and to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 10th January 2024 The Wonder of a Call Yes the call of God is a wonderous thing. There is no explanation for it other than the love which God bears for the person He calls. This marvellous love is absolutely free, personal and unique. These days in the gospel we hear Jesus saying to his disciples “ follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” St. John of the Cross loved to say, “ if a person is seeking God, the Beloved is seeking that person much more”. Yes it is God who calls, sends, and who enables the person to bear fruit for the Kingdom. You did not choose me, no I chose you and commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last. These early days of the span New Year 2024 we are rejoicing that Shauna has entered our Kilmacud Carmel in response to the call of God. In the words of St. Teresa, she is venturing her life in order to love Jesus and to make Him loved: to be “love in the heart of the Church”. St. Teresa liked to tell each new person entering that she is a foundation stone for those will come after her and that the Order of the Virgin, Our Lady of Mount Carmel begins again with her. That inspires and puts courage into the person entering. I remember a little girl of five asking me if I started as a little small nun first and then grew into a big one! Her second question followed “was your mother an old nun down in the Convent?” I can still see her little intent face trying to figure it out. She listened with great attention as I explained that I was just like her, a little girl at home with a mammy and daddy and sisters and a brother and went to school like her. That I learnt about God how He loved all his children and wanted them to be happy and good. The wish grew in me to know and love God more. It was when I was 19 that I said yes to the call of God. We thank all who have prayed for the gift of new vocations to our Carmel. Please continue to pray for Shauna and for us too that we will be the good soil in which her vocation can grow. BACK TO TOP Monday 1st January 2024 For all that has been… “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!” (Dag Hammarskjold) The above quote by Dag Hammarskjold never loses its power. It is also very apt at the beginning of a NEW YEAR. Dag Hammarskjold was a man who was an inspiration to our world and whose influence continues through his writings. He was Secretary General of the United Nations and worked tirelessly for PEACE. He was also a spiritual man and all he did was guided by his inner compass. He encouraged prayer and silent meditation while faithfully carrying out his duties. He endeavoured to work for peace in conflicted areas of the world. Pope Francis in his Christmas message to the world (Urbi et Orbi)speaks out strongly as he prays and pleads for PEACE. He has this to say ‘if we say “yes” to the Prince of Peace, then, that means saying “no” to war; to every war and to do so with courage, “no” to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly.’ And he continues ‘to say “no” to war means saying “no” to weaponry. The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them. And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise?’ Peace is the fruit of relationships that recognize and welcome others in their inalienable dignity and right to life. As we begin a new year we renew our desire to pray and work for peace. Peace with ourselves, peace in our hearts and peace in our world. A Blessed New Year to you and your families from the Sisters at St. Joseph’s Monastery Kilmacud A Prayer for the Year By Pope Francis All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this Earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the Earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen. BACK TO TOP Saturday 30th December 2023 Amazed "Only wonder knows...” (St. Gregory of Nyssa) Naples is well known for its crib-statues. Among the others there is one particularly interesting. It is called ‘Enchanted Shepherd’, or ‘Amazed’. It represents an empty-handed child with open arms, while its countenance radiates wonder. It recalls a legend: One day the little statues started scolding ‘Amazed’ because he was not bringing any gift to Baby Jesus. “Shame on you”, they said, “are you going to visit Jesus without offering him anything?” Amazed would not answer a word. He was totally captured by little Jesus. The rebukes grew louder and louder. At that point Mary took his defence. “Amazed is not empty-handed. Don’t you see, he is giving Jesus his wonder, his amazement? God’s love, incarnate in the tiny little child, enchants him”. When all understood, Mary concluded: “the world will be marvellous when people will be capable of wonder, like ‘Amazed’. Do you realise? For the love of us, God became man, so that we may become divine.” Pope Francis obviously knows this wonder as he asks the question: “Why does the Christmas Nativity scene rouse such wonder and move us so deeply”? “Because”, he says, “it shows God’s tender love; the creator of the universe lowers himself to take up our littleness”. St. Therese too was caught up in this wonder: “I could never be afraid of a God who made himself so small for love of me...I love him... he is all love and mercy”. Before these days of Christmastide slip by, may our hearts too be captured by that wonder as we gaze in amazement at our God who has become a tiny infant of love and mercy, for you, for me... BACK TO TOP Saturday 23rd December 2023 Waiting Do you like waiting? I am guessing that most of us do not! Whether it is waiting for a bus that is late, or waiting in the supermarket queue, it is usually difficult for us humans to wait. We constantly plan and anticipate the future and so the uncertainty of having to wait makes us uncomfortable. The rock band Queen have a song with the lyrics: “I want it all, and I want it now!” This epitomises our modern culture! We want an instant reply to our text messages, or when we ring a doorbell, we expect it to be answered immediately. We really do not like having to wait! In my life, I have learned some good lessons about the importance of waiting. Once I was in an international group who were participating in the Mass with Pope John Paul II in Toronto, Canada. Each of us would have a particular role in the liturgy, and the leaders would not tell us what our role was until the day before, so for a week of events we had to wait and wonder. They reminded us constantly: “participate, don’t anticipate”. It was a good lesson that I never forgot. We can participate in the present moment and live life much more fully than if we constantly anticipate the future. I had an elderly grandaunt who was severely disabled. When I called to visit her and rang the doorbell, it took a long time for her to struggle out of her chair, take her walking aid and slowly move step by step to the front door. For security she often had double locks on the door, and I had to wait patiently there until she got the door opened and welcomed me inside. She told me that often many people went away before she could get to answer the door and she always thanked me for waiting. Some waiting is joyful, like waiting for the birth of a much-wanted child or waiting for the return home of a loved one. When we find ourselves in joyful waiting, why not just savour the experience of the joy instead of wanting the outcome immediately? Other times, our waiting is anxious and stressful, such as waiting for news of a medical test or prognosis on the illness of a loved one. In these times, we need the support of others in our waiting. This is why I chose the image of four Sisters with candles to accompany this reflection. In dark times of waiting, like the faithful Jewish people who waited centuries of oppression and suffering for the coming of the Messiah, our strength will be found in the community of support around us. St Paul wrote to the Romans: “…hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Rom 8:24-25). Patience is one of the key virtues of a Christian, and it is a beautiful virtue. Isn’t it true that we cannot learn patience unless we are in situations where we need to be patient? So in our waiting, instead of feeling frustration perhaps we can see it as a learning experience to better ourselves? Mary teaches us to be patient during these Advent days. We cannot hurry God’s plan. Let us make good use of these last days of waiting for the birth of Jesus. Whatever type of waiting we experience – whether it is joyful or anxious – let us remember that the One who is born on Christmas night is called Emmanuel – “God-with-us” – and he is with us at every moment of whatever the future holds! BACK TO TOP Thursday 14th December 2023 John and Teresa This week we celebrate the Feast of St. John of the Cross. Among other things he was a great friend and helper of St. Teresa of Avila. John first met Teresa at Medina del Campo shortly after she had made the foundation of St. Joseph’s, her first Discalced Carmelite Monastery. She was in Medina del Campo trying to negotiate the foundation of another monastery for the discalced nuns but she had also obtained permission make two foundations for discalced friars. John was a newly ordained Carmelite and he had gone to Medina to celebrate his first Mass, but he was unsettled and thinking of transferring to the Carthusian Order so that he could have more solitude and silence. Teresa was fifty-two and John was twenty-five when they first met, but they recognised an affinity between them and John shared his longing for a more contemplative life with her. Teresa assured him that if he would join her reform he would be able to have more solitude and silence without leaving Carmel. Soon afterwards Teresa was given a small farmhouse at Duruelo which she planned to use for the first friars. She was rather distressed at the bad state of it but John went there to work on it so that it could be lived in. Fr. Antonio soon joined him there and the first Discalced Carmelite Friars were founded. Some years later Teresa was made to take on the role of prioress at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. This was where she had lived before beginning her reform, and the nuns did not want her because they were afraid she would want to make them part of her reform movement. Teresa did not want to impose her reform on the community, but she did want to correct abuses and restore community life. To do this she needed help and support and she could think of no better person to give it than John of the Cross. Very soon John and another friar moved into one of the houses used for workmen in the grounds of the monastery. Teresa had such a high regard for John that she told the nuns she was giving them a saint for their confessor. Under John’s guidance they deepened their spiritual lives as he spent many hours talking them and encouraging them. He listened to them intently and became aware of their various needs. John showed exceptional care for the sick sisters and sent special dishes he was given to the infirmary for whoever was in greatest need of cheer and nourishment. Without becoming Discalced Carmelites the nuns at the Incarnation became a transformed community. While he was at Avila John’s own prayer deepened and he became intensely aware of God’s continual presence in the beauty of the countryside as well as in his own soul. He began to write a little poetry and to carve simple crucifixes. Always patient and understanding with people John was a great favourite both with the nuns and with the townspeople. He got to know the children of workmen;they were poor, just like he had been as a child. As well as teaching them catechism he taught then the basics of reading and writing, knowing that this would help them in later life. BACK TO TOP Thursday 7th December 2023 God’s dream for us On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food. On this mountain the Lord will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples. He will destroy death forever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek: He will take away His people’s shame everywhere on earth. That day it will be said: see this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation. Isaiah 25. In this passage don’t we catch a glimpse of God’s dream for the world. He dreams that we will be His family on earth, caring for each other, sharing with each other, weeping for each other. Jesus came to show us what this family of God would look like - where no one would go hungry or thirsty or naked or sick or be in prison with no one to visit them. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us and He will never leave us. Not only is He with us but He is in each of us so His kingdom of love and goodness can grow through you and me and everyone. When we do good, His love is shining out of your eyes and mine. Advent is a great time to let the dream of God warm our hearts and fill us with hope even in the midst of our war-torn world where men, women and children suffer so grievously. Let us listen to St. Paul who encourages us not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good. God’s love and goodness in the heart of His children is unstoppable though it never hits the headlines. So let us cry out this Advent - O Emmanuel stay with us forever. Live and love through us and let God’s dream for his family be fulfilled. BACK TO TOP Thursday 30th November 2023 The Journey through November We come to the end of the month in which we remember our beloved dead. This year it was very real for us as we journeyed with our sister during her final days on earth. Sr. Majella completed her particular journey and passed from this world on 18th November. The month was full of anniversaries for her – her entrance into Carmelite life, her Solemn Profession and her birthday. The latter she celebrated in heaven. As we watched and waited with Sr. Majella on the final days of her life many questions were running through my head and I am sure different questions for each of us. The rhythm of life seemed to slow down as the focus of our attention was on that awesome journey that Majella was making. Yes, we prayed but then fell silent. The nurses and health care assistants made her as comfortable as possible. We reassured her that we were with her and would not leave her. Sr. Majella would have been aware of the words of Pope Benedict when he spoke about the final encounter with Christ ‘This encounter transforms and frees us allowing us to become truly ourselves. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us. At the moment of encounter, we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. Grace allows us all to hope and to go trustfully to meet our God whom we know as our advocate.’ This great LOVE is reaching out tenderly to all of us no matter how weak or poor we may feel. Let us go trustfully to meet God in our daily life which will carry us through into eternal life. May Sr. Majella and all our saints, small and great, intercede for us. May she rest in eternal peace. BACK TO TOP Friday 17th November 2023 Shine your Light In recent weeks here in Kilmacud Carmel, we have been gradually replacing old power-hungry light bulbs with new lower-energy LED bulbs. Many people we know are doing the same. It is part of our attempt towards sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. We hope that our efforts will have an impact, albeit small, towards protecting our world, our “common home”. This week on the feast of All Carmelite Saints, our chaplain told us of the story of a little boy who was asked “what is a saint?” and his reply, inspired by the stained-glass windows in the church was: “someone who lets the light shine through them”. We know that the Gospel exhorts us Christians to let our light shine in the world and not to hide it under a bushel and this message has been the inspiration towards many songs. One popular children’s song goes: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… let it shine….” We all know ordinary people – not canonised by the Church – who were and are shining lights in the world to those around them. We all strive to be the same. Just as at this dark time of year people decorate their homes and shops with coloured lights, our dark world needs the bright lights of you and me and all those who strive to be saints in their own little way. The most popular of the Carmelite Saints, Thérèse of Lisieux, was certainly a shining light in her community as she practiced her “Little Way” of love and care towards all those around her. She also had an interest in the modern technology of her day (she was fascinated with the recently invented elevator!). She would probably be fascinated by the new LED bulbs which do not use as much energy but give brighter light. When we are trying to shine our light and practice the “Little Way”, we could perhaps think of an LED bulb with the letters standing for “Love Everyone Dearly”. Just like Thérèse, we can shine our light brightly with even small amounts of energy! Graphic image: https://whipperberry.com/let-your-light-so-shine-before-men-lds/ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 8th November 2023 Elizabeth of the Trinity On November 8, we celebrate the Feast of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity who was a Carmelite nun at Dijon in France. Born Elizabeth Catez in 1880, she had one younger sister Marguerite, known as Guite. When the little girls were aged 4 and 7 their father died suddenly, as the result of a heart attack, and some time afterwards their mother enrolled them both in the Dijon Conservatoire to study music. Elizabeth began her studies there when she was 8. If God had not called her to Carmel she might well have been a celebrated concert pianist. When she was thirteen she won first prize for her playing, having already won first prize for theory of music. The following year she won the much coveted Prize of Excellence for piano, but already her heart was set on God. Elizabeth had a natural capacity for contemplative prayer. Long before she entered Carmel she had an intense awareness that she was living in God’s presence. Elizabeth’s deep prayer animated her and she became actively involved in various works in her parish. She taught catechism and ran a club for the children of workers in a tobacco factory; she visited the sick and of course, as a musician, she sang in the parish choir. Elizabeth took part in all the usual activities common to girls of her age at that time. She dressed in the latest fashions, enjoyed dances and loved walking in the country, where she deeply appreciated the beauty of creation. She had a great gift for friendship and was popular with her peers, but in everything God was at the centre. She said that when she played the piano she forgot all about the audience and played only for him. On August 2nd 1901 Elizabeth entered Carmel she was full of joy; she found God everywhere, in her work as well as at prayer. She loved the silence of her cell where she liked to ponder the scriptures, discerning what God was saying to her. She gradually found her vocation to be a Praise of his Glory, a phrase she discovered when reading Ephesians. It was also from her study of scripture that Elizabeth’s gained deep insights into the mystery of the Trinity. She was extraordinarily aware of the indwelling of the Trinity in her soul and often referred to the Divine Persons as My Three. Elizabeth died of Addison’s Disease on November 9th 1906 at the age of 26, saying, ‘I am going to Light, to Love, to Life’. BACK TO TOP Friday 3rd November 2023 My mission - your mission My mother often told me as a child that we are each born with a mission. You have something to do for God that only you can do. No one else can fill your space. She was a wise deep little woman and how right she was comes home to me when I hear St. Teresa speaking of the dignity and beauty of every single person made in the image and likeness of God. He dwells within us. If only we could grasp how precious each of us is in His sight – with what tenderness He bends over each one of us. St. John Henry Newman had a sense of it in his beautiful prayer. The mission of my life. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore , I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness will serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. If I am in sorrow , my sorrow, may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about. Dear Reader let God’s Living Word from the liturgy confirm you in your mission: Think of the love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children… BACK TO TOP Friday 27th October 2023 Our journey through November Next week we begin a month to remember the Holy Souls. November can be a bleak month with dark misty days and cooler challenging weather. But the first day of the month begins with All Saints Day. It sets a positive tone to the month. The Church is saying to us as we remember our beloved dead; we are all included in the feast of All Saints. The Holy Souls are in God’s Presence, already in the embrace of God. It is nice to have a month to remember the un-named saints. The little saints rather than the well known bigger Saints. We all know people we have lived with, people who did not consider themselves saints but were good, compassionate and always ready to listen to others. And there are saints we would be surprised to learn that they are included! They may not have belonged to any particular Church or Religion but they were compassionate, honest, searchers of the Truth. Take some time over the next few weeks and during the month to remember these people. If we have unresolved issues with people who have already passed into Eternal Life, it is never too late to be reconciled. In the Church we talk about the mystical body of Christ and it is a beautiful image. The Good News is we all have a place at the table. As we remember our saints and the holy souls we not only pray for them but with them and ask them to help us until we meet again. Come to think of it November has its own natural beauty and softness as we journey into winter and onward toward new life. The following may seem irrelevant. It is the conclusion of a poem Aos Óg by Padraig Daly. In it he is reflects on city life as he gazes out from his window in Dublin city. He sees the young people full of life and love but perhaps unaware of where it all comes from. ‘They are happy as we ever were They do not ask the why of the stars: This world and its circumstances suffices them. They do not think of death or sin, They harm no one knowingly. Little they know, Walking in light down city promenades, Answering phones, distracted by gadgets, Smothering out transcendence. That they and all their artefacts And all the earth and all the fiery stars Are plunged in God.” BACK TO TOP Tuesday 17th October 2023 75 Years on the Carmelite Road “E.M.S. is not what you think” is the title of a book by my nephew in the States sharing his exciting experiences as a paramedic in E.M.S. (Emergency Medical Services). Carmelite life is not what you might think, about “strict fasting and hard corporal penances”! On my final visit to Kilmacud Carmel before entering, the novice mistress advised me, as a preparation for the Carmelite life, to make “little acts of self-denial” – what my mother in her native tongue along with St Therese would call “petites sacrifices”. It was simple advice, and wise too! As a novice, my mother gave me a present of a Bible (trans. Ronald Knox). Two powerful passages have really sustained me all down the years. “It is I, the Lord your God, who hold you by the hand and whisper to you: ‘do not be afraid for I am here to help you’ “ (Is.41:13). “As the Father loves me, I love you. Remain in my love.” (John 15:9) I witnessed the election of several Prioresses. Great characters with different personalities, but all were blessed with genuine prudence and wonderful kindness. I had a novice companion who had a great sense of humour, full of fun and pranks! I owe her a lot. By just being herself she kept me afloat when I was at a low ebb. Prayer, a loving relationship with the Lord, and the petite sacrifices that crop up in many ways every day prove priceless. St Therese believed that “the smallest actions done with love win the heart of Jesus more than brilliant deeds”. So, to “put your whole self in” to prayer and sacrifice and to live by love in his presence. That’s what it’s all about! BACK TO TOP Thursday 12th October 2023 Letting Go It is the season of letting go. Trees are letting go leaves, and animals are preparing for winter. Recently I have noticed how many ways we can experience loss. On a large scale, we see reports of wars causing widespread destruction of human life and property and we hear of people forced to leave their homes with few belongings. We learn of the deaths of people closer to home, our own or loved ones of people we know. There is loss associated with ageing, reduced mobility or energy levels. There are also smaller daily losses when life interrupts our well-set plans and schedules. All these losses cause s greater or lesser amount of stress and grief that we need to work through and move on from. Letting go is indeed painful and difficult. Years ago, a wise person gave me some great advice for times of grief and loss. He said that because we are physical beings, it can be very helpful to create a personalised and practical ritual of letting go that is specific to the experience we are going through. Our personal ritual should be something that comes from within us, as an expression of our thoughts and emotions about the loss we are going through. I have found this advice most helpful at times in my life and I have found that being creative around the experience helps to bring about a closure and inner peace. Indeed, the Irish custom of “wakes” after the death of a person is an example of communal ritual that gives a sense of “letting go” to the community. Nature teaches us to be not afraid of “letting go” as it is part of the cycle of the seasons. Our Carmelite Saint Therese of Lisieux talks about having “empty hands” before God, because it is only then that we can receive something new. This attitude is one that brings hope and healing. May we live with expectation of something new and beautiful after every “letting go” experience that we have in life. Lord, make me brave Let me strengthen after pain as a tree strengthens after rain Shining and lovely again. Lord, make me brave As the blown grass lifts, let me rise from sorrow with quiet eyes, Knowing Your way is wise. Lord, make me brave Life brings such blinding things. Help me to keep my sight; help me to see aright That out of doubt comes light. -Author unknown Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP
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St. Joseph’s Carmel
© 2023 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210CRA No. 20010720 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
Wednesday 17th January 2024 The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity We have come a long way since the Octave of Christian Unity was first introduced in 1908. Father Paul Wattson who was born in Maryland, U.S.A. in 1863 was the one who suggested this title, which remained in force until 1963 when it was officially changed to the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian unity’. Fr. Paul was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1886. In 1898, in collaboration with an Episcopal sister, Lurana White, he helped to found the Society of the Atonement, known as the Graymoor Franciscans. From the beginning they were committed to promoting Christian unity. Although they were established as an Anglican order, they became Roman Catholic in 1909. The Octave is kept every year, beginning on January 18th and closing on January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, though Christians in the Southern Hemisphere, more often keep it between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost. In January 1964 Pope St. Paul VI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople met, and embraced, in Jerusalem and in 1965 they lifted the mutual excommunications their churches had imposed in 1054. Pope Francis marked the anniversary of this momentous reconciliation after his Angelus address on January 6th this year (2024) when he told the crowd in St. Peter's Square that the two leaders had ‘broken down a wall of incommunicability that had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart for centuries’. He went on to say ‘Let us learn from the embrace of those two great men of the church on the path to Christian unity: praying together, walking together and working together.’ Some of the highlights in Vatican ecumenical relations over the past year include: Pope Francis' ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan on February 3rd 2023, with Anglican Archbishop Welby and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Church of Scotland; The Vatican visit of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, Egypt; and Pope Francis' announcement that he added the 21 Coptic martyrs murdered by Islamic State terrorists in 2015 to the Roman Martyrology, the list of saints' feast days; and finally, the ecumenical prayer vigil that preceded the opening of the Synod of Bishops on synodality. We give thanks that in recent years participation in ecumenical dialogue and shared worship, has changed the outlook of many people towards other churches. Clergy fraternals, ecumenical prayer groups, Lent courses and study groups have become so usual that it can become easy to forget that we are still on a journey towards full unity, but it is something we should always bear in mind. Each year Christians in different countries choose a theme and prepare the prayers and reflections for the ‘Week of Prayer for Cristian Unity’. This year they have been prepared by an ecumenical group of Christians in Burkina Faso and they focus on the theme, "You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself". There has been a serious security crisis in Burkina Faso since 2016 and Christians have been targeted in jihadist terrorist attacks, forcing hundreds of churches to close. Yet, the situation has prompted Christian communities not only to pray for peace, but to work together to care for people displaced by the fighting and to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 10th January 2024 The Wonder of a Call Yes the call of God is a wonderous thing. There is no explanation for it other than the love which God bears for the person He calls. This marvellous love is absolutely free, personal and unique. These days in the gospel we hear Jesus saying to his disciples “ follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” St. John of the Cross loved to say, “ if a person is seeking God, the Beloved is seeking that person much more”. Yes it is God who calls, sends, and who enables the person to bear fruit for the Kingdom. You did not choose me, no I chose you and commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last. These early days of the span New Year 2024 we are rejoicing that Shauna has entered our Kilmacud Carmel in response to the call of God. In the words of St. Teresa, she is venturing her life in order to love Jesus and to make Him loved: to be “love in the heart of the Church”. St. Teresa liked to tell each new person entering that she is a foundation stone for those will come after her and that the Order of the Virgin, Our Lady of Mount Carmel begins again with her. That inspires and puts courage into the person entering. I remember a little girl of five asking me if I started as a little small nun first and then grew into a big one! Her second question followed “was your mother an old nun down in the Convent?” I can still see her little intent face trying to figure it out. She listened with great attention as I explained that I was just like her, a little girl at home with a mammy and daddy and sisters and a brother and went to school like her. That I learnt about God how He loved all his children and wanted them to be happy and good. The wish grew in me to know and love God more. It was when I was 19 that I said yes to the call of God. We thank all who have prayed for the gift of new vocations to our Carmel. Please continue to pray for Shauna and for us too that we will be the good soil in which her vocation can grow. BACK TO TOP Monday 1st January 2024 For all that has been… “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!” (Dag Hammarskjold) The above quote by Dag Hammarskjold never loses its power. It is also very apt at the beginning of a NEW YEAR. Dag Hammarskjold was a man who was an inspiration to our world and whose influence continues through his writings. He was Secretary General of the United Nations and worked tirelessly for PEACE. He was also a spiritual man and all he did was guided by his inner compass. He encouraged prayer and silent meditation while faithfully carrying out his duties. He endeavoured to work for peace in conflicted areas of the world. Pope Francis in his Christmas message to the world (Urbi et Orbi)speaks out strongly as he prays and pleads for PEACE. He has this to say ‘if we say “yes” to the Prince of Peace, then, that means saying “no” to war; to every war and to do so with courage, “no” to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly.’ And he continues ‘to say “no” to war means saying “no” to weaponry. The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them. And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise?’ Peace is the fruit of relationships that recognize and welcome others in their inalienable dignity and right to life. As we begin a new year we renew our desire to pray and work for peace. Peace with ourselves, peace in our hearts and peace in our world. A Blessed New Year to you and your families from the Sisters at St. Joseph’s Monastery Kilmacud A Prayer for the Year By Pope Francis All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this Earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the Earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen. BACK TO TOP Saturday 30th December 2023 Amazed "Only wonder knows...” (St. Gregory of Nyssa) Naples is well known for its crib- statues. Among the others there is one particularly interesting. It is called ‘Enchanted Shepherd’, or ‘Amazed’. It represents an empty-handed child with open arms, while its countenance radiates wonder. It recalls a legend: One day the little statues started scolding ‘Amazed’ because he was not bringing any gift to Baby Jesus. “Shame on you”, they said, “are you going to visit Jesus without offering him anything?” Amazed would not answer a word. He was totally captured by little Jesus. The rebukes grew louder and louder. At that point Mary took his defence. “Amazed is not empty-handed. Don’t you see, he is giving Jesus his wonder, his amazement? God’s love, incarnate in the tiny little child, enchants him”. When all understood, Mary concluded: “the world will be marvellous when people will be capable of wonder, like ‘Amazed’. Do you realise? For the love of us, God became man, so that we may become divine.” Pope Francis obviously knows this wonder as he asks the question: “Why does the Christmas Nativity scene rouse such wonder and move us so deeply”? “Because”, he says, “it shows God’s tender love; the creator of the universe lowers himself to take up our littleness”. St. Therese too was caught up in this wonder: “I could never be afraid of a God who made himself so small for love of me...I love him... he is all love and mercy”. Before these days of Christmastide slip by, may our hearts too be captured by that wonder as we gaze in amazement at our God who has become a tiny infant of love and mercy, for you, for me... BACK TO TOP Saturday 23rd December 2023 Waiting Do you like waiting? I am guessing that most of us do not! Whether it is waiting for a bus that is late, or waiting in the supermarket queue, it is usually difficult for us humans to wait. We constantly plan and anticipate the future and so the uncertainty of having to wait makes us uncomfortable. The rock band Queen have a song with the lyrics: “I want it all, and I want it now!” This epitomises our modern culture! We want an instant reply to our text messages, or when we ring a doorbell, we expect it to be answered immediately. We really do not like having to wait! In my life, I have learned some good lessons about the importance of waiting. Once I was in an international group who were participating in the Mass with Pope John Paul II in Toronto, Canada. Each of us would have a particular role in the liturgy, and the leaders would not tell us what our role was until the day before, so for a week of events we had to wait and wonder. They reminded us constantly: “participate, don’t anticipate”. It was a good lesson that I never forgot. We can participate in the present moment and live life much more fully than if we constantly anticipate the future. I had an elderly grandaunt who was severely disabled. When I called to visit her and rang the doorbell, it took a long time for her to struggle out of her chair, take her walking aid and slowly move step by step to the front door. For security she often had double locks on the door, and I had to wait patiently there until she got the door opened and welcomed me inside. She told me that often many people went away before she could get to answer the door and she always thanked me for waiting. Some waiting is joyful, like waiting for the birth of a much- wanted child or waiting for the return home of a loved one. When we find ourselves in joyful waiting, why not just savour the experience of the joy instead of wanting the outcome immediately? Other times, our waiting is anxious and stressful, such as waiting for news of a medical test or prognosis on the illness of a loved one. In these times, we need the support of others in our waiting. This is why I chose the image of four Sisters with candles to accompany this reflection. In dark times of waiting, like the faithful Jewish people who waited centuries of oppression and suffering for the coming of the Messiah, our strength will be found in the community of support around us. St Paul wrote to the Romans: “…hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Rom 8:24-25). Patience is one of the key virtues of a Christian, and it is a beautiful virtue. Isn’t it true that we cannot learn patience unless we are in situations where we need to be patient? So in our waiting, instead of feeling frustration perhaps we can see it as a learning experience to better ourselves? Mary teaches us to be patient during these Advent days. We cannot hurry God’s plan. Let us make good use of these last days of waiting for the birth of Jesus. Whatever type of waiting we experience – whether it is joyful or anxious – let us remember that the One who is born on Christmas night is called Emmanuel – “God-with-us” – and he is with us at every moment of whatever the future holds! BACK TO TOP Thursday 14th December 2023 John and Teresa This week we celebrate the Feast of St. John of the Cross. Among other things he was a great friend and helper of St. Teresa of Avila. John first met Teresa at Medina del Campo shortly after she had made the foundation of St. Joseph’s, her first Discalced Carmelite Monastery. She was in Medina del Campo trying to negotiate the foundation of another monastery for the discalced nuns but she had also obtained permission make two foundations for discalced friars. John was a newly ordained Carmelite and he had gone to Medina to celebrate his first Mass, but he was unsettled and thinking of transferring to the Carthusian Order so that he could have more solitude and silence. Teresa was fifty-two and John was twenty-five when they first met, but they recognised an affinity between them and John shared his longing for a more contemplative life with her. Teresa assured him that if he would join her reform he would be able to have more solitude and silence without leaving Carmel. Soon afterwards Teresa was given a small farmhouse at Duruelo which she planned to use for the first friars. She was rather distressed at the bad state of it but John went there to work on it so that it could be lived in. Fr. Antonio soon joined him there and the first Discalced Carmelite Friars were founded. Some years later Teresa was made to take on the role of prioress at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. This was where she had lived before beginning her reform, and the nuns did not want her because they were afraid she would want to make them part of her reform movement. Teresa did not want to impose her reform on the community, but she did want to correct abuses and restore community life. To do this she needed help and support and she could think of no better person to give it than John of the Cross. Very soon John and another friar moved into one of the houses used for workmen in the grounds of the monastery. Teresa had such a high regard for John that she told the nuns she was giving them a saint for their confessor. Under John’s guidance they deepened their spiritual lives as he spent many hours talking them and encouraging them. He listened to them intently and became aware of their various needs. John showed exceptional care for the sick sisters and sent special dishes he was given to the infirmary for whoever was in greatest need of cheer and nourishment. Without becoming Discalced Carmelites the nuns at the Incarnation became a transformed community. While he was at Avila John’s own prayer deepened and he became intensely aware of God’s continual presence in the beauty of the countryside as well as in his own soul. He began to write a little poetry and to carve simple crucifixes. Always patient and understanding with people John was a great favourite both with the nuns and with the townspeople. He got to know the children of workmen;they were poor, just like he had been as a child. As well as teaching them catechism he taught then the basics of reading and writing, knowing that this would help them in later life. BACK TO TOP Thursday 7th December 2023 God’s dream for us On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food. On this mountain the Lord will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples. He will destroy death forever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek: He will take away His people’s shame everywhere on earth. That day it will be said: see this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation. Isaiah 25. In this passage don’t we catch a glimpse of God’s dream for the world. He dreams that we will be His family on earth, caring for each other, sharing with each other, weeping for each other. Jesus came to show us what this family of God would look like - where no one would go hungry or thirsty or naked or sick or be in prison with no one to visit them. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us and He will never leave us. Not only is He with us but He is in each of us so His kingdom of love and goodness can grow through you and me and everyone. When we do good, His love is shining out of your eyes and mine. Advent is a great time to let the dream of God warm our hearts and fill us with hope even in the midst of our war-torn world where men, women and children suffer so grievously. Let us listen to St. Paul who encourages us not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good. God’s love and goodness in the heart of His children is unstoppable though it never hits the headlines. So let us cry out this Advent - O Emmanuel stay with us forever. Live and love through us and let God’s dream for his family be fulfilled. BACK TO TOP Thursday 30th November 2023 The Journey through November We come to the end of the month in which we remember our beloved dead. This year it was very real for us as we journeyed with our sister during her final days on earth. Sr. Majella completed her particular journey and passed from this world on 18th November. The month was full of anniversaries for her – her entrance into Carmelite life, her Solemn Profession and her birthday. The latter she celebrated in heaven. As we watched and waited with Sr. Majella on the final days of her life many questions were running through my head and I am sure different questions for each of us. The rhythm of life seemed to slow down as the focus of our attention was on that awesome journey that Majella was making. Yes, we prayed but then fell silent. The nurses and health care assistants made her as comfortable as possible. We reassured her that we were with her and would not leave her. Sr. Majella would have been aware of the words of Pope Benedict when he spoke about the final encounter with Christ ‘This encounter transforms and frees us allowing us to become truly ourselves. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us. At the moment of encounter, we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. Grace allows us all to hope and to go trustfully to meet our God whom we know as our advocate.’ This great LOVE is reaching out tenderly to all of us no matter how weak or poor we may feel. Let us go trustfully to meet God in our daily life which will carry us through into eternal life. May Sr. Majella and all our saints, small and great, intercede for us. May she rest in eternal peace. BACK TO TOP Friday 17th November 2023 Shine your Light In recent weeks here in Kilmacud Carmel, we have been gradually replacing old power-hungry light bulbs with new lower-energy LED bulbs. Many people we know are doing the same. It is part of our attempt towards sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. We hope that our efforts will have an impact, albeit small, towards protecting our world, our “common home”. This week on the feast of All Carmelite Saints, our chaplain told us of the story of a little boy who was asked “what is a saint?” and his reply, inspired by the stained-glass windows in the church was: “someone who lets the light shine through them”. We know that the Gospel exhorts us Christians to let our light shine in the world and not to hide it under a bushel and this message has been the inspiration towards many songs. One popular children’s song goes: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… let it shine….” We all know ordinary people – not canonised by the Church – who were and are shining lights in the world to those around them. We all strive to be the same. Just as at this dark time of year people decorate their homes and shops with coloured lights, our dark world needs the bright lights of you and me and all those who strive to be saints in their own little way. The most popular of the Carmelite Saints, Thérèse of Lisieux, was certainly a shining light in her community as she practiced her “Little Way” of love and care towards all those around her. She also had an interest in the modern technology of her day (she was fascinated with the recently invented elevator!). She would probably be fascinated by the new LED bulbs which do not use as much energy but give brighter light. When we are trying to shine our light and practice the “Little Way”, we could perhaps think of an LED bulb with the letters standing for “Love Everyone Dearly”. Just like Thérèse, we can shine our light brightly with even small amounts of energy! Graphic image: https://whipperberry.com/let-your-light-so- shine-before-men-lds/ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 8th November 2023 Elizabeth of the Trinity On November 8, we celebrate the Feast of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity who was a Carmelite nun at Dijon in France. Born Elizabeth Catez in 1880, she had one younger sister Marguerite, known as Guite. When the little girls were aged 4 and 7 their father died suddenly, as the result of a heart attack, and some time afterwards their mother enrolled them both in the Dijon Conservatoire to study music. Elizabeth began her studies there when she was 8. If God had not called her to Carmel she might well have been a celebrated concert pianist. When she was thirteen she won first prize for her playing, having already won first prize for theory of music. The following year she won the much coveted Prize of Excellence for piano, but already her heart was set on God. Elizabeth had a natural capacity for contemplative prayer. Long before she entered Carmel she had an intense awareness that she was living in God’s presence. Elizabeth’s deep prayer animated her and she became actively involved in various works in her parish. She taught catechism and ran a club for the children of workers in a tobacco factory; she visited the sick and of course, as a musician, she sang in the parish choir. Elizabeth took part in all the usual activities common to girls of her age at that time. She dressed in the latest fashions, enjoyed dances and loved walking in the country, where she deeply appreciated the beauty of creation. She had a great gift for friendship and was popular with her peers, but in everything God was at the centre. She said that when she played the piano she forgot all about the audience and played only for him. On August 2nd 1901 Elizabeth entered Carmel she was full of joy; she found God everywhere, in her work as well as at prayer. She loved the silence of her cell where she liked to ponder the scriptures, discerning what God was saying to her. She gradually found her vocation to be a Praise of his Glory, a phrase she discovered when reading Ephesians. It was also from her study of scripture that Elizabeth’s gained deep insights into the mystery of the Trinity. She was extraordinarily aware of the indwelling of the Trinity in her soul and often referred to the Divine Persons as My Three. Elizabeth died of Addison’s Disease on November 9th 1906 at the age of 26, saying, ‘I am going to Light, to Love, to Life’. BACK TO TOP Friday 3rd November 2023 My mission - your mission My mother often told me as a child that we are each born with a mission. You have something to do for God that only you can do. No one else can fill your space. She was a wise deep little woman and how right she was comes home to me when I hear St. Teresa speaking of the dignity and beauty of every single person made in the image and likeness of God. He dwells within us. If only we could grasp how precious each of us is in His sight – with what tenderness He bends over each one of us. St. John Henry Newman had a sense of it in his beautiful prayer. The mission of my life. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore , I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness will serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. If I am in sorrow , my sorrow, may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about. Dear Reader let God’s Living Word from the liturgy confirm you in your mission: Think of the love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children… BACK TO TOP Friday 27th October 2023 Our journey through November Next week we begin a month to remember the Holy Souls. November can be a bleak month with dark misty days and cooler challenging weather. But the first day of the month begins with All Saints Day. It sets a positive tone to the month. The Church is saying to us as we remember our beloved dead; we are all included in the feast of All Saints. The Holy Souls are in God’s Presence, already in the embrace of God. It is nice to have a month to remember the un-named saints. The little saints rather than the well known bigger Saints. We all know people we have lived with, people who did not consider themselves saints but were good, compassionate and always ready to listen to others. And there are saints we would be surprised to learn that they are included! They may not have belonged to any particular Church or Religion but they were compassionate, honest, searchers of the Truth. Take some time over the next few weeks and during the month to remember these people. If we have unresolved issues with people who have already passed into Eternal Life, it is never too late to be reconciled. In the Church we talk about the mystical body of Christ and it is a beautiful image. The Good News is we all have a place at the table. As we remember our saints and the holy souls we not only pray for them but with them and ask them to help us until we meet again. Come to think of it November has its own natural beauty and softness as we journey into winter and onward toward new life. The following may seem irrelevant. It is the conclusion of a poem Aos Óg by Padraig Daly. In it he is reflects on city life as he gazes out from his window in Dublin city. He sees the young people full of life and love but perhaps unaware of where it all comes from. ‘They are happy as we ever were They do not ask the why of the stars: This world and its circumstances suffices them. They do not think of death or sin, They harm no one knowingly. Little they know, Walking in light down city promenades, Answering phones, distracted by gadgets, Smothering out transcendence. That they and all their artefacts And all the earth and all the fiery stars Are plunged in God.” BACK TO TOP Tuesday 17th October 2023 75 Years on the Carmelite Road “E.M.S. is not what you think” is the title of a book by my nephew in the States sharing his exciting experiences as a paramedic in E.M.S. (Emergency Medical Services). Carmelite life is not what you might think, about “strict fasting and hard corporal penances”! On my final visit to Kilmacud Carmel before entering, the novice mistress advised me, as a preparation for the Carmelite life, to make “little acts of self-denial” – what my mother in her native tongue along with St Therese would call “petites sacrifices”. It was simple advice, and wise too! As a novice, my mother gave me a present of a Bible (trans. Ronald Knox). Two powerful passages have really sustained me all down the years. “It is I, the Lord your God, who hold you by the hand and whisper to you: ‘do not be afraid for I am here to help you’ “ (Is.41:13). “As the Father loves me, I love you. Remain in my love.” (John 15:9) I witnessed the election of several Prioresses. Great characters with different personalities, but all were blessed with genuine prudence and wonderful kindness. I had a novice companion who had a great sense of humour, full of fun and pranks! I owe her a lot. By just being herself she kept me afloat when I was at a low ebb. Prayer, a loving relationship with the Lord, and the petite sacrifices that crop up in many ways every day prove priceless. St Therese believed that “the smallest actions done with love win the heart of Jesus more than brilliant deeds”. So, to “put your whole self in” to prayer and sacrifice and to live by love in his presence. That’s what it’s all about! BACK TO TOP Thursday 12th October 2023 Letting Go It is the season of letting go. Trees are letting go leaves, and animals are preparing for winter. Recently I have noticed how many ways we can experience loss. On a large scale, we see reports of wars causing widespread destruction of human life and property and we hear of people forced to leave their homes with few belongings. We learn of the deaths of people closer to home, our own or loved ones of people we know. There is loss associated with ageing, reduced mobility or energy levels. There are also smaller daily losses when life interrupts our well-set plans and schedules. All these losses cause s greater or lesser amount of stress and grief that we need to work through and move on from. Letting go is indeed painful and difficult. Years ago, a wise person gave me some great advice for times of grief and loss. He said that because we are physical beings, it can be very helpful to create a personalised and practical ritual of letting go that is specific to the experience we are going through. Our personal ritual should be something that comes from within us, as an expression of our thoughts and emotions about the loss we are going through. I have found this advice most helpful at times in my life and I have found that being creative around the experience helps to bring about a closure and inner peace. Indeed, the Irish custom of “wakes” after the death of a person is an example of communal ritual that gives a sense of “letting go” to the community. Nature teaches us to be not afraid of “letting go” as it is part of the cycle of the seasons. Our Carmelite Saint Therese of Lisieux talks about having “empty hands” before God, because it is only then that we can receive something new. This attitude is one that brings hope and healing. May we live with expectation of something new and beautiful after every “letting go” experience that we have in life. Lord, make me brave Let me strengthen after pain as a tree strengthens after rain Shining and lovely again. Lord, make me brave As the blown grass lifts, let me rise from sorrow with quiet eyes, Knowing Your way is wise. Lord, make me brave Life brings such blinding things. Help me to keep my sight; help me to see aright That out of doubt comes light. -Author unknown Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP
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St. Joseph’s Carmel