Sunday, March 17, 2013

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
I bow before the Father who made me
I bow before the Son who saved me
I bow before the Spirit who guides me
In love and adoration
I give my lips
I give my heart
I give my mind
I give my strength
I bow and adore Thee
Sacred Three
The Ever One
The Trinity 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I thought I would share some of the Carmelite connections that exist between Ireland and the Carmelite order, as well as St. Patrick himself!  According to the book written by Fr. James P. Rushe (1903) in the historical account Carmel in Ireland: a narrative of the Irish province of Teresian, or Discalced Carmelites: 1625-1896... the Carmelite order is highly intertwined with the history of Christianity in Ireland. In his first chapter, Fr. Rushe shared the following:

"Carmel in Ireland is a book about the foundations of Carmel after the Rule was established and the order had to leave the Holy Land. It also chronicles the fact that St. Patrick’s precursor, St. Palladius was in fact a Carmelite of the Ancient observance.  He came form St. Anne’s Monastery near Jerusalem and living with the Carnelite Monks. He had been some years at St. Anne’s, advancing rapidly in the way of Perfection, when he felt himself inspired to labor for the salvation of souls: this zeal was the fruit of his precious life of prayer. Submitting the matter to the holy Religious, Palladius was advised to consult with the Sovereign Pontiff himself, and abide by his decision. St. Celestine received the Monk’s proposal with warm approbation; and after some time, consecrated him bishop, and sent him, together with the other Carmelites from St. Anne’s, to preach the Gospel in the Western Isles.  They reached Ireland about the year 431, having endured many hardships in their long and perilous journey. The Irish people readily understood the object of the strangers visit as they had already heard of the Christian religion. Many conversations were made and even a few churches were built. But soon the Pagan priests became jealous of St. Palladius and his companions and finally succeeded in having him driven from Ireland. However, a number of his disciples still remained here, although they had to hide themselves from the persecution raised against them by the powerful Druids. St. Palladius, with some others, found a refuge among Christians of Scotland and there he died around 432 AD.

Under the direction of the fugitive Carmelite monks, the practice of asceticism was inaugurated among the faithful or Ireland using the method observed by Carmelites in the East. In the Life of St. Patrick, before his coming to evangelize the Irish nation, there were Christians who had already arrived at an eminent degree of sanctity. He himself had a particular devotion to Elijah. In His Confessions allusion is made to one occasion specifically when he had recourse to St. Elijah who at once came to his Assistance and consoled him after he had been most violently assaulted by Satan." (See http://books.google.com/books?id=WC_KbSuqjfIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false)
Another book entitled "The History of the Scottish Nation" chapter 16  by James A. Wylie , gives an account of St. Patrick's encounter with the religion of the Druids. The occasion was the annual Festival of Tara, also known as Baal's Fire. "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word" (1Kings 18:21).  (See http://books.google.com/books?id=-10JAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false)
As mentioned above, St. Patrick had a great devotion to Elijah and recounts in his Confessions a dream where he calls on the great prophet for protection.  He calls it the Stone Dream. It happened like this: Samael [Son of the Blind] came to Saint Patrick at night after the sailors had dined on the pigs. “He fell right over me, like a huge rock, so that none of my limbs had any strength left in them ” Saint Patrick called for the Prophet Elijah to save him. ..“And suddenly, the splendor of that sun flooded over me, and at once I was rid of my powerlessness.” (20, 37, C)
St. Patrick remains a figure in that is remembered by many secular and religious people alike, as well as the Irish and non-Irish. He is seemingly a saint for all people, perhaps due to the larger than life legends and stories that are associated with the conversion of Ireland. If one looks more closely, one sees that the soil of Ireland was made fertile by the first Carmelite missionaries who arrived there with St. Palladius, and that the conversion was dramatically realized through the warrior prayers, zeal, and perseverance of St. Patrick who in many ways emulated our dear Elijah. We are called to carry that missionary zeal with us wherever we go, that we may imitate the holiness and humility of St. Palladius and St. Patrick as we cooperate with God's gifts and touch others' lives and hearts.   
Before we go out each day, let us ask God to place this zeal for His Glory upon our hearts and minds, our lips, and eyes as St. Patrick did on his breastplate. Let us be sure to dedicate the day and all that it holds for us to Him.
I weave a silence on my lips
I weave a silence into my mind
I weave a silence within my heart
I close my ears to distractions
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations
 
Calm me Lord, as you stilled the storm
Still me O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the tumult within me cease
Enfold me Lord in your peace. Amen.