Friday, September 13, 2013

Reasons to Become Carmelite by St. Teresa of the Andes

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

We know that we have a very rich order that spans East and West, as well as the Old and New Testaments. Here is a beautiful little tribute to St. Teresa of the Andes and her reasons for entering Carmel. Let us meditate upon the deeper meaning of being called to such an order that calls us to deeper union with the Holy Trinity. Blessings!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MARY of NAZARETH Film Trailer

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Our Foundress St. Teresa called her communities 'the dove cotes of Our Lady' and Carmel continues to be considered the order of the Virgin.  Today we celebrate the birth of Our Lady in a special way, and we ask her to bring rebirth to our hearts and minds, that we may unite ourselves to God in all things and see Our Triune God in all circumstances. May she teach us to be open to His Divine Will as she was. Amen.  

In less than a month, a new movie will be released that depicts the life of Our Lady. How radically different would our world be if everyone learned of Our Lady's humility, purity, goodness, and faithfulness, and then sought to imitate her virtues with her maternal assistance. Check out the trailer above and see if your parish might be able to sponsor a showing of this movie. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fr. Alzinir Debastiani, OCD Portland OCDS Western Regional Congress June 2013

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!


by Fr. Alzinir Debastiani, OCD Portland OCDS Western Regional Congress June 22, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Teresian Carmel:

Peace to each of you here present during this 2013 OCDS Western Regional Congress in Portland, Oregon. May you be empowered and enlightened in Seeking Christ through the Interior Castle in Carmelite Secular Life. May you radiate in your lives the light of the Holy Trinity living within each of you.

I am deeply grateful to my confrere in Carmel in the person of Fr. Donald Kinney, OCD, and to Lee Ann Trunk and Alice Gustafson for their kind invitation to me personally. I also thank the OCDS community of Portland of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary who are hosting us, along the other organizers and speakers. May God bless you! With me I also bring the prayers and greetings of our Father General, Fr. Saverio CannistrĂ , with wishes for a fruitful Congress.

Allow me to introduce myself briefly:

I am Fr. Alzinir Francisco Debastiani from the state of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, a Discalced Carmelite friar of the Province of St. Joseph since 1984 and a priest since 1991. In Brazil I was pastor, teacher, and Delegate for the OCDS for 6 years. In May of last year, I became the General Delegate for the OCDS.

After just over a year, I can say that I am still discovering and assimilating the meaning of this mission. I count on your prayers.

As members of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, we have embarked on a journey of preparation for the Fifth Centenary of the Birth of holy Mother Teresa in 2015. With Teresa we want to deepen our vocation to the Teresian Carmel and our response to the call of the Lord, after the example of our holy Mother: "I am Yours, for You I was born, what do You want of me?"

As "sons and daughters of the Church," we Carmelites join in the Year of Faith (2012-13) during this Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. We welcome the proposal of the 2012 Synod of Bishops to collaborate in the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. Hopefully these events are propelling us to devote more and more of our lives to God so that we may have the missionary zeal of our holy Mother: "[to give] a thousand lives to save one soul." 1

1. Between the Year of Faith and the Fifth Centenary of the Birth of St. Teresa (2015)

One of the principal objectives which the General Chapter of 2009 proposed for this sexenium was to read the complete works of St. Teresa in preparation for the Fifth Centenary of her birth. This is what the text says:

"The context for this reading of St Teresa is the lead-up to the Fifth Centenary of her birth (2015). Direct contact with her writings, read in a meditative way, will enable us to share the human and spiritual adventure which she herself lived and which she holds out to us. We want to wake up again to her spirit, take hold of her wisdom, approaching her writings with a listening ear, as disciples, sons and daughters, so that our lives and our service of the Church and the world will be shaped afresh by her charism. We want to get in touch with her message as a source of hope in our human, Christian and Carmelite lives.” 2

The Year of Faith proclaimed by His Holiness Benedict XVI, launched on October 11, 2012 and ending on November 24 of this year, aims at the rediscovery of faith in Christ, especially for those who were baptized but have been away from the Church, bringing about a loving and friendly encounter with Christ, the source of life, the one who leads us into participation in the Trinitarian life. 3

At the same time, the “Year of Faith . . . is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. . . . Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. ‘Faith working through love’ 4 becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life 5

Saint Teresa is a clear example of how "faith in God's mercy" 6 leads her to a radical transformation of life—let us recall here the symbol of the silkworm—from the moment that she responded to the graces which the Lord granted her. We can say that she enters into the castle of the Holy Trinity through the gate of faith and prayer and allows "Christ to live in her." From this fact and knowing the necessity of fraternal help for growth in the spiritual life, she founded small communities of nuns, who are to be friends, who are to be mutually helpful (“all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped”7, who are to share the spiritual life, encouraging one another other in service to the Lord and to his Church.


Saints are privileged witnesses of God who have "confessed the beauty of following Jesus"8: "every saint is like a ray of light streaming forth from the word of God"9.

St. Teresa of Jesus is "a Mother of spiritual people." Her word, always relevant in the Church, is that of prayer. She is a mystagogue—one who understands and teaches mystical doctrine. Profoundly aware of what it means to be a human being inhabited by divine grace, of "so rich a nature and the power to converse with none other than God"10, she compares those who do not pray or who pray badly with the paralytic11, with one who is unable to walk.

What motivates someone to leave this state and undertake the path in search of the Lord except the prayerful faith which makes him a pilgrim?

Prayer and reflection provide the motive to seek the light of the interior castle. It is the search for the Transcendent, the desire for God present in the heart of every human person, which calls him to live the path of exodus from the self and to go in search of the light that "burns in the heart."

For Teresa:

"…prayer is the door to favors as great as those He granted me. If this door is closed, I don’t know how He will grant them. For even though He may desire to enter and take delight in a soul and favor it, there is no way of His doing this, for He wants it alone and clean and desirous of receiving His graces… I, indeed, cannot understand why, unless it is that they want to undergo the trials of life with greater trial and close the door on God so that He may not make them happy. I certainly pity those who serve the Lord at their own cost, because for those who practice prayer the Lord Himself pays the cost since through their little labor He gives them delight so that with the help of this delight they might suffer the trials." 12

In order for there to be prayer, reflection must also accompany it, along with a theological attitude, an awareness that one is talking to God:

"A prayer in which a person is not aware of whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of whom, I do not call prayer however much the lips move. Sometimes it will be so without this reflection, provided that the soul has these reflections at other times.” 13
For this reason, the vocational path which we undertake in the Teresian Carmel is motivated by a personal quest for friendship with God, for "Him who, we know, loves us." 14

It is important that every Carmelite community be a place of formation in an authentic life of prayer. “From foolish devotions, may God deliver us," 15 said Teresa. Such prayer leads to an ever more profound and true relationship with Christ. This requires the acquisition of the virtues of “love for one another, detachment from all created things, and true humility” necessary for us to possess inwardly and outwardly the peace our Lord recommended so highly to us.” 16

It is fundamental to keep our relationship with Jesus at the very center of our life. Our Father General, in the Fourth Iberian Congress of the Secular Order in Avila, in April of 2012, stated:
"In Carmel we are for Jesus because He has touched us mysteriously... The first and fundamental manifestation of the Teresian charism is to live all things with an exercise of faith, of theological life, which is only possible if constantly nourished by prayer, understood as a friendly dialogue with the Lord, and in daily listening to the Word of God.

Father General continues: “The other aspect of our vocation is our ‘concern for others,’ for the community, for the Church. Life with Christ and life in Christ is not selfish, nor self-centered, but a life for others, without reservations or calculations. This is, moreover, the only verifiable sign that we are really with the Lord and not simply ourselves. These characteristics of the charism that animated the life of Teresa can be reproduced in very different states of life, in new ways, and with new riches. Charism is fertile and produces ‘the fruits of the Spirit’: love, peace, joy, goodness17. At the same time, it is demanding and occupies the various areas of our lives and makes them its own. So when you choose this vocation with ‘a determined determination,’ 18 you discover sooner or later that you no longer belong to yourself, that you own nothing for yourself, but at the same time, that you possess everything in a new way.”

Teresa’s charismatic legacy calls us to form communities of "staunch friends of God," 19 i.e., communities where before all else the members sincerely love one other; then, that the members help one another, that they share and walk together toward one goal: to witness their faith in Jesus Christ, who is present "where two or three are gathered in his name." 20

The community of the Secular Order should be a place where I can refuel and renew my spiritual energies in order to witness the faith and love of Christ in the family, at work, wherever I find myself.

Blessed John Paul II, at the completion of the Jubilee Year 2000, left us a task for this millennium:

"To make the Church the home and school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God's plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings ... we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed, wherever ministers of the altar, consecrated persons, and pastoral workers are trained, wherever families and communities are being built up. "21

For this, it is necessary first to ponder and contemplate the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the source and origin of the Church and of every human being. The human being is "a substance founded on relationship," 22 who, “discovering that he is loved by God, comes to understand his own transcendent dignity, to learn not to be satisfied only with himself but to encounter his neighbor in a network of relationships that are ever more authentically human." 23

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004) describes the primary vocation of the human person as:

“The revelation in Christ of the mystery of God as Trinitarian love is at the same time the revelation of the vocation of the human person to love. This revelation sheds light on every aspect of the personal dignity and freedom of men and women, and on the depths of their social nature. ‘Being a person in the image and likeness of God ... involves existing in a relationship, in relation to the other ‘I’, because God himself, one and triune, is the communion of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (n. 34)
Hence comes the importance of a reverential fraternal communion, of a warm welcome and of an affectionate, open, and familial relationship among the members of our communities.
Saint Teresa perceived the need for people who would live the same ideal and would have the same desire for God which she experienced. Despite the fact that at the Incarnation she lived with about 160 other nuns, she could not find the support she needed for the religious life and for prayer:

"There is so much sluggishness in matters having to do with the service of God that it is necessary for those who serve Him to become shields for one another that they might advance… Of myself I know and say that if the Lord had not revealed this truth to me and given me the means by which I could ordinarily talk with persons who practiced prayer, I, falling and rising, would have ended by throwing myself straight into hell. For in falling I had many friends to help me; but in rising I found myself so alone that I am now amazed I did not remain ever fallen. And I praise the mercy of God, for it was He alone who gave me His hand." 24
Teresa understands the need to be "staunch friends of God" 25 And here is the secret and the power of the Community:

"I should like the five of us who at present love each other in Christ to make a kind of pact that since others in these times gather together in secret against His Majesty to prepare wicked deeds and heresies, we might seek to gather together some time to free each other from illusion and to speak about how we might mend our ways and please God more since we do not know ourselves as well as others who observe us if they do so with love and concern for our progress." 26

To gather as friends for mutual help in spiritual growth is the ideal of community life in St. Teresa. This always requires an openness and respect for others, the ability to dialogue about the spiritual life and share it freely, in order that one may perceive the action of God in the life of another which may promote growth in my spiritual life. Here is also the task of community meetings: mutual help in the spiritual path, to be a place of sharing and of trusting and reciprocal acceptance among the members.

A good synthesis of the community life in St. Teresa and of her virtues may be found in n. 30 of the Document of the General Chapter of 2009:

"An ideal community life is defined by these three factors: a community that is before all else a "college of Christ"27, after the more radical way of the early Church, because He is present within the community 28, He is “ the Lord of the house"29, who "gathered us here"30, a community that lives the demands of strict equality and of true love 31, and where everything is guided by an evangelical style of love that is effective, free, disinterested 32,which sees manual work as the standard 33, a community marked by humanism, characterized by special and uncommon elements for its time: culture, human virtues, gentleness, prudence and discretion, simplicity, kindness and joy 34.

St. Teresa gives us some valuable advice: “Those who really love God, love every good, desire every good, favor every good, praise every good. They always join, favor, and defend good people. They have no love for anything but truth and whatever is worthy of love.”35

In light of all these texts, to grow in fraternal communion is a constant need of every community, because individualism is one of the characteristics of our current society which most easily seeps into our communities.
When there is true love among the members of a community, it becomes a source of evangelization because of this testimony of communion, as Jesus said: "all men will know that you are my disciples" 36 as happened to the early Christians.37


This statement comes from no. 26 of the OCDS Constitutions.

It reflects that earnest desire which led St. Teresa to try to do something about the ills of the Church and of society in her time38. Her great love for Christ and for the Church's mission led her to undertake the work of the foundation of monasteries for the nuns and convents for the friars, without fearing the work and persecutions that would come39.

For the secular Carmelite, apostolic activity exercised individually or in community is part of your vocational identity, as described in part IV of the Constitutions. And the apostolic activity of the laity in the Church is one of the great achievements of Vatican II, which devotes Chapter IV of Lumen Gentium, expanded in Apostolicam Actuositatem, on the apostolate of the laity. This was one of the great achievements of Vatican II, but which, unfortunately, after 50 years is still far from being put into practice.

The 1987 Synod of Bishops, with its exhortation Christifideles Laici, makes a fundamental statement for our understanding of the lay apostolate in light of the Church as a mystery of communion:
"… Only from inside the Church's mystery of communion is the ‘identity’ of the lay faithful made known, and their fundamental dignity revealed. Only within the context of this dignity can their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world be defined. "40

It is a mission that is accomplished through personal witness, where

"Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity. All Christ's faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives—and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the divine will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world."41

With regard to the apostolate, we should be careful not to fall into two temptations, about which John Paul II spoke in 1988:

"... the temptation of being so strongly interested in Church services and tasks that some fail to become actively engaged in their responsibilities in the professional, social, cultural and political world; and the
temptation of legitimizing the unwarranted separation of faith from life, that is, a separation of the Gospel's acceptance from the actual living of the Gospel in various situations in the world."42

Therefore, we can say that the identity of the lay vocation in the Teresian Carmel is to build holiness in the world, which means living faith, hope and love where I am, without separating faith and life or only within the Christian community.

I like this phrase of St. Teresa: "The true lover loves everywhere and is always thinking of the Beloved"43. In social life, family, work, entertainment, ministry, interpersonal relationships, we see always with the eyes of faith, hope and above all charity, as the OCDS Constitutions state:

"To give particular importance to prayer which, nourished by listening to the Word of God and by the liturgy, is conducive to relating with God as a friend, not just in prayer, but in daily living. To be committed to this life of prayer demands being nourished by faith, hope, and above all, charity in order to live in the presence and the mystery of the living God." (9,c)

St. Teresa, by means of an example, invites us to do something for those in need:
"Suppose we were to see a Christian with his hands fastened behind his back by a strong chain, bound to a post, and dying of hunger, not because of lack of food, for there are very choice dishes beside him, but because he cannot take hold of the food and eat, and even has great loathing for it; and suppose he sees that he is about to breath his last and die, not just an earthly death but an eternal one.
Wouldn’t it be terrible cruelty to stand looking at him and not feed him? 44

Give food to those who are dying of hunger ... Of which hunger? Physical hunger, certainly, but also other forms of hunger, such as the lack of meaning in life, which many attempt to satisfy through drugs, pleasure, consumerism, and many others things, as you know. Jesus came in order to give being and meaning to everything. We must lead people to Him.

In the same vein, it is significant what Carmelo Dotolo, theologian and professor at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, suggests:

"If we accept the idea that our joys and hopes, doubts and questions characterize us in our quest, then, the vocation and identity of the lay Christian is to be a companion in the search for meaning, knowing that the salvific figure described in the Gospel inserts Himself into the question that belongs to each person, and guides uncommon perspectives marked by the unpredictability of God's love."45

The Message to the People of God of the Synod of Bishops in 2012 on the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith points us in the same direction:

“It is up to us today to render experiences of the Church concretely accessible, to multiply the wells where thirsting men and women are invited to encounter Jesus, to offer oases in the deserts of life. Christian communities and, in them, every disciple of the Lord, are responsible for this: an irreplaceable
testimony has been entrusted to each one, so that the Gospel can enter the lives of all. This requires of us holiness of life.”46

In Carmel we have an immense wealth in the writings of our saints: they are an inexhaustible well that inspires so many lives and leads us to communion with the Triune God who lives in each of us. Teresa’s response of faith led her into communion with the Mystery of the Trinity:

"The soul knows in such a way that what we hold by faith, it understands, we can say, through sight—although the sight is not with the bodily eyes nor with the eyes of the soul, because we are not dealing here with an imaginative vision. Here all three Persons communicate themselves to it, speak to it, and explain those words of the Lord in the Gospel: that He and the Father and the Holy Spirit will come to dwell in the soul that loves Him and keeps His commandments. "47

But she tells us that the fruit of prayer is the realization of works. The Church asks us for a New Evangelization through works because "the love shown to those in spiritual and material need, which is expressed in works of fellowship, solidarity and assistance, speaks louder than words." 48
As our holy Mother in her own time, doing “the little within her power," 49 the question that she asks of the Lord must apply to each of us: "What do You want of me?"
What can I do to improve “the little within my power” in my community, my family, my work?


Dear brothers and sisters, among the many fruits that will certainly proceed from this Congress, I ask especially that it may prompt us to advance on the path of friendship and union with Christ, in fraternal communion, in truth, humility, and love of neighbor. May the experiences and reflections which have taken place during this Congress help you to grow as people, as Christians, and as Teresian Carmelites. May they be lived with faith, for "faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world"50.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Mother and Sister, intercede for us and teach us to do what Jesus teaches us.

Thank you very much!

Fr. Francisco Alzinir Debastiani, OCD

Rome, 21 January 2013


1 St. Teresa, The Way of Perfection, 1:2.
2 I Was Born for You, n. 3.
3 cf. Porta Fidei 1.
4 Gal 5:6.
5 cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Porta Fidei 6.
6 OCDS Constitutions, 7.
7 The Way of Perfection, 4:7.
8 Porta Fidei 13.
9 Verbum Domini 48.
10 The Interior Castle, I, 1:6.
11 cf. The Interior Castle, I, 1:6.
12 Life, 8:8-9.
13 The Interior Castle, I,1:7.
14 Life, 8:5.
15 Life, 13:16.
16 cf. The Way of Perfection, 4:4.
17 cf. Gal 5:22.
18 The Way of Perfection, 21:2.
19 Life, 15:15.
20 Mt 18:20.
21 Novo Millennio Ineunte, 43.
22 Josef Ratzinger, in Paolo Gamberini, Jesu maestro de relazioni umane, Religiosi in Italia 391, 2012, p. 138.
23 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.4.
24 Life, 7:22.
25 Life, 15:5.
26 Life, 16:7.
27 cf. The Way of Perfection, 13:5, note 2.
28 cf. Life, 32:11.
29 WP, 17:7.
30 WP, 1:5; 3:1.
31 cf. WP, 4:7.
32 WP, 4:11; 7:6.
33 cf. Constitutions of St. Teresa, n. 28.
34 cf. WP, 41:7-8; 42 ; NMI 43; “I was born for You,” n. 30.
35 cf. The Way of Perfection, 40:3.
36 Jn 13:34-35.
37 cf. Acts 2:42-46; 4:32-35.
38 cf. The Way of Perfection, 1-3; Foundations, 1.
39 cf. Foundations, 18:5.
40 CL 8, cf. LG 31.
41 Lumen Gentium 41.
42 Christifideles Laici 2.
43 Foundations,5:16.
44 The Interior Castle, VII, 1:4.
45 (p. 3).
46 (no. 3).
47 The Interior Castle, VII, 1:6.
48 Instrumentum Laboris, The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, n. 124.
49 The Way of Perfection, 1:2.
50 Porta Fidei 15.

Pope Francis Encourages Carmelites to Deepen Contemplative Roots

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Letter of Pope Francis to the Carmelites on the Occasion of General Chapter 2013

 | September 4, 2013
Pope-FrancisTo Most Reverend Father
Fernando Millán Romeral
Prior General
of the Order of Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.
I address you, dear Brothers of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, as you celebrate your General Chapter. At this time of grace and renewal that calls on you to discern the mission of the glorious Order of Carmelites, I would like to offer you a word of encouragement and hope. The ancient charism of Carmel throughout these past eight centuries has been a gift for the whole Church. Your contemplative origins spring from the land of the epiphany of God’s abiding love manifested in the Word made flesh. As you ponder your mission in Carmel today, I would ask you to consider three things that might guide you on your pilgrim way: love as allegiance, as prayer and as mission.
The Church has the mission to bring Christ to the world and it is for this, as Mother and Teacher she invites each one of us to draw near to him. In the Carmelite liturgy for the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel we contemplate Our Lady as being “near the Cross of Christ.” This is also the place where one finds the Church: near to Christ. It is also the place for every faithful member of the Carmelite Order. Your Rule begins with the exhortation to the brothers to “live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ”; to follow him and to serve him with a pure and undivided heart. This close relationship to Christ happens in solitude, in fraternal assembly and in mission. “The fundamental choice of a life that is concretely and radically dedicated to following Christ.” (Ratio Institutionis Vitae Carmelitanae 8) making of your lives a pilgrimage of loving transformation. The Second Vatican Council recalls the role of contemplation on the journey of life: “It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world as pilgrims.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 2) The early hermits of Mount Carmel retained the memory of that holy place, and even if exiled and distanced from it constantly kept their gaze fixed on the glory of God. Reflecting on your origins and history and contemplating the vast lineage of those who lived the Carmelite charism down through the centuries you will discover again your present vocation to be prophets of hope. It is precisely with this hope you will be reborn. Often what is new is only something very old seen in a new light.
Within your Rule is the heart of the Carmelite mission then and now. As you approach the eight centenary of the death of Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1214 you will recall that he formulated “a way of life”, a space that enables you to live a spirituality that is orientated towards Christ. He outlines both external and internal elements, a physical ecology of space and the spiritual armour needed in order to fulfil one’s vocation and mission.
In a world that often misunderstands Christ, and in fact rejects him, you are invited to draw near and to unite yourselves more closely with him. It is a continuous call to follow Christ and be conformed to him. This is of vital importance in our world so disoriented, “for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.” (Lumen Fidei 4) Christ is present in your fraternity, your common worship and in the ministry entrusted to you: renew the allegiance of your whole life!
The Holy Father Benedict XVI, before your General Chapter of 2007 reminded you that “faith’s inner pilgrimage towards God begins in prayer”; and at Castel Gandolfo in August 2010 said to you that: “You are the ones who teach us how to pray”. You speak of yourselves as contemplatives in the midst of the people. If it is true that you are called to live on the heights of Carmel then it is also true that you are called to witness in the midst of the people. Prayer is that “royal road” that leads to the profound mystery of the One and Triune God, but it is also the narrow pathway to God in the midst of the people as pilgrims in the world towards the Promised Land.
PFrCofAOne of the most beautiful ways for entering into prayer is through the Word of God. Lectio divina brings you into direct conversation with the Lord and it opens for you wisdom’s treasure. The intimate friendship with the One who loves us, enables us to see with the eyes of God, to speak with his Word in our hearts, to treasure the beauty of that experience and to share it with those who are hungry for eternity.
Returning to the simplicity of a life centred on the Gospel is the challenge for a renewed Church: a community of faith that always finds new ways of evangelization in a world continually changing. The saints of Carmel have been the great preachers and teachers of prayer. This is what is needed once again from Carmel in the twenty-first century. Constantly throughout the length of your history, the greats of Carmel have sought to call you back to your prayerful contemplative roots, roots always fruitful in prayer. Here is the heart of your witness: the “contemplative” dimension of the Order, to be lived, cultivated and transmitted. I would like each one of you to ask yourself: how is my contemplative life? How much time during my day do I dedicate to prayer and contemplation? A Carmelite without this contemplative life is a dead body! Today, perhaps more than in the past, it is so easy to allow ourselves to be distracted by the cares and worries of this world and to succumb to false idols. Our world is fractured in so many ways: rather the contemplative unites and powerfully builds the call to unity. Now more than ever is the moment for you to discover again that inner pathway to love through prayer and to offer to the people today in your preaching and mission the witness of your contemplation, not easy solutions but that wisdom that comes from pondering “day and night the Law of the Lord”. The Word always brings one near to the glorious cross of Christ. United in contemplation and austerity of life is not a secondary aspect of your life and witness. There is a very strong temptation even for you to fall into a mundane spirituality. The spirit of the world is the enemy of the life of prayer: never forget this! I exhort you to a more austere and penitential life, according to your authentic tradition, a life distant from all worldliness, distant from the world’s criteria.
My dear Carmelite brothers, yours is the same mission as Jesus. All the planning and Chapter dialogue will be of little use, if you do not begin your renewal here. Your Carmelite family is seeing a wonderful “springtime” across the world, that fruit, a gift of God, and the missionary involvement of the past. Today the mission brings its heavy challenges as the Gospel message is not always accepted or even violently rejected. We must never forget, even if thrown into murky and unknown waters, that the one who gives the mission will also give the courage. So celebrate your Chapter with the hope that never dies, with a strong spirit of generosity regaining your contemplative life and the simplicity and austerity of the Gospel.
Addressing pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square I said: “Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly”(Homily 19th May 2013). The witness of Carmel in the past is one of a deep spiritual tradition that grew into one of the great schools of prayer. It has evoked courage in men and women facing danger and even death. We are only too aware of two great contemporary martyrs in Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Blessed Titus Brandsma. I would ask you then: today among you, do you still have the endurance, the courage of these saints?
Dear Brothers of Carmel, the witness of your love, and your hope radiating from your deep friendship with the living God, can reach like a “gentle breeze” renewing and re-awakening your ecclesial mission in today’s world. To this you have been called. Your Profession Rite puts on your lips these words: “I entrust myself to God that by His grace and with the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary I may attain perfect charity in the service of God and the Church.”
Our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel, accompany your steps and make fruitful your daily journey towards the Mountain of God. I invoke upon all the members of the Carmelite Family, and most especially you Capitulars, the abundant blessings of the Holy Spirit and to all I heartily impart the Apostolic Blessing.