Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Flame of Love



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JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

We begin the month of May, dedicated to Our Lady, and walking with our beloved St. Joseph who perfectly honored the Blessed Virgin Mary and protected both Our Celestial Mother and our Savior entrusted to his care.  In tandem, we continue to celebrate the 50 day season of Easter and approach the 100 year Anniversary of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13th, where the apparitions began in this small town in Portugal.  So much to ponder!


Recently, I picked up a book that had been on my shelf for some time entitled, The Flame of Love. It is a spiritual diary written by Hungarian mystic Elizabeth Kindelmann from 1962 until the early 1980s.  In it she discloses spiritual revelations gifted to her by Our Lady along with Our Lord Jesus.  She describes a great gift that the Holy Trinity desires to bestow upon humanity through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Our Lady explains to Elizabeth that she wishes to "place a beam of light in your hands. This is the Flame of Love of my heart."  She then expresses the purpose of this flame.  "With this flame you will light all the hearts in the world. The miracle will be this. The flame will become fire, and with its shining light, this fire will blind Satan." This flame it to be receive and enkindled in the hearts of the faithful, and then passed along. In particular, this Flame is to be celebrated on the Feast Day of Candlemas, February 2nd.  Sacrifice, prayer, penance, faithfulness, reparation and love are all important components of this beautiful devotion which has been granted the Imprimatur. There are many beautiful aspects of this message that I encourage all to read at the http://www.theflameoflove.org/ or to pray and discern with the more in depth analysis of this special calling written by Mark Mallet at https://www.markmallett.com/blog/2016/09/23/more-on-the-flame-of-love/

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What I wish to do here is unpack the Carmelite tone of this devotion and Our Lady's message, especially since she specifically calls Carmelites to accept and pass on this movement which will renew the face of the earth. Elizabeth herself was a third order Carmelite. She was told by Our Lady that, "My Flame of Love will be lit first in Carmel. They are called to venerate me the most." Furthermore, Our Lady specified that Carmelite priests are to play a special role in venerating the Flame of Love.  "Let the Carmelite Fathers be the first to receive the Flame of Love and spread it. My flame will go forth from Carmel, because they are the ones most called to honor me."  Indeed, priests play a crucial role in gifting their flocks with this great gift of love. How we as Carmelites must continue to pray for our priests in the spirit of St. Teresa of Avila, as they continue to fight for souls on the frontlines of the battlefield.

With this vivid imagery of fire within the Immaculate Heart of Mary which she wishes to pass on to her children, one cannot help but think of the classic poem of St. John of the Cross written so many centuries ago, The Living Flame of Love. In it, he describes a soul who has reached the highest levels of union with the Holy Trinity in spiritual matrimony. He describes the unbounded torrent of love flowing from the Holy Spirit to the soul of the beloved. 

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ST.1. O living flame of love
  that tenderly wounds my soul
  in its deepest center! Since
  now you are not oppressive,
  now consummate! if it be your will:
  tear through the veil of this sweet encounter! 

  ST.2. O sweet cautery,
   O delightful wound! 
  O gentle hand! O delicate touch
  that tastes of eternal life
  and pays every debt! 
  In killing you changed death to life. 

  ST.3. O lamps of fire! 
  in whose splendors
  the deep caverns of feeling,
  once obscure and blind,
  now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
  both warmth and light to their Beloved. 

  ST.4. How gently and lovingly
  you wake in my heart,
  where in secret you dwell alone;
  and in your sweet breathing,
  filled with good and glory,
  how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

St. John of the Cross then begins his commentary on the first stanza, explaining that "The soul now feels that it is all inflamed in the divine union, its palate is all bathed in glory and love, that in the intimate part of its substance it is flooded with no less than rivers of glory, abounding in delights, and from its depths flow rivers of living water [Jn. 7:38], which
the Son of God declared will rise up in such souls. "  

He goes on to explain that "This flame of love is the Spirit of its Bridegroom, who is the Holy 
Spirit. The soul feels him within itself not only as a fire that has consumed and transformed it but as a fire that burns and flares within it, as I mentioned. And that flame, every time it flares up, bathes the soul in glory and refreshes it with the quality of divine life.  Such is the activity of the Holy Spirit in the soul transformed in love: The interior acts he produces shoot up flames, for they are acts of inflamed love, in which the will of the soul united with that flame, made one with it, loves most sublimely."

This powerful description of the Holy Spirit's flame of love cannot help but be associated with his Spouse, Our Celestial Mother and Queen who received His Flame of Love in her Womb at the Incarnation.   She was indeed the first tabernacle of Our Lord, and was able to receive the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit due to her spotless soul which was as a mirror of the Holy Trinity, as the Immaculate Conception.  

The Catechism tells us that this symbol of fire denotes,"the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who "arose like fire" and whose "word burned like a torch," brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.37This event was a "figure" of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes "before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah," proclaims Christ as the one who "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."38 Jesus will say of the Spirit: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!"39 In the form of tongues "as of fire," the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself40 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's actions.41 "Do not quench the Spirit."42  


733 More than a century ago, St. Louis de Montfort prophesied that a new Pentecost will enflame the world and pull it out of grave darkness and sin. This will be through the hands of Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces. He portends, "The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace… that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus. [#217}  He further describes this little army of souls who are servants and slaves of Mary, as those who "will be ministers of the Lord who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love. They will become, in Mary's powerful hands, like sharp arrows, with which she will transfix her enemies. {#56] —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,  Montfort Publications  

We are told that in the Catechism that  "God is Love" [1 Jn 4:8,1.] and love is his first gift, containing all others. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." [Rom 5:5.]. His love is described in the Letter to the Hebrews as 'a consuming fire.'  [12: 1] Indeed, Our Lady perfectly embodied this flame of love and held it 'within her heart.'  

Perhaps St. Therese understood the application of St. John of the Cross's treatise on the Living Flame of Love best. She penned her poem entitled, "Living on Love" using the imagery of this Flame of Love as the key to union with the Holy Trinity.

                          Living on Love is holding You Yourself.
Uncreated Word, Word of my God,
Ah! Divine Jesus, you know I love you.
The Spirit of Love sets me aflame with his fire.
In loving you I attract the Father.
My weak heart holds him forever.
O Trinity! You are Prisoner
                Of my Love!
Living on Love is living on your life,
Glorious King delight of the elect.
You live for me, hidden in a host.
I want to hide myself for you, O Jesus!
Lovers must have solitude.
A heart-to-heart lasting night and day.
Just one glance of yours makes my beatitude.
                I live on Love!
Living on Love is not setting up one’s tent
At top of Tabor.
It’s climbing Calvary with Jesus,
It’s looking at the Cross as a treasure!
In Heaven I’m to live on joy.
Then trials will have fled forever,
But in exile, in suffering I want
                To live on Love.
Living on Love is giving without limit
Without claiming any wages here below.
Ah! I give without counting, truly sure
That when one loves, one does not keep count!
Overflowing with tenderness, I have given everything,
To his Divine Heart… lightly I run.
I have nothing left but my only wealth:
                Living on Love.
Living on Love is banishing every fear,
Every memory of past faults.
I see no imprint of my sins.
In a moment love has burned everything…
Divine Flame, O very sweet Blaze!
I make my home in your hearth.
In your fire I gladly sing:
“I live on Love!”
Living on Love is keeping within oneself
A great treasure in an earthen vase.
My Beloved my weakness is extreme.
Ah, I’m far from being an angel from heaven!
But if I fall with each passing hour,
You come to my aid, lifting me up.
At each moment you give me your grace:
                I live on Love.
Living on Love is sailing unceasingly,
Sowing peace and joy in every heart.
Beloved Pilot, Charity impels me,
For I see you in my sister souls.
Charity is my only star.
In its brightness I sail straight ahead.
I’ve my motto written on my sail:
                I live on love!
Living on Love, when Jesus is sleeping.
Is rest on stormy seas.
Oh! Lord, don’t fear that I’ll wake you.
I’m waiting in peace in Heaven’s shore…
Faith will soon tear its veil.
My hope is to see you one day.
Charity swells and pushes my sail:
                I live on Love!
Living on Love, O my Divine Master,
Is begging you to spread your Fire
In the holy, sacred soul of your priest.
May he be purer than a seraphim in Heaven!
Ah! Glorify your Immortal Church!
Jesus, do not be deaf to my sighs.
I, her child, sacrifice myself for her,
                I live on Love.
Living on Love is wiping your Face,
It’s obtaining the pardon of sinners.
O God of Love! May the return to your grace,
And may they forever bless your Name.
Even in my heart the blasphemy resounds.
To efface it, I always want to sing:
“I adore and love your Sacred Name.
                I live on Love!
Living on Love is imitating Mary,
Bathing your divine feet that she kisses, transported.
With tears, with precious perfume
She dries them with her long hair…
Then standing up, she shatters the vase,
And in turn she anoints your Sweet Face,
As for me, the perfume with which I anoint your Face
                Is my Love!
“Living on Love, what strange folly!”
The world says to me, “Ah! Stop your singing.
Don’t waste your perfumes, your life.
Learn to use them well…”
Loving you, Jesus, is such a fruitful loss!
All my perfumes are yours forever.
I want to sing on leaving this world:
                “I’m dying of Love!”
Dying of Love is a truly sweet martyrdom,
And that is the one I wish to suffer.
O Cherubim! Tune your lyre,
For I sense my exile is about to end!
Flame of Love, consume me unceasingly.
Life if an instant, your burden is so heavy tome!
Divine Jesus, make my dream come true:
                To die of Love!
Dying of Love is what I hope for.
When I shall see my bonds broken,
My God will be my Great Reward.
I don’t desire to possess other goods.
I want to be set on fire with his Love.
I want to see Him, to unite myself to Him forever.
That is my Heaven… that is my destiny:
                Living on Love!!!
As we know, the quickest way to Jesus' Heart of love is through the Immaculate Heart of His Blessed Mother Mary! May we as Carmelites be open to this grace and gift. May we ask for it, receive it, and then pass it along to all of humanity as best we can, as requested by Our beloved Lady. Amen. 


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