Letter of the Prior General for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Carmelite Family
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is approaching, and another year has gone by. I would like to offer you my best wishes. The day means a lot to all of us, a joyous and deep-felt moment in which we celebrate our devotion to the Mother of the Lord, under the very popular title
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. One year more: I would like to commend to her intercession, our dreams and projects, our missions and apostolates, our joys and our concerns. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Sister, enlighten, guide and accompany us, so that we may be always faithful to our vocation, and know how to respond generously to the insistent call from Pope Francis to the whole Church, for all to be true evangelisers.
As you may perhaps recall, last year I suggested a possible interpretation of an icon that is typical of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: the Blessed Virgin who descends into Purgatory and saves by her scapular all those who are suffering there. I would ask you therefore that, in imitation of Mary, we might each descend into the purgatories of today and in solidarity and compassion, help those who are suffering to emerge from those purgatories of every kind, of which there are many in the world of today.
On this occasion I would ask that every Carmelite, (friar, cloistered nun, sister of the apostolic life, tertiary, member of a confraternity, lay Carmelite member of one of the many groups that make up the Carmelite family) be united in contemplating, sharing, increasing the beauty which is all around us (even, if at times, somewhat hidden). Right from the beginning Carmel has been closely linked to beauty. Mount Carmel is synonymous with beauty in the First Testament, and we ourselves refer to Mary as the Mother and Ornament of Carmel (Mother and Beauty of Carmel). Our Order has been characterised down through the centuries by that tendency towards the poetic, the artistic ... the beautiful.
Therefore, my desire is that our lives should be a song of praise to God for the beauty that surrounds us, and also a generous commitment to ensure that beauty will not be diminished or tarnished by what is evil, by sin, by the suffering of so many innocent people, who are the victims of selfishness and all its ramifications, (injustice, violence, inequality .....).
May our lives as Carmelites, each in accordance with our specific situation, become a song of praise to the Creator, and may each of us, in imitation of Mary, humbly proclaim the wonders that the Lord has worked and continues to work in our lives. (Lk 1:46-55) It may be that one of the most tragic features of the modern world is the inability to generate beauty or to discover beauty. At times, beauty finds itself reduced to something that is purely aesthetic, self-centred, with no notion of solidarity, and therefore no beauty at all, not authentic, producing only a sense of too much and of nothing. The ancient scholastics used to say, the good and the beautiful, “bonum” et “pulchrum” always coincide. That’s the way it is.
When we want to discover what is beautiful, Mary, the teacher and master of spirituality, points our gaze in another direction: towards what is small and humble, what is of no account ..... Mary leads us to discover the beauty in the complexities of life, in all that is noble and heroic, which at times we fail to see in day to day life.
May the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with its novenas and devotions, its liturgies and celebrations, be itself a humble and peaceful song to beauty. We must not settle for mere routine, half-hearted celebrations, the remains of a glorious but very distant past. We must also avoid mere external beauty, nothing more that pomp and rubrics. No, on that day we must lift up our hearts, through the calm beauty of the liturgy, over the misery of humanity, and look at the “star of the sea” so that she may guide us to Christ, Our Lord.
Happy Feastday! May Mary, our Mother and Sister be with you always.
With brotherly affection,
Fernando Millán Romeral O.Carm.