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General

¨What is the theology of the body?

God impressed his own form on the flesh… in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form (CCC 704)

India

Indonesia

Israel

Malaysia

Philippines

East Timor

Vietnam

Burkina Faso

Camerun

Congo

Kenya

Liberia

Mozambico

Ruanda

Tanzania

Zimbabwe

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Lord,

be merciful to Your people.

Fill us with Your gifts

and make us always eager to serve You

in faith, hope and love.

You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading -   Matthew 12:46-50



While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you." But he said in reply to the one who told him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."



3) Reflection



• The family of Jesus. The relatives reached the house where Jesus was. They have probably come from Nazareth. From there up to Capernaum there is a distance of forty kilometers. His mother also comes  with them. They do not enter, but they send a messenger: "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with You." Jesus’ reaction is clear: "Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My heavenly Father is My brother, and sister, and mother." To understand the meaning of this response it is helpful to look at the situation of the family in the time of Jesus.



• In the old Israel, the clan, that is, the large family (the community), was the basis for social living together. It was the protection of families and of the people, the guarantee of possession of the land, the principal vehicle of the tradition, and the defense of identity. It was the concrete way on the part of the people of that time to incarnate the love of God and love toward neighbor. To defend the clan was the same as to defend the Covenant.



• In Galilee at the time of Jesus, because of the system established during the long periods of government of Herod the Great (37 BC to 4 BC) and of his son Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD), the clan (the community) was becoming weaker. The taxes to be paid, both to the government and to the Temple, the debts which were increasing, the individualistic mentality of the Hellenistic ideology, the frequent threats of violent repression on the part of the Romans and the obligation to accept the soldiers and give them hospitality, the ever growing problem of survival, all this impelled the families to block things out and to think only of their own needs. This closing up was strengthened by the religion of the time. For example: one who gave his inheritance to the Temple could leave his parents without any help. This weakened the fourth commandment which was the backbone of the clan (Mk 7:8-13). Besides this, the observance of the norms of purity was a factor of marginalization for many people: women, children, Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, possessed people, tax collectors or publicans, the sick, the mutilated and paraplegics.



• Thus, concern with the problems of one’s own family prevented the people from meeting in community. Now, in order that the Kingdom of God manifest itself in community living , the people had to overcome the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves again to the large family, to the community. Jesus gave the example. When His own family tried to take possession of Him, He reacted and extended the family: "Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My heavenly Father is My brother, and sister, and mother." He created a community.



• Jesus asked the same thing of those who wanted to follow Him. Families could not close themselves off from the larger community. The excluded and the marginalized had to be accepted in life with others, and in this way feel accepted by God (Lk 14:12-14). This was the way to attain the objective of the Law, which said “There must, then, be no poor among you” (Dt 15:4). Like the great Prophets of the past, Jesus tried to consolidate community life in the villages of Galilee. He restored the profound meaning of the clan, of the family, of the community, as an expression of the incarnation of the love toward God and toward neighbor.



4) Personal questions



• To live faith in the community. What place and what influence does family and community have in my way of living my faith?

• Today, in large cities, overcrowding promotes individualism which is contrary to life in community. What am I doing to counteract this evil?

• There are many forms of community today, and some of these are dysfunctional. We have online communities, gangs (which are a form of community), lobbies, clubs, social and business societies, and so on. How do I bring the attitude of Jesus to these other communities I might be a member of?

• How broadly do I define what is my community? Why?



5) Concluding prayer



I waited, I waited for Yahweh,

then He stooped to me

and heard my cry for help.

He put a fresh song in my mouth,

praise of our God. (Ps 40:1.3)


Lectio Divina:
2020-07-21

Czech Republic

France

Germany

Great Britain

Ireland

Italy

Malta

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Spain

  • Friars - Province of Arago-Valentina
                Province of Betica
                Province of Castile
                Province of Catalonia
  • Nuns - Monasterio Sma. Encarnación (Antequera)
                Monasterio de Sta. Catalina (Aracena)
                Monestir de la Mare de Déu del Carme (Banyoles)
                Monestir de l'Encarnació (Barcelona)
                Monasterio del Smo. Sacramento (Cañete La Real)
                Monasterio del Corazón de Jesús (Caudete)
                Carmelo del Sagrado Corazón y del Beato Tito Brandsma (Cordoba)
                Monasterio de Sta. Mª del Monte Carmelo y San Elías Profeta (Estepona)
                Monasterio de la Madre de Dios (Fontiveros)
                Monasterio de la Encarnación (Granada)
                Monasterio N. Sra. de la Asunción (Huesca)
                Monasterio de la Encarnación (Huesca)
                Monasterio N. Sra. de las Maravillas (Madrid)
                Monasterio Purísima Sangre de Cristo (Onteniente)
                Monasterio de San Pedro (Osuna)
                Monasterio de la Madre de Dios (Piedrahita)
                Monasterio Santa Ana (Sevilla)
                Monasterio Santa Ana (Tafira Alta)
                Monestir de l'Amor Diví (Tarrega)
                Monasterio de la Purísima Concepción (Utrera)
                Monasterio de la Sma. Encarnación del Verbo Divino (Valencia)
                Monestir de la Presentació (Valls)
                Monestir de la Mare de Déu del Carme (Vilafranca del Penedés)
                Monasterio de S. Juan Bautista (Villalba del Alcor)
                Monasterio de la Encarnación (Zaragoza)
    Sisters - Hermanas de la Virgen María del Monte Carmelo
                  Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
  • Lay - Missionary Family Donum Dei

The Netherlands

  • Friars - Province of The Netherlands
  • Nuns – Zusters Karmelietessen (Boxmeer)
                 Huize "St. Antonius" (Echt)
                 Karmel "Titus Brandsma" (Heerlen)
                 Karmel "St. Jozef" (Nuland)
                 Karmel "St. Jozef" (Zenderen)

Ucraina

1. Opening Prayer



O God, who has prepared a worthy dwelling place of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession grant that we, your faithful,may be a living temple of Your glory. We ask this, through Christ our Lord ...



2. Reading



Luke 2:41-51

Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.



3. Meditation



* "Every year the feast of Passover." These words help us to  define the spiritual context in which the passage takes place and thus become, for us, the gateway to enter the mystery of His encounter with the Lord and His work of grace and mercy upon us.



Together with Mary and Joseph, with Jesus, we too can live the gift of a new Passover, a "crossing," an excess, a spiritual movement that takes us "beyond.” The passage is clear and strong. What the Virgin Mary intuits in this experience with her son Jesus is the step from the street to the heart of the dispersion to interiority, from anguish to peace.



All that remains is to journey  down the street and join the feast, the feast of pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover.



* "Their way" This is only the first of a series of verbs of motion, which follow one another along the verses of this passage:  "they went", "return to the path", "group" (from the Latin cum-ire, "walking together"); "journey"; "back"; "went down with them, " " arrive .”



In parallel with this great physical movement, there is also a deep spiritual movement characterized by the verb "look", expressed over and over again: "they began to look for," "returned in search of Him," "looking for You anxiously,” " why you sought Me?”



This tells us that the journey, the true path to which the Lord's word calls us, is not a physical journey, but a journey in search of Jesus, of His presence in our lives. And this is the direction in which we move, together with Mary and Joseph.



 * "They began to look for Him" Here we can identify the core of the text, its fundamental message. It is important that we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of this reality. Also because Luke uses two different verbs to express the "search,”  the first indicating accurate, repeated, careful, as some of those who browse, from bottom to top, and second which indicates the search for something that is lost and you want to find. Jesus is the object of all this movement and deep inner being, is the object of desire, the longing of the heart.



 * "Distressed" It is great to see how Mary opens her heart to Jesus, telling Him what she felt within herself. She is not afraid to tell the truth to her Son, to tell Him the feelings and experiences that they felt deeply. But what is this anguish, this pain that you saw in Mary and Joseph in search of Jesus, who went missing?



These 3 days of looking, the journey to Jerusalem, and not understanding His words afterward, may also be considered a prefiguring the narrative of His death and Resurrection.



* "Kept all these sayings in her heart" Mary does not understand the words of Jesus, the mystery of His life and His mission and for this remains silent, accepts, makes space, keeps them in her heart. This is the true path of growth in faith and relationship with the Lord.



Once again, Luke gives us a very beautiful and meaningful word which means literally "keeping through.” That is the spiritual operation that Mary carries within herself and that give us as a precious gift, a legacy for our good relationship with the Lord, so that it can  take us into a journey deep, deep, that does not stop at the surface, or half, which is not coming back, but it goes deep down. Mary takes us by the hand and guides us through all her heart, all her feelings, her experiences. And there, in the secrecy of ourselves, in our hearts, we can learn to find the Lord Jesus, whom perhaps we had lost.



There is also a loss for Mary and Joseph. Up until now, Joseph was identified with “my father”. Now it is changed. He is not just her son, or their son, but son of our Heavenly Father. In all this is another sorrow, one of parents, that they do not understand their child: “But they did not understand what He said to them.”



4. Some questions



* There are many foreshadows of the Passion in this passage. Can I identify the depth of things symbolized here?

* Do I feel like I am seeking the Lord? Or does it not seem important? Is it an active part of my life every day?

* Has anxiety, spoken by Mary, ever been my companion on the journey of my life? Maybe, thanks to this passage, I discover that the anxiety is caused by the absence of the Lord, the loss of God.  Does this passage help me, give me a light and a key for my life?

* As a parent (past, future, or present), do I see a relationship and partnership with God the Father in raising my children, and do I give room for God to be an active participant in this? Am I a wall between God and them, or am I translator, or do I allow them to build their relationship at the same time?



5. Closing Prayer



And as she worshiped the LORD, she said:

"My heart exults in the LORD,

my horn is exalted in my God.

I have swallowed up my enemies;

I rejoice in my victory.

There is no Holy One like the LORD;

there in no Rock like our God.

"Speak boastfully no longer,

nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.

For an all-knowing God is the LORD,

a God who judges deeds.

The bows of the mighty are broken,

while the tottering gird on strength.

The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,

while the hungry batten on spoil.

The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.

The LORD puts to death and gives life;

He casts down to the nether world; He raises up again.

The LORD makes poor and makes rich,

He humbles, He also exalts.

He raises the needy from the dust;

from the ash heap He lifts up the poor,

To seat them with nobles

and make a glorious throne their heritage.

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S,

and He has set the world upon them.

1 Samuel 2:1-8


Lectio Divina:
2020-06-20

In these most recent years we have been celebrating a number of centenaries that have great importance for the life of our Carmelite family: St Albert of Jerusalem and Jerónimo Gracián, the eighth and fourth centenaries of whose deaths occur respectively; and St Teresa of Jesus, the fifth centenary of whose birth occurs.

We would like to share some reflections on Fr Jerónimo Gracián with the whole Carmelite Family. We begin from the story of his life, not always well known to everybody. It is true that in these last few years, thanks to the publication of a series of bibliographies, studies and the edition of some of his writings, Gracián is beginning to find some space in Carmelite bibliography. It is also worth noting that in this process of recovery, his own La Peregrinación de Anastasio has had an important place.[1]

1.    A Man of his Times – 1545-1572

Jerónimo Gracián was born in the Castilian city of Valladolid, on June 6th, 1545. It was there that he received the imprint that would develop to maturity in later life. Spanish and Polish blood ran through his veins. His father, Diego Gracián de Alderete, was ‘Latin Secretary to his Majesty’, King Philip II, and a humanist worthy of the name. He was distinguished for being an excellent calligrapher, polyglot and a connoisseur of classical culture. He worked as a secretary to bishops and as a translator of books, especially Greek and Latin books. In his youth he had a very close friendship with the one who would become his father-in-law, Juan Dantisco, Polish ambassador to the court of Charles I of Spain, and Charles V of Germany. With the passage of time he became a bishop, first of Culm, and later he was promoted to the Church of Warmia (Poland). Jerónimo Gracián would inherit both from his father and from his maternal grand-father a passion for literature and for classical culture.

Jerónimo Gracián was the third of twenty brothers. Teresa of Jesus used to sing the praises of his mother, Juana Dantisco on account of her deep piety, which she passed on to her children of whom seven entered religious life. The Carmelites were: María de San José, Isabel de Jesús, Juliana de Santa Teresa y Lorenzo Gracián. From his earliest years Jerónimo had a Jesuit as his spiritual director. He studied in the well-known university of Alcalá de Henares. At nineteen years of age, he was already a Master of Arts, a proof of his intelligence and his aptitude for study. He then studied theology, and came very close to the degree of Doctor. He was ordained a priest at twenty four years of age. His love for literature is widely known: “Reading and study of good books (principally from when I began to study Theology, which is my profession) has been something very ordinary, since the time when I was ten years old and I began to study, up to the present day” (PA, c. XV). The light of the Word, the cornerstone of his academic and theological formation, directed his reason and intellect towards the mystery of God (cf. Ps 108,109): “Our Lord helped him to understand that to knowledgeable people, whom he has enlightened through the ordinary pathway of study, it is not necessary to give particular revelations and visions.....” (PA, c. XV). Hence he affirms, “I set about writing” and “I did not hide the talent for writing that the Lord had given me” (PA, c. XV).

2.    His encounter with Saint Teresa of Jesus – 1572-1592

When he was ordained and had finished his studies for a doctorate he began to think about the possibility of joining the Jesuits. In this time of searching he got to know the Carmelite nuns in Pastrana and the prioress of the community, Isabel de Santo Domingo. The life and spirit of these women fascinated him:

I received the habit in Pastrana, in 1572, having fought for a year and a half with this vocation, which was a real torment. All the natural reasons were against me at that point: poor health, natural laziness, study fatigue, obligations towards my parents and brothers (...) All of this, on the one hand, battled against a burning desire to serve our Lord, and, on the other hand, since the reform of this Order was beginning at that time, it seemed to me that my Lord was calling me for that (PA, c. I).

Our Lady of Mount Carmel would be his companion on the journey from the very beginning. Teresa of Jesus attributed his choosing the Carmelite Order to his great devotion to Mary and his great desire to serve her. He said, indeed, that when he was a child, he very often prayed before a statue of Mary, for whom he had a deep devotion and to whom he referred as his “lover”: “I am blinded by the love of such a lady.... I would lose my life, which I would give so willingly to my Lady, the Virgin Mary” (PA, c. I). In the view of Teresa of Jesus, it was the intervention of the Blessed Virgin that led him to choose the Carmelite habit (cf. F 23, 4-8).

His Carmelite adventure began with a lot of responsibilities, even though he was still only a novice. He recounts:

I received the habit, and straightaway the jobs began, and I was soon worn out from preaching and hearing confessions in the Carmelite house and in the town of Pastrana and in the towns and villages round about, where we had benefactors (...) I had to instruct thirty novices that later were the pride of the Order; and we were alone, so alone that we had to be careful that they were not affected by the antics of some of the professed who tried to tell them what to do, so that they would not leave the order, and we had to do no small amount of work in this regard (PA, c. I).

He went on to illustrate the rigours and penances that the professed wanted to inflict on the novices. The first novices were young men who could neither read nor write, and had little experience or wisdom..... All of this was the cause of a crisis for Fray Jerónimo: “... I was about to leave the Order and not make my profession on its account”. He persevered in Carmel, however, under the wise direction of Mother Isabel de Santo Domingo (PA, c. I).

His Commitment to the Reform

In Jerónimo Gracián there is a unity in his love for the Rule of Carmel and for the reform that Saint Teresa had begun, for the initial ideals and for the ability to achieve them in ways that were new and renewing. This convergence was an expression of the springtime that the Church was experiencing in the aftermath of the Council of Trent. In a certain sense, it is the same as we see in our own time. The Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is faithful to its vocation only by being reformed constantly,[2] and Pope Francis has noted:

There are ecclesial structures which can hamper efforts at evangelization, yet even good structures are only helpful when there is a life constantly driving, sustaining and assessing them. Without new life and an authentic evangelical spirit, without the Church’s ‘fidelity to her own calling’, any new structure will soon prove ineffective.[3]

Teresa was a woman who exercised the gift of friendship intensely. In the first meeting with Fr Jerónimo Gracián de la Madre de Dios, in Beas de Segura in 1575, we find a certain empathy, openness and confidentiality between them:

The master, Gracián, was here for twenty days ... I think well of him, and for us it were best that we ask God for him .... I can now stop worrying about the running of these houses, for such perfection with such gentility, I have never seen” (MC 81, to Mother Isabel de Santo Domingo, May 12th, 1575).

Following his profession, Jerónimo began to carry out tasks of some importance in the newly-born Reform of Carmel. Just a few months after his profession he was appointed Apostolic Visitator of the Carmelites in Andalucia: “Here I am, at 28 years of age, and a half year of profession, appointed the Prelate of the Carmelites in Andalucia, against the will of the General and Protector of the Calced Order” (PA c. I). In 1575, he would become the Apostolic Visitator of all the Carmelites in Andalucia, including the Discalced. At that time, he acted as the head of the Reform, the white-headed boy of Teresa of Jesus, to bring to completion the creation of the Discalced Province. In time, he would find himself in prison. In the end, and with the help of Philip II, a Brief from Rome confirmed the creation of the Discalced Province as part of the Carmelite Order. At the Chapter celebrated in Alcalá de Henares, in March 1581, Fr Jerónimo was elected Provincial of the Reformed Province. This is how he told the story:

The Fathers gathered for the Chapter in Alcalá; the province was set up; the laws were agreed; they elected me as their first Provincial, I governed the Province for my four years, opening houses of friars and nuns in the company of mother Teresa of Jesus, which involved all the ordinary work of travelling, doing business, writing letters, hearing confessions, preaching sermons and studying, etc. (PA, c. III).

On October 4th, 1582, Teresa died in Alba de Tormes: “Blessed be God, for giving me such a great friend, whose love, now in heaven, will not grow cold and I can be sure that it will be a great help to me” (PA, c. XVI). The reformer found in him, providentially, the person who would consolidate and direct all that she had begun. Writing about him, she said that he was “a man who was very well educated, with great understanding and modesty, graced by many virtues all his life, it seems as if Our Lady chose him for the good of this primitive Order”.[4] What was notable, in talking about his style of governing, was the combination of goodness and firmness:

His manner is pleasant which means that for the most part those who deal with him love him (a grace from the Lord), such that he is loved very much by those who are under him, both men and women, and while he does not forgive any fault – because in this he cared very much about the spread of devotion – he was always able to act with such a pleasing gentleness that no one ever had reason to complain about him.[5]

St Teresa confided in him, promising him obedience (CC 30, 3) and, thanks to this vow, Fr Jerónimo could ask her not only to open new monasteries but also to complete the writing of her book on the Foundations and to write about her spiritual life which she did in the Interior Castle. Similarly, out of obedience to him, Teresa posed for her portrait to be painted by Fray Juan de la Miseria, thus leaving behind the well-known portrait which has been handed down to us (cf. PA, c. XIII).

Jerónimo Gracián, for his part, followed the teaching of Teresa of Jesus. This gave him the imprint of the evolving charism, and became a source of great spiritual and human sustenance in his apostolic activity. Teresa’s regard for Jerónimo had many features that covered the spectrum from loving mother to grateful child. The intense correspondence that went between them is legendary (CC 29,1; 30,3) and his friendship provided a valve for Teresa: “I am happy that Fray Antonio is not with you, because, they tell me, when he sees so many letters of mine and none of them for him, he gets upset” (MC 170 to Padre Jerónimo Gracián, around December, 1576). Fr Gracián remembered it as well:

She shared her spirit with me, not hiding anything from me, and I did the same with her, revealing everything I had inside, and in that way we were certain that we were in agreement on everything that had to do with the task in hand and she, as well as her religious vow, made another vow of obedience to me for the rest of her life, because of a particular revelation that she received (PA, c. XIII).

Fr Jerónimo also gave of himself, by accepting all that she taught. Teresa gave him his dreams and, much more, his ideals and his charismatic commitment: that is why, as well as being a friend and confidante for him, she was also ‘mother’. Not only that, he found in her the master that guided him through the pathways of the interior life, inspiring his ministry to the friars and nuns of the Reform.

The Brothers say ‘No’

In Lisbon, in 1585, Fr Nicolas Doria was elected Provincial and Fr Gracián remained as Vicar Provincial. Then, later, he was elected as the Vicar Provincial of the new province of Mexico at the intermediate Chapter that was held in Valladolid in 1587. He could not leave with the fleet that sailed to the so-called West Indies, because in 1587 and in 1588 no fleet set sail. He would instead spend two years in Portugal at the request of Cardinal Alberto, the Viceroy of Portugal, and he became the Apostolic Visitator of the Portuguese Carmelites. He was called to Madrid in 1590 and this was the beginning of his Calvary. He would end up being expelled from the Discalced Carmelites on February 17th, 1592, among whom he had been the first provincial, after being accused of not being strict enough and of devoting more time to the apostolate than to the regular life and of having dishonest dealings with Maria de San José, formerly the prioress of Seville and, at that time, prioress of Lisbon.

They stripped Fr Jerónimo of his discalced habit which he had worn for twenty years, and dressed him in secular attire. “Finally they have taken away my habit, after a long period in prison. I was sorry that then they gave me a mantle and cassock of very good material, that belonged to a novice that had entered” (PA, c. IV). He finished by confessing the pain that he felt: “Only the one who has suffered it can tell what it is like, for one who entered the Discalced Order with the vocation with which I entered, and suffered so much to build the Province, and given the habit to the ones who now have taken it from me” (PA, c. IV). From that moment, he went back to being the priest, Don Jerónimo Gracián.

3.    The test of Fidelity – 1592-1596

The new stage in the life of Fr Jerónimo Gracián runs through a continuous pilgrimage, from one place to another, from one experience to another, passing through the quest for justice, the search for a place where he would be welcomed, and a bitter captivity in a strange land. This was a time of purification that was providential in that it helped him to centre himself in the heart of the Gospel, and in his religious life, helping to confirm his choosing to enter Carmel. In the most adverse situations, when things were falling apart, Fr Jerónimo always managed to look far ahead, by living in allegiance to Jesus Christ (Rule, Ch. 2) and by preaching the Gospel. Perhaps he is a more than significant witness for religious life today, in a time of crisis, and apparent disheartenment.

Later he would say that he asked the Lord for the “desire to suffer” and to carry a “naked and shameful cross” because “it appeared to him as the straightest and safest way to reach heaven” (PA, c. VIII). God heard his prayer. In time, he would say that the Lord did not delay in granting him what he had asked with such insistence: “Not long after this prayer I began to see that God was giving me his grace and was granting me all that I asked” (PA, c. VIII). Indeed, he came to know persecutions, displacement, fears, dangers, insults and other labours, that taught him a very sweet science: “that every virtue comes from the love of God and of neighbour and every virtue has that same love as its ultimate aim” (PA, c. XV). Fr Jerónimo discovered that we cannot decaffeinate the Gospel, and that anyone “who does not love the one who hates him is not a Christian,[6] because love for enemies is a fundamental law”[7] and “the supreme quintessence of virtue”.[8] In his Peregrinación he illustrates this with an example:

I thought of my adversaries as images of Christ .... If a tabernacle or a pyx of poor stone can contain the Most Blessed Sacrament, I would never not want to adore him and reverence him, even though I might like to see him dressed in gold and fine clothing. I know that God is in essence, presence and power in the one who persecutes me. Yes, I would love the tabernacle to be more beautiful, but I close my eyes to all that is outside and not to what is contained within (PA, c. XI).

Fr Jerónimo Gracián did not share the view of those who made a virtue out of strictness of observance, the banner of the reform and an end in itself. The conflict that led to his expulsion could be summed up in a paragraph that he left us in his writings:

Because there are spirits to whom it seems that all Carmelite perfection lies in not leaving their cell, or in never missing choir, even though the whole world may have gone up in flames, and that the good of the Order consisted in multiplying houses in the small towns and villages in Spain, and leaving the rest, and that think that every other way of thinking is restlessness and laxity. God did not lead me by this route, but rather by the way of saving souls; and in relation to the people that we employ in small places, we should begin with them to found houses in the more important cities in the different kingdoms for the real spread and benefit of the Order. And, as I talked about this many times and in great detail with Mother Teresa of Jesus, whose zeal was for the conversion of the whole world, this way of doing things stuck to me even more (PA, c. III).

One question went round and round in Gracián’s head: “Where is God?” The answer was clear: “there where love is uppermost” (PA, c. X). Gracián was faithful to the premise that “flexibility” is a good companion on the journey, that love is “creative” and that the one who does good is never lost.

Perseverance in the test: “Adam’s habit”

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Gracián’s pilgrimage continued with his journey to Rome to seek the protection of the Pope and he succeeded in speaking to Clement VIII. The Pontiff, through his secretaries, expressed the view that he should join another religious Order. He asked to join “the Capuchins, the Cistercians, the Discalced Franciscans, and all the other orders, asking to receive their habit: none would give it to me, and I saw myself rejected by every Order, as if I was the most despicable religious that you could find on the earth” (PA, c. V). He passed through Naples, and Sicily (where he stayed for eight months, helping out and hearing confessions in a hospital). On January 27th, 1593, the Pope wrote a Brief, Uberes fructus, in which he confirmed Fr Gracián’s expulsion from the Discalced Carmelites, ordering him to join the Augustinians or some other observant Order. He left the port of Gaeta to travel to Rome:

As I came to the end of Mass, in which – against the interior pressure that came from the Virgin Mary and from Teresa of Jesus never to leave their Order – I decided to join the Discalced Augustinians, as the wind began to die down, the ships, on account of that, began to slow (PA, c. V).

The Gospel proclaimed, by one in chains

God worked hard on Fr Jerónimo Gracián. He asked God for “humility” and life offered him more than enough “humiliations” and opportunities to demonstrate how right his petition was. One more episode was added to his turbulent biography: his captivity in Argel. In his Peregrinación, Gracián writes about his ups and downs, his interest in evangelising and, finally, his freedom. More than once, while spending a long spell in prison he was sure that he was going to be executed. Gracián, zealous as ever for the salvation of souls, did not waste time. He writes about the conversations he had, how he preached, heard confessions and helped in getting release for people in prison. In the midst of the torment and restrictions of his own imprisonment he recounts:

I heard the confessions of my captive Christians ... comforting them when they were beaten with a stick, pacifying their quarrels and visiting them when they were sick. If they wanted to cut somebody’s nose or ears, I would manage to get forgiveness with a little money, which I got faithfully from the same Christians (PA, c. VI).

In many ways, throughout his whole life, Jerónimo was devoted to the mission of evangelisation. During his four years as Provincial he gave a missionary and expansionary slant to the Province that he governed: thus he had houses opened in Genoa (1584), the Congo (1584) and in Mexico (1585). Despite being held in captivity, he still managed to preach the Gospel to his companions and his captors. Returning to the Order he was at the Pope’s disposal to take on any missionary expedition and he dedicated some of his writings to this. This missionary zeal came out of his great desire to “save souls” and to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He said to Teresa that

sometimes it seemed to him that (a statue of the Blessed Virgin) had eyes that were swollen from weeping over the many offenses committed against her Son. As a result there arose in him a strong impulse and desire to help souls, and he felt it very deeply when he saw offenses committed against God. He has so great an inclination toward the good of souls that any hardship becomes small to him if he thinks that through it he can produce some fruit. I have seen this myself in the many trials that he has undergone.[9]

Teresa, evidently, did not imagine that still more trials awaited him, nor the greatness of spirit that he would show in them.

4.    In Mary’s Habit – 1596-1614

On April 11th, 1595, the Bajá of Tunisia signed his letter of freedom. He arrived in Genoa where began a new and final stage in his life which covered the last eighteen years, as a Carmelite (O.Carm.). Gracián himself recounts that he arrived in Rome, threw himself at the feet of the Pope and got his permission to return to wearing the Carmelite habit. That is what Gracián tells us, as he summed up in just a few lines all that happened in his life until he got to Belgium:

He ordered me to put on the habit of the (calced) Carmelites despite the fact that the conclusion of the Consultation was that I was not to wear any habit, neither Carmelite nor Discalced Carmelite. I spent a short time in San Martin in Montibus (sic) with the (calced) Carmelites. From there the Protector of my Order sent me to the home of Cardenal Deza, the protector in Spain. I worked for him for five years as a theologian, writing and printing books. From the memos that I had written to the Pope it emerged that to the Congregation of Cardinals of Propaganda Fide De and to the Pope it seemed that I should return to Africa with a mission that they gave me to bring the Jubilee of the Holy Year to the Christians in those places. I had letters from the King for the guards at the borders that they should afford me safe passage. I was present for my mother’s death. I went to Cueta, and from there to Tetuan: I accomplished my mission; I returned with orders to make peace between our King and the Jarife; it didn’t work. I came to the house in Madrid: from there I went to Valencia and Alicante and then back to Rome to report to Pope Clement VIII: God took him to himself; I remained preaching and printing books in Valencia. They sent me to Pamplona to preach for Lent. From there I came to Flanders (PA, c. VIII).

Fr Jerónimo – in his Peregrinación – never ceases to express his joy and contentment with the treatment he received in the Carmelite Order.

They showed great pleasure in seeing me wearing their habit. The General soon made me Master of the Order and they gave me the seniority that I would have had if I had made my profession with them when I made my profession with the Discalced, and I have held on to that always, which is no small thing for which to be thankful (PA, c. XIV).

While the time he spent with the Reform was particularly fruitful in terms of his work in governing, his time with the Ancient Observance was distinguished for his gifts as a preacher and prolific writer.[10] Jerónimo now wrote on behalf of prelates and of the Prior General of the Order and his works include everything from missionary activity to the history and spirituality of Carmel. On the instructions of Fr Enrique Silvio, then Prior General of the Order, elected in Rome in 1598, he wrote his famous commentary on the Rule of the Order – Della disciplina regolare[11] – to stimulate the members of the Order towards greater observance. At that time he was also working tirelessly on printing the writings of St Teresa into other languages and on promoting her beatification. Flanders was the last stop on his journey. There he finished the writing of his Peregrinación de Anastasio, Dialogues of the persecutions, works, tribulations and crosses that Fr Jerónimo Graacian de la Madre de Dios suffered.

Gracián arrived in Brussels in 1607. He would spend the next years alternating an eremitical life, in a hermitage in the garden of the house, with his preaching and hearing confessions and working with the Discalced Carmelites who were beginning to open houses in that country. He had the joy of being alive when Mother Teresa of Jesus was beatified on April 24th, 1614, by Paul V. On September 21st, 1614, at six o’clock in the evening of that Sunday, Jerónimo Gracián died, a Carmelite. We have to include in his missionary activities the publication of the works of Teresa in Protestant areas, as well as his own works: Diez lamentaciones del miserable estado de los ateístas[12] (Ten Lamentations of the Miserable Condition of Atheists) and Leviatán engañoso, suma de algunos engaños[13] (The Deceitful Leviathan: an Account of Some Deceits). Just like Teresa, he wanted to respond, in a certain sense, to the schism that was created in the Church by the Lutheran separation, by opening monasteries in which there would be faithful and joyful witness to the Gospel. Jerónimo, through the diffusion of Teresa’s teaching, had the intention of offering a model of life transfigured by the Gospel and at the service of the Church.

Conclusion: victoria amoris – the victory of love (PA, c. x)

Clothe the naked is the first work of mercy according to the Hebrew tradition (cf. Matthew 25:36). Fr Jerónimo Gracián spent his whole life looking for clothes to put on: “I received the Discalced habit”; “they dressed me up in secular dress”; “they gave me a cloak and cassock of the finest material”; “they made me wear the habit of wretchedness”; “I saw that I was naked and I put on my new Adam’s suit”; “they gave me once again the calced habit”, etc. At the end of his life, with wisdom and discernment, he was able to say: God is well able to see that there is as much fruit from one habit as from another, as my own experience has shown me (PA, c. XVI). The ‘habit’ that he received went beyond his expectations: it was not an external garment, but an interior one. Gracián, just like Joseph in the book of Genesis, was stripped of his cloak (Genesis 37:3, 23, 31; 39:12; 41:14) in order to put on the “cloak of fine linen” (cf. Genesis 41:42) Linen, in order to be woven and become softer and more bright and luminous, has to be beaten and pounded. The linens are the good works of the saints ... (Acts 19:8). The epitaph of a Jewish rabbi illustrates what Jerónimo Gracián went through: “For every good work that a man does on the earth, a thread of light lights up in the heavens. Many good works make many threads. Why? In order to weave a garment of light. A garment of light that gives glory to the Master of the works”. A ‘garment of light’ made from threads of mercy, goodness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, peace, and the love which binds everything together in perfect harmony (cf. Colossians 3:12-15).

Fr Jerónimo Gracián invites us to become craftsmen and craftswomen of peace and reconciliation, so that, seeing our good works, the Father who is in heaven may be glorified (Matthew 5:16). Gracián’s peregrinación (pilgrimage) is the expression of a deeper spiritual journey, which is a response to the love that God poured into his heart through our Blessed Mother, in his desire to take on the Rule of Carmel in accordance with the teachings of Teresa of Jesus and his passionate desire to give himself to others for their salvation. This victoria amoris – victory of love – (PA c. X) lived, above all, in moments of tension, was an ecstasy of love for him, but not in the sense of a momentary flash, but as something permanent, a going out from the “I” closed in on itself, towards the liberation that comes from committing oneself and by so doing comes to find oneself again, and even more, to find God.[14] In Gracián’s pilgrimage we begin to see the pilgrimage of every disciple, and for that reason, our pilgrimage too, as we endeavour to follow that same path marked out by Jesus “which, through the cross brings him to the resurrection; the route of the grain of wheat that falls on the ground and dies, and so gives abundant fruit.”[15] We give thanks to God because we can reap the fruit of the witness and the message that our brother Jerónimo Gracián has left us.

Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., Prior General

Saverio Cannistrà, O.C.D., Provost General

 


[1]     Jerónimo Gracián de la Madre de Dios: Peregrinación de Anastasio. Ed. Juan Luis Astigarraga. Roma: 2001. Hereafter: PA with the number of the chapter.

[2]     Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 6; Lumen Gentium, 8; Gaudium et Spes, 21.

[3]     Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium, 26.

[4]     Teresa de Jesús: Foundations 23, 1.

[5]     Ibid, Foundations 23, 7.

[6]     2 Epistle of Clement, 13ss.

[7]     Tertulian: Tract on Patience, 6.

[8]     John Chrysostom: Sermons on the Gospel according to Matthew, 18, 3.

[9]     Teresa de Jesús: Foundations 23, 5.

[10]    Nicolás Antonio: Bibliotheca Nova Hispana. Madrid: 1684.

[11]    Fr Jerónimo Gracián: Della Disciplina Regolare. Venice: 1600.

[12]    Fr Jerónimo Gracián: Diez lamentaciones del miserable estado de los ateístas. Brussels: 1611.

[13]    Fr Jerónimo Gracián: Leviathan engañoso, suma de algunos engaños. Brussels: 1614.

[14]    Pope Benedict XVI: Deus caritas est, 6.

[15]    Ibid, 6.

Argentina

Bolivia

Brazil

Colombia

Ecuador

Guyana

Perù

Trinidad and Tobago

Venezuela

1) Opening prayer

Lord,
be merciful to your people.
Fill us with your gifts
and make us always eager to serve you
in faith, hope and love.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 13,1-9

That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into the boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Listen, a sower went out to sow.
As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!’

3) Reflection

• In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew the third great discourse begins, the Discourse of the Parables. As we already said before, in the commentary on the Gospel of July 9th, Matthew organized his Gospel like a new edition of the Law of God or like a new “Pentateuch” with its five books. For this reason his Gospel is composed of five great discourses or teachings of Jesus, followed by narrative parts, in which he describes how Jesus put into practice what he had taught in the discourses. The following is the outline:
Introduction: birth and preparation of the Messiah (Mt 1 to 4)
a) Sermon on the Mountain: the entrance door to the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse of the Mission: how to announce and diffuse the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse of the Parables: the mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse of the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse of the future coming of the Kingdom: the utopia which sustains hope (Mt 24 and 25)
Conclusion: Passion, Death and Resurrection (Mt 26 to 28).
• In today’s Gospel we will meditate on the parable of the seed. Jesus had a way of speaking so popular by means of comparisons and parables. Generally, when he finished telling a parable, he did not explain it, but used to say: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mt 11,15; 13,9.43). Sometimes he would explain the meaning to the Disciples (Mt 13,36). The parables speak of the things of life; seed, lamp, mustard seed, salt, etc. These are things that exist in daily life, for the people of that time as well as today for us. Thus, the experience that we have today of these things becomes for us a means to discover the presence of the mystery of God in our life. To speak in parables means to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom present in life.
• Matthew 13,1-3: Sitting in the boat, Jesus taught the people. As it happened in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5,1-2), here also Matthew makes a brief introduction to the discourse of the Parables, describing Jesus who teaches in the boat, on the shore, and many people around him who listen. Jesus was not a person who was instructed (Jn 7,15). He had not been to a higher school in Jerusalem. He came from inside the country, from Nazareth. He was unknown, a farmer and craftsman or artisan at the same time. Without asking permission from the religious authority, he began to teach the people. People liked to listen to him. Jesus taught especially by means of parables. We have already heard some of them: fishermen of men (Mt 4,19), the salt (Mt 5,13), the lamp (Mt 5,15), the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field (Mt 6,26.28), the house constructed on the rock (Mt 7,24). And now, in chapter 13, the parables begin to have a particular meaning: they serve to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of God present in the midst of people and the activity of Jesus.
• Matthew 13,4-8: The parable of the seed taken from the life of the farmer. At that time, it was not easy to live from farming. The land was full of stones. There was little rain, too much sun. Besides, many times, people in order to shorten the way, passed through the fields and destroyed the plants (Mt 12,1). But in spite of all that, every year, the farmer would sow and plant, with trust in the force of the seed, in the generosity of nature. The parable of the sower describes that which we all know and do: the seed thrown by the agriculturer falls on the ground along the road, another part falls among the stones and thistles; still another part falls on good earth, where, according to the quality of the land, will produce thirty, sixty and even up to one hundred. A parable is a comparison. It uses things known by the people and which are visible, to explain that the Kingdom of God is an invisible and unknown thing. The people of Galilee understood about seeds, ground, rain, sun and harvest. And so now Jesus uses exactly these things that were known to people to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.
• Matthew 13,9: He, who has ears to hear, let him listen. The expression “He, who has ears, let him listen” means: “It is this! You have heard. Now try to understand!” The way to be able to understand the parable is to search: “To try to understand!” The parable does not give everything immediately, but pushes one to think and to make one discover starting from the experience which the listeners have of the seed. It opens to creativity and to participation. It is not a doctrine which comes ready to be taught. The parable does not give water in bottles, but the source. The agriculturer who listens to the parable says: “Seed in the ground, I know what that means! But Jesus says that it has something to do with the Kingdom of God. What would that be?” And it is easy to imagine the long conversations of the people! The parable leads to listen to nature and to think of life. Once a person asked in a community: “Jesus says that we have to be salt. For what is salt good?” There was discussion and then at the end, ten different purposes that salt can have, were discovered. Then all this was applied to the life of the community and it was discovered that to be salt is difficult and demanding. The parable worked well!

4) Personal questions

• When you were a child how was catechism taught to you? How do you compare some parts of life? Do you remember some important comparison that the catechist told you? How is the catechesis today in your community?
• Sometimes we are the road side, sometimes the rock; other times the thorns or thistles, and other times good earth. What am I? What are we in our community? Which are the fruits which the Word of God is producing in my life, in my family, and in our community: thirty, sixty, one hundred?

5) Concluding Prayer

Yahweh in his holy temple!
Yahweh, his throne is in heaven;
his eyes watch over the world,
his gaze scrutinises the children of Adam. (Ps 11,4)

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Lord,

be merciful to Your people.

Fill us with Your gifts

and make us always eager to serve You

in faith, hope and love.

You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:18-23



Jesus said to his disciples: "Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirty fold."



3) Reflection



• Context. Beginning with chapter 12, on the one side we see there is opposition among the religious leaders of Israel, the scribes and the Pharisees; on the other side, within the crowds who listen to Jesus and are amazed because of His marvelous actions, gradually, little by little, a group of disciples is being formed, with uncertain features, but who follow Jesus with perseverance. To twelve of these disciples Jesus has given the gift of His authority and His power. He has sent them as messengers of the Kingdom, giving them demanding and radical instructions (10:5-39). Now at the moment when controversy breaks out with His opponents, Jesus recognizes His true kinship, not in the lines of the flesh (mother, brothers), but in those who follow Him, listen to Him, and fulfill the will of the Father (12:46-50). This last account offers us the possibility to imagine that the audience to whom Jesus addressed His words is two-fold: on the one side, the disciples to whom He has given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom (13:11) and who have the ability to understand them (13:50) and, on the other side, the crowds who seem to be deprived of this deep understanding (13:11, 34-36). To the large crowds who gather to listen to Jesus is presented, above all, the parable of the sower. Jesus speaks about a seed that falls (or not!) on the earth. Its growth depends on the place where it falls; it is possible for it to be hindered so that it cannot bear fruit. This is what happens in the first three types of earth “along the road side” (the ground hardened by the passing of men and animals), “the rocky earth” (formed by rocks), “on the thorns” (it is the earth covered with thorns). Instead, the seed that falls on “good ground” bears excellent fruit, even if at different levels. The reader is directed to be more attentive to the yield of the grain than to the action of the sower. Besides, Matthew focuses the attention of the listener on the good earth and the fruit that this earth is capable of producing in an exceptional manner.



The first part of the parable ends with an admonition: “Anyone who has ears should listen” (v. 9); it is an appeal to the freedom of the listener. The word of Jesus may remain a “parable” for a crowd incapable of understanding, or it can reveal “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” for those who allow themselves to be upset or affected by its force. It is the acceptance of the Word of Jesus that distinguishes the disciples from the indeterminate crowds; the faith of the first ones reveals the blindness of the others and obliges them to look “beyond” the parable.



• To listen and to understand. It is always Jesus who leads the disciples on the right path for the understanding of the parable. In the future through the disciples, it is the Church to be guided in the understanding of the Word of Jesus. In the explanation of the parable the pair of verbs “to listen” and “to understand” appears in 13:33: That which has been sown in the good ground is the one who listens to the Word and understands it...” It is in the understanding that the true disciple is distinguished from the crowds, who listen to Jesus’ words only occasionally.



• Hindrances to understanding. Jesus recalls, above all, the negative response to His preaching on the Kingdom of Heaven given by His contemporaries. Such a negative response is connected to the various impediments among them. The earth on the edge of the road is that transformed by pedestrians into a trodden road; it is totally negative: “Throw the seeds on the pavement of the street, everybody knows that it serves nothing: the necessary conditions for growth do not exist. And, then people go by, step over it, and ruin the seed. The seed should not be thrown just any place” (Carlos Mesters). Above all, there is the personal responsibility of the individual: to accept God’s Word in one’s own heart. If it falls on a “trodden” heart, which is obstinate because of its own convictions and indifferent, he sides with the evil one. Then the rocky earth: If the first impediment was constituted by an insensitive, indifferent heart, now the image of the seed that falls on the rocks, on stones, and among bushes indicates a heart immersed in a superficial and worldly life. Such life styles are energies that prevent the Word of God from bearing fruit. They begin to listen, but immediately it is blocked, not only by tribulations and trials that are unavoidable, but also because of the involvement of the heart in concerns and riches. It is a life that is not deep but superficial, worldly. It is similar to instability. The good earth is the heart that listens and understands the Word; this one bears fruit. Such fruit is the work of the Word in the heart that accepts it. It is a question of an active understanding that allows one to get involved by God’s action present in the Word of Jesus. The understanding of His Word will continue to be inaccessible if we neglect the encounter with Him and, therefore, we do not allow it to overflow in us.



4) Personal questions



• Does listening lead to the deep understanding of God’s Word or does it remain only an intellectual exercise?

• Are you a heart that accepts, that is available, docile to attain a full understanding of the Word?

• The crowds traveled far to hear Jesus. They invested time and effort, yet they are identified as having hard or rocky hearts. At some level, they came to say yes, but don’t. Do we also come to say yes but don’t really?



5) Concluding Prayer



The Law of Yahweh is perfect, refreshment to the soul;

The precepts of Yahweh are honest,

light for the eyes. (Ps 19:7-8)


Lectio Divina:
2020-07-24

Antigua

Canada    

Cuba 

  • Sisters - Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús  

Dominica  

Dominican Republic

  • Nuns - Monasterio María Madre de la Iglesia (La Vega)
               Monasterio Nuestra Señora de América y San José (Monción)
               Monasterio N. Sra. del Carmen (Santiago de Los Caballeros)
               Monasterio Sta. Teresa de Jesús (Santo Domingo)
  • Sisters - Hermanas de la Virgen María del Monte Carmelo 
                  Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

El Salvador

Grenada 

Mexico  

Puerto Rico

Saint Vincent

United States

 

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord,
be merciful to your people.
Fill us with your gifts
and make us always eager to serve you
in faith, hope and love.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13,24-30

Jesus put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off.
When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner's labourers went to him and said, "Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?"
He said to them, "Some enemy has done this." And the labourers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn." '

 

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the parable of the seed. Whether in society or in the community or in our family and personal life, there is a mixture of good qualities and of incoherencies, limitations and errors. Persons of diverse origins, each one with her own story, with her own lived experience, her own opinion, her own yearnings, her own differences, meet in community There are some persons who do not know how to live with differences. They want to be the judges of others. They think that they are the only ones who are right, and that others are in error. The parable of the seed and the darnel helps us not to fall into the temptation of excluding from the community those who do not think like us.

•The background of the parable of the seed and the darnel. During centuries, because of the observance of the laws of purity, the Jews lived separated from other nations. This isolation had marked them. Even after being converted, some continued to follow this observance which separated them from others. They wanted total purity! Any sign of impurity had to be eradicated in the name of God. “Sin cannot be tolerated” some would say. But others, as for example Paul, taught that the new law which Jesus asked them to observe said the contrary! “Sin cannot be tolerated, but it is necessary to be tolerant with the sinner!”

• Matthews 13,24-26: The situation: the darnel and the wheat grain grow together. The Word of God causes communities to be formed and this is good seed, but within the communities there are always things which are contrary to the Word of God. From where do these come? This was the discussion, or mystery which led to keep the parable of the darnel and the wheat.

• Matthew 13, 27-28a: The origin of the mixture which exists in life. The labourers asked the owner, the sower: “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” The owner responded: Some enemy has done this. Who is this enemy? The enemy, the adversary, Satan or the Devil (Mt 13,39), is the one who divides, who takes away from the right path. The tendency to division exists in the community and in each one of us. The desire to dominate, to take advantage of the community in order to be more important and so many other interested desires divide, they are the enemy which sleeps in each one of us.

• Matthew 13,28b-30: The diverse reaction before ambiguity. In the face of this mixture of good and of evil, the labourers want to eliminate the darnel. They thought: "If we leave everything in the community, we lose our reason for being! We lose our identity!” They wanted to send away those whom they thought were diverse. But this is not the decision of the owner of the land. He says: “Let both the darnel and the wheat grow together till the harvest!” What is decisive is not what each one says, but that which each one lives and does. God will judge us according to the fruit which we will produce (Mt 12,33). The force and the dynamism of the Kingdom will manifest themselves in the community. Even if it is small and full of contradictions, it is a sign of the Kingdom. But it is not the master or the owner of the Kingdom, neither can it consider itself totally just. The parable of the seed and of the darnel explains the way in which the force of the Kingdom acts in history. It is necessary to make a clear option for the justice of the Kingdom, and at the same time, together fight for justice, have patience and learn to live and to dialogue with differences and with contradictions. When harvest comes then there will be the division, the separation.

The teaching in Parables. The parable is a pedagogical instrument which uses the daily life to indicate that life speaks to us of God. It becomes a reality and renders the look of people contemplative. A parable tends towards the things of life, and because of this it is an open teaching, because we all have some experience of things of life. The teaching in parables makes the person start from the experience that she has: seed, light, sheep, flowers, birds, father, net, little children, fish, etc. In this way daily life becomes transparent, revealing the presence and the action of God. Jesus did not usually explain the parables. He left the sense open, he did not determine it. This was a sign that he believed in the capacity of the people to discover the sense of the parable beginning from the experience of life. Some times, at the request from the disciples, he would explain the sense (Mt 13,10.36). For example, this is what he did with the parable of the seed and the darnel (Mt 13,36-43).

 

4) Personal questions

• How is the mixture between the seed and the darnel manifested in our community? Which are the consequences of this for our life?

• Looking into the mirror of the parable, with whom do I feel more in agreement: with the labourers who want to cut away the darnel, or with the owner of the field who orders to wait until the time of the harvest?

 

5) Concluding Prayer

My whole being yearns and pines
for Yahweh's courts,
My heart and my body cry out
for joy to the living God. (Ps 84,2)

Eduardo Agosta Scarel, O.Carm.,

Principles

  1. The roots of the ecological crisis are linked to the way human beings relate both to the Divine and to nature.
  2. The human heart is not satisfied with anything less than the Infinite.
  3. Created things can never take the place of God.
  4. God has created us to live in harmony with all created things and with God the Creator.
  5. Societies with no understanding of this will seek to deal with unlimited human desire by fostering consumerism by every means possible.
  6. The Carmelite call to contemplation presents a path to wisdom that can heal both the human person and the planet on which we live.
  7. The Carmelite path of contemplation re-orders our human desire and helps us attain happiness without constantly feeding every whim.
  8. The Carmelite path can help people appreciate the beauty of Creation and see a way to preserve it for the good of future generations.

Introduction

The gift that Carmel has received from God for the world (the Carmelite charism) is essentially based on three elements: prayer, community, and service. They guide the transforming spiritual journey of Carmelites and come together in contemplation, one of the elements of our charism that dynamically unifies them.

The whole of reality could be regarded from a trinitarian perspective: God, human beings and other created things (both visible and invisible), in mutual interpenetration, held together by the Divine Power, the Spirit of God, the enveloping and sustaining source of reality. The contemplation of such reality is a call to discover or be aware of the empowering love of God within human beings and other created things. Such a process requires a profound transformation. The Carmelite way proposes that this transformation is aided by prayer, community and service that are the paths to contemplation.

Ecology is the human activity concerned with the comprehensive management of nature in order to regulate the relationships within and between all created things on the earth that is home to all. Comprehensive management involves taking into account the oft forgotten divine dimension.  The expression ecological crisis, or environmental crisis, means that the comprehensive management of such relationships is at risk. The crisis arises from a number of factors including the lack of attention to the divine dimension of reality which is apparent in the way we have been behaving in westernized societies. The roots of the ecological crisis can be linked to the human relationship with the Divine and with nature. If this is so, the Carmelite value of contemplation can be regarded as an important way to rediscover the Divine dimension of reality. Therefore prayer, community and service are vital ways towards the healing of nature.

The Spiritual Roots of the Ecological Crisis

Understanding the link between ecology and the Carmelite charism requires understanding contemplation as a spiritual path that is intimately related to the human journey towards an integration of the human personality, both the dark and luminous sides. This is an ongoing journey towards maturity of human affectivity, intellect and sexuality. These three factors of human life can be considered as parts of the human desire dynamism. Carmelites sum up this journey towards integration with the proposal to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ (Constitutions 2). We believe that God has created us for life and to preserve harmonious relationships with all created things and with God. We need to understand that the roots of the current ecological crisis are human and not merely technical or scientific, as if ecological problems were only a matter of some changes in technology. It is not sufficient simply to change to new ‘clean’ technologies. If it were so, we would not be speaking about a crisis.

The current ecological crisis, evidenced by climate change, energy resource depletion, and an increasing gap between the richest and the poorest, seems to have started with a crisis within human beings. During the past century very profound social changes have taken place. Our understanding of what it means to be human has changed considerably. We moved from thinking of ourselves as creatures equipped with reason, self-sufficiency and freedom, able to make choices regarding what we considered to be best and proper for each of us, towards an understanding of the human being as eternally dissatisfied. Now technology, as a caring nanny, is expected to meet every need and desire.

Because of the huge development in technology, we have been able to take some extraordinary strides to transform nature and enhance and embellish the quality of life. However our expectations have risen greatly and we often look to technology to grant us everything we wish without delay. Our lives are now more comfortable and healthier, thanks to growing scientific knowledge. However, technological development has been appropriated by economic and cultural models to consolidate a particular way of living, which is the technocratic westernized lifestyle. Our western societies have various guiding mantras: ‘grow or die’; ‘if you are unhappy go out and buy something’; ‘quantity and acceleration’. Thus the traditional human rhythms and cycles of nature are forgotten.  We seem unaware that the technocracy model of human development is a human construction and is not an uncontrollable natural force before which we must bow.

Conventional economic theory is part of the model of technocratic human development. It is based on the logic of dissatisfaction of desire. Westernized economies empower the rivalry between human desire and greed, by producing an abundance of goods to temporarily alleviate the tension of desire.

In addition, globalized societies, guided by the technocracy laws, have created their own myths. The absence of material goods is seen as the ultimate evil and so human desire and greed are encouraged at every level. Other dangerous mantras of our societies are: ‘full is better than empty’; ‘much is better than little’; ‘big is better than small’. Therefore we must fill everything, have everything, know everything.

We have a developmental model that is based on the dissatisfaction-desire economy. Human desire can be easily manipulated by external factors. This fact is observed within the phenomenon of globalization, where social fragmentation, and the creation of goods and services for consumption induced by advertising, all become external forces that irresistibly control us from within. We no longer consume the things we need but everything we are offered, without distinction. We have new needs that did not exist before. The technological novelties appear to be little paradises of illusion that are updated every day and suited to our increasingly fragmented world. Hence, consumerism has been imposed as the only way for the development of westernized life. It has been imposed by the strong interests in the local economy of global enterprises. The maximization of profit is at the expense of many people’s lives as well as the environment. In the future, there will not be sufficient energy sources for life as we are now consuming many resources at the lowest cost and the maximum gain.

Another dilemma is that human desire is unlimited. According to the Carmelite, Saint John of the Cross, the heart of the human being is not satisfied with less than Infinite (Living Flame of Love, 3, 18). For this reason when desire is given free rein on a global scale, natural resources are insufficient to satisfy it. The earth implodes. The physical limits of the planet are too finite in comparison to unlimited desire.

Apart from unlimited human desire and the economy based on that desire, there exists another human limitation which has a negative influence on the health of the earth. Our daily actions are performed locally, but their effects are global. We seem to be unaware of this fact. This limitation can be seen in the issue of climate change. Global warming is a symptom of the global social-economic model that is ultimately unsustainable. The planetary temperature is increasing because more greenhouse gases (GHGs, such as carbon dioxide, etc.) are constantly emitted. The GHGs emissions increments are due primarily to energy consumption of oil, natural gas and coal. Ninety percent of global energy consumption is provided by non-renewable power sources.  Most of these are starting to disappear. It is said that oil-based energy will be available for another thirty to fifty years. The greater demands for energy come from the highly developed societies, which have 25 percent of the global population, and whose lifestyles are characterized by an excessive consumption. This means that we consume more than we need because of the manipulation of human desire through the latest thing constantly presented to us by means of the mass media.

Moreover, as a consequence of current global patterns of development and consumption, social injustice is prevalent in many parts of the world. Consumerism is a luxurious lifestyle when compared with half of the world’s population, that is to say that few technologically developed societies enjoy high standards by depleting global resources. A quarter of the global population consumes 80 percent of the earth’s resources in order to sustain their lifestyle.

The Path of Healing

The wisdom of the Carmelite tradition takes us on the inner journey towards the maturity of our human desires. It helps us to recognize the priority of God in our lives. Human desire seems to have such unique characteristics that perplex psychologists of all generations. We have immediate wants but often we do not know exactly what it is we really want. The spiritual path for human beings is to pay attention to what really matters. Only when a person is centred and when all the strengths of his/her desire are channelled in and towards God, is it possible to achieve equilibrium and peace. 

John of the Cross, describes the origin of unlimited human desire. He says that it is as if God wounds the soul and human life is a search for relief. In seeking relief, we can be too demanding, asking things to take the place of God. That is always the temptation: to make created things (either material or spiritual) such as success, pleasure, happiness, sex, power, science, etc., as well as people, our idols or gods and ask them to fulfil our unlimited desires.

However, there is no thing or person that can take the place of God in our lives. The divine wound is only healed by the Spirit of God. John of the Cross teaches that human desire always runs the risk of fragmentation in multiple desires attaching themselves to things and people, seeking from them what they cannot give. The Carmelite tells of the need to direct our desire toward God who alone can bring harmony and peace. Our addictions and unconscious desires are not obstacles to eliminate but to face up to and integrate within the desire for the Infinite. This process does not mean despising things, since we need them, but is a way to bring some order to our desires. Hence, the Carmelite spiritual itinerary regards the interior of the human being as immensely cluttered and therefore needs to be emptied out in order to be filled by God, who is the fulfilment of every human desire.

Our secular societies have no other ways to treat unlimited human desire than to feed them with consumerism. Natural disasters, climate change, air and water pollution, social injustice, impoverishment of many peoples – among other environmental and social issues – are the result of unsustainable development patterns of production and consumption that are supported by economies based on the eternally dissatisfied human desire that has no God.

Concluding Remarks

The Carmelite call to contemplation is an inner journey that leads to our maturity and re-ordering of our human desires. This leads to a healing for people and for the earth. Human beings need to abandon the belief that fulfilment is to be found in amassing material goods. Then we will be able to liberate the earth from the obligation to satisfy this desire for more and more. Such a proposal is certainly not easy because it requires, as a first step, recognition that human desire cannot be satisfied by the material. Opening oneself to experience the empowering love of God can help to re-orient our desires towards a simpler lifestyle. We can then learn that immediate gratification is not always necessary or possible. It requires some sacrifice so that we can receive something greater and better.

The Carmelite contemplative path of transformation by means of prayer, community and service brings about a personal, communitarian and planetary healing, helping us to understand that:

  • Few things are really vital to our lives.
  • Little is often sufficient.
  • Dissatisfaction is part of life.
  • Human aspirations and desires are infinite because they are made for God.

There is no doubt that humanity must face its capacity for self-destruction, which was limited by the sense of the sacred in the past, but now appears to be unlimited. Without a growth in awareness of the divine dimension of reality, an ecological catastrophe seems to be inevitable. It is a time for contemplation so that we might rediscover that all human desire is a manifestation of the profound desire for God.

In our communities we need to recognize that our local actions have global effects. Therefore it is urgent to change our patterns of communitarian life that affect the health of the planet. We need to work for the development of a new economy based on needs, and not to supply a never ending desire for more. We seek to help people become aware of the need to preserve the quality of life for the whole of creation because God has clothed all people and all things with a particular beauty that reflects the beauty of the Creator.


 

Presented by Eduardo Agosta Scarel, O.Carm., to a meeting of the Carmelite NGO. The paper first appeared in ‘Meeting the People in the Marketplace’ produced by the Carmelite NGO and reproduced here with kind permission.

 

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



God our Father and protector,

without You nothing is holy,

nothing has value.

Guide us to everlasting life

by helping us to use wisely

the blessings You have given to the world.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:36-43



Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today presents Jesus’ explanation, at the petition of the disciples, of the parable of the wheat grain and the darnel. Some experts think that this explanation, which Jesus gives to His disciples, is not Jesus’ but the community’s. This is possible and probable, because a parable, by its nature, requires the involvement and the participation of people in the discovery of its significance. Just as the plant is already contained within the seed, in the same way, certainly, the explanation of the community is in the parable. And it is precisely this objective that Jesus wanted and wants to attain with the parable. The meaning which we are discovering today in the parable which Jesus told two thousand years ago was already enclosed, or contained, in the story that Jesus told, just as the flower is already contained in its seed.



• Matthew 13:36: The request of the disciples to Jesus: the explanation of the parable of the wheat grain and the darnel. The disciples, in the house, speak and ask for an explanation of the parable of the wheat grain and the darnel. (Mt 13:24-30). It has been said many times that Jesus, in the house, continued to teach His disciples (Mk 7:17; 9:28,33; 10:10). At that time, there was no television, and people spent  the long winter evenings together,  speaking about the facts and events of life. On these occasions Jesus completed the teaching and the formation of His disciples.



• Matthew 13:38-39: The meaning of each one of the elements of the parable. Jesus responds taking again each one of these elements of the parable and giving them significance: the field is the world; the good seed are the members of the Kingdom; the darnel is the members of the adversary (the evil one); the enemy is the devil; the harvest is the end of time; the reapers are the angels. And now reread the parable (Mt 13:24-30) giving to each one of these six elements: field, good seed, darnel, enemy, harvest and reapers, the right significance. In this way the story assumes a completely new sense and it is possible to attain the objective that Jesus had in mind when He told the parable of the darnel and the good seed. Some think that this parable should be understood as an allegory and not as a parable properly so-called.



• Matthew 13:40-43: The application of the parable or of the allegory. With the information given by Jesus, you will better understand its application: Just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather from His kingdom all causes of failing and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”



The destiny of the darnel is the furnace. The destiny of the grain is to shine like the sun in the Kingdom of the Father. Behind these two images there is the experience of the people. After they have listened to Jesus and have accepted Him in their life, everything has changed for them. This means that in Jesus what they expected has taken place: the fulfillment of the promises. Now life is divided into before and after having accepted Jesus in their lives. The new life has begun with the splendor of the sun. If they continued to live as before, they would be like the darnel in the furnace: life without meaning, which is good for nothing.



• Parable and Allegory. There is the parable. There is the allegory. There is the mixture of both which is the more common form. Generally, everything in the parable is a call. In the Gospel of today, we have the example of an allegory. An allegory is a story which a person tells, but when she is telling it, she does not think about the elements of the story, but about the theme which has to be clarified. In reading an allegory it is not necessary to look at the story as a whole, because in an allegory the story is not constructed around a central point which later serves as a comparison. Rather, each element has its own independent function, starting from the sense which it receives. It is a matter of discovering what each element of the two stories tries to tell us about the Kingdom, as the explanation which Jesus gave of the parable: field, good seed, darnel, enemy, harvest, reapers. Generally the parables are also allegories, and a mixture of both.



4) Personal questions



• In the field everything is mixed up: darnel and grain. In the field of my life, what  prevails: darnel or grain?

• Notice that this parable includes “all who cause others to sin” as well as “all evildoers”. We often just focus on our own sins. Do I focus on what effect I have on others and whether I cause others to sin by what I say or do? Will I think about that, now and during my self-examinations now?

• Have you tried to talk with other people to discover the meaning of some parable?



5) Concluding Prayer



How blessed is he who has Jacob's God to help him.

His hope is in Yahweh his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea and all that is in them. (Ps 146:5-6)


Lectio Divina:
2020-07-28

An official VMG virtual choir, "Salve Regina" is the second of two virtual choirs produced for the celebration of St. Teresa of Jesus's 500th birthday. This virtual choir is made up of Carmelite Nuns and Friars from around the world and highlights the internationality and diversity of the Carmelite Order. Music composed by Claire Sokol, OCD.


Ordinary Time  

1) Opening prayer

Father,
Your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger
and provide for all our needs.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 12:13-17

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone's opinion. You do not regard a person's status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?" Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, "Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at." They brought one to him and he said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They replied to him, "Caesar's." So Jesus said to them, "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." They were utterly amazed at him.

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel, the confrontation between Jesus and the authorities continues. The priests and the scribes had been criticized and denounced by Jesus in the parable of the vineyard (Mk 12:1-12). Now, they themselves ask the Pharisees and the Herodians to set up a trap for Jesus in order to be able to condemn Him. They ask questions to Jesus concerning the taxes to be paid to the Romans. This was a controversial theme which divided public opinion. The enemies of Jesus want, at all cost, to accuse Him and diminish the influence that He had on the people. Groups which before were enemies, now get together to fight against Jesus. This also happens today. Many times, people or groups, enemies among themselves, get together to defend their privileges against those who embarrass them with the announcement of truth and of justice.
• Mark 12:13-14: The question of the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Pharisees and the Herodians were the local leaders in the villages of Galilee. It was a long time since they had decided to kill Jesus (Mk 3:6). Now, because of the order of the priests and of the elders, they want to know whether Jesus is in favor or against the payment of taxes to the Romans and to Caesar. It’s an underhanded and sly question, full of malice! Under the appearance of fidelity to the Law of God, they look for reasons in order to be able to accuse Him. If Jesus says “You should pay!” they could accuse Him of being a friend of the Romans. If He were to say, “No, you do not have to pay!” they could accuse Him of being subversive to the authority of the Romans. This seemed to be a dead end!
• Mark 12:15-17: Jesus’ answer. Jesus perceives their hypocrisy. In His response He does not lose time in useless discussion, and goes straight to the heart of the question. Instead of responding and discussing the affair of the tribute to Caesar, He asks to be shown a coin and He asks, “Whose portrait and inscription is this?” They answered, “Caesar’s!” The answer of Jesus: “Then pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” In practice, they already recognized the authority of Caesar. They were already giving to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, because they used his currency to buy and sell and even to pay the taxes of the Temple! What interested Jesus was that they should “give to God what belongs to God!” That is, they restitute the people to God, which, because of their teaching, they blocked the entrance into the Kingdom (Mk 23:13). Others explained this sentence of Jesus in another way: “Give to God what belongs to God!”. That is, practice justice and honesty as the law of God demands, because your hypocrisy denies God what is due to Him.
• Taxes, tributes, taxes and denarii. In Jesus’ time, the people of Palestine paid many taxes, tributes, including one tenth of their income, both to the Romans as well as to the temple. The Roman Empire had invaded Palestine in the year 63 AD and they imposed many taxes and tributes. According to the estimates made, half or even more of the family salaries were used to pay the tributes, taxes and the tenth of their income. The taxes which the Romans demanded were of two types: direct and indirect.
a) The Direct Tax was on property and on persons. The tax on property (tributum soli): the fiscal officers of the government verified how large the property was, the production and the number of slaves and they fixed the amount to be paid. Periodically, there was a verification through the census. The tax on persons (tributum capitis): was for the poor class who owned no land. This included both men and women, between 12 and 65 years of age.
b) The Indirect Tax was placed on transactions of different types: a crown of gold: originally, it was a gift to the Emperor, but then it became an obligatory tax. This was paid on special occasions, for example, the feast and the visits of the Emperor. The tax on salt: the salt was the monopoly of the Emperor. It was necessary to pay the tribute on salt for commercial use, as in the salt used by fishermen to dry up the fish and to sell it. From this comes the word “salary.” A tax on buying and selling: this money was paid to the fiscal officers during the holidays. A tax when a slave was bought, in every registered commercial contract, for exercising a profession: there was need for everyone to have a license for everything. Even the prostitutes had to pay. A tax for the use of public utilities: Emperor Vespasian introduced the tax on the use of the public toilets in Rome. He would say: “Money does not stink!”
c) Other taxes and obligations, toll or customs, forced work; special expenses for the army (to give hospitality to the soldiers; to pay for the food of the troops), taxes for the Temple and the worship.

4) Personal questions

• Do you know of a case where groups of people who were enemies between themselves, but who were then united to oppose a person who bothered or inconvenienced and denounced them? Has this happened at any time with you?
• What is the meaning of this sentence today: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God?”

• How have you handled hypocrites in your life, either publicly as a group or in private?

• Have you been hypocritical to others? How do you guard against this?

5) Concluding Prayer

Each morning fill us with Your faithful love,
we shall sing and be happy all our days;
Show Your servants the deeds You do,
let their children enjoy Your splendor! (Ps 90:14:16)

Justice, peace and integrity of creation are constitutive issues in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Contemplation prepares us individually and communally to stand as prophets in the world.  The General Commission of JPIC has been convened to support us in our prophetic  witness in the midst of creation.

In order to develop a working paper (Instrumentum laboris) for the forthcoming JPIC Carmelite Family Congress in July 2017, the Commission sends  this questionnaire as an initial step in an overall project of the whole Carmelite Family. 

The Commission calls upon everyone to pray, reflect and respond to this questionnaire. Both individuals and communities are encouraged to respond.

If you refer to respond by mail, please send to

 

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission
Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani
Via Giovanni Lanza, 138
00184 Roma (ITALIA)

from January 2013 the two Provinces of Germany merged into one province called German Province click here to know more about the German Province

In the earliest extant Constitutions of the Carmelite Order the German Province ranks eighth of ten Provinces. By 1294 it had been divided, probably only recently, into Lower and Upper Germany. In the first half of the 14th century this division was several times rescinded and renewed and became definite in 1348.

The Upper German Province extended over a vast territory comprising not only Eastern Germany but Bohemia (Czech Rep.), Austria, Hungary and Poland. This unmanageable mass was reduced in 1411 when the Province of Bohemia was constituted from the convents in Bohemia, Poland, Prussia, Hungary, Saxony and Thuringia. However, the Hussite wars disturbed this arrangement. In 1440 the houses remaining in Bohemia and those in Poland and Hungary reverted to the Province of Upper Germany. The houses in Saxony also became a separate Province. In 1462 the Province of Poland and Bohemia was reconstituted.

Of the two German Provinces Upper Germany suffered the most from the Protestant Reformation. Fourteen of its twenty-six convents were lost; the four Hungarian convents fell victim to the Turks after the battle of Mohacs (1526). The suppression of religious Orders by Napoleon in 1803 left only the house of Straubing, where the surviving religious were allowed to remain as long as they lived. Only Peter Heitzer remained when King Louis I of Bavaria in 1841 permitted the convent to be re-opened. From this single vocation the Province gradually revived and was again constituted in 1922. In 1951 the Province undertook an apostolate in Paranà, Brazil. This Province is also responsible for the Indian foundation which has seven convents founded during these last 20 years.

1) Opening prayer
Almighty God,

our creator and guide,
may we serve you with all our hearts
and know your forgiveness in our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 7,31-35
Jesus said: ‘What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.

‘For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.’

3) Reflection
In today’s Gospel we see the novelty of the Good News which opens its way and thus persons who are attached to ancient forms of faith feel lost and do not understand anything more of God’s action. In order to hide their lack of openness and of understanding they defend and seek childish pretexts to justify their attitude of lack of acceptance. Jesus reacts with a parable to denounce the incoherence of his enemies: “You are similar to children who do not know what they want”.

Luke 7, 31: To whom, then, shall I compare you? Jesus is struck by the reaction of the people and say: “What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?” When something is evident and the persons, out of ignorance or because of bad will, do not perceive things and do not want to perceive them, it is good to find an evident comparison which will reveal their incoherence and the ill will. And Jesus is a Master in finding comparisons which speak for themselves.
Luke 7, 32: Like children without judgment. The comparison which Jesus finds is this one. You are like “those children, shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: we played the pipes for you, and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not cry!” Spoiled children, all over the world, have the same reaction. They complain when others do not do and act as they say. The reason for Jesus’ complaint is the arbitrary way with which people in the past reacted before John the Baptist and how they react now before Jesus.
Luke 7, 33-34: Their opinion on John and on Jesus. “For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say: he is possessed. The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say: look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist; he believed in him and was baptized by him. On the occasion of this Baptism in the Jordan, he had the revelation of the Father regarding his mission as Messiah-Servant (Mk 1, 10). At the same time, Jesus stressed the difference between him and John. John was more severe, more ascetical, did not eat nor drink. He remained in the desert and threatened the people with the punishment of the Last Judgment (Lk 3, 7-9). Because of this, people said that he was possessed. Jesus was more welcoming; he ate and drank like everybody else. He went through the towns and entered the houses of the people; he accepted the tax collectors and the prostitutes. This is why they said that he was a glutton and a drunkard. Even considering his words regarding “the men of this generation” (Lk 7, 31), in a general way, probably, Jesus had in mind the opinion of the religious authority who did not believe in Jesus (Mk 11,29-33).
Luke 7, 35: The obvious conclusion to which Jesus arrives. And Jesus ends drawing this conclusion: “Yet, wisdom is justified by all her children”. The lack of seriousness and of coherence is clearly seen in the opinion given on Jesus and on John. The bad will is so evident that it needs no proof. That recalls the response of Job to his friends who believe that they are wise: “Will no one teach you to be quiet! - the only wisdom that becomes you!” (Job 13, 5).

4) Personal questions
When I express my opinion on others, am I like the Pharisees and the Scribes who gave their opinion on Jesus and John? They expressed only their preconceptions and said nothing on the persons whom they judged.

Do you know any groups in the Church who would merit the parable of Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer
How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh,
the people he has chosen as his heritage.
From heaven Yahweh looks down,
he sees all the children of Adam. (Ps 33,12-13)

The Liturgical Year celebrates the Mystery of Christ


By preaching the Church “announces” “the whole mystery of Christ” (CD 12) and with the Liturgy it “celebrates it presenting the sacred memory (SC 102).  In such a way it makes present today “the unfathomable treasure of Christ” (Eph 3, 8 ff; cf. 1, 18; 2, 7): his signs of salvation, with which the faithful come into contact in order to draw from it the grace of salvation.  The Liturgical Year which has its “source” and its “summit” in the Paschal Mystery is articulated into five “periods of time” which have a special relationship with the diverse moments of the Mystery of Christ (SC 10; LG 11).  Therefore, they follow a progressive order: Advent and Christmas; Lent and the Passover or Easter; Ordinary Time.

 

• Time of Advent and of Christmas
Advent is a time of preparation with a twofold characteristic: it recalls the first coming of the Son of God in humility and pre- announces the second coming in glory: it is a time of active waiting, of expectation, of desire, of prayer, of evangelization, of joy.  Christmas is a time of joyful contemplation of the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of his first manifestations, who has come for our salvation “man among men”. During this time Mary is particularly celebrated as “Mother of God”.

 

• Time of Lent and of Passover or Easter
Lent is a time of preparation the purpose of which is to guide to a more intense and gradual participation in the Paschal Mystery.  During this time the catechumens are accompanied through the various degrees of Christian initiation, and the faithful through the living memory of Baptism and Penance. The Passover or Easter is the summit of the Liturgical Year, from which all the other parts draw their efficacy of salvation, it is the fulfilment of the redemption of humanity and of perfect glorification of God: it is the destruction of sin and of death, communication of resurrection and of life.

 

• Ordinary Time
During this long period of time, which has a first stage between Christmas Time and Lent, and develops more extensively from Pentecost to the following Advent, is a global celebration of the mystery of Christ, which is taken up again and deepened in many of its particular aspects.
Already, we can say that Sundays – “The Day of the Lord” – are the “Weekly Passover or Easter” and therefore, a living grafting into the central nucleus of the mystery of Christ throughout the whole year; but then the Weeks (33 and 34) develop through an intense and continued recourse to the Bible the deepening of small cycles of the mystery of Christ, offering these to the meditation of the faithful in order that this may become a stimulus to the action in the Church and in the world.

 

 

Liturgical Colors

Liturgies celebrated during the different seasons of the liturgical year have distinctive music and specific readings, prayers, and rituals. All of these work together to reflect the spirit of the particular season. The colors of the vestments that the priest wears during the liturgy also help express the character of the mysteries being celebrated.

 

White, the color of joy and victory, is used for the seasons of Easter and Christmas. It is also used for the feasts of Our Lord, for feasts of Mary, the angels, and for saints who are not martyrs. Gold may also be used on solemn occasions.

 

Red (the color of blood) is used on days when we celebrate the passion of Jesus on Passion Sunday and Good Friday. It is also used for the birthday feasts of the apostles and evangelists and for the celebrations of martyrs. Red (the color of fire) recalls the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost and for the sacrament of Confirmation.

 

Green, seen everywhere in plants and trees, symbolizes life and hope and is used during Ordinary Time.

 

The colors violet or purple in Advent help us to remember that we are preparing for the coming of Christ. Lent, the season of penance and renewal, also uses the colors violet or purple.

 

Rose may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. It expresses the joy of anticipation for Christmas and Easter, respectively.

 

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