Mass celebrated at the Carmelite Convent, Kew


My dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am honoured to be with Mother Ellen, the Sisters and each of you as we come to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

In this celebration we thank God for all the graces he has given to those who are devoted to Our Lady, members of the Order, those who wear the Scapular and so many friends.

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Today we see Our Lady as a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, a model of virtue as well as the person who was closest in life to Jesus Christ.  She is seen as the one who points Christians most surely to Christ, saying to all what she says to the servants at the wedding of Cana:  “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”  So today we look to the Blessed Virgin as a spiritual Mother.

In 1996 a doctrinal statement of the Congregation for Divine Worship states:  “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular.  Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the Order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality, in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

Today we might do well to remember that the scapular is a Marian habit.  It is a sign and a pledge – a sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life, but after death.  As a sign it signifies three elements:

1) Belonging to a religious family devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order;

2) Consecration to Mary.  Devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart;

3) An incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity and spirit of prayer.

Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pace, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means “a special call to the interior life, which is pre-eminently a Marian life.”

Our Lady wants us to resemble her, not only in our outward vesture, but far more in heart and spirit.  If we gaze into Mary’s soul we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth:  a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, an intimate union with him.  Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls reigns supreme.  Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life.

Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly oriented towards intimacy with God and the one who has best realised this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, queen and splendour of Carmel and as we pray in this Mass today the prayer to Our Blessed Mother of Carmel:

“Oh most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel,
fruitful vine, splendour of heaven,
blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity.
O star of the sea, help me and show me you are my     mother.
O holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beg you from the bottom of my heart
to succour me in my necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power.
O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.
I place this prayer in your hands.  Amen.

+ Denis J. Hart,

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