Friday, July 16, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

As a lay Carmelite I can't let this special Carmelite feast day pass without mentioning Mary and the origin of the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I quote from the Lay Carmelite Formation Guide-Phase Two, by Thomas Zeitvogel, T.O.C., which I had to study (along with the Phase One book), in order to become a professed lay Carmelite. 
From the beginning, the entire Carmelite Family has been specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed, we have always been known as the Brothers and Sisters of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Therefore, all Lay Carmelites shall honor our Lady with a special love and devotion. She is the model of all that we desire and hope to be. Carmelites have always put themselves under the maternal care of Our Lady, invoking her as Mother. The Order enjoys her special patronage and the Brown Scapular is a sign of her protection-a symbol of one's interior life of devotion to Our Lady. 
(Lay Carmelite Statues, Part I, Chapter 6, Marian Dedication)

As a lay Carmelite, I have a very large brown scapular that I wear to Carmelite meetings each month and also when Carmelites meet to pray together. It was because of my love and devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower and the Blessed Mother, that I began the journey, in the late 1990's to join the Carmelite Order. At the time, it was a sacrifice to go to formation classes and meetings, while working and raising my sons. But it was something I had to do. And I thank God that I did it. I wrote an article about my "Call to Carmel," which was published in a Carmelite journal many years ago. I belong to a wonderful chapter that meets monthly at St. Luke's Parish in Whitestone, Queens. 

From the beginning the hermits on Mount Carmel had a special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The brothers had a simple chapel at the center of their cells dedicated to St. Mary, the Lady of the Place, or the Lady of the Manor-Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
(From the Springs of Carmel-by Peter Slattery, O. Carm.)
Mary, full of grace, hear my plea,  along with your Son, Jesus, watch over me and protect me, on this special feast day and always. Amen.