Welcome To Bishop Gainer
Published on Thursday, February 27 2014 1:15 PM
The Friends of Carmel rejoice that Pope Francis has sent Bishop Ronald W. Gainer to be the Shepherd of the Diocese of Harrisburg. We pledge our filial obedience and love for our new Successor of the Apostles and we assure him of our prayers for his episcopal ministry. May Our Lady Queen and Beauty of Carmel enfold him in her garment of maternal love and protection!
Most Rev. William J. Waltersheid,
Friends of Carmel JMJ
News From Friends of Carmel JMJ
Published on Friday, November 29 2013 11:36 AM
Greetings to our Friends of Carmel ,
As the new Church year approaches, all of us at the Friends of Carmel JMJ would like to extend our hope that all the Friends (and indeed all those in our Holy Mother the Church) have a blessed Advent.
For all the Friends who so faithfully pray for the Nuns and also send in contributions you will, we hope, be gratified to read the following story.
The Monastery Caretaker had a dump truck that recently met with an unexpected demise. The truck was invaluable to the Sisters because it was the sole means by which the Caretaker had to pick up and deliver the coal needed to heat the Monastery during the cold months and the hot water all year round. With Board approval, the Friends of Carmel JMJ granted to the Sisters enough money to assist in the purchase of an old, but lightly used dump truck and to meet some other operating expenses. This grant would not have been possible but for your kind, regular and generous donations.
We hope that you will also be pleased to know that almost 100% of your donations go to the Nuns (there is a small transaction fee retained by PayPal for online donation). Just about all of the other operating expensed are picked up by a corporate donor.
For those of you who have placed orders, we would like to thank you for your patience in waiting for the order to be completed and shipped. Most of the delay is because we do not have anyone to regularly staff the email account. We will be attempting to bring that process up to speed very soon. We are also in the process of updating our website to make the ordering process easier.
God Reward You All for your prayerful and financial support of the seventeen Nuns at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary & Joseph. Please pray that the Holy Father will appoint a new Bishop for our Diocese very soon.
Friends of Carmel JMJ
Feast of our Holy Mother, St. Teresa (October 15th)
Published on Monday, October 14 2013 12:32 PM
Tuesday, October 15th is the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila, or as Carmelites refer to her "Our Holy Mother." High Mass will begin at 8 A.M. There will also be a First Profession made by one of the Novices.
FYI: Later in October
On October 25 at 8 A.M. there will be either a Pontifical High or Low Mass celebrated in association with the cause for sainthood of Blessed Karl (see below). The time of Mass is subject to change.
His Excellency, Don Teodoro de Faria
Bishop Emeritus of Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal, author of a new book about Blessed Karl. As Bishop of the diocese in which Blessed Karl died in 1922, Bishop de Faria has long been active in his cause for sainthood, and it was he who formally presented to the Holy Father the petition to beatify Emperor Karl at the beatification ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square on 3 October 2004. A native of Madeira, Bishop de Faria was ordained in 1956 at the age of 26, consecrated bishop of Funchal in 1982, and since his retirement in 2007, has been working on his book about Blessed Karl, which he will discuss during his remarks.
Day 8, Sermon
Published on Thursday, July 18 2013 12:01 AM
And so we arrive at the vigil of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. What better way to honor Her than to speak of one of the greatest gifts She has given us: the Scapular.
The monks that can trace their lineage back to Elijah and the mountain were discovered by St. Simon Stock in the 13th century. He strove to found an official religious order, but finding it difficult, he turned to Our Lady in prayer. Shortly thereafter, She appeared to him and gave him the scapular, saying that "whosoever should wear this faithfully, will be saved from everlasting fire." It was this brown scapular which inspired the habit worn to this day by all Carmelite religious.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is deeply connected to the Fatima and Llourdes. The last visit of Our Lady to St. Bernadette was July 16, 1858: the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. And at Fatima, Our Lady made her final visit as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and She wore the scapular draped over Her wrist. As I said a few nights ago: pay attention to the details - love is always in the details!
What is Our Lady telling us? She has told us time and again that the Rosary and the Scapular are the most powerful weapons. But more than this: it is a way for Our Lady to reclaim mankind. It is the same way in which Christ reclaims man and matter when He walked among us again. Christ usually displays His power over matter, making commands. Once, He uses His own spittle to make the mud which He cures a blind man with. He turns an instrument of torture - the cross - into an instrument of salvation. Through these specific things, God is reclaiming man and matter.
Our Lady, too, uses specific material things to reclaim matter for God. After Adam and Eve sinned, they made garments as a visible sign of their sinfulness. The scapular is a garment, a visible sign of one's separation from God. In giving us the scapular, Our Lady has reversed Genesis 3.
Love is always in the details!
Day 7, Sermon
Published on Tuesday, July 16 2013 9:58 AM
Today is Bastille Day - France's equivalent to the Fourth of July - and it commemorates the launching of the French Revolution. People say its benefits are still being felt to this day: progress, freedom, liberty. Interestingly enough, the Carmelites have a unique relationship with the French Revolution. In 1794 - two weeks before the end of the Revolution - the entire convent at Compiegne was convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to death at the guillotine. When the Carmelites were awaiting their deaths beside the platform on which the guillotine stood, witnesses spoke of their peace and their joy. while singing Veni Creator Spiritus (the song they sang when receiving their vows). The youngest nun was the first to suffer her fate, but before she did, she knelt before the prioress and asked for her blessing and for permission to die. All the others did the same.
These 16 nuns weren't surprised. A Carmelite's entire life is in direct violation to to the "State"; her oath to God is civil suicide. They were given a choice: Accept Liberty or die. In the name of Liberty, these nuns were marched to the guillotine. The French Revolutionaries gave the same choice that Lenin did to the Russian people: Accept liberation from the Czar or die. Forty million Russians went to their deaths. Sixty million people died under Mao Zedong. And before we, the American people, become too smug, let us remember the 52 million children who have died because of our "choice". The secular world has dictated that a woman does not have true freedom unless she has the right to choose. Her choice, however, means another person's life.
Beware of the language of "The Rights of Man". Embrace the duty of God and you'll haver have to embrace the rights of man. The Carmelite sisters did, and this is why they were killed. Remember that we have a higher calling than to man. In this monastery in Elysburg, one will not hear "rights" but "duty": one will achieve the greatest freedom in following God's law.
God's law - in this secular world - is synonymous with soup kitchens. People will accept no moral, personal constraints, but will fawn over soup kitchens. With ill-disguised contempt, they will spurn prayer and penance, but will placate their consciences by giving money to charities and serving at soup kitchens.
These Carmelites never wavered from the conviction of God's duty. They embraced through their actions the words expressed in St. Ignatius Loyola's prayer, Suspice.
'Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.' (Spiritual Exercises, #234)
Day 6, Sermon
Published on Sunday, July 14 2013 4:35 PM
The Evil One. The Devil. Satan.
For St. Teresa of Avila, he was not just a mysterious power, he was a malevolent being with whom she came into contact frequently. For St. John of the Cross, Satan was so frequently mentioned in his writings, people say could have had a treatise on Demonology. Satan understands our senses, our imagination, and our memory. He looks for patterns. This is his world and he has the ability to manipulate them. What makes Satan so effective is for two reasons: he works best unnoticed and knowledge of him removes the fear of the unknown.
Our Lord Himself comes into contact with Satan many a time. The first time He does is when in the desert, Satan tempts Our Lord. This first time, Satan is clumsy and conspicuous. After Our Lord turns down the offerings, St. Luke says, "Then the devil departed from Him for some time." The next time, Satan is far more subtle and stealthy. Our Lord asks the Apostles, "Who do they say I am" and "Who do you say I am?" St. Peter responds immediately, "Thou art the Christ." Our Lord knows immediately and says so, that Peter only knows this because the Father has told him. He goes on to say that Peter shall be the rock upon which His Church is built. Following this revelation, Our Lord tells His Apostles that He will suffer and die, but rise again on the third day. But St. Peter protests, "Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee." Surprisingly, Jesus turns on St. Peter and says, "Get behind me, Satan!"
Nowhere else does Our Lord address another human with the name of Satan. One can sense more than simple anger in His reply. Think, for a moment, of what ambushed soldiers feel: at first it is surprise, they are stunned; and then they might feel fear; then they feel passionately angry at the enemy and at themselves. This anger is appropriate: God has put into humans the notion of self-preservation.
This is the "what" of Christ's anger. But what is the "why"? Our Lord became aware of a temptation straight from hell. Satan, through St. Peter, attempts to put in Christ's mind that there is a possibility of saving man without having to suffer crucifixion and death. This is cunning and cruel. It is put before Him in a suggestion from Peter, who had just been given a special oblation by God the Father and was the first human being, after the Holy Family and St. John the Baptist, to know and acknowledge Him as God. Our Lord reacts to this with joy, but then St. Peter says, "No, this will never happen to you!" Maybe, just maybe, God is revealing this to Peter as well. Then comes the awful, cruel realization that it was Satan speaking. Our Lord was ambushed, and reacts as the soldiers do: "Get behind me, Satan!" (All passages: Matthew 16:16-24). Our Lord's human personality, His sacred humanity, would never succumb to temptation, but He still feels the sting of a real, cruel temptation.
Look for Satan when you least expect him - even in the words of a good friend. Satan is an ever present entity, driven by hate, looking for souls to devour.
Day 5, Sermon
Published on Saturday, July 13 2013 1:28 PM
The Gospel is the canvas upon which the Sacred Humanity is brushed. If a Carmelite loses sight of the Gospels, she risks Heaven, for she will thus be losing sight of Our Lord.
For many, they will know and love the Carmelite sisters, will want to help them and serve them, but they might not understand the life of a cloistered. They might wonder why such a conglomerate of talent is being wasted behind closed and confined spaces. Look at Christ's life and we will understand this life more fully. Many people assume that Christ was a naturally extraverted person, social and people-oriented. However, He spends 30 years in reclusion, keeping company with only His family. After He makes His first appearance at His baptism, He immediately rushes off to the desert to pray and fast. His followers search for Him, but clearly He did not want to be found easily. Throughout the Gospels, He stays outside of towns, rather than in them; He is constantly departing from crowds as soon as possible; He sends His apostles away on more than one occasion so He can remain alone. There are only four occasions in the Gospels wherein He is at a social dinner, and in all four, He is in a confrontation or an argument. Christ is not at home among intense human sociability.
The Nazareth of Christ's time was only about 60 acres, inhabited with between 100 and 300 people. Despite this small size, and despite the fact that Christ lived there for 30 years, the Nazarenes express doubt and confusion when He arrives to preach. Perhaps the question they ask, whether or not "This is Jesus, son of Joseph", is not because they doubted His words, but that they were not sure if it were indeed Him. Perhaps, this is because Christ was very reserved and reclusive in His time there.
Our Lord was consistently oriented to small groups. The Holy Trinity (3 persons), the Holy Family (3 persons); His three favorite apostles, Peter, James, and John; His three friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; and besides His Blessed Mother and John, there were only three persons at His Crucifixion, the three women. Love is in the details! More is not better. Christ did not prefer large groups. Is it not true that when one overdoes socializing, one feels tired and lonely? To be live a life in a small, almost unchangeable group does not mean loneliness. Aloneness does not equal loneliness. Though people might understand the Carmelite cloister because it is seemingly a confining life, we must remember that Christ spent 90% of His life in a small group or alone, as did Our Lady and St. Joseph. Christ might find Carmel much better company over His fellow Nazarenes.
Day 4, Sermon
Published on Saturday, July 13 2013 1:13 PM
In the Carmelite life, there is a companionship between the soul and God; it is an ongoing conversation that serves as the foundation of such a relationship. How, then, must one achieve this? St. Teresa of Avila speaks of the Sacred Humanity of Christ, which is what a Carmelite must aspire to imitate. Just as she is a corporeal being, she will see Christ as a corporeal being, as flesh and blood, because that is what He is. In imitating Christ, it is not necessary that one look to the unknown so much as to what is known: Christ revealed Himself through His interactions with the other Gospel characters, just as we reveal ourselves through interaction with other humans.
There is one particular story in the Gospel that stands out, for three reasons: one, there is only three occasions in which Jesus is called by name, and this is one of those; two, it is the only time a name is given for the person being healed; and three, it is one of only three occasions wherein Our Lord asks a question of the person He is healing. The blind man calls loudly, over and over again, to Christ, and one might suppose it obvious as to why he is calling, but Christ nonetheless asks the man, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the man replies, "That I may see." Why does Christ ask this question? Look at the details - Love is always in the details. The Sacred Humanity of Christ must be a constant companion to a Carmelite.
Day 3, Sermon
Published on Thursday, July 11 2013 11:35 AM
Following the theme of self-knowledge and hiding from God, we come to Day 3 of this series. Self-knowledge is indispensable to the spiritual life, as oxygen is vital to the physical life. To flee from God means to flee from self. However, it is imperative that one gains self-knowledge from the correct source: to gain it from a toxic source, such as contemporary notions of psychology, causes almost irreparable damage to the soul. In today's world, self-knowledge comes from self-fulfillment and self-actualization. In other words, in order to know oneself, one must retreat into oneself, turn inwards, and maximize one's inner capacity. In Catholic spirituality, the soul is in the interior castle in which God literally dwells - but as a stranger: not that He is a stranger to the soul, but that the soul is a stranger to God, and therefore itself. As one begins to conform herself to God, to become pliable to Him, she will peer into the mirror and see God rather than herself. This isn't a self-absorption, as contemporary thinking leads us to believe. The counterfeit version of self-knowledge is somewhat similar, but differs in one vital detail: that God is an innate part of our essence and therefore to know Him, one reflects on oneself to see God, to look into oneself. However, God opens Himself up to us by grace and in accepting that grace, we gain self-knowledge and knowledge of God.
Day 2, Sermon
Published on Wednesday, July 10 2013 6:01 PM
To know oneself is to know God and this is perfection. In other words, knowledge of oneself is complimentary to knowledge of God. Throughout life, the soul builds a "monument" to himself. Education, environment, sins committed, habits contracted all shape and mold the soul. Choosing how one lives one's life, then, is essential, vital, to reaching Heaven. In this sense, C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce accurately depicts how a soul can choose to stay in Hell even when given the option to immediately enter Heaven. We will more often choose to hold onto our weaknesses, even when we know they are detrimental to our spiritual welfare, rather than let them go, because we know how painful that will be. The ghosts in The Great Divorce cannot let go of the devil on their shoulder no matter how much they hate it and thus choose to return to Hell. However, in the end, it is those very weaknesses, those very failings that we fall prey to on earth that become what the Lord can eventually transform into the vehicle which takes us to Heaven if we ask and pray and work hard enough to overcome them.