July 16th – XV Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear Friends:

It’s been over a month since I wrote to you in this space. It is providential that I write to you again on this 16th of July which is traditionally the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel who is the Marian patroness of our parish. This is the statue which beautifully graces the left side altar of our church where every morning people gather to pray the rosary before or after Mass. This is the image of Our Blessed Mother that our patroness St. Therese would pray to, not only in her convent, but when she was a child in her family’s parish church. I was able to see that statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that Therese prayed to last month when I visited Lisieux. 

On July 16, 1894, Therese wrote a poem of gratitude to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The third stanza says: 

Close to you, O my loving Mother! 
I’ve found rest for my heart; 
I want nothing more on earth. 
Jesus alone is all my happiness. 
If sometimes I feel sadness 
And fear coming to assail me, 
Always, supporting me in my weakness, 
Mother, you deign to bless me. 

For those who may not be familiar with the story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the tradition of the scapular, here is a good summary from Catholic News Agency: 

The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrated on July 16, was first instituted in the late 14th century in commemoration of the approval of the rule of the Carmelite Order a hundred years earlier. According to legend, a religious community was established even before the time of Christ on Mount Carmel. This is the mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on which the prophet Elijah successfully challenged the priests of Baal and won the people to the true God. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel entered the Calendar of the universal Church in the early 18th century… 

The brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, according to the Carmelite tradition, was presented by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock, the then Father General on July 16, 1251. Our Lady gave St. Simon a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying: “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire …. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.” 

The scapular stands for: 

– A commitment to follow Jesus, like Mary, the perfect model of all the disciples of Christ. This commitment finds its origin in baptism. 

– It leads into the community of Carmel, a community of religious men and women, which has existed in the Church for over eight centuries. 

– It reminds of the example of the saints of Carmel, with whom it establishes a close bond as brothers and sisters. 

– It is an expression of the belief that the bearers of the scapular will meet God in eternal life, aided by the intercession and prayers of Mary. 

The Carmelites insist that the scapular is not: 

– A magical charm to protect someone. 
- An automatic guarantee of salvation. 
– An excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life 

It is instead a sign which has been approved by the Church for over seven centuries and which stands for the decision to 

– Follow Jesus like Mary: 
– Be open to God and to his will. 
– Be guided by faith, hope, and love. 
– To pray at all times 
– To discover God present in all that happens around us. (CNA Resources) 

Like our patroness, let us turn today to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that she may always intercede for and protect our parish family. 

God bless you all,

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