Friday 17th June 2022 How is your heart? June is the month of traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and now it is only one week to that beautiful feast day. Today I noticed a reference to “heart” in the Gospel reading: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” Mt 6:20 When I think about all the people, places and things that I love, I realise that I have much treasure in life to be grateful for. Then I began reflecting on the love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and particularly His great love for humanity, and I realised that this means we are His Treasure! What a beautiful and comforting thought, that I am part of God’s Treasure!! We hear it said that the Scriptures are God’s love letters to us. I wish I could remember that more often!! In our chaotic and unpredictable world, however, our hearts are not always at peace. We all know that our hearts can be filled with a mixture of different emotions from day to day, or even from hour to hour. We find inside ourselves grief, anger, hope, joy, bitterness, and sadness. St Teresa said that the practice of frequent prayer brings about an “enlarging” of the heart, and indeed, in my own imperfect way, I am experiencing that more and more too as I live the life of a Carmelite. I find myself sharing in the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears of many people that call to us or ask for our prayers. This can be a challenge at times, but it is also a great grace to share in so many human experiences. This week I came across a very helpful quotation from St Francis de Sales that reassures me when I consider the complex mix of feelings in my own heart. He said: “We must try to keep our hearts steadily, unshakably equal during great inequality of events. Even though everything may turn and change around us, we must try to remain unchanging and ever looking, striving, and aspiring toward God.” So, as we prepare for the feast of the Sacred Heart, ask yourself this question: “how is my heart today?” Then, know that in whatever condition it is, Jesus is there waiting for you to accept the abundance of His great and unconditional love and mercy. Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 9th June 2022 A Bond of Attraction A question I am often asked is, “what do contemplatives do all day?” This is a brief overview. Viewed from the outside, one might see only a group of women doing the same thing every day(24/7) in a confined space. Sometimes people often tend to write off the contemplative life as a domain of self- protected cosiness and uncritical belief --- when in truth the contemplative life is a response to a compelling call to journey to vulnerability and openness. From the beginning, women and men have been called to a dialogue of love with the Creator. The journey undertaken by contemplatives is a God-quest journey to the sanctuary in the soul where love dwells. Centuries ago, some women and men intent on living life beyond the obvious developed a life designed to bring life to life. These wisdom figures reaffirmed for every generation the balance which becoming whole requires. Some of the tools of contemplatives are silence, solitude and prayerful reading of God’s word. In the silence and solitude the contemplative learns to hear the cry of sisters and brothers who are victims of the throw-away culture, the mysteries of human frailty, smallness, darkness and the indestructibility of love. Reading God’s word helps to cultivate a discerning heart, to build communion, and to see all people, the Earth and all its creatures through the lens of love. In a world dominated by the mind-set of power, wealth and consumerism the contemplative knows the value of material things yet these do not steal their heart or cloud their understanding. On this journey there are times of huge aridity, sheer emotional endurance and a sense of the loss of God that is like the emptiness experienced by atheism. Also along the journey ones comes to the realization that there is within you a sanctuary of deep love, trust and belonging. It would be false to restrict the domain of the contemplative exclusively to those who live in cloister. To a greater or lesser degree every human heart is contemplative. Next time you become aware of a beautiful sunset/sunrise or the exquisite smell the roses --- you are being contemplative, to a certain extent-- and “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” (Carl Jung) Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 2nd June 2022 The Sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne On May 27th 1906 Pope Pius X beatified the Compiègne Martyrs and early this year Pope Francis granted the opening of their Process of Canonization ‘by equivalence’ that is to say without the necessity of proving a miracle. He was responding to a request made by the French bishops and the Discalced Carmelite Order. The Compiègne Martyrs were sixteen French Carmelite nuns; they were very ordinary women from every sphere of life, which is illustrated by their father’s occupations. The prioress’s father worked in the Paris Observatory, another nun’s father was an advisor to the king, and others were craftsmen, tradesmen and labourers. Like most other religious in France at the time of the Revolution these sixteen nuns were forced to leave their monastery in 1792. They were banned from living as a community, but they managed to get accommodation in private houses very near to each other and lived in four small groups. Within two months of the expulsion from their monastery their prioress, Sr. Teresa of St. Augustine, suggested that they make a daily offering of their lives for the Church and their country. They had been doing this for almost two years when they were arrested. Soon afterwards they were sentenced to death for practicing their faith, as during the Revolution all Christian worship was banned. On July 17th 1874 they were taken from the Conciergerie prison in Paris in open carts to the guillotine. The journey took just over an hour and during this time the nuns’ faces expressed total serenity, some witnesses even said radiance; they were singing and praying as they travelled along the roads of Paris all the way to the guillotine. Although religious dress was banned, by God’ providence the mayor in Compiènge had allowed the nuns to wash their secular clothes, so when they were ordered to leave for Paris they were wearing their Carmelite habits and over their habits, the nuns wore their white choir mantles, which added to the impressive sight of a community of nuns being taken together to their death. Individual nuns had been executed before but this was the only time a whole community was condemned. At the guillotine the sisters renewed their vows and their act of offering for peace in their country and in the Church and the release of prisoners; then each sister asked her prioress for ‘Permission to die’ before kissing a tiny statue of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus. There was complete silence as they were executed, none of the usual jeers were heard and there were none of the customary drum rolls. Just ten days later the reign of terror ended and many people believed that this was brought about by the sacrifice of the nuns. They were buried in the Picpus Cemetery with 1,290 other victims of the guillotine. There is a memorial plaque at the site on which all the names of the nuns are listed. Window image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Our_Lady_of_Mount_Carmel_Church,_Quidenham,_Norfolk_- _Windows_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1084822.jpg BACK TO TOP Wednesday 25th May 2022 From Darkness to Light “I am the Light of the world Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark but he/she will have the light of life.” – Jn. 8 How comforting it is in the light of the Ukrainian war and the sufferings of those brave people to think of Jesus as the Light of the World. He is God’s love and tenderness made visible. Think of Him while on earth, His words and deeds brought healing and wholeness, beauty, and peace. The blind saw, the deaf heard again, the crippled walked. He had an illuminating effect on all He met. So, to be children of light and not of darkness our lives too must be full of goodness, love, mercy, and justice. God’s Living Word must be “a lamp for my steps and a light for my path.” Ps.119. The early Christians waiting to be thrown to the lions chanted, “The Lord is my light and my help, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life before whom shall I shrink.” Ps. 27 The secret of their confidence lay in the enabling power of God’s Word. Our newest Carmelite saint, Titus Brandsma knew it too. Killed by lethal injection in the concentration camp of Dachau in 1942 for speaking out against the Nazi ideology he said, “Do not yield to hatred. We are here in a dark tunnel but we have to go on. At the end an eternal light is shining for us.” So, God is calling us from the darkness of evil into His own wonderful Light. The love we have for each other is the judge of whether we are children of light or of darkness. At the present time Christ, the Light of the World is shining ever more brightly in the hearts of people even in the midst of wars and afflictions of all kinds. Deeds of goodness, mercy, compassion, justice, and peace are springing up. You O Lord are my lamp, My God who lightens my darkness. Ps. 18. Image: https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/life-of-christ-ministry-judea/i-am-the-light-of-the-world/ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 18th May 2022 ’Teacup talk of God’ In his poem -Tired of speaking sweetly - the poet Hafiz has this to say; ‘Love wants to reach out .... and break all our teacup talk of God Hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.’ The poet then goes on to say when we hear God is in such a playful mood; ‘Most everyone I know quickly packs their bags and hightails it Out of town.’ (Hafiz https://steemit.com/poetry/@saramiller) The above quote I am sure makes you smile and at the same time recognise the truth of the words spoken by the poet. Is he trying to call us to be more real with ourselves, others and God? To stop clinging to images of our false self an unattainable self? But the big challenge is being real/truthful with self first of all before we reach out to our neighbour. Another short quote helps to guide us in our search for the real self: ‘What you are looking for is what you are LOOKING FROM’ We have this great treasure within ourselves and we search in so many different places and wear a thousand masks. St. Augustine famous quote comes to mind “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. Pope Francis reiterated these thoughts recently especially during the canonisations last Sunday of 10 very different saints from all walks of life a layperson, religious sisters and priest. In his homily, he reminds the faithful to recognize how God loves us unconditionally and how the path to holiness is "so simple". But the first step is so important, our awareness of God’s love for us. The Pope said "God has a dream for your life. Welcome that dream, and pursue it with joy." The Holy Father later in his homily encouraged all of us to pursue our own call to holiness, a form of holiness all our own, "not a photocopy of someone else's holiness." When we know ourselves as loved by God and are aware of this great presence within, we will reach out and share this gift with all we meet. We will want to give the fullness of ourselves to God and neighbour. Then we will know our ‘teacup talk of God’ is real and genuine. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 11th May 2022 Tenderness… God of peace and justice, you open our hearts to love and the joy of the Gospel, even in the midst of every hatred and degradation of our brothers and sisters. Make of us your witnesses in today’s world, so that, like Saint Titus Brandsma we may see the tenderness beyond the horrors of inhumanity to your glory that shines through the martyrs of every age. Amen. Reading this special prayer for Titus Brandsma who will be canonised in Rome on Sunday, the word tenderness stood out for me and touched my heart...It reminded me of Pope Francis’ firm belief that our modern world needs a ‘revolution of tenderness’. Doesn’t it seem a contradiction? We normally think of a revolution as something that has massive power and force behind it, and yet tenderness connotes a softness, weakness even, little gestures... I recalled the prophetic words of Pope St. John Paul 11 in his passionate plea for peace in Northern Ireland, during his visit to Ireland in 1979: In the years to come, when the words of hatred and the deeds of violence are forgotten, it is the words of love and the acts of peace and forgiveness which will be remembered. It is these which will inspire the generations to come.... Think of the fields of red poppies that spring up from devastated battlefields or the rare golden flowers that rise from the ashes of intense forest fires...Nature’s ‘silver lining’... Titus stood out for his sense of fraternity, unfailing humanity, and tenderness towards all who surrounded him, especially in the dungeon what was Dachau...Tizia, the nurse who gave him the lethal injection, testified how the compassion and kindness in Titus’ way of looking at her helped her feel the mercy of God and to find herself again. I am convinced that similar stories of human tenderness and heroism will emerge from the unspeakable suffering of the people of Ukraine and other parts of our war-torn world...this irrepressible spirit of tenderness of the human heart will spring up and live on because it is a spark of God’s very own tenderness. May our new Carmelite Saint Titus help us to reflect the mercy and tenderness of God in our daily lives... BACK TO TOP Friday 6th May 2022 Birds of prey and praying birds! There has been some excitement in the community this week due to the sighting of a strange new bird by some of the nuns. After some discussion and consulting of bird-books and photographs, the consensus is that it was a sparrow hawk! This is the first time I have heard of a bird of prey in this part of south-Dublin, but apparently, they are more common than one thinks. So, this morning I set out on a garden walk to try and spot the new arrival for myself. Thirty minutes and thirteen different species of bird later there was still no sign of the elusive newcomer. But just then, the sweet singing of a thrush grabbed my attention. I looked up and saw it perched on the highest point of a scraggy old pine-tree, the top section of which looks like the skeleton trees in the bombed streets of Ukraine that we see on the news lately. As I listened to the thrush, I was reminded of the words that are attributed to St Augustine (though their true origin is debated): “To sing is to pray twice”, and in a split second I made the connection with something I heard many years ago when going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes – the group were advised that some people go there to “pray” and others go to “prey”, so we should be attentive about our belongings. As today is the First Friday of May, and a day when we will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my garden-bird walk has prompted me to contemplate if I am a “bird of prey” or a “praying bird” in the lives of those around me. How well do I pray for others, and do I lift them up in an unrestrained song of prayer to God like the thrush singing its heart out? Or do I subtly prey on those I can use for my own advantage or pleasure? It is a deep and personal question, and a difficult one, but it is another tool to help me on the constant journey of self-discovery and growth in truth and justice. With gratitude to the sparrowhawk (I will spot you someday!) and the beautiful song thrush!! Images: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 28th April 2022 Rock and Roll We human beings often resist the new. We become comfortable in our habitual patterns and our accustomed weakness and settle to live in the landscape of reluctance with a large boulder at the entrance. All we have is life. Things, cars, houses, jobs, hobbies come and go, turn to dust and disappear. Things do not make life. Maybe we are alive for reasons other than productivity or consumption? Have we pared back God and his grace to fit our small minds? When we have every angle calculated ---- figured out that we know all the possibilities, then nothing new can come along to surprise us! We know we should, and could, make more effort but we feel entombed in longstanding habits of laziness and distraction. Our ready answer can often be ----“I’ve tried, but it didn’t work!” But RESURRECTION tells us it is never too late. The boulder can be rocked and rolled back and we can poke our heads out from the land of reluctance, take off the blindfold and draw in a deep breath of refreshing, reinvigorating RESURRECTON AIR! Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day. “Listen. Put on morning. Waken into falling light.” (W.S. Graham) When we begin to awaken to the light of soul, life takes on a new depth. We have courage to explore new parts of life that we have not yet experienced. After all, this is the newest moment of our life –and God is breath-near - it is never too late- Alleluia! BACK TO TOP Friday 22nd April 2022 Resurrection Sunrise pictures like this one always speak to me of resurrection. I imagine the Risen Lord coming across that golden path to greet us and wrap us in his resurrection light. This is a morning picture, but the sun leaves a similar trail when it is setting and the golden path also reminds me of St. Therese writing about a visit to the sea at Trouville when she was about seven years old. She tells us that she was transfixed by the sight of the sea as everything about it spoke to her of God’s majesty, grandeur and power. She goes on to say ‘In the evening at that moment when the sun seems to bathe itself in the immensity of the waves leaving a luminous trail behind I went and sat down on the huge rock with Pauline. Then I recalled the touching story of ‘The Golden Trail’*…I contemplated this luminous trail for a long time. It was to me the image of God’s grace shedding its light across the path the little white-sailed vessel had to travel and I made the resolution never to wander far from the glance of Jesus in order to travel peacefully towards the eternal shore.’ *This story was contained in a collection by Louise Belloc and tells of a little girl who had a dream that she was sailing in a beautiful white-sailed ship along a narrow, golden path. At some point she found herself lost in cold stormy waters, but she remembered that her mother had told her to say the ‘Our Father’ if ever she was in danger and as soon as she said the words ‘deliver us from evil’ the little ship was restored to the golden path. In the story her mother explains that ‘The brilliant golden ray teaches us that the way to heaven is luminous; but it is narrow and easy to lose; outside this path, all is cold, dark, and stormy.’ She goes on to say, ‘The way you found it again shows that only God can keep us safe and praying to him and trusting in his love is the best way to keep us on the narrow path of gold and to arrive at our good and shining home: heaven.’ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 13th April 2022 Father, forgive them for they know not what they do Holy week is upon us, the week of Love, the week of all weeks, when the Son of God laid down His life for love of us. We enter into it this year with an ever-deepening desire for God’s Merciful forgiving love to enter our hearts and our world to heal the wounds of hatred and cruelty that the present war is creating. This Holy week our hearts are still full of our beloved Sr. Kevin whose death occurred recently. She grew up with the memory of her forgiving grandmother who after her husband had been shot dead before her eyes in their home, had gathered her sixteen children around his coffin and asked them to promise that they would never take revenge for the death of their father. That was only months before Sr. Kevin’s own father, one of those sixteen children was gunned down on his way to Mass. Forgiveness was on his lips too as he lay dying. So, the words of Jesus on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” meant a great deal to our dear Sr. Kevin. The depth of Christ’s love for us in His passion death and resurrection never failed to fill her with thanksgiving and joy. The hymn we sing this week was one of her favourites. My song is Love unknown, My Saviour’s love to me, Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be. O who am I, that for my sake My Lord should take, Frail flesh and die. Another charismatic hymn that she loved was: Come as you are, that’s how I want you, Come as you are, feel quite at home, Close to my heart, loved and forgiven, Come as you are, why stand alone. Come as you are, that’s how I love you, Come as you are, trust me again, Nothing can change the love that I bear you, All will be well, just come as you are. Dear Sr. Kevin from your Heavenly home teach us how to bear patiently with wrongs done to us and to see them as opportunities for loving and forgiving as you did. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 6th April 2022 The little boy at the train station The image of father and son says it all Separation, heartbreak, loss and fear, The Father sending his family away To ‘God only knows where’. The Mother now has to be ‘Mother and Father’ to her children. And what lies ahead? What is at stake? When will it all end? No answers - for now Just a powerful last sad gaze of Father and Son And the Mother Says it all. A single photograph can often say more than words can express! (Click here to see photo, we cannot reproduce here for copyright reasons) Recently a photo stopped me in my tracks. It expressed so much pain and angst. It was a Ukrainian man holding his son at the train station. His sad gaze was on a beautiful 2 year old boy. Their eyes were focused on each other father and son. The Father heartbroken and the child confused but still trusting. The mother and her children were heading to some European country to set up a temporary home and wait indefinitely for the call to return home. That is their hope. The father wearing his army uniform prepared to fight for his country. He too was facing an uncertain future and his great hope and wish was to survive. Longing for the day he will gaze once more into the eyes of his son. The dream is that they will be reunited and return to their home in Ukraine. But there will be wounds to heal and probably a new home and house to rebuild. The child innocent and trusting his parents but sensing something is not right. This little boy represents so many children in Ukraine over the past weeks. We know some have even lost their lives in this war. What can we adults do for those most vulnerable in our world that we call our ‘Common Home’? One photo can say so much and the story behind it is repeated in every war torn country from Syria to Tigray to places almost forgotten about by the International media. But after the wars the damage is incalculable and a new spirit is needed to rebuild and restore all that has been damaged on a human as well as material level. We are committed to the Care of our Common Home. Within this care we also need to look at the lethal weapons of mass destruction that exist and are stock piled by countries for no good purpose. It is also an industry. Surely we can come up with something more constructive to give meaningful employment? For the sake of the little boy at the train station and for future generations he represents - can we do better? We pray there will soon be an end to the war in Ukraine and all the other countries afflicted by war and we also pray for families that they will be able to rebuild their lives and make this world a better place for all to live in. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 23rd March 2022 Praying for Ukraine Some homes around our locality are displaying signs or symbols of solidarity with the suffering people of war-torn Ukraine. There are flags coloured by a school children displayed in top windows, or perhaps a vase of sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. We know that many generous people are opening their homes to refugees and many others are giving financial or practical donations. Everyone wants to do something. Even nature is showing solidarity these days with the bright blue skies and glorious yellow daffodils everywhere! For us, as Carmelite nuns, our main role of support is our humble and trusting prayers and I have been looking to Mary for help with this. Mary knew the deepest sorrow and now her city – Mariupol – “Mary’s City” – has suffered the most extreme devastation imaginable. The survivors will spend the rest of their lives trying to cope with the trauma they have endured. We believe, we know, that Mary understands. She stands with the people of her city and all the people of Ukraine at this time as she stood bravely at the Cross of her Son. Music always stirs my heart to deeper prayer, and these days I am listening to a 2008 album entitled “Stabat Mater” by Welsh Composer Karl Jenkins. It contains a modern musical arrangement of this ancient hymn about Mary at the foot of the Cross, mixed with various other compositions on the theme of a mother grieving loss. (Coincidentally, the cover of the CD is designed in the Ukrainian colours of blue and yellow!) One piece that particularly moves me is an original “Lament”, and I invite you to visit this link to listen to the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OxEqha0Oxg The lyrics are as follows: Feeling all the grief and sorrow we live life with sorrow in our hearts and minds, with tears that wait to fall when sorrow in the world is more than we can truly bear. We hear the cries of children, We see death cast shadows on their hearts and minds, as mothers in their grief stand crying, weeping, weeping, crying, crying, weeping, weeping for this world. On our bed of thorns such sorrows must surely end, our tears can wash away the sins of the world, no more crying, weeping, weeping, crying, crying, weeping, weeping in this world, this world. Mary is the Mother of Hope. Even in the midst of her sorrow, she had hope. As we try to unite with her in sorrow and lament for her children, so must we imitate her in hope. As the Lament goes: “The sorrows must surely end”. On Friday next, Pope Francis will consecrate the world, and especially Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us unite with this consecration and live in loving hope and trust that Mary our Mother will help us and all the people of Ukraine and Russia to look forward to a brighter future. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 16th March 2022 Illumine Tomorrow, I’m going to be happy; tomorrow, I am going to live. And so, when I get to secondary school, I’m going to live; when I’m in university, I’m going to live. When you get to university, you’ll say, “When I get married, I’m going to live.” After you get married, “Okay, when the children grow up, I’m going to live.” Is it possible, that you are going to die without having lived? Look at your thoughts, and you’ll see how often they are in the past or in the future. In one of his songs, John Lennon has the line: “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Could that be the story of our lives? Our lives slip away and we are always on our way to somewhere else! God isn’t tomorrow; God is now. Life isn’t tomorrow; it is now. And so, when you are inhaling, be aware that you are inhaling. And when you are exhaling, be aware that you are exhaling --- and you’ll come into the NOW and it is in the NOW that God is waiting for you. Little by little, one moment of silence at a time, you can come to know yourself and the barriers you put between yourself and God who is waiting to be gracious to you. He waits for us to notice his blessings and for our desire to give thanks for them. Nothing occurs which is outside the scope of God’s concern, which is why St. Paul says that “by turning everything to their good, God cooperates with those who love Him” (Rm 8.28) Can we catch on to this process in which God turns everything to good? Our Carmelite sister, Edith Stein wrote: “Nothing is accidental. My entire life, even in the most minute details, was pre- designed in the plans of divine providence and is, for the all-seeing eye of God, a perfect coherence of meaning.” BACK TO TOP Wednesday 9th March 2022 Titus Brandsma This week we heard the great news that Blessed Titus Brandsma will be canonised at St. Peter’s Rome on Sunday 15th May. Pope Francis made the announcement on March 4th Titus was born Anno Sjoerd Brandsma on February 23rd 1881, in Oegeklooster, Freisland, in northern Holland, where his parents ran a dairy farm. He was one of seven children, six of whom became religious. From the age of 11 young Anno wanted to be a priest and when he was seventeen he began his Carmelite novitiate at Boxmeer. It was there that he was given the religious name Titus, which was in fact his father’s baptismal name. Titus was ordained in 1905 and sent to Rome for further studies. After gaining his Doctorate in Divinity he returned to Holland and taught philosophy in the Catholic University at Nijmegen and in 1932 he was appointed rector there. Titus lectured extensively, especially on Carmelite mysticism, not only in Holland, but all over Europe and in the United States. In preparation for a lecture tour in the U.S. he came to Ireland to improve his English and stayed with his brother friars at Whitefriar Street, Dublin and at Kinsale, Co. Cork. In 1935, the same year that Titus was in Ireland, the Dutch bishops appointed him chaplain and advisor to Catholic journalists. When the Nazis invaded and occupied Holland in 1940 Titus courageously spoke out against the persecution of the Jews and encouraged Catholic newspapers to refuse to publish Nazi propaganda. The Nazis named him a ‘dangerous little friar’. It was his active opposition to the Nazi ideology and his Christian stance for freedom of the press and the dignity of all people regardless of race or religion, which led to his arrest on January 19th 1942. He was taken to the prison at Scheveningen, and from there to the concentration camp at Amersfoot, back to Scheveningen for questioning and finally to the Concentration Camp at Dachau where he was killed by lethal injection on July 26th 1942. He told the nurse who gave him the injection that he would pray for her and gave her a rosary. His prayers were answered when she later became a Catholic and gave important testimony in his beatification process. She testified ‘I was brought back to the right way through the intercession of Fr. Titus. Personally I consider him a martyr because National Socialism was a kind of anti-Christ’. Titus was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 3rd 1985 since when the feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma O. Carm. Priest and Martyr, has been kept on July 27th each year. In his deep suffering Titus never failed to pray for his persecutors. He wrote ‘God bless the Netherlands! God bless Germany! May God grant these two peoples to return to the path of peace and freedom, and to recognise his Glory for the good of these two nations that are so close. As war continues to rage in our own time we might do well to pray that same prayer for the Ukraine and Russia and to ask Titus to add his plea to ours. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 2nd March 2022 “Behold your Mother ” A great blessing came our way at the height of the pandemic. We were asked if the pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima could rest with us privately until such time as it was safe for Her to continue to travel round the dioceses of Ireland when the restrictions had eased. Needless to say, we joyfully welcomed this gift of God. We enthroned her in the novitiate room upstairs. We did not put on her crown while she is with us as St. Therese said, “Mary is more Mother than Queen.” It is hard to put into words that look of loving concern and compassion that is on the face of the Virgin of Fatima…. It is as if She is gathering the pain and distress of the people of the whole world into her loving embrace and bringing them to her Son Jesus for us. From the cross at the height of His agony didn’t He give Her to us as our Mother – “Behold your Mother.” We pray in the Hail Holy Queen: “Turn then O Most Gracious Advocate your eyes of Mercy towards us.” At this moment in time as I write, when the whole world is trembling for the capital of Ukraine surrounded by the Russian troops, our eyes are turned towards the Lord and His Mother ‘til they show us his Mercy. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt. 5) – that can be our mission this Lent - prayer and fasting for the people of the Ukraine who are suffering so grievously. We ask you too dear readers to pray for our two Carmelite communities of nuns in Kiev and Kharkiv and our friars in Berdichey who are standing by the people of Ukraine in their hour of greatest need and helping them with the support of the Order from all over the world. We leave all to you O Sweet Mother as God left all to you in Jesus. BACK TO TOP
Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
© 2022 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara
St. Joseph’s Carmel
© 2022 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
Friday 17th June 2022 How is your heart? June is the month of traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and now it is only one week to that beautiful feast day. Today I noticed a reference to “heart” in the Gospel reading: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” Mt 6:20 When I think about all the people, places and things that I love, I realise that I have much treasure in life to be grateful for. Then I began reflecting on the love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and particularly His great love for humanity, and I realised that this means we are His Treasure! What a beautiful and comforting thought, that I am part of God’s Treasure!! We hear it said that the Scriptures are God’s love letters to us. I wish I could remember that more often!! In our chaotic and unpredictable world, however, our hearts are not always at peace. We all know that our hearts can be filled with a mixture of different emotions from day to day, or even from hour to hour. We find inside ourselves grief, anger, hope, joy, bitterness, and sadness. St Teresa said that the practice of frequent prayer brings about an “enlarging” of the heart, and indeed, in my own imperfect way, I am experiencing that more and more too as I live the life of a Carmelite. I find myself sharing in the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears of many people that call to us or ask for our prayers. This can be a challenge at times, but it is also a great grace to share in so many human experiences. This week I came across a very helpful quotation from St Francis de Sales that reassures me when I consider the complex mix of feelings in my own heart. He said: “We must try to keep our hearts steadily, unshakably equal during great inequality of events. Even though everything may turn and change around us, we must try to remain unchanging and ever looking, striving, and aspiring toward God.” So, as we prepare for the feast of the Sacred Heart, ask yourself this question: “how is my heart today?” Then, know that in whatever condition it is, Jesus is there waiting for you to accept the abundance of His great and unconditional love and mercy. Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 9th June 2022 A Bond of Attraction A question I am often asked is, “what do contemplatives do all day?” This is a brief overview. Viewed from the outside, one might see only a group of women doing the same thing every day(24/7) in a confined space. Sometimes people often tend to write off the contemplative life as a domain of self-protected cosiness and uncritical belief --- when in truth the contemplative life is a response to a compelling call to journey to vulnerability and openness. From the beginning, women and men have been called to a dialogue of love with the Creator. The journey undertaken by contemplatives is a God-quest journey to the sanctuary in the soul where love dwells. Centuries ago, some women and men intent on living life beyond the obvious developed a life designed to bring life to life. These wisdom figures reaffirmed for every generation the balance which becoming whole requires. Some of the tools of contemplatives are silence, solitude and prayerful reading of God’s word. In the silence and solitude the contemplative learns to hear the cry of sisters and brothers who are victims of the throw-away culture, the mysteries of human frailty, smallness, darkness and the indestructibility of love. Reading God’s word helps to cultivate a discerning heart, to build communion, and to see all people, the Earth and all its creatures through the lens of love. In a world dominated by the mind-set of power, wealth and consumerism the contemplative knows the value of material things yet these do not steal their heart or cloud their understanding. On this journey there are times of huge aridity, sheer emotional endurance and a sense of the loss of God that is like the emptiness experienced by atheism. Also along the journey ones comes to the realization that there is within you a sanctuary of deep love, trust and belonging. It would be false to restrict the domain of the contemplative exclusively to those who live in cloister. To a greater or lesser degree every human heart is contemplative. Next time you become aware of a beautiful sunset/sunrise or the exquisite smell the roses --- you are being contemplative, to a certain extent-- and “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” (Carl Jung) Image: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 2nd June 2022 The Sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne On May 27th 1906 Pope Pius X beatified the Compiègne Martyrs and early this year Pope Francis granted the opening of their Process of Canonization ‘by equivalence’ that is to say without the necessity of proving a miracle. He was responding to a request made by the French bishops and the Discalced Carmelite Order. The Compiègne Martyrs were sixteen French Carmelite nuns; they were very ordinary women from every sphere of life, which is illustrated by their father’s occupations. The prioress’s father worked in the Paris Observatory, another nun’s father was an advisor to the king, and others were craftsmen, tradesmen and labourers. Like most other religious in France at the time of the Revolution these sixteen nuns were forced to leave their monastery in 1792. They were banned from living as a community, but they managed to get accommodation in private houses very near to each other and lived in four small groups. Within two months of the expulsion from their monastery their prioress, Sr. Teresa of St. Augustine, suggested that they make a daily offering of their lives for the Church and their country. They had been doing this for almost two years when they were arrested. Soon afterwards they were sentenced to death for practicing their faith, as during the Revolution all Christian worship was banned. On July 17th 1874 they were taken from the Conciergerie prison in Paris in open carts to the guillotine. The journey took just over an hour and during this time the nuns’ faces expressed total serenity, some witnesses even said radiance; they were singing and praying as they travelled along the roads of Paris all the way to the guillotine. Although religious dress was banned, by God’ providence the mayor in Compiènge had allowed the nuns to wash their secular clothes, so when they were ordered to leave for Paris they were wearing their Carmelite habits and over their habits, the nuns wore their white choir mantles, which added to the impressive sight of a community of nuns being taken together to their death. Individual nuns had been executed before but this was the only time a whole community was condemned. At the guillotine the sisters renewed their vows and their act of offering for peace in their country and in the Church and the release of prisoners; then each sister asked her prioress for ‘Permission to die’ before kissing a tiny statue of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus. There was complete silence as they were executed, none of the usual jeers were heard and there were none of the customary drum rolls. Just ten days later the reign of terror ended and many people believed that this was brought about by the sacrifice of the nuns. They were buried in the Picpus Cemetery with 1,290 other victims of the guillotine. There is a memorial plaque at the site on which all the names of the nuns are listed. Window image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Our_Lady_of_Mount_Carmel_Church,_Quidenham,_Norfolk_- _Windows_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1084822.jpg BACK TO TOP Wednesday 25th May 2022 From Darkness to Light “I am the Light of the world Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark but he/she will have the light of life.” – Jn. 8 How comforting it is in the light of the Ukrainian war and the sufferings of those brave people to think of Jesus as the Light of the World. He is God’s love and tenderness made visible. Think of Him while on earth, His words and deeds brought healing and wholeness, beauty, and peace. The blind saw, the deaf heard again, the crippled walked. He had an illuminating effect on all He met. So, to be children of light and not of darkness our lives too must be full of goodness, love, mercy, and justice. God’s Living Word must be “a lamp for my steps and a light for my path.” Ps.119. The early Christians waiting to be thrown to the lions chanted, “The Lord is my light and my help, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life before whom shall I shrink.” Ps. 27 The secret of their confidence lay in the enabling power of God’s Word. Our newest Carmelite saint, Titus Brandsma knew it too. Killed by lethal injection in the concentration camp of Dachau in 1942 for speaking out against the Nazi ideology he said, “Do not yield to hatred. We are here in a dark tunnel but we have to go on. At the end an eternal light is shining for us.” So, God is calling us from the darkness of evil into His own wonderful Light. The love we have for each other is the judge of whether we are children of light or of darkness. At the present time Christ, the Light of the World is shining ever more brightly in the hearts of people even in the midst of wars and afflictions of all kinds. Deeds of goodness, mercy, compassion, justice, and peace are springing up. You O Lord are my lamp, My God who lightens my darkness. Ps. 18. Image: https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/life-of-christ-ministry-judea/i-am-the-light-of-the- world/ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 18th May 2022 ’Teacup talk of God’ In his poem -Tired of speaking sweetly - the poet Hafiz has this to say; ‘Love wants to reach out .... and break all our teacup talk of God Hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.’ The poet then goes on to say when we hear God is in such a playful mood; ‘Most everyone I know quickly packs their bags and hightails it Out of town.’ (Hafiz https://steemit.com/poetry/@saramiller) The above quote I am sure makes you smile and at the same time recognise the truth of the words spoken by the poet. Is he trying to call us to be more real with ourselves, others and God? To stop clinging to images of our false self an unattainable self? But the big challenge is being real/truthful with self first of all before we reach out to our neighbour. Another short quote helps to guide us in our search for the real self: ‘What you are looking for is what you are LOOKING FROM’ We have this great treasure within ourselves and we search in so many different places and wear a thousand masks. St. Augustine famous quote comes to mind “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. Pope Francis reiterated these thoughts recently especially during the canonisations last Sunday of 10 very different saints from all walks of life a layperson, religious sisters and priest. In his homily, he reminds the faithful to recognize how God loves us unconditionally and how the path to holiness is "so simple". But the first step is so important, our awareness of God’s love for us. The Pope said "God has a dream for your life. Welcome that dream, and pursue it with joy." The Holy Father later in his homily encouraged all of us to pursue our own call to holiness, a form of holiness all our own, "not a photocopy of someone else's holiness." When we know ourselves as loved by God and are aware of this great presence within, we will reach out and share this gift with all we meet. We will want to give the fullness of ourselves to God and neighbour. Then we will know our ‘teacup talk of God’ is real and genuine. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 11th May 2022 Tenderness… God of peace and justice, you open our hearts to love and the joy of the Gospel, even in the midst of every hatred and degradation of our brothers and sisters. Make of us your witnesses in today’s world, so that, like Saint Titus Brandsma we may see the tenderness beyond the horrors of inhumanity to your glory that shines through the martyrs of every age. Amen. Reading this special prayer for Titus Brandsma who will be canonised in Rome on Sunday, the word tenderness stood out for me and touched my heart...It reminded me of Pope Francis’ firm belief that our modern world needs a ‘revolution of tenderness’. Doesn’t it seem a contradiction? We normally think of a revolution as something that has massive power and force behind it, and yet tenderness connotes a softness, weakness even, little gestures... I recalled the prophetic words of Pope St. John Paul 11 in his passionate plea for peace in Northern Ireland, during his visit to Ireland in 1979: In the years to come, when the words of hatred and the deeds of violence are forgotten, it is the words of love and the acts of peace and forgiveness which will be remembered. It is these which will inspire the generations to come.... Think of the fields of red poppies that spring up from devastated battlefields or the rare golden flowers that rise from the ashes of intense forest fires...Nature’s ‘silver lining’... Titus stood out for his sense of fraternity, unfailing humanity, and tenderness towards all who surrounded him, especially in the dungeon what was Dachau...Tizia, the nurse who gave him the lethal injection, testified how the compassion and kindness in Titus’ way of looking at her helped her feel the mercy of God and to find herself again. I am convinced that similar stories of human tenderness and heroism will emerge from the unspeakable suffering of the people of Ukraine and other parts of our war-torn world...this irrepressible spirit of tenderness of the human heart will spring up and live on because it is a spark of God’s very own tenderness. May our new Carmelite Saint Titus help us to reflect the mercy and tenderness of God in our daily lives... BACK TO TOP Friday 6th May 2022 Birds of prey and praying birds! There has been some excitement in the community this week due to the sighting of a strange new bird by some of the nuns. After some discussion and consulting of bird-books and photographs, the consensus is that it was a sparrow hawk! This is the first time I have heard of a bird of prey in this part of south-Dublin, but apparently, they are more common than one thinks. So, this morning I set out on a garden walk to try and spot the new arrival for myself. Thirty minutes and thirteen different species of bird later there was still no sign of the elusive newcomer. But just then, the sweet singing of a thrush grabbed my attention. I looked up and saw it perched on the highest point of a scraggy old pine-tree, the top section of which looks like the skeleton trees in the bombed streets of Ukraine that we see on the news lately. As I listened to the thrush, I was reminded of the words that are attributed to St Augustine (though their true origin is debated): “To sing is to pray twice”, and in a split second I made the connection with something I heard many years ago when going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes – the group were advised that some people go there to “pray” and others go to “prey”, so we should be attentive about our belongings. As today is the First Friday of May, and a day when we will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my garden-bird walk has prompted me to contemplate if I am a “bird of prey” or a “praying bird” in the lives of those around me. How well do I pray for others, and do I lift them up in an unrestrained song of prayer to God like the thrush singing its heart out? Or do I subtly prey on those I can use for my own advantage or pleasure? It is a deep and personal question, and a difficult one, but it is another tool to help me on the constant journey of self-discovery and growth in truth and justice. With gratitude to the sparrowhawk (I will spot you someday!) and the beautiful song thrush!! Images: pixabay.com BACK TO TOP Thursday 28th April 2022 Rock and Roll We human beings often resist the new. We become comfortable in our habitual patterns and our accustomed weakness and settle to live in the landscape of reluctance with a large boulder at the entrance. All we have is life. Things, cars, houses, jobs, hobbies come and go, turn to dust and disappear. Things do not make life. Maybe we are alive for reasons other than productivity or consumption? Have we pared back God and his grace to fit our small minds? When we have every angle calculated --- - figured out that we know all the possibilities, then nothing new can come along to surprise us! We know we should, and could, make more effort but we feel entombed in longstanding habits of laziness and distraction. Our ready answer can often be ----“I’ve tried, but it didn’t work!” But RESURRECTION tells us it is never too late. The boulder can be rocked and rolled back and we can poke our heads out from the land of reluctance, take off the blindfold and draw in a deep breath of refreshing, reinvigorating RESURRECTON AIR! Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day. “Listen. Put on morning. Waken into falling light.” (W.S. Graham) When we begin to awaken to the light of soul, life takes on a new depth. We have courage to explore new parts of life that we have not yet experienced. After all, this is the newest moment of our life –and God is breath-near - it is never too late- Alleluia! BACK TO TOP Friday 22nd April 2022 Resurrection Sunrise pictures like this one always speak to me of resurrection. I imagine the Risen Lord coming across that golden path to greet us and wrap us in his resurrection light. This is a morning picture, but the sun leaves a similar trail when it is setting and the golden path also reminds me of St. Therese writing about a visit to the sea at Trouville when she was about seven years old. She tells us that she was transfixed by the sight of the sea as everything about it spoke to her of God’s majesty, grandeur and power. She goes on to say ‘In the evening at that moment when the sun seems to bathe itself in the immensity of the waves leaving a luminous trail behind I went and sat down on the huge rock with Pauline. Then I recalled the touching story of ‘The Golden Trail’*…I contemplated this luminous trail for a long time. It was to me the image of God’s grace shedding its light across the path the little white-sailed vessel had to travel and I made the resolution never to wander far from the glance of Jesus in order to travel peacefully towards the eternal shore.’ *This story was contained in a collection by Louise Belloc and tells of a little girl who had a dream that she was sailing in a beautiful white-sailed ship along a narrow, golden path. At some point she found herself lost in cold stormy waters, but she remembered that her mother had told her to say the ‘Our Father’ if ever she was in danger and as soon as she said the words ‘deliver us from evil’ the little ship was restored to the golden path. In the story her mother explains that ‘The brilliant golden ray teaches us that the way to heaven is luminous; but it is narrow and easy to lose; outside this path, all is cold, dark, and stormy.’ She goes on to say, ‘The way you found it again shows that only God can keep us safe and praying to him and trusting in his love is the best way to keep us on the narrow path of gold and to arrive at our good and shining home: heaven.’ BACK TO TOP Wednesday 13th April 2022 Father, forgive them for they know not what they do Holy week is upon us, the week of Love, the week of all weeks, when the Son of God laid down His life for love of us. We enter into it this year with an ever-deepening desire for God’s Merciful forgiving love to enter our hearts and our world to heal the wounds of hatred and cruelty that the present war is creating. This Holy week our hearts are still full of our beloved Sr. Kevin whose death occurred recently. She grew up with the memory of her forgiving grandmother who after her husband had been shot dead before her eyes in their home, had gathered her sixteen children around his coffin and asked them to promise that they would never take revenge for the death of their father. That was only months before Sr. Kevin’s own father, one of those sixteen children was gunned down on his way to Mass. Forgiveness was on his lips too as he lay dying. So, the words of Jesus on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” meant a great deal to our dear Sr. Kevin. The depth of Christ’s love for us in His passion death and resurrection never failed to fill her with thanksgiving and joy. The hymn we sing this week was one of her favourites. My song is Love unknown, My Saviour’s love to me, Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be. O who am I, that for my sake My Lord should take, Frail flesh and die. Another charismatic hymn that she loved was: Come as you are, that’s how I want you, Come as you are, feel quite at home, Close to my heart, loved and forgiven, Come as you are, why stand alone. Come as you are, that’s how I love you, Come as you are, trust me again, Nothing can change the love that I bear you, All will be well, just come as you are. Dear Sr. Kevin from your Heavenly home teach us how to bear patiently with wrongs done to us and to see them as opportunities for loving and forgiving as you did. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 6th April 2022 The little boy at the train station The image of father and son says it all Separation, heartbreak, loss and fear, The Father sending his family away To ‘God only knows where’. The Mother now has to be ‘Mother and Father’ to her children. And what lies ahead? What is at stake? When will it all end? No answers - for now Just a powerful last sad gaze of Father and Son And the Mother Says it all. A single photograph can often say more than words can express! (Click here to see photo, we cannot reproduce here for copyright reasons) Recently a photo stopped me in my tracks. It expressed so much pain and angst. It was a Ukrainian man holding his son at the train station. His sad gaze was on a beautiful 2 year old boy. Their eyes were focused on each other father and son. The Father heartbroken and the child confused but still trusting. The mother and her children were heading to some European country to set up a temporary home and wait indefinitely for the call to return home. That is their hope. The father wearing his army uniform prepared to fight for his country. He too was facing an uncertain future and his great hope and wish was to survive. Longing for the day he will gaze once more into the eyes of his son. The dream is that they will be reunited and return to their home in Ukraine. But there will be wounds to heal and probably a new home and house to rebuild. The child innocent and trusting his parents but sensing something is not right. This little boy represents so many children in Ukraine over the past weeks. We know some have even lost their lives in this war. What can we adults do for those most vulnerable in our world that we call our ‘Common Home’? One photo can say so much and the story behind it is repeated in every war torn country from Syria to Tigray to places almost forgotten about by the International media. But after the wars the damage is incalculable and a new spirit is needed to rebuild and restore all that has been damaged on a human as well as material level. We are committed to the Care of our Common Home. Within this care we also need to look at the lethal weapons of mass destruction that exist and are stock piled by countries for no good purpose. It is also an industry. Surely we can come up with something more constructive to give meaningful employment? For the sake of the little boy at the train station and for future generations he represents - can we do better? We pray there will soon be an end to the war in Ukraine and all the other countries afflicted by war and we also pray for families that they will be able to rebuild their lives and make this world a better place for all to live in. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 23rd March 2022 Praying for Ukraine Some homes around our locality are displaying signs or symbols of solidarity with the suffering people of war-torn Ukraine. There are flags coloured by a school children displayed in top windows, or perhaps a vase of sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. We know that many generous people are opening their homes to refugees and many others are giving financial or practical donations. Everyone wants to do something. Even nature is showing solidarity these days with the bright blue skies and glorious yellow daffodils everywhere! For us, as Carmelite nuns, our main role of support is our humble and trusting prayers and I have been looking to Mary for help with this. Mary knew the deepest sorrow and now her city – Mariupol – “Mary’s City” – has suffered the most extreme devastation imaginable. The survivors will spend the rest of their lives trying to cope with the trauma they have endured. We believe, we know, that Mary understands. She stands with the people of her city and all the people of Ukraine at this time as she stood bravely at the Cross of her Son. Music always stirs my heart to deeper prayer, and these days I am listening to a 2008 album entitled “Stabat Mater” by Welsh Composer Karl Jenkins. It contains a modern musical arrangement of this ancient hymn about Mary at the foot of the Cross, mixed with various other compositions on the theme of a mother grieving loss. (Coincidentally, the cover of the CD is designed in the Ukrainian colours of blue and yellow!) One piece that particularly moves me is an original “Lament”, and I invite you to visit this link to listen to the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OxEqha0Oxg The lyrics are as follows: Feeling all the grief and sorrow we live life with sorrow in our hearts and minds, with tears that wait to fall when sorrow in the world is more than we can truly bear. We hear the cries of children, We see death cast shadows on their hearts and minds, as mothers in their grief stand crying, weeping, weeping, crying, crying, weeping, weeping for this world. On our bed of thorns such sorrows must surely end, our tears can wash away the sins of the world, no more crying, weeping, weeping, crying, crying, weeping, weeping in this world, this world. Mary is the Mother of Hope. Even in the midst of her sorrow, she had hope. As we try to unite with her in sorrow and lament for her children, so must we imitate her in hope. As the Lament goes: “The sorrows must surely end”. On Friday next, Pope Francis will consecrate the world, and especially Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us unite with this consecration and live in loving hope and trust that Mary our Mother will help us and all the people of Ukraine and Russia to look forward to a brighter future. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 16th March 2022 Illumine Tomorrow, I’m going to be happy; tomorrow, I am going to live. And so, when I get to secondary school, I’m going to live; when I’m in university, I’m going to live. When you get to university, you’ll say, “When I get married, I’m going to live.” After you get married, “Okay, when the children grow up, I’m going to live.” Is it possible, that you are going to die without having lived? Look at your thoughts, and you’ll see how often they are in the past or in the future. In one of his songs, John Lennon has the line: “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Could that be the story of our lives? Our lives slip away and we are always on our way to somewhere else! God isn’t tomorrow; God is now. Life isn’t tomorrow; it is now. And so, when you are inhaling, be aware that you are inhaling. And when you are exhaling, be aware that you are exhaling --- and you’ll come into the NOW and it is in the NOW that God is waiting for you. Little by little, one moment of silence at a time, you can come to know yourself and the barriers you put between yourself and God who is waiting to be gracious to you. He waits for us to notice his blessings and for our desire to give thanks for them. Nothing occurs which is outside the scope of God’s concern, which is why St. Paul says that “by turning everything to their good, God cooperates with those who love Him” (Rm 8.28) Can we catch on to this process in which God turns everything to good? Our Carmelite sister, Edith Stein wrote: “Nothing is accidental. My entire life, even in the most minute details, was pre-designed in the plans of divine providence and is, for the all-seeing eye of God, a perfect coherence of meaning.” BACK TO TOP Wednesday 9th March 2022 Titus Brandsma This week we heard the great news that Blessed Titus Brandsma will be canonised at St. Peter’s Rome on Sunday 15th May. Pope Francis made the announcement on March 4th Titus was born Anno Sjoerd Brandsma on February 23rd 1881, in Oegeklooster, Freisland, in northern Holland, where his parents ran a dairy farm. He was one of seven children, six of whom became religious. From the age of 11 young Anno wanted to be a priest and when he was seventeen he began his Carmelite novitiate at Boxmeer. It was there that he was given the religious name Titus, which was in fact his father’s baptismal name. Titus was ordained in 1905 and sent to Rome for further studies. After gaining his Doctorate in Divinity he returned to Holland and taught philosophy in the Catholic University at Nijmegen and in 1932 he was appointed rector there. Titus lectured extensively, especially on Carmelite mysticism, not only in Holland, but all over Europe and in the United States. In preparation for a lecture tour in the U.S. he came to Ireland to improve his English and stayed with his brother friars at Whitefriar Street, Dublin and at Kinsale, Co. Cork. In 1935, the same year that Titus was in Ireland, the Dutch bishops appointed him chaplain and advisor to Catholic journalists. When the Nazis invaded and occupied Holland in 1940 Titus courageously spoke out against the persecution of the Jews and encouraged Catholic newspapers to refuse to publish Nazi propaganda. The Nazis named him a ‘dangerous little friar’. It was his active opposition to the Nazi ideology and his Christian stance for freedom of the press and the dignity of all people regardless of race or religion, which led to his arrest on January 19th 1942. He was taken to the prison at Scheveningen, and from there to the concentration camp at Amersfoot, back to Scheveningen for questioning and finally to the Concentration Camp at Dachau where he was killed by lethal injection on July 26th 1942. He told the nurse who gave him the injection that he would pray for her and gave her a rosary. His prayers were answered when she later became a Catholic and gave important testimony in his beatification process. She testified ‘I was brought back to the right way through the intercession of Fr. Titus. Personally I consider him a martyr because National Socialism was a kind of anti-Christ’. Titus was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 3rd 1985 since when the feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma O. Carm. Priest and Martyr, has been kept on July 27th each year. In his deep suffering Titus never failed to pray for his persecutors. He wrote ‘God bless the Netherlands! God bless Germany! May God grant these two peoples to return to the path of peace and freedom, and to recognise his Glory for the good of these two nations that are so close. As war continues to rage in our own time we might do well to pray that same prayer for the Ukraine and Russia and to ask Titus to add his plea to ours. BACK TO TOP Wednesday 2nd March 2022 “Behold your Mother ” A great blessing came our way at the height of the pandemic. We were asked if the pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima could rest with us privately until such time as it was safe for Her to continue to travel round the dioceses of Ireland when the restrictions had eased. Needless to say, we joyfully welcomed this gift of God. We enthroned her in the novitiate room upstairs. We did not put on her crown while she is with us as St. Therese said, “Mary is more Mother than Queen.” It is hard to put into words that look of loving concern and compassion that is on the face of the Virgin of Fatima…. It is as if She is gathering the pain and distress of the people of the whole world into her loving embrace and bringing them to her Son Jesus for us. From the cross at the height of His agony didn’t He give Her to us as our Mother – “Behold your Mother.” We pray in the Hail Holy Queen: “Turn then O Most Gracious Advocate your eyes of Mercy towards us.” At this moment in time as I write, when the whole world is trembling for the capital of Ukraine surrounded by the Russian troops, our eyes are turned towards the Lord and His Mother ‘til they show us his Mercy. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt. 5) – that can be our mission this Lent - prayer and fasting for the people of the Ukraine who are suffering so grievously. We ask you too dear readers to pray for our two Carmelite communities of nuns in Kiev and Kharkiv and our friars in Berdichey who are standing by the people of Ukraine in their hour of greatest need and helping them with the support of the Order from all over the world. We leave all to you O Sweet Mother as God left all to you in Jesus. BACK TO TOP
St. Joseph’s Carmel