Friday, July 16, 2021

Carmel: The Protection and Shelter of Mary's Mantle

Today's feast is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as the special patroness of the Carmelite Order in all its various branches, as well as countless others associated with her through the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. These latter people (myself included) wear a chord necklace with front-and-back brown cloth pieces that represent the brown mantle worn as part of the Carmelite's monastic garments since the Middle Ages.

Today's meditation in Magnificat was a selection from the letters of the 20th century Spanish Carmelite Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus. Like all the great Carmelites, Mother Maria's expressiveness of intimacy and confidence in Jesus and His Mother is matched by her remarkable life of courage in the midst of great adversity (including the persecution of the Spanish Civil War), her apostolic ardor, and her heroic endurance of much suffering during her final illness of over a decade. She died in 1974 and was canonized in 2003.

If Saint Maria Maravillas learned, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to look at reality in this way every day, then there is hope that you and I might also grow in trust, simplicity, and perseverence: "I am no longer bothered at seeing myself as I am…[though] for my God I would love to be, and would love to have been, other than what I am. I see, however, that I don't achieve anything despite the length of my life. I decided long ago to entrust it all to Him and ask Him to prepare me - since I don't know how - for our encounter. 

"I have taken our Blessed Mother as my Mother in a very special way, and she is the one who is also responsible for preparing, protecting, and sheltering me. This sweet Mother is so good! Sweet Mother of Carmel, If I die loving you, how quickly I will reach heaven! How sweet death will be!"