January 2, 2011

Carmel and Our Lady

In the Church’s calendar three of our Lady’s days are named for places sacred to the memory of Mary. One is Lourdes (Feb. 11), another is Saint Mary Major (Aug. 5, dedication of the principal Roman Church in the Blessed Virgin’s honor), and the third is Carmel, the site in the Holy Land forever associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16).
Like Cana, like Calvary, Carmel is more than merely the name for a part of Palestine. Cana and Calvary bring to mind Christ’s love for his human brothers and sisters, and are reminders also that the Mother of Jesus was there on both occasions. In the Old Testament the mount of Carmel was already much more than the name of a verdant promontory overlooking the sea (“the beauty of Carmel” Is 33, 2), it was a holy place sanctified by the memory of Elijah and his followers, men of prayer who fought for the rights of the true God nine hundred years before Christ. Christian writers and the liturgy would interpret Elijah’s vision of the cloud rising from the Mediterranean sea, presage of the end of a terrible drought, as a symbol of the Virgin Mary whose Son would be the Messiah and Savior (1 Kgs 18, 42-45, and the first reading for the Carmelite proper Mass for July 16th).
Carmelite Origins
After the days of Elijah and Elisha other hermits lived sporadically on the slopes of Carmel seeking solitary lives of prayer, a custom that continued into the Christian era. In the twelfth century, after the 2nd crusade (A.D. 1147-49), a group of Westerners, Latin hermits from Europe, settled on Carmel and began a simple form of religious life. Saint Albert, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem who was then resident at Acre, gave them a rule early in the 1200's. Their life was centered on God: day and night meditating on the law of the Lord and watching in prayer, so read the Rule of Saint Albert, which the Holy See approved in 1226. The Carmelite calendar commemorates Saint Albert of Jerusalem, the Lawgiver of Carmel, on Sept. 17th.
Along with the austere figure of Elijah the hermits looked for inspiration to the Mother of Jesus. Saint Albert’s Rule called for an oratory to be built in the middle of the hermits’ cells. Pilgrim accounts testify to the existence of such a chapel dedicated to the “lady of the place,” Our Lady of Mount Carmel. What doctrine touching Mary was especially recalled by the Carmelite oratory? It was likely her motherhood of the Son of God; a frequent title of the time was Virgo Dei Genitrix (Virgin Mother of God). A strong sense of the mystery of the Incarnation suited the land of the Savior’s birth and, along the same lines, later Carmelites would venerate not only Saint Joseph but also Saints Joachim and Anne. From the initial oratory of Mount Carmel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Carmelites derived the custom of dedicating their chapels and churches to our Lady. As the Latin kingdom of the Crusaders crumbled before the Saracens, the newly formed religious family returned to the West, to the countries they had come from - Italy, France, England and others. Such foundations began as early as the 1230’s, and by the time of the Second Council of Lyons (A.D. 1274), when the existence of the group was in grave danger, its members were defending the title of “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.”
The Carmelites have never claimed a specific historical founder, such as Saint Francis or Saint Dominic, or Saint Ignatius Loyola of a later date. They honored Saint Elijah, zealous man of prayer and activity in the Hebrew Bible, as a model and spiritual father, and claimed a special kinship with the Mother of God as the special patroness of their Order, the Lady in whose honor the family of Carmel was brought into being, and who watches over and protects her Carmelite sons and daughters with constant loving care. Early documents make it clear that the Carmelites of the thirteenth century considered themselves particularly dedicated to the Mother of God under the title Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Patronage of Mary
To medieval people, “patronage” was an accepted reality: vassals would express belonging to their patron not by words alone but by a gesture of dedication, placing their hands in his. The hermits of Carmel “dedicated” their oratory to the Virgin Mother of God, as her exclusive patrimony. They regarded themselves as bound feudal style to the “Lady of the place,” under whose patronage they carried on their religious lives. Patronage involved two persons, with mutual rights and duties for both parties. The lord undertook to protect his subject, who in turn promised to serve him. Formulas of religious profession, in word and gesture, still reflect the medieval background of the ceremony of homage by which the vassal gave himself to the service of the lord his patron and was promised protection in return. The religious still places his hands in those of the superior, pledging fidelity to his vows until death. In the Carmelite profession the dedication is to God and to the Virgin Mary.
In 1282 the prior general, Peter of Millau, wrote King Edward I of England, seeking royal protection and promising prayers to “the most glorious Virgin ... to whose praise and glory the Order itself was specially instituted in parts beyond the sea.” The general chapter at Montpellier, A.D. 1287, requested “the prayers of the glorious Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, in whose service and honor our institute of Mount Carmel was founded.” By 1294 the Constitutions could direct that “whenever anyone asks about our Order and its name, the name of the Blessed Virgin is to be given it.” Papal documents read in the same manner, e.g., a bull of Clement V (1305-14): “Your holy Order, divinely instituted in honor of blessed Mary, the glorious Virgin . . .” Indulgences were granted for using the Marian name of the Order, and in 1379 the Holy See approved and indulgenced that title.
Along with giving a religious sense to the secular custom of patronage, and taking Mary as the “patroness” of her servants, Carmelites regarded the Mother of Jesus as their spiritual mother and as the “sister” they imitated in their own lives of faith and prayer. The English Carmelite theologian, John Baconthorpe (d. 1348), famous among other things for his defense of the Immaculate Conception, wrote a short commentary on the Carmelite Rule as a word-picture of our Lady’s own life. Other fourteenth century documents call Mary “Mother of our Order of Carmel.”
Considering Mary as “sister,” an approach that is becoming fairly frequent again in current Catholic consideration, was a way of regarding the Blessed Virgin as the great example of doing God's will in all things. For Carmel there was a sense of intimacy between the “brothers of our lady of Mount Carmel” and Mary their “sister.”
One cherished point of resemblance was Mary’s virginity as imitated by the consecrated chastity of her Carmelite brothers. A later age would hold chastity according to one’s state of life as one of the requirements for the ‘Sabbatine privilege’ of the Scapular. In effect this was asking of the wearer of the Scapular a virtuous life, making the Scapular a meaningful sign of Christian living.
A fifteenth century writer added to the record of a general chapter the axiom, “Keep Mary in mind and Jesus will grow in your heart.” A book composed in the late 1300s reflects the fundamental Carmelite spirituality and our Lady’s role as model; it is known at the Book of the First Monks or also as John Forty Fourth. In following the Rule of St. Albert the Carmelite is living like Mary; imitation is the keynote. The mantle of Carmel, the white cloak which gave the name Whitefriars to Carmelites, is a symbol of the purity of Mary.
Arnold Bostius, Voice of Carmel
The great fifteenth-century exponent of Carmelite outlook on our Lady is Arnold Bostius of Ghent, Belgium (d. 1499). His book, written in 1479, synthesizes the traditions of the Order: Of the Patronage and the exercise of that patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary toward the Order that Bears her Name. A. Bostius was ranked by a later chronicler as “among the first fruits of the reform of Blessed Soreth, from whom he absorbed an outstanding piety toward the holy Virgin Mary.” Blessed John Soreth, of the province of France (to which Ghent belonged), was superior of the entire Order, 1451-71. Bostius wrote his biography. Soreth was the founder of the cloistered nuns.
In one of his exhortations this holy man wrote, “Let the word of God abound on your lips, be found on your lips, in your mouth, by preaching, and in your heart by meditating; just as the holy Virgin Mary, the patroness of our Order, kept all the words of God, pondering them in her heart, so must God's word flourish in your heart through contemplation and on your lips through preaching.”
A friend of the Ghent community had put the question: “How has Mary shown her patronage to the Carmelite Order?” At the prior’s request Arnold Bostius supplied the answer. He followed an historical pattern, tracing the bond between Mary and her Brothers of Carmel. He began with Elijah the prophet of Carmel and traced the story through the “sons of the prophets” into the Christian era and up to his own century. Legends dealing with pre-Christian and early Christian dwellers on Carmel were very dear to medieval Carmelites.
Closer to his own day Bostius takes up actual events, and regards Mary as presiding at the growth of Carmelite life, also as counseling migration to Europe. He writes of saintly Carmelite servants of Mary, such as Saint Andrew Corsini (d. 1374), Saint Peter Thomas (d. 1366) and others.
In the Carmelite Chapel of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C.) Our Lady of Mount Carmel is shown surrounded by saints of her Order: Saint Simon Stock (d. 1265), Saint Teresa of Avila (d. 1582), Saint John of the Cross (d. 1591), Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (d. 1897), Saint Andrew Corsini (d. 1374) and Saint Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi (d. 1607). The feast of All Carmelite Saints (November 14) sounds the same theme of the Carmelite “cloud of witnesses” who surround us on our own pilgrimage of faith (entrance prayer).
Spiritual Mother
More important than his sometimes shaky history is Bostius’ theological consideration that Mary is mother in the order of grace, and hence we have the privilege and obligation to imitate her and give her loyal service and filial love. “Blessed be God,” he wrote, “who chose for himself such a mother, not a woman of proud heart, of harsh and impatient spirit, but a woman indescribably gentle, humble, tender, able to sympathize with the suffering and to adapt herself to everyone, a woman he knew in advance would be suitable for our needs . . .”
There was great interest in the Belgium of Bostius’ time in Our Lady of Sorrows; it was common to describe her compassion on Calvary as the spiritual child-bearing of the brothers and sisters of Christ, a thought Bostius applies particularly to Carmel: “She is the loving mother of all Christians, making herself all things to all, open in mercy to all ... the exalted queen of heaven ... the universal mother of all Christians, the common harbor and refuge of all men ... the mother whom no one invokes in vain ... the lovable mother of Christian salvation ...”
We are “the little children whom this mother bore unto Christ through the Gospel, to whom she has given birth again and again, until Christ is inseparably joined to them, until they are associated to Christ in heaven.” “We know from experience of her mercy, and we know it is not contrary to justice . . . she is called the sealed fountain. For that fountain of mercy is so exuberant its mercies never cease, and yet the seal of justice remains unbroken, for she knows how to show mercy without violating justice.”
The Carmelite vocation is basically vacare Deo (a rough translation is ‘to be at rest in God’ or ‘to contemplate God’). Bostius adds thereto the traditional Marian emphasis: “to be caught up daily in the praises of Mary” (Mariae laudibus quotidie vacare).
The Scapular
Writing of the Scapular, a devotion very popular among lay people at the end of the fifteenth century, Bostius recounts the familiar story and combines a careful understanding of Mary’s spiritual motherhood with his sense of the bond between Mary and Carmel. The Scapular, given to Saint Simon Stock in the thirteenth century at a time of crisis for the Order, is a sign of relationship to the Blessed Virgin.
It is a garment given us by our Mother, a gift for our spiritual good. It requires a reciprocal love on the part of the wearer: to invoke Mary in all needs, to contemplate her life and virtues, to live in continual dependence on her, to imitate her. “Happy are they who receive the gifts of Mary with tenderness in the embrace of mutual spiritual love. Knowing they have been chosen by her for so great an inheritance, seeing this habit they will remember with joy the love of predilection with which the most lovable giver surrounds them.”
“Oh heavenly mystery, equally admirable to hear and to relate: the Queen of mercy, who by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit clothed the Eternal Word with her own flesh for the redemption of the world, now, with the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, rewards with her own garment the Carmelites who spread the divine word for the reconciliation of the world,” Bostius says.
The beloved medieval hymn associated with Saint Simon Stock and the Scapular of Carmel is the Flos Carmeli; it has often been set to music, in gregorian chant and other forms.

Flower of Carmel,
Vine blossom-laden,
Spendor of heaven,
Child-bearing maiden,
None equals thee.
O Mother benign,
Who no man didst know,
On all Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow
Star of the sea.

Writing of devotion to Mary in the late medieval period the Dutch Carmelite Titus Brandsma called attention to Carmelite interest in the central mystery of God’s becoming man: “The contemplation of this mystery has led to a twofold devotion to Mary, which we had better describe as an imitation of Mary, gradually deepening into a closer union with her. We may see the same in the Imitation of Christ in the 14th and 15th centuries, which matured in the 16th century into a close union with Christ. One should not think of the imitation without thinking of the union, nor of the union without the thought of the imitation. Both flow into each other . . .”
Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross
The deep devotion of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross to Our Lady of Mount Carmel deserves to be better known. As we complete the fourth centenary of the death of Saint Teresa (d. 1582) we are achieving a new sensitivity to the importance of experience in Christianity; we are appreciating more and more the role of the mystics in understanding the truths of the faith. When Pope Paul VI named Saint Teresa a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1970, he spoke of the action of the Holy Spirit in her life and praised her gift of discernment. At her own mother’s early death Teresa took Mary for her mother. Her life records special interventions of our Lady, such as seeing Mary one evening after Compline with her white mantle protecting all present; and at the Incarnation convent seeing not the statue but Mary herself in the stall of the prioress at the singing of the Salve Regina.
Saint Teresa regarded our Lady as the mother in all her foundations, and gave high place to liturgical feasts of the Blessed Virgin. In many respects Saint Teresa shared the attitudes of our Lady: the Virgin Mary overshadowed by the Holy Spirit at the Annunication and her heart transfixed with sorrow on Calvary in the dark night of the absence of her Son. Saint Teresa shared Mary’s exultation in the Magnificent and she loved to say over and over, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
In begging the permission of the Father General for monasteries of friars as well as convents of women, Saint Teresa appealed to Father Rossi's love of the Virgin, writing of the great “service it would be to our Lady to whom he was most devoted. It must have been she who brought it about.” At a time when the foundations in Andalusia were in danger, Saint Teresa wrote Father Rossi (June 18, 1576), “. . . like a true father, forget the past, and remember that you are a servant of the Virgin, and that she will be offended if you cease to help those who, by the sweat of their brow, seek the increase of the Order.”
The same Father Rossi was most anxious to establish Carmel in the New World; he wrote in patents of 1570: “moved and led by a great desire to the honor of the divine Majesty and the ornament and splendor of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mistress of this our Order of Mount Carmel.”
Saint John of the Cross entered Carmel through love of the Blessed Virgin. He saw Mary as the great exemplar, the perfect model of the way to God. Typically, Saint John went to the root of Mary’s holiness, her docility to the internal action of the Holy Spirit. According to him, Mary acted always under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. “So it was with the Glorious Mother of God. Perfect from the first, there was no impression of created things on her soul to turn her aside from God or in any way to influence her; for her every movement ever proceeded from the Holy Spirit” (The Ascent of Mt. Carmel).
The Reform led to the juridical separation of the Discalced Carmelites, but both branches of the Carmelite family retained and developed their common patrimony of devotion to our Lady. In the recently published English translation of the proper Sacramentary and proper Lectionary, a collaborative effort, both Orders share almost all the feasts, including of course those of our Lady.
Touraine and Marie Petyt
In the seventeenth century the old branch of the Carmelites was revitalized by the Reform of Touraine that gradually spread through most of the Order, leading to the Constitutions now in use and also to the rule used by the lay Carmelite Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel (the new name for the old Third Order Secular, corresponding to the term ‘Secular Carmelites’ or OCDS).
The spiritual writers of the Reform of Touraine wrote often about our Lady and the values of the Scapular devotion. A laywoman attached to Carmel, Marie Petyt (Marie of Saint Thérèse) (d. 1677), directed by the Belgian Father Michael of St. Augustine Ballaert, O.Carm. (d. 1684), had a most remarkable sense of mystical union with Mary, always in perfect harmony with the central position of Christ. She wrote, “Mary becomes a means and a firmer bond, tying and uniting the soul to God.’
Here are some of Marie Petyt’s insights, further enriching the heritage of Carmel about our Lady. “May the soul of Mary be in each one of us, and may Mary’s spirit be in us all, that it may exult in God its Savior ... may Mary’s spirit be in us all, that by that spirit we may live. May her spirit abide in us, itself accomplishing our works, thus itself making us able to live by it.” “Just as in the hearts of the Sons of God the spirit of Jesus cries Abba, Father, so also in those same hearts it must cry Ave Maria.” “In Christ Jesus Mary has begotten you, nourished you, given you growth. She is the Mother of fair love and holy hope, in whom will come to you all the graces necessary for perseverance in true piety. Nay, she will serve you as a well of living waters. She will not disdain either in the hour of your death to say that she is your sister, even your Mother, that then all may be well for you and that your soul should owe its life to her.”
How God-centered this Carmelite Marian spirituality was appears in these words: “Our love will then flow, as it were, from God to Mary and from Mary back to God.” The Holy Spirit brings us an overflow of divine love, which is then directed toward Mary only to return again from her to God. “The soul, carried toward Mary on the flood-waters of divine love, draws Mary with it and returns to God, without medium or hindrance of any kind.” “Let us make this our solid conviction: when we live, we live for Mary, our Queen and Mother; when we die, we die for Mary, our Lady and Mother; because, whether we live or die, we are her children. I seem to hear her voice: you may have many foster-mothers, many guardians, she says, but you have not many mothers-in Christ Jesus I have begotten you.”
She appeals to the example of Jesus himself: “... just as this Spirit (Gal. 4,6) produced in Jesus a filial love for his eternal Father, so it also produced in him a filial affection for his most dear Mother, and this it will continue to do for all eternity. Is it any wonder, therefore, if the Spirit of Jesus which in the hearts of the children of God cries Abba, Father (that is, produces love for the Father of Jesus), also cries from those same hearts, Ave, Mater (that is, produces filial and reverential love and affection for Mary) even as happened in Jesus himself during his lifetime and happens now in heaven?” And this concluding quotation: “May he bring this life to perfection in us, he who, through the intercession of his dear Mother, has inspired us with the desire for it: Jesus, blessed forever. Amen.”
The Modern Carmelite and the Church's Teaching on Mary
What should be the attitude of the modern Carmelite toward our Lady? Much has happened in recent years: the Church teaches the same doctrines about the Blessed Virgin it always has, but there has been all the same a significant change of direction in the Church’s approach to her. For a century and more there was an enormous outpouring of interest in the Blessed Virgin among Catholics, and this was encouraged by official teaching.
We recall the solemn definitions of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854, the Assumption by Pope Pius XII in 1950; the many rosary letters of Pope Leo XIII; the encyclical on Mary’s spiritual motherhood of St. Pius X (1904); the many manifestations of Marian piety during the long pontificate of Pius XII: the Marian Year (1954), the Lourdes centenary (1958) and many other events. Pope John XXIII continued the pattern of Pius XII; his writings and speeches were filled with mentions of Mary.
The Second Vatican Council issued the most complete statement about our Lady that any ecumenical council ever published, in the concluding eighth chapter of the dogmatic constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium, third session, Nov. 21, 1964): “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.”
In the first document of the Council, on the liturgy' (2nd session, 1963) the Council Fathers had already expressed with great clarity the inseparable place the Mother of Jesus holds in her Son’s saving work and hence in the Church’s worship, as Mother of Christ and perfect model of the Church. The change of direction was a recaptured emphasis on the biblical and early Christian approaches to our Lady, not simply in terms of her privileges but seeing those very privileges as the perfect illustrations of God’s plan of mercy for all his people. The Church regards the “Mother of Jesus” of Bethlehem and the Upper room, the “woman” of Cana and Calvary and the Apocalypse, as the great model of the Church, daughter of the Church even before she is Mother of the Church.
However, in the soul-searching that followed the Council it seemed to some that the Church had somehow strangely reversed itself with regard to our Lady. There was an embarrassed silence about her. Thank God, the Church is recovering from this difficult period, and has learned from the suffering and upset the neglected lesson of the Council, that full attention must be given to prayer and contemplation. Authentic devotion to Mary cannot thrive, or even finally survive, in the distracting atmosphere of constant frenetic activity, or secular humanism wearing an apostolic mask. Carmel has learned the same lesson from the post-conciliar troubles. We have attempted in this essay to present some historical high points of Carmelite devotion to Mary. These great events remain our family treasures and we derive strength and encouragement from recalling them. At the same time, as sons and daughters of the living Church, Carmelites should excel in loyalty to the Church’s present teachings about our Lady and in putting into practice the forms of piety recommended by the Council, the Popes and the Bishops. Pope John Paul II continued the Marian teaching of his predecessors, particularly as a pilgrim to our Lady’s shrines all over the world, in his native Poland, Guadalupe in Mexico, Knock in Ireland, and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
The too-little-known statements of the Second Vatican Council merit our careful attention and reflection: they offer a beautiful and well-balanced picture of Mary’s role in our spiritual life, especially as our spiritual mother, an approach congenial to the whole Marian story of Carmel.
“Mother of God” is the title by which Mary has been honored in the eucharistic liturgies of East and West since the fourth century, even before the Council of Ephesus defined this truth in 431. The Second Vatican Council stated with crystal clarity Mary’s place in the mysteries of Christ celebrated in the liturgy (numbers 102 and 103 of the liturgy constitution). The bishops of the United States issued on Nov. 21, 1973, a joint pastoral explanatory of the Council’s teaching, with application to all Christian vocations: Behold Your Mother, Woman of Faith.
Pope Paul VI gave the Church a major letter on devotion to Mary, written expressly to allay fears that the Church had pulled back on its commitment to the Mother of the Lord, Marialis cultus (Feb. 2, 1974). The letter, which is the Marian testament of Paul VI to the Church, presents in simple language, with many compelling examples, the place of Mary in the revised Western liturgy. One example is the strong sense of Mary as model of the Church in the new prefaces for December 8 (the Immaculate Conception) and August 15 (the Assumption). There is also a section on the Rosary and the Angelus, popular nonliturgical prayers.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
There is cause for great gratitude to the Holy Spirit for an enriched understanding of Mary, Mother of God, and our Blessed Mother. A constant stream of first-rate scriptural studies on the Virgin Mary is being published, and Protestant as well as Catholic scholars are writing about the Gospel portrayal of Mary as the woman of faith. At the end of the last century Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, without the benefit of a special education in Bible study, but guided by the Holy Spirit in the way of prayer, made the same discovery of the Mother of Jesus as the woman who walked by faith. Our Lady of Mount Carmel held a prominent place in the life of Saint Thérèse, and is mentioned frequently in her writings. "Who could ever have invented the Blessed Virgin Mary?" she said near the end of her short life.
In Saint Thérèse’s judgment it was wrong to think that from the moment of Simeon’s prophecy the shadow of the cross hung over Mary’s heart. Rather she was ready for Calvary not because God had opened up the future to her but because she accepted his mysterious and loving will day by day in the obscurity of faith. Her words, “Mary is more mother than queen,” are often quoted, and the excellent studies on the spirituality of Saint Thérèse that continue to appear also explore her profound appreciation of the place of Mary in Carmel.
Edith Stein O.C.D., and Titus Brandsma O.Carm.
The ancient vine of Carmel flowers still, as two Carmelite contemporaries have shown us. In the horror of the concentration camps both met their deaths as witnesses to Christ. One was the brilliant convert philosopher, Edith Stein, who became a Catholic in Germany in 1922 and who entered the cloistered Carmel of Cologne in 1933 as Sister Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D. She was transferred to the Netherlands in hope of saving her from the Nazi persecution of the Jews, but in vain. She died at Auschwitz, August 10(?), 1944. She was canonized by Pope John Paul in 2006. Our Lady is mentioned often in her writings. With reference to the spirituality of women she said that though not all need enter religious life all must “in every way become the handmaids of the Lord, after the example of the Mother of God.” Shortly before entering the convent she wrote, “There is a vocation which consists in suffering with Christ and thus in his redemptive work. If we are united to the Lord, we are members of his Mystical Body. Christ continues to live and suffer in his members, and suffering endured in union with him becomes his, made efficacious and united in his great redemptive work. The essence of the religious life, especially the Carmelite life, is to intercede for sinners and cooperate in the redemption of the world by voluntary and joyous suffering.”
The other contemporary is Father Titus Brandsma, O.Carm. A renowned authority on the medieval spirituality of the Low Countries, once Rector of the University of Nijmegen and organizer of a Marian Congress in the Netherlands, he was active also in the flourishing Dutch Catholic Press before the war. As spokesman for the Bishops in resisting Nazi attempts to use the Catholic papers for propaganda purposes, Father Brandsma was arrested and sent to Dachau, where he suffered much and died on July 26, 1942. His cause has been introduced. His writings and apostolic activities frequently included our Lady and in his papers after his death were found these words from a retreat just before the outbreak of the war: “Let us prepare ourselves. Union with Jesus promises suffering. It was because of Mary’s most intimate union with Jesus that the greatest suffering struck her. We follow Mary who shows us the way to understanding, and to share in the sacrifice of Jesus; and then to resurrection and ascension; we have deserved it. God has let us deserve it. Our place is reserved! We will not let it slip from our grasp. We will say to Mary, “Keep my place for me. I am coming!’”
In the new proper preface for the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16, we recall Mary’s motherly patronage, guiding us gently to the mount of Carmel, even as she has done for our Carmelite spiritual ancestors for eight centuries. We address the Father in the liturgical preface: “Father ... your Word filled her heart, and inspired all her actions, making her constant in prayer with the Apostles, and through her share in our salvation constituting her the spiritual mother of all mankind. She watches unceasingly with a mother’s loving care over the brethren of her Son, and lights us along our pilgrim way to the Mount of your Glory, our beacon of comfort, and the embodiment of all our hopes as members of the Church.”
The entrance antiphon for the votive Mass of our Lady of Mount Carmel puts on Mary’s lips these words from the psalms (Ps. 33, 12, also Isaiah 2, 3): “Come my children, listen to me. I will teach you how to fear the Lord. Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord, let us walk in his paths.” And in the entrance prayer for the feast of July 16 we say, “Father, may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel, protect us, and bring us to your holy mountain, Christ the Lord.” `
Let the beginning of Arnold Bostius’ landmark book on Carmel and our Lady serve as the ending of this essay:
“All that I am, all that I am worth, I confess it with all my heart, I owe to Mary. In the past she has so lavished her gifts upon me that it is my duty to venerate everywhere the vestiges of her passing.... She received me, all unworthy, into her bosom, and brought me into the land of Carmel that I might dwell all the days of my life in the house of my Mother. She covered me with her mantle white as snow; she nourished me, strengthened my powers; she crowned me with her glorious title. Beginning at my cradle, she has been to me a most lovable Mother and a very dear patroness.”
The quotations from Marie Petyt are from brochures by Thomas McGinnis, O.Carm., and are used with his permission.
Rev. Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., S.T.D.

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