On Saturday 11 September 2021, the delegates to the Discalced Carmelite Friars General Chapter gathered together in the Sala Clementina to meet with our Holy Father Pope Francis.
The audience was scheduled for 11:00 am. The friars went to the Vatican, either on foot or by public transportation. They were supposed to be at the Bronze Gate at 10:15 a.m. to be taken to the Sala Clementina.
When the Holy Father arrived, Father General Miguel Márquez, O.C.D. addressed Pope Francis personally and in the name of the whole Order — the friars, nuns, and the Secular Order. Our own English translation of Father Miguel’s original Spanish text follows, along with links to read the Holy Father’s address on the Vatican website and the Vatican News article about the meeting between the Holy Father and the Discalced Carmelite friars.
TEXT OF FATHER GENERAL’S ADDRESS
DURING THE AUDIENCE WITH
THE HOLY FATHER
Dear Holy Father Francis:
It is a great joy for us to be able to greet you this Saturday morning.
Here you have the entire General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelites, sons of St. Teresa of Jesus, of St. John of the Cross, and so many Carmelite saints who are faithful sons and daughters of the Church, as we decidedly want to be as well.
We represent some 4,000 of our brothers from all over the world, and we also bring here our Discalced Carmelite nuns, the Secular Carmelites, and all the great big family of the Teresian Carmel. We come to ask for a blessing and a confirmation of our way, to enliven our dedication, and to be Carmel on the way forward. We would like to be the Carmelites that the Church and the world ask us to be.
The Carmelite saints knew how to live intensely in the present moment. They fell in love with God and let him be the protagonist of their lives: with fearless faith, courageous humility, fraternal joy, and daring trust. Teresa said: “the world is in flames” (Way 1:5), and she wanted to bring to bear what little she could: “the little that was in my power” (ibid.).
The essence of Carmel is “silent love” (John of the Cross, Letter 8), selfless dedication, and creative trust. You stated it, Holy Father, by quoting Edith Stein: “The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night…”. (Gaudete et Exultate, 8). History’s decisive persons don’t appear in history books or newspapers. For this reason, we want to cultivate a contemplation that doesn’t distance us from real life, but rather immerses us more deeply in it and brings us closer to the wounds of today’s men and women so that we can heal them with the tenderness we have learned from our friendship with Jesus, which is prayer.
Carmel’s finest chapters have been written in the most difficult moments: the Interior Castle of Saint Teresa; the Spiritual Canticle of Saint John of the Cross in the prison of Toledo, the offering to the merciful love of Saint Therese (to whom we know you are so devoted), the dedication of Edith Stein in the concentration camp, the passionate love of Teresa of the Andes and Maria Felicia of the Blessed Sacrament, Chiquitunga…
Holy Father, with my brothers and sisters I want to risk my life, not waiting for tomorrow, without fear of being wounded, like knights without pay, as Teresa said (Life 15, 11), helping Jesus carry the cross, helping the Pope to carry the cross, by our obedience and service, without backing down, eager to know and love Jesus more and more to make him known and loved, as Therese of Lisieux used to say.
Mary is at the heart of a Carmelite’s life. The scapular is the presence of Mary. We want to live stripped of ourselves and clothed in Mary. Beneath her white mantle, we place the life of the Pope, dear Holy Father. Next to her, Joseph, who is also very dear to us Carmelites. I take this opportunity to thank you very much, on behalf of my sisters and brothers, for the letter you wrote about St. Joseph, Patris Corde. In the school of Teresa, we ask him to teach us to be fathers, to know how to be sons and brothers. We feel protected by Mary and Joseph, and that is our confidence.
And now, Holy Father, I allow myself, with Teresian audacity, to ask you an important question: What do you want from us? What does our dear Pope Francis desire from the Discalced Carmelites today?
On behalf of all my brothers and sisters, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Holy Father, at every moment you will not be without our prayers and affection. Thank you for receiving us.
Fray Miguel Márquez de María, O.C.D.
Superior General, Discalced Carmelite Order
Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Holy Father Francis’s address to the General Chapter: “Harmony between these three elements: friendship with God, fraternal life, and mission”