The Discalced Carmelite Friars dedicated their church and monastery in the Holy Land in homage to the “great miracle worker”, the Blessed Virgin of Carmel on the promontory of Mount Carmel in 1836.
Before the blessing of the church, the statue of the Blessed Virgin made a grand tour of Europe. Pope Pius VII received her in his private chapel for his personal veneration on 4th March 1823. His Holiness, seeing the image for the first time, exclaimed:
Bella, bella, bella! Such a devout image! Her virtues are carved in her face! That sculptor could not do what he has done except by revelation from heaven.
In 1932 the statue returned to Italy. The previous year, to commemorate the tercentenary of the Discalced Carmelites’ return to Mount Carmel, the monastery had hosted the General Chapter. Because it was felt that the statue’s garments were not in accord with its ornate surroundings, it was decided to have them carved in wood. Brother Luigi Poggi, conventual on Mount Carmel, carved a copy to be enthroned temporarily, while the head and hands were sent off to Rome.
The body was carved in Lebanese cedar, with instructions to keep the same proportions and pose as the original. In Europe, the work of restoration was entrusted to Emanuele Rieda, who finished it in less than a year.
The statue’s return to Mount Carmel was accompanied by great celebrations. In July and August the image was displayed in the Discalced Carmelites’ Roman churches and was blessed by Pius XI on the 25th of July, 1933.
At the end of August it was brought to Naples where three days’ solemn feast was kept. Finally on the 1st of September it was loaded onto the steamer Helouan bound for Haifa. On the journey the statue was accompanied by Discalced Carmelite students from the International College, bound for Mount Carmel where they were to study philosophy.
The steamer made port at Alexandria in Egypt and Port Said and reached Haifa on 8th of September. The statue was escorted by a long procession made up of civic and religious leaders, all Catholic groups in Haifa and a group of pilgrims who had come specially from Europe. In the evening it was solemnly enthroned above the high altar in the basilica.
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kg 19:4).
The previous verse tells us why Elijah decides to go to the desert and wants to die: “He was afraid; he got up and fled for his life” (1 Kg 19:3).
Elijah was a great prophet, a man of God, and a giant of the faith. Even the great men of God can suffer moments of crisis and fear, as in this case with the prophet Elijah, who flees in fear before the threats and persecution of the powerful Phoenician queen Jezebel.
The prophet’s crisis, however, becomes a moment of grace because God approaches him in the desert and feeds him, giving him new strength to live.
Elijah goes to the desert, lies down and goes to sleep. He’s just waiting to die. “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4). Like so many other believers in the Bible, Elijah complains before God. All that remains is to throw in the towel; everything has been useless.
And further, now Elijah is afraid. Fear leads Elijah not only to run away but also to fall asleep. Falling asleep is to remain unconscious, in a certain way: it’s an escape from reality.
However, when things turn dark; when what’s transpired becomes indecipherable and the future, uncertain: that’s when we have to be wide awake.
We must not turn off the light of conscience and discernment, for that is when we must be more clear-headed than ever.
The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God, because God doesn’t want anyone to be asleep and fearful.
The prophet turns to hear the word of the Lord through an angel, saying two times: “Get up and eat” (1 Kings 19:5). After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep.
Sometimes the crisis is so great
and the discouragement is so strong
that it is difficult to get up and walk.
But God is not overcome by our weakness; God insists for the second time in feeding Elijah: “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” (1 Kings 19:7).God doesn’t want us to feel fearful, neither does he want us to sleep.
God offered Elijah—through his messenger—frugal and simple food: a pilgrim’s meal (“a cake baked on hot stones” and “a jar of water”, 1 Kings 19:6). At that moment you don’t need a succulent feast, but effective nutrition. That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide. Elijah ate and “he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).
Before eating, the prophet’s flight was headed toward death;after being fed in the desert, that miraculous meal takes him to Mount Horeb or Sinai, where Moses met the Lord, where Israel first made a covenant with its God.God began everything on that mountain.
Elijah fought against the injustice and arrogance of the powerful, the manipulation of religion, the violent repression, and the use of fear as a form of domination. All of these shady schemes are opposed to God’s plan.
Elijah gave everything. In the end, in self-imposed exile, escaping to protect himself from the death threats of Queen Jezebel, he falls down, tired and hopeless, in the desert. He was tempted not to keep fighting, dreaming, and hoping. It can happen to anyone.
The biblical text, however, gives us the certainty that God’s nourishment allows us to come out of our unconscious state and overcome fear—not letting anyone deprive us of hope. The bread that God gives us in the desert is more powerful than the wiles and threats of the shadowy structures of oppression and death.
Today, too, we need a bread that is mysterious and effective, that allows us to walk with strength and hope.
That bread is Jesus, who today has told us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51). Jesus offers to nourish us so as to give us strength, light, hope, and the breath of life that come from the same God, the creator of life.
If Jesus nourishes us with his love and kindness, with his light and with his strength, nothing can take away our joy and hope. In our interior, in the depths of our heart, God feeds us with his Son, the Bread come down from heaven.
We have heard Jesus say: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”The Father mysteriously draws us to Jesus; he makes Jesus attractive to us. And if Jesus presents himself again to us—attractive, fascinating, familiar in the depths of our being—we are attracted to the good, the beautiful, the noble.
If Jesus makes us attractive, we will be fascinating and attractive, which does good for the human person—which builds a better world.
Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua Homily, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (excerpts) 12 August 2018
You can read the full text of the homily on our blog here.
We thank the Christian Media Center, the communications ministry of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, for this fine video on the City of Haifa and the citizens that live and work to make Mount Carmel of today a place of beauty and peace.
A touristic, seaside city, which stands out as a technological and academic center, Haifa is a model of peaceful coexistence between religions. Religious, historical and cultural factors explain this good union.
During the month of May, the refugees assembled for the daily prayers in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The scholarly journal Teresianum in 1990 published an account by noted Discalced Carmelite historian Father Elias Friedman, O.C.D. concerning the Discalced Carmelite friars’ charitable efforts to shelter refugees at Stella Maris monastery during the armed conflict in Haifa in the year 1948.
A bit of background: Fr. Elias reminds his readers that at the end of 1947 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution “recommending the partition of Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a corpus separatum for Jerusalem,” Jews and Arabs in the region “jostled for position in view of the approaching termination of the British Mandate.” Bloody violence ensued.
Photos from the LIFE magazine archives illustrate Fr. Elias Friedman’s documentation. Father Elias carefully noted that in 1944 the population of Haifa was 128,000, with a fair balance of Jews, Christians, and Muslims (52% Jewish); the Discalced Carmelite Fathers’ parish in the city of Haifa, Saint Joseph Church, had a membership of roughly 4000 families. After the violence broke out in 1948, “of a total population of 98,284, Jews numbered 94,718.” Saint Joseph’s parish experienced a dramatic drop in membership: in 1948, there were only about 500 families that remained. When Fr. Elias published his article in 1990, he noted that the membership had “risen slowly, so that at the time of writing, the number of parishioners stands at +/-1,500.” Haifa’s Christian population suffered immensely in 1948.
Beginning in January 1948, Catholics in Haifa began to seek secure shelter at the Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, now known as Stella Maris, on the promontory of Mount Carmel at Haifa.
Four religious from the Christian Brothers school were the first Catholics who came to the friars asking for a place to stay. “Soon they were followed by Arab families, desperately in search of shelter.” At one point, the number of refugees at the Carmelite monastery across from the lighthouse reached a total of 521.
Father Clemente Casinelli, O.C.D. transferred to Haifa from the friars’ monastery at El-Muhraqa — the place of Elijah’s sacrifice — in April 1948 and assumed the office of Procurator. When he arrived, he found “the first floor of the monastery to be filled with men, women, and children. They were mostly Catholics, some three or four families were Greek-Orthodox, and one family was Muslim (the Sabas). The overflow spilled into the grounds of the monastery.”
The refugees were very resourceful and contributed to one another’s well-being given the circumstances. Fr. Clemente took charge of the refugee program. He was an Italian Discalced Carmelite friar who had spent six years in a British prison camp in Lebanon during World War II for no other reason than his nationality; his own harsh experiences there gave him a unique sense of initiative and compassion.
Fr. Elias notes that “the refugees assisted regularly at Sunday Mass.” A local family who were benefactors to the friars and their refugees “set a good example by first putting their contributions into the plate and taking it around the congregation at the Offertory.”
“During the month of May, the refugees assembled for the daily prayers in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at 7 o’clock each evening to recite the Rosary together and attend the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Friedman, Elias. “Internal Arab refugees at the monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, Mount Carmel, Haifa (Israel).” Teresianum: Ephemerides Carmeliticae, vol. 41, no. 1, 1990, pp. 261-274.
MESSAGE FOR THE CENTENARY OF THE PROCESSION OF OUR LADY OF CARMEL Haifa, 5 May 2019
Fr. Saverio Cannistrà of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. Discalced Carmelite Superior General
This year we celebrate the centenary of the procession of Our Lady of Carmel in Haifa. The first procession was held on April 27, 1919, Sunday in albis, and was organized to solemnly bring back to the sanctuary of Stella Maris the statue of Our Lady of Carmel, that in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, had been transferred to the parish church in the city. The Vicar Father of Mount Carmel at that time, the Englishman P. Francis Lamb (1867-1950), writes in his memoirs that there was an extraordinary participation of the people and that the English authorities were struck by this manifestation of faith and devotion for the Mother of God in the Latin Catholic community of Haifa. It was linked to the end of the Great War and the desire to thank the Lord and Our Lady for the return of peace. The procession was repeated in the following years until it became the most important in the Holy Land after that of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem.
Here in Haifa, devotion to Mary is like a centuries-old tree with large branches and deep roots […]
Teresa Manetti was born at Campi Bisenzio, Florence, where she founded in 1874 the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa, who she also sent to Lebanon and the Holy Land. She lived joyfully, body and soul, the mystery of the Cross in full conformity to the will of God and she was outstanding for her love for the Eucharist and her maternal care for children and for the poor. She died at Campi Bisenzio on April 23, 1910. She was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1986.
From the Common of Virgins or the Common of Holy Women (Religious)
Office of Readings
From the works of Saint Teresa of Avila (Interior Castle VII, 4; 4, 58. Way of Perfection 26,7, Interior Castle 11,1,11.)
Fix your gaze on the Crucified and everything becomes easy
His Majesty could not grant us a greater favor than to give us a life that would be an imitation of the life that His beloved Son lived. For this reason, I hold it certain that these favors are meant to fortify our weakness so that we may be able to imitate Him in his great sufferings.
Fix your eyes on the Crucified and everything will become easy for you. If His Majesty showed us His love by means of such works and frightful torments, how is it you want to please Him only with words?
Do you know what it means to be truly spiritual? It means becoming the slaves of God. Marked with His brand, which is that of the Cross, spiritual persons, because now they have given Him their liberty, can be sold by Him as slaves of everyone, as He was. In acting this way, He doesn’t do us any harm but rather He grants us a not insignificant grace.
We have always seen that those who were closest to Christ our Lord were those with the greatest trials. Let us look at what His glorious Mother suffered and the glorious apostles.
Take up the Cross of Jesus. Help your Spouse to carry the burden that weighs Him down and pay no attention to what they may say about you. If you should happen to stumble and fall like your Spouse, do not withdraw from the Cross or abandon it. No matter how great your trials may be, you will see that they are quite small in comparison to His.
If we never look at Him or reflect on what we owe Him and the death He suffered for us, I don’t know how we’ll be able to know Him or serve Him. And without these works in His service, what value will our faith have? And what value will our works have if they are separated from the inestimable merits of Jesus Christ, our Good? And then who will bring us to love this Lord?
I rejoice in the trials I bear and make up in my flesh that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ —for the sake of His body which is the Church (alleluia).
I have been crucified with Christ, and now no longer live but Christ lives in me: —for the sake of His body which is the Church (alleluia).
by the inexhaustible grace of the Eucharist,
you enabled the virgin Blessed Teresa Maria
to walk the way of the Cross,
and filled her with maternal concern
for the weak and the poor.
Through her intercession
may we too be strengthened by the bread of angels
to share joyfully in the suffering of Christ
and to participate in works of love
for the establishment of your kingdom.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This commentary on the stanzas that deal with the exchange of love between the soul and Christ, its Bridegroom, explains certain matters about prayer and its effects. It was written at the request of Mother Ana de Jesús, prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of St. Joseph’s in Granada, in the year 1584.
1. These stanzas, Reverend Mother, were obviously composed with a certain burning love of God. The wisdom and charity of God is so vast, as the Book of Wisdom states, that it reaches from end to end [Wis. 8:1], and the soul informed and moved by it bears in some way this very abundance and impulsiveness in her words. As a result, I do not plan to expound these stanzas in all the breadth and fullness that the fruitful spirit of love conveys to them. It would be foolish to think that expressions of love arising from mystical understanding, like these stanzas, are fully explainable. The Spirit of the Lord, who abides in us and aids our weakness, as St. Paul says [Rom. 8:26], pleads for us with unspeakable groanings in order to manifest what we can neither fully understand nor comprehend.
Who can describe in writing the understanding he gives to loving souls in whom he dwells? And who can express with words the experience he imparts to them? Who, finally, can explain the desires he gives them? Certainly, no one can! Not even they who receive these communications. As a result, these persons let something of their experience overflow in figures, comparisons, and similitudes, and from the abundance of their spirit pour out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanations.
If these similitudes are not read with the simplicity of the spirit of knowledge and love they contain, they will seem to be absurdities rather than reasonable utterances, as will those comparisons of the divine Song of Solomon and other books of Sacred Scripture where the Holy Spirit, unable to express the fullness of his meaning in ordinary words, utters mysteries in strange figures and likenesses. The saintly doctors, no matter how much they have said or will say, can never furnish an exhaustive explanation of these figures and comparisons, since the abundant meanings of the Holy Spirit cannot be caught in words. Thus the explanation of these expressions usually contains less than what they embody in themselves.
2. Since these stanzas, then, were composed in a love flowing from abundant mystical understanding, I cannot explain them adequately, nor is it my intention to do so. I only wish to shed some general light on them, since Your Reverence has desired this of me…
Read the official biography of the Servant of God on the website of the Discalced Carmelite General Postulation of the Causes of the Saints
Albert, called by God’s favor to be patriarch of the church of Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved sons in Christ, B. and the other hermits under obedience to him, who live near the spring on Mount Carmel.
Saint Albert of Jerusalem
The Rule of St Albert, Chapter 1
When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?
“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'”
First Reading Monday in Fourth Week of Advent – Mass in the Morning 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
I mentioned in the other letter how I desire to remain in this desert of La Peñuela, where I arrived about nine days ago and which is about six leagues north of Baeza. I like it very much, glory to God, and I am well. The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must be desiring that it have its spiritual desert. Well and good if it be for his service; His Majesty already knows what we are of ourselves. I don’t know how long this will last, for Father Fray Antonio de Jesús threatens from Baeza that he will not leave me here for long. Be that as it may, for in the meanwhile I am well off without knowing anything, and the life of the desert is admirable.
Allí decía cómo me había querido quedar en este desierto de La Peñuela, seis leguas más acá de Baeza, donde habrá nueve días que llegué. Y me hallo muy bien, gloria al Señor, y estoy bueno; que la anchura del desierto ayuda mucho al alma y al cuerpo, aunque el alma muy pobre anda. Debe querer el Señor que el alma también tenga su desierto espiritual. Sea muy enhorabuena como él más fuere servido; que ya sabe Su Majestad lo que somos de nuestro. No sé lo que me durará, porque el P. Fray Antonio de Jesús, desde Baeza, me amenaza diciendo que me dejarán por acá poco. Sea lo que fuere, que, en tanto, bien me hallo sin saber nada, y el ejercicio del desierto es admirable.
Let us rejoice, Beloved,
and let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty
to the mountain and to the hill,
to where the pure water flows,
and further, deep into the thicket.
That is: to the morning and essential knowledge of God, which is knowledge in the divine Word, who in his height is signified here by the mountain. That they may know the Son of God, Isaiah urges all: Come, let us ascend to the mountain of the Lord[Is. 2:3]; in another passage: The mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared[Is. 2:2].
Saint John of the Cross
y vámonos a ver en tu hermosura
al monte o al collado,
do mana el agua pura;
entremos más adentro en la espesura.
Esto es, a la noticia matutina y esencial de Dios, que es conocimiento en el Verbo divino, el cual por su alteza es aquí significado por el monte, como dice Isaías (2,3), provocando a que conozcan al Hijo de Dios, diciendo: Venid y subamos al monte del Señor; otra vez (2, 2): Estará aparejado el monte de la casa del Señor.
Hermits who lived in caves near a spring. Sound familiar? We’re talking about Mount Carmel, correct? Actually, we are talking about the Carmelites who migrated to France from Mount Carmel in Palestine.
Bob Cromwell, “The Toilet Guru”, has completed extensive research on the primitive, but effective plumbing system at the Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire in the Luberon region of Provence, the first Carmelite monastery in France. Cromwell makes reference to our Order’s first monastery on Mount Carmel as the birthplace of the Order from whence the French Carmelites migrated.
Archeologists who have studied the system of channels that delivered water from the spring to the other areas of the 13th c. monastery property on Mount Carmel have been amazed at the advanced engineering. The comparison between that system and the system at the Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire described by The Toilet Guru is just as amazing. It seems that there are more similarities here than simply hermits living in caves near a spring…