My Peace…I give to you..

(The beautiful chanted Salve Regina, with which my Carmelite Community always ends our meetings.)

Today was my monthly meeting for the Secular Discalced Carmelites, of which I have been a member for 16 years.

It is hard to believe that it has been that long since I nervously walked into my first meeting, not knowing anyone, but feeling called there by a desire which had long been in my heart. It is fascinating to look back and see how God begins preparing us for the future, even though we are completely unaware.

I had been taught by Carmelite sisters, of the Order of Ancient Observance (O.Carm.), from first grade all the way through highschool. I remember receiving my acceptance letter into Mt Carmel Academy.  It began, “Dear Carmelite..,” and that especially delighted me for some reason.

Years later, I read The Story of a Soul, and immediately fell in love with St. Therese and sat at her feet imbibing her wisdom and her science of love, as I read every available book I could find about her.  I have a personal collection of at least fifty such books, and have read more besides, in addition to countless articles in Carmelite publications throughout the years.

And then, in God’s timing, I learned that there was a community of Secular Discalced Carmelites in my area, and after a retreat and much prayer, I gathered the courage to attend that first meeting.

This morning, I was rushing as usual, praying not to be late, and trying to shake a migraine which had awakened me before dawn.  During the past few years, it is always that way. I have come to expect that meeting days will be a challenge.

In the beginning, it was quite the opposite. I looked forward to these special days and always arrived a bit early to talk and laugh with my formation companions. I loved my formation classes and never fell behind in the required reading and other assignments. LIke the first steps in the spiritual life which are usually strewn with much spiritual joy and many consolations, so also were my first steps in Carmel.

Now it is different, as there are always challenges just getting out of the house. I am not one to see the devil behind every bush, but I do believe he is always at work trying to grind us down, and discourage us from anything which will enable us to progress in our love for and union with our God. 

My current journey in Carmel also reflects the spiritual desert I have been living in for some years now. It is hard to pray, impossible to meditate … a spiritual existence devoid of any sweetness or consoling feelings.  As I walk through day after day like this, I also greet my monthly meetings in much the same way. My closest friends have left Carmel, and other beloved members have passed away. There are many new members I hardly know, as they joined during the two years before my parents died, a period when I had to miss many meetings. There was a certain disconnect, as I was not present for some clothings and professions and not available to participate in discussions about implementing changes, etc.

So now, I tend to sit in the back, quietly listening and observing, and endeavoring to be faithful to my current assignment as infirmarian, which makes me responsible to see that our sick and homebound members are not forgotten.

But, as on the spiritual journey, no matter which stage one may be in…no matter how dark and dreary and dry as a bone one’s soul feels, yet, deep within, there is that Peace which the Savior promised, a peace the world cannot give. It is in the center of the soul, where the King dwells with His treasures.

This peace is not so deep in the beginning, and can still be disturbed when especially painful crosses fall upon us, but as time passes, it penetrates more deeply into our hearts, and like a welcome anchor, is not easily shaken. And joy too remains…not the sunny bursts of joy which once made our souls dance and sing, but a quieter joy which comes from being absolutely certain that God is always with us, and will never abandon us. We have learned that He does not leave when the consolations go, and that is such a comfort. We have not lost Him because we no longer feel His Presence. We continue to trust, and that is much more reliable evidence than feelings.

For a Carmelite, it is now living what we once only learned about in formation, from our spiritual masters and Doctors of the Church, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Jesus.

And so I thank my Almighty King Jesus, that the Peace and Joy which lit up my soul on meeting days in my early years in Carmel, are still with me today, although now they are more like a gentle breeze, wafting across my heart, ever so gently, and reassuring me that: Yes, the vocation I embraced 16 years ago was indeed God’s Will for my life.

Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Evening Prayer II
Responsory:

The whole creation proclaims the greatness of Your Glory.
-The whole creation proclaims the greatness of Your Glory.
Eternal ages praise,
-the greatness of Your Glory.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
-The whole creation proclaims the greaness of Your Glory.

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14 thoughts on “My Peace…I give to you..

  1. I pray God will bless you in your faithfulness. I am sorry for your migraine, and recognize also the static the adversary drums up at the times when I am leaving the house precisely to serve, nor have quiet time to pray and be with my Lord. Your passion and love for God are still present in your will, even if you feel it more as a gentle breeze. It is apparent, and I give thanks to God that you are sharing it. May all your beloved Carmelite patron saints and especially our Mother Mary pray for you when you are experiencing times without the consolation of his felt presence. Blessed are you who seek his face.

    It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

    • Oh, thank you so much, Colleen, for your kind and wise words. It is so true that the adversary gives us no rest when we are trying to serve God. Trying to get ready for a retreat is another place where I always encounter obstacles, and i’ve heard others mention this as well. Yet in the end, we always win, because we have Jesus with us…. : ) But I don’t think I have ever arrived at a retreat all rested and prayerfully prepared, etc. Maybe one day…..

      “Blessed are you who seek his face” To seek His Face…how beautiful! Isn’t that what we live for? A wonderful priest used to have a beautiful blog by that name, Seek His Face. It was the first blog I ever read, and I was drawn there by such a precious title.

      Colleen, your prayers and encouragement are appreciated more than you know. I truly thank you! God bless you for your kindness.

      Love,
      Patricia

  2. Hi Patricia
    I still link to the blog “Seek His Face” even though Father has ceased to update it. I was very privileged to have met the priest who authored the blog and attend many Masses that he offered. A beautiful soul for sure.

    I don’t know what to say about the migraines. I have tried to imagine them as a gift whereby Jesus asks me to wear His crown of thorns for a while and bring Him some relief, but when I think of how they always seem to occur when I endeavor to be holy, I can’t help but wonder if they’re sent by someone intent on ruining our inner peace.

    What a beautiful thought – that you are an infirmarian. Truly a ministry that the Lord will not forget. I think you must bring a very big smile to the The Little Flower’s angelic face. Someday, God-willing, we will see it for ourselves.
    Peace and feel better!
    Joyce

    • Joyce, can I come sleep on your couch? : )
      So, you not only have access to the TLM, and a Carmelite monastery, plus those Communion rails you mentioned on your blog….now you tell me that you also met Father Check –was that his name–and attended many of his Masses. You are living my dream! Well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person, so I forgive you! At least I can look forward to the new and impoved translation coming into force.

      That is so beautiful the way you describe how you think of your migraines as wearing the crown of thorns for awhile for Jesus. I must admit that I am not very good at making that effort. I just want the pain to go away. My migraines went beserk after my bout with cancer put me into surgical menopause at 27. I guess the hormone change triggered the migraines into overdrive, and they have been that way ever since. I’ve gone to healing Masses and been prayed over by both priests and a couple of nuns who are reputed to have the gift of healing, but no change. And, of course I pray about at least seeing some improvement all the time. Our weather changes so much down here, cool one day and then warm and humid the next….a real trigger for me. Thanks for caring though. xoxo

      I do like being infirmarian, as I enjoy writing little (long!) notes to members who are ill, and sending cards and Mass enrollments, etc. I’m trying to work up a few other ideas about how to keep our homebound members updated and feeling like they are still part of the community.

      Won’t it be great to see Therese’s smile, and get a big hug at last? I have a feeling she is smiling and laughing along with us throughout our crazy lives down here…don’t ya think : )

      Thanks for the love, Joyce!
      Patricia

  3. There’s such a maturity you bring to your sharing; the joy despite the challenges of the spiritual desert, quietly listening and observing at your meetings, the physical and spiritual challenge every time you step out to a meeting or a retreat. Isn’t this the story of our life in this alien place ?
    The joy comes –as you say, from that deep inner peace we have in Christ and the hope of one day seeing is face.

    I hope your feeling better….I’m praying for you..and if it’s any consolation…I never do anything for the Lord without some ‘kerfuffle’ : ) Like you…I’ve just come to expect it..

    • Caroline, “kerfuffle?” I had to google it….what a perfect word to describe most of our “stuff!” You are so smart; I’ve never heard of kerfuffle before : ) But I love it! Thank you!
      I had a bit of kerfuffle today. I was so proud of myself for arriving early for my adoration time. My prayer partner was out today, and so I had two hours entirely alone with Jesus in the chapel. I had not forgotten my glasses or my highlighter or my journal etc., but I had taken Zyrtec this morning for my allergies. Zyrtec knocks me out…some days more than others. This was a major KO. Poor Jesus, there I was fighting sleep the whole time. I read to Him; I turned on all the lights in the chapel; nothing worked. Then I noticed Mary’s statue and sent up a fervent “Hail Mary.” She is so kind…I noticed shortly afterward that I was at least partially awake!

      It is consoling to hear that you too have come to expect IT…when doing anything for Our Lord. It’s almost like clockwork…and sometimes is really funny! I know He laughs with us…..Jesus in His Beautiful Joy and Loveliness. Thank you for commenting as one who has obviously been where I am. We all need each other on this journey, or else it can be very lonely. Thanks for walking with me, Caroline. And, thank you so much for your prayers. You are in mine as well…even in my comatose holy hours today! : )

      Love u,
      Patricia

  4. Two hours alone with Jesus… what a great grace!
    Patricia, I’m sorry to hear of your pain and tension leading up to your Carmelite meetings.
    It must be quite stressful to have it happen so often.
    Maybe there is some anxiety that causes you to become sensitive as the time approaches.
    Perhaps it is a sharing in the wounded Heart of Christ Who seeks your company and consolation.
    But even if it is the Enemy who is trying to interfere with your time with the Lord and your community, what he does only serves to bring greater glory to God by your suffering and sacrifice.
    When you are lifted up on the cross with Him..the victory is all the sweeter!
    My youngest son also has severe migraines and I have a type myself, so I understand a little about your discomfort, dear friend.
    I will keep you in deep prayer.
    May the spiritual joy of simply knowing His Presence is always with you strengthen your heart this day and bring you peace!
    You are much loved..
    Trish

    • Dear sweet Trish,
      Thank you for your most kind and loving words. I really feel Our Lord is calling me to have more order in my life…one of my main weaknesses! So, much of the problem is my own fault…not being organized and getting started on time, etc. As for headaches popping up so much on meeting days, well I’m not so sure about why that happens. I do know that it is very humiliating…to have to keep reporting my absence due to migraine. I would rather give almost any other reason…I hate being the headache lady : ) Ah, but God is so good at humbling us!!!

      I wrote this post mainly to show the connection between how where we are in our prayer lives (desolation/consolation) is often expressed also in our daily lives. It’s as though we are being purified both within and without at the same time. One day, we will understand it all, won’t we? For now, we do our best, and count on the love, support and prayers of our friends. Thank you!

      I’m so sorry you and your son suffer with headaches too. God bless your son who has the severe ones. They are truly debilitating.

      I am so grateful for your heartfelt prayers. The wonder of blogging in the Catholic world is the amazing people you encounter, who truly care, and really understand. I often wish I could meet each of you, and we could all pray together, and attend Mass up in PA with Joyce…since she has access to all the beautiful TLM’s and Catholic devotions, etc. : )

      Love to you Trish,
      Patricia

  5. Patricia, I think I love reading all of the comments as much as I love reading your posts! What a blessing you are to your Carmelite Community as I am sure they are to you as well! Now I am quite devoted to St. Margaret Mary and although she was not a Carmelite, she did work in her convent infirmary. I will pray to her for your migraines.

    • Anne, I think I agree with you! Aren’t the comments fun? I love reading them over at Mary333’s blog…she usually has at least a dozen or so on every post. It’s fun getting to know everyone…sort of like a dialogue. I think Caroline took the prize on this post with her “kerfuffle”! : ) I was thinking about that word today, and it makes you smile to just try to say it.

      I love St. Margaret Mary too. I need to get to know her better though. I really love all these humble little nun Saints to whom Jesus appeared with such love and amazing familiarity. St. Faustina is another one.

      Thank you so much for your prayers re: the headaches. Like Joyce, I’ve tried St. Teresa, and she’s not having pity on me so far…. : ) Truly Anne, your prayers mean so much, and thanks for being a friend here. Hope you are still rejoicing on the new way of love you have recently embarked upon!

      Love and prayers for you too,
      Patricia

  6. Patricia
    You are welcome to my sofa, but you’d have to put up with two pesky mutts who’d pester you all night!

    Yes, I have met Father Check. He was a parochial vicar at the parish where I attended early Mass during the work week. He was also the retreat master for several retreats I did at the Carmelite Monastery and he also helped my pastor when he first began to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form. He was the guest homilist for our parish Forty Hours Devotion a few years back, before he went to Rome. Father Check is angelic, pure and simple, and he has such powerful insights. When he spoke of the Blessed Mother standing at the foot of the Cross “with her eyes riveted on the countenance of her dying Son”, I knew I had the kind of image that would keep my faithful and attentive during Mass.

    Believe me, I am no saint when it comes to the headaches. Sometimes I get migraines and other times I get severe sinus headaches. I’m not sure which is worse. Nearly all of the times I’ve committed a serious sin in the past 6 years were when I had a killer headache. St. Teresa of Avila is the patroness of headache sufferers. When I pray to her, I think her response has been: “Bear it”. So, I do the best I can. Maybe by the time I leave this earth, I’ll have found a way to tolerate them without noticing them.

    I’ll continue to pray for you. Weather is such a factor for headache sufferers.
    Love and prayers
    Joyce

    • Joyce, I really love dogs, and I wouldn’t even mind taking care of the rats : ) How are the little darlings?

      Your description of Father Check sounds so much like the impression I got of him each time I read his beautiful blog. It just breathed holiness. What an amazing blessing for you have had him for a retreat master! Wow! Can you imagine him for a spiritual director? Wherever he is now, I’m sure he is doing great things. The impact of a truly holy priest is boundless. There is such power in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

      How about that St. Teresa? I got the same response from her that you did…no help! Maybe she thinks we should toughen up! I am thinking of trying a novena to Therese again. I really haven’t asked her for this favor in years.

      In my headache/migraine book collection, I’ve read many times that what we think are sinus headaches are most often actually a migraine..just in a different place. Whatever they are, they hurt! I’m going to pray for your headaches too Joyce. Thanks for the interseting news about Father Check. God bless him!

      Love and hugs,
      Patricia

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