Solemn Commemoration of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel
The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our spiritual life under Her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life. She, the Immaculate, full of grace from the first moment of Her conception, takes our souls stained by sin, and with a maternal gesture, cleanses them in the Blood of Christ and clothes them with grace, which, together with Him, She has merited for us. We can truly say that the garment of grace was woven by the blessed hands of Mary, who day by day, moment by moment, gave Herself entirely, in union with Her Son, for our salvation.
Legend tells of the seamless robe which the Blessed Virgin wove for Jesus; but, for us - and in reality - She has done much more. She has cooperated in obtaining the garment of our eternal salvation, the wedding garment in which we shall enter the banquet hall of heaven. From the moment we received it, Mary has never ceased to follow us with Her maternal gaze, to safeguard within us the life of grace. Each time we are converted and return to God or rise again after falling into sin - be it great or small - each time we increase in grace, all, everything, is effected through Mary's mediation. The Scapular, the "little habit," that Our Blessed Mother offers us, is only the external symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation. "My beloved son," the Blessed Mother said to St. Simon Stock, "take this Scapular... whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire" (cf., "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Her Scapular"). The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear WORTHILY Her habit.
"Those who wear the Scapular," said Pope Pius XII, "profess to belong to Our Lady" [and obey Her "Rule" - see "The 'Rule' of Our Lady...": a nine-day novena series of spiritual exhortations] and the Because we belong to Mary She takes special care of our souls. One who belongs to Her cannot be lost or be touched by eternal fire. Her powerful maternal intercession gives Her the right to repeat, for Her children, the words of Jesus: Holy Father... those whom Thou gavest Me have I kept; and none of them is lost (Jn. 17.12).
Devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel indicates a strong call to the interior life, which, in a very special way, is Mary's life. The Blessed Virgin wants us to resemble Her in heart and mind much than by performing external forms of devotion. If we penetrate into Mary's soul we see that grace produced in Her a very rich interior life: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted giving of Herself to God, and of constant contact and intimate union with Him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone where no creature has ever left an imprint; here reign love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men.
Those who wish to live truly devoted to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, must follow Mary into the depths of the interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, of life wholly consecrated to seeking God and tending wholly toward divine intimacy; and She who best realizes this very high ideal is Mary, Regina Decor Carmeli ("Queen, Beauty of Carmel"). Judgment shall dwell in the wilderness and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness and security forever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence. These verses, taken from the Prophet Isaias (32.16-18) and repeated in the Office proper to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, delineate very well the contemplative spirit and, at the same time, they are a beautiful picture of Mary's soul which is a real garden (Carmel in Hebrew signifies "garden") of virtues, an oasis of security completely enveloped in the shadow of God, and filled with God. Every interior soul, even if living amid the tumult of the world, must strive to reach this peace, this interior silence, which alone makes continual contact with God possible. It is our passions and attachments that make noise within us, that disturb our peace of mind and interrupt our intimate converse with God. Only the soul that is wholly detached and in complete control of its passion can, like Mary, be a solitary, silent garden where God will find His delights. This is the grace we ask of Our Immaculate Mother today when we choose Her to be the Queen and mistress of our interior life.
A most blessed Feast to all!