As shepherd of the Catholic of Diocese of Fort Worth, my travels take me to every corner of our Local Church, around the United States, and sometimes as far away as Rome, Italy. Through the “Shepherd of Fort Worth” blog, I wish to share with you important information about our diocese, the wonderful spirit of our Catholic faith, the people I encounter, and the blessings of daily life.
Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity
July 16, 2012
Welcome all here this evening, as we gather once more to celebrate Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in this Holy Place, and with the Nuns who are such an important part of our lives.
Many of us have a devotion to a particular Saint within the Carmelite Family, history and tradition: whether it is St. John of the Cross, the Little Flower, Theresa of the Andes, Theresa of Avila, Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, or the Carmelite Martyrs, etc. The list is long, but so always is the list of intentions in our lives that we bring to the great heritage of the Carmelite Saints. However, every time we celebrate Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, we turn once more to where it "all began!"
An image I return to for this day is one that I have probably shared with some of you before. In my last year of graduate studies in Rome, I journeyed often to the area of the city of Terracina because I was helping in a parish near there on the weekends. Terracina is a beautiful port city on the Mediterranean, halfway between Rome and Naples. And, there are at least two distinct cultures among those who call this beautiful city home: Those who live above, in the dwellings near the temple of Jupiter and the ancient Appian Way [which runs right in front of the Cathedral], and those who live below, and are the mariners - the fishermen and their families. This day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a big day for them. After a long day of work in the shops near the sea, they return to the Tyrrhenian sea at night, with their rigs and boats all illuminated with candles, and sing hymns to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I cannot celebrate this day without thinking in gratitude of all of them: The prayers, hymns and light which shine forth through the darkness!
This day, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, has given us all an occasion to once more have the light of our Faith shine through our daily lives, even if it is not necessarily dark. This day gives us once more a chance, like Mary, to sing the "Praises of God", as in the responsorial psalm for today. As we remember those hermits who gathered together centuries ago on the range of Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean sea and dedicated themselves to the Mother of God ,we give thanks to God that they have given us a place to gather together as well under her patronage: And, not only here, but every day of our lives. The Gospel today may sound rather strange to our "Western ears," but it means that we are always called to "do just what needs to be done, in order to perform the mission that God has entrusted to each of us", as His Son did. Pope Benedict XVI has said, speaking in a similar vein, that in the words of the Magnificat"she expresses her whole program of life: not seeing herself at the center, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in the service of neighbor-only then does goodness enter the world."
For me, the image of the fishing boats, and their candles and lights which shine through the darkness of the night call remind me again and again of the history and heritage of Carmel and its Saints: The Mother of God showing us the way again and again through our lives, and how to make a space for God. As St. John tells us, is she not given to us today? After all, does not the light of the candles over the sea create a space where darkness no longer can be?
"Oh most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, Blessed Mother of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. 0 Holy Mary Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to aid me in my necessity. There are none that can withstand your power. Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands."
Posted by Bishop
Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD