Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A & Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A & Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16,2017

The Lord proclaims: “My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I send it.” The Word is the Son of God. “Creation awaits with eager expectation” to “be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” That is why Jesus speaks to us in a way that reminds us of the moment of creation: as if we are soil. “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gn 2:7). We have the potential, the freedom to be good, rich, productive soil. We beg that the Word will return to us again and again so that we can do his will, achieving the end for which God sends his Word to us.

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

Dear Jesus, We always pray that you will bless us with your abundant grace as the crops drink in the nourishing rains. Lord, allow us to live in the Father’s love as do flowers soak in the warmth of the sun. We pray to live generously the fruitful life of giving life, sustaining life, and caring for life in all its forms, from earliest beginnings to latest endings. Lord Jesus, make us always attentive to You (Your Word and all Your teachings). Lord, bring out God’s goodness out of our Good Soil. In your Mighty Name, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Is 55:10-11 – The rain makes the earth fruitful

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,

giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14
R. (Lk 8:8) The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful

You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,
breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

The fields are garmented with flocks
and the valleys blanketed with grain.
They shout and sing for joy.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Reading II
Rom 8:18-23 – Creation awaits the revelation of the children of God.



Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

The word of the Lord.

Gospel
Mt 13:1-23 – A sower went out to sow.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily: The fecundity of your heart click below:

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – The Word’s Return

Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:

Download Audio File

Today’s readings, like last week’s, ask us to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word—and our own. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? That question underlies today’s Gospel, especially.

Again we see, as we did last week, that the kingdom’s mysteries are unfolded to those who open their hearts, making of them a rich soil in the which the Word can grow and bear fruit.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, in Jesus, God’s Word has visited our land, to water the stony earth of our hearts with the living waters of the Spirit (see John 7:38; Revelation 22:1).

The firstfruit of the Word is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in baptism, making us children of God, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (see Romans 5:5; 8:15-16). In this, we are made a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the firstfruits of a new heaven and a new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

Since the first humans rejected God’s Word, creation has been enslaved to futility (see Genesis 3:17-19; 5:29). But God’s Word does not go forth only to return to Him void, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

His Word awaits our response. We must show ourselves to be children of that Word. We must allow that Word to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Jesus warns today, we must take care lest the devil steal it away or lest it be choked by worldly concerns.

In the Eucharist, the Word gives himself to us as bread to eat. He does so that we might be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

And we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (see Mark 4:29; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10)—when His Word will have achieved the end for which it was sent. – Read the source: https://stpaulcenter.com/reflections/the-words-return-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-fifteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-ti

Reflection 2 – How to prepare ourselves to bear fruit a hundredfold?       

An insightful scholar by the name of A.J. Heschel recounts a story from his days as a student in Berlin. Although he was a devout man, he became preoccupied by the arts in the glittering culture that one day he failed to pray at sunset, as his custom had been without fail. He admits, “The sun had gone down, evening had arrived… I had forgotten God.” Heshel’s omission may seem minor to us, but his zeal shows that he understands the importance of cultivating the spiritual life (Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:1-23) Jesus told a story of a sower, a seed, and four kinds of soil (Mt 13:1-9). It takes a good soil to receive the word of God and produce a yield. The seed that falls on rocky soil or has no roots or is among weeds will not produce. The soil among the thorns represented those who permit the Word of God in their hearts to be choked by the cares and pleasures of the alluring world (Mt 13:7,22). That’s a dangerous possibility for anyone who thoughtlessly responds to God’s word. The world may induce a forgetfulness of spiritual reality and responsibility. Do we allow the attractions of this world to keep us from reading and meditating on God’s Word? Prayerfully, let us strive to be like the one who “hears the Word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, a hundredfold” (Mt 13:23).

How can we prepare ourselves that the word of God planted in us can bear fruit a hundredfold? St. Irenaeus (+202 A.D.) was the second century bishop in what is now France. He is considered the first great Christian theologian. His ideas are still worth contemplating. Like these:

“It is not you who shapes God; it is God who shares you.” – Humble yourself before God, and let God take control of your life.

“If then you are the handiwork of God, await the hand of the Artist (God) who does all things in due time.” – Be patient in enduring all trials in life.

“Offer the pottery of your heart, soft and pliable, and keep well the form in which the Artist (God) has fashioned you.” – Be always obedient to God’s will.

“Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.” – Be compassionate and understanding for others to grow.

“That’s a marvelous and comforting image: a piece of pottery in the process of creation – marked by the hand of the Maker, warm from His touch, malleable to His design.” – Always think that God loves you so much. We are made in the image of God and His love bear fruits among us a hundredfold.

Let’s review of our preparation for a hundredfold: 1) Humble yourself before God and let God take control of your life. 2) Be patient in enduring all trials in life. 3) Be always obedient to God’s will. 4) Be compassionate and understanding for others to grow. 5) Always think that God loves you so much and he always give himself for you at the Eucharist. For more watch the video of Archbishop Fulton Sheen on Drug: Short trip and long pull http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2014/05/17/archbishop-fulton-sheen-drug-short-trip-and-long-pull/

 

Reflection 3 – Good Soil Listens, Understands and Acts on the TRUTH

This Sunday’s parable is a reminder to everyone that God’s Word can only take root in fertile ground; in a receptive heart which is righteous, docile and ready to hear what He has to say. It is a heart God empowers to positively ACT on His Word to bring the Truth it embodies to the ends of the world. He bears the truth no matter what the circumstances may be.

There are many needful measures for one to listen to God’s Word but they all center on man’s willingness to act on it based on the real Truth and not on the truth that man has concocted to satisfy personal plans for man’s greater fulfillment. Happy are we, if we listen, act and abide by the underlying Truth in God’s Word.

We ought to take heed of the things that will hinder our profiting from God’s Word, lest we hear carelessly, lest we add our prejudice to what we hear; lest we lose what we have received. We can only bear fruit from God’s Word if we use them for the good of our brethren, for God’s greater glory!  It is not enough to hold the truth in righteousness but we should desire to hold forth the word of life, to shine and to give light to all around by the truth we carry in all our personal and communitarian affairs.

The big challenge that is upon all of us is to be able to receive His Word in good ground, in fertile soil, so we can be honest, noble and of good heart; so we are able to bring forth God’s TRUTH and bear the right fruit, a thousand fold.

Great encouragement is given to those who prove faithful hearers of the Word, by being doers of the work, never circumventing, never concealing or even giving out half-truths. Christ is Truth and He owns the truth which we need to share. Our minds and hearts should be raised above moral earthliness so our sinful hearts will not be bent on worldly desires and plans that satiate our quest for power but rather on the attainment of wisdom, holiness, righteousness, justice and fairness. Hearing God’s Word and understanding it means expressing the Truth, the truth that sets us free, the Truth that enables us to rest in our Lord’s embrace.

The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  However, that power is affected not only by one’s ability’ to hear the Word, for the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, as they are beyond his understanding, and are foolishness to him, for they have to be spiritually discerned.

With God’s grace, we can be good ground out of diverse paths of life, who not only hear the Word, but keep it, understand it and act on it according to His will, and rest on it.

With utter self-abandonment we can share the Light and the Love of God by bringing consolation, comfort, encouragement and hope through God’s Word; words that take away fear, shame, and guilt; words that reconcile, unite, forgive, and heal; words that bring peace and joy, inner freedom and deep gratitude. They carry God’s love on their wings, words that become flesh in our own lives and the lives of others, words rooted in our hearts, sincere and honest, not as words of “people pleasers” who say the right words to please others but whose words have no roots in their interior lives.

If we allow God’s Word to take control, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. It shall not return to Him void but shall do His will, achieving the end for which He sent it and shall bear fruit and yield a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold if we are good ground and act on it. Then only then can we rest in God and bear fruit.

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Beware those whose hearts are so jaded and insist on their own concocted words as Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: “You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them.”

Today, let us pray that we may live a life worthy of the Lord; a life that is true, noble and right; a life that is pure and lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy so we please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

Direction

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

“LISTEN” carefully to this. To you the mystery of the reign of God has been confided.” Always think deeply about what God speaks to you in the silence of your heart and apply it to your life.

Prayer 

Heavenly Father, your words are spirit and life. Bless my soul with the words of eternal life. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

Reflection 4 – New Evangelization

A journalist was interested in writing about prison life. He began interviewing the inmates. He asked one prisoner, “Do you watch television here?”

”Yes, but only in the daytime,” the inmate replied, “because at night we are not anymore allowed to get out of our cells and so we don’t get to see any television.” “Oh, what a pity,” the reporter said, “But I think it is right in letting you watch TV only in the daytime.” “What do you mean?” the inmate asked. “Because there is more trash in the daytime shows. And that is part of the punishment.”

We are now living in the age of television. Whether we admit it or not, our thinking, behavior and way of life have been somehow influenced by it. Many of us, in fact, have made television not only as the source of information, but also as the standard for human behavior. When we watch TV, we just sit on the couch and everything – news, entertainment, and commercials – is delivered to us. There is nothing we need to do. We are passive spectators. And when we do not like the show, we just change the channel or we simply turn it off.

Sad to say, many of us apply this kind of attitude to our relationship with God. We treat Him just like television. We listen to God’s word, but we don’t see the need to do something about it. We remain passive and uninvolved spectators and listeners. More than that, we expect to always hear pleasant things and to be entertained. We avoid hearing the hard and bitter truths of the Gospel. And if we do not get what we wanted or expected, we walk away and look for another church, or we simply turn God off from our lives.

These times, then, call for a more effective and better ways of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. This is what moved Pope Benedict XVI to establish the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. He said, “To proclaim Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world seems more complex today than in the past; but our task remains the same as at the dawn of our history…The crisis being experienced bears in itself traces of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, of a generalized indifference toward the Christian faith itself, to the point of attempting to marginalize it from public life.”(Address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization on May 30, 2011).

This Sunday, the Gospel talks about evangelization. The parable of the Sower could be more precisely called the Parable of the Seeds. The focus of the parable is not on the sower but on the seeds. Jesus compared the word of God to the seeds sown in different kinds of soil. These will grow and bear fruits if the conditions and dispositions of the soil are right. From this parable, we get two important lessons.

First, the word of God will grow and bear fruits only when it is planted on good soil. But a good soil does not happen by chance. It is the product of the toil and sacrifices of the farmer who pulls out the weeds, plows the land, cultivates it and nourishes it with nutrients and fertilizers. Similarly, if we want the word of God to grow and bear fruits in us, we must work hard in rooting out sins from our hearts, cultivating our soul with the practice of Christian virtues and nourishing it with the graces of God and the sacraments. In other words, this is what St. Paul admonished: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).

Second, Jesus likened the word of God to a seed. This is to underscore the truth that God’s word does not come to us as a finished product. Its seed is planted in our soul, and we have to do our share in nurturing it and bringing it to fruition. This is the reason why Jesus did his ministry for only three years. And after that, before he went back to his heavenly Father, he instructed his disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news of salvation.” In short, he did not finish the whole thing. He commissioned all his followers to continue what he had done. He planted the seeds of salvation; it is up to his followers, aided by the Holy Spirit, to continue and finish the job.

Hence, before we leave the Church, the priest tells us, “The Mass is ended. Go in peace.” It is not really a dismissal, but a commissioning. We are being sent on a mission, to make the word of God bear fruit in our daily life. It cannot remain static and passive. It has to bear abundant fruits through our lives suffused with the Gospel values.

Through the prophet Isaiah, therefore, God said, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word the goes out from My mouth. It will not return to me empty” (Is 55:11). God has sown the seed. It’s our turn to make it grow and bear fruits for the salvation of souls and the whole world. The New Evangelization begins with us (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs, Camarin Road, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1423).

Reflection 5 – Why do you speak to them in parables?

What is the best and easiest way to help people understand God’s kingdom? Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus very frequently used parables – short stories and images taken from everyday life – to convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful artist, Jesus sketched memorable pictures with short and simple words. A good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday illustrations of life and nature to point to another order of reality – hidden, yet visible to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”. Jesus communicated with vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than any abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matthew 13:44).

What can the parable about seeds and roots teach us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The Scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3)

How do you listen to God’s word?
Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn’t want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.

Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God’s word?

The refusal to believe and understand
Jesus told his disciples that not everyone would understand his parables. Did Jesus mean to say that he was deliberately confusing or hiding the meaning of his stories from his listeners? Very likely not. Jesus was speaking from experience. He was aware that some who heard his parables refused to understand them. It was not that they could not intellectually understand them, but rather, their hearts were closed to what Jesus was saying. They had already made up their minds to not believe. God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom – that which is hidden to the spiritually blind – to those who hunger for God and humbly submit to his truth.

What can makes us ineffective or unresponsive to God’s word? Preoccupation with other things can distract us from what is truly important and worthwhile. And  letting our hearts and minds be consumed with material things can easily weigh us down and draw us away from the heavenly treasure that lasts for eternity. God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart which is docile and ready to hear what God has to say.

How God’s word takes root in us
The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answer, then we, too, may look but not see, listen but not understand. God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. Do you submit to God’s word with trust and obedience?

One lesson from this parable is clear: the harvest is sure to come. While some seed will fall by the wayside and some fall on shallow ground and never come to maturity, and some be choked to death by the thorns; nonetheless a harvest will come. The seed that falls on good soil, on the heart that is receptive, will reap abundant fruit. God is always ready to speak to each of us and to give us understanding of his word. Are you hungry for his word? And do you allow anything to keep you from submitting to God’s word with joy and trusting obedience?

“Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it”. – Read the source:  http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jul16.htm

Reflection 6 – The “seed” of God’s word in human hearts

Purpose: A homily based on today’s readings can appropriately have two main purposes: first, to encourage self-examination on the part of listeners, and the preacher himself: How receptive to the seed of God’s word is the “soil” in my own heart? (Is it shallow? Are there rocks, thorns, or weeds there that need to be pulled out?) The second aim can be to bring out the relevance of this parable for that “new evangelization” of our secularized western culture, which all recent popes have stressed as a top priority. How can we believers become more effective and fruitful, not just as receivers of God’s word, but also as its sowers in the human “field” we live in?

Today’s Gospel—the Parable of the Sower—is probably the most “mission-oriented” of all Jesus’ parables: it is directly linked to the great mandate of his “last will and testament” revealed at the Ascension: “Go, and make disciples of all nations!”

The preceding Scripture readings place the parable in its existential context. We hear “bad news” in the second reading, wherein St. Paul laments that through the primordial calamity of sin, the whole creation has been “made subject to futility,” is now “in slavery to corruption,” and finds itself “groaning in labor pains even until now.”  The  good news, however, is that labor pains are fruitful—they end in the joy of welcoming a new creature made in God’s image! That message of hope is more explicit in the first reading:  The seed of God’s word, once sown, has an innate power and fecundity even under adverse circumstances. It “will not return to him void.”

The Gospel parable itself confronts us with a sharp, penetrating, personal question. Everyone in the pews today has already received the seed of God’s word in, at least, some minimal way. So we are challenged to examine our conscience: Which of the different types of “soil,” mentioned by Jesus, best describes my own heart at this time? Might it even be the first categorythe hard pathway where the seed of faith has simply been “snatched away”? Surveys indicate that even some regular Mass attendees are unbelieversfor instance, some who come just to accompany a Catholic family member. A little new seed sown on this seemingly inhospitable surface will sometimes start to germinate. For instance: “Perhaps, someone here today really doesn’t believe in God. That’s a pity, because God believes in you! He surely wants to tell you that he’s there, he loves you tremendously, and he wants to come into your life. Why not take some time to reflect on that? Give God a chance!”

Our Lord explains that the seed falling in shallow soil on rocky ground refers to those timid or superficial believers who fall away out of human respect or fear when discrimination or persecution for the faith comes their way. There has been a sharp and dramatic increase in hatred and persecution of Christians since the new millennium began, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. We need to pray daily for our brothers and sisters in the faith who are often showing heroism in the face of either jihadist fanaticism, or North Korean-style cold, merciless, tyranny. At the same time, those of us in relatively free, Western societies should be stimulated to follow their example; for militant and intolerant secularism is constantly chipping away at our own religious liberty. We find ourselves under ever-increasing legal, social, and economic pressureall in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity”to keep silent about, and even deny, our deepest, conscientious convictions about God’s plan for authentic marriage and family life. Let’s ask ourselves:  “Have I been too timid to speak out for my Catholic faith and moral convictions? Do I even know how to defend Church teaching on these hot-button issues? If not, should I be studying my faith more seriously?”

The parable then speaks of seed that falls where it must compete with a lot of thorns and weeds. More humdrum and subtle than outright hostility and persecution, but perhaps even more corrupting over time, is the constant drip of worldly concerns (work, recreation, ambition, money, comfort, personal relationships) that may be good in themselves, but often eventually crowd out and displace the Kingdom of God as that which we “seek first.” Perhaps, the most important single question to ask ourselves in this context is: How is my prayer life and sacramental practice? Perfunctory and intermittent? Or devout and regular? Taking out some quality time each day to truly open our heart to the Lord, as well as regular reception of the Eucharist, and Penance, is essential to a faithful observance of the First Commandment.

If our prayer and sacramental life is regular and serious, chances are that the seed of the word has already found reasonably fertile soil in our hearts, and that we are bearing some of the fruits of charity, and the other virtues, that Jesus has in mind. However, his words leave us no room for complacency. Are we bearing fruit “thirty-fold”? Fine, but in the same breath, the Lord speaks of “sixty” and “a hundred-fold”! At a time when the Church is stressing, as never before, the need for Catholics to re-evangelize our spiritually barren, post-Christian culture, that further fruit Jesus wants us to produce will consist largely in our own transformation: from receivers of the word into new sowers. Many surveys show that evangelical Protestants are far more up-front in sharing their faith with others than the average Catholics. We can, and should, learn from their zeal, while avoiding their erroneous interpretations of Sacred Scripture. – Read the source text: http://www.hprweb.com/2014/06/homilies-for-july-2014/

Reflection 7 – The Word of God

“All men by nature desire to know.” This is how Aristotle begins his Metaphysics. After he has shown that the physical world itself demands the existence of a spiritual God, Aristotle comes to examine what things that are not material are like. He relates that this desire of all men to know stimulate them to search for the one explanation that could explain the whole world. They “wondered” about the causes of the world and were led by the truth of things themselves to discover God. But his discovery of God was not enough. The dynamism of knowledge led them to want to know God in himself, but “no man can see God and live.”

In order that men might be finally fulfilled and happy, a further knowledge of God was necessary. God chose to reveal his very inner nature, first in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament. In a progressive and marvelous way, God called us to divine communion and then progressively enlightened us with knowledge from above, a knowledge that is not open to human reason left to itself.

This is the “word which goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Is 55:11). The final sending forth of this world is the revelation given to us in our Lord Jesus Christ. Vatican II exclaims that Christ is “the Mediator and fullness of All Revelation” (Dei Verbum, 2).

The origin of this knowledge is supernatural – directly from God – and the nature of this knowledge is the same; thus this knowledge is a grace. “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 153). The only human response to grace is assent born not from our understanding, but from faith. Isaiah compares revelation to the rain coming down on the earth that returns to heaven after watering the earth. This “return” is the human response born of grace of assent to God’s Word by the virtue of faith.

“Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Faith is the only kind of knowledge that involves both the intellect and the will because we can never reduce God to someone we can totally understand. The response of faith then demands that, when the Word of God is sown in our hearts by grace, we cooperate in bringing it to perfection. God who created us will not redeem us without our willing assent. Without God, I can’t; without me, God won’t. This is because God never acts against the nature he has created and our nature is to be free.

Christ speaks about our own preparation for the growth of faith in our hearts in the parable of the seed and the sower today. The same seed, the Word of God, was sown in many different souls. In three cases it did not bear fruit and in the fourth case it did. What was different in these cases? Not the seed. It was the same. The difference was in the preparation of the soul to receive the action of the seed.

Preparation is both exterior and interior. Exterior preparation involves the proclamation of revelation. There are two equal means by which the one Word of God is proclaimed. Scripture is the Word proclaimed by writing; tradition is the Word proclaimed by preaching. Both aid and support each other and both are equally necessary. Christ and the Holy Spirit are the source of both in different ways, and Christ guarantees that these means will contain truth by the institution of the magisterium, the pope and together with the bishops.

Certainty of the truth is not enough by exterior means. The person must take this to heart; faith works through charity, for “we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23). The redemption of our bodies demands self-restraining love, which is developed by our everyday desire to root our faults and grow in the virtues.

The desire of all men to know can only be completed in the vision of God in heaven. This is begun on earth through faith, hope and charity. The fascinating thing about the seed and the sower is not that the seed died in the unprepared soil. No farmer in ancient Palestine would have found this odd. It is the marvelous yield of the prepared soil. What was reaped was thirty to sixty to one hundred times what was sown – perhaps impossible given ancient agriculture. The soul who returns to God through faith and charity develops a supernatural attitude toward ordinary life. Even the smallest work done through faith and charity reaps an eternal reward.” Let everyone heed what he hears” (Mt 13:9). (Source: Rev. Brian T. Mullady. “Homilies on the liturgies of Sundays and feasts,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review. Vol. CVIII, No. 9. New Jersey: Ignatius Press, June 2008, pp. 35-37; Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1499-1532).

Reflection 8 – Jesus is the sower

Jesus is an indefatigable sower. His love for us is so great that this parable of the sower and the seed is not a simple one of opportunity. It’s not as if Jesus offers us faith once, and we either accept it, or reject it. On the contrary, Jesus comes to us again and again. Not only that, but because we are made in the image and likeness of God, even without the gift of the Holy Spirit, our hearts, minds, and souls yearn for Him.

Thus, a soul with the gift of the Holy Spirit is never truly happy until that soul becomes like the fertile soil in today’s Gospel. Even the most hardened sinner, a person who hates God, is never incapable, never without hope of conversion to the Truth. As Isaiah tells us, the Word of God never returns void. If our hearts are even the least bit open to God’s Word, in fact, if we are just simply in the presence of his Word, God sows his seed, and cultivates our hearts.

A great example of this is Blessed Bartolo Longo. Bartolo lived in the 19th century in Italy, and was raised in a Catholic family. However, as a young man, he adopted a radical form of politics, became an activist, left the Church, and, eventually, became a satanic priest. He tried to kill the seeds God had planted in his heart. He tried with all of his might to be “the barren ground.” But after an encounter with a Dominican priest, and his hearing the priest’s teaching, and starting to say the Rosary, Bartolo heart was gradually softened. Our Lord, being gracious and merciful, kept sowing seed there. Bartolo kept cultivating his heart. Finally, he was able to return to the Church and, not only that, he spent the rest of his life teaching and evangelizing.

This is what we are made for: sin and evil make us dry, or fill us with weeds, but we are made to be the rich soil into which God comes,transforming our lives. The two great Doctors of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, each in their own ways, came to this same conclusion. St. Augustine wrote of his own experience with a restless heart that only rested when it rested in the Lord. St. Thomas Aquinas acquired knowledge of God (wisdom) which he felt to be the perfection of the intellect. He said that by our very nature, we desire this knowledge, and seek it out at all times. (ST I, 12, 8)

Yet, as St. Paul alluded to in today’s second reading, we are often enslaved by sin and suffering. These realities can cripple us, and leave us with little hope of change or growth. However, if our God truly loves us, even these things can be overcome. Christ encourages us by saying: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Sin and death are real, but in comparison to the great things we are able to do through, with, and in Christ Jesus, they are dross.

It is important to remember, however, we are always free in all of this. Even though it is God who sows, God who waters, God who causes the growth, we are always freely choosing to walk with the Lord. Unlike a plant that grows because it must, we grow in grace and freedom; we grow because our cooperation with the seeds of grace make us better, stronger, freer. This freedom, and this opportunity, come with a cost, a challenge to each of us.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council teach us in Gaudium et Spes:

… man’s dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse, nor by mere external pressure. Man achieves such dignity when, emancipating himself from all captivity to passion, he pursues his goal in a spontaneous choice of what is good, and procures for himself, through effective and skillful action, and helps to that end. Since man’s freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the aid of God’s grace can he bring such a relationship with God into full flower. (Gaudium et Spes, 17)

Therefore, the challenge for us is to cultivate our souls, purify our motives, and change our lives. God has planted, through our Baptism, his gift within us. Are we willing to do the work necessary in our lives to ensure providing the best and most hospitable ground for this seed? Farmers agonize over water, soil acidity, herbicides. They do whatever they can to yield the best, earthly crop. We are challenged today to do the hard work of prayer, penance, pursuing moral and faithful lives, for a supernatural, eternal yield.

If a satanic priest can change his life to the point the Church declares his life worthy of veneration and emulation, so, too, can all of us achieve such transformation in Christ. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/06/homilies-for-july-2017/

Reflection 9 – So we must sow

“A sower went out to sow….” Yes, indeed. But, according to the parable, not very carefully. He tosses the seed wildly, helter skelter, all over the place. It falls on exposed soil–an obvious bird feeder–shallow rocky soil, thorn-choked soil and, almost by accident, rich soil. And even there, the yield–thirty, sixty, a hundredfold–is uneven to say the least.

We shake our heads not only at the inefficiency of the sower’s efforts, but at the whole issue of extravagance and waste which this parable symbolizes. Life is like that, isn’t it? So much effort, so little results; so much spent energy, so little return. In everyday life, countless things are wasted, people are wasted, lives are wasted, good deeds are wasted, honorable intentions are wasted. Why bother? In all of the senseless losses of life, in all of the senseless extravagances of nature, we are faced with mystery.

Jesus himself, it seems, is no exception to life’s rule. He is born and hundreds of little innocent boys are slaughtered because of him. It just doesn’t seem right. He lives in a land of poverty, and magi bring him costly gifts. Great crowds follow him, but only twelve join him. Jesus even preaches wasteful sowing: you know, the nonsense about a herdsman who leaves ninety-nine sheep to search for one easily replaceable lamb; the Samaritan who gives all his goods to a stranger. And then there is the terrible waste of his own life on a cross, right after a woman had wasted precious ointment in perfuming his feet.

In our own ways, we resonate with Jesus and we resonate with the sower, don’t we? We sow a perfect wedding and sprout divorce. We scatter the seeds of our parenting and the birds of drugs and a secular media come and peck away daily at our efforts. We plant an honest day’s work and are downsized. We cultivate decency and virtue and the so-called lifestyles touted by some celebrities choke our hopes for those dearest to us.

We freely toss out the seeds of teaching and instruction and they seem to fall on shallow ground. We breed a firm faith and wind up with non-practicing children. We nurture liberty and produce license. We are passionate about fairness and justice and look around to see the haves and the have-nots and tyranny.

Like the sower in Jesus’ story, we have extravagantly and liberally sown the seeds of our lives. But so often we find that the weeds have taken over. The other side seems to be winning. How do we handle this mystery of disappointment and waste which we see all around us? Does today’s parable give us a direction, if not an answer? Yes. Perhaps this true story will illustrate:

Several years ago a baby boy was born in a Milwaukee hospital. The baby was blind, mentally retarded, and had cerebral palsy. He was little more than a vegetable who didn’t respond to sound or touch. His parents had abandoned him. The hospital didn’t know what to do with the baby.

Then someone remembered May Lempke, a fifty-two-year-old nurse who lived nearby. She had raised five children of her own. She would know how to care for such a baby. They asked May to take the infant, saying, “He’ll probably die young.” May responded, “If I take the baby, he won’t die young; and I’ll be happy to take him.”

May called the baby Leslie. It was not easy to care for him. Every day she massaged the baby’s entire body. She prayed over him; she cried over him; she placed his hands in her tears. One day someone said to her, “Why don’t you put that child in an institution? You’re wasting your life.” As Leslie grew, so did May’s problems. She had to keep him tied in a chair to keep him from falling over.

The years passed: five, ten, fifteen. It wasn’t until Leslie was sixteen years old that May was able to teach him to stand alone. All this time he didn’t respond to her. But all this time May, wastefully so to speak, continued to love him and to pray over him. She even told him stories of Jesus, though he didn’t seem to hear her.

Then one day May noticed Leslie’s finger plucking a taut string on a package. She wondered what this meant. Was it possible Leslie was sensitive to music? May began to surround Leslie with music. She played every type of music imaginable, hoping that one type might appeal to him. Eventually May and her husband bought an old second-hand piano. They put it in Leslie’s bedroom. May took Leslie’s fingers in hers and showed him how to push the keys down, but he didn’t seem to understand.

Then one winter night, May awoke to the sound of someone playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1. She shook her husband, woke him up, and asked him if he had left the radio on. He said he didn’t think so, but they decided they’d better check. What they discovered was beyond their wildest dreams.

Leslie was sitting at the piano. He was smiling and playing it by ear. It was too remarkable to be true. Leslie had never gotten out of bed alone before. He’d never seated himself at the piano before. He’d never struck a piano key on his own. Now he was playing beautifully. May dropped to her knees and said, “Thank you, dear God. You didn’t forget Leslie.” Soon Leslie began to live at the piano. He played classical, country western, ragtime, gospel, and even rock. It was absolutely incredible. All the music May had played for him was stored in his brain and was now flowing out through his hands into the piano.

Doctors describe Leslie as an autistic savant, a person who is mentally retarded from brain damage, but extremely talented. They can’t explain this unusual phenomenon, although they have known about it for nearly 200 years.

Leslie’s story figures in our parable. Remember, May Lempke extravagantly sowed and sowed the seeds of her love and her prayers for years with no return. It took her sixteen years just to get mute Leslie to stand. But in the end she saw a harvest. Not, true enough, a hundredfold one or even a sixtyfold harvest–Leslie is still mentally retarded–but a thirtyfold one of musical genius.

The point of her story–and our story–is that she was bound to try, for if she did not there would be less beautiful music in the world and God’s splendor would be hidden. And there, I think, is the direction the parable gives us: namely, whatever the success or failure or partiality of our efforts–thirty, sixty, a hundredfold–we are compelled as God’s sowers to scatter our seeds of faith, hope, and love wherever and to whomever we can, for without us there would be less of God’s splendor in the world. And when that splendor disappears, it will be the end of the world.

An old Hebrew legend says that as long as there are thirty just people in the world, God will not destroy it. There’s where we are: the “thirty just ones” called by God, given a commission to sow his truth, never knowing why so much of our sowing will wind up on exposed, rocky, or prickly soil. It is a mystery.

But we do know that we Christians, like our Master, are a people who must do our best, try our hardest, live in hope, and keep God alive in the world because we believe that somehow, someday, we can and will make a difference. Many of us will, in fact, see the wonderful outcome of our sowing in our children, friends, or students.

Someday, we are assured, there will be a harvest. At that time God will make all things right and new because of the seeds we have sown. Therefore, we are part of God’s plan. And so we continue to play music for the spiritually damaged in the hope that there might be a concerto some day. We may never hear it, but there will be music in the world and there will be a harvest when it is all over.

God has spoken. I recall here a woman, a teacher of teachers, who once said to me, “A good teacher has got to be in love with the process of planting the seed, but cannot need to be around for the harvest.” That is the lesson for today. Be in love with the sowing. Leave the rest to God (Source: Fr. William J. Bausch’s Homily).

Reflection 10 – Roots Or Shoots?

Because they had no root they withered away. —Matthew 13:6

In the life of trees, one key to survival is having more roots than shoots. In his book Oak: The Frame of Civilization,, author William Bryant Logan says, “If a tree puts on a lot of top growth and few roots, it is liable to be weak-wooded and short-lived. . . . If a tree puts down a great deal of roots and adds shoots more slowly, however, it is liable to be long-lived and more resistant to stress and strain.”

People and organizations can be like trees. The rise to prominence is exhilarating, but anything that puts up shoots faster than it puts down roots is fragile and in danger of breaking, falling, or dying.

Jesus used a similar analogy in His parable of the sower. People who hear the Word and receive it joyfully are like seed sown on stony places; they spring up quickly but endure only a short time because they have no roots (Matt. 13:6,20-21).

Roots aren’t at all glamorous, but they are the source of our strength. If our roots go deep in the knowledge of God (Jer. 9:24) and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), we’ll be strong, resistant to blight, and more likely to survive the storms of adversity.

How deep are your roots?  — Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, keep me from being envious of the beautiful and the seemingly powerful. May I use Your resources to put down roots that will make me strong rather than growing branches to make me attractive. Amen.

The roots of stability come from being grounded in God’s Word and prayer (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 11 – Planting Good Seeds

Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord. —Hosea 10:12

As a new gardener, I soon learned that uncultivated soil was resistant to seed planting and growth. But when I planted good seeds in well-prepared soil, heaven’s sun and rain did their part until the harvest came. Well-prepared soil, the right seeds, and God’s blessing are essential for fruitfulness, not only in gardening but also in Christian living.

God’s prophet Hosea preached this principle to the people of Israel. They had sown seeds of wickedness and trusted in their own way instead of God’s. Now they were eating the bitter fruit of lies, especially the lie that their safety and success came from their own military strength (Hosea 10:13).

Hosea pleaded with Israel to go God’s way—to break up the sin-hardened soil of their hearts and to “seek the Lord” (v.12). If they would sow seeds of righteousness, they would reap the Lord’s mercy and He would rain blessings on them.

Is the soil of your heart resistant to God and His Word, rather than receptive? Do you trust in your own way rather than in God’s? Then it’s time to seek the Lord in honest repentance, to sow right actions and attitudes in your life, and to grow His way. Above all, depend on His power rather than your own to make you fruitful.  — Joanie Yoder

If you sow the seeds of wickedness,
Its lies will cloud your mind;
If you scatter seeds of righteousness,
God’s blessing you will find. —Sper

The flowers or weeds that spring up tomorrow are in the seeds we sow today (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 12 – The seed sown on rich soil

This Sunday’s readings are about sowing seeds. The important thing to remember about seed sowing is that the effort is worthless if the seeds are not changed by being cast to the ground. Each seed must give up its former self, dying in the dirt while new life stirs within it. Only then can it send out a tender, first root, which will multiply and grow stronger and deeper to support upward growth. Even so, it has to be properly nourished to survive.

If all this takes place, the end result is a plant that looks nothing like the seed, which as it grows develops the ever-more important mission of benefitting the wider world of Nature beyond itself.

As we listen to Jesus explain the parable, we say yes, we want to be seeds that become fruitful lives. But desiring it does not automatically transform us. What is it that makes the soil of our lives rich and growth-producing?

The reading from Isaiah tells us that it is God himself who is the rich soil — God and his Word. Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading that suffering is part of creation (seeds must fall in the dirt and die in order to produce a fruitful life). Redemption grows from suffering and death.

We will never feel truly fulfilled until we’ve surrendered to the soil and have allowed God to nourish our growth.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What tender, new roots do you have that are sprouting from times of suffering and loss? What blessings are springing up from them? What ministry (what benefit to others) could be a fruitful gift of these blessings?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Share what it means to give up your former self to allow new life to stir and grow. What is the will of God (what does the Word say) regarding the end result? Give examples from your life or from the lives of others. – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-07-15

Reflection 13 – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah (northern Israel) in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726 it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

St. Teresa of Avila (October 15) called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” St. John of the Cross (December 14) credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel and helping him escape from prison. St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (October 1) believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion, she dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition (which may not be historical) that Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.

Comment:

The Carmelites were known from early on as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” The title suggests that they saw Mary not only as “mother,” but also as “sister.” The word “sister” is a reminder that Mary is very close to us. She is the daughter of God and therefore can help us be authentic daughters and sons of God. She also can help us grow in appreciation of being sisters and brothers to one another. She leads us to a new realization that all human beings belong to the family of God. When such a conviction grows, there is hope that the human race can find its way to peace.

Quote:

“The various forms of piety toward the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being (cf. Colossians 1:15–16) and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell (cf. Colossians 1:19) is rightly known, loved and glorified and his commandments are observed” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 66).

Patron Saint of: Chile

Read the source text:  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1446

SAINT OF THE DAY
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This feast, instituted in the 14th century by the Carmelite Order, commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1251 when the Blessed Mother gave the brown scapular to Saint Simon Stock. “The scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer” (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, #205). “The Blessed Virgin Mary watches unceasingly with a mother’s loving care over the brethren of her Son, and lights us along our pilgrim way to the Mount of your Glory, our beacon of comfort, and the embodiment of all our hopes as members of the Church”(Preface for Our Lady of Mount Carmel).

Who is Mary according to Scripture? Please click this link to watch the video on Who is Mary according to Scripture?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Mount_Carmel 
OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
Pietro Novelli Our Lady of Carmel and Saints.JPG

Our Lady of Carmel by Pietro Novelli, 1641
TYPE Marian apparition
HOLY SEE APPROVAL 30 January, 1226, during the pontificate of Pope Honorius III
1587, during the pontificate ofPope Sixtus V
PATRONAGE CarmelitesChileBoliviaQuiapo,ManilaNew ManilaQuezon City,Malolos CityBulacanCatemaco,AylesfordRoraimaBirkirkara,JaboticabalVallettaPernambuco, protection from harm, protection from dangerous situations, deliverance from Purgatory

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid 13th century. They built in the midst of their hermitages a chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the “Lady of the place.” Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patron saint of Chile.

Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmelalso known as the Brown Scapular, a sacramental associated with promises of Mary’s special aid for the salvation of the devoted wearer. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite named SaintSimon Stock. The liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on 16 July.[1]

The solemn liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was probably first celebrated in England in the later part of the 14th century. Its object was thanksgiving to Mary, the patroness of the Carmelite Order, for the benefits she had accorded to it through its rocky early existence. The institution of the feast may have come in the wake of the vindication of their title “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary” at Cambridge, England in 1374. The date chosen was 17 July; on the European mainland this date conflicted with the feast of St. Alexis, necessitating a shift to 16 July, which remains the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel throughout the Catholic Church. The Latin poem Flos Carmeli (meaning “Flower of Carmel”) first appears as the sequence for this Mass.[2]

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is known to many Catholicfaithful as the “scapular feast,” associated with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a devotional sacramental signifying the wearer’s consecration to Mary and affiliation with the Carmelite Order. A tradition first attested to in the late 14th century says that Saint Simon Stock, an early prior general of the Carmelite Order,[3]had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she gave him the Brown Scapular which formed part of the Carmelite habit, promising that those who died wearing the scapular would be saved.[4]

That there should be a connection in people’s minds between the scapular, the widely popular devotion originating with the Carmelites, and this central Carmelite feast day, is surely not unnatural or unreasonable. But the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel did not originally have a specific association with the Brown Scapular or the tradition of a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1642, a Carmelite named Fr. John Cheron, responding to scholarly criticism that Saint Simon Stock’s vision may not have historically occurred (these doubts are echoed by historians today[5][6]), published a document which he said was a letter written in the 13th century by Saint Simon Stock’s secretary, “Peter Swanington”. Historians conclude that this letter was forged, likely by Cheron himself.[7][8][9] It was nevertheless uncritically embraced by many promoters of the scapular devotion. The forged document’s claim of 16 July 1251 as the date of the vision (16 July being the date of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) subsequently led to a strong association between this feast day, and the scapular devotion, and in the intervening years until the late 1970s, this association with the scapular was also reflected in the liturgy for that day. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as well as that of Saint Simon Stock came under scrutiny after Vatican II due to historical uncertainties, and today neither of these liturgies, even in the Carmelite proper, make reference to the scapular.[10]

In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries Carmen, or María del Carmen has been traditionally a very common girl’s name.

Carmelite devotion to Mary[edit]

The Carmelites see in the Blessed Virgin Mary a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, a model of virtue, as well as the person who was closest in life to Jesus Christ. She is seen as the one who points Christians most surely to Christ, saying to all what she says to the servants at thewedding at Cana, “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.” Carmelites look to the Virgin Mary as a Spiritual Mother.[11] The Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel, named after a traditional title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is considered the spiritual headquarters of the order.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. […] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”[12]

Prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel[edit]

“O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.”

Church teaching[edit]

A 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states that “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”[13]

According to the ways in which the Church has intervened at various times to clarify the meaning and privileges of the Brown Scapular: “The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and pledge. A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an urge to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.”[14]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Purgatory[edit]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with angels and souls in Purgatory. Baroque sculpture from Beniaján(Spain)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been related with Purgatory where souls are purged of sins in the fires, from centuries ago. In some cases, she is shown accompanied with angels and souls wearing Brown Scapulars, who plead for her mediation. In 1613, the Church forbade images of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel descending into purgatory to be made, due to errors being preached about certain privileges associated with the Brown Scapular (“the Sabbatine Privilege“).[15]

That privilege appears in mentioned Decree of the Holy Office (1613), and later was inserted in its entirety (except for the words forbidding the painting of the pictures) into the list of the indulgences and privileges of the Confraternity of the Scapular of Mount Carmel.[16] Today, the Carmelites, while encouraging a belief in Mary’s general aid and prayerful assistance for their souls beyond death, especially her aid to those who devoutly wear the Brown Scapular, and commending devotion to Mary especially on Saturdays which are dedicated to her, do not focus on the Sabbatine Privilege.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel,Palmi.

Apparitions[edit]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel was seen in the apparitions of Fátima, Portugal, by little Lúcia Santos during the miracle of the sun and also appeared to Saint Simon Stock to whom she gave the Brown Scapular.[17] Also, the Garabandal apparitions were reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

Miracles of Our Lady of Mount Carmel[edit]

  • In Palmi on 16 November[18] of each year is commemorated the earthquake of 1894, which had its epicenter in the city and in which an event occurred defined as the “miracle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel”. For 17 days preceding this earthquake many of the faithful had reported strange eye movements and changes in the coloring of the face in a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The local and national press reported these strange occurrences and in the evening of 16 November the faithful improvised a procession carrying the statue on the shoulders of some of the faithful through the streets. When the procession reached the end of the city, a violent earthquake shook the whole district of Palmi,[19] ruining most of the houses along the way of the procession. Only nine people died out of a population of about 15,000 inhabitants, as almost all of the population had been on the street as a result of the procession. Therefore a commemoration of the 1894 procession takes place each year accompanied with the firing of firecrackers, lights and festive stalls.

The Catholic Church has officially recognized the miracle,[20] crowning the statue November 16, 1896 as a result of the decree issued by the Vatican Chapter September 22, 1895.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Peace Movement[edit]

The first atomic bomb was exploded at the Trinity test site on 16 July 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The coincidence between this date and the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has led to a close association between the Catholic anti-war movement and this feast. In 1990, the Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a priest of the Eastern Rite (Byzantine-Melkite) of the Catholic Church, initiated the 16 July Twenty-Four Hours Day of Prayer for Forgiveness and Protection with Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert. Each year on 16 July a prayer vigil is conducted at Trinity site to pray for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Gallery of statues[edit]

Statues of Our Lady of Mount Carmel usually depict her with a Brown scapular.

Christian Sacramentals
A series of articles onScapulars
Escapulariocafe.JPG
General articles
Saint Simon Stock
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Rosary & Scapular
Sabbatine PrivilegeSpecific Scapulars
Mount Carmel (Brown)
Fivefold Scapular
Passion (Red)
Passion (Black)
Seven Sorrows of Mary (Black)
The Archangel (Blue/Black)
Good Counsel (White)
Sacred Heart of Jesus (White)
Immaculate Heart of Mary (White)
Immaculate Conception (Blue)
Green Scapular (Green)
Scapular of Our Lady of Walsingham
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Bede Edwards, OCDS. Carmel Clarion Volume XXI, pp 17–22. “St. Simon Stock—The Scapular Vision & the Brown Scapular Devotion.” July–August 2005, Discalced Carmelite Secular Order, Washington Province.
  2. Jump up^ Bede Edwards, OCDS. Carmel Clarion Volume XXI, pp 17–22. “St. Simon Stock—The Scapular Vision & the Brown Scapular Devotion.” July–August 2005, Discalced Carmelite Secular Order, Washington Province.
  3. Jump up^ Saint Simon Stock
  4. Jump up^ The Carmelites and Antiquity. Mendicants and their Pasts in the Middle Ages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  5. Jump up^ Louis Saggi, O.Carm; Saint Simon Stock (XIII Century) Saint, Priest – Scholarly historical information
  6. Jump up^ Bede Edwards, OCDS. Carmel Clarion Volume XXI, pp 17–22. “St. Simon Stock—The Scapular Vision & the Brown Scapular Devotion.” July–August 2005, Discalced Carmelite Secular Order, Washington Province.
  7. Jump up^ Fr. Paul D’Souza, OCD. The Carmelite Scapular: History and Devotion
  8. Jump up^ Herbert Thurston, S.J., “The Origin of the Scapular – A Criticism.” The Irish Ecclesiastical Record Vol XVI July–December 1904. pp. 59–75. Dublin: Browne & Nolan, Limited. – well researched 1904 journal article demonstrates the falsity of the Swanington letter as well as the forged papal bull that was the basis of the “Sabbatine privilege”, discusses Carmelite history and the facts about the evolution of the scapular devotion etc.
  9. Jump up^ Louis Saggi, O.Carm; Saint Simon Stock (XIII Century) Saint, Priest – Scholarly historical information
  10. Jump up^ Fr. Paul D’Souza, OCD. The Carmelite Scapular: History and Devotion
  11. Jump up^ “The Virgin Mary of MT Carmel – DISCALCED CARMELITE ORDER”www.ocd.pcn.net.
  12. Jump up^ Bede Edwards, OCDS. Carmel Clarion Volume XXI, pp 17–22. “St. Simon Stock—The Scapular Vision & the Brown Scapular Devotion.” July–August 2005, Discalced Carmelite Secular Order, Washington Province. (Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi is quoted in this article)
  13. Jump up^ Doctrinal Statement on the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments, November 29, 1996. Can be found in the publication Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Prepared under the direction of the North American Provincials of the Carmelite Orders. 2000.
  14. Jump up^ Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD, Zenit News Service. Brown Scapular: A Silent Devotion July 16, 2008.
  15. Jump up^ 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia. Sabbatine Privilege — “The Bull [of the Holy Roman General Inquisition 20 January 1613, clarifying what is permissible for the Carmelites to preach regarding the Brown Scapular] forbids the painting of pictures representing, in accordance with the wording of the Bull, the Mother of God descending into purgatory (cum descensione beatae Virginis ad animas in Purgatorio liberandas).”
  16. Jump up^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Sabbatine Privilege
  17. Jump up^ “The Messages of Fatima”Lucia also saw Our Lady of Mount Carmel who signifies the triumph over suffering.
  18. Jump up^ See the wikipedia article on Italian (Italian) 

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