Note: Fr. Ed’s homily for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is now available online! Click here to listen.
Why Our Lady of Mount Carmel?
Praised be Jesus Christ! This is the standard greeting that members of the Carmelite Order often use to greet each other as well as visitors to their monasteries. This greeting typifies the heart of the Carmelite life, to spend it in praise of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So what does that have to do with us, and what happened to the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time?
As many of you are aware, there are many members of Christ the King who belong to or are affiliated in some way with the Carmelites, e.g., those who formally belong to our Secular Carmelite Group, which meets every month at the parish, and all those who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular. In the Church, there are different calendars that may be celebrated and those who participate in the Discalced Carmelites, especially through one of those two ways just mentioned, have the option of observing special feasts according to the Carmelite Calendar. Because I am a Secular Carmelite and we have so many in the parish as well, we have chosen to celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel this weekend instead of the Sunday in Ordinary Time. This feast is only a memorial in the general calendar of the Church, but for all who share in this Carmelite family, it has the status of a solemnity. As we continue to celebrate the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima, it seemed particularly appropriate to continue to honor the Mother of God during this special time.
Mary, Mother of God and Spouse of the Spirit
The Mother of God is of great importance to us as Catholics. During this year that is also the 50th anniversary of the current Catholic Charismatic Renewal, publicly celebrating this feast is also a reminder to us of her who is referred to by the Church as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Mother of God was also there in the Upper Room when the fire fell two millennia ago, and she received the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit even as the rest of them did. She had already received totally unique gifts of the Holy Spirit in her life, which we celebrate when we remember the Immaculate Conception and the great Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Himself, accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit after this gentle virgin from Nazareth said “yes” to the great Archangel.
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council considered issuing a special document just on Mary, but decided it would be far better and more impactful if they included a chapter on Mary in their most important document: the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. In it they reminded all of us of the gift that the Mother of God is to the Church and how each of us is called, in our own way, to respond to the gift that the Lord Jesus made of her to us even as He was dying on the Cross, when He declared her to be our Mother and us to be her children.
An Essential Component to Our Relationship with Jesus
Pope St. John Paul the Great had four basic spiritual themes that he returned to over and over again in his teachings to us. It was his earnest desire that all the People of God would fully embrace each of them, making them part of their personal and parish spirituality. The four are that each Catholic and each Catholic parish should be charismatic, contemplative, Marian, and Eucharistic. He saw these as essential components to our relationship with the Lord Jesus, and constantly urged us to develop each, both individually and communally.
In that regard, as we celebrate this feast, now is a particularly good time to consider our relationship with the Mother of God and ask ourselves: how do we choose to honor her and relate to her as individuals, as families, and as a parish? As we ask for the ongoing assistance of the Holy Spirit to help each of us to be the man or woman of God He has called us to be, calling on the assistance of her intercession for us is a great gift to help us attain that. Let us plead with the Lord Jesus that each of us would have the relationship with His Mother that He intends for us to have. Then we will have opened ourselves to this great grace that the Church has, for ages, invited us to receive! —Fr. Ed