Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Who are you, sweet light that fills me and illumines the darkness of my heart? You guide me like a mother's hand, and if You let me go, I could not take another step. You are the space that surrounds and contains my being. Without you it would sink into the abyss of nothingness from which You raised it into being. You, closer to me than I to myself, more inward than my innermost being -- and yet unreachable, untouchable, and bursting the confines of any name: Holy Spirit -- eternal love! Are you not the sweet manna which flows from the heart of the Son into mine, food for angels and for the blessed? He who from death to life arose, has awakened me, too, to new life, from the sleep of death, new life He gives me day by day. Some day His abundance will completely flow through me, life of Your life -- yes, You Yourself: Holy Spirit -- eternal life!
Are you the ray that flashes from the Eternal Judge's throne to pierce into the night of my soul, which never knew itself? Merciful, yet unrelenting, it penetrates the hidden crevices. The soul takes fright at sight of her own self, makes room for holy awe, for the beginning of that wisdom descending from on high, and anchoring us securely in the heights, -- for Your workings, which create us anew: Holy Spirit -- all-penetrating ray!
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the Most Loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.
O God, You were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as the husband of Mary and the guardian of your Son. Grant that, as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have Him as our intercessor in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Christ: My child, this earthly life is not a lasting home. You were made for an unending life of perfect happiness with Me in heaven. This earth is not a place of rest but of labor. People often spend a good part of their lives working for some earthly goal. Then, after a brief enjoyment of their success, they pass on into eternity. If they are willing to sacrifice so much for a passing earthly goal, how much more willing should you be for an unending heavenly glory?
Do not think that you have found true peace when things run smoothly in your daily life. My peace is given to those who know how to face adversity and endure hardships. Your model is My earthly life. From the hour of my birth until my last breath on the cross, I patiently endured all kinds of adversity.
You, too, would find joy in adversity if you exercised more faith, more humility, more patience, more love for Me, instead of favoring yourself so much. If you had even a passing glimpse of the indescribable glory of Heaven, you would no longer seek what is pleasant and satisfying on earth. You would easily admit that all earthly trials and sufferings are small in comparison with the heavenly reward.
*A Reflection from My Daily Bread by Anthony J. Paone, SJ (1954), Chapter 54: "Intimacy with God," pp. 346-347.
I think Holy Mother Teresa shows to us through her writings and her poetry that a saint as she was, she still had desires, her pain of being separated from her beloved, her longing, her passion; she shows that saints struggled and were challenged, and lived such normal lives. She shows that to be holy, one has to know God, who is everything and in everything. They took me to the prayer of Mother's that we pray each day, but then realizing the first words -- I am yours and born for you...
That we have one purpose in our lives, to find our way back to God, to please Him, to praise Him, to love Him. Each stanza speaks to me of the journey -- knowing who God is and knowing who we are. Thus, we become like mirrors to see ourselves, to see with our hearts to we are and who Jesus is. True wisdom to know who we are...each stage of the spiritual life and how our relationship begins to bloom as we are made aware of our nothingness.
Then our surrender we place all that we are into God's hands. As love turns into true love in this life, nothing matters. Our life depends solely on God, what comes is not important, we take all from what He wills each step becoming who He wants us to be. What we give to Him is complete abandonment of self, our crosses are not crosses, as they become stepping stones of love leading us to Him who becomes our purpose. Then love is transformed into complete surrender to God's will, we become united and begin to live with him.
Christ: You are never alone. I am always with you, ready to share your burdens and solve your problems. I walk with you at every step. No human being is capable of giving you the perfect friendship which I offer you. I know you far better than you know yourself. Do not treat me as a stranger. Come to Me without fear or anxiety. Have confidence in my love and mercy. I prefer to call you friend rather than servant.
Think: At every moment of my life, God is closer to me than anyone else could ever be. I live in the palm of His hand, always present to Him and dependent on Him for every breath. When I am asleep, or preoccupied with cares or pleasures, when my thoughts are far from myself, even then God is thinking of me, interested in me, and keeping me alive. Truly, if I knew how near God is to me at every step, I would live a more peaceful and happier life.
Pray: Frequently throughout the day, I will pause to cast an interior glance at You. You love me more than I could ever love myself. You are my closest companion in my daily journey toward Heaven. Amen.*
*A Reflection from My Daily Bread by Anthony J. Paone, SJ (1954), Chapter 3: "Intimacy with God," pp. 371-372
What is contemplative prayer?
2709 St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.
Contemplative prayer seeks Him "whom my soul loves."
It is Jesus ,and in Him, the Father. We seek Him because to desire Him is always the beginning of love, and we seek Him in that pure faith which causes us to be born in Him and to live in Him. In this inner prayer, we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord Himself.
2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: One makes time for the Lord with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this emotional encounter, in poverty and in faith.
2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: We "gather up" the heart, recollect our whole being into the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter the presence of Him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to us to be purified and transformed.
2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of a child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.
But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the pure and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with His beloved Son.*
*Catechism of the Catholic Church
Through her we may see him
Made sweeter, not made dim
And her hand leaves his light
Sifted to suit our sight.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe (1918)
After I was struck by lightning, meaning when I came to full realization that my God loved me enough to stalk me my whole life until I finally turned to see Him there and fall into His arms, all I knew was that I wanted, I needed to pray more. I knew with all my heart that my God loves me and wants to spend my days with me and because of that, I knew I needed to get to know Him better. He wanted me to talk to him more, to hang out with Him in church and in Adoration. When I knew he wanted me to strengthen my prayer life so that I could better understand His will for my life, suddenly, into my life appeared a Secular Discalced Carmelite group. This group, from what I could tell from the onset, was devoted to prayer and that was exactly what I needed.
Carmelites are called to seek the face of God in prayer. We pray morning prayer, evening prayer, silent prayer, and attempt to pray without ceasing during the course of the day. We seek to be alone with the Great Alone as much as we can. St. John of the Cross says that "He is in your soul so desire him there, adore him there and do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself." He is always with you. Spend time with the One whom we know loves us.
Carmelites have a unique devotion to our Blessed Virgin Mary. We love her as our model and our way to Jesus. St. Louis de Montfort wrote that "God the Holy Ghost, the more He finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in the soul and that soul in Jesus Christ." Additionally, our Blessed Mother exemplifies the authentic life of simplicity, detachment, humility and complete trust in the Lord that we Carmelites attempt to live in our own lives.
If you want to better understand and deepen your relationship with Jesus, come visit us. Know that we are praying for you.
Original reflection by Secular Carmelite
Unaware that this day was any different, on a normal run to the drive-through at a local bank last winter, God awakened me.
Awaiting my turn, I gazed out my window and found myself mesmerized, lost in the wonder, the beauty of something so simple: a tree. My tree became such a source of inspiration, a glance into an interior life with God. Standing in the sun, its leaves gone, nothing adorning it, it had become silent in the winter solace.
Withdrawn from the distractions of the world, standing firm, now it gets its nourishment from within; it turns within for growth and strength. Had anyone noticed its interior solitude and that it will emerge strong and new again in the spring?
I came to understand, so it is with our interior lives. We go within to grow with Christ, without anyone knowing, without anyone seeing, and we emerge as a new creation in Christ. It is our lives of prayer and union with God that nourish us from within. We remove ourselves from the distractions of the world, so that we will emerge as disciples of Christ in the world.
I have watched my tree as new life emerged, the growth as it reaches upward. It became green and moves with the gentle breezes that shade us, providing peace and shelter. In the fall, once again its leaves will turn and begin to be lost as it withdraws from the world. Has anyone noticed its beauty and strength?
Each and every trip to the bank has now become a time of noticing the changes and beauty of the awareness of God. My tree has become a great and continual reminder of a life of solitude, stillness, and prayer, the importance of being with God, being within.