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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today is the Feast of All Carmelite Souls

by Fr. Emiel Abalahin, O.Carm.
The homes of most people do not consist of a mere wooden frame or a cement foundation; rather, they are constructed from a great variety of materials, and more often than not, the result of the participation of more than one or two people.  So, too, the Order of Carmel continues to grow and develop today because of the presence and contributions of all those who built upon its spiritual foundations, and not just its great saints.
On this commemoration of All Carmelite Souls, we call to mind all of these people and their part in the heritage that has been handed down to us.  These brothers and sisters of ours may not have been famous spiritual writers nor renowned for extraordinary experiences of prayer, but they made their mark on the Order and on each of us through their own efforts to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ in service to the Order and to the Church.  Whether as priests or brothers, nuns or sisters, consecrated lay or third order members, they brought the spirit of Carmel to their daily lives and to all those around them.  Others were not official members of the Order, but through their generosity of time, talent and support, encouraged us Carmelites to an ever-deeper fidelity to our vocation.
But this day is not simply a day for remembering.  It is also a day in which the Order prays especially for these souls in an act of faith that trusts in the mercy and promises of Jesus Christ himself, “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) who assures us that the will of the Father is that he should not lose anything of what he gave him, but that he should raise it on the last day (John 6:39).  Through our prayer, united to the intercession of Mary, we ask God to look upon our sisters and brothers in His infinite and great mercy (cf. Isaiah 55:7-11), and call them home.  At the same time, our supplications are also for our departed Carmelites, encouraging them to move toward God with great trust that what they believed in, experienced and lived for during their earthly lives will now come to be fully realized in the eternal Divine embrace.
For us, too, who remain in this earthly existence, this day serves as an important reminder that this terrestrial life is merely a passing moment, a brief sojourn towards a more vibrant and permanent reality.  This commemoration, therefore, is an invitation to prioritize our lives in such a way that reflects this future hope, letting go of all that makes us waste our time and efforts and prevents us from striving toward the goal of eternal life in God.  These faithfully departed souls for whom we pray help us to understand that we are not alone on this pilgrimage because they have also traveled this same path to eternity.
So let us remember and pray for our Carmelite dearly departed in a special way today, giving thanks for all that they have done, and praying that they may enjoy their eternal rest.  In doing so, we continue to participate in the building up of the household of God, this house of many mansions (John 12:4), of which our brothers and sisters, and we ourselves, are invited to one day claim as our eternal home.

Gathered together by the same love for Christ and homage toward his greatly loved Mother, the members of the Family of Carmel continue to love one another fraternally, whether they are committed in the struggle for Christ on this earth, or after this long earthly pilgrimage, they wait for the glorious vision of the Lord. This is why the whole Order, united in prayer, recommends to the mercy of God the deceased brothers and sisters so that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, pledge of sure hope and of joy, he may accept them among the glorious choirs of Saints.
Just as the love of Christ and the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary have brought us together in a single family, fraternal charity unites those of us still striving to lead a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ in this world, and those already awaiting the vision of God in purgatory.  Today the whole Order commends our departed brothers and sisters to God’s mercy through the intercession of Our Lady, sure sign of hope and consolation, and begs for their admission to the courts of heaven.
When November 15 falls on a Sunday, the Commemoration is celebrated on the following day.
All as in the Breviary for November 2nd, Office of the Dead, except the following:
you are the glory of those who serve you.
Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters,
united in following Christ and his Mother
by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel .
In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you
their Creator and Redeemer.
We ask this through our Lord.

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