Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday Homily on Monday

A Homily given by Fr. Eric M. Andersen at Sacred Heart Church in Gervais, Oregon, on July 15th, 2012

Dominica XV Per Annum

The twelve apostles are sent out by our Lord to be as prophets. They are set apart, detached from worldly attachments, and without possessions. They speak the word of God, drive out demons and cure diseases. The people who see them will likely think of them as belonging to the same class as Amos the prophet, or Elijah or Elisha the prophets. This way of living simply and poorly, inspired by the apostolic life, has become the inspiration for religious life in its many expressions from the eremitic life, to the mendicant life, to the canonical life. So we have holy monks and nuns, holy hermits and hermitesses, holy friars and sisters, holy canons and cannonesses.

Such a life is inspired by an earlier tradition begun by the prophets and their followers. It is said that the followers of the prophets Elijah and Elisha who continued to live on Mount Carmel were prepared for the coming of Christ by the preaching of St. John the Baptist. These holy men embraced the faith at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when they heard the preaching of the apostles. They were also “permitted to hear the sweet words of the Blessed Virgin and enjoy an unspeakable intimacy with her. They venerated her and were the first to build a chapel in her honor on Mount Carmel “on the very spot where (the prophet St. Elijah) had stood when he saw the little cloud rise up out of the sea” (Gueranger, The Liturgical Year. Vol. 13, p. 113). The cloud was in the shape of a foot as a sign of the foot that would come to crush the head of the ancient serpent.

These men came together in this oratory chapel several times each day “and with pious ceremonies, prayers, and praises honoured the most Blessed Virgin as the special protectress of their Order. For this reason, people from all parts began to call them the Brethren of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel” (Lesson from office of Matins, Breviarium Romanum).
In the twelfth century, during the Crusades, the Holy Land had been freed from the invasion of Muhammedans and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was established. “Many pilgrims from Europe came to swell the ranks of the solitaries on the holy mountain” of Carmel (cf. 113). It became necessary for the hermits living there to organize under a strict religious rule of life according to Western standards. The rule was formalized under Blessed Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and they began to spread throughout the holy land and into southern Europe. In the year 1245, when the Saracens had invaded Jerusalem again, their vindictiveness “reached such a height…that a full assembly” of the order was held and “resolved upon a complete migration” into Europe, “leaving only a few friars eager for martyrdom to guard the cradle of the Order” on Mount Carmel.

In this same year, an English Carmelite, named Simon Stock, was elected the General Superior of the entire Order. When these Carmelite friars migrated to Europe, they experienced difficulty in gaining recognition on the part of certain prelates. These prelates wanted Pope Honorius III to abolish this “new Order”. But on the night between July 15th and 16th in the year of Our Lord 1251, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to the Pope and secured for her dear sons the establishment in the West of the Carmelite Order.

At the same time, she gave to St. Simon Stock the scapular which is a brown piece of cloth worn front and back over the religious tunic. The scapular is a sign of belonging to Mary, under the protection of her mantle. This scapular is worn in miniature by lay people with the promise from our Lady that “whosoever shall die in this habit shall not suffer eternal flames.” She further promised to Pope John XXII “I, their Mohter, will graciously go down to them on the Saturday after their death, and all whom I find in purgatory I will deliver and will bring to the mountain of life eternal.” Pope John XXII quoted these very words of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in a Papal Bull which he promulgated for the purpose of making known this promise of our Lady called the Sabbatine privilege.

Tomorrow (July 16) the Universal Church celebrates this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is a time for us to draw close to her, to wear her scapular, and to amend our lives. She promises to intercede for us. She promises to bring us very close to her Son Jesus. Our Lady of Fatima appeared in her final apparition in 1917 as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the brown scapular in her hands. Sister Lucia said that this was a sign that Our Lady wished her children to wear the scapular as a special sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart for peace on this earth. Let us turn to Mary in this time and consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, wearing the Brown Scapular, for the sake of peace in our world and for the freedom of the Church. 

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