Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, fearsome prophet (Fr. Steve Grunow)


  The Mother of God is the patroness of the Order of Carmelites, professed men and women religious who trace their spiritual lineage to the prophet Elijah, who lived on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land.  The Mt. Carmel of Elijah would have been a strange, off-putting place to us.  The prophets of Israel were not simply solitary figures, but guilds or bands who inhabited the wilderness of Mt. Carmel.  These prophets would have been fearsome folks, known for their asceticism, trances, and visions, associated with powers that to the modern mind would seem like sorcery.  To us, accustomed to a religion that is benignly therapeutic, they would seem wild, untamed and dangerous.

  How many of us imagine Our Lady as being anything like those prophets?  Or like Elijah?  She is likely for most of us a gentle woman who speaks quiet words of wisdom and consolation.  And this is true.  But it is not the whole truth of the Mother of our Lord. 

  Our Lady does not speak often in the Scriptures, but what she does say is always significant.  Her longest speech in the Bible is known to us as the Magnificat.  If we consider her words, we might note with surprise that there is something fierce about the mother of Christ.  She speaks in her Magnificat like Elijah.  Her words testify to the Lord who arrives with all his power to set right a world gone wrong.

  Remember this:  without God and what God has done for us in Christ, nothing of who we are matters at all.  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel shouts this truth out to a world absorbed in the ego and preoccupied with the trivial.  She speaks and tells us, as Elijah and the prophets did centuries ago, to repent and believe.  For the Lord in his might is coming and he is coming to set this world right.

--Fr. Steve Grunow, 
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Word on Fire

To read Fr. Grunow’s complete article on the Word on Fire blog, click here.

Image source:  Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Mill Valley, https://www.facebook.com/mountcarmelmv/

Monday, July 15, 2019

Know the heart of God (Henri Nouwen)


  In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.  In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.  It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.  It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer consolation and hope.

--Henri Nouwen, 
In the Name of Jesus


Sunday, July 14, 2019

God is terribly vulnerable (Jean Vanier)


  My experience today is much more the discovery of how vulnerable God is.  You see, God is so respectful of our freedom.  If, as the Epistle of John says – that God is love, anyone who has loved in their life knows they’ve become vulnerable – where are you and the other person? Do you love me back?  So, if God is love, it means that God is terribly vulnerable.  And God doesn’t want to enter into a relationship where he’s obliging or she is obliging us to do something.  The beautiful text in the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation:  I stand at the door, and I knock.  If somebody hears me and opens the door, then I will enter.

  What touches me there is God knocking at the door, not kicking the door down but waiting. Do you, will you open?  Do you hear me?  Because we’re in a world where there’s so much going on in our heads and our hearts and anxiety and projects that we don’t hear God knocking at the door of our hearts.  So, I’d say that what touches me the deepest, maybe because I’m becoming, myself, more vulnerable, is the discovery of the vulnerability of God, who doesn’t oblige.

--Jean Vanier, The Wisdom of Tenderness

To read the complete interview with Jean Vanier on On Being, click here.

Image source: Ivan Whillock, Knock on Any Door, http://www.whillock.com/religious.html