Monday, December 31, 2012

Our Friends at Carmel

The sisters at Carmel sent the enclosed photograph with their Christmas letter.
Carmel of the Holy Trinity - Spokane, WA
The Carmelites live a cloistered life. Named for Mt. Carmel in Israel where St. Elias dwelled as a hermit nine centuries before Christ, the sisters live in solitude and prayer to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was herself the supreme contemplative. In emulating the mother of God, they hope to emulate her love for her Son.
In the aerial view of the monastery pictured above, one can see the Chapel in the first half of the left front wing. The bell tower stands to its right just outside the back entrance to the sisters' choir (where they assist at Mass and chant the Divine Office). The tall Ponderosa pines to the left of the Chapel are in the area they call their  "park." Tucked under them, just outside the enclosure wall, is a small guest house. To the left of the park is a partly enclosed area that will one day house the cemetery for the religious. To the right and in front of this is the apple and pear orchard. Right of the orchard across the gravel path is a circle of plum trees, with an inner circle of lilac trees. To the right of the monastery is the beginning of the spring garden.
At various times of the year the sisters make processions down the center gravel path to the large Crucifix. To the left of the Crucifix is their little "Bethlehem Hermitage," dedicated to the Mystery of Christmas. Say the sisters, "this gives you a little glimpse of God's goodness to us and from where we unite our prayers to yours in praising, thanking and glorifying Him."
It is the thirst for God which leads souls to Carmel. The desire to love Him more and more, to spend one’s life for Him alone, in unceasing adoration, to give Him back "love for Love". In itself, the Carmel can be considered "a visible sign, a sacrament of the presence of God in the world. Its very existence raises a big question mark for the world. The Carmel witnesses that God is there."  - Canon H. Peltier

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