Nothing Is Impossible to God
Often when I introduce myself, people seem surprised. “I thought Carmelites were cloistered?” Occasionally there is a slight tone of suspicion in their voice, as if maybe we were escapees or something. I am always prompt to clarify things for them. While most Carmelite communities are indeed cloistered, we were founded as a contemplative, apostolic congregation. Rest assured, we have not gone AWOL.
In the early part of the last century, the situation of the Church in many parts of the world was difficult and downright dangerous. In Mexico, the Federalist Government was making an all-out attack on the Catholic Church. Many people were terribly afraid. Their priests and religious were being hunted and killed, they could not receive the sacraments regularly, and the vast majority of Tabernacles were empty. It would seem that the sources of spiritual nourishment were no longer available to them.
One of Our Lord’s answers to the prayers of these suffering souls was to raise up a group that could help provide spiritual relief in the midst of pain. He chose Maria Luisa Josefa, a middle aged widow, to be the recipient of a special grace. She was given the gift to unite the deep spirituality of Carmel with active works.
Only God could have come up with such an idea. The Carmelite life is rooted in an ardent pursuit of union with God and is characterized by profound solitude, constant prayer, and recollected silence. It would seem impossible to carry out such a way of life while at the same time serving in healthcare and schools and eventually retreat work.
Ah, but nothing is impossible with God. Here we are, at your service — the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles!