From the Carmelite Sisters to the People of the 21st Century
“Look to the Future with Hope”
“The founders knew how to incarnate in their time the message of the Gospel with strength and holiness. It is necessary that, faithful to the breath of the Holy Spirit, their spiritual children follow in their time this witness, imitating their creativity with mature fidelity to their original charism, ever attentive to the needs of the present moment.”
Pope St. John Paul II
The prophet Elijah was transported up to heaven in a chariot of fire. No photo exists of his fiery trip into the hereafter. No tweets back in those days either.
So, how do we know about it today?
Word of mouth.
The next prophet, Elisha, was with him and saw the whole thing. Elijah had asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken away and Elisha asked if he could receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. And so it was.
Before Elijah entered the fiery chariot, his mantle fell from him and Elisha bent over and picked it up and put it on. Elijah and the chariot were swept up in a whirlwind.
It was the mantle of prophecy.
The prophet is a ‘witness’ or in some cases a ‘messenger’ and that may or may not include prophesying the future.
Have you ever noticed that Carmelites wear mantles?
The next time you see a picture or statue of St. Therese, the Little Flower, notice she is wearing a mantle; St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, our Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters Mother Luisita all wear mantles. The same goes for all of the Carmelite Sisters. The mantle of Carmel.
Ever since the 1200s, the first hermits led a hidden life on Mount Carmel, ‘praying always’ according to their Holy Rule. At times, they would descend the mountain to minister to God’s people as in times of plague or other needs. Then they would return. By prayer, example and by word of mouth they interacted with God’s people. As the centuries passed, the printed word was also used to witness and spread the message of the Gospel.
Fast forward to the 21st Century.
Today in the 21st century, the message is the same. The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ does not change. Carmelites witness still by prayer, example, by word of mouth, and through the written word.
And so much more – would you agree? We live in a world permeated with technology which is exploding exponentially.
Today’s world. How would you describe our culture? A far cry from Elijah’s mountain.
Or is it?
A new generation, thirsting for God and seeking truth, are being moved by the Holy Spirit to give prophetic witness as Carmelites, to be messengers of the Gospel and they, too are on fire with zeal for the Lord God of hosts and for spreading His kingdom.
They are here. They are ready. They are as Pope St. John Paul requested
“. . . creative with mature fidelity to the original charism, ever attentive to the needs of the present moment.”
Where do we go from here?
So, as we ask the question “Where do we go from here?” the Carmelite Sisters are bringing the message of the Gospel through healthcare, education and retreats to the wounded, confused, and spiritually-attacked world of the 21st century, above all through our hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and
By word of mouth
Through the printed word
By any appropriate communication channel available to the twenty-first century.
But most of all face-to-face like Jesus did.
ROOTS AND WINGS: OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE IN HEALTHCARE, EDUCATION AND RETREATS:
Who knows what the future holds? Not one of us. We can guess; we can strategize; or we can just ignore reality and put our heads in the sand as the saying goes. Our community began as a solution to current needs. Mother Luisita saw indigent people with no access to medical care, education or religious instruction. She began a hospital, a school, and a Sunday school. She did whatever she could, in her time, with the means she had at her disposal, to meet these needs to bring about a better quality of life.
This, then, is the launching pad of our vision for the 21st Century.
What are the needs?
What can we do, today, with the means at our disposal, to meet the needs of tomorrow?
Our society needs a transformation in health services for the seniors of today and tomorrow. This transition is happening now, spearheaded by the Carmelite Sisters. Senior living at Avila, Marycrest Manor, or Santa Teresita is an upgrade to an enhanced living where camaraderie and friendship in a close-knit family setting provide a strong support system for emotional growth. Faith is nurtured and strengthened by daily Mass and other religious activities with the loving support and guidance of the Carmelite Sisters.
The fear, isolation, and boredom amidst our senior population today is huge and projections show it increasing exponentially. Financial fears, health fears, social fears abound within the hearts of our seniors, most especially the infirm, sick, and frail elderly.. Downsizing from a dearly-cherished home, becoming isolated from family and friends, and living in boredom without the joy of looking forward – these are the issues we are addressing through our new paradigm of health care.
At Santa Teresita in Duarte, we are in the process of building a Neighborhood of Care. Our newest cottage on campus, designed for our elders who need assisted living, does away with the institutional hallways, hospital feel, and cafeteria of a traditional nursing home. Walking into Good Shepherd Cottage feels like walking into your own home. A warm, comfortable living room, complete with entertainment center, a dining room and kitchen, a deck with a barbecue and picnic table, individual rooms and suites, all built to be a home to the 20+ seniors who live there. Our vision for Santa Teresita includes more of these cottages for various levels of care as well as a Town Center and beautiful grounds for our seniors to enjoy.
Our children here in the United States have so much. So why are they so sad, lacking hope and purpose, feeling left out and scared? What is the cause of this? The United States has a high standard of living so if the cause is not material, what is it?
We live in a culture of productivity and utilitarianism where persons are valued most for what they can do. Our paradigm of education counters this with the truth that the value of the human person is found in who they are rather than in ability or productivity. Preparation for college and a career are very important but they take a backseat to preparation for life. In our schools we educate for LIFE with the mind and heart of Christ, seeking academic excellence while forming our students in their relationship with Christ and with others.
Our schools are more than academic institutions. In an atmosphere imbued with the love of Christ, our students experience a family atmosphere in our schools. Our vision for education is to continue to offer a safe haven where our children can thrive academically, socially, and spiritually, building a strong foundation for LIFE.
Everyone gets physically tired from time to time. The same is true of our spirits, our souls. We need time away to refresh our souls and re-vitalize our life, restoring perspective and meaning to everything we are and do. We need quality time with Our Lord, to think and meditate, to pray and heal from the wounds life has afflicted upon us. Going on retreat offers a time of spiritual renewal, refreshment, and healing.
Having a place where we could offer retreats was one of Mother Luisita’s dreams. We live that dream every day at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California. In America, we take good care of our bodies but we neglect our souls. Our mission of promoting a deeper spiritual life among God’s people is tangible at Sacred Heart Retreat House.
In a world which is noisy, we offer silence.
In a world where we are never alone, we offer solitude.
In a world where we are constantly busy, we offer rest.
God invites every soul to an intimate encounter with Him. Our vision is to provide a place where every soul can hear that invitation and respond.
To You, Our Dear Friends:
Each morning as we put on our white mantles, we remember Elijah and the Carmelite mantle of prophecy or witness. Our constitutions say that when all is said and done our primary apostolate is the witness of our life of consecration.
We were called. We are sent.
Where are we going?
To promote a deeper spiritual life among God’s people.
By word of mouth…
Through the printed word…
By any appropriate communication channel available to the twenty-first century… But most of all face-to-face like Jesus did.
Would you like to join us in this journey?
“You have not only a glorious history to remember and recount but also a great history still to be accomplished! Look to the future where the Spirit is sending you to do even greater things.”