Today is my favorite Marian Feast Day! (Obviously.)
If you can relate to this mournful song at any level, Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child, I want to extend you a personal invitation to check out the Carmelite Order. Maybe you'll feel at home in the Brown Scapular Society or maybe you have a vocation to the Lay Carmelite Order.
Two of our Three Famous Doctors of the Church (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux) both lost their Mothers at traumatic times during their childhoods. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was emotionally abandoned by her Mom. (Her Mom got bitten by a snake during a family vacation. The venom caused all kinds of physical problems and turned her Mom into someone as mean as a snake. The Mom emotionally abused Elizabeth her whole life, including some dreadful episodes while she was a Carmelite nun).
St. Edith Stein had a great relationship with her Jewish Mom, until she read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and became an instant convert to the Catholic Faith. Her Mom never forgave her and died while they were still estranged. St. Edith was so traumatized by her spiritual betrayal of her Mom that Jesus had to do quiet a number on her heart before she felt calm enough to continue with her Carmelite profession years later.
We can all remember the Emma Lazarus Poem inscribed on the base of the Statute of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." That same red carpet welcome extends outward from the Carmelite order. We're a merry band of misfits who make up a tight-knit "Band of Brothers and Sisters" under Mary's protective brown apron strings.
Here is a picture of the actual Mount Carmel in Israel.
For a girl who grew up in the Mountains, I was stunned to discover that Mount Carmel doesn't look all that impressive from afar. (Jon and I joke that we're doing all this hard spiritual work of prayer and detachment in order to climb up a hill versus a mountain. That's a sign of how pathetic we are!)
Mount Carmel is cool, however, for supporting a luxurious amount of plant and animal life in the middle of a harsh desert. The Israeli Tourist Board notes "Mount Carmel's proximity to the sea gives the mountain a large amount of precipitation, which enable the growth of well developed Mediterranean groves. That is why it is often referred to as the "evergreen mountain."
The Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is spiritually nourishing to its members as well. If you find yourself in a position to emotionally nourish others often-- as a parent, teacher, cop, nurse, etc.--please ask God if it's His Will for you to join the Carmelite Order. Caregiving takes a toll on the soul. For me, personally, there is no better way replenish myself emotionally than to hang out for a few hours with my Carmelite family either in person, in meditation, or doing spiritual reading.
Bless all of you on this awesome Feast Day. Remember that Our Blessed Mother loves you in an intimate and special way!