For the past two days we have celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Immaculate Heart Province at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill. Yesterday during the vigil celebration, scapulars were distributed to a standing-room-only crowd in the St. Therese Chapel, and dozens of people showed their affection for Our Lady by leaving flowers near her statue while praying for her patronage.
The enthusiasm of yesterday’s vigil was visibly echoed today. This morning’s Mass was concelebrated by the members of the Carmelite Community. It was a glorious Mass! Each year I look forward to hearing the Flos Carmeli chanted as the Sequence before the Gospel. This exquisite hymn was composed in the 12thcentury by St. Simon Stock, to whom Our Lady appeared on this date, presenting the Brown Scapular to the Carmelite Order.
Flos Carmeli, Flower of Carmel
Vitis florigena, Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor caeli, Splendor of Heaven
Virgo puerperal Childbearing yet maiden.
Singularis None equals thee.
Mater mitis Mother so tender,
Sed viri nescia Who no man didst know,
Carmelitis On Carmel’s children
Esto propitia Thy favors bestow.
Stella Maris Star of the Sea
Radix Iesse Strong Stem of Jesse,
Germinans flosculum Who bore one bright flower
Nos ad esse Be ever near us
Tecum in saeculum and guard us each hour
Patiaris. Who serve thee here.
Inter spinas Purest of Lilies
Quae crescis lilium That flowers among thorns,
Serva puras Bring help to the true heart
Mentes fragilium That in weakness turns
Tutelaris and trusts in thee.
Armatura Strongest of Armor
Fortis pugnatium We trust in thy might:
Furunt bella Under thy Mantle
Tende praesidium Hard pressed in the fight,
Scapularis. We call to thee.
Per incerta Our way uncertain
Prudens consilium Surrounded by foes,
Per adversa Unfailing counsel
Iuge solatium You give to those
Largiaris. Who turn to thee.
Mater dulcis O Gentle Mother,
Carmeli domina Who in Carmel reigns,
Plebem tuam Share with your servants
Reple laetitia That gladness you gained
Qua bearis. And now enjoy.
Paradisi Hail Gate of Heaven,
Clavis et ianua With Glory now crowned,
Fac nos duci Bring us to safety
Quo, Mater, Gloria Where they Son is found,
Coronaris. Amen True Joy to see.
As the Gospel was proclaimed, I thanked Our Lord for the vocations of the faithful Carmelites world-wide. The line from today’s Gospel: “Woman behold your Son; Son behold your Mother (John 19:26-27),” really seemed to transcend this celebration. From her throne of grace in Paradise, Our Lady was surely beholding the sanctuary full of her faithful sons; and likewise, their attention was magnificently directed in admiration to their beloved Mother.
As the Mass drew to a close, and the Salve Regina was chanted by the Carmelite Community (along with pews full of devoted pilgrims), a quiet joy enveloped the church. The beauty of the moment hung in the air, mingling with the sweet-scented incense. After the Mass, the homeschoolers had a little procession of their own, singing beautiful Marian hymns and glorifying Our Lord by honoring His beloved Mother.
Later, my children and I walked down to the 7thoutdoor station, behind which the Carmelite cemetery rests under the shadow of the basilica towers. We were there to pay our respects to those beloved Carmelite friends who were celebrating this feast in Eternity, and to request their intercession for our temporal and spiritual needs. The Communion of Saints is such an awesome expression of God’s love for humanity!
As today’s intercessions from the Divine Office state:
“With ultimate generosity and love, You gave Mary as a mother to Your beloved disciple. Help us to live as worthy sons of so noble a Mother.”
As Mary’s adopted children, may we seek her providential care, and find shelter amid the folds of scapular. May we indeed be worthy children of so noble a Mother.
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,