Carmelite Conversations
Mt. Zion with Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS

Mt. Zion with Deacon Rusty Baldwin, OCDS

October 14, 2020

Mountains are a privileged place of prayer.  Jesus often went up the mountain to pray.  In Hebrews 12:22-24 we are invited to come to Mt. Zion, the City of the Living God.  What is this call?  How should we answer this call?  What is our responsibility in answering this call?  Mt. Zion is a place of prayer, consolation and growth.  But…don’t just stay there!  We have work to do!  Deacon Russell Baldwin, OCDS, shares his reflection on Mt. Zion to help us answer those questions.

St Elizabeth of the Trinity and prayer to the Trinity

St Elizabeth of the Trinity and prayer to the Trinity

December 18, 2019
What would it be like to fully experience the Trinity dwelling in you at all times.? What might it be like to live with continual spiritual guidance and direction, to experience rest and consolation, to know that you are confirmed in reality of an eternal destiny of unimaginable peace, and, most importantly, what would it be like to live in continual peace?
 
If any or all of these conditions of existence sound intriguing to you, then this specific podcast on the Prayer to the Trinity, of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity is worth a listen. Here in this Carmelite Conversation, Mark and Frances walk you through Elizabeth's prayer to the Trinity, with assistance of a commentary on the prayer written by a Mother Amabel of the Heart of Jesus, a French Carmelite Nun.
 
There are a number of striking observations from the prayer, and also expanded upon in the commentary. The first is the call to become utterly forgetful of self. This is a message that often sounds strange to the modern generation, but it is a first prerequisite to anyone who desires to embark on the path to holiness and transformation in Christ. By beginning to place Christ first in our life, we will begin to understand how it is that He will be able to eventually take over our life and begin to literally live His life through us.
 
Another equally important requirement for us to begin to encounter the Trinity, is that we must be at peace in our own hearts and souls. This is not something we can achieve on our own, we must pray, indeed, we must plead with the Lord to give us this peace. For it is nothing other than the peace He promised us when He told His disciples He would give them a peace the world could not give. (John 14:27)
 
When we come to experience this peace, we need to be prepared to abandon everything in favor of remaining with the Lord, deep in the interior of our souls. We need to be prepared to offer Christ our very souls as His shelter, His place of repose and His dwelling place. He desires this from each of us.
 
We must also know that though we are powerless to offer ourselves in this way, we can rely on the fire of the Holy Spirit to prepare our souls for this coming, in exactly the same way the Holy Spirit prepared the Blessed Mother to both receive and later give birth to, or Incarnate Christ into the world through us.
 
Finally, we must learn to surrender ourselves to this complete absorption into the Three Persons of the Trinity, where we will discover infinite Solitude and the beginnings of an eternal Beatitude, which is nothing less than the promise of eternal life. 
 
If you are looking for a guide to this journey to the interior of your soul, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and her powerful prayer, along with the commentary, are a very good place to look.

 

The language of God, with Deacon Rusty Baldwin

The language of God, with Deacon Rusty Baldwin

December 9, 2019

This is an episode in the monthly series of talks by Deacon Rusty Baldwin, a Secular Discalced Carmelite who gives a presentation to our Community in Dayton each month. These are recorded live during our Holy Hours. In this program, Deacon Baldwin discusses the language of God.

The Lord Thy God is a Consuming Fire:  St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Dark Night of the Spirit

The Lord Thy God is a Consuming Fire: St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Dark Night of the Spirit

August 7, 2019

After the great grace of “Deus Caritas Est/God is Love,” the Discalced Carmelite St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart of Jesus enters a stage of marked passivity in which God is purifying her soul.  This stage is referred to as the Dark Night of the Spirit and falls in the 6thMansion of the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila.  How does this purification through the dark rays of contemplation occur?  Why is it so painful?  St. John of the Cross uses the analogy of the log of wood and the fire to describe the process of purification of this more interior, darker night.  He also portrays the journey in this Dark Night of Spirit as going up a Secret Mystical Ladder of Love made up of 10 steps.  What are those steps? How do they differ from each other?  How is a soul in this darkest of nights described?  What kind of language does St. Teresa Margaret use to describe her interior sufferings?  What can we learn from all of this?

Deus Caritas est

Deus Caritas est

July 11, 2019
It is often convenient for us to imagine that the Saints all had a continuing series of mystical experiences throughout their lives. It is believed then, that these experiences are what drew them to holiness, complete transformation and ultimately union with Christ. It is simply easier for many of us to imagine that the Saints were just special people, and by consequence, we could not really be expected to be raised to their degree of holiness. However, in the case of the young Saint from Florence, Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this is simply not the case. It is true that she heard an interior voice early in her life that she later believed to have been St. Teresa of Avila, and that voice communicated to her that she would one day join a Carmelite convent. But it is also true that Teresa Margaret had been preparing herself for some years to listen to the spiritual voices who may wish to speak with her. We can all do the same. The final, if we want to use the word mystical, experience Teresa Margaret had, was to experience deep within her spirit the reality of the words: Deus Caritas est, which in Latin means, God is Love. Again, Teresa Margaret had been preparing and dedicating her life in the convent to be prepared for just such an experience of the internal communication from God. Her heart was well tilled to receive the seed of God's flowering love within her soul. This preparation on her part included prayer, silence, simplicity, humility, practicing the presence of God and yes, even accepting suffering, most especially the mortification of her own will. None of these practices are extraordinary, and indeed, they may all be practiced, to some degree, by all of us. And it is to that degree that we will have prepared our hearts to receive whatever it is that God, in His wisdom, wishes to communicate to us, individually.
St. Teresa Margaret and the Practice of the Presence of God

St. Teresa Margaret and the Practice of the Presence of God

July 3, 2019

One of the single most important disciplines we can adopt is the continual practice of the presence of God in our lives. This practice is not achieved by simply thinking about God be everywhere, though certainly He is all around us as well as in us, and we should take great comfort in this reality. Beyond this, however, we should recognize that the real challenge of the practice of the presence of God, is for us to make ourselves present to Him. It is for us to be continually aware that He is looking at us with His loving gaze, and that we should constantly be desiring to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. In this program, France Harry takes us through the very practical means St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart used to keep herself continually aware of and present to God. The central focus of Teresa Margaret's practice was her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In this regard, she not only fulfilled all of the communities requirements for adoration, but she also remained constantly disposed to a state of adoration whenever she was anywhere near where the Blessed Sacrament was retained. She would literally genuflect towards the room where the tabernacle was kept, whenever she entered the hallway outside that room. She was known to rest her head on the wall, while sitting on a bench, just outside the same room. Just as important as these physical gestures directed toward the Blessed Sacrament, were Teresa Margaret's charitable commitment to her sisters in the convent. She realized that because she herself could not actually serve Christ in a physical way, she would have to find Christ in all the individuals she came in contact with in her life in Carmel. Regardless of whether these individuals responded to her with equal charity, Teresa Margaret always labored to be as kind and patient towards everyone as she could. Indeed, if there were some who may have treated her with disdain, and some did, then Teresa Margaret sought to serve these women all the more. She always maintained the guidance provide to her by our Lord:
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,] you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40-45)

If you are seeking a little guidance, some encouragement, and a model for how to advance in the practice of the presence of God, then this is a very valuable program to help provide you all three.

For the Return of the Prodigal Catholic

For the Return of the Prodigal Catholic

June 28, 2019

Do you have a loved one who was raised Catholic and is no longer practicing their faith? Do you wish there was something you could do to help bring them “home?” Carmelite Conversations host, Frances Harry, interviews Teresa Gooding, a Secular Order Discalced Carmelite, on the “St. Monica Ministry” that she was inspired to introduce to her parish, in Beavercreek, OH. What is the St. Monica Ministry? Here is the answer as quoted from the book, St. Monica Ministry, by Dr. Jack Buchner: “The St. Monica Ministry is a pastoral outreach to all those adults who have friends and relatives who are not active in their practice of the Catholic faith at this time. Through the virtues of faith and persistent prayer, we hope to become more like St. Monica in our conviction that the grace of Christ will change hearts and lives. We hope to draw closer to God, thereby placing our trust and faith in God and His timing as it relates to our loved ones.” We continue the conversation discussing the basis of the formation of this ministry (in the life of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine), what happens at a St. Monica Ministry meeting, and what are the guiding principles governing this ministry. What sources are used? What are the fruits of this ministry? For anyone who has fallen to their knees in prayer regarding a prodigal Catholic, this podcast will be helpful. “St. Monica, intercede for us!”

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 2)

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 2)

April 18, 2019

Building upon last week’s conversation and using the spiritual navigational tools of 1) rest on the bosom of Jesus/in His Heart/in adoration; 2) embrace Jesus in the night via night vigils; 3) silence the faculties of the soul and listen interiorly to the Lord, Mark and Frances share a perspective on the actions of St. Peter during Holy Week and how that applies to the purification of the memory and the advancement of the soul in receiving God’s love. Mark also brings up a movie, called The Mission, which exemplifies the points we are trying to make. When seen through the eyes of both a Hermit and Crusader spirit, we see how important prayer is before action, which is also the call of Secular Discalced Carmelite.

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 1)

A Journey to the Deep Interior of the Soul (part 1)

April 12, 2019

The life of contemplation is itself a lifetime journey. Just as with any significant journey, and there is no more important journey then the journey to the interior of our soul, we must make preparations. We must understand the mode of transportation we will use for different parts of the journey, and we have a few means of navigation to ensure we stay on course, or that we are able to find our way back on course if we should become lost. Finally, we must be able to anticipate the obstacles that we may encounter along the way. In this first of a series of conversations, Mark and Frances discuss the work we must do in our prayer life to allow us to advance, and to make sure we can stay on the right path. Beginning with the very foundation of the Order of Carmel, they offer a series of practical tips and a narrative explanation of how the journey of faith, guided by contemplation, might play out in someone's life. This particular program is an excellent introduction to an understanding of how the memory can serve as an impediment to our progress in the life of prayer. More importantly, through the introduction of various means of navigation, they present solid advice on how on anyone can learn to avoid the obstacles along the journey.

Fifteen Days of Prayer with Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene and the Child Jesus (part 2)

Fifteen Days of Prayer with Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene and the Child Jesus (part 2)

January 23, 2017

In this second part of the two part series titled, 'Fifteen Days of Prayer with Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene and the Child Jesus,' Mark and Frances explore more deeply the need for each of us, as we begin to make more progress in prayer, to begin to dispose ourselves more completely to the Lord's will. Our entire lives must become a total self-giving in exactly the same way as Christ gave Himself to His Father's will. This of course requires a great deal of confidence in God's faithfulness to His promise that He will always be with us, even if quite often His presence seems hidden. We must also begin to develop more intensely the virtue of Hope, which is often discovered in the midst of our spiritual poverty. Fr. Marie-Eugene teaches that we must become audacious in our trust, but we must also understand that God's action in our lives is to be found in the little, often monotonous events that make up our days. He also teaches that we draw strength from the realization that Christ is always with us, not only as our model, but also as our servant, as demonstrated by His willingness to wash the feet of His disciples. As one of the more outspoken proponents for our reliance on the Holy Spirit, Fr. Marie-Eugene advocates not only our need to pray to the Holy Spirit, but also to allow the Spirit to transform our prayer life from one of transforming ourselves, to one of transforming the world around us. Finally, as any good Carmelite, Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene strongly encourages us to rely on the intercession of the Blessed Mother. No matter where you find yourself in your prayer life today, this two part series will have something to offer you to help move to the next level of intimacy with our Lord.

RESOURCES:
Scripture:
Lk 23:46, Romans 8:20; Mt 5:3; Mk 10:45; Jn 13:8; 1 Jn 4:19; Acts 10:38

Books:
“Fifteen Days of Prayer with Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, Carmelite, Founder of Notre-Dame de Vie” by Roselyn Declare and Joelle Guichard; St. Paul’s.

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