OCDS Conference: Columbus, Ohio Feb., 15, 1994 Fr. William Healy
Summary of Pre-conference Discussion of Directives from Rome and Wisconsin
1. Appeal for money to support the transportation of Carmelite priest to come to meetings, and to support the work of the monastery in Milwaukee (since taking time to travel to meetings supplants income which could otherwise be earned from local parish work in Milwaukee). Basic total amount for transportation is $264.30. The monastery (for example) recently only recovered $24 after expenses. Contributions are vital to continue the visits by the priests. (Some system needs to be implemented by each chapter to increase and make a constant the donations)
2. Every community is to obey the following directives from Rome: a. Voting by the counsel is not to be done by phone! It must be done when the whole counsel is assembled: the president, the counselors, the master or mistress of formation, etc. They must be present. The votation must be conducted in this manner and no other: 1) the proposition is first made (always in the positive, i.e., this is what we are voting for, or for whom we are voting) 2) each counsel member is to be given a chance to discuss the vote, pro and con, and exchange ideas, one with the other, 3) then the votation is secret (the vote may be made using + = agree, and - = disagree, so that no one will recognize handwriting). Fold up the paper and present the votes to the president. Once the votes are presented to the president, the vote cannot be changed! The decision is final. This is why telephone conversations are not to be used-one person may raise a point which will cause another person to react, etc.-telephone conversations do not permit this.
b. A social period is mandatory. It is suggested that the officers, especially, will break the formality. We are to get to know each others as brothers and sisters and friends, not merely as conference attendees.
c. Formation must deal with: 1) Method of Carmelite meditation (the book, The Little Cathecism of Prayer, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene is a good source for this).
We are not obliged to use the method personally, but we must know the method and be able to teach the method to others. The method: 1) An act of the presence of God- putting yourself in His presence, along with an act of faith, hope and charity, 2) Meditation proper-if you are reading a book, use no more than three paragraphs, and ask yourself in the presence of God, how have I lived up to what has been read in the past, how is it being lived up to today, and what can be done in the future, to improve in a positive way. Memory and understanding are exercised in reviewing the past, the intelligence and understanding are used to look at the present, and the will is used to decide how to implement the future. The is the meditatio n proper, 3) the word, T-O-P summarizes the next and most important part of the prayer, which is a conversation with God-Thanksgiving to God for all that one has and is, for all of the graces offered (if this is the sum of the half hour of prayer, don't change!), Offering of oneself and one's life to God to do with as He sees fit, and Petitions for ourselves and those who have asked for our prayers. Little by little, words will disappear and one will find contemplation-without any words at all one will recognize the presence of God in one's life. Another good book on prayer is, Conversation with Christ, by Peter Thomas Roherbach (sp?). Available from Washington (ICS Press).
2) About the Carmelite doctrines and saints.
Start with the Little Flower. We are certain that she will soon be declared a doctor of the church because of: 1) the appreciation of time (she said that from the age of three she refused the Good God nothing, and also the prayer, "Lord, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray, but keep me, My God, just for today"-living one day at a time), 2) she will be made the doctor of love, because, as she points out, when St. Paul talks about the mystical body, and says that each member of the Church has a function, some as arms, some as hands, etc., she said, "He forgot the heart." "I will be the heart of the church, and that will be the personality (?transcribe) for everyone," she said.
3)The Office-please teach everyone how to say the Office privately as well as publicly. It is the prayer of the Church, and is recognized by everyone.
Basically, our whole Carmelite spirituality depends upon your adapting yourself to the presence of God as only you can do it in your personal and your individual life. You are always in God's presence, as if you were the only person God every made, but the question arises, "How often do you think of Him throughout the day?" There's no such thing as an unimportant moment in your life, because every moment of your life is witnessed by the Trinity who dwells within you, so that in joy or sorrow, whatever the situation, you are never alone. God is always with you...but I repeat the question-How often do you think of Him?
If you can accustom yourself to say (using this little term)- "His name is 'Emmanuel' ", which means, "God is with me," as pronounced by the angel, so that you're taking God as a Father, as a Brother, and as an Intimate Friend-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You may do this in finding God within yourself, as I pointed out, Jesus in the tabernacle, or in Nature, but above all of these things, you are to find him in every person you meet-which is the subject of this particular conference. You are to find the presence of God in each person you meet-you are not to judge by the cover. As the little book, The Imitation of Christ , puts it, "Man judges by the exterior, but God regards the heart, and only God knows what's going on in the heart." You are to be optimistic and love each person as God loves each person, and the only way your are going to appreciate others is by, in your personal prayer, acknowledging what God has done for you. In the course of your life, bring out the signs of Providence- the graces you received, the talents you possess, the faith that's your, not to mention the fact that you were called to the Land of Carmel-that didn't come by accident. It is a vocation within a vocation, as far as you are concerned. God saw fit to call you, that in your life, without changing your profession, you will find God in yourself, in the Eucharist, and in every person you meet. Him name is Emanuel- "God is with us." There is not a circumstance, I repeat, in life, in which God does not witness what you are doing in a loving and understanding way. Jesus said, "Be compassionate, as your Heavenly Father is compassionate."
By the word compassion, we mean, " suffering with". It means, "feeling with", "interchanging with"...So, when it says in the Bible, "Jesus was moved with compassion," it doesn't mean,"I am sorry for you..." in the term that I just expressed. It means that He entered within the person. He felt the sorrow of the person. That's why He wept at the grave of Lazarus. He wept when the women of Nahmen was saying goodbye to her son in death. Twelve times in the Gospel it says, "and Jesus was moved with compassion," and that meant, in the Greek term, the sorrow was coming from the very depths of His stomach-the very depths of His being, and He was moved towards the incident.
A few examples: when the man who was deaf and dumb was presented to Jesus, Jesus called the man aside, and Jesus touched His tongue with His spittle, and out it on the tongue of the man. It was believed in those days that the physician left some part [of himself] on the patient-the greater the physician the more the prestige of the patient's recovery, and He who was the doctor of all doctors, Jesus, the Lord, meant, "May My words become expressed on your tongue, for the glory of the Father, and for the welfare of your own personal soul." His [the man's] tongue was opened, his ears were loosened, and he was able to speak and to talk. Very likely he went and told others about it. That's how the crowd gathered in the desert-to see the man, to see the person who made the recover of the deaf and the dumb. The same thing happened to the man who was born blind-his eyes were opened, and he told others what had taken place. In the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, those who witnessed the miracle all came to Him. He was moved with compassion, it says, towards them, because they had nothing to eat, and then the miracle was performed. He felt for these people, and that same feeling (now I apply this to you individually) He has for you. God felt so "sorry" (if I may use the expression), compassionate toward the creatures that he made, that His son, Jesus Christ became one of us-flesh and blood. He was moved with pity. He actually entered our human race, and became one of us-to experience joy, sorrow, success, failure, betrayal, the witness of death, and finally dying between two thieves to show that He was no better than a criminal-to be your enlightenment and my enlightenment-to let you know that there isn't a situation that Jesus Christ does not understand.
He experienced temptation in the desert, and again, all of the things I mentioned. He worked the miracles not only to show His power. He worked the miracles because of His compassion for each person- and that compassion He has towards you. Its up to you to accept it, and to recognize, I repeat, all that God has done for you in the past life-every breath that you draw, thought that you think, and act that you perform. Not satisfied with becoming one of us in the Incarnation, each time you approach the alter, Jesus gives Himself to you personally, individually, and completely, so that in a visible tangible way, you can say, "He knows me inside out...", and yet He comes. He's compassionate, and He asks you to be the same in regards to others.
And the way to do it, first and foremost (as you poor things are doing right now) is to listen. We may use this as an example: someone will tell you that a friend of your is sick in the hospital. When you go to see that person, the person can't say anything. It seems to you that you're not being recognized, but nevertheless, you sit there. Though no word is uttered (the temptation comes, "This is a waste of time. I'm getting nowhere"), the Blessed trinity that dwells within you and the Trinity that dwells in the patient accepts as a prayer the offering of your time, and the offering of your person. You may say again, ""what use is it, because this person doesn't answer", and I explained to you-it is a prayer. So, I get back to you. Jesus or the Trinity is ever with you. How many times during the day do you respond? How many times do you acknowledge that presence? How many times do you see ants, and repeat the word, "Emanuel", God is with us?
Finding the presence of God in every person you meet...begin with your own family...never say to one child [that] you are not like your brother, or you are not like your sister. Each one who is under you roof is made by God for a singular purpose, and each one is a separate temple of the Lord, unique and singular, and [so] do not judge or compare one to the other, but give to each person [ ], your time by itself.
Dr. Paul Tournier prints this in his book: when a patient comes to me, I make an act of the presence of God, because that person belongs to God, and that person is making a revelation to me-that I might use my God given talents-so, this conversation become a prayer-the revelation on the part of my patient, and the revelation of what God has instructed me to say.
Find God in each person. Look for the good in others as God looks for the good in you. No matter what character you seem to possess, God loves you, with an infinite and an everlasting love. Return it by acknowledging his presence, and in the sense of responsibility to find that presence in every person you meet. This is your Carmelite life. You entered the Order not to escape life, but to face it...to appreciate it with the motivation God gives you as a result of you half hour of prayer. So, when you go to your half hour of prayer, talk to God as I am talking to you . Talk to Him personally about the people with whom you live, life as you live it, and give Him the invitation to live with you, each moment, as you fulfill you calling.
So, in closing (I love to say that so you can wake up!), Brock Kidd write this little true account of his own person. I will put it in the first person, to identify myself with him (any defects in the narration will not be attributed to him!)
While attending the University of Tennessee, Christmas vacation came around (and I am an excellent photographer). I decided to spend the time by taking pictures of children going up to Santa Claus. I thought this would give me a Norman Rockwell view of America-I would see joviality, happiness, peace, tranquility-all these things registered in what I was doing.
I found myself repeating the sentence, "Would you like to have you picture taken with Santa Claus?" Then I would show the child to his mother and ask for a fee. The repetition of the sentence began to get so monotonous [that] my feet began to ache, and what I began to do with the best intentions in the world changed into an absolute suffering-WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOU PICTURE TAKEN WITH SANTA CLAUS?!
Christmas was approaching. The aches were even greater. One little boy came, and he went to Santa Claus. I was really fatigued this day, and I said to the little boy, would you like to have you picture taken with Santa Claus-and there was absolutely no response.WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOU PICTURE TAKEN WITH SANTA CLAUS?! His mother said, "Bobby is deaf, so. I'll take him to Santa Claus, if you don't mind." I felt like a fool after making the statement in the expression in which I used. I wanted to watch how this was going to take place. She approached Santa and she said, "Santa, Bobby is deaf." "That doesn't make any difference," said Santa, and he put him on his knee. " Bobby", he said in a loud voice, "what do you want for Christmas," and as he did so, he moved his hands in the language if the deaf. The eyes of the boy lit up like two stars, and all of the Christmas joy was expressed in his face, as he watched Santa move his fingers, and ask his question-and it was interesting. It brightened [everything] up for me. It brightened up the entire mall, and before I could start to take the picture, I had to dry my eyes, because I was so moved by what I saw ...the openness of Santa Claus in response to the child. Christmas became Christmas for me again. I saw its spirit personified in the relationship between Santa and that boy.
Now I turn to you. if it seems that the appeal of "God is with you" has fallen onto deaf ears as far as you are concerned, look at the signs of love the Divinity has shown to you throughout your entire life. Through the signs of His love you will recognize His interest, His compassion. Your ears will be opened like the man in the Gospel, and you will be able to speak the glories of God and express to others the love God has for you.
God Bless you.
This transcript is Copyright, 2001, OCDS Community, Columbus, Ohio.