Conference: Columbus, Ohio OCDS Sept. 10, 1991. Fr. William Healy
On the day of your baptism you received three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. They are called "theological" because the the first part of the word, theos, means God. The graces were implanted and infused in you by God when you receive the sacrament.
The second reason that they are called the theological virtues is because the end and the object of the virtue is God, Himself. Your faith in Him, your trust in Him, and your love for Him-on these three virtues your Christian life, your Carmelite life, and even your individual profession, whether you be married or whether you be single, whether you be a widow or a widower, all these things are lent, and the spirituality we trust that you obtain from Carmel is to strength you, confirm you, and motivate you in responding to your creation, your baptism, your faith, and your personal profession.
St. John of the Cross calls faith the dark virtue (follow this closely, if you can). He calls it the dark virtue because when you say, "I believe," you do not see. You are relying, in the matter of our faith, on the testimony of Jesus Christ- what He says you are accepting in faith and you are believing it. The old saying, "seeing is believing," is absolutely false, because once you see a thing (as you poor unfortunate people see right now-myself),once you see, you no longer believe-you know... So, in your faith, this is what you are saying: from the hands of God I came, to God I belong, moment by moment, and to God I am destined to return.
This is whole synopsis of St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises: from God I came, to God I belong, and to God I am destined to return. John emphasizes the second point-the hope or the trust. Follow this carefully. When John tells you to block out your memory, he doesn't mean "forget everything". He says, "when you think over your past life," (and this is more advantageous for us who are getting older), "there is always a temptation to go over ones past life: what mistakes did I make, were my confessions valid, did I do this properly. If I am called before Gods, what is the condition of my soul." John says, "if you're going to look over you past life, look over the points where God was with you, when God who sustained you until this night (whatever you may think about t that!)...he sustained you until this night, moment by moment, in joy and sorrow, in success and failure-God was always with you." So, John says, "expand you mind in trust, and live in confidence that God, who has seen you through the past, has seen you through the day, He with you at the present time, and He'll be with you until He calls you forth unto eternity." Live, I repeat, in this trust, and you'll experience as much peace as can be allowed to you in this mortal life.
So, whenever temptations come about your paths, whenever you wonder whether people treated you correctly or incorrectly, remember how they treated Jesus Christ,your Brother,and give Him one profound act of confidence and trust. Trust comes as a result of your faith, because, confidence, which is another word for trust [con fides, in the Latin,] means living with faith. That's what your life and my life happens to be all about.
In this faith, you and I are giving to god a compliment we can never give Him in heaven, because Heaven you see God face to face, so faith disappear. We said, "seeing means knowing." Its no longer a question of believing, therefore, faith disappears. Your trust disappears [also]because your hopes have been fulfilled. You see Him, and you're in his presence.
The one that last forever is you love, for God is Love, personified. The more love you can possess in this life, whether it be for God, yourself, or you neighbor...the more love you can find in your examination of conscience...the more you resemble God, who is Love, personified. Every ounce of love that you possess makes you more God-like. That's what is meant by the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
The second part of it is, that at some point or other you prayed for your vocation in life (I'm not speaking at this point about the Carmelite spirituality). I am speaking about the vocation that you have.
As a result of your entering the secular order of Carmel, the love for your particular station is to grow, because you prayed for that calling. You sought the Divine guidance, and you sought the Divine help. So, in the married state (for example), the vows were made in the presence of Jesus Christ, and the congregation represented the whole Church as you said, "As I make these promises, I firmly believe that no matter what life has in store for me, joy, sorrow, success, or failure, by the grace You give to me, my God this day, and by my continuous trust in You, I will be able to endure or face whatever life has to offer.
Your vocation then, is your acceptance of your calling. Acceptance of it...day by day, and never take it for granted. As we in the religious life are asked to repeat the vows of our religious profession in thanksgiving for our profession, you are asked to do the same. In you profession each one of you has a particular work to do. You call it your labor. Again, as a result of your Carmelite spirituality, you are not to divorce you are work form your prayer life...in other words, to say " this time I'm praying, I'm a contemplative"...and now I'm working...therefore this is the active live, its inferior.
You are to be a contemplative- someone who is aware of the presence of God in your work, so that the work is consecrated to Almighty God. When the Lord God told Adam that he was going to work by the sweat of his brow, it was not necessarily a direct punishment, saying... "You've offended Me, and now, you're gonna work!" It says very clearly in the book of Genesis, he [Adam] worked in the garden of paradise before he ever fell, but he looked upon work as it should be done . Do you realize that one of the greatest blessing you could have in live is the ability to work? To use the talents of mind and body God gave to you. No matter what your task may be, you are participating in His work of creation. God can make something out of nothing!
You're using the talents He gave you. You're using the things at your disposal to make life better for others...to fulfill your obligation, ans prayerfully to give your deed to Him, who witnesses everything you do, and Whose interest in you never goes.
Indeed, there is no profession that you can look down upon. Every Thursday, for instance at the monetary, we call it Trash Day. On that day, the garbage man comes...everything is in the disposal, and he takes everything away, for which I always bless him. Parenthetically, why? Because in our area we don't have to separate newspapers from magazines and everything' put in one big batch and taken off. In my home state of Minnesota the cans must be washed thoroughly . They must be put in plastic containers. They must be separated from newspapers. All the other ingredients must be placed in a special plastic bags, so I bless the trashman [who services the monetary].
The second reason...he gives me an image of my priesthood. He is collecting the dirt as a priest is obliged to forgive sin, as a priest is obliged to remove all obstacles to from the [?] ...to clean the temple of the Holy Spirit, and to help to sanctify the places of God. So, that you can see in every profession a service to God, and a service to humanity.
Therefore, fulfill your vocation in the work that you're doing. It may seem to you that you're retired and you have no more to do.. nothing is more false, because you are asked to accept each day as God gives it to you. If its [even] offering a paralyzed condition, this is a work, a labor of love. Whatever you're doing, do with Him, through Him, and for Him. Your life, your labor is not finished, your labor of love is not finished until God says, "come home," to your real and lasting home.
You are to find God then in nature. John of the cross did, for everything in nature shows the power of God who made it. It shows the beautify of God who designed it. It shows the goodness of God [ who preserves it]." You can find this in the course of the stars, [down] to the lowest insect. Man could never invent such a thing. Even an insect has its purpose and a plan (I'm not saying that you have to spare all of the insects [?]. The only one I really like is the ladybug, because the ladybug is named after our Lady.  She was originally called "Our Lady's bug, so you leave her alone!There is an order and a design to everything. You are to find God in nature, then. You're to find him in yourself, because you are a living temple of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus comes to you personally, individually and completely in the sacrament of the Altar when you approach, and receive the sacred host. [and]You are to find Him in your neighbor. This is the most difficult.
You cannot judge a book by its cover. You are asked by God to look beneath the surface to find his image, and to find His likeness in every person with whom you live, with every person that you work, with every person who crosses the threshold of your life. Each one has a message to give.
Paul Tournier, the Presbyterian minister, whom I read often...he's an authority on John of the Cross. He's a psychiatrist, or a psychologist as well. He puts it this way, and its applicable to you and me, wherever your vocation may be, in whatever [circumstance] you find [it]. "When a a patient comes to me," he says, "I believe that it is God who sends him, for nothing happens without chance. God brings him to me, that I may have the privilege of learning from him. He, in turn, though our exchange of thoughts, may come closer to me. Ibelieve, then, first and foremost then that the individual comes from and foremost from God. He is speaking to me as a representative of God, because I hope he will find God in me as I do with him. All I do is listen, to absorb the full story.
I get to you. In your vocation as well as mine, the real ministry is the ability to listen, as you poor things are doing right now...to listen- to let the other person exhaust himself or herself, just knowing that someone is listening. That's what god does when you got to him in prayer. So, Paul says, the individual comes from God. I never interrupt. When the individual is struggling to get his thoughts together to tell me, in that silence, I believe that God is talking to him, telling him how to form his thoughts, to express them. That's the way it is in relationship to each person whom you come in contact with. Listen. [This confidence will give them so much peace}.
Finally (I like to say finally so you'll know there's an end), in the Gospel of Sunday, you heard about the story about the deaf man who is also mute. A person who has difficulty in hearing often has difficulty in expressing themselves well in speech, because they can't hear himself or herself (don't you wish that I were a little more deaf!). He was presented to the Master (follow this). The Master took him away from the crowd. He showed His personal interest in the patient, giving him His full attention. He extended His hands forth. He annoited his tongue with spitle, because it was believed that when a doctor did this, he was giving part of himself to his patient, and the more eminent the physician was, the more honored the patient. His tongue was loosed, his ears were opened, and he heard the voice of Jesus Christ. So it is with you. Whatever you're vocation, whatever you're profession, in the silence of you heart acknowledge the presence of the Divinity. Your ears will be opened to his voice. It won't be a monologue, such as you're listening to now or soliloquy. You will hear his voice as you put yourself at his disposal. Your ears will be open, and your tongue will be loosened...he goodness of God that you experience in your life and in your vocation]
So I say to you, you have everything to life for; you everything to die for. Put you hand in Jesus Christ, and live each moment of it, hand in hand, with him.
God bless you.
This transcript is Copyright, 2001, OCDS Community, Columbus, Ohio.