Friday, July 3, 2009

Mary, Gate of Heaven ("Janua Coeli")

Carmel is totally Mary in it's life, history and spirituality. The early hermits of Mt. Carmel dedicated themselves under her patronage and erected an oratory in her honor at Mount Carmel. They were henceforth known as "The Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel." The Carmelites relate to Mary as Queen, Mother, Sister, Most Pure Virgin and Model of discipleship. These are not just devotional themes but the product of a long relationship down the centuries.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, being a true daughter of Carmel, also had a special devotion to Mary. She particularly mentions her in her writings and meditations. She loved to meditate on Mary at the Visitation, when Mary after having consented to the message of the angel, hastened to visit her cousin Elizabeth. "In what peace, in what recollection Mary lent herself to everything she did! How even the most trivial things were divinized by her! For through it all the Virgin remained the adorer of the gift of God! This does not prevent her from spending herself outwardly when it was a matter of charity- never did the ineffable vision that she contemplated within herself in any way diminish her outward charity."

She also loved to compare her vocation to Carmel with the spiritual motherhood of Mary. Through her prayers and sufferings, she wanted to save souls for her beloved Christ and to be "another humanity" where she can reincarnate the mysteries of Christ.
During Elizabeth's last illness, she often referred to Mary as "Janua Coeli" (Gate of Heaven). Realizing that her time on earth was short, she entrusted herself to the care of the Mother of Carmel, who will lead her on to enter the gates of Paradise.

As the Carmelite Order celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th, we listen to the uplifting words of one of her illustrious daughters, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, as she shares with us her own thoughts on our Lady:

"No one has penetrated the mystery of Christ in all its depths except the Blessed Virgin.. compared with the light given to Our Lady, the saints remain in shadow. The secret which she kept and pondered in her heart, no tongue can tell, no pen record. This Mother is going to form my soul so that her little child may be a living, striking image of her "First-born", the Eternal Son, the one who was the perfect praise of His Father's glory. When I read in the Gospel that Mary went with haste into the hill country of Judah to fulfill her duty of charity to her cousin Elizabeth, I see her pass on her way, so beautiful, so calm and majestic, so recollected in the presence of God within her! Her prayer, like His, was always "Ecce!" Here I am!" Who?.. "the handmaid of the Lord," the least of His creatures, she, His Mother!
She was truly humble because she was always oblivious of self, unconscious of self, freed from self!... She is also the Queen of Martyrs, but again it was her soul that was "pierced by the sword" for with her everything takes place within... How beautiful she is to contemplate... so enveloped in a majesty which breathes forth strength and gentleness... She is there at the foot of the Cross, and my Master says to me; "Behold your Mother." He gives her to me as my Mother! She is still there to teach me to suffer as He did, to make known to me the last utterances of His soul, which she alone, His Mother, was able to catch. It is Our Lady, full of light, pure with the divine purity, who will take me by the hand to lead me into heaven, that realm of dazzling brightness."

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