Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life Is Precious, Part 2

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." Jeremiah 1:5

This follow-up on Grace Marie Seyferth originally aired on Action News at 11 p.m. on WXYZ-TV on January 25, 2010 with Anchor Dave LewAllen. Lethal Skeletal Dysplasia was the prenatal diagnosis delivered to Sandi and Patrick...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life Is Precious

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for good, and not for evil, to give you a Future and a Hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

"A Story of Grace" aired on Action News on WXYZ-TV in January, 2003, just weeks after the birth of Grace Marie Seyferth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some Background On The Carmelite Order

"Our mission as Carmelites is to form evangelical workers who will save thousands of souls."

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

Since our beloved St. Therese was in the Carmelite order, I would like to explore the background and spirituality of this order.

The name Carmelite comes from "Carmel," which is a mountain in northwestern Israel. In the Old Testament, this was where Elijah sometimes went for solitude, and also where he had his encounter with the priests of Baal (see 1Kings 18). Since those earliest times, this mountain has been called the garden of Palestine and symbol of fertility and beauty -- we sometimes hear the term "the springs of Carmel." In the 12th century, hermits gathered there, beside the well of Elijah, to pray quietly and follow Christ together. They asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to write a "rule of life" for them, and this is called the Rule of St. Albert. Much of the early history is uncertain, but the order grew, especially in the 14th and 15th centuries.

A ”charism” is a talent or gift from God; most orders have a charism that is the main focus of that order. The Carmelite charism has several elements, but the main one is contemplation. Contemplation is quiet, meditative prayer.

Through contemplation, a Carmelite is called to prayer and union with God. Many Carmelites’ monasteries are cloistered, and the members seek to minimize the distractions of the outside world, but at the same time they lift up the needs of the world in their prayer. Some Carmelites (both priests and nuns) serve as teachers of prayer and as spiritual directors, and can serve in “outside” assignments such as parishes and hospitals.

St. Teresa of Avila

Over the long life of the order, there have been some bumps in the road, and reforms were made. The most notable was carried out by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. In the sixteenth century they formed the "Discalced Carmelites," which focused on a renewed asceticism, meaning a way of simple living (discalced literally means “shoeless”). Thus, even today there are two orders: a Discalced Carmelite has the letters O.C.D. after the name, whereas the letters O. Carm. refer to a member of the older Carmelite tradition (sometimes called "Calced" or "Carmelites of the Ancient Observance"). St. Therese was a Discalced Carmelite.

St. Therese, wearing the Carmelite habit of a professed sister.

Each of those groups also has a “third order” of Carmelites, which is for laypersons who are drawn to the Carmelite spirituality, but do not take vows. They can be married or single, and after a period of instruction, they can be officially received as "tertiaries" or Third Order Carmelites. These members usually live as normal co-workers or neighbors of yours. But unmarried tertiaries sometimes live together in communities or have special apostolates such as a house of charity for the needy or infirm.

The Brown Scapular

An important part of the Carmelite habit (garment) is the brown scapular, also called the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. This large cloth goes over the shoulders of a Carmelite (the word “scapular” means shoulder) and it is a sign of their special relationship with Mary. The smaller version of the scapular is simply two small rectangular pieces of brown cloth -- one hanging over the chest and the other over the back -- that are connected by two straps or strings which hang over each shoulder. This smaller scapular is a common sacramental that can be worn by anyone, although it is best to be invested or "enrolled" by a Catholic priest.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Prayer For Those Who Suffer In Haiti

Dear readers:
The tragic earthquake in Haiti reminds us to lean on God, to pray for those who suffer there so tremendously. We can ask our St. Therese to intercede and pray for the men, women, and children of Haiti:

O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire the human family, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you 'Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.' Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth...of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea 'to be made known everywhere' and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen.

AP Photo/Medecins Sans Frontieres, Stefano Zannin

Friday, January 8, 2010

When A Beloved Pet Dies: A Tribute To Casey

Our good friend Casey

Dear readers:

Today our family lost a good friend: my brother's dog Casey. For twelve years, she was a faithful companion: a walking buddy, a loving pet to snuggle up with, a playmate, and a happy friend waiting after a long day at work.

I am sure many of you have lost pets and have felt sad; after all, they are members of our families, some for a very long time. They have seen us at our best and our worst, yet they have loved us unconditionally.

St. Therese had a pet, too: a spaniel named Tom, who came to live with them when she was about 11 years old.

Tom, Therese's childhood dog

She started a little notebook when she was a child, in which she liked to mention important things and dates that happened in her life. Her very first entry was the arrival of her new dog Tom on June 26, 1884 at her home, Les Buissonets.

"Le 26 Juin 1884: Tom est arrive chez nous." Translation: "Tom came to live with us."

For little Therese, who loved being outside in the beauty of nature, taking Tom for walks was pure pleasure. He went fishing with Therese and her father, and accompanied them on picnics. Tom was a faithful dog and friend to the Martin family, much like Casey was to my brother and his daughters.

I am sure Therese missed Tom very much when she went to live in the cloistered convent at Carmel. And I know my brother and his daughters miss Casey already, and will in days to come.

Even though pets are only in our lives for a very short time, the love they give and receive is very long-lasting. Though they are gone, their memories live on. We can be sure that God takes care of all of His creatures.

Rest in peace, Casey.

Good girl.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
—Matthew 5:4

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Feast of the Epiphany and of the Three Holy Kings

"Jesus, You are the the Star that leads me on."
—St. Therese

Yesterday was St. Therese's birthday. She was born on January 2, 1873. Two days later, she was baptized Marie Frances Therese at Notre Dame Church. Happy birthday, St. Therese!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feast of the Solemnity of Mary

Hail, Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, o Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

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