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Brookline Carmel Bulletin †††††††††††††††††††††††

December 4, 1960

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)

 

The Immaculate Conception†††

 

 

Devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is very ancient in the Carmelite Order.A venerable tradition traces it back to the prophet Elias, whom we call our Leader and Father (Dux et Pater).We are told God revealed it to him interiorly at the time his prayer brought to an end after three and one-half years the drought he originally invoked upon Israel.This is the episode as recounted in the Epistle of the Mass proper to the Order on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel:

 

And Elias went up to the top of Carmel; and casting himself down upon the earth, put his face between his knees.And he said to his servant:Go and look toward the sea.And he went up and looked, and said:There is nothing.And again he said to him:Return seven times.And at the seventh time, behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a manís foot.And he said:Go up and say to Ahab: Prepare thy chariot and go down, lest the rain prevent thee.And while he turned himself this way and that way, behold, the heavens grew dark with clouds and wind, and there fell a great rain.(3 Kings, 18: 42-45)

 

It is very easy to see in this event a foreshadowing of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception and the subsequent Redemption.Ever since the fall of our First Parents a spiritual drought obtained in the souls of men everywhere on earth.With the exception of a few in Israel, examples of virtue and holiness were woefully lacking.Human nature had been rendered incapable of sanctity by Original Sin and its effects.But after many centuries, during which it did not cease to bear down powerfully upon Mankind, the heat and light of Godís Love lifted up out of that corrupt Sea a wisp of Immaculate Humanity, the Blessed Virgin Mary.Once she had come forth she rose quickly to the heights of mature Sanctity, and uniting to the age-old sighings and longings for the Messiah her own most powerful supplications, she succeeded in winning His advent.Once His work was done, and life-giving graces were showered in abundance upon the souls of men, then heroic virtue, holiness appeared and flourished.Humanity was able to yield supernatural fruit.

 

And so the tradition informs us that after Elias had been given to understand that the little cloud represented an Immaculate Virgin who was destined to Ďrainí the Just One, he and his disciples treasured up this knowledge and liked to reflect upon it.Thereafter, their prayers for the coming of the Messiah assumed the form of praying for the advent of the Virgin.

 

The vision of the cloud and the prophetic interpretation granted to Eliasí influences also the whole of Carmelite Spirituality.For each Carmelite strives to foster in his own soul a process similar to the one described and for the self-same reasons.In dedicating himself to a life of prayer the Carmelite draws close to the Sun of Justice and allows the fervent Charity of God to play upon his soul. If he is successful in keeping clouds of sin and affection for mere creature pleasures from obscuring the rays of Divine Love, the latter will achieve their connatural effect and purge the soul of all the effects of Original Sin.Once freed from them and sanctified, a man is able to gather together all that is good and noble in human nature and make of it a powerful means of winning for his fellow men the necessary graces of Redemption.He brings to contemporary Mankind Jesus the Saviour, and is therefore partly responsible for the fruits of virtue and holiness that result.But this process is not restricted to Carmel.It ought to be verified in the life of every Christian.We mustnít wonder that this is so.Once God has selected and made use of a pattern, He never discards it, but uses it in everything.It can be discerned in all His works.

 

Besides this, the Immaculate Conception suggests that the mystery of Mary is so fundamental that she is more than the New Eve.She may be compared to the primordial, immaculate earth from Which Adam the first man was taken.Then out of Adamís side proceeded Eve, the mother of all the living.Jesus was taken from the flesh of Mary, and out of the side of Jesus, sleeping in death upon the Cross, came forth the Church, the spotless spouse of Jesus and mother of all those living a supernatural life.

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