Another feast day for us in Carmel! We love our feast days, that's why we have so many! Our Holy Mother Teresa who reformed Carmel and brought us back to the Primitive Rule of St Albert made sure the Order was penitential at heart, but she also said that there was a time for partridge - well, we need lots of partridges in Carmel because we have a fair few opportunities to nibble on them!
Today is the Order's feast of All Saints - a feast we celebrate in union with our Carmelite brothers and sisters of the Ancient Observance (O. Carms), and as with the Church's official celebration on the 1st November, we remember all the men and women of the two Carmelite Orders, the many congregations affiliated with both Orders and those laity connected to us in various ways, who now share in the beatific vision and are interceding for us who are still on our pilgrim way.
Most of these Saints are unknown to us, being ordinary men and women, priests, consecrated and lay who now populate the Carmelite corner of heaven. But we also celebrate the famous ones: SS Berthold and Brocard, our first Priors, and the holy men they governed - those St Teresa calls our holy fathers in the Order. The holy bishop who gave us our Rule of Life, St Albert of Jerusalem, an eternal honorary Carmelite by virtue of the Rule. The first Saints of the Order - St Albert of Trapani and St Angelus of Sicily the martyr. Then the great ones who made an impact - St Simon Stock, the Prior General who helped the transition from the eremetical life to that of contemplative mendicants; Blessed John Soreth who brought women and consecrated laity into the Order to form the Second and Third Orders. Then the great reformers: St Teresa and St John of the Cross and their companions who worked and suffered to spread the reform around the world - Blessed Anne of St Bartholomew and Blessed Mary of Jesus.
Then there are our mystics! St Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, a whole host of them. Our priests like St Raphael Kalinowski, Blessed Francis Palau and Blessed Angelo Paoli who lived the Rule with great fidelity and cared for souls. Our heroic martyrs: St Edith Stein, Blessed Titus Brandsma, the Martyrs of the French Revoultion - our Blessed Sisters who were guillotined, our Blessed Priests who died on the prison ships. The Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War from both Orders, among them one of my favourites, Blessed Hermilo of St Eliseo who was shot in Toledo. The Martyrs under the Nazis, including Blessed Alphonsus Mazurek whom Blessed John Paul II knew and would later beatify. The Scapular Martyr Blessed Isidore Bakanja, a young African who was beaten to death because he would not take off his Scapular.
And then the holy sisters who lived prophetic lives - the biggie among them St Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face. Coming up the rear is Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who may well be canonised very soon - they seem to have a miracle for her (take careful note, Father, trip to Rome!). Others: St Mary of the Angels, St Teresa of the Andes, Blessed Candida of the Eucharist and the millions of other nuns whose causes keep the Order poor!
Then the affiliates - founders and members of congregations formally affiliated and part of the Teresian family: Blessed Kuriakos Elias Chavara, founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate; St Henry de Osso y Cervello founder of the Company of St Teresa, and one of his sisters, Blessed Maria Mercedes Prat, martyred during the Spanish Civil War.
We must not forget the Saints of the Third Order - the consecrated laity who are as much part of the Order as the priests or nuns. We have two Third Orders, the Discalced Secular Order (mine) and the Third Order of the Ancient Observance, both have produced Saints and Blesseds. In our Secular Order we have Blessed Georg Hafner, a diocesan priest who was martyred in Dachau, Blessed Josefa Naval Girbes, a dedicated laywoman, and two famous Saints not widely known to have been Discalced Secular Order Carmelites: St Vincent Pallotti and Pope St Pius X. It is also believed that Blessed Pope John Paul II was also a Secular Carmelite, though no concrete evidence can be found - he was certainly one in spirit.
The list goes on. If you are of another Order or congregation, forgive the trumpeting on but such reflections inspire us Carmelites to keep striving for holiness. If you are not a member of an Order or congregation or Third Order, perhaps you might consider entering the ranks of the Carmelites? If you are a lay person or a diocesan priest you might consider becoming a Secular Order Carmelite and become a son or daughter of St Teresa and St John, and a brother or sister of St Therese, living their way of life in the world. A google search will tell you where the nearest Secular Order community is - failing that, drop me a line.
Now, time for partridge, or in full St Therese mode - chocolate eclairs! Therese loved her chocolate eclairs - there's sanctity for all!! Happy feast day!