The Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel: How Will We Celebrate It This Year?

07-06-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

Feasts of various kinds are always occasions to rejoice and reflect on what is being celebrated. The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, our Parish’s Feast, is no exception. Every year we celebrate this feast on July 16, and we have celebrated it for years, to remind us of the special place Our Lady plays in the life of our Parish and to encourage us to grow closer to her and to her son Jesus Christ.

Usually, several activities are planned for such celebrations in order to achieve that objective of drawing us closer to her and to her son. Some of the activities being lined up to prepare us appropriately to celebrate this important Feast of our Parish will include a novena, holy hour and benediction, some reflections, and if possible, an evening of talk on Mother Mary. The novena will conclude with a special Mass focused on our Mother under her title Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. On the day of this final celebration, we shall also have the ceremony of investiture with the brown scapular at the end of the Mass. As the Feast Day, July 16, falls this year on Tuesday, we propose to celebrate the Feast on Saturday July 20, 2024. It is my hope that this will provide us with adequate time for preparation for its celebration. So, mark your calendars and get ready to get involved in the novena.

More details on this will be communicated in due course but for now, allow me to share just briefly, about the history of the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. As you probably already know, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is usually celebrated on July 16, was first instituted in the late 14th century in commemoration of the approval of the rule of the Carmelite Order a hundred years earlier. According to history a religious community was established even before the time of Christ on Mount Carmel. This is the mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on which the prophet Elijah successfully challenged the priests of Baal and won the people over to the true God. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel came to enter the Calendar of the universal Church in the early 18th century.

Although there is no historical evidence for the pre-Christian Carmelite community, references in the 12th century mention the presence of a community of monks that lived on the holy mountain. Despite continual difficulties they encountered, this community built a monastery and a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary on Mount Carmel in 1263. Saint Louis, King of France, had visited Mount Carmel in 1254, and brought back six French hermits for whom he built a convent near Paris.

Mount Carmel was later taken over by the Muslims in 1291, and the brothers were killed, and the convent was also burned down in the process. The spread of the Carmelites in Europe is largely attributable to the work of Saint Simon Stock (1247-1265) who was their superior general at the time. The Carmelite Order was formally approved in 1274 at the Council of Lyon.

While this history is important, for us as a parish, the focus of this Feast should majorly be on the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is our mother and the most effective instrument that can aid us on our faith journey and deliver us to heaven which is my goal for all of you. Therefore, as we approach this Feast, let us do so with the reverence, honor, and dedication befitting to our Mother Mary. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel…… Pray for us!

I love you!