Sunday, 10 March 2019

Novena to Saint Joseph - 2019

The Catholic Church keeps the 19 March as the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary and Foster Father of Jesus Christ each year. The scriptures refers to St Joseph being upright and honourable. Certainly his sensitivity towards Mary and his care for both Mary and Jesus shows him as a person of action and care.

The Carmelite Order has had a particular devotion to Saint Joseph for many centuries, venerating him with the title "Principal Protector of the Carmelite Order". Since Joseph cared for Mary and Christ in a particular way, we believe that he also cares for the Carmelite Order which is devoted to Mary and Christ. St Teresa of Avila had great devotion to St Joseph and saw him as a protector of her new foundations. 

Our novena to Saint Joseph is below and can be prayed over the next nine days from 11 March 2019. You can pray the novena in private, with your friends or family, or in a group:

God our Father,
creator and ruler of the universe,
in every age you call humanity
to develop and use our gifts
for the good of others.

With Saint Joseph as our example and guide,
help us to do the work you have asked
and come to the life you have promised.

We ask this through
our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

More about Saint Joseph can be read, here.


Friday, 8 March 2019

International Women's Day - 2019

Today is International Women's Day (8 March), which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

At the Shrine of Saint Jude, we have some beautiful icons of just a few of the great female Carmelite Saints, as well as various images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our mother and sister.

Read about these women, below..

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The 1995 Constitutions of the Carmelite Friars summarise the importance of Mary in Carmelite spirituality today:

"Mary, overshadowed by the Spirit of God, is the Virgin of a new heart, who gave a human face to the Word made flesh. She is the Virgin of wise and contemplative listening who kept and pondered in her heart the events and the words of the Lord. She is the faithful disciple of wisdom, who sought Jesus - God’s Wisdom - and allowed herself to be formed and moulded by his Spirit, so that in faith she might be conformed to his ways and choices. Thus enlightened, Mary is presented to us as one able to read “the great wonders” which God accomplished in her for the salvation of the humble and of the poor.

Mary was not only the Mother of Our Lord; she also became his perfect disciple, the woman of faith. She followed Jesus, walking with the disciples, sharing their demanding and wearisome journey - a journey which required, above all, fraternal love and mutual service.

Mary brings the good news of salvation to all men and women. She is the woman who built relationships, not only within the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, but, beyond that, with the people: with Elizabeth, with the bride and bridegroom in Cana, with the other women, and with Jesus’ “brothers”.

Carmelites see in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and archetype of the Church, the perfect image of all that they want and hope to be. For this reason, Carmelites have always thought of Mary as the Patron of the Order, its Mother and Splendour; she is constantly before their eyes and in their hearts as “the Virgin Most Pure.” Looking to her, and living in spiritual intimacy with her, we learn to stand before God, and with one another, as the Lord’s brothers. Mary lives among us, as mother and sister, attentive to our needs; along with us she waits and hopes, suffers and rejoices."

Read more, here.

In the outer shrine area is a beautiful stained glass window of Mary and the Christ Child with the Holy Spirit. The window was executed by the artist, Richard Joseph King.

The serpent behind is seen as a reference to domination over evil. The serpent and the crescent shape of half moon just visible at the bottom right of the window signify Mary's Immaculate Conception. King was interested in the close relationship of Mary and Christ. The importance of the Holy Spirit is shown in the circular shape of the wings of the dove surrounding the heads of Mary and Christ and the rays which come down from heaven. The red cross against the white background in Christ's halo is a reference to his cross and resurrection. The cross and M seen in the front of the Christ Child are symbols of Mary and Christ.

In the Shrine chapel, the triple light at the back of it depicts Our Lady of Mount Carmel (with the Scapular in her hand) and the Christ-Child with a scapular and dove, with attendant angels on a rainbow. The rainbow imagery here refers to the Old Testament story of Noah in the Book of Genesis. The dove seen above the hands of the Christ Child, could again refer to the dove bringing the olive leaf to Noah, but Christ is also seen as the bringer of peace. Read more, here.

On the side walls of the Shrine chapel are the icons of Carmelite saints.

Blessed Frances D'Amboise

One of the icons is of Blessed Frances D'Amboise, who was born in 1427, probably at Thouars, France. At fifteen years of age, she was married to Peter II, Duke of Brittany and crowned with him in the cathedral at Rennes in 1450. She was widowed in 1457 and, not wanting a second marriage, she turned towards religious life. For this purpose, she built a Carmel for sisters at Bondon in 1463 following the advice of Blessed John Soreth, Prior General of the Carmelites.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

The second icon is of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Carmelite nun, martyr, and patron of Europe.

Edith Stein was born to a Jewish family at Breslau on 12th October 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy she searched after truth and found it in reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Jesus. In 1922 she was baptised and in 1933 she entered the monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Cologne where she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. During the Second World War Edith was sheltered from the Nazi persecution of Jews at the Carmel in Echt, Holland. Because of her refusal to deny her Jewish heritage or abandon her sister who was sheltering in the same Carmel, Edith was deported, gassed and cremated at Auschwitz concentration camp on 9th August 1942 and died a martyr for the Christian faith after having offered her holocaust for the people of Israel. A woman of singular intelligence and learning, she left behind a large body of writing notable for its doctrinal richness and profound spirituality. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Cologne on 1st May 1987, and canonised by him in 1998. In 1999 she was declared one of the six patron saints of Europe.

We pray for all Carmelite women today and in the past. Thank you.


Celebrate Our Lady and get a prayer card, here.

Text taken from the province and Shrine websites

Thursday, 7 March 2019

New Book Pays Tribute to Father Wilfrid McGreal

Fr Wilfrid with Fr Ged Walsh
A book has been published to pay tribute to Carmelite friar Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm.

Inspired by Father Wilfrid's own popular introduction to Carmelite spirituality, At the Fountain of Elijah, the festschrift in his honour is entitled Revisiting the Fountain of Elijah, and is published by Edizioni Carmelitane, the Carmelite Order's publishing house in Rome.

Over decades of ministry Father Wilfrid has undertaken many roles, including Prior Provincial of the British Province, Prior of the friar communities at Aylesford and Faversham, broadcaster, writer, ecumenist, and university chaplain. Since entering the Carmelite Order in 1957, he has devoted himself to proclaiming the Gospel and promoting the Carmelite charism.

Wilfrid's many interests and achievements are reflected in the different chapters of the book, each written by someone who knows and admires him. Contributors include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams, Sister Elizabeth Obbard, and the current Prior Provincial of the Carmelites, Fr. Kevin Alban. Topics include spirituality, chaplaincy, theology, and art.

Fr Wilfrid is now retired.

The book can be ordered from our online shop.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. May Lent be for you a holy and happy season.

The Prior Provincial, Fr Kevin Alban has suggested how we might understand the gospel for each of the five Sundays of Lent, and how we might pray them. Each week, we'll add these reflections to our blog so you can read them and prepare for the Gospel before Sunday: You can read the first reflection, here.


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

First Sunday of Lent: 10 March 2019 - Luke 4

In our upcoming spring newsletter, the Prior Provincial, Fr Kevin Alban has suggested how we might understand the gospel for each of the five Sundays of Lent, and how we might pray them. Each week, we'll add these reflections to our blog so you can read them and prepare for the Gospel before Sunday:

First Sunday of Lent: 10 March 2019 - Luke 4

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted.

The place that Jesus chooses to prepare himself for his ministry is lonely, empty and barren. In this location Jesus comes face to face with some key questions:
• What nourishes humanity? Bread alone or something more?
• Who exercises power over humanity? Our selfish needs or God’s will?
• How will humanity relate to God? By putting Him to the test or by trusting in his protection?

The three temptations that Jesus experiences also present us with three questions at the beginning of Lent.

I hope that Lent proves to be a fruitful time for you. One way of deepening our appreciation of this season might be to read the Sunday gospel during the preceding week so that when we hear it again at Mass we are really familiar with it.

Fr Kevin Alban, O.Carm
Prior Provincial


Monday, 4 March 2019

Saint Jude Focus: March - May 2019

The next edition of the brand new Saint Jude Focus is now available to read.

In this Focus: details of our new initiative Saint Jude at home; the Summer Celebration; Thank you from Matt Betts; Did you know?; and much more.

Saint Jude Focus has been created to compliment the quarterly Carmelite News.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Pope Francis - Lent

Pope Francis holding our statue of Saint Jude
On Ash Wednesday this week, Lent will begin. Many people will be giving something up, but a couple of years ago, Pope Francis asked us to reconsider the heart of this activity, as follows:

Do You Want to FAST this Lent? ~ Pope Francis
  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill you heart with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
The Prior Provincial of the British Province, Fr Kevin Alban has suggested how we might understand the gospel for each of the five Sundays of Lent, and how we might pray them. Each week, we'll add these reflections to our blog so you can read them and prepare for the Gospel before Sunday: You can read the first reflection, here.