Is this Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel special?
As you may already know, our Carmel invites you to pray four novenas with us each year: St. Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Sts. Teresa of Jesus and Therese of Lisieux, and Christmas. These four times a year we send our “News” Bulletin along with the prayers for the upcoming novena (if you are on our mailing list). The current novena is the only one that is “public”, meaning we pray it with the public at the celebration of Mass. All the other novenas are prayed with you “in spirit” (and ‘Spirit’). So, that’s what makes this time of prayer a little more special to us, and hopefully to you, too.
Now we have completed six days of the Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Today is July 14th, day seven. Here at the Carmel in Little Rock, Arkansas we share the tradition of some other Carmels of welcoming a different area parish each night as the sponsor for that day’s liturgy. This includes liturgical ministers, choir and the parish priest (if available) as the main celebrant. It is a delight for us cloistered nuns to attend a “parish Mass” all these nights–right here in our own monastery–and to experience the local Church first hand.
So far it has been a real blessing for all who have attended, the nuns included. We enjoy so much seeing friends and sharing a word after mass at the grate, and seeing many people who may be here for the first time. It is always a privilege to see a newly ordained priest at the altar on his parish’s night. And what a joy to see them celebrate mass after knowing them over the many years of their priestly formation in the seminary! And how grateful we, the nuns, are to have part of our family–the Secular branch of Discalced Carmelites–filling several pews and clothed with the Scapular of Our Lady. We love them and are so happy when we get to see them at Mass!
In recent years some parishes have been sending their youth choirs to do the music. They do such a marvelous job, and we’re so proud of them. The bilingual Mass is also beautiful with its guitar music. Our newly ordained American priests use their Spanish language skills they worked so hard to perfect over the years. Hearing the fruits of their labor and witnessing answered prayers for them is wonderful!
Sr. Magdalene, our extern sister, has been the contact person for all the parishes and has been doing much of the ground work for planning and executing the Novena. She has composed (rather, she would say, “not me–Holy Spirit!”) all the Prayers of the Faithful for each Mass. Done with care and thoughtfulness each petition (different every night) is aimed at addressing the specific needs that have been mailed, emailed, spoken or called in to the nuns to pray for in this Novena. Not an easy task, but so meaningful when all of us in the chapel are united in sincere prayer for these special Novena petitions read by the lector at each of the nine Masses.
Here you have a snippet of what is going on around here at 7:30 p.m. from July 8th – 16th! The last night will be a little different–the solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. So stayed tuned, or better, come in person to find out!