Food for the Soul

Welcome to Friends of Carmel Posts

Since contemplation puts us in touch intuitively and lovingly with the truth, it helps us develop wisdom, a God’s eye view of reality. Perhaps a talk, an insight, or a recommended book or film will draw you deeper into both wisdom and the truest form of love.

Paradox

“Without support and with support, Living without light, in darkness, I am wholly being consumed.” John of the Cross During Advent we semi-hermits have the privilege of setting aside time to be still and wait in the darkness of the season and into the darkness of our world. There’s a certain level of being we ...
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Restoring Paradise

When the desert mothers and fathers went off into solitude they felt that in a certain sense they were returning to paradise because they intended to confront their own sinfulness and weakness and brokenness and fall on the mercy of God. Living with purity of heart is a sort of paradise. Thomas Merton writes about ...
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God’s Dream for Us

, God’s Dream For Us By chance the Gospel for Friday evening was “I Call You Friends” and our homilist, Thomas, did his best to draw it out and relate it to our Friends of Carmel theme. He told us that the reason for our life is deification. God wants us to be his friends ...
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Flying on the Breeze of Love

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Gillian describes the traits of the solitary bird according to John of the Cross as she gives us a taste of paradise ...
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Clearing Away Obstacles

This side of paradise Sr. Ceil reminds us of how we can prepare the way: knowing ourselves and doing what we can. 27 mins ...
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The Dignity of Responsibility

Br. Thomas homilizes on how Christ wants us to participate in our own soul-making. 13 min ...
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What Is the Option?

For the feast of the Triumph of the Cross Sr. Ceil encourages us to consider suffering the cross as a gift. Drawing on Edith Stein (forgive the lost first minute), and an intimate and holy conversation between two worldly figures, as well as present day priests and Pope Francis, she exhorts us to this way ...
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John the Baptist’s Dark Night

Talk by Sr. Ceil for John's feast. 15 min. God is so much bigger than we expect. Sr. Ceil unpacks this encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus describing how even John the Baptist suffered huge doubt ...
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What About Mindfulness?

Anxiety vs. Freedom Everyone agrees the rampant disease in our Western culture is anxiety. The Atlantic has a recent video naming this condition even among the most successful young adults. One woman developed a facebook following beyond her dreams and yet she is left, not fulfilled, but anxious, dissatisfied, and burnt out. One reason people ...
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Living in the Spirit

Talk by Sr. Ceil How do we live when we are friends with God? 20 mins ...
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The Way of Friendship with Teresa of Avila

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Teresa was a good friend of God as well as of God's friends. 35 mi ...
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I Call You Friends

Talk by Br. Thomas Crutcher Friendship with God implies in some sense, equality with God. 12 min ...
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His Heart Is an Open Wound

During this paschal Easter season, we Christians are stretched to extremes. First, we have to try to comprehend how the Son of God, the very God, would willingly be killed for our sake. Our small minds cannot grasp it. But perhaps our hearts can begin to touch it. For “his heart is an open wound” ...
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God-forsaken in Christ

This slight paraphrase of Hans Urs Von Balthasar touches on a pivotal theme of his theology of the mystery of Eucharist. In suffering his whole human substance is made to flow in order to be able to enter into human beings: but this happens in order to be able to enter into human beings in ...
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We Live Forward but Understand Backwards

Talk by Sr. Ceil Since Jesus, our resurrected Christ, is alive, we can find him in the Word and in the Eucharist. 16 min ...
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The Dark Night for Ordinary People

Talk by Sr. Ceil Sr. Ceil uses practical examples to help us understand how God is trying to take us to someplace new. 38 min. Please click below to hear Sr. Ceils teaching on the Dark Night of the Soul ...
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Icon created by a member of Friends of Carmel

Prayer is a Yearning for God’s Presence

In a little book called Contemplative Prayer, Thomas Merton asks, “What is the purpose of meditation in the sense of 'the prayer of the heart'?" He says we seek the deepest ground of our identity in God. And we want to gain a direct existential grasp, a personal experience of the truths of life and ...
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A Night More Lovely Thank the Dawn

When We Gathered A Night More Lovely Than the Dawn “I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God… But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.”  (T.S. Eliot “East Coker”) “It is impossible to please God ...
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Painting by Sieger Koder

Popular Poet Takes Comfort in Jesus

Painting by Sieger Koder When Mary Oliver died recently, I retrieved her book Thirst (2007), which combines nature, grief, and finding faith through the Church which she discovered in the midst of her sorrow after losing her long-time partner. She does not appear to have a background in any religion which, I think, aids her childlike ...
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Christmas 2018 at the Hermitage

For our Christmas Eve celebration we planned a simpler walk in the dark.  Three flaming torch bearers led and held the procession of about 45 people around the front of the property and finally knocking on doors in the back courtyard seeking room for the Child to be born.  Our destination was the Elijah chapel ...
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Reflections on the Gospel of the Day: Matthew 9:27-31

Talk by Br. Thomas Using a motto from the 60's, Br. Thomas describes the blind men in the Gospel as they cry out for help. 16 min ...
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Reveal Your Presence: The Yes of Love

When we gathered on December 8th, We did so with great enthusiasm since we remembered how the favour given Our Lady was meant for us as well, that we too would become full of grace.  That excitement prevailed as we touched on the meaning of hope, hope that is driven by the presence of the Spirit ...
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From Lashes to Glory

Talk by Br. Thomas Brother Thomas takes us through a week of liturgies to challenge our choices. 15 min ...
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Something New in November

The New from the Old, Something new is in the air.  Yet it’s November, the time for dying. John Scally, a lecturer at Trinity College, treats his readers of “A Pilgrim’s Progress for Today,” Spirituality,  Nov.-Dec. ’18 to Christopher Fry’s words: “Affairs are now soul-sized, The enterprise is exploration into God.”  He describes the Church of Ireland ...
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St. Teresa, the Mystics, and the Parish: Something New is Stirring

We celebrated the feast of St. Teresa (Oct. 15th) with a weekend retreat for lay deacons.  They wanted to hear about her Interior Castle, a description of the phases we pass through when we get serious about developing a life of prayer—becoming a disciple of Christ. So, we began by recognizing that we all need ...
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August 18th

When We Gathered One week before the Pope’s arrival in Ireland we gathered at Holy Hill under the theme: Nothing is impossible to one who loves. We wanted to break open the ground within ourselves to be able to be as fully present to Pope Francis’ message that we knew would be about the joy ...
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To Enkindle Us in His Love

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Gillian brings us—men and women-- into an experience of what St. Teresa mean by  dwelling on words from The Song of Songs in Scripture profoundly and intimately. 49 min ...
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Being Heirs to Holiness

Talk by Sr. Ceil In preparation for the Pope’s visit to Ireland, Sr. Ceil unpacks pieces of his letter on holiness, Gaudete et Oxalate, the Joy of the Gospel. She talks about how we can err lingering over the meaning of Gnosticism and Pelagianism and how we take that on today. Holiness is utterly available and ...
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Becoming a Blessed Child of God

Talk by Br. Thomas Br. Thomas comments on the readings: Jesus encouraging us to become spiritual children; and Ezekial offering us the freedom to change. 17 min ...
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Papal Visit Fallout

“When first I knew you, you lifted me up so that I might see that there was something to see, but that I was not yet the man to see it.  And you beat back the weakness of my gaze, blazing upon me too strongly, and I was shaken with love and with dread.  And ...
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Paradise is Coming

Sometimes an image stirs the heart and takes root. This week “The Tree of Paradise” has fed me with hope for our tired world. Yes, we can plod on superficially satisfied for a time, or perhaps starving on a very deep level.  We can labour away, be yanked this way and that. We can even ...
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Elijah is Coming to Holy Hill

Talks by Sr. Ceil & Br. Thomas After the feast of Corpus Christi celebrated here by Bishop John with special music and outdoor procession we were expecting to settle into ordinary time.  But the next week the liturgy featured the book of Kings with its accounts of the prophet Elijah, considered the founder of Carmelites.  ...
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What About Glory

During this week of solitude my study project has been to finish 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, the No 1 bestseller the cover claims.  So much of Jordan Peterson’s advice rings true.  His own conversion to a sort of high level of humanism emerges out of complete disillusionment and disgust for cultural ...
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Where are You Going?

What the young generation is thinking and experiencing interests me since I worry lest we fail them. Recently I was struck by the message of a university student in Dublin telling the Catholic magazine, Intercom, that there is a ray of hope among his peers since they are listening hard to a Canadian psychologist, philosopher, ...
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May 12th Retreat Gathering Day

Pope Francis made a visit to our day of gathering on Friday evening with an immensely helpful talk by Thomas on detachment and discernment taken from Pope Francis’ recent writing on holiness. Br. Thomas indicates how these two virtues are so necessary to gain radiant interior freedom, how St. Ignatius helps us by describing holy ...
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Heaven on Earth

Talk by Gillian Coxhead 49 min ...
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February 24th Love’s Urgent Longings

At our gathering on February 24th we were entering Lent with gusto. Brother Thomas set the pace by encouraging us to go the distance, to achieve our human end, to be perfect—that is, right for purpose. And that means becoming one’s best self. Listen to Flying into Perfect Hope by Br. Thomas. Gillian moved us ...
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Fired with Love’s Urgent Longings

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Using music to accompany her reflections, Gillian asks what is the experience of “love’s urgent longings” and dips well into John of the Cross’s poem to describe how God gives us a taste for Him alone. Venture of Delight (27 min.) Fired with Love's Urgent Longings (47 min.) One dark night ...
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To Hell and Back

Moving toward Holy Week we are scrambling to prepare the house and grounds, the liturgies and music, and most of all our own souls, helping one another in homilies to remember what is really going on. For some time I have been dipping into the writings of Hans Urs Von Balthasar and during this Lent ...
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Reflection on Epiphany

With candle light and music we launched our celebration of Epiphany.  As Fr. John Udris led us in a reflection on what the wise men were seeking he could well have been talking about ourselves as contemplatives and what we are seeking.  What was their purpose, their goal?  To seek a King? To offer gifts?  ...
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To Be with the Bridegroom

Talk by Sr. Ceil Sr. Ceil sets a tone for Lent by considering the why of suffering with its pain and joy. 15 min. To listen to By My Side from Godspell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdrD4fXgIM8 ...
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Flying into Perfect Hope

Talk by Br. Thomas Br. Thomas tells us that if we give up our expectations then we can move into God’s domain, let him come now, and let him take hold of us. 25 min ...
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A Summary of “With Empty Hands” by Philip McParland

This deeply insightful article, sub-titled 'The Journey Home' deals with the challenges we face in letting go of the 'false self' and 'pride' and embracing the 'true self'. McParland begins his article by stating, ‘'The journey of life is sometimes referred to as a homecoming.'' The image of home suggests at the very least, ''a ...
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Image of poster for the firm Hidden Figures

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

An inspiring film portraying the level of humanity that can be reached by ordinary people. I saw a very inspiring film at the weekend called 'Hidden Figures'. It's based on a true story. Basically its about 3 African woman who worked at NASA in the 1950s-time of male dominance and coloured segregation-but despite this, due ...
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Mary and Carmelite Saints

Allure of Carmelite Spirituality

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Gillian speaks of Carmelite spirituality in terms of beauty, its allure, and its being able to name the cry of the human heart. 45 min ...
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Fr. Matt Blake giving a talk at Holy Hill Hermitage

Elijah, Humility, and Truth

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Fr. Matt addresses the problem Elijah had and we have of feeling alone, and how the first Carmelites looked to this very same Elijah for the source of their spirituality. In Carmel we pray for the freedom to live in the truth and for the courage, insight, and strength we ...
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What is Carmelite Spirituality?

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Fr. Matt describes even as he takes us into the images and depth of Carmelite spirituality. When one’s spirituality causes us to live from the deepest place within, we are authentic. 35 min ...
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Mary and Carmelite Saints

November 4th Retreat Gathering Day

November is our time for Fr. Matt.  He and Gillian helped us explore what is Carmelite spirituality.  At Mass we gathered in depth and heard Matt talk about how the original Carmelites looked to Elijah to firm up their credentials and so as not to be alone. And he reminded us that as Carmelites we ...
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A Theology of the Angels

Talk by Sr. Ceil Angels are light as a feather, supple, and have a history of warfare. They protect us and show the way. Sr. Ceil brings to life a theology of angels. 15 min ...
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Finding God Among the Pots and Pans

Talk by Gillian Coxhead Listen to Gillian Coxhead as she discusses finding God in the pots and pans. Part I: She explores how finding God is being faithful to self-giving duty while hinged to one's silent centre. 29 min. Part II: Don't be sad if you are drawn into exterior works unto exhaustion, because God ...
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G.K. Chesterton and Therese Rejecting Mad Self-Sufficiency

Talk by Fr. John Udris The next best thing to being present for talk from Fr. John Udris, is listening to his description of the qualities G.K. and Therese share - humility, humor, gratitude, and a certain child-likeness. 46 min. Accompanying these talks were two handouts comparing quotes from G.K. and Therese on Humility and ...
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G.K. Chesterton

August 22nd Retreat Gathering Day (2017)

I wish we had a photo of us as we wound up our day on G.K. Chesterton and St. Therese, kindred spirits—all of us sitting around the courtyard fountain.  People said they missed the times they couldn’t come and we resolved to carry one another, present or not, into our way of keeping one another ...
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A Hermit's Cell

February 25th Retreat Gathering Day (2017)

Our theme for February’s gathering was the desert.  We go to the desert to meet God. Each of us creates a cell in the desert of our own hearts daily where we can be most honest—naked before God.  God alone will tell me who I really am. During these troubled political times when we so ...
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Icon of people working

May 3rd – 6th Retreat Gathering Day (2017)

Finding God Amidst the Pots and Pans Dorothy Day, said Sr. Ceil, had an abortion, was an unwed mother whose child’s Baptism grounded her faith, and went on to become a fervent convert and foundress of The Catholic Worker Movement that deals with the poor and homeless.  How is she a model for Carmelites?  Dorothy ...
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Icon created by a member of Friends of Carmel

The Agonia as Icon for Friends of Carmel

The Creator of the Woodblock Print titled ‘The Agony’ (Agonia) As an Artist, spiritual places are so inspirational for my work.  On a trip to the Holy Land in September 2014, I visited many sacred sites, and was greatly moved on this journey of 'Walking in the footsteps of Jesus'. A woodblock print, carved from ...
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Fr. John Udris

Becoming a Saint to Fill God’s Desire for Us

Talk by Fr. John Udris Listen to a homily from Fr. John Udris as he enourages us to learn what we can from each unique saint, glean their spirit, and then become uniquely holy. 8 min ...
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St. Therese of Lisieux

The Mystery of the Daisies – St. Therese

This is an excerpt from the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux. If you wish, you can download it as a pdf document for off-line reading. Jesus has created a multitude of little daisies to delight our eyes and instruct our souls. I see with wonder that in the morning their pink petals are turned ...
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G.K. Chesterton

A Second Childhood by G.K. Chesterton

The following is a poem by G.K. Chesterton. If you wish, you can download it as a pdf document for off-line reading. When all my days are ending And I have no song to sing, I think I shall not be too old To stare at everything; As I stared once at a nursery door ...
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The Holy Spirit

On the Fullness of Truth

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake In this short reflection, Carmelite priest Fr. Matthew Blake tells us how to dispose ourselves to the Holy Spirit. 10 min ...
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Hands joined in prayer

Teresa of Avila and Common Questions on Prayer

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Carmelite priest Fr. Matthew Blake answers common questions about prayer from the perspective of St. Teresa of Avila. 20 min ...
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St. Teresa of Avila

Prayer and St. Teresa of Avila

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Fr. Matt Blake reflects on prayer in the writings of Teresa of Avila. 25 min ...
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St. John of the Cross

Overview of the Writings of St. John of the Cross

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Fr. Matthew Blakes gives us an overview of John's major writings. 25 min ...
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Fr. Matt Blake giving a talk at Holy Hill Hermitage

Key Ideas in the Writings of St. John of the Cross

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Fr. Matt Blake introduces us to the ideas that are central to understanding St. John of the Cross. 32 min ...
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A person standing in darkness

Because it is Night

Talk by Fr. Matt Blake Listen to Fr. Matt Blake discuss the Dark Night as understood by St. John of the Cross. 31 min ...
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The cover of the book 'When you can't pray'

Book Review: When You Can’t Pray by Finbarr Lynch

Book review by Mary Judge O Dwyer  When You Can’t Pray is a sequel to Finbarr Lynch’s SJ first book When You Pray. In When You Can’t Pray Fr. Lynch helps us to understand what happens when we draw close to God, when God draws close to us and gives us more of Himself in ...
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