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. When grace wants to invade in a special way it often converges around a theme. Our biggest Carmelite feast is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on July 16th,and so we had begun preparing for renewal of vows with special Carmelite readings. A long-term retreatant, an ordained pastor from Switzerland, but also a gifted musician, Stefan, beseeched us to beg for a used piano. Stefan had inspirations around moving this newly donated piano into the large room in the centre back building we called Pachomius. One thing led to another: renaming the chapel Elijah, redecorating the entry featuring the Elijah icon, all the preaching that was coming out of the Elijah readings, and new music about Elijah.
The day we rededicated the chapel Sr. Ceil preached retelling Elijah’s story and relating it to ourselves. She reminded us that he is the prophet whom the Spirit led into deep solitude to drink from the waters of the torrent of Carith , the living water of contemplation. His eremitic and prophetic life expresses Carmel’s ideal. Elijah is bigger than life. He stood in the presence of the living God crying out to the prophets of Baal, “How long will you straddle both sides?” He asks us as well, “how long will you try to have it both ways?“
God could count on Elijah to take his part, to go the distance and not to fail him, even though he would run out of steam, collapsed under the broom tree crying, “I am the only one left, no better than my ancestors.” And God fed him and urged him on till he climbed the mountain where he waited all night in the cave to listen for God. “With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of hosts.” That’s the calibre of man–wholehearted, tried and true–we recognize in Elijah.
Today we can repeat with Elijah and St. Teresa when we say to God, “How few friends you have. The ones You have had better be good ones.” Both Elijah and Teresa called the people back to God midst impossible circumstances, and yet, God fed them and kept them going.
Br. Thomas then took the baton when he preached on the Law, the Cave, and the Earthquake. He continues the prophetic tone describing qualities that we need to emulate today by loving and interiorizing the Law, and going the distance until finally doing our time in the Cave we allow God to take us into another realm beyond mere human knowing and merely human loving. And then we become “world shakers” so prepared for battle that we can say with the 101stAirborne Division, “We’re Paratroopers; we’re supposed to be surrounded.” Don’t miss this serious call to arms with its comical lines: Egoless Earthquakes.