Last Friday our community celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patron Saint of the Carmelites. The early Carmelites chose Mary as their Patron as they believed that she was the perfect model of the interior life, a life which seeks God in everything, a life of prayer and the practice of living in the presence of God. This is the life to which the Carmelites aspire. A life too, which continues to inspire and influence the work we do in support of the young men of Whitefriars College.
When we think of Whitefriars we can’t help but think of Mary. The concepts of Contemplation, Community and Service are the tenets on which our College is founded, and which help to show us the way when it comes to the forming of gentle men at Whitefriars. Our motto, Almae in fide parentis (In the care of a loving other) guides us in our relationships with each other and our students and challenges us to live in the footsteps of Jesus.
In the centre of our College stands our statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I often reflect on this image of Mary and the teenage Jesus. For me, the meaning of this image and of our Carmelite understanding of Mary herself, lays in the positioning of her two hands.
Mary’s left hand rests gently and lovingly on the shoulder of her son. Jesus knows that he is nurtured, supported, and loved by his mother.
But this is only half the story. Mary’s right hand is holding his arm and appears to be one which is guiding, leading, and challenging her son. Challenging him to leave the security of home and venture into the world.
The hands of Mary describe the spirit of Whitefriars. A spirit that says we are loved but also a spirit which challenges us to stand on our own too feet. A spirit which nurtures and supports us when we fall but also one which tells us to take responsibility for getting back up again, with an ultimate desire to be positive contributors to society.
Each one of us here at Whitefriars is the hands of Mary. Each of us is called to be people of strength and of love – gentle men and women of Carmel.
I encourage us all during this time of challenge and uncertainty to reflect on the life of Mary. Someone who was no stranger to adversity and struggle, a woman of strength, faith and of hope especially in difficult times.
I leave you today with a prayer to our Lady of Mount Carmel which speaks of our current circumstance.
Mary, you are always with the brothers and sisters of your Son. We entrust ourselves to you during all that is happening to us. Help us to protect and look after each other. Be With those who mourn and those who are sick, those who have lost jobs and hope.
Be with us in our fear and uncertainty. Don’t let worry and anxiety overcome us. Be our source of hope. Lend you strength to all those helping others and those who are caring for the sick. Help us to end this disease.
Our lady of Mount Carmel PRAY FOR US
Holy Prophet Elijah PRAY FOR US