A Dozen Thank Yous

I can still hear it—the sound of the old car horn and the commotion in the house as my sisters and I scrambled toward the door trying to make it to the car before it drove off without us. It was the same ritual, or shall I say “ordeal,” every morning before school. Mom was always up before the rest of the family, getting sack lunches and breakfast shakes ready for us children—too many children to count on two hands—a dozen to be exact: six boys and six girls. So many bodies in the house running in many directions, yet one thing was certain, all school age children must converge at the “old clunker” by 7:00 a.m.—no exceptions and no excuses.

Dad, for whom punctuality was non-negotiable, was waiting in the car fifteen minutes before take-off. My brothers would be in the car with him—already having drunk down their breakfast shake (a blend of milk, bananas, raw eggs, cinnamon, and chocolate powder)—“el chocomil,” as we called it; which was my mother’s “Spanglishised” pronunciation of “chocolate milk.” The old car horn would start blasting five minutes before leaving time and the girls would run toward the door at high speed before being stopped by mom who insisted that we not leave the house without having had our “chocomil” and half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We’d quickly drink it down and run toward the car with our PB&J in one hand and our sack lunch in the other. With mom’s blessing behind us and dad’s punctuality lecture ahead of us, we’d tumble into the car and finish getting ready. So began the morning rounds of school drop-offs at three different schools: elementary, junior high, and high school.

I smile now as I think of those tumultuous days in which our neighbors must have thought we were quite the spectacle. Actually, years later they told us they used to enjoy watching us because we always seemed to be having so much fun. Those were materially slender days, yet heavily endowed with timeless lessons. During those years we sometimes felt that we were missing out on things that some of our friends had—a nice car, fashionable clothes, the latest gadgets, outings, movies, etc. Yet dad would explain that while he and mom could not promise us great material gifts, they would work without rest to provide for timeless riches. They helped me to understand that our faith and education were gifts that “. . .no thief could ever break in and steal”; that true knowledge would never grow old; that wisdom from God would never wither away, and that only relentless faith could walk me beyond all passing things.

I have, long ago, outgrown my childhood clothing and discarded the toys. New cars have become old in a season. But the lessons I learned from my parents during those slender years have not grown old; they continue to feed me.

Like two fine bakers, my parents did their part in molding the batch—at times with gentle strokes, waiting for the dough to rise, and at other times turning up the heat so that the bread would bake rather than petrify in place. Their hands must have been scorched many times by my lack of understanding and gratitude. Yet they show no sign of regret for any sacrifice in raising their dozen. Thank God that gratitude is always in season even when long overdue. It’s never too late to say a “dozen thank you’s.”

By Sister Inez, O.C.D.

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

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Alhambra, California 91801

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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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