Zeal is Faith and Love in Action

As a second year novice, I was sent to live with our elder sisters at the Casa Nazarena Convent, lovingly referred to as “Casa.” It’s the home for our sisters in need of assistance in their daily living due to age, sickness, or both. I recall being a bit hesitant to go because I was so new to community and I didn’t know our elder sisters all that well, if at all. The Casa has a basement… and to a novice, it was a big, scary basement with noisy laundry machines, dark hallways, and big mysterious rooms. Needless to say, I was scared to go down there to iron my clothes, but what other choice did I have if I only owned three wrinkled shirts and a uniform? It was about 9:00 at night. I got up the courage to go down the stairs and into the ironing room by myself.

As I was trying to fiddle around with the chord, I heard the rolling of a walker and slow, deliberate steps coming through the doorway. Afraid, I looked up quickly and saw that it was Sister Mary Andrew. At the time, Sister’s health was already failing and she was almost blind. She came into the ironing room without saying a word, as we were already in grand silence (the time after night prayer where we Carmelites maintain utmost silence to allow God to speak), sat down on a seat in front of me, pulled out a sheet of paper, and started to recite the Litany of the Sacred Heart. She would say the aspiration, and I would respond “Have mercy on us” and this went on for about 15 minutes until all my shirts were ironed. As I finished, we walked to the elevator together, still in silence, and when the doors opened, she gave me a smile, an encouraging pat on the back, and then went on her way.

Sister Mary Andrew died in June of 2013, about a year after that memorable encounter. When I think of the virtue of zeal, I think of her. Zeal is faith and love in action. Sister saw the need of a little sister though she was almost blind. She reached out to help someone in need when she herself must have been tired and worn down at the end of the day. She lifted me up in prayer and took away my fear without saying a word to me. Being zealous for God is not about being overly active, but by being so present in the moment that you forget your own needs so that you can bring the love of God to others, no matter what it costs big or small. May God reward you, Sister Mary Andrew, and may your beautiful soul rest in peace!

Sister Meredith, 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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