Stop and Smell the Mystical Rose

As a freshman in college the last thing on my mind was the total consecration to Mary. A convincing and caring “R.A.”(Resident Adviser) who lived down the hall approached me about this wonderful way to give myself completely to Jesus, through Mary, His mother. I acquiesced because I really couldn’t think of any reason why I should say no.

Before I knew it, I found myself in the chapel daily before Jesus praying the rosary and litany of Our Lady of Loretto for 33 days straight. I will never forget the first time I read the title, “Mystical Rose”. It captivated me and my eyes remained glued to the page. I gave it my full attention and rested on that phrase quietly pondering, “Mary is a ‘Mystical Rose’… Wow….”

Being the daughter of a florist I was surrounded by roses for all of my childhood. Only one flower really shows the power of love. The rose is the apex of all floral display. There is no other flower that quite captures the fullness of beauty than the rose. Upon seeing a rose’s penetrating loveliness it somehow overflows into the soul and coupled with an aromatic fragrance it’s power is magnified. Having seen thousands of roses year after year, one that I never saw was the one that was “Mystical”. “Mystical Rose”… That title lingered in my soul. I pondered it all those days leading up to the consecration. It became my joy to say that title, and each day I loved it more and more.

Twenty years have passed since my first consecration, and this title is still my favorite.

How could we not see this title as a perfect reflection of Mary? As one considers all the blossoms of the garden, how could Mary not be the “rose”? The perfection of petals and circular shape are a clear reflection of the Immaculate One, whose perfection we all strive to emulate. Her sweet and gentle fragrance are like the same soft aroma that spreads through the world. The refinement and feminine charm of the flower imitates her splendor as the epitome of the feminine genius. Just as the rose has a strength and mighty thorns that protect and defend itself, so also Mary in her Immaculate soul bears a power from God that has crushed the head of evil itself! And what is it about this word “mystical” that enthralls me? Webster’s dictionary states mystical as, “involving or having the nature of an individual’s direct subjective communion with God”. I think we would all agree that there is no other creature on earth that has a more “direct subjective communion with God” than His very own mother.

As I reflect on this title I hope it enkindles an ever deeper love for Our Lady in your heart. I pray that these thoughts may allow you to “stop and smell the Mystical Rose” found each day. Where has her fragrance touched your life and allowed you to draw ever closer to her Son? We should all follow that path to mystical union laid out by the loveliest maiden whose magnificence is unparalleled just like the rose that represents her so well.

By Sister Shawn Pauline

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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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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