What’s in a Name?

Photography © by Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

A handful of times in my life, I KNEW with deep conviction that certain things would come to pass.  I can’t explain it.  I just knew.  My vocation to the Carmelite Sisters was one of these “Aha!” God-moments.  I knew in an instant I had a vocation to the religious life and to this religious family.  I also knew without a doubt that this inspiration came from God because it certainly wasn’t coming from me. 

Another such moment was when I received my religious name, Sister Mary Scholastica of the Cross (all Carmelites have religious titles in addition to their name).  Postulants submit three “choices” of possible religious names and titles to the Superior General.  The Superior General then takes all the options (including her own inspiration) into prayerful consideration.  On the day the postulant enters the novitiate, she hears for the first time her name in religion. 

Before I received my name, I KNEW I would be receiving it.  For some unknown reason, I knew it was meant for me.  I can assure you it was hardly coming from a sense of devotion.  Can’t say I knew who St. Scholastica was.  Sure, I liked the phonetics of the name but one doesn’t usually ask for a religious name on account of its phonetics.  Scho-la-sti-ca.  Catchy.  Catchy enough for children in our schools to call me “Mister Galactica, Sister Alaska, Sister Elastica, Sister Iglesiastica, Sister Sarcastica” and the list goes on.  

Twenty plus years later, I am still trying to “unpack” the meaning of my name and the blessing of being named after a rock of faith, St. Scholastica.  Her hidden life, her great love for God and her brother, her steady strength.  There is something about her “hidden greatness” that should speak to all of us. 

Her brother, St. Benedict, was the public face, and his greatness was evident to all those who encountered him.  Benedict is known as the father of Western Monasticism.  That’s no small order.  He established the Rule that would become the norm for innumerable Christian monks and nuns and is also the patron saint of Europe.  Enter Scholastica.  Tradition notes that they were twins.  I can almost imagine Scholastica pushing Benedict out of the womb making sure to hang on to his ankle so as to be connected to him.  This visual would be the epitome of her relationship with her brother.  If brother and sister truly were so united in their love for each other and for God, can you imagine what their relationship must have been like? 

Benedict’s greatness reflected outwardly the same greatness that resided in the heart of his sister. Greatness comes from living a life completely aligned with God’s will, responding whole-heartedly to the unique call He places within each of our hearts.  Greatness does not come from power, prestige, money, position, or recognition.  True greatness comes from within.  It is hidden. Someone who allows God’s light, His presence to penetrate every fiber of their being and to shine through is in every essence of the word, GREAT. 

St. Scholastica, pray for us. 

By: Sister Mary Scholastica, 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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Or for more information, please contact:
Sister Maria Goretti, O.C.D.
920 East Alhambra Road
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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