The First Disciple

The Annunciation (St. Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin Mary) by Paolo de Matteis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The devotion of the Brown Scapular originates in the history of Our Lady of Mount Carmel when Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock in the 1200s presenting to him the scapular and promised: “This is a privilege for you and your brethren: whoever dies wearing it, will be saved.”

This tradition falls within the context of our Catholic faith since it honors Mary as the first and foremost of her Son’s disciples. While Christ alone has redeemed us, Mary directs us always to Him. As the loving Mother that she is, she embraces us as her spiritual children and the scapular is an outward sign of her protection to us individually and to the Carmelite Order and to those associated with it. This patronage and protection came to be symbolized in the scapular, the essential part of the Carmelite habit.

God wants to draw close to us, but He has given us freedom, which we often misuse. We are not robots; we are human and God desires a relationship with us, so much so that He Himself, while wholly retaining His Divinity, took on our human nature from a human mother. He knew what it was to look into her tender eyes, to nestle up against her, to be comforted by her love and care. She was His teacher and the love and concern He learned from her manifested itself when He corrected His disciples’ attitude toward children when He said:

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14)

But Mary also knew that her Son was the long-awaited Messiah and became His first disciple.

Jesus came to preach the Kingdom of God. His was a message of love, acceptance and forgiveness. He walked among us as both the Message and the Messenger. Even today Jesus continues to come to relay His message in various ways while at other times He sends His Mother to bring His message to one of us to relay to others. Often children have been the recipients of such a visit. The message is always the same as at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.”

Just as the angel cautioned Mary at the Annunciation, “Do not fear, Mary”, she too puts those she visits at ease:

To Juan Diego (Mexico, 1531) – “Am I not your Mother?”

To Melanie Mathieu, age 14 and Maximin Giraud, age 11 (La Salette, France 1846) – “Come closer, my children.”

To Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, ages 7-10 (Fatima, Portugal, 1910) – “Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.”

Mary’s visits to us are always to draw us back to her Son, to renew our covenantal faithfulness to Him, to “recalculate” directions on the road to salvation when we get “off course”.

Through His beloved disciple John, Jesus gave her to us as our Mother, as the gift of His last Will before He died on the Cross. Let us embrace her as our Mother!

Sister Mary Colombiere, 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.

We encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and planned giving. Click here to learn more..

If you hear God calling you to the religious life, I encourage you to visit their vocations page. – Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

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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