The Real Stuff of Holiness

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


As we continue to move in unknown spaces and times of uncertainty, REMEMBER your blessings and use your TIME well. Rest in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. Be the saint you are called to be. Our world needs saints today. Our world needs you.


In my book, time is an elusive thing. So is the memory. Both are hard to tangibly grasp. Both can seem restrictive. Neither is guaranteed. Both also offer a boatload of opportunity.

Time and memory are two words that have come to mind repeatedly these last months as we have struggled as a nation and as a world through a pandemic, natural disasters, injustice, daily life struggles.

Time. It is a gift. One of the few guarantees in this life is that we won’t make it out alive. Some of us may live a few short hours and others of us into our 100s. We have no control over this and no knowledge as to when our “time” will come. If indeed this is the case, which it is, the question we all should be asking ourselves is: “How am I using the time I have been gifted with?”

Many of us wish we could do extraordinary things. I do. One could say that’s not a “humble” thought. I suppose it is and it isn’t. To want to do extraordinary things for the sake of standing out and being noticed, is probably not humility speaking. To wish to do something extraordinary to have God’s light shine a bit brighter, to make this world a better place…now that’s special! And It’s all related to TIME and our use of it. We have 24 hours in a given day. The choices we make all day long actually forms us into who we will become. The choices made in our lives actually makes an impact on the world.

Enter 2020. Many of us have been working from home and have had limited outside activities. You may be tempted to ask, “What difference can I make in a situation like this? I’m just barely surviving. I’m struggling every day.” These thoughts have been verbalized by many of us. The amazing thing with God is that He uses absolutely everything for our good and oftentimes for a greater good.

Each day, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we have the choice to embark on the path of living life fully. This is extraordinary. It’s choosing to change our filters of what appears to be mundane, a block, a disturbance, a struggle and seeing it as an opportunity and blessing. It’s not just about choosing to change filters as oftentimes we can’t do it alone. It’s not just choosing at a given time to think positively. That can only last for so long. It’s asking God to walk with us through the messiness of life and as we do, our filters naturally start adjusting. He changes your life when you let Him in.

Living in this way (which is not an easy thing to do) radically changes how you choose to use the time you are blessed with. You may be doing the exact same unseen things that you did yesterday, but somehow it’s different. It’s life-giving. It’s purposeful. Somehow in your day, you start to think more and more of God, more and more of others, less and less of yourself.

St. Therese knew that her sacrifice of repeatedly and joyfully offering her services to a nun who was difficult to live with was how to fully live the moment she was given. It was her “little way”. Ordinary, yet so extraordinary. Her daily life was comprised of these small acts of great, sacrificial love that largely went unnoticed. How else can one explain how a cloistered nun who only lived for 24 years in the confines of her convent walls, who died in 1897 would become world renowned and a friend to millions in 2020? It’s how she chose to use the time she was blessed with and by being faithful to every minute given to her, she changed the world. This meant being faithful through the mundane, the routine, the joys, the struggles, the suffering she endured due to her family sorrows, the suffering she endured in dying of tuberculosis. This fidelity to daily life in her vocation is bearing fruit beyond what she could have ever imagined. It became an immense source of grace for others.

To be faithful to the time given to us today…this is the real stuff of holiness.

It is too often that we look back and think of all the time we did not use well. I would imagine that feelings of regret are something we all experience. The time we wasted by not being attentive to the moment, by focusing instead on ourself and our sometimes selfish desires. Thank God we are blessed at every moment to try again, to never give up, to start afresh with each new day.

Here is where the memory also comes into play. Memories give shape to our lives. It connects the past, present and future. It brings joy, it can also bring sorrow. It reminds us of a wide range of feelings and thoughts experienced throughout the span of our lives. That is why memory loss is such a tragedy. The individual is no longer able to connect to people, to places, even to things.

Memories also fashion us in unique ways. It can hold us back. We remember the hardship when we failed, so we don’t try again, instead protecting ourselves from the seemingly negative experience. We remember a hurt and close ourselves off from others. Memories can also move us forward. We remember the blessings and the joys of an experience and we forge ahead confident in this sense of love. Memories are faulty. Given enough time, there is a high possibility of our “forgetting”, unconsciously and consciously changing the details of the memory to suit us. What a powerful tool the memory is! And when you think about it…how much control memory has over all of us.

It was in the month of March when states started to issue stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. With the uncertainty and the abrupt halt to our “normal” lives, people were reminded of the reality that life is not a guaranteed gift and that at a moment’s notice life can drastically change. During this time period we were inundated with people seeking some sort of consolation, seeking support in their search for God and the meaning of life, seeking some kind of peace during this time of fear. However, as the shock and novelty wore off and as we become more and more deadened to covid news, and the “millions” who are struggling with this, there is a new “normal”, tedium is setting in. It often does. It has always struck me how quickly we forget. We just forget.

The memory of graces received can battle against our human frailty. Our memories do not sustain us. Time does not serve us. The one constant truly is and only can be turning to the Lord in trust. Turning to the Lord knowing that He loves us and seeks what is good for our souls. Just think back to all the times in your life when you KNEW that God was watching out for you. When you KNEW that God was giving you the grace you needed exactly when you needed it. Looking back in retrospect, I’m sure you can see all the different things God allowed to happen, all the different ways He’s moved in your life so that you could be the person you are today.

As we continue to move in unknown spaces and times of uncertainty, REMEMBER your blessings and use your TIME well. Rest in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. Be the saint you are called to be. Our world needs saints today. Our world needs you.

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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About the Author

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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