EDITORIAL April 2020 – From Mount Carmel Vol 68/2


Our journey through Lent should be a time of prayerful preparation and the practice of sacrificial love. And the liturgies of the season remind us that Lent should also be a season of joy as we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed. Indeed, we did start off this year’s Lent as usual by making our plans of how to live Lent: the little pleasures of life to give up, such as chocolates or alcohol or other stuff that we could do without during the season at least.

But who could have imagined that these were not going to be the real things that we would need to give up? Who could have imagined that greater sacrifices would be asked of us at this time – giving up our normal way of everyday existence, our jobs, our social life, our sacramental life, and indeed our very lives as in the case of numerous priests, medical and nursing professionals, healthcare support workers, volunteers and others, who have fallen in the line of duty as they ministered and supported those stricken down by the pandemic. Indeed, they have laid down their lives for their friends and as our divine Lord tells us, there is no greater love than this (cf. Jn 15:13).

The present challenges to health and life ironically are making this time truly prayerful and transformative. A few months ago in the UK, as a society we were tearing ourselves apart. It was all about Brexit. I’m wondering who has heard the word Brexit mentioned lately. In the Church, too, it was all about viri probati, synodality and other contentious topics addressed by the Amazonian synod. Anyone heard of those issues lately?

Rather, we’re now hearing and learning new words – COVID-19, Coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation, shielding, etc. Instead of the divisive arguments, everyone is rallying round to support each other. There’s much community effort to support the most vulnerable amongst us. As someone put it, in the light of the suffering and death that we face as a humanity, our humanity is being reborn. Families can enjoy the company of each other again, governments are devoting more resources to the health and wellbeing of their citizens and away from militarisation, interest rates are down, people are discovering their spiritual core and desiring deeper relationship with God. And at last, the Church is finding its place in the digital world as various spiritual support services – retreats, pastoral care, spiritual guidance, etc. – have moved online and liturgies are being live streamed. Indeed, a truly digital age has dawned, and, in these ways, this Lent has been a truly transformative experience.

So in many ways, suffering and joy has been the experience that has accompanied our Lent and will bring us into the risen life of Easter. Christ has stood by us, and will continue to stand by us, all through this experience. We live by his resurrection power. He is our hope, and so we do not despair, despite the many trials of life.

As the world struggles to come to terms with the present living situation of self-isolation and lockdown – almost an enforced solitude – for which people were not prepared, what would Carmel offer a world that is on its knees? I believe it is to also go down on our knees the way we know best – prayer. Through prayer, which is our particularly authentic way of being in the world, we can contribute in turning this time of tribulation into a time of grace and spiritual renewal for ourselves and our world.

We will emerge from the present crisis with renewed minds and hearts. It is my prayer for our Mount Carmel family that our spirituality and tradition, our holy parents, John and Teresa and all our Carmelite saints, will continue to watch over each and every one of us. May Mary our patroness, the Queen Beauty of Carmel, keep each of us safe under her protective mantle.

Happy Easter!