Carmel Bulletin, 21 July 2019

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Under this title, the Carmelite family and our parish invoke the patronage and protection of Mary, our mother and sister in faith.

Many people have a very strong devotion to Mary under this title.  Some wear a scapular, the garment that legend associates with a Marian apparition to 13th century Carmelite, St Simon Stock.  Every day, before and after Mass, people can be observed praying to Mary at the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Church Marian Shrine in its original location, shortly after the arrival of the Carmelites

Our church, like many churches built before the middle of last century, had side altars located either side of the present sanctuary.  These often also served the function of being devotional shrines, with Wenty’s being no exception.  Our original Marian shrine, therefore, was at the front of the church, but on the opposite side of the sanctuary.  Various alterations to the church saw the Marian shrine take several other forms and locations.  Eventually, the desire to provide an appropriate space, while accommodating other liturgical needs, saw the shrine return to the front of the church in our recent renovations.

Our present Marian Shrine after Mass

The Marian Shrine can be a quiet space for prayer before and after Mass, and rightly so.  We all look for moments of silence and prayer in our lives, and we should help others to find them as well.

Ultimately, however, as Fr Anthony explained in his homily last weekend, and as we hear in the various prayers of the feast day, Mary leads us to Jesus.  During the Mass, therefore, our focus is rightly directed to the sanctuary, and to the unique ways that we encounter Christ in our celebration – through the assembly gathered to worship, through the priest that presides over the celebration, through the proclamation of the scriptures, and though the sacrificial meal of Jesus’ own body and blood.

In this way, our prayer and devotion to Mary can sustain our faith outside the Eucharistic celebration, which is the source and summit of our lives as Christians.

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