Monthly News February 2018

The Lenten journey is well underway and it is good to hear of some of the activities happening within the Carmelite Family around the Province.

Paola Yevenes from Wentworthville parish has drawn my attention to a number of parish activities  including

  • A positive response from the parish council to explore Carmelite Spirituality sessions and they are in the process of organising this around their feast day
  • The Friday evening Lenten reflections in the Taize tradition has been well attended.
  • Discussion is happening with the Carmelite community about linking their parish website to the Carmelite Library here in Melbourne.

Some other activities of interest:

  • Br Matthew Tonini led our first ‘Carmelite Conversations’ session at the Centre in early February on ‘The Rule of St Albert’. This was well attended with around 25 people with lots of engagement and interest. Everyone had a chance to read the rule and share reflections about it. Most commented there was something there for everyone in our endeavour to live the Christian journey.
  • Neal Crossan from Whitefriars College has visited Middle Park a couple of times recently and plans to make regular visits to build and strengthen links with other Province activities.
  • Fr Matthew McPhee is conducting a silent residential retreat for Lay Carmelites and other interested people at Campion Retreat Centre in Kew – Friday 9 March – Monday 12 March. A great opportunity if you can attend. Enquiries to Ben Bekema
  • Sr Miriam from the Monastery in Kew shares some information with us.This year has been busy with groups of people coming to spend time in the chapel with different intentions. A few come on their own for a kind of private retreat.  They find the quiet and atmosphere of the chapel helpful for their times of prayer.  The garden too is often much appreciated on these days, especially as tea and coffee is available for refreshment.  Often too, prayer groups are happy to make use of the chapel and front garden.  With the return of students to school, we have already welcomed some of these, whose numbers will probably increase as the year goes on.  Their RE teachers bring them on their bus trips to introduce them to various aspects of the life of the Church.  Usually one of the sisters gives a brief explanation of the Carmelite life and prayer and the values Carmel represents. There are also groups such as the Knights of Malta and those of the Holy Sepulchre who choose to make their annual retreat day in a place where the primary emphasis is on prayer.

As Lent passes on we prepare for an influx of some 500 or so people who meet at Carmel for the Annual Ecumenical Day.  This is celebrated in conjunction with the Kew Community Festival which unfortunately often falls about the beginning of Holy Week.  This gathering is now in its 42nd year, and includes our Jewish friends.  The local Rabbi usually reads the psalm or some other Old Testament text in Hebrew.

We have a couple of prospective postulants.  One has already lived in for a while and is currently settling her affairs in the hope of coming. She is a teacher and has a few commitments to attend to.  The other, we are looking forward to getting to know better in the near future.  May the Lord bless them and bring them along if that is in his plan for them and for us all.

In 2017, we sadly farewelled two of our beloved sisters from our Carmel in Canberra, Sister Tharcisius and Sister Beth.  They will be very much missed.  May their dear souls rest in Peace.’ 

From Philip Harvey Carmelite Library
This year the Carmelite Centre presents a series of monthly seminars called Carmelite Conversations. I knew little more about Ruth Burrows than her name, though aware of her reputation, which is why I offered to talk about her for the April session. Where to start? “Ruth Burrows is a Carmelite Nun from Quidenham in Norfolk, United Kingdom. She is the author of a number of bestselling books including Guidelines for Mystical Prayer and Essence of Prayer.” This is the two sentence biography of Ruth Burrows on the website of Bloomsbury Publishing, her current publisher.

The two sentences divide her life into one of strict religious observance and contemplative writing about spirituality. This is itself helpful as a way of thinking about Ruth, because hers is a life primarily of withdrawal from the world of action into the world of prayer. Her books reveal this world on every page. She is someone who has rejected the vanity of the world, that staple so often required of biographies, electing instead to live a life without fanfare or shock horror chapters. It is good to discover someone whose words are essential, but whose personality is withdrawn, almost anonymous. There is no entry for her on Wikipedia. My Lenten rule is to read as much of Sister Rachel, as she is called in community, as possible.

Philip Harvey (February 2018)

Monthly Musing
I  wonder how many Carmelite Spirituality Groups we have in Australia? I noticed in the latest edition of Assumpta ( The Newsletter of the Carmelite Third Order(TOC)-British Province) that there are 14 local chapters of TOC and 6 Carmelite Spirituality Groups (CSG’s) in the UK province.  It would be interesting to know our numbers – does anyone have this information?                     Damien

Participants Carmelite Institute of North America Symposium, July 2017 Loyola University Chicago