Significance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for the Priestly Vocation of St. Josemaria – Footprints in the Snow.

The origin of St. Josemaria’s vocation to the priesthood: “In 1964, speaking to me (Alvaro del Portillo) about his vocation to the priesthood, Monsignor Escriva said to me, but more as a question addressed to himself, ‘What was the origin of my priestly vocation? Something apparently trivial: prints left in the snow by the bare feet of a Carmelite.’ He then explained to me how, thinking about the sacrifice made by that religious for the love of God, he had asked himself what he himself was doing for our Lord. He had thought that perhaps God was calling him right then and there, on the street, and that if this was the case, then because of his love for the Eucharist, he would be called Brother Amador de Jesus Sacramentado.’

 

“The founder told us that it made a profound impression on him to see in the snow the footprints of a Discalced Carmelite, that it made him think about how little he himself was doing for the Lord, and that he realized then and there that our Lord wanted something specific from him” (Encarnacion Ortega…).

 

“The Father, as he himself confessed to me, began to experience desires for a more perfect and committed Christian life when, during the winter of 1917-1918, he contemplated tracks left in the snow by the bare feet of a Carmelite religious… He told me he had felt the call to the priesthood right after seein those footprints in the snow” (Jose Luis Muzquiz…)”.  

 

     From Vazquez de Prada (Vol. 1. 516…): “ ‘It was a matter of a change dictated,’ says Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, ‘ dictated ‘by a disposition to do something great, heroic if need be, for our Lord – a disposition to do something great, heroic if need be, for our Lord – a disposition which actively seeks to follow the will of God.’”

   “It was in December 1917 or in January 1918,” says Bishop Javier Echevarria, “that he realized for the first time that our Lord was calling him to his service, but he did not then know  in what or how. From that moment, he started making good use of the means for acquiring a much more intense and intimate relationship with God. With truth generosity he dedicated himself to prayer and to a life of piety and penance”…

 [I am now simply copying the foot notes from p. 516 of Vazquez de Prada)

 “ Witnesses use different expressions, but say basically the same thing: ‘he suggested to him that he become a Discalced Carmelite” (Alvaro del Portillo)… “he proposed that he become a Carmelite… “this priest tried to determine whether he had within him the seed of Carmelite vocation (Ramon Madurga) … “Our Lady of Mount Carmel was pushing me to become a priest. Up until I was sixteen years old, dear Mother, I would have laughed at anyone who who said I would one day be wearing a cassock. It happened all of a sudden, when I saw that some Carmelite friar had walked barefoot in the snow… How obliging  you are, sweet Virgin of the Kisses, to lead me by the hand like a little child of yours…. Jesus Undoubtedly wanted me to cry out from within my darkness, like the blind man in the Gospel. And I cried out for years, without knowing what I was asking for. And I shouted for a new being” (blogger emphasis)

 Throughout his life… Monsignor Escriva would remember with great gratitude that Carmelite priest. In 1938 he encountered him again Burgos…. Father Jose Miguel died on September 23 1942.

The ascetical takeaway from today’s feast, in my opinion, is: hearing the Word of God, Do It!! Our Lady was the first Christian to hear it. She did it, and engendered the Son of God in the flesh. St. Joseph took Our Lady as wife (being pregnant). e was told to do it, ad did it. That was the action of faith on his part that won for him the title of presumed father of Jesus Christ. It gave him the right and authority to give Jesus His Name, JESUS. It must be remembered that the act of faith is not primarily an act of the intelligence, but an act of the whole person in the giving of the self  in obedience to the Word. It is always a conversion away from the self to receive the Word into self. Remember John Paul II’s remark in “Veritatis Splendor:” “It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it passes into action, until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one’s whole existence. an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, Truth and the Life (cf. Jn. 14, 6). I entail an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived (Gal. 2, 20), in a profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters…. Faith also possesses a moral content. It gives rise to and calls for a consistent life commitment; it entails and brings to perfection the acceptance and observance of God’s commandments. (Veritatis Splendor, #88-89).

Scriptural Background: The history of Samaria, the Samaritans [the woman at the well with Christ, the parable of the Good Samaritan….). It is the confrontation of ideology and the living faith of Elijah. Ahab had married the Sidonian Jezabel who worshiped the Idol Baal. Such worship is ideology  since there is no ontological reality, Baal.  The prophet Elijah, the last believer in Israel,  confronts Ahab and challenges him to a contest: place an animal sacrifice, and I will do the same. You call on Baal to burn yours and I will call on the Lord to consume mine. Read Kings 1, 18, 16-40. Elijah prevails and returns to Mt Sinai to have his faith experiencially rejuvenated. As living faith, Elijah was exhausted from the encounter. If we put our faith into practice, so will we, and we must always replenish it with contemplative prayer, spiritual reading, recourse to the Virgin and the sacraments. Today, consider also the history and value of the Scapular of Mt. Carmel as a protection and encouragement to deeds given by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock and lived perennially in the Church.

 

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