Introduction - Advent 2018 Online Retreat  
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"Prepare the way of the Lord" 
with Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Carmelite Retreat Online Advent 2018



Get ready for joy!

"Noël! Noël!" has long been a popular expression of joy and cheer! "Hooray! Hooray!" we would say today...

This retreat prepares us for Christmas, that is to say for the coming of God among men, for the coming of God becoming man. In this time of preparation, it will introduce for us this exact joy: "Hooray! Christmas!'' This joy is due to the good news of the announcement that Christ, Lord and Savior, is about to be born. But it does demand certain high standards of us: let us be ready to welcome this event that has changed the course of humanity. Let us watch like the Virgin of Nazareth, whom the Archangel Gabriel found  in her home when he was sent to announce that she would bring forth Christ. What would have happened if the Archangel had not found Mary at home? We, too, keep awake, to be there, available and receptive to the joy that is about to be given to us...

To help us as we prepare during this Advent season, Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be our companion. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patroness chosen by the men who first decided to watch in prayer on Mount Carmel, when the Holy Land was the Christian kingdom in Jerusalem, during the time of the crusades. But, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is not confined to the patronage of the religious order bearing her name! She is also as indeed the patroness of sailors, of countries like Chile or Bolivia, patroness of the Argentinean armies,... In France, by the sea, it is not uncommon to see a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is therefore with her that we will prepare to welcome the Newborn Babe this Christmas.

A Marian prayer as a guide 

    As a guideline, we will be taught by Our Lady of Mount Carmel using the poetry of the thirteenth century anthem: the prayer "Flos Carmeli." In it, Our Lady is given the titles Flower of Carmel, Star of the Sea, Sweet Mother, Queen, Councilor... The eight stanzas of this evocative poetry will accompany us in our expectation of the coming of the Newborn. 

     To begin, let us grow in confidence by this stanza (the order of the stanzas presented do not reflect the poetry):

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium

Our way uncertain
Surrounded by foes
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

The Advent Retreat

    It is therefore the Virgin of Carmel invoked in this beautiful prayer that will guide us through Advent. It is she who, slowly but firmly, will lead us to the joy of Christmas through 5 stages:

  • 1st Sunday: A Promise of Happiness
  • 2nd Sunday: The Work Garment
  • 3rd Sunday: This Joy That Strengthens
  • 4th Sunday: A Star and a Cloud
  • Solemnity of Christmas: A Door Opens

    Each Friday an email will arrive: there you will find an audio summary, 3-4 minutes in length, and an internet link (article, video, montage, etc.) - a path for deeper reflection. You can also download the text (in 3 formats: .pdf, word, .pdf for mobile) which includes a meditation for the following Sunday, and an Advent calendar (quotes and images), spiritual nourishment for each day, from Monday to Saturday.

A happy start to Advent with the Virgin  Mary!

Fr. Cyril Robert, ocd (Convent of Paris)

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