I wasn't planning on posting today, but do you ever have the feeling that we make Plan A is only so God can have something to replace with Plan B? Because how could I resist sharing with you the delightful passage that God surprised me with this morning? I couldn't!
The passage is from a book I got who-knows-when, who-knows-where, or perhaps I should say with reverent gratitude: Who-knows-when and Who-knows-where. I'd taken this pair of books (because actually it's a two volume little pair, like Therese and Marcel) off the shelf the other day in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and though I didn't end up using them for our novena posts the feast, you know how it can take books a while to find their way back home to the shelf. This morning, then, I opened one of this pair before returning it to its proper spot - well, that would have been a vain effort since either the books on that shelf multiplied in the last couple of days, or I had already crammed (I mean gently placed) other books where these had left a space. Sigh. So many books, and then so many more books! Thank You, Jesus!
Thank You, Jesus and Mary too, because opening this book before returning it to its erstwhile-but-now-non-existent space, I found what You sent to keep it off the shelf a little longer. Phew! And I couldn't believe what You sent!
My passage du jour is from an essay on a beautiful, holy priest I dare say you've never heard of (I sure hadn't, or if I had, I forgot), by name of Fr. Bartholomew Maria Xiberta, O.Carm (the O. Carm stands for Ancient Order of Carmelites, the branch of the Carmelite family that is not the reformed-by-Teresa-of-Avila Discalced Carmelites, though the O. Carms have had, through the centuries, reforms of their own). The essay on Fr. Bart X is written by another beautiful, holy priest who was his student, and this one I had heard of, namely Fr. Redemptus M. Valabek, O. Carm.
Thanks to the miracles of the Internet, I've just learned that Fr. Valabek went to meet Jesus and Mary (and so many more) on August 5, 2003. His teacher, Fr. Bart had gone earlier, on July 26, 1967, and it turns out that Fr. Redemptus' admiration for his teacher was well placed. Fr. Bart is a Servant of God, just like our Marcel!
Can you imagine the fun they are having in Heaven? All of the blessed, certainly, but these guys especially. Fr. Redemptus was very humble about my not using anything from his books for the Feast-post, but Fr. Xiberta (Fr. Bart, we must affectionately call him, because though he tries to be serious, he is now being tickled by Marcel - oh what an imp! I mean Marcel, not Fr. Bart), well he has no patience for fools. He's from Barcelona, and they are very affectionate but very direct there. Don't you think? (I'm kind of guessing, kind of going on instinct here.)
So anyhow, Fr. Bart is like, "What? Redemptus, don't be so everlastingly patient with the girl. She had your books in hand and you get NO billing on the Feast? This is crazy! Loco! Why she could even quote from me - I'm in the book too, and I said some true things! But to let her put us back on the shelf unread, this we cannot do. That way lies ignorance, which I cannot countenance. She might then never know how much we are doing for her and her readers from Heaven. We must tell them!"
Aha! It was clearly Fr. Bart who re-filled the bookshelf when I wasn't looking! But I'm ever so grateful, because I had no idea he was in the "Servant of God" category (with a cause in process), no idea he was such a good buddy of Marcel's, no idea that he had such amazing things to say about Heaven. I mean not just the ones I'm making up here, but the ones he actually said (or wrote) during his lifetime. Because that's what caught me and what prompted me to post today - this passage from Fr. Redemptus' article on Fr. BMX (doesn't that make him sound like a fancy stereo speaker? He is! He is a great speaker! Just listen!) - which I was immediately in love with (what he says, and now the man himself) because it sounds just like what we were saying the other day! It sounds like Marcel! It sounds like Our Lady! But you be the judge - here it is:
"The Feast of July 16 is not just any kind of feast; it is much more. It is the finest day of the year, the day closest to that one without sunset in heaven. It is the day when we experience what we will be doing in heaven: being close to Mary under her white mantle, contemplating the infinite beauty of God, of which the Blessed Mother's beauty is a reflection. To enjoy her, talking to her on a one-to-one basis and . . . listening."
Heaven indeed! It's impossible from the information I have at hand to figure out when Fr. Xiberta wrote this, but I'm guessing it was after 1959 - because don't you think Marcel whispered it to him from his place on Mary's lap??
Lest you have a scruple (oh gee. I wasn't going to mention this, but now that I've brought up scruples I can't help myself. Today I was in a neighboring town to mine and saw a hairdresser's establishment called "Scrupples." I am so hoping that is the name of the proprietor, Daisy Scrupple, and not just bad spelling. I must admit, either way I love it!) - but lest you have a scrupple about Fr. Xiberta naming July 16, our dear recent feast/solemnity, as "the finest day of the year," - and don't deny it because I know that you, dear reader, being well catechized are thinking, "Hey! What about Easter? Who is this bozo?!" - well you are not the first to want to question him. Fr. Redemptus admits (with a smile, I'm sure) earlier in his essay (of which this passage quoted from his teacher is the final paragraph), "As students we teasingly asked him was it right to celebrate July 16 with more solemnity than Easter itself. 'Listen,' he replied, 'you have to make distinctions . . . ' but he would never retreat from his statement that July 16 should be the unsurpassed Carmelite celebration."
Now don't have scupples that you're not a Carmelite!
Do you love Marcel? That makes you Carmelite in spirit!
And if you wear a scapular (cloth or medal, we make no distinctions here - garments of love sometimes come in wool, sometimes in cotton, sometimes in gold, and that's true of Our Lady's garment of love for us, the brown scapular, of which the Carmelites in Rome are the proprietors, if that's the word I'm looking for, and they've said as much in the official documentation so don't even get me started on this scrupple), well you're affiliated to the Carmelites right there!
I'm just tickled pink (and hoping Fr. Bart has escaped our Marcel's teasing, as well as he escaped his students') that we've gotten more confirmation on what Heaven will be like. Yowza, I can't wait! But don't worry, I will (wait) - because it's awfully fun to be here with you, yakking in anticipation! I also love that the longer we are in exile, the more of our brothers and sisters we meet - whether it's each other or those of us already (lucky dogs!) in heaven. As to those in purgatory, man oh man we keep emptying it daily, but then it fills again, just like my bookshelf! I guess that's good - it's the ante-room of Heaven, which we want to be packed beyond packed, and it gives us motivation to offer up those little frustrations that Jesus and Mary keep telling Marcel (and us) will save oodles of souls.
Oh, how good it is to be Catholic, to be in Marcel's camp (his tent, even), and to have Our Lady waiting for us! Let's give her a glance of love then, sure that it will bring her gaze to us if by chance she's been distracted (all those good souls crowding onto her lap, even though Jesus takes up so much room, and there in the midst of it, Marcel wanting to tickle everyone - it's got to be chaos for our dear Mother!), and let's not forget to call to Jesus (who's eating grapes, no less), sure to include the souls in purgatory in our "we" who will run . . . Ready? Deep breath, and -
Draw me, we will run!
There. That's awesome.
And as an afterthought-that-could've come first, I can't close without mentioning that today is not only part of Our Lady's octave, it's also the glorious feast of St. Camillus, particularly beloved because he's my dear sister's patron saint, so let's give him a shout too!
Camillus, hey up there, we're down here thinking of you! You had a pretty wild ride before your conversion, and if I remember rightly, a few slips even then. We're so glad Heaven won the battle, and thank you for all your love and care for the sick and the poor. Please bless all our sick and poor, and those of the whole world today, as well as our siblings and aunts and uncles and on and on, whether they're named for you or not. We're blowing you kisses, Cam - please give some to our own Father Cam, and to Marcel and Jesus for us, and Our dear Mother of Mount Carmel! Oh, and give Fr. Bart a hand, will you? He needs help - I think Marcel has started a water balloon fight, and Fr. Bart's getting soaked!
On a final note, did you find that piece of chocolate cake yesterday? I mean you, dear reader, not St. Camillus! I surprised myself by finding mine, and it was so delish! Now it's your turn - enjoy, and don't even think of counting calories. Feast day (and octave) cake is for fun and for free, so go at it and don't forget to pair it with a tall glass of cold milk - or a glass of red wine, a cup of tea, whatever floats your boat! Not to knock Heaven, but how consoling that even exile can be pretty good when we have Our Lady and the saints to celebrate!
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