A Call to Carmel from the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a relatively recent devotion that began in Hungary at the request of the Virgin Mary to a lay Carmelite, Elizabeth Kindelmann.  I first read about Elizabeth Kindelmann a few years ago, and her story piqued my interest so I ordered her spiritual diary online.  Here was a mother in her late 40s who, in the midst of her busy life as a working single mother raising six children, began having mystical experiences starting in the 1960s until her death in 1985 at the age of 72.  In my spiritual reading to that point, I had a hard time truly relating to some of the saints as most of them were religious and didn’t have the worries of a family and work responsibilities.  Elizabeth was extremely relatable.

When I first read her diary, I was also in my late 40s, with three children and managing a small business.  Elizabeth even seemed to have a similar temperament to me.  Early on in the locutions she received, Jesus said to her “The Eternal Father knows how He created you.  He knows that you are intense, forceful and irritable, and you must be transformed according to My Heart.  In the future, use your intensity only against evil.”[1] (p.18) “I see how much it costs you to concentrate, My little one.  Off key notes irritate you.  The words through which you address yourselves to Me are heedless and insincere.  I wait with patience and love that your words and your voice become clear and vibrant.  Be more patient with yourself and others.” (p. 71)  “Your bad temper will go on, but out of this evil nature, I will accomplish a masterpiece if you agree to submit to my Divine Hand.” (p. 170)   Elizabeth was a regular, ordinary woman with faults like the rest of us.  What a comforting and hopeful message!

Throughout the diary, Jesus and Mary refer to Elizabeth often as “my little Carmelite” and remind her many times to remain humble, hidden, little and continue to make small sacrifices for the salvation of souls.  Jesus: “Be a burning sacrifice among your family.  You must especially make the small, insignificant sacrifices…Do not be upset that you can only do small things.  Just continue to be the little one.  Dissolve yourself in Me like a drop of water in wine.” (p. 19) Mary: “It is precisely because of your littleness, incapacity and humility, that my Flame of Love will move ahead gently and without disturbance.  Therefore, be careful and remain hidden in humility.” (p. 81)

While reading the diary, it didn’t occur to me at first to wonder what a lay Carmelite was.  I was fascinated by the way Jesus and Mary spoke to Elizabeth, what they asked of her and her response.  She gave herself totally to them, and agreed to make herself a little victim soul to help blind Satan in order to save souls.  The whole diary is immersed in Carmelite spirituality.  Mary: “My Flame of Love will go forth from Carmel.  They are the ones who honor me the most, or rather, they are the ones most called to honor me.”  (p. 29)

However, it wasn’t until towards the end of the diary that I read the following from an entry in Spring 1981:

The Blessed Virgin asked that we urge the competent authorities for the restoration of the Third Order of Carmel throughout the world.  This must happen quickly and everywhere.  Humanity needs lay people who have a spirit of prayer….While the Blessed Virgin was speaking about the Carmel, Jesus interrupted: ‘Because the Flame of Love of the heart of My Mother is Noah’s Ark.’” (p. 293-294)

I read those words in December 2018 and felt an immediate and intense desire to learn about the Third Order of Carmel.  In January 2019 I researched online to find out more about Carmel and reached out to one of the coordinators in Ontario who put me in touch with the St. John of the Cross Lay Carmelite Community.  I attended my first community meeting in February 2019 and the rest is history.  I was received into the community on October 1, 2020, on the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, the little, hidden and humble Carmelite who became a Doctor of the Church.  I know Mary has led me on this journey and continues to lead me where she wants me to go.  As I look forward to continuing on the journey of ascending Mount Carmel, I am so thankful to Elizabeth Kindelmann for her beautiful spiritual diary that offered a window into the riches, wisdom and charism of Carmel.

For more information on the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

Flame of Love USA

Flame of Love Canada

Flame of Love Prayers

[1] All quotes are taken from the First Edition (2014) of The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, The Spiritual Diary by Elizabeth Kindelmann

The Year of St. Joseph – December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021

“Go to Joseph”.  In Canada, today (Jan 7th) is the feast day of St. Andre Bessette, the uneducated, humble, devout porter, Brother Andre, who had a reputation for the gift of healing.  His advice to everyone who came to him was to “go to Joseph”.  Pope Francis is also asking all of us to go to Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph.  As the spouse of Our Blessed Mother, foster father to Jesus, Pillar of Families, Terror of Demons and Protector of the Holy Church, St. Joseph Most Courageous is a sure model for us to navigate this troubled world in which we live.  His life was not immune to trouble and the Holy Family lived during a time of great persecution during the Roman occupation.

St. Joseph cares for all his children and will guide and protect you and enable you to progress spiritually.

St. Joseph holds a special place in Carmel as well.  In their letter to the Carmelite family on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Fr. Míceál O’Neill, O.Carm. and Fr. Saverio Cannistra, O.C.D., explain the Carmelite history of devotion to St. Joseph and how the 15th century “proper of the liturgy in honour of St. Joseph in the Carmelite tradition is thought by historians and liturgists to be the first monument of the Latin Church to the dignity of St. Joseph.” (p. 4-5)  They go on to explain:

Carmelite Preachers insisted that just as Mary the Virgin conceived the Incarnate Word in her womb through the work of the Holy Spirit, so Joseph, through the work of the same Holy Spirit, conceived the Word through contemplation, and became the father of Jesus on this earth.

And that St. Joseph is celebrated as “the image and reflection of the Carmelite mystical life in God.”

Plenary Indulgence during Year of St. Joseph

Did you know that you have an opportunity every Wednesday until December 8, 2021 to gain a plenary indulgence?  The Church is granting plenary indulgences to the faithful under the usual conditions during this special year.  A plenary indulgence remits all temporal punishment due to sin.  The usual conditions are accompanying any one of the 15 actions below with sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the intentions of the Holy Father, with a spirit detached from all sin (including venial).  Of course, many of us do not have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist these days, but you can make an Act of Spiritual Communion instead.  God knows both your intentions and your restrictions.  (List below taken from https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/fifteen-ways-to-gain-an-indulgence-in-the-year-of-st-joseph-81304):

1) Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph. 

2) Pray for St. Joseph’s intercession for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.

3) Recite the Litany of St. Joseph for persecuted Christians. Byzantine Catholics have the option of an Akathist to St. Joseph.

4) Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of St. Joseph the Worker.

5) Follow St. Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.

6) Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy, such as comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead.

7) Pray the rosary together with one’s family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”

8) Engaged couples can also receive an indulgence from praying the rosary together.

9) Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, because St. Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”

10) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on St. Joseph Sunday, the Sunday after Christmas in the Byzantine Catholic tradition.

11) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph on March 19 with an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph.

12) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on the 19th of any month. 

13) Honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.

14) Pray to St. Joseph on the Feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 27.

15) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 with an act of piety or prayer.

The Diocese of Charlotte has put together a wonderful website specifically dedicated to this Year of St. Joseph. https://yearofstjoseph.org/ It is packed with ideas on how to celebrate this special year, including recorded talks on St. Joseph, virtual retreats, colouring pages, pilgrimage ideas (you can look up all the St. Joseph churches that are nearby to do your own local pilgrimage), devotions, prayers, etc.

And why not make this year the year you consecrate yourself to this wonderful saint?  I can’t recommend Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph highly enough. 

I’ve written previously about Carmelite Saints and St. Joseph, especially St. Teresa of Avila’s devotion to him.  Carmelites “veneration of Saint Joseph is not only a devotion or pious practice but rather a life plan, that is an integral part of the charismatic heritage of Carmel.  Together with Mary, Joseph is the gospel icon in which we Carmelites may see and understand what it means to live ‘in allegiance to Jesus Christ.’ ” (p. 11)

May this year of St. Joseph bring you closer to the person who walked this earth with Our Lord, who knew him best along with Mary and who by naming Jesus, “became the first one to announce that in the child of Nazareth we are saved by God.” (p. 5)  St. Joseph cares for all his children and will guide and protect you and enable you to progress spiritually.   As St. Teresa witnessed “I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner make progress in virtue, for this heavenly protector favors in a striking manner the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.”