Lessons from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection – Lenten Reflection

As Easter is almost upon us, I did a bit of reflecting to see how Lent had been going thus far.

At the start of Lent, I had asked for guidance from the Holy Spirit as to what I should focus on.  In years past it involved giving things up.  As a kid it was often sweets.  As an adult, I would give up TV, dessert and last year was really tough, tea!  No tea for 40 whole days. It was so difficult.   But I did it.  And I felt such a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.   This year I am in a different place in my spiritual journey.  Pondering in front of the Blessed Sacrament, it became clear what I was being asked to do.  I was being asked to refrain from criticizing, or pointing out how people were doing things wrong.  It is such an Achilles heel and something I have struggled with my whole life.  It’s a bit of a family trait on the Dutch side – everything’s black and white and our way is always best.  Didn’t you know that?  Of course, you didn’t; and I’ll tell you where you went wrong!   Of course, it’s for your own good.

If I noticed errors, I asked His forgiveness for them, and without becoming discouraged, I resolved to change and began anew to remain with God as if I had never strayed.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

While praying the Divine Office one day I came across the quote below and printed it and posted it up on my fridge as a daily reminder:

Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth;
Keep watch at the door of my lips
” (Psalm 141:3)

It’s been a tough slog.  I’ve fallen more times than I care to count. It has been a real struggle and as I look back on this Lenten journey, I ask myself if I’ve accomplished anything at all this Lent.  And that’s where it hit me, and I think perhaps the point that God wanted me to understand. Lent has nothing at all to do with my own sense of accomplishment.  It has everything to do with where God wants to lead me; out of my comfort zone, showing me my frailties and weaknesses and above all, making me realize that I can accomplish nothing without His grace.  I am very slowly learning what Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection states:

A soul is all the more dependent on grace as it aspires to higher perfection, and the help and assistance of God are all the more necessary to us every moment because without Him the soul can do nothing.   The world, the flesh, and the devil all combine to make such a strong and continual war against the soul that without the very present help of God and our humble and necessary dependence upon Him, they would carry it away in spite of itself.  To our nature this seems harsh, but grace takes pleasure in being dependent upon God and finds its rest in Him.” (p. 94 The Practice of the Presence of God)

I still fall on a daily basis, but the difference now is I’m trying not to beat myself up about it anymore.  I just pick myself up, brush myself off, ask for God’s forgiveness (and the family member who I irritated or hurt or made angry) and am learning slowly but surely to ask for God’s help to do better the next day.  It doesn’t come easy for Ms. Independent. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?  Maybe one day, with God’s grace, I’ll be able to change my name to Ms. Dependent.

If I noticed errors, I asked His forgiveness for them, and without becoming discouraged, I resolved to change and began anew to remain with God as if I had never strayed.” (p. 12 The Practice of the Presence of God)

How did your Lent go this year?

Good Friday Reflection on the Third Sorrowful Mystery

I love to contemplate the third sorrowful mystery, the Crowning with Thorns.  It sounds morbid doesn’t it?  I see so much love and dignity in this mystery.  Here the King of the Universe, who could be crowned with comets, stars, the milky way, the entire universe, allows His Sacred Head to be pierced most cruelly by vicious thorns.  There is so much irony.  The crown of thorns has more majesty, more honour, more dignity, more everything good and virtuous than the most jewelled crown on earth. 

I contemplate His bruised and battered face, so disfigured, unrecognizable.  In that disfigurement I see the depths of His love for all of us.  Lord, how is it possible that You love us so much?

Our beautiful Church will also be bruised, bloodied and disfigured.  I will love her all the more because of it, as she follows Our Lord’s bloody footsteps in her own passion. 

I look at the crown of thorns and I am in awe.  I swear my fealty to the King crowned with thorns, in pain, bloodied, beaten and bruised.  This is love to the limit, to the extreme.  What a King we have!  Lord, Jesus, King of the Universe, I live my life in allegiance to you.

Reflections from Lay Carmelite Annual Retreat October 2019 – Reflection 1

Our members share their reflections on Blessed Titus Brandsma from the October 2019 annual retreat at the Carmelite monastery in Niagara Falls, Canada

“Titus was a witness and man of hope in very difficult times.”  He had great hope because he knew and recognized the presence of God in life and in others; “contemplating the little, weak and fragile signs of the presence of God in his life.”   Sometimes we hear that called as living in the Divine Will.  No matter what circumstances you are in, knowing in the core of your being that “we are in the hands of God”, can’t help but give us hope in all circumstances.  Titus was the embodiment of this attitude.

This was my first Carmelite retreat.  I’ve been on silent retreats before and have always enjoyed them.  By learning about Blessed Titus Brandsma and seeing some of his family photos I felt very much at home as my family is from the part of Holland where he was ordained and studied. I’ve even visited a concentration camp, Camp Vught, near Den Bosch (not the same one he was at), so could picture the circumstances in which he lived.  The picture of his little niece looked just like my mom when she was a small child!  Learning about his spirituality and more about the spirituality of all Carmelites from the former Prior General was a tremendous blessing.  The weekend was filled with graces.

This is what I wrote in my journal while sitting outside:  “My heart is full – you have once again surprised me with your graces. I was almost in tears during mass while singing Blessed Titus Brandsma’s poem he wrote in the concentration camp. It felt like he was there with us…I feel like learning about him and his spirituality is again God’s way of illuminating for me that this is truly my charism as well.  Praise be to God!”

Bedankt Titus Brandsma en bedankt Fr Fernando!

Corina (Formation I candidate)

Reflections from Lay Carmelite Annual Retreat – Reflection 2

Lord, we just finished a retreat led by Fr. Fernando Romeral (who looks like a brother of Tony)

Jezzee , our incumbent Director requested our feedback regarding the talk of Fr. Fernando regarding Titus Brandsma. Lord, Blessed Titus is blessed to have such religious be his spokes-person… Fr Fernando is deep.

I asked this question of him:

Is the effectiveness and efficacy of prayer depend on the intercessor (or prayee) being “Holy”?

Fr. Fernando’s answer was: “ Yes, No. I don’t know”

First answer, “Yes”

The bible ( “Trust in him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.” Psalms 62:8) attest to this fact.


Second answer “No”

There are instances that an evil man, or sinful man prays and the prayer is also granted. (the bible is replete with examples and real life dramas)

Third Answer: – “ I don’t know”

We are delving on the mystery of prayer and that is beyond us.

I agree with Jezzee that the last 3 days is the best retreat I’ve attended at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre: The keynote speaker is a model of Carmelite attitude and spirituality. He doesn’t have NOTES. He spoke extemporaneously, with wit and humour! I believe he can talk about any other saints (which he includes in this talk) and would be able to weave all the Carmelite spiritualities and his experience as Prior General. He is so humble (an example on humility) that he lines up with the “unwashed” His favourite saint is Blessed Titus Brandsma, but I bet you if he talks about St X, the audience would still find the talk interesting and can resonate with his words.

(But of course, I might be bias, because he somewhat looks like Tony)

Loving in Carmel,

Onette (Formation Director)