I love the collect the Church prays on today’s feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It voices a simple and robust request for God to act in our lives through the Blessed Virgin Mary:
May the venerable intercession of the glorious Virgin Mary come to our aid, we pray, O Lord, so that, fortified by her protection, we may reach the mountain which is Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Two things stand out to me in this prayer. First, that Jesus Christ is a mountain. This image evokes Christ’s grandeur and beauty. It also calls to mind the great difficulty of the Christian climb, for the summit we hope to attain in our lives is sanctity, the imitation of and transformation into Jesus. This we cannot accomplish on our own.
That brings me to the second thought. The prayer helps us acknowledge the sources of our strength to climb. First and always, our help comes from the Lord. He creates us and redeems us and sanctifies us. To Him we owe all. But God chooses to act through intermediaries. In a category all her own, our most powerful advocate is Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. Turning to her, our desires for Christ’s holiness will fly to its heights. Furthermore, as part of our spiritual inheritance as members of the Church, we can count on the prayers of all the angels and saints in Heaven.
Lastly, we are also fortified by the prayers of those still climbing alongside us. The intercessory prayers of our fellow Christians are a true wellspring through which God nourishes and strengthens us. Within this last category, today we can especially remember and thank the Father for strengthening us through the hidden and unceasing prayers of His sons and daughters in Carmels throughout the world. Only in Heaven shall we know how instrumental these lives of prayer are in our own salvation and that of many. So today, let’s ask Our Lady to protect her Carmelite children, so that their prayers and penances may help us all reach the mountain which is Christ.
Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)