|Entrance to the Carmelite monastery of Piacenza, Italy. The plaque reads: "God gives His whole self to those who leave everything out of love for Him"|
Dear Family and Friends,
A few years back I was traveling around northern Italy with another seminarian and we stopped to visit the Carmelite nuns in the town of Piacenza. They have a rather small and simple convent in the farmland outside town. At the time, Pope Benedict was in Brazil, taking part in World Youth Day.
Twelve or thirteen of the sisters welcomed us and we exchanged stories. I told the sisters about life in the seminary, studies, living in Rome near the Pope, and our recent vacation time. Then Mother Superior spoke about how the sisters had gone on “vacation”.
These were cloistered sisters – the ones who never leave the convent – so I raised my eyes at that. She went on to explain. That afternoon, all of the sisters had gotten together in the courtyard of the convent. One of them, an artist, had drawn a huge picture of Pope Benedict in his airplane. Then they all sat in chairs and pretended to fly with him to Brazil for World Youth Day. They sang songs and a few of the sisters pretended they were stewardesses. They also prayed the rosary with the pope en route. During their explanation, the sisters were laughing and giggling as if they had just gotten back from Disneyland.
At this point, both of us seminarians had our mouths hanging open. The sisters were so joy-filled and happy as they explained the whole thing to us. And their “vacation” must have lasted no more than an hour. Wow!
We listened, breathlessly, as another sister chimed in: “Oh yes, and we had a special surprise. The family of one of the sisters gave us all ice cream!”
I was speechless. To be honest, only a little while back I had been complaining about how I didn’t like the place where my seminary went on vacation. Hearing the sisters talk about theirs with such simple delight sure nipped that in the bud!
It was a tremendous testimony to how simple things can bring such tremendous joy. I’d be willing to bet that the sisters' afternoon “vacation” was a hundred times more enjoyable than the vacations many people have at five-star resorts.
As you start or finish your vacation this summer – or even just wish you had one! – take a moment to thank God for the simple things, the simple joys he gives you. Life is full of them. Be content with them. Joy is something you can’t buy. You find it in places that aren’t advertised on travel websites.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mary is the perfect example of someone who had nothing, but really had everything –“My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior”.
May she watch over you all this summer,
Father Kevin LC
Father Kevin LC
PS I just finished helping out at my third summer camp. Here’s a video I made for the last one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emO3xGQeugE . They were lots of fun, but I am still pretty tired. Thanks be to God, we had no broken bones and no lost children. Now it’s on to preparing for the new school year!