Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, May 05, 2017
We had a full day of activities on tap for the scheduled event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Waterbury, CT on April 11. This church has had us make an encore visit every Tuesday of Holy Week for 5 years running thanks to Sister Georgia Wright, SSC who is consistently helping to engage the members of her parish in faith formation. Sister Georgia recently had a health issue that would prevent her from attending the event so we decided to take the event to her at the rehabilitation facility where she is currently being cared for and treated. The nurses assembled Sister Georgia along with other residents and staff at the facility to participate in our program. We brought our music ministry and finished the program just in time to travel to the church for an on-time arrival. Sister Georgia couldn’t have been more grateful. She was rather down when she realized that she wouldn’t be able to coordinate and participate in the activities of Holy Week at the church. Having a personal presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” seemed to fill that gap for her and gave her the consolation of having participated in at least one formal spiritual event during Holy Week. We offered the prayers for the evening’s event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in petition for Sister Georgia’s speedy recovery and return to her role in organizing their parish events and activities.
The event at the church was simply wonderful. Father Frederick Aniello and Deacon Ernie Pagliaro joined us as part of the event and I have to say that Deacon Ernie’s reading of Jesus’s words to us from the various scenes in His Passion were heart rending.
We were supported by the Fourth Degree Color Guard as well as members of the local council of Knights of Columbus in service to the parish. Their participation is a significant element in providing the level of ceremony, security and support necessary to treat these holy relics with the due respect and honor they deserve. All that said however, I especially appreciated that they prepared coffee for us to have after the event and they helped us to load up the car to get us on our way. They really saved us a tremendous amount of effort and having coffee at the end of one of these presentations is like being given a “revival potion” that made my drive home a pleasure.
To our surprise the members of this year’s confirmation class were in attendance, many with family members joining them. We were asked to give them a private tour of the relics and discuss their significance just before the event began. These young adults were very knowledgeable, gracious and respectful. Their parents and the parish staff can be very proud of them. I felt privileged to be among the chosen individuals with whom the Holy Spirit will rejoice as they are officially confirmed in their faith.
A great Augustinian priest once told me that St. Simon Stock was the first to create an outdoor replica of the Via Dolorosa in Ireland for the faithful to engage in remembrance of Jesus’ walk to Calvary via the Stations of the Cross. St Simon Stock, for those of you that aren’t familiar with him, was also the one to whom Our Lady of Mount Carmel granted the grace of appearing to him with the scapular of the order in her hand. Her promise was that the scapular would be a privilege for him and all the Carmelites and that anyone dying in this will not suffer eternal fire. On account of this great privilege, the use of scapular was widely distributed and not limited to just members of the Carmelite Order. The Scapular promise is based on the two elements of Mary's spiritual maternity and her mediation of grace, that is that she is the 'spiritual' mother of all mankind, as well as the 'channel' by which all grace comes to us, understood in the sense that she too is dependent on the sole mediation of Christ, her son. This promise implies that Mary will intercede to ensure that the wearer of the Scapular obtains the grace of final perseverance, that is of dying in a state of grace.
It just so happens that this year we chose to provide scapulars as a special complimentary gift for those approaching the relics for veneration. For those of you that have never seen one, the modern Scapular consists of two pieces of brown rectangular cloth, roughly an inch by an inch and a half, decorated with an appropriate Marian picture, and are connected by two narrow brown cords, are worn around the neck and shoulders, hanging down to the front and back.
I believe we truly followed in the example of St. Simon Stock for that event with a meditation on Jesus’ walk to Calvary and distribution of the brown scapular and it all happened in a church dedicated to his patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Her extended gifts are evident in all the members of this parish. They are truly family-oriented and rooted in their faith. It is a testament to the teaching and guidance of the pastor, Sister Georgia, the school staff and especially the parents to be sure, but it is the grace of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that pervades through and among these parishioners to help them operate as part of God’s great extended family and shine forth as an example to others.