Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we reflect on this title of Our Lady as the patroness of the Carmelite order, under which she appeared to St. Simon Stock and presented to him the brown scapular. The Carmelites, who began as a community of hermits on Mount Carmel, Israel, in the 1200s and who point back to Elijah (hermit and prophet) as the first to be fired with the zeal of Mount Carmel, have spread throughout the world and continue to live the charism of seeking a direct and intimate experience of God.
But this kind of intimate union is purely a gift from God, which raises the question, how do we go about seeking it? How do we attain it? The answer is that we simply ready ourselves for it, so that if God seeks to give it, we are there with open hands. St. Teresa of Avila explained our hearts as a garden, which we weed and seek to water, so that if God wishes, He may come into it and take His delight. Carmelites characteristically have a deep-seated desire to be touched by God in this way, and so they accept many purgations and challenges of growing in virtue, that their hearts might become a beautiful and inviting dwelling place for the God Who placed this desire within them.
This union with God is the end goal of all of our lives, although most of us will experience it only in heaven. But St. Teresa tells us that many of us are called to experience it to varying degrees here on earth too. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us, that we might also desire interior intimacy with God and be willing to do what it takes to be receptive to it!