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I Commend My Poor and My Sick to You...

Letter from the Prior General FERNANDO MILLAN ROMERAL to the Carmelite Family on the occasion of the beatification of Father Angelo Paoli

19th March 2010 Solemnity of St. Joseph

Introduction

Carmel, with all its many groups and branches, is to be found nowadays in all five continents. It lives among many cultures and in many social contexts. Along with the more conventional ministries (parishes, schools, houses of spirituality), quite a number of Carmelites are involved in the work of peace and justice,

in social development, and in the assistance of the poor and marginalized. For a number of decades now the Order has an international commission for “Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation.” Carmel has become very aware of the prophetic dimension of its charism and identity, which lead us to discover the signs of the presence of God in the poor and the most vulnerable. Since this presence sometimes appears as sub contrario (in oppression, in misery, in the sufferings), we have to approach it with a deep contemplative gaze, enlightened by faith and filled with charity, with the tenderness and trust of those who believe, with the faith of the mystic and with the transformative commitment of the prophet.

I believe this commitment to the most poor and needy members of our modern societies will be given an enormous boost and example by the figure of Venerable Angelo Paoli, who is going to be beatified this coming April 25 th at Saint John Lateran, in Rome. His beatification will surely be a source of great joy and pride for all the Carmelite family, which now sees another of its members raised to the glory of the altars.

Lately, we have had the joy of seeing other Carmelites beatified or canonized: Mother Curcio and Mother Scrilli, foundresses of two Italian Carmelite congregations, a group of Spanish Martyrs of the 20th century, Mother Candelaria of San Jose, foundress of the Venezuelan Carmeite Sisters, and Nuno of Santa Maria. Each one of them highlights some aspect of the Carmelite
charism. They provide direction for the living out of our charism. They are both an example and a gift for Carmel in our days.

The witness that this Carmelite gave to the 17th and 18th centuries is very inspiring and thought-provoking. It is of great relevance today, despite the difference in time that separates us. We have already indicated on previous occasions that processes of beatification are not the mere remembrance of a glorious past, nor any kind of “archaeological” activity (as if we were digging up fossils), but a living sign which calls us to be alert, questions us about our present and guides us towards our future.

This is why I invite the whole Order of Carmelites and the Carmelite family in general to approach with joy this solemn beatification. I invite you to give thanks to God for the Church’s official recognition of the sainthood of one of our brothers. I invite you to make a careful study of the saint’s biography and the testimony the new Blessed has left us. It is to him that I commend in a very special way all those Carmelites (religious, lay, groups, etc.) who work with the poor and who help to alleviate the conditions of the most needy. By his intercession may the Lord bless and accompany you in this difficult but necessary work.

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."