Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel amidst the great sadness and violence that is rending the Holy Land into many shattered shards. The folly of the Balfour Declaration issued in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the Great War, has paved the way for the endless violence that began in Palestine in the twenties (My mother was a small girl living with my grandparents and her three brothers on Mount Carmel, and she remembers the attacks on the Jewish settlements by the Arabs), and escalated with the beginning of the state of Israel. The British set everyone up for disaster, the Jews, the Arabs, and the World. The wounds of “The Holocaust” have not been healed, and the bitterness and the sufferings of the Palestinians increases day by day, month by month, year by year. The whole Moslem world is now in a state of turmoil, because they like the Jews do not have the Christian concept of compassion, and even the Christians seem to have lost it as well. True compassion can only come with the contemplation of Jesus Christ, crucified, died, risen, and glorified.
Just when the Catholic Church could offer hope and reconciliation, peace and charity, she finds herself still in the agony of what looks like her death throes. The Protestant world drifts, for the most part, into paganism, spiritual and moral ambiguity, and classic heresy. Orthodoxy lives in a world of Liturgy and mysticism, but does not make judgements on the World and its many failings. In this more than depressing scenario leading Christian figures try and put a brave face on things and say somewhat ludicrously that we live in the best of times. With Dickens they should also inform us that we live in the worst of times as well.
Into this tragic chaos, theological confusion, and rampant moral degeneracy let us turn to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and learn from her that “Her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace”.
The ancient belief that the cloud that appeared to Elijah, when he was praying for rain after he had slaughtered the prophets of Baal, was a type of Our Lady, is consoling. Why? Because after the battle for the Faith in these times, there will come a deluge of mercy, and a time of peace, but before that many, many Christians, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant will have to give their lives for their Faith, and for their Lord. Only then will the Truth of Christ’s Kingdom triumph; in this world this triumph is the triumph of the Church and the unity of all Christians under Peter.