6th August is a great feastday in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Both East and West celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord before chosen witnesses: Peter, John and James the three solid columns of the Church: Peter the Rock of Faith and Pastor, John the Eagle of Contemplative Love, James the Pragmatic preserver of Tradition through Law. These three in concert with others, like the Virgin Mary who represents holy receptivity, are centered around Jesus and form an interconnected group of people who define the form of relationship the Church has with its Lord. The Transfiguration is a great feast, known also as “The Summer season Easter” as the mystery celebrated anticipates the glory of the Resurrection.
For Carmelites, the Transfiguration of Our Lord is an important feastday. It stands for our contemplative charism of “constant seeking for the Face of the Beloved” and to live always in the “constant presence of His Holy Countenance”. In a way we all feel present on the Holy Mountain in Our Father Elijah, as his life is “the shortest summary of the Order’s life” especially in the exercise of living in God’s Holy Presence.
One of the Carmelite early fioretti holds that while on Mount Tabor, during the Transfiguration, the Prophet Elijah, while contemplating the Radiant Face of Christ, dared to petition from Christ a very particular grace, namely, that of preserving his followers, Carmelites, till the end of the times. The fioretto goes on to say that Christ accepted the petition and promised to accord it. This fioretto in its simplicity connects the mystery of the Transfiguration, namely the contemplation and the seeking of the Face of Christ with his Second Coming, the fulfillment of Easter. The petition therefore can be understood as a Carmelite prayer to Christ for preserving the Order in its true spirit of contemplative seeking of God till the end of times, in the eschatological fulfillment.
Cantique à la Sainte Face
Ta Face est ma seule patrie,
Elle est mon royaume d’amour;
Elle est ma riante prairie,
Mon doux soleil de chaque jour.
1-Jésus ton ineffable image
Est l’astre qui guide mes pas;
Car Tu le sais ton doux Visage
Est pour moi le ciel ici-bas!
2- Elle est le lis de la vallée
Dont le parfum mystérieux
Console mon âme exilée,
Lui fait goûter la paix des cieux.
3- Ta Face est ma seule richesse;
Je ne demande rien de plus.
En elle, me cachant sans cesse,
Je Te ressemblerai, Jésus!
4- Ton Visage, ô mon doux Sauveur,
Il est mon repos, ma douceur,
Est le divin bouquet de myrrhe
Que je veux garder sur mon coeur!
5- Laisse en moi la divine empreinte
De tes traits remplis de douceurs,
Et bientôt je deviendrai sainte,
Vers toi j’attirerai les coeurs!
12 août 1895.
Jesus, Your ineffable image
Is the star which guides my steps.
Ah, You know, Your sweet Face
Is for me Heaven on earth.
My love discovers the charms
Of Your Face adorned with tears.
I smile through my own tears
When I contemplate Your sorrows.
Oh! To console You I want
To live unknown on earth!
Your beauty, which You know how to veil,
Discloses for me all its mystery.
I would like to fly away to You!
Your Face is my only homeland.
It’s my Kingdom of love.
It’s my cheerful meadow.
Each day, my sweet sun.
It’s the Lily of the Valley
Whose mysterious perfume
Consoles my exiled soul,
Making it taste the peace of Heaven.
It’s my Rest, my Sweetness
And my melodious Lyre
Your Face, O my Sweet Savior,
Is the Divine Bouquet of Myrrh
I want to keep on my heart!
Your Face is my only wealth.
I ask for nothing more.
Hiding myself in it unceasingly,
I will resemble You, Jesus
Leave in me, the Divine Impress
Of Your features filled with sweetness,
And soon I’ll become holy.
I shall draw hearts to You.
So that I may gather
A beautiful golden harvest,
Deign to set me aflame with Your Fire.
With Your adorned mouth,
Give me soon the Eternal Kiss!
Today is truly a beautiful and glorious Feast day – I can relate to the reasons why St Therese of Lisieux chose the two titles she had, if you could pray for my boyfriend See and I as we continually seek to build our relationship with Christ.
I did enquire to become a Carmelite but wasnt able to due to ill health – I later joined the cloistered Dominicans but had to leave for the same reason – whilst with them my devotion to St Therese of Lisieux increased, as it was at the time she was proclaimed a Dr of the Church. (1996)
To this day I will always try ro imitate her example and will continue to ask that any children I have will also become Carmelites!!!
United in prayer with Jesus and Mary