Today is the day. I'm finally going to share about a lovely experience I had one month ago that I've been meaning to document for...well, a month. If you like Carmelite Monasteries, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin (the parents of St. Thérèse), or venerating relics, then you're in for a treat! Or perhaps you'll just acknowledge what a treat my little family got to experience...but if you live near or are travelling to Philadelphia any time this year you could get to experience it, too!
The Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia is opening its doors to the public on the first Sunday of each month throughout 2014. Why? Because they were gifted with these:
Be still my heart.
Isn't it breathtaking?
The two lilies, joined together with golden "wedding" bands, contain relics of Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin (only the second spouses in history to be declared "Blessed" as a couple!). Centered behind the lilies you'll see the rose - which stands before the container holding the relic of St. Thérèse.
You can go venerate these relics on the first Sunday of each month for the remainder of 2014. We were told they aren't certain whether or not the relics will be housed permanently at the Philadelphia monastery of if they will move on to another Carmelite location after this year. Only time will tell - so if you live near Philadelphia I would encourage you to take advantage of this beautiful opportunity while you can.
We went on Sunday, March 2nd, and it was a quiet, peaceful experience. We arrived close to 3pm, which means that shortly after our arrival everyone in the chapel began to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. After we offered up our prayer intentions we headed down to their bookstore. The only thing we bought was a short book that explains the history of the Carmelites in Philly and how the relics came to be there - which I actually learned a lot from. It was a fascinating, quick read; I had no idea how crucial the Philadelphia Carmelites were in spreading the devotion to St. Thérèse in the United States! But then again, I tend to spend more free time hanging out with and learning more about the Dominicans. Isn't it fascinating (and inspiring) how many charisms and spiritualities you can find within our Church? There's really something for everyone. I guess that's part of why they call it (lowercase "c") catholic (read: universal). ;)
I'm not positive if we'll make another short pilgrimage to venerate the relics again this year, but if we do I am happy to offer up any petitions you all have - so please feel free to send me any prayer requests if you have a devotion to (or would like the intercession of) St. Thérèse, Bl. Louis, or Bl. Zélie!
“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord's living garden.”
-St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul