Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A (non) visit to Carmel in Baroda

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. (It's actually an Optional Memorial. But why wouldn't one exercise the option to celebrate and honor Our Lady as well as the Carmelite order?) There is a Carmelite convent in Baroda, it turns out. Contemplative, Discalced Carmelite nuns. The real deal.

The Carmelites of Baroda (Photo from their website)

My priest friend from the Cathedral parish (who's my go-to with the pastor for getting in on the Mass schedule) said I would be welcome to go to the feast day Mass, which the Bishop of Baroda was going to celebrate.

Carmel in Baroda is in Makarpura, some 10 km of traffic away. Directions in India being a bit, um, imprecise, I built in extra time, and eventually found myself outside a low, grey, concrete building with a cross on top. In small letters on the gate was written, in Gujarati and English, "Carmel Ashram." There were chairs lined up in front outside, and the grounds were full of people. A bright red garland of flowers hung around a statue of Our Lady outside. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication, and I arrived about an hour or so after Mass had started. From within, I heard the sound of the Sanctus (rather, the hymn which passes for the Sanctus here), so, I wound my way back home, taking a different route. It's amazing that Google Maps and a GPS enabled smart phone really do help with getting around in Indian cities! However, Google didn't know about the construction that blocked this route. Nor does it have much advice for the chaotic traffic, which requires much intestinal fortitude to endure ...

I am hoping to be able to offer Mass for the sisters later this week ...

Screen Shot of Carmel Ashram from Google Maps
Incidentally, the earliest cloistered Carmelite convent  in India was founded in Mangalore in 1870. Of the six sisters who came from Palestine to found it, three died. Of the remain three, one was Mariam Baroudy, or Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, a mystic and a stigmatist who manifested many extraordinary charismatic gifts. Last December, on our class trip to the Holy Land from seminary, we visited the Carmel in Bethlehem and venerated Blessed Mary's relics. It was there that I first learned that she was part of the group that helped found the Carmelite presence in India. (The Indian Carmelites webpage doesn't mention her name in the history of the Mangalore Carmel, for some reason).

Sanctuary of the church at the Carmel in Bethlehem  
Relics of Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified, at the Carmel in Bethlehem
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! St. Theresa of Avila, and Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified, pray for us! 

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