Pope John Paul II and Our Lady of Mount Carmel


A young Karol Wojtyla, while discerning his vocation as he matured in his hometown of Wadowice, thought of becoming a Carmelite, drawn to their beautiful life of deep spirituality, prayer, devotion to Our Lady, silence, and contemplation on God. His spiritual director recommended rather that he follow the path to the diocesan priesthood – a providential decision, we may surmise. Yet the young cleric always maintained a love of the ‘way of Carmel’, and did his theological dissertation on the spiritual poetry of Saint John of the Cross. The pontiff, whose motto was ‘Totus Tuus’ – from the first lines of Saint Louis de Montfort’s prayer to the Blessed Mother, totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt – I am all yours, and all that I have is yours – always maintained a deep devotion to Our Lady.

And I will leave you with some words of his from his Sunday Angelus, on this feast in the Jubilee year 2000:

As I look at these mountains, my thoughts turn today to Mount Carmel, praised in the Bible for its beauty. We are, in fact, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On that mountain, located in Israel near Haifa, the holy prophet Elijah strenuously defended the integrity and purity of the chosen people’s faith in the living God. On that same mountain some hermits gathered in the 12th century after Christ and dedicated themselves to contemplation and penance. The Carmelite Order arose from their spiritual experience.

Walking with the Blessed Virgin, the model of complete fidelity to the Lord, we will fear no obstacles or difficulties. Supported by her motherly intercession, like Elijah we will be able to fulfil our vocation as authentic “prophets” of the Gospel in our time.

Today’s liturgy for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time urges us to make this ascetic and apostolic effort. It invites us to follow the example of the prophet Amos and the Apostles, who were chosen by the Lord to cooperate in his work of salvation.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we call upon today with special devotion, help us tirelessly climb towards the summit of the mountain of holiness; may she help us love nothing more than Christ, who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity (cf.Opening Prayer).