Months have now passed and we are still being advised, for health reasons, to stay indoors as much as possible. We have now opened our churches but they are still quite empty, compared to what they used to be six months ago. The number of people who attend masses have decreased considerably. Our liturgical celebrations have been curtailed. I suppose people are still afraid to venture inside our Churches, especially those more vulnerable.
But in the meantime, one may ask, what have we been doing inside our communities?
As you know, we have four male Carmelite communities and two female communities. Cospicua and B’kara with six friars each, Ta’ Xbiex with two and Tas-Silg with three. Then we have the two female Carmelite communities – in Cospicua and at Tal Virtu’. Our numbers have decreased considerably. We can wallow in self pity and/or we can keep pressing forward with hope. We have taken the second route. After all, God is with us. And what does anyone need more in life?!
Since we cannot fully work outside, as was possible until a few months ago, we are ‘working’ inside! Our best labor as Carmelites is communal and silent prayer. This is what our Holy Founders taught us. “Faithfully following the Rule, our Holy Mother St. Teresa presents prayer as the raison d’etre of our life as Carmelites, the source and focal point of all the components of our charism. That is why the Church looks upon us as a family totally committed to prayer, a family that strives to live in depth the mystery of Christian prayer and be, as it were, its living witness.” (Constitutions #53)
So we have been praying all the more now as a community. Morning, mid-day, evening and night. Every day. Mondays to Sundays. Always together.
In Cospicua and in Rabat, our dear Carmelite Sisters continue their mission to pray ceaselessly for the salvation of souls. It is really unbelievable the hours they spend in prayer day and night daily. In Cospicua the Sisters are reduced in number but not in joy. Under the leadership of the youthful Mother Pawlina, they press forward. At Tal Virtu’, the Sisters who come from the US continue to adapt themselves to the new environment. They are seven in number, very young and very spirited. Our Fathers sustain them in their sacramental life. Again, as our Holy Mother wrote, “To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”
At Tas-Silġ, a lot rotates around the care of Father Eusebius who is now completely bed-ridden. Fraternal charity is paramount in our vocation. The Provincial, Father Juan, is translating assiduously the Letters of Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity into Maltese. A mammoth task. Father Jose keeps working on modernizing the structure of our Retreat House.
At Cospicua, the community is preparing itself for the reopening of the Novitiate. This will happen, God willing, next month. The postulant Roland Knight is very excited in starting this journey in our family. Father Alfred Debono is the new prior. Father Adrian continues his studies in preparation for the new academic year at the Teresianum in Rome and taking care of Brother Emmanuel; while Father Karm is an all-rounder, serving as best he can and he always does a wonderful job in everything. The community is also completing the paintings in the ceiling of the Church.
In B’kara, there is a myriad of activities going on. Father Victor is leading the boat there. Father Augustine completed the translation of the final work of Saint John of the Cross in Maltese – the Living Flame of Love and it has just been published. Father Henry is continuing through the social media, his apostolate to the Chinese Christians. Father Mario alternates between garden work and study in his room, Brother David continues to concentrate on embellishing our Sanctuary, Father Eliseus is doing his best to keep the convent running well…. But above all, the life of prayer unites them together as they intercede for all. Such holy brothers who are giving their life for others.
In Ta’ Xbiex, now the community has been reduced once again to two. And yet they keep going forward. Father Alfred, the new Prior, is still working as a Chaplain with the HospiceMalta, offering palliative care to cancer victims, while Father Salvinu, the parish priest, is preparing for the full opening of the parish with all that this entails.