KOTA KINABALU – The Carmelite community gathered in the Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady of Mt Carmel to commemorate the Solemnity of St John of the Cross, OCD (1542 -1591) in a morning mass presided by Fr Rayner Bisius on his first day as Carmelite Chaplain Dec 15.
St John of the Cross was a prominent Spanish Carmelite friar OCD, poet and reformer acknowledged as one of the foremost mystical theologian of all times. Together with St Teresa of Jesus (Avila), he founded the reformed Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD) in the 16th Century. The OCD has its origins in the primitive eremitical community of the 11th Century Carmelites of Mt Carmel who adopted the spirituality of Prophet Elijah who encountered the Lord in “the murmur of a gentle breeze” (1 Kings 19:14).
His major prose works comprising of The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, The Living Flame of Love and the Sayings of Light and Love and the Poems are revered as spiritual classics. What sets him apart is his unique extraordinary poetic vision expressing the inexpressible in the realm of mysticism in evocative symbolic language. Pope Pius XI in proclaiming St John of the Cross a Doctor of the Church in 1926 wrote that he “points out to souls the way of perfection as though illuminated by light from on high, in his limpidly clear analysis of mystical experience. And although his works deal with difficult and hidden matters, they are nevertheless replete with such lofty spiritual doctrine and are so well adapted to the understanding of those who study them that they can rightly be called a guide and handbook for the man of faith who proposes to embrace a life of perfection”.
The Mass was celebrated according to the Carmelite Missal. Fr Rayner in his homily exhorted all to follow the prayer of our Lord Jesus (John 17: 17-26) so that we would all be one, perfected in unity, as witnesses of the Lord in faithfully serving the mission of His Holy Church.
Mass over, the congregation was invited to join a hearty breakfast fellowship organized by the OCDS community to welcome the new Carmelite Chaplain, Fr Rayner Bisius. – OCDS KK