Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Causa Nostrae Laetitia

The Venerable Third Order of Carmel Philippines, prayerfully congratulates His Excellency, LUIS FRANCISCO MIRANDA RIVERA, O.Carm. DD, on his elevation as the new bishop of the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico.

The Carmelite Order gave the announcement on May 16, 2020, that the Most Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Francis, has nominated bishop of the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao in Puerto Rico, Reverend Father Luis Francisco Miranda Rivera, O.Carm of the Provincial Commissariat of the Antilles of the Province of Aragon, Castile and Valencia.

Father Luis Francisco was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on January 22, 1954. Following his profession in the Order on August 15, 1980, he studied theology at the Pontificate University of Salamanca in Spain, after which he completed a Licentiate in Theology (Religious Life). He was ordained a priest on September 14, 1984.

He is currently the delegate of the flourishing Carmelite Third Order in Puerto Rico, which has already established 17 lay Carmelite communities in the country. He has lived with the Carmelite Community of San Juan de Puerto Rico for the past 15 years and has served as pastor in the Parish of Santa Teresa de San Juan in Puerto Rico, as well as Episcopal Vicar of the San Juan-Santurce Zone.


Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Invitation to All TOC Members

Join us on Holy Thursday at 6:00 PM - Facebook Live
Please click Third Order of Carmelites - Lay Carmelites of the Philippines Facebook Page to view the livestream.

“In this ‘public prayer of the Church,’ the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized (CCC 1174)."

All members of the TOC are obligated to pray this Vespers due to the prevailing Enhanced Community Quarantine in the Philippines. 

The laity in general are encouraged to participate.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Revealing God's Grace in the Time of Lockdown and Quarantine


No public gatherings.

No open churches.

No celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Lockdown, enhanced community quarantine, stay home appeals. Television and social media are explicit with these terms that it has become second nature to us. Wherever we are right now, we are faced with this unseen, microscopic enemy. It can be unnerving to hear the silence at any time of the day.

Solitude and Isolation as a Expression of Faith

Practicing solitude can be a daunting experience, more so with isolation brought about by COVID-19. In a society that is so used to noise and seeming chaos, a momentary silence can make one uncomfortable or even fearful of what one does not or suddenly hears. Hearing a wailing sound will probably scare us, or a whisper will probably stop us in our tracks--thinking that it may be a ghost or something.

Solitude--the Carmelite Way

The Rule of St. Albert says that: Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord's law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty. We are taught that the cell does not refer to a physical place, but rather one's innermost being where the Spirit of God dwells as its temple (1 Cor. 6:19).

So solitude is nothing new to us Carmelites; in fact, it is nothing to be feared at. What is happening in the world today is merely a physical solitude where we are required to stay inside our homes. We are called to a spiritual solitude where our hearts are directed towards the Beloved. "Be still and see that I am God" (Psalm 45:11). 

Isolation of St. Teresa Benedicta

A number of Carmelite saints have experienced this period of isolation. St. John's produced his Spiritual Canticle during his period of confinement. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Titus Brandsma also experienced isolation in their lifetimes, among other Carmelite saints.

Lesser known to us was the period of confinement of another Carmelite saint and Holocaust martyr, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In one of her letters in 1942, she wrote that:

"We are very calm and cheerful. Of course, so far there has been no Mass and Communion; maybe that will come later. Now we have a chance to experience a little how to live purely from within" (written from Westerbork transit camp, August 1942).

Enter into Holy Week

Catholics all over the world celebrate Palm Sunday today, bringing to Holy Week. Just as our Lord Jesus entered into Jerusalem, let us enter into Holy Week with much prayer and reflection, meditating on the passion of our Lord. 

Let us bring Him into our cell, where we will find comfort and peace.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

Faith in God through Prayer: Living in Unprecedented Times

We live in uncertain times with the threat of COVID-19.

Being Carmelites who are called to life of prayer and contemplation, let us do our part in uplifting the spirits of our fellow brothers and sisters by our prayers and sacrifices: those who are ill and fighting for their lives; those in medical/healthcare workers who work tirelessly to give relief to the sick, the "everyday people" (market vendors, baggers, delivery men, police officers and the military) who risk their lives to ensure the safety and needs of everyone. Yes, we pray for ourselves and for our family members and friends, but we also should pray bigger and include others in our daily intentions--people who are incapacitated to pray, do not have time to pray, and who have lost faith in praying.

Watching the news and getting hooked on social media can distract you from prayer. And in this time of great uncertainty, all the more should we anchor our attention in prayer. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." - 2 Corinthians 4:16.

Words of encouragement

Let us reflect on the words of Fr. Bal Nonato to all of us:


What is your "essence"?

In my retreats with students, I use this short exercise. It went something like this....

When you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Orange juice, yes. And how about lemon? Lemon juice, yes that's right. With this reality, we can basically say then that the juice is the essence of the orange and of the lemon. When they are squeezed the juice that comes out of them is their "essence".

So what comes out of you when life's trials and tribulations squeeze you?

Stripping us bare

I've marveled at the way God is stripping us of our idols during this pandemic crisis. Sports, money, entertainment, food, comfort, the basic freedom to do what we want to do are all being stripped away... and it makes folks uncomfortable. You can tell what your idol is by what makes you the most uncomfortable when you lose it.

A Greater Good

God has the most wonderful way of bringing a greater good out of evil. It's a gift to discover our idols and have them stripped away--uncomfortable, but good. If we don't know we have an idol, we can't purge it out of our lives. God grants us a huge gift--a world-wide examination of conscience as it is, a gift of self-knowledge so that we can return to Him in humility and be reconciled.

So what is your "essence" then? Have you figured it out? What's been coming out of you lately through this world-wife squeezing of humanity?

It comes in the form of how you respond during this time of crisis as God reveals to you your idols and squeezes you. Are you lashing out at others? Condemning? Panicking? Hoarding? Losing your peace in some form or fashion? Spending hours scrolling the news and social media out of fear or curiosity? If so, God is granting you a gift of self-knowledge, an opportunity to take these to Him in one of those drive-through reconciliation lines and surrender at His feet.

Finding Grace

All is grace. God is in this difficult time and will never leave us orphaned. He is bringing good out of this terrible situation both collectively and individually. Let us not miss the opportunity to see the greater good He is calling His people to. Nothing is accidental. Don't miss what God is doing. Embrace it in humility and be reconciled to Him.

Monday, January 13, 2020

National Training of Formators - 1

Formators from different TOC communities attended the first national training of formators at the Domus Carmelitana Flos Carmeli in Calamba, Laguna last 11-12 January. The training was conducted by Fr. Bal Nonato, OCarm.

The first of 3 trainings scheduled for the year, the theme focused on the fundamentals of human and Christian formation.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Rites of Profession and Acceptance to the Novitiate

The rites of solemn profession and the novitiate rites were performed last August 21 at the Our Lady of the Pillar Parish in Las Pinas City. The concelebrated mass was led by Fr. Gilbert Billena, O. Carm. The event was attended by members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Makati) and Our Lady of the Pillar (Pilar) communities.

Sis Leila de Dios-Cruz took her final profession, while Sis Rhea Medina was admitted to the novitiate.

The procession begins.

Sis Leila de Dios-Cruz (Pilar)
Sis Rhea Medina (Makati) kneels before Fr. Gilbert

Sacred Heart of Jesus TOC Community (Makati)

Our Lady of the Pillar TOC Community (Las Pinas)
Family members of Sis Leila

Sis Rhea, flanked by her guest, Fr. Val and Fr. Gilbert
"The geographic Mount Carmel that we take our Carmelite name from is a mountain range along the Mediterranean in Israel. It is a green oasis surrounded by desert; hence, its name “Carmel,” which means “the Garden of God” in Hebrew. The metaphorical Carmel is a way of life, our disposition as we make our spiritual path up Mount Carmel". - St. John of the Cross

Saturday, August 17, 2019

TOC Communities Celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (PART II)

Photographs of communities who celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel last July 16:

Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Pasig)

At the Shrine of St. Therese (Pasay City)

Our Lady of the Abandoned Community (Sta. Ana, Manila)

We thank the communities who shared with us pictures of their celebration. May our Good Lord and Blessed Mother bless us all!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

TOC Communities Celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Members of the Third Order of Carmelites and the Carmelite Confraternities all over the country celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in their own little way last July 16. Here is a look at some of the communities:

Flos Carmeli Community (Bacoor)

Imposition of the Brown Scapular to the parishioners after the mass.

Another imposition was held at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Queensrow.
Stella Maria Chapter of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Batanes)

St. John the Baptist Community (Malolos, Bulacan)

St. Magdalen de Pazzi Community (Malolos, Bulacan)

Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Malolos, Bulacan)

St. Catherine of Alexandria Community (Dumaguete)

Our Lady of the Pillar Community (Las Pinas)

St. Teresa Margaret Redi Community (Makati)

Mater Divinae Gratiae Community (San Marcelino, Manila)

At St. Vincent de Paul Parish in San Marcelino, Manila

Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel (Tondo, Manila)
Top left: evening procession after the mass; Top center: members and family with Rev. Fr. Jorge Peligro, OAR;
Bottom left: members beside the statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel; Bottom center: members with Fr. Jorge
Mater Decor Carmeli Community (Pasig)

Imposition of the Brown Scapular to parishioners of the Holy Family Parish.

Mater Carmeli and St. Angelus of Sicily Communities (Tarlac)

Members of the Mater Carmeli and St. Angelus of Sicily Communities with Bishop Enrique Macaraeg and Fr. Charles Corpuz of Tarlac

We thank the communities who shared their photographs with us. May Our Good Lord and Our  Blessed Mother bless us all!