Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Borderline is Beautiful

"Since I believe every hardship has a hidden blessing somewhere inside of it, I will say that borderlines are more aware of their connectedness to nature, feeling intensely connected with the environment, including the effects of subtle changes in weather. Borderlines are often more sensitive to children and animals, understanding their experience and naturally finding grounds to
identify with them."
- Laura Paxton

 Professionals agree that treating borderline personality disorder is one of the most challenging things they do. Even after all this time, when people have come forward without symptoms for years, who believe they may be cured; Even after all this time when public campaigns have been done to decrease stigma- Still, professionals often discuss borderline personality disorder among themselves with dread and derision. 

So, why do I say, "borderline is beautiful?" What's so "beautiful" about people who seem desperately needy and self-destructive, some who are "cutters," and some who make "manipulative" threats? What's even mildly attractive about that? 

Every negative "disorder" has a flip-side. Nothing is all bad. When an organism suffers in one area, it compensates in another. As far as creativeness and sensitivity, borderlines have it in spades!

People with borderline personality disorder need to know about the beauty they have inside in order to fight the problems people see on the outside. Without awareness that they are beautiful souls, what motivation is there to recover?

Borderline is Beautiful!

Borderline and Beyond

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why pray anyway?

"Prayer and intimacy with God are the only way to nourish and sustain ourselves through the outward sacrifices of daily life. We need prayer in our life to fulfill the deepest desires of our heart that we are not even aware of- to bring us a peace and joy that we could not have established for ourselves. God, the One, put this desire in us so that we would reach out in love, to love, and He sent us Jesus to show the way." 
-Pat Tresselle, OCDS

Pat Tresselle has a down-to-earth way of explaining things that other Carmelite authors have lacked. Pat just has the ability to make "tough" concepts make sense. Why do we need prayer? To fulfill needs and desires we may not even be aware of. In other words, do it although we don't know why to receive more reward than we could ever have dreamed. We need something. We don't know what it is. We can't get it without help. So, trust that strange desire to search for meaning and reach out to Him. God's the One who gave us that desire and He is the only one who can quench it.

Pat Tresselle's book, due for release in November of this year, tackles these and other difficult concepts in a way that makes it all come together. Get ready for the great, "Aha!" 

It you'd like to be notified when Insights from Carmel is released, contact

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Feast Day of St. Albert of Jerusalem- Today!

Today is an important Carmelite feast day. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Albert of Jerusalem, lawgiver of Carmel. For those of you who are not Catholic, the Church as a whole celebrates certain feast days, but certain religious orders have feast days of their own, such as the feast of St. Albert.

St. Albert is important to Carmel because he was the one who brought the hermits of Carmel together under one rule, to help them live together in community, during the early 1200's. (I imagine bringing community rules to hermits might be a bit like herding cats!) The Carmelite community respected St. Albert and so requested him to write the rule that would structure the community.  The Rule of St. Albert is still followed today, although modified slightly for nuns, monks, friars and secular communities. The rule is followed in both branches of Carmel- OCDS and O.Carm. Our rule is one of the earliest monastic rules, and it is the shortest.The Rule of St. Albert was considered very strict even at the time he wrote it. The Rule requires rigorous fasting and time in silence.

St. Albert was born in 1149 in Parma, Italy as Albert Avagadro. Her served as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1204 until his death. In 1214, he had been invited to the Fourth Lateran Council, but was assassinated in Acre on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross by a disgruntled cleric.

Lord God, through Saint Albert of Jerusalem you have give us a Rule of life according to your Gospel to help us attain perfect love.  Through his prayers may we always live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve faithful until death him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Carmelite Tradition and the Exaltation of the Cross Day

Today is the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross. This day is important in Carmelite tradition, because the Rule of St. Albert, which all our constitutions are based on, declared that all Carmelites should fast from this day until Easter. That's right. You didn't read that wrong. Seven months out of the year- fasting. Fasting does not always mean going completely without food. Rather, it means eating less or skipping certain meals. Luckily, Carmelites are no longer required to fast for seven months!

In fact, I'm sure the early Carmelites would not have been able to eat this delicious cake we ate today, made by Terry Ianora. It's chocolate with white icing and a cross made out of chocolate chips. Yummy!

Today was one of the best days I've spent at Carmel Maria Regina Monastery. Our community of Secular Carmelites spends one Saturday a month at the monastery with mass, liturgy of the hours, prayer, meetings and formation classes. Today was nice because of the theme we had of "embracing the cross." For our Lectio Divina time, we meditated on a poem by St. Teresa of Avila called, "Embracing the Cross." The poem was read three times, with time for us to meditate a while and then discuss. Each time, we saw more in it as a group and even on the final reading, I noticed things we hadn't mentioned. It's a very rich and meaningful poem that doesn't really seem that way upon the first reading.

So, we contemplated most of the day what it means to "embrace the cross." I came to understand some things for the first time. When the cross is exalted in our minds and in our hearts, our attention is focused completely on God. In her poem, St. Teresa says, "Be cloistered in Him." In her lifetime, she often said, "The greatest cloister is ourselves." She is talking about going within that secret place deep within us where we can be alone with God. From that still place, chaos in the world and intense stormy emotions can move through the soul and yet the soul is at peace with God. St. Teresa wants us to nurture the sanctity of that place in our hearts. The only way to do that is to exalt the cross and to embrace the cross.

Later in the afternoon, my formation class continued our study on The Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross. I had an immediate affinity for the first 12 stanzas because they were about intense emotions. I intuitively understood those stanzas almost "word for word" as St. John explained them in his commentaries. Stanzas 13-24 thoroughly confused me, so I was glad to have a class to help me understand it better. In these stanzas, the soul moves from a "purification" stage to an "illumination" stage. In the first section, the soul is emotional because the soul has just experienced God but has too much confusion and emotional turmoil to really be still and be with Him. In the second section, the soul progressively learns to move beyond the senses and emotions.

Coincidentally (yeah, right!) this is the same thing I've been most focused on working on in spiritual direction lately. Being still, in quiet, "dispassionate," and at peace is a process St. John describes well. In that place of peace, we find Christ. In that place of deep stillness, we find the Cross, learn to exalt and embrace it in our lives.

I'd say this was a good day :)