Cardinal Dolan’s prayer to the DNC in Charlotte, Sept. 6, 2012

Carmelite tells of Incense of the Heart

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Body & Soul

There are moments when the physical and the spiritual harmonize in an astounding, yet simple symphonic moment.

That just happened to me.

You see, our Chapel is connected to our convent. So yesterday evening as I was walking in from the gardens, I was met by the unmistakable fragrance of incense, in the hallway of the convent. I’ve probably had this experience a hundred times, but last night it was very moving.

Incense is a sign of our adoration of God. We use it every day in our convents during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. It is a sign not only of our prayers rising before Him, but the total holocaust of our lives that we offer, holding nothing back, being totally consumed in the Flames of His Love.

But I was not in a particularly sacred space. It was a hallway. Actually, there was a bathroom right by where I smelled the incense. I pass through this area countless times every day. I probably know every nook and cranny. It could not be more familiar, or mundane for that matter.

Despite all this (because of all this?) I encountered a reminder of God’s presence. He is here. Right in the midst of my everyday “stuff.” A routine I follow day in and day out. Surroundings that I know like the back of my hand. Steps I could take blindfolded. Last night I was stopped in my tracks and made to reflect, “He is here. He is always here with me.”

I smelled it with my nose as I looked around with my eyes at what I could reach out and touch and know so well. And my spirit rose up within me. Just a brief moment, but deeply profound. Again, physical and spiritual intertwined in an inseparable and graced union.

My point is not to make you jealous of the beautiful life we have in Carmel. That hallway will be bustling today with sisters headed here and there, busy about the Father’s business. It will be moped later this week and the toilets will be scrubbed. Still, daily the perfume from the altar will penetrate this space, making it holy. May this same fragrance fill your lives, your very ordinary, yet anointed, lives.