It is important to have some knowledge of our roots, especially if it is for the greater glory of God and for the benefit and salvation of souls. For example, the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on our newsletters has a significant history. This image is a replica of the Miraculous Picture preserved in the Carmelite Church in Italy. It was brought to Rome by the Carmelite Saint Angelus in A.D. 1223. Whenever it has been exposed or publicly honored it has ever wrought miracles and marvelous cures.
Another important history we need to know and appreciate is the history on Mount Carmel and the connection with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint John Eudes gives the following explanation of that little cloud of Elias spoken of in the Third Book of Kings.
The people of Israel were, for three and one-half years, suffering from famine, caused by lack of rain. The prophet Elias having compassion on the miserable people, ascended Mount Carmel. He fell prostrate on the earth and supplicated the Divine Mercy with profound humility and great fervor. Then he sent his disciple to the seacoast, whence the rain clouds were usually visible, bidding him observe any indication of rain. He had done this seven times, when finally, a tiny cloud began to appear, no larger than a man’s foot, “nubecula parva quasi vestigium hominis.” (3 Kings 18:44 and following verses). It rose out of the sea, and ascending on high, grew larger and larger, until it covered the whole earth. Then the rain fell in abundance and enriched the dry and barren earth with full and plenty once more.
According to the testimony of Venerable John, forty-fourth Patriarch of Jerusalem, this little cloud of Elias is a veritable image of the holy Infancy of the Blessed Virgin, for he asserts that God revealed to Elias that a little infant, “quaedam infantula,” the Virgin Mary, represented by this little cloud, should be born of our corrupt race, signified by the sea.
To continue the analogy; the cloud was waited for and desired by the Israelites for three and one-half years of sterility and drought, and the little Mary was desired and longed for during the ages, when mankind awaited its Messiah, Who should be born of a Virgin.
This cloud of Elias was the fruit of the prayers of this great Prophet. In effect, the birth of Mary was the fruit of the prayers of the Patriarchs and Prophets, notably Saint Joachim and Saint Ann.
This cloud originated amidst the bitter sea waters, but mounting on high, was converted into a soft and mild shower; this holy Child was born of a nature all corrupt and poisoned with the rancor and bitterness of sin, but from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, she knew not the taint of its defilement, but was replenished with the ineffably sweet waters of divine grace.
Again, this cloud resembled the footprint of a man, to give us to understand that the Son of God must descend into our Most Holy Mary in order to become man and thus to shed upon mankind the heavenly rain of His grace. The cloud did not appear until the Prophet had sent his servant to examine for the seventh time, and it was in the seventh age of the world that our Blessed Mary was born. Small in its inception this cloud of Elias little by little, assumed proportions gigantic enough to send over all the earth it beneficent showers; in her infancy the daughter of Joachim and Ann was little in the eyes of men, but gradually she arrived at such fulness of grace and virtue and charity, that through her the whole universe was inundated with the vivifying and living waters of grace.
Finally, the cloud of Carmel was a source of fertility to the land of Israel, refreshing the bodies of her people, comforting their hearts and giving them an abundance of wheat, wine, and all good things. And has not the birth of the Queen of Angels filled the whole earth with joy? Is it not the beginning of all good to us, a treasure of blessings for the children of God? “Thesaurus inexhaustus hominibus,” says Richard of St. Laurence.
Father Joseph Poisson