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MOUNT CARMEL MAGAZINE
VOL 66. NO.2 APRIL - JUNE 2018
This issue is dedicated
to the memory of
Fr James McCaffrey, OCD
An inspiring priest, a faithful Carmelite,
a gifted editor and writer, a friend to those in need
- a man of God
IN THIS ISSUE
Homily from the Requiem Mass
My Brother Twice Over
My Colleague and Friend
Christmas Eve: The Love in God's Heart and Our Own
The Inner Life of the Trinity: An Overflowing Fountain
The Birthplace of Carmel
'Come then, my love': A Reflection on the Song of Songs
Voices of the Heart
'I entered into unknowing': Secret Knowledge, a Glimpse
The Glory of God in Christ Jesus: St Paul's Prayer for
Act of Oblation to Merciful Love
The Priestly Prayer: Carrying us all before the Face
Springs of Living Water
'The tenderness of His infinite Love': St Thérèse
and the God-made-Weakness
A Parting of Friends
Food for the Journey - Books
HOMILY FROM THE REQUIEM MASS
One of the most striking things after Fr Jimmy's death was the many tributes received, speaking of the impact he had had on people's lives. In this homily at the Requiem Mass on January 23, 2018 by our Provincial, Fr Michael McGoldrick, which is itself a memorable tribute, we are given an insight into Fr Jimmy's life and rich humanity, his deep love for the Carmelite vocation - and the influence of a great priestly ministry.
Many people have commented on the providential date on which Fr Jimmy died. It was indeed providential that the day on which - in the words of St John's Gospel so loved by Fr Jimmy - 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us', the birthday on earth of our Saviour should also be the birthday in heaven of Fr Jimmy.
Fr James Anthony - better known to us as Fr Jimmy - was born in Sligo in the west of Ireland in June 1930. He always retained a great affection for his hometown and loved to return there. He loved to spend time at the sea around Sligo. For many years, swimming was one of his favourite forms of exercise - he swam all year round when he lived near the sea. He boarded at our school in Castlemartyr, County Cork and in September 1948 he entered the Order in Loughrea, County Galway. He made his First Profession in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1957. He studied Sacred Scripture in Rome and Jerusalem and obtained a doctorate on the theme of today's Gospel: the house of many rooms in St John, chapter 14.
Fr Jimmy's priestly ministry began in Dublin, teaching our theology students, and later as prior of the community. When the Carmelites joined the Milltown Institute, he taught there and was elected its president. He also taught in what was then the biggest seminary in the world, in Alwaye, India. Later, he taught in Ushaw College, Durham before going to Australia where he became director of our retreat centre in Varroville near Sydney.
Fr Jimmy returned to Boars Hill twenty years ago and took on the editorship of Mount Carmel magazine. With the assistance of Joanne Mosley, he made it one of the leading spirituality journals. They also published several top-class books on spirituality with the Teresian Press. During his years in Boars Hill Fr Jimmy led many retreats in the priory, all over England and in many different parts of the world. He enjoyed robust health until quite recently. His death on Christmas morning was a huge shock for us all and especially for his brother, Fr Eugene.
Since his death, I have received nearly seventy e-mails from all over the world. What struck me in particular was the number of people who told me that his preaching touched their lives. A Carmelite nun wrote: 'Dear Fr Jimmy was here not long before my Final Profession in the late 1980s. It was after one of his wonderful talks on the Passion in scripture, which so deeply touched me, that it helped me make a decision that I couldn't be anywhere else but in Carmel!! Thank you, Fr Jimmy, for the grace that came through you.'
A priest, who is now rector of a seminary, wrote: 'I encountered his priestly presence and his vibrant compassion (in addition to his lively sense of humour) at a time in my own life when I was unsure of what the Lord was asking of me and if it were possible for me to live out my own priesthood with fidelity and joy. It was through Jimmy (or better, through Christ and his priest Jimmy) that I came to embrace my own humanity before the Lord. His words still ring in my heart and life, and I have shared them with many brother priests.'
Those two testimonies touch on important aspects of Fr Jimmy's life. The first is his humanity. Jimmy once told one of the friars that he was quite rigid earlier in his life but learned that that was not the Christian way. Painful events in his life led him to embrace his own humanity, his broken humanity. That allowed the light of Christ to shine even more brightly through him. People have spoken to me about his compassion in the confessional: his constant encouragement, no matter how much a person failed, and his wise spiritual guidance. There was a wonderful warmth about Fr Jimmy that made him attractive to many people and led to long-lasting friendships. He had a great spirit of hospitality, and many of us would testify to the welcome he gave to us and to everyone who came to Mass or the retreats at the priory.
I believe that that humanity and warmth came not just from life events but, even more importantly, from his growing knowledge of Jesus. Fr Jimmy did not just read and study the Scriptures, he prayed them. His Bible is probably one of the most thumbed Bibles any of us has ever seen. It was a book dear to his heart. Before today's Mass began, I was preparing the Bible to be placed on his coffin. I looked for St John's Gospel - only to find that most of the pages were missing. I think they fell out of the Bible and into his heart!
The words of Scripture were always on his heart. He came to know Jesus through his prayerful reflection on Scripture. Through his prayer, Jesus became more and more his Friend and the inspiration of his life. His praying the Scriptures led to a particular kind of familiarity with them - a loving familiarity. It was a joy to listen to him explaining the Scriptures. I cannot help seeing a parallel between him and Jesus with the disciples on the road to Emmaus: 'Did not our hearts burn within us as he explained the scriptures to us?' Our hearts burned within us as Fr Jimmy explained the Scriptures to us.
In God's Providence Fr Jimmy was led to enter the Order of Discalced Carmelites. He loved the spirituality of the Order. He expressed his love for Carmelite spirituality in a very practical way: faithfulness to community prayer. He was exceptionally faithful to the community prayer times. He also had a custom, that inspired me a lot, of going to the chapel at night before he went to bed. He would spend quite a long time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament, probably praying in gratitude for the graces of the day. He was certainly faithful to the injunction in the Rule of St Albert, that we should 'ponder on the law of the Lord day and night and keep watch in our prayers'.
He also loved the writings of our Carmelite saints and became an expert in many of them: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (better known, perhaps, as Edith Stein) and Elizabeth of the Trinity, to mention just some of them. I am sure I am not alone in being inspired by the way he could quote long prayers of our saints from memory - I am thinking especially of St Thérèse's Offering to God's Merciful Love and St Elizabeth of the Trinity's Prayer to the Trinity. All our saints loved the Scriptures and were familiar with them. That attracted Fr Jimmy and he read their works through the lens of the Scriptures. Those who attend Mass at Boars Hill will remember the many homilies he gave, linking the Scripture readings of the day to the spirituality of the Carmelite saints. We might have thought the homilies were a bit long - but were they rich!
In the prologue to his Gospel St John says, 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.' I believe that Fr Jimmy also saw something of that glory. So there was something very appropriate that he should have gone to God on the morning of the feast of the Incarnation. We pray that he now sees that glory in all its fullness. We also pray in gratitude for a long and rich life - lived, in the words of our Carmelite Rule, 'in allegiance to Jesus Christ'.
One of his particular loves was St Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Carmelites add a special devotion to their name at profession. Fr Jimmy's full title as a Carmelite was Fr James of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I am sure that she has welcomed her brother into heaven with open arms. Like her, I am sure he will spend his heaven doing good on earth. May he rest in peace.
MY BROTHER TWICE OVER
For those who were at Fr Jimmy's Requiem Mass,
one of the most moving moments came near the end when Fr Eugene spoke
from the heart of his love for his elder brother
I would not like this beautiful ceremony to close - this lovely Mass of thanksgiving for Fr Jimmy's life - without words of gratitude and very sincere appreciation from myself and the family. We all share the same sadness and loss, but we give thanks for someone who gave his life so completely to the Order and the Church.
I want to thank Fr Michael for officiating at the Mass today for us, and especially for taking the burden off me, and for the lovely, eloquent and affectionate words he spoke about Fr Jimmy's life.
I cannot find any words to thank Fr Liam and the community here in Boars Hill for their kindness and the tremendous work they have done, and for the very simple and beautiful way in which Fr Liam has summed up for us what we all know to be the truth about Fr Jimmy's life.
It was St Ambrose who said that death is a sad privilege. I know that is a paradox: the privilege is with the one who has died; the sorrow and the pain remain with those of us who have been left behind. When our dear sister Colette died just last April, Jimmy and I used to tease each other that we'd have a race to the line - and why God called him first, I will never know. His ways are not our ways, and our thoughts are not his.
Death is always a reminder that life is fragile and time ticks away. It is simply a matter of when life comes to an end, and only God himself knows when he will turn the page. Let's be honest, we are all in the waiting room. We are into extra time. The referee is looking at his watch. But we are in safe hands.
Jimmy and I had a great love for poetry. We shared many poems during holidays, and I know that the most famous funeral poem, the 'Funeral Blues' of W H Auden, is used so often it's almost hackneyed, and yet I can hardly find any better words to express what I feel today. Jimmy was my rock, right from the very beginning of my life, my second self. As Auden puts it: 'my north, my south, my east and west, my working week and Sunday rest my noon, my midnight I thought that love would last forever'. Here, I have to disagree with Auden: love does last forever. Jimmy has now come into the fullness of that love.
He can put away the Scriptures now, thumbed and marked with use, because he has found the One whom the Scriptures have foretold. Faith has given way to vision, and hope to possession.
Jimmy was to me a brother twice over - my blood brother, and my brother in Carmel. He was my 'forever friend', my companion along the way. I apologise to those of you who may not be familiar with the Irish word Anam Cara ('Soul Friend'). It's the only word that captures the relationship, the friendship and the support we gave to each other.
There was one other poem that we liked and shared together. It's not a 'holy' poem but I think it captures something of exactly what Jimmy wanted to say about what life is about. It's called 'Resurrection' and is written by a Czech poet, Vladimir Holan. This, at least, is how I remember it:
Is it true to say that after this life of ours we shall one day be
I suppose, although I don't want to presume, that I may be the only one here who has read Jimmy's thesis on the 'many mansions' in John 14. We spoke about it many times, and one of the constant themes running through that monumental work is that the mansions are not a building, four walls held together by bricks and mortar, but a home. Familiar faces, familiar places, familiar names - family and friends all together.
'If you love me, you will win my Father's love, and we will come and make our home with you.' Jimmy has now gone to that place and is waiting to welcome us - his family, his friends, and all of us who travelled the road of life with him.
MY COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND
I can hardly believe that as I write this, it is exactly seventeen years since I first began working with Fr Jimmy. He would be, for me, not only the most engaging of colleagues but a truly wonderful friend.
Our working relationship began, of all places, at Luton Airport. I knew him briefly from the Carmelites, so we decided to take the same flight as we were both travelling to Dublin on the same day. I was only a fellow passenger (or so I thought), but as soon as we reached Luton he took a file out of his rucksack and asked me if I would like to do some work (?!).
It turned out that he was Editor of a magazine called Mount Carmel. In fact, I had always wanted to work in editing, and we soon became so engrossed in discussing the article in question that all else was forgotten and there came an announcement over the loudspeakers: 'Will passengers McCaffrey and Mosley go immediately to the boarding gate. Your plane is about to depart!'
Fr Jimmy's commitment to work was exemplary, but in fact everything about him was committed and disciplined. Prayer was a first priority: not just two but three hours of silent prayer a day. I am sure this is what made him so human, compassionate and humorous, so calm of temperament yet with an inner fire. He radiated strength, energy and joy; he exemplified for me that phrase 'holiness in humanity'. All this I would come to know, day after day, consistently for nearly two decades. It says so much about him as a person that every day, for all those years, whenever I walked into the office and he was there I felt joy, but was disappointed if he was not.
As we got off the coach on our return from Luton, I could see that I might just be getting a job I had only ever dreamed of (and had never even spoken of): the combination of the written word and Carmelite spirituality. At first, I was to be there as a volunteer. Work was carried out each morning in the breakfast room: Fr Jimmy would hand me tea and toast and an article and a pen, while he 'worked' his way through peeling a plateful of oranges. It was not uncommon to get squirted in the face or to see the ink change colour before my very eyes.
One morning came a test - the equivalent of an interview. Fr Jimmy came in with two copies of an article that had been submitted on the Carmelite heritage. We both had to edit this piece independently of each other and then compare notes. When we had finished, I could hardly believe my eyes, and nor could he. We had both chosen the same title and subtitle; almost all the section headings tallied; and the editorial changes were identical about ninety percent of the time. This showed both of us that we could work together as a team, not pulling against each other. It showed Fr Jimmy that he could train me to function on Mount Carmel as a kind of editorial alter ego.
Some while after this, I was no longer a volunteer but an employee, and graduated to a real office: a cheerful yellow room high up on a level with the treetops. I at once 'nobly' offered to sacrifice my time in the breakfast room! Alas, Fr Jimmy proved equally noble, and said we should simply bring the oranges up to the office with us. (Yes, I know you chose me that we might bear much fruit!)
I will always remember how I would come in each morning, and he would shoot me a quizzical look. It seemed to me that Fr Jimmy had the ability to know exactly how I was feeling, and to discern even the slightest shadow behind the brightest smile. Whenever he became aware of such a shadow, he would amuse me no end by quoting, in an ominous voice, these lines on an eighteenth-century village schoolmaster (from Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village):
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
And more often than not, anything that was causing me chagrin soon changed to laughter in his presence. 'Your humour will save you,' he would say to me again and again, right up to the end.
One thing that I loved about the job (and still do) was the ethos he encouraged, of seeing the nature of the work as a form of belonging to Carmel. In a brief presentation he gave to the friars, of which he shared with me the notes, he said: 'We do not see the magazine as a purely professional publication: it is, in its own way, a member of the Carmelite family.'
Fr Jimmy also helped me to see the soul at the heart of the words, and the authenticity of lived experience, which is something that characterises the articles in Mount Carmel and is far more important than 'writing' as such. Again, to quote from his talk:
Perhaps the most striking thing about Carmelites is that, for us, writing is never just a literary exercise for the sake of publication. It speaks to the heart. That is why the real talent we have in the Order is that perennial Carmelite characteristic of having an open heart and a transparent simplicity that allows lived experience to pass through and be communicated to others. It has been a privilege to receive the most spontaneous and moving articles written straight from the heart.
Fr Jimmy was a great editor with vision and discernment - director not only of Mount Carmel but also of Teresian Press - and he did this to the highest standards. He also taught me much about how to combine scholarship, warmth and flow in my writing. He himself was a gifted author, capturing powerfully and beautifully the fusion of biblical and Carmelite spirituality in his many books, of which - I am delighted to say - there remain three more manuscripts to be published. But for me, he was much more, even than all this.
A week after he died, I sent an e-mail to a mutual friend who had commented on how much Fr Jimmy had meant to me. My reply was instant and spontaneous:
Oh yes, how I loved him! He was my dear friend for seventeen years, my lovely, humorous colleague, my conversation partner who was intellectually stimulating, the employer who gave me all the flexibility I needed to look after my parents, the priest who anointed my mother on her deathbed and who heard my confession and gave me spiritual direction, the tolerant and compassionate friend who listened to all my worries and scruples, the person I felt I could be fully at ease with, more than with anyone else. So many roles - so many losses!
A PARTING OF FRIENDS
This reflection was written by Fr Jimmy several years ago when the provincial chapter was taking place and he thought he could well be leaving Boars Hill and sent to another priory. At some point, it was decided to hold this piece in reserve and to publish it when he had left us definitively, which it is now a sad privilege to do. Yet, as Fr Jimmy's encouraging words show, Jesus always sends us consolation in our loss.
When I think of the day that I will be moving on and leaving Boars Hill, I reflect on another parting of friends. The Gospel records for us the words spoken by Jesus as he said farewell to his disciples at the Last Supper: 'In a little while, you will see me no more' (Jn 16:19). Because I am leaving you, he said, 'sorrow has filled your hearts' (Jn 16:6). But Jesus has promised us a great gift for our moments of absence and loneliness. He hastens to add: 'It is to your advantage that I go; for if I do not go, the Paraclete will not come to you' (Jn 16:7).
People come and go in our lives. Sometimes we meet again, sometimes we don't. But Jesus consoles us in the Gospel: '[The Father] will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him because he remains with you and will be in you' (Jn 14:16-17).
The Paraclete is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of Jesus himself who said, 'I am the truth' (Jn 14:6). That word, 'truth', rings a bell in every sincere heart. 'I have never sought anything but the truth,' Thérèse said on her deathbed. Looking back on her life as an atheist or agnostic, Edith Stein tells us: 'My longing for truth was a prayer in itself.' And elsewhere, she says: 'God is truth. All who seek truth seek God, whether this is clear to them or not.' She read the autobiography of Teresa of Avila all through in one night, and with the first streaks of dawn she exclaimed: 'That is the truth!'
'What is truth?' (Jn 18:38), Pilate asked Jesus. It is the wrong question. It is not a what, it is a who. Truth is a person, the person of Jesus. At every moment of change in our lives, we do well to recall the words of John of the Cross: 'Well and good if all things change, Lord God, provided we are rooted in you' (SLL 34). To quote the famous saying of Cardinal Newman: 'To live is to change.' Yes, to have lived is to have changed many times.
The Spirit, Jesus tells us, 'will be with you forever' (Jn 14:16). In John Masefield's play, The Trial of Jesus, Procula, Pilate's wife, asks Longinus, the centurion who stood at the foot of the Cross, 'Do you think he is dead?' 'No, lady, I don't,' he replies. 'Then where is he?' she asks. 'Let loose in the world,' he answers. Yes, the Spirit remains with us forever - 'let loose in the world'. But, Jesus adds: 'He will be in you teaching you all things and bringing back to your memory everything that I have said to you' (cf. Jn 14:17.26). To adapt words from Thérèse: The Spirit has no need of books or teachers to instruct and guide us. He teaches us without the noise of words. He is always there within us at each moment, guiding and inspiring us with what we should say and do at the present moment. Not only during our moments of quiet prayer, but also when we go about our daily tasks. He is the unseen Person, leading us gently like a mother's hand at every moment of transition in our lives.
'The Spirit will lead you into all truth' (Jn 16:13) - literally, 'along the way of all truth'. Jesus is the truth: he is 'the way, the truth and the life' (Jn 14:6). It is along the same way - of the Person of Jesus who is 'the truth' - that the Spirit will lead God's people more and more deeply into the mystery revealed to us in Jesus. Only, now it will be along the way of the new exodus, the path of his paschal mystery, dying to our own selfish ways and so entering into the joy of a new life. 'You are the body of Christ,' Paul assures us, 'and individually members of it there are many parts, yet one body' (1Cor 12:27.20). And so, from now on, 'the life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord' (Rm 14:7-8).
When I move on, it will indeed be a parting of friends. So, let us leave the last word to our great Carmelite teacher and friend for whom friendship meant so much: 'All things pass away; God never changes,' Teresa of Avila tells us. 'Patience obtains everything. To the one who has God, nothing is wanting. God alone suffices.'
MOUNT CARMEL VOL 66. NO.2
APRIL - JUNE 2018