On Saturday, December 2, 2017, Bro Joseph Dat Cao, O.Carm. professed Solemn Vows in the Order of Carmel during a liturgy held at St These House in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Most of the Carmelites living in Vietnam attended.
Fr Michael Kissane, Prior Provincial of the Carmelites of the St Elias Province celebrated the liturgy. In his homily Fr Michael challenged Bro Joseph Dat Cao to do three things. First, he challenged him to model his life around Elijah and Elisha. He said each day of his life he has to do what Elijah did in the first reading. In the reading Elijah challenged Elisha to give up everything and follow the Lord. He challenged him to get rid of his oxen, his plowing equipment and follow the Lord at all times.
He pointed out that this can only be done because a true contemplative is one who listens! He challenged Joseph to take time out of his busy day, like Elijah did, for prayer and reflection. He pointed out that it is no easy task to find a healthy balance between the active apostolate and our need for personal prayer. Yet, like Elijah and the Carmelite motto says, we must all strive to be: “filled with a jealous zeal for the Lord God of Hosts”!
Second, Fr Michael challenged Bro Joseph to dedicate himself to God as Mary, the Mother and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel did. Many times throughout scripture – at the wedding feast at Cana, at the annunciation and the Immaculate Conception, Mary was obedient to God. She trusted in God even though it did not make sense at times. She dedicated herself to the will of God in her life. He said it is only by remaining committed to doing the will of God like Mary did that Bro Joseph will persevere.
Finally, Fr Michael spoke of the challenge given in the gospel for the celebration: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” He pointed out that this is a reminder to all present that following Jesus, living our lives authentically in Carmel is no easy task. It requires sacrifice every day of our lives.
After the liturgy all partook of a wonderful luncheon and congratulated Bro Joseph on his decision to profess Solemn Vows. May God continue to bless him and may Our Lady of Mt. Carmel intercede for him as he strives to grow in his dedication to the unfolding mystery of his vocation.