Saint Elisha

Date: 
June 14, 2015
June 14, 2016
June 14, 2017
June 14, 2018
June 14, 2019
OCD commemoration: 
Optional Memorial
Classification: 
Prophet

Traditional Carmelite Saint included in the Roman Martyrology, although no longer included within the proper calendar for Discalced Carmelites, the feast of Saint Elisha may be observed in the same way as an optional memorial, with texts taken from the common (cf. GILH, #244). 

"Elijah came upon Elisha and threw his cloak over him. Immediately Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah as his attendant" (cf. 1 Kgs 19:19-21). Elisha was filled with the spirit of Elijah; among the many signs h  performed, he cured Naaman of leprosy and raised a dead child to life. He lived among the sons of the prophets and in God's name he frequently intervened in the affairs of the Israelites.

Mindful of its origin on Mt. Carmel, the Carmelite Order desired to perpetuate the memory of the great prophets' presence and deeds through the liturgical celebration of Sts. Elijah and Elisha. Thus the General Chapter of 1399 decreed the celebration of the feast of St. Elisha. Through his fidelity to the true God and by his service to God's people, St. Elisha effectively illustrates the meaning of the prophetic office in our day.

 

From a Sermon of St. Ambrose, Bishop

"What shall we say about the merits of Elisha? The first thing we praise him for is that he wanted to surpass his father (Elijah) in grace, for he asked for more than Elijah was able to bestow. Although he was greedy in his request, he was nonetheless worthy to have it granted. For while he demanded more from his father than Elijah had to give, through his own merits he enabled him to bestow more than he possesse

Following his master's ascent, when Elisha arrived in Jericho, he was invited by the townspeople to remain with them; they said: this is an excellent site for the town, except that the water is bad and causes sterility. He then asked for a clay jar, filled it with salt, and went to the place where the water was coming up out of the ground; he threw it into the water saying: "Thus says the Lord: 'I have purified these waters; never again shall death or sterility come from them.'" And those waters remain pure even to this day.

So we see how remarkable Elisha's merits are: in response to the citizens' hospitality his very first gift to them was great fruitfulness. For by healing the water, he provided for their posterity. What he did was not for the benefit of any one person, or any one family: it was for all the people of the entire city. Had he delayed, they would all have been sterile and grown old without descendants, and the city would have been left deserted. Thus, by healing the waters Elisha healed the people; and by blessing the spring, he provided them as it were with a fountain of life. For just as through his blessing good water came forth from the unseen veins in the earth, so too from the seclusion of their wombs mothers gave birth to healthy children.

For Elisha did not bless only the water that was already flowing into the spring's basin, but rather all the water without distinction which was yet to flow little by little from the earth's hidden moisture even until now. As Scripture has it, Elisha blessed the place where the water was coming up out of the earth, to indicate that it was the flowing water rather than the basin of the spring that he had sanctified. Thus, as the Apostle Paul says, all these things happened as signs; let us try to discover, therefore, the truth contained in this sign.

The church is the sterile city which, before the coming of Christ, suffered from sterility due to the pollution of the waters--that is, to the idolatry of the gentiles-- and was unable to bring forth children for God. But when Christ came and took on the fragile clay of the human body, He healed the pollution of the waters; that is, He banished the idolatries of the gentiles, and immediately the church, which had been sterile, began to be fertile.

Thus the Apostle also says: Rejoice, you barren one who bear no children; break into song, you stranger to the pains of childbirth! For many are the children of the wife deserted--far more than of her who has a husband! For Christ brought to birth more children from the church which had been sterile than He had from the synagogue which had been fertile."

 

Carmelite Prayer: 
God our Father, you alone are holy; without you nothing is good. Trusting in the prayers of Saint Elisha we ask you to help us to become the holy people you call us to be. Never let us be found undeserving of the glory you have prepared for us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.