St. Elijah, Spiritual Father of the Carmelite Order

St. Elijah is honored on July 20; he is the patron of the Carmelite Order and Vehicle Blessings.

Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), “Elijah Fed by the Ravens”
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), “Elijah Fed by the Ravens” (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

“As they [Elijah and Elisha] walked on still conversing, a fiery chariot and fiery horses came between the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” ―2 Kings 2:11

Elijah was a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel at a time when the Israelites were unsteady with their religious convictions and began worshipping the false god Baal. King Ahab of Israel had married Jezebel, a daughter of the king of Sidon, and she aggressively promoted the adoration of Baal among her husband’s people, forcefully coercing many to abandon their true beliefs. Elijah was deeply troubled over their weak resolve and worked hard to persuade the Israelites to turn their hearts back toward the one true God, the God of Abraham.

Elijah warned King Ahab of an upcoming drought, which transpired and thrust the Israelites into a time of great distress and famine. However, God protected Elijah by directing him to a stream and having some ravens deliver food to him each day.

Sadly, even after three years of national suffering, Ahab and Jezebel still clung fiercely to the empty worship of Baal. Elijah then challenged a contest between the God of Israel and Baal upon Mount Carmel. Four hundred Baal prophets pathetically tried to prompt their “god,” Baal, to bring fire down upon a sacrificed bull but were unable to. Elijah then astonishingly had his water-drenched holocaust immediately obliterated with fire from heaven upon calling out to the true God of the universe. He then slaughtered the Baal prophets.

Jezebel was infuriated and threatened Elijah’s life, forcing him into hiding. Elijah fled to Mount Horeb (same as Mount Sinai) and while hiding in a cave, God spoke to him through a soft whispering sound, giving him guidance and assuring the prophet that all would be okay.

Elijah later met up with Elisha, who left his family and began to accompany the prophet. One day, as the two men were walking along, Elijah miraculously split open the Jordan River. When they crossed to the other side, a chariot of flames suddenly appeared and swept Elijah up to heaven, whereupon the amazed Elisha took Elijah’s place as prophet. About nine centuries later, St. Luke’s Gospel called John the Baptist as one “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”

 

Nine Days with St. Elijah

St. Elijah is honored on July 20; he is the patron of the Carmelite Order and vehicle blessings. Below are some Bible passages to help you get to know better this great prophet and saint. Consider spending nine days with this holy man through these various passages, and during your novena of days, ask St. Elijah to pray for any special intentions you might have.

  • Day 1) 1 Kings 17:1–16
  • Day 2) 1 Kings 18:17–29
  • Day 3) 1 Kings 18:30-46
  • Day 4) 1 Kings 19: 1–12
  • Day 5) 1 Kings 19: 19–21
  • Day 6) 2 Kings 2:1-7
  • Day 7) 2 Kings 2:8-15
  • Day 8) Malachi 3:23
  • Day 9) Luke 1:13-17
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