Carmel is all Mary’s; she is our Mother, our Patroness and our inspiration for a life of prayer “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Our life as contemplatives is closely patterned on Mary’s since she is the best example of total dedication to Jesus and His mission of salvation.
Often we are asked “What brought you to Carmel”, or we ask an inquiring person “What made you consider the life of Carmel”. Though the answers are varied, there is one sentiment that is constant. It’s expressed something like this: I want to give myself wholly to God, and Carmel is a place that makes this truly possible. St. Teresa often refers to life in Carmel as a total gift to God.
Another frequent answer is: Life in Carmel is a life of prayer. It is a life in which we grow in union with Jesus Christ so that more and more we may pray truly in His Name. In the silence and solitude of this life it is possible to listen closely to Him and so become more sensitive to the needs of the world. We place these needs in the Hands of the Father and pray that His Kingdom of justice, peace and forgiveness might come.
The sacred liturgy is another facet of our life of prayer. The Eucharistic Celebration is the center of our day and the most important part since we actually receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Here we are most closely united with him and with each other. The Liturgy of the Hours, sometimes called the Divine Office, is a preparation and thanksgiving for Eucharist.
The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us, silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says, your strength will lie in silence and hope.
Rule of St. Albert, Our Holy Rule
Though prayer is our main work, like any family we need to “earn our living by the sweat of our brow”. There are daily tasks – cooking, cleaning, paying bills, shopping etc. Our income is from our Altar Bread distribution. Since 1950 we have gladly served our diocese in this way along with a few churches of other Christian denominations (even a few out-of-state communities) on a regular basis. Our suppliers are the Benedictines nuns in Clyde, Missouri and OCO International in Vermont. We are grateful to be able to offer this special service to our diocese and all the churches we provide for.
Four times a year we print a one-page bulletin about events in our Carmel. With the Bulletin we enclose the Novena prayer to St. Joseph (March), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July), Sts. Teresa and Therese (October) and to the Child Jesus at Christmas. We ask our friends and families to join us in prayer. Though no donation is ever asked for or necessary to request prayer, many wish to send an offering with their prayer intentions. We are very grateful for the help and support of our friends and benefactors that make it possible for us to continue our life of prayer for the Church and the world.
Recreation & Dialogue
St. Teresa wanted her Carmels to be small so that a family-like atmosphere might always be present in them. As we are learning today, for a family to remain united, along with prayer sincere communication is essential. In order to help foster an easy dialogue with each other we have two periods of recreation each day. At these times we come together to exchange views, news and share our life. There are also other times of personal sharing on a daily and weekly basis, in community meetings and among individuals.
All in Carmel revolves around prayer. Since we are a purely contemplative Order we have no active apostolate such as teaching or missionary work. However Carmel’s prayer has always been apostolic, and in her reformed Carmels St. Teresa placed even greater emphasis on Carmel as a service of love in the heart of the Church. Through prayer and self-sacrifice the Carmelite nun offers herself for the Church and the world since “He desires that all be saved and come to know the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).