Is the Carmelite Secular Order for Everyone?
No. There are many gifts of the Holy Spirit. Secular Carmel is a particular call of the Spirit to place prayer at the heart of life. Prayer is at the heart of the Carmelite vocation. If you want to belong to Carmel, adding this dimension to your life takes time. The call to Carmel requires one to make some sacrifices and reorder one’s priorities.
The Secular Carmelite’s DAILY lifestyle entails:
- Morning and Evening Prayer from the Divine Office; Night Prayer, if possible
- Half an hour of silent prayer
- Spiritual reading
- Participation at Mass (if possible)
- Expression of devotion to Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with the primary devotion to imitate her in “reflecting on [all these things] in her heart.”
The Carmelite’s overall lifestyle includes:
- A simplicity of life according to the spirit of the Gospel Beatitudes
- A spirit of recollection and prayer
- Frequent participation in the Sacrament of reconciliation and other sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church
- A spirit of detachment and self denial
- A spirit of celebration especially on Sundays and special feast days
- Attendance at the monthly community meeting
- Time out for silence and solitude; an annual retreat and day of recollection.
A candidate for admission to Formation in the Secular Order of Carmel must be:
• at least 18 years years of age
• a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church (can participate in the Eucharist with a clear conscience)
Secular Carmelites come from all walks of life. They are business owner, professionals, homemakers, retirees, students, men and women, young and old, married and single. Each one tries to respond to God’s call to “meditate on the Lord’s law, day and night” (Rule of St. Albert) while working, raising families, etc.
CARMEL IS A WAY OF LIFE – a very definite way and form of life, and therefore it is lived as a vocation. A vocation is a call. The Secular Carmelite is one who has a special call from God. It is a gift given by God to an individual.
What Does Carmelite Formation Involve?
Formation is primarily about transformation and spiritual growth, rather than information. The writings of Sts. Teresa and John of the Cross are the foundation of our distinctive spiritual identity.
Advantages of the Secular Order
The advantage of joining a secular order is that it keeps the members in contact with the entire Order as well as supplies them with valuable spiritual aid. The Order also provides its members with the opportunity to meet and share their common interests in prayer. The Rule of St. Albert and the Norms of the Secular Order give the necessary disciplines to live a Carmelite vocation. It is canonically approved and binds the community together. It guides the members to live a committed life in Christ.
For more information on The Order of Discalced Carmelites, we invite you to read our Constitutions , our Rule of Life and our Provincial Statutes. We also recommend reading an excellent article which may answer many of your questions: Profile of an OCDS.