Your personal vocation has two elements; it is a call to become the person God created you to be, and it is an invitation to a particular form of service. A Carmelite becomes fully herself in growing towards union with God and her form of service is prayer.
We will spend this final week of discernment in the care of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, under whose patronage the earliest hermits on Mount Carmel placed themselves.
Mary thirsts that her Divine Son should find in the land of Carmel, which is his, souls in whom he can live and to whom he can give his life. (Mother Mary of Jesus. Carmelite)
Mary is the Mother of all Christians, especially those who live the religious life… May she be our guide along the sometimes difficult but always exhilarating path towards the ideal of complete union with Christ.
(St John Paul II)
Read and Reflect
Essential elements of Carmelite life:
By which we move from the world’s periphery to live at its centre.
In order to hear the voice of God and the cry of our contemporaries
In order to stand in our own truth before God
Offering the support and the challenge of journeying together with different individuals seeking to answer the same call to a life of love
All of these nourishing and developing PRAYER as the heart of our life:
In union with the voice of the whole Church
As an ever-deepening relationship with God
(The following texts are from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Francis, Vultum Dei Quaerere [Seeking the Face of God] on women’s contemplative life.)
Following Mary’s example, the contemplative is a person centred in God and for whom God is “the one thing necessary” in comparison with which all else is seen from a different perspective, because seen through new eyes. Contemplatives appreciate the value of material things, yet these do not steal their heart or cloud their mind; on the contrary, they serve as a ladder to ascend to God. For the contemplative, everything “speaks” of the Most High! Those who immerse themselves in the mystery of contemplation see things with spiritual eyes. This enables them to see the world and other persons as God does.
You who have embraced the monastic life must never forget that today’s men and women expect you to bear witness to an authentic fraternal communion that, in a society marked by divisions and inequality, clearly demonstrates that life in common is both possible and fulfilling, despite differences of age, education and even culture. Your communities ought to be credible signs that these differences, far from being an obstacle to fraternal life, actually enrich it. Remember that unity and communion are not the same as uniformity, and are nourished by dialogue, sharing, mutual assistance and profound compassion, especially towards the most frail and needy.
…..Like Mary, you too strive to be a “stairway” by which God descends to encounter humanity, and humanity ascends to encounter God and to contemplate His face in the face of Christ.
What aspects of the Carmelite vocation do you find attractive?
What do you find challenging or daunting?
As you come to the end of this programme what do you feel you want to do next: continue to discern a possible Carmelite vocation? look at some other religious Orders? neither of those?
If the first, what will you do now?
Do you fulfil the normal requirements for any religious life, i.e. are you a single, practising Catholic, free from debt or dependents and from any serious health problems?
Lectio Mark 1:21-35
Notice how you are feeling about the prospect of exploring this further: hopeful, fearful, curious, cautious, eager, hesitant, excited, anxious…. These are all okay. Jot down any that apply and take them into your prayer.
Take the next step. It is now time for you to speak to someone – a spiritual director, a priest, a wise friend, a Carmelite – to share what the “still small voice” of God seems to be saying in your heart. This does not commit you to anything. Discernment proceeds by small steps, but the steps have to be taken. May God bless you and lead you forward in peace and trust.