What is the Carmelite vocation? - Carmel in Burundi and Rwanda

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What is the Carmelite vocation?

OCD Vocation

'A Carmelite is someone who looked at the face of the Crucified one, who has seen Him offering Himself as a victim for us;

pondering on this tremendous vision of Christ's love
he has undersood the love burning within him and has longed to give himself to Him.'

(Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity - Discalced Carmelite)

The Friar's Vocation

A Vocation to Prayer

In accord with the Rule of St. Albert, the Discalced Carmelite seeks to pray always and everywhere. The community comes together daily for the celebration of the Eucharist and for the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Prayer of the Church.

In addition, each friar is committed to an hour of personal prayer in the morning and another in the evening, to seek union in friendly, solitary conversation with the God who loves us.

All our prayer, private and communal, has an apostolic dimension since it is always within and for the Church, especially for those who are most in need, those who are abandoned, and those who never pray for themselves. And faithful to the desires of St. Teresa of Jesus, we pray always for the unity of the Church, that the day may soon come when all the baptized will gather around the one table of the Lord to celebrate the loving mercy of God.

  • Why can we not live without prayer

  • Our ministry is prayer.  It is the source of our life.  We cannot live without it.  Through it we deepen our friendship with God and find his loving presence in the world.

  • It is the very vocation of a Carmelite to bear witness to a life of prayer.  A special part of our prayer is time spent with God in silence.

  • Sustained by the word of God and the sacred liturgy, we are led to live in intimate friendship with God.

  • In prayer, we are called to a ‘hidden union with God’, in a form of life and fraternal sharing in which contemplative prayer and action combine to become a single apostolic service of the Church.

  • By growing in the virtues of faith, hope and above all charity, we deepen our prayer life, and come to resemble more closely Christ himself.

A Vocation to Community

Community prays its hour of mental prayerCalled together by the Spirit of God, the Discalced Carmelite friars live in a community of shared responsibility and support … praying, working and recreating together, sharing their lives, their concerns, their hopes and their needs.

Members in each monastery are connected to the larger community of our Province of the Holy Spirit
(represented in Poland as well as Burundi and Rwanda in Africa) of the Discalced Carmelite Order (represented internationally in more than seventy countries) and most especially within the larger community of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Within community we strive for a creative balance of solitude and fraternal interaction in the spirit of brotherly love that St. Teresa desired for her friars and nuns.

  • Why do we live in community

  • To be a Carmelite is to live, pray and work as a member of a united family in Christ, as a gathering of Christ’s friends.

  • It helps us to grow in Christian friendship and to serve one another.

  • Community life nourishes our search for God and our work with people.

  • There should be mutual acceptance in a true family relationship, with no one being made to feel excluded.

  • The difficulties of community life are faced up to in truth and charity, and overcome in a spirit of humility and forgiveness, so that all grow in mutual love and true friendship.

A Vocation to Ministry

St. Teresa of Jesus, along with her collaborator St. John of the Cross, founded the Discalced Carmelite friars to be of manifold service to the Church, combining a deep spiritual life with meeting the needs of God’s people in a variety of ways. Because our holy parents are acclaimed in the Church as masters and models of intimacy with God, the Discalced Carmelite friars strive to serve the Church by a special apostolic involvement in promoting a deeper spiritual life among the faithful. That is how they serve the Church according to their charism, and faithfully carry on the spiritual tradition of the Order.

The friars of the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary staff the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill, Wisconsin. They work as retreat directors, counselors and spiritual directors; as well as serving in parishes, as teachers of Carmelite spirituality in schools and universities, as translators, writers and publishers of spiritual works, and as missionaries in Kenya and Uganda. They have the special apostolate of working with and for the Discalced Carmelite nuns as well as the Secular Order of Carmelites.

Within the community they serve as cooks, as treasurers, as maintenance men and as gardeners. They train new members, act as responsible stewards of what the People of God have shared with them, and always and everywhere lift up their hearts in prayer to the Living God in whose presence they stand.

St Elijah and the Carmelites

In Rome, in the Basilica of St. Peter, we find statues of the founders of many Religious Orders. Under the statue of Elijah we read: “The entire Carmelite Order erected [this statue] to it’s founder”.
Elijah is not the founder of the Order in a historical sense. However in the biblical story of Elijah we find all the foundation stones on which the Traditions and Spirit of Carmel are built. He is the prophet of prayer and the true worship of God. He is single minded in his “zeal” for God. He is sent by God to do God’s work. He must depend upon God for everything. He experiences God in stillness and silence. In the new testament story of the transfiguration Elijah is a witness before all of us to the true identity of Jesus. Carmelites from the beginning have felt called to live in the “spirit and power” of Elijah.

Our Lady & the Carmelites

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Our Lady was the first tabernacle, and she served her Son faithfully and pondered His words deep in her heart throughout her life.  She is the model of faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ.  She is also the model of a life lived in constant prayer and apostolic service to the church.

When a friar is professed into the Order of Discalced Carmelites, he vows to live, with the Virgin Mary, in faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ.  We seek the help of the Mother of God by constant prayer and service of the Church.

We wear the scapular, the habit of the Order, as a special sign of our devotion and dedication to the Blessed Virgin and of her motherly protection.

The Spirit of St Teresa of Avila & the Discalced Carmelites

St Teresa of Avila is one of the great women of history – writer, reformer, foundress, doctor of the Church and saint of God.  Her influence, like her personality, is larger than life.

She challenged old ways, and created, out of her life and her reform, something new and beautiful for God.

She defended women and reformed men, walked with God and never lost the common touch, a would-be solitary who became an intrepid traveller, an artless writer of literary and spiritual gems and a reluctant saint who became mother of Carmel and doctor of the Church.

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