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Not much has changed for the Carmelites over the past 900 years. Their priorities remain unchanged – prayer, solitude and work to support the community. But for the Carmelites of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a new era has dawned – they have a website! www.carmelofsantafe.org
This IRL Affiliate community of 8 nuns was established in 1945 by Mother Mary Teresa who was forced to flee Mexico in the face of the terrible persecution suffered by Catholics in that country. She died in 1997 in Jefferson City, MO, at another Carmel that she also had founded.
The Santa Fe Carmelites are situated in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains, on the high desert of northern New Mexico. They are a part of the Spanish Catholic legacy that has been present in Santa Fe for more than 400 years. Santa Fe means Holy Faith!
The charism of the sisters is guided by their foundress, St. Teresa of Avila, and by St. John of the Cross, another Carmelite. They live in the presence of God, in imitation of Mary and the prophet Elijah, who awaited God in his hermitage on Mount Carmel, 900 years before Christ.
See a story about the Santa Fe Carmelites in the Santa Fe New Mexican
The Discalced Carmelites from Lafayette, LA, recently sent us some brochures which included some fascinating vocational stories. Two that were very interesting were the stories of Sr. Joseph of the Eucharist and Sr. Camille of Jesus. Both sisters are from the Hue Carmel in Viet Nam and came to the US at the urging of Father Marion Joseph Bui, a Discalced Carmelite Friar who came to the US himself as one of the “boat People” in 1981 in order to become a priest. He was ordained by Bishop Xavier Labayan, OCD, in the Lafayette Monastery Chapel in 1995.
At the solemn profession of the two sisters, Father Marion Joseph said that being a Carmelite means being ready to sacrifice all, including family and country, for the needs of the Carmelites and the world.
In a meditation on “The Priesthood, Mary and the Carmelite Nun” which I am sure that you can order from the Carmel, it says that the Carmelites have a special relationship with priests, in union with the Blessed Virgin Mary whose life was “inseparably interwoven with the priesthood and sacrifice of her Divine Son.” While the priest carries the doctrine, she multiplies sacrifices; he casts the seed, she waters it with her tears. He is an apostle by his words, she is an apostle by her immolation; and both save souls.
Sr. Camille was in the first group to enter the Hue Carmel after the Communists returned the monastery to them. The sisters have a true missionary spirit and have willingly chosen to come here. “For us, it is not a matter of being Vietnamese, Filipino or American. We are all Carmelites.”
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia have launched a new website that is quite unique. The information included is primarily videos on their spirituality and heritage.
The order was originally founded in 1593, and in 1902, a monastery was established in Philadelphia by four Carmelites from Boston, with permission from their superior. Eight years later, the monastery was moved to the location where it stands today. Four foundations eventually evolved from this monastery.
St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross inspire the nuns to live holy lives true to their founders. The spirituality of the order is rooted in prayer, silence, and solitude, which serve to foster growth towards Christian sanctity. Enclosure is also a foundation of the order, and is viewed by the nuns as a safeguard for prayer.
Prayers and sacrifices are offered for the service of the Church and the salvation of the world. Although St. Teresa was never a missionary, she held priests and missionaries in a special place, praying for the clergy, the spread of the Gospel, those who had left the Church, and those needing spiritual assistance. The vocation of the nuns is at its heart apostolic and missionary. It is not an active ministry, but one mystically rooted in prayer.
The stories of this order, and videos, can be found at the new website. A Triduum in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux will be held September 29 – October 1, 2012, with Vespers, Benediction and Mass.
Our website, www.cloisteredlife.com, has a beautiful description of a “Day in the Life” of a cloistered Carmelite nun. The nun is from the Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Cross in Iron Mountain, MI, which has a community of 17 nuns, including externs.
How beautiful to hear first thing every morning: “Praised be Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, His Mother. Come to prayer, Sisters, come to praise the Lord!” As Sister says, “These few words capture the essence of what a Carmelite’s whole life is all about; namely, prayer and praise of God.”
One handy feature of our website is a glossary of terms for the cloistered life. I have to admit that Sister’s use of the term Hebdomadary threw me for a loop. A hebdomadary I come to find out is the sister (or monk) whose duty it is to begin and end the Hours of the Divine Office and the Solemn “Salve,” and to lead the prayers at the graces before and after meals. A hebdomadarian is the one who carries out this task.
Also, please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Sr. Elizabeth Marie of the Holy Trinity, OCD, who died at the monastery on August 30th at age 70. She is survived by six brothers and seven sisters including Sister Pauline Marie, OCD, and Sister Verone, OSF. What examples the parents must have set before them to nurture these vocations to the Church!
On March 25, 2012, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Sioux City, IA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of their monastery of Our Lady of the Incarnation. Mother Joseph said the seven sisters “pray for priests. We’re here for the world and for people. There are so many people needing prayers for various hardships, whether it’s unemployment or sickness, addictions, all sorts of things. We’re just here for God’s children and we offer our lives in prayer and sacrifice, but mainly it’s a thing of love.”
She also explained the significance of the religious habit: “We think this is Our Lady’s scapular. It’s a witness to the world set apart for God, I believe. We’re not following the fashions. We’re the people that are chosen as the brides of Christ.”
Young Brittlyn (Sr. Teresa), at left and Kalyn (Sr. Faustina) are here seen rejoicing in the gift of Our Lady’s habit. It didn’t come easily for either of these Lafayette Carmelites.
“Daddy, Go back”
Kalyn Meche met the Sisters when she was about ten years old. Her family was driving by their monastery when she saw one of them in the yard.
“Daddy, go back. I’d like to talk to that Sister!” From then on, there was a desire and love for Carmel that never left her. She kept in contact with the community, made days of recollection at the monastery, and received encouragement and advice from her spiritual director. After going through many trials and difficulties, Kalyn entered the monastery on October 1, 2010, at the age of 18.
Her first months were not easy but she remained firm in her determination to be a Carmelite. On September 30, 2011, Kalyn received the Habit of Our Lady and became Sister Maria Faustina of Merciful Love.
The date was significant for her in that it is the date of St. Therese’s death and the birthday of Mother Theresa Margaret, their Foundress. Sister has always had a great devotion to St. Faustina and St. Therese. She loves their spirit of total abandonment and trust and endeavors to incorporate these childlike virtues in her own life. Her desire of many, many years has been fulfilled.
“All I want now is to be a true Carmelite and a loving Bride of Jesus.”
Dying Mother’s Blessing
Brittlyn Sonnier, likewise 18 when she entered, came to know of the Lafayette Carmelites through one of the weekend Veritas Retreats. She had struggled against a vocation for a few months, but after the retreat and coming to see the community, she knew that Jesus was calling her to Carmel.
When asked what she expected to find in Carmel, her reply was: “I really don’t know. All I know is that Jesus wants me there.” The date of her entrance was set for October 15, 2010.
Brittlyn’s mother was dying of cancer, and she wondered whether she should enter as planned or stay and help her father care for the other four younger children. Being a family of deep faith, they encouraged her to go to Carmel if she felt God calling her.
She then asked her Mother, whom she was caring for in the hospital. True to her conviction of Brittlyn’s vocation, Monique gave her eldest daughter her blessing and encouraged her in her desire to give herself entirely to Our Lord.
This is indeed the niche God has chosen for her. She has imbibed the spirit of the community from the start and has a deep spirit of prayer and generosity. On October 15, 2011 Brittlyn received the habit and became Sister Teresa of Jesus.
For more information on the Lafayette Carmelites, click here.
Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of the great Carmelite doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross.
In a particular way, we want to send feast day greetings to the Discalced Carmelite Friars, St. Joseph Province, one of our IRL affiliates.
The friars are disciples of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and they live as brothers in community. With Mary as their patroness, they serve Christ and His Church through ministries of prayer, presence, evangelization, and pastoral care.
As with all Carmelites, their primary ministry is prayer. All of their other ministries in the Church are but an outpouring of that relationship with God. They serve in parishes, retreat houses, spirituality centers, hospital pastoral care, spiritual direction and prison ministry with a special emphasis on their service to Carmelite nuns and seculars.
The St. Joseph Province encompasses most of the western United States, with most of their houses in California and Arizona.
For more information on discerning a possible vocation with this community, click here.
Last week the National Catholic Register published an article entitled “Surprising Revival for Men in Religious Life,” which the emergence of new religious communities for men despite the sharp overall decline in the number of men in consecrated life.
Michael Wick, the executive director of the Institute on Religious Life, was quoted at length in the article. He affirmed that there are many young men today who take religious life seriously and who joyfully accept the necessary sacrifices that are a part of it.
Wick addressed the popular misconception that religious brothers are men who are not smart enough to be priests: “Catholics tend not to have a problem with women religious, but when it comes to non-ordained men religious, they are a bit uncertain. What they might not realize is that a religious brother has just as legitimate a consecrated vocation by striving to be a brother to all.”
Wick sees the various thriving men’s communities as unique expressions of the Holy Spirit in the Church. “There are so many different charisms,” he said. “We have the older, more established orders, newer communities in the tradition of an older order, and then altogether new orders. There’s something for everyone, but a common thread among the communities doing well is their faithfulness to the Magisterium.”
At a website entitled The Integrated Catholic Life, readers are able to ask members of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles their questions. Here is an example, with the answer supplied by Sr. Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.:
Question: Dear Sister, My prayer experiences don’t seem good enough or holy enough, long enough or intense enough. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can pray better?
Answer: Dear Friend, Yes, I do have a few suggestions. That’s easy . . .
First of all, I suggest not using the expression “prayer experiences” at all. Hit the delete button on that one. A lot of people tend to speak about their prayer experiences. To me, it’s not the best choice of words. I believe that to use the expression “prayer experience” lessens, or taints my prayer. Prayer isn’t just “an experience.” It is so much more. Read the rest of this entry »
Today I visited the website of the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance, Monastery of St. Therese, in Coopersburg, PA, near Allentown. This Carmelite community is an affiliate of the Institute on Religious Life, but I hadn’t read much about them. What a beautiful cloistered community! Click here for their horarium, or daily schedule.
What really struck me, however, was the online biography of the community’s foundress, Mother Therese of Jesus, O. Carm. (1877-1939).
The occasion for writing the biography came when, during an expansion of the monastery’s mausoleum, Mother Therese’s remains were exhumed and were found to be incorrupt, despite the passage of 63 years!
The Coopersburg Carmelites follow strict papal enclosure. The essence of their daily life is living in the presence of God, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the prophet Elijah. They pray especially for priests, religious, and for all missionaries, and they pray and do penance for the whole world.
The Coopersburg Carmelites maintain their own orchards, bake altar breads, and do other labors in cloister to maintain their monastery.