Tag Archives: Carmelites

We Are All Carmelites

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.”


Philadelphia Carmelites Launch First Website

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.


Monastic Stillness and Life

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!

Sioux City Carmelites Celebrate 50 years

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.”

Click here for the full story. May they be blessed with plentiful vocations to continue their mission in the Church.

Lafayette Carmelites

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.

Discalced Carmelite Friars

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.

Bands of Brothers

Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Texas

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.”

Improving Your Prayer

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. Continue reading Improving Your Prayer

Allentown Carmelite Monastery

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.

Intimate Friendship with Christ

Pope Benedict XVI devoted his weekly general audience last Wednesday to St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82), one of the most revered spiritual guides in the history of the Church.  

While the Pope  gave a brief overview of her life and her reform of the Carmelite order, he spent most of his address on her immense contributions to Catholic spirituality, noting “her profound christocentric spirituality and her breadth of human experience.”

The most important lesson of St. Teresa, the Pope said, is her understanding of “prayer as an intimate friendship with Christ leading to an ever greater union of love with the Blessed Trinity.”

Here is an excerpt from the Holy Father’s address:

“It is not easy to summarize in a few words the profound and complex Teresian spirituality. I would like to mention some essential points.

“In the first place, St. Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life–in particular, detachment from goods or evangelical poverty (and this concerns all of us); love for one another as the essential element of community and social life; humility as love of the truth; determination as fruit of Christian audacity; theological hope, which she describes as thirst for living water–without forgetting the human virtues: affability, veracity, modesty, courtesy, joy, culture.

“In the second place, St. Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical personalities and intense listening to the Word of God. She felt in consonance above all with the bride of the Canticle of Canticles and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with the Christ of the passion and with the Eucharistic Jesus. 

“The saint stressed how essential prayer is; to pray, she said, ‘means to frequent with friendship, because we frequent Him whom we know loves us.’ St. Teresa’s idea coincides with the definition that St. Thomas Aquinas gives of theological charity, as ‘amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum,’ a type of friendship of man with God, who first offered his friendship to man; the initiative comes from God (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).

“Prayer is life and it develops gradually at the same pace with the growth of the Christian life: It begins with vocal prayer, passes to interiorization through meditation and recollection, until it attains union of love with Christ and with the Most Holy Trinity. Obviously, it is not a development in which going up to the higher steps means leaving behind the preceding type of prayer, but is rather a gradual deepening of the relationship with God, which envelops our whole life. More than a pedagogy of prayer, St. Teresa’s is a true ‘mystagogy’: She teaches the reader of her works to pray while praying herself with Him; frequently, in fact, she interrupts the account or exposition to burst out in a prayer.”

For the entire text of the Pope’s general audience, click here.