Manual The Carmelite Tradition (Spirituality In History)

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Teresa although much younger.

Carmelite Spirituality

He assisted her in the spiritual formation of the sisters and was extremely influential as one of the founding friars in the reform of the male communities of Carmel. John was a poet who expressed his love for God in beautiful images of God as the beloved. He found it difficult to express his relationship with God in ordinary language.

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His poetry is powerfully inspiring to the spirit. Therese of Lisieux is perhaps the most famous contemporary Carmelite. Her charism has clearly been to grasp the reality of the commonplace ways in which God loves us. Although she lived her short life within the confines of a Carmelite monastery, she is designated as the patron of missions because of her vision of the world and her desire to spread the love of God to all people.

There are many other saints of Carmel who have been placed as guides throughout history.

Edith Stein, Blessed Titus Brandsma, Brother Lawrence are but a few who provide expert direction for those who embrace the Carmelite way of contemplation. Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hand but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now. Instead, what is meant here is establishing the right balance.


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Finding the right balance requires prudence. Thus, in the Middle Ages, discernment was increasingly identified with the virtues of prudence and temperance. The Rule of Albert of Jerusalem is an integral part of this monastic-ascetic tradition and is meant to teach the brothers how to strike the right balance in their actions in all aspects of their lives, from devotional practices to human relationships. However, this, too, always involves the question of where the right balance is, the question as to where something has come from and where it is guiding us to and whether this goal corresponds with what I want and with what God wants for me.

This discernment also concerns the contents of our preaching.

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Where and how is the living God mentioned in our preaching, in our pastoral care? Which forms of piety do we practice ourselves or do we promote, and do they leave any room for the living God and his personal face? The Pope pointed to certain pantheistic trends that are also seen in the Church. For example, a Superior General recommended her sisters not to pray in the mornings anymore, but to take spiritual baths instead.

What is important to me is the critical examination, the theological reflection on the question whether the living God is truly the central figure or we obscure his face, when we develop or use forms. This is closely connected with an appeal found in the work of John of the Cross:. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending Him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

Fasten your eyes on Him alone, because in Him I have spoken and revealed all, and in Him you shall discover even more than you ask for and desire. You are making an appeal for locutions and revelations that are incomplete, but if you turn your eyes to Him you will find them complete. For He is My entire locution and response, vision and revelation, which I have already spoken, answered, manifested, and revealed to you, by giving Him to you as a brother, companion, master, ransom, and reward.

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If you desire Me to answer with a word of comfort, behold My Son, subject to Me and to others out of love for Me, and you will see how much He answers. If you desire Me to declare some secret truths or events to you, fix your eyes on Him, and you will discern hidden in Him the most secret mysteries, and wisdom, and the wonders of God, as My Apostle proclaims: In the Son of God are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God Col.

These treasures of wisdom and knowledge will be far more sublime, delightful, and advantageous than what you want to know. What role then does Jesus Christ play? Shortly after the Council, brothers started to engage themselves in the exegesis of the Scripture, without getting lost in eccentric historical-critical discussions; instead they attempted, and still attempt, to communicate scholarly views in such a way that the living character of the Scripture became, and becomes, apparent again to many people.

In it, Mesters describes a movement which is a paradigm of dealing with the Scripture. It will not be a pious transfer of moralizing content or dogmatic doctrines illustrated with examples from the Bible that will be put in the forefront, but the original word of salvation from the Scripture.

Words of hope and salvation are always spoken in the context of a certain reality.

Carmelite Appeal – Carmelite Institute of North America

How people interpret salvation, or being saved or whole, varies. As in the past, to many people across the world, salvation primarily means the securing of their lives or their survival, often simply meaning access to clean water and sufficient food. Those speaking of salvation in such situations cannot ignore these basic needs. People need food before one can talk about other things. I believe that we too, as people devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, are called to bring freedom to those who suffer the purgatories of our times — hunger, unemployment, war, terrorism, drugs, depression, loneliness, poor education, exploitation and abuse …..

Our devotion to Mary makes us more sensitive to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters, to the most forgotten, and it makes us more human, more compassionate and understanding, more in solidarity with others.

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Compassion is perhaps the greatest test of the authenticity of our devotion to Mary which can never be limited, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us on its fiftieth anniversary to a sterile or transitory affection or a certain vain credulity LG In other situations, salvation means getting access to education and training. And in rich states and societies, health is developing into a concept that promises salvation.

In modern industrial societies, health is made a god, and people make generous sacrifices to it, putting in great efforts. Paul the Apostle made a similar observation when comparing runners at a stadium. Although athletes had to put in a great effort then too, nowadays they often end their careers with their physical health ruined. The connection found by Paul has a further aspect that may be helpful to understand the theme of this Chapter.

In his First Epistle to the Corinthians we read:. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

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Paul emphasizes that he is doing all of this in order to become a fellow partaker of the salvation promised by the gospel, and this means to the preacher, to the Carmelite brother, that he should exercise self-control. Here, too, paying attention to the personal situation of people as well as trusting composure are required, because God is the only one who can speak the word of salvation, and a personal effort is required to receive this word of hope and salvation.

Finding the right balance in the sense of the abovementioned discernment of spirits is required here, too, and this balance should be established time and time again. Meditation was more or less an atmosphere of peaceful reflection, which provided a fertile terrain for true prayer; it was a type of recollection that prepared a person for prayer. The Carmelite tradition teaches the grace of valuing the present moment and of being content, giving everything a proper value at the right time. There is need of a conviction that the Lord deals with a person not only in the high reaches of contemplation, but also that the personal history of the individual becomes an instrument of salvation and of divine mercy.

Even more basic than formal prayers, the Carmelite charism implies a way of life permeated by the living presence of Christ in the sense of vacare Deo.

We are not called to do special things for salvation, but we are called to do the necessary things for salvation in a special way. Faith, because God is God. Nowadays we like to think that we have risen above such a motive, but there are also very modern and topical motives to use faith and spirituality as means to an end. Businesses have discovered that employees work more efficiently when their spiritual needs are met.

Religious people would be ill less often, more satisfied and more composed, among other things. Often such claims are results of expensive studies and surveys, but they are rather meagre results in my opinion. According to these studies, those who believe in God are healthier, more balanced, more stable, etc. With the help of backdoor scientific methods, faith and also — from a Christian point of view — the relationship with God are used as means to an end. And does this imply that those who are ill are unbelieving? What does being saved, being whole, actually mean?

The only rationale for faith is that God lives; anything else is at best a by-product of the path of faith. The challenge repeatedly described in the mysticism of Carmel is the cleansing from all instrumentalization of faith, allowing oneself to be transformed, the abandonment of all experiences, and the ending of consolation.

Do we seek consolation from God or the God of consolation??? What remains in the end is faith, pure faith, because God lives!!! Titus Brandsma complained in his time about the disappearance of love from faith, because people would have no need of it anymore. I think that his analysis of his time has lost none of its topicality:.

Some say: never mind love, develop your strengths; let everyone be as strong as possible; let the weak perish. They say that the Christian religion, with its preaching of love, has seen better days and should be substituted for by old Teutonic force. Yes, some proclaim these doctrines, and they find people who willingly adopt them. Although neo-paganism no longer wants love, history teaches us that, in spite of everything, we will conquer this neo-paganism with love.

We shall not give up on love. Love will gain back for us the hearts of these pagans. Nature is stronger than theory: let theory condemn and reject love and call it weakness; the living witness of love will always renew the power which will conquer and capture the hearts of men. This is why a sensible and theologically well-considered discernment of spirits is badly needed.