Inspirations from our O.C.D.S. Members

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

Prayer to our Lady of Mount Carmel

By Rita L. Malsch, O.C.D.S.

Mary, my mother, Queen Beauty of Carmel,
My teacher, my model of excellence;
you instruct me to suffer quietly and lovingly,
To keep inner silence amidst noisy gongs,
To listen to my heart’s whisper,
To die to my false self.

How can I thank you?
How can I love you more?

You wish to remain just a mother,
Pointing toward your precious Son,
My Brother, my Lord and Savior.

Lady of Mount Carmel,
Stay with me always and everywhere;
Paralyze the evil on at the hour of My last breath
That no injury befalls my eternal soul.
Lead me safely into the heavenly Jerusalem
The home of the Holy Trinity and my home.
Mother, for these I thank you
From the bottom of my heart. Amen.

St Therese of Lisieux: As Secular Carmelites, what can we learn from this beautiful Carmelite saint?

by Alex Arias, O.C.D.S.

We can learn her simplicity in prayer – talking to God in a direct, personal, and heartfelt ways. She prayed from her heart as a child speaks honestly and trustingly to a parent they love.

Her “little way” teaches us to do ordinary things with extraordinary love, like smiling at a stranger, or writing a note of encouragement to someone we know who needs it, calling someone we haven’t spoken to in a while, and so on.

To have greater dependence on God. Our culture is constantly pushing us to rely on ourselves, to be totally self-sufficient. We can learn from St. Therese to offer God our weakness, and to see our weakness as an opportunity to rely on Him completely.

What did St. Therese find extremely important in her spiritual growth and relationship with God, that we as secular Carmelites can learn from? She had great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of God. She lived in union with God’s plan for her life. She loved God so deeply. She was faithful to God unto the moment of her death.  Despite her great suffering during her life, St. Therese still trusted deeply in God.

What can we as secular Carmelites do to follow in her footsteps? We can imitate her “little way” which is simply the idea of seeking holiness in the ordinary and in our everyday lives. Her “little way” teaches us to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. We can bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God.

For St. Therese, prayer was a way of walking with God, and it can be like this for us.

The Rule of Albert Summary

By Linda Frasier, O.C.D.S.

The Rule of St. Albert is the foundational document of the Carmelite family. After approximately a decade of living together as a praying community of hermits on Mount Carmel, they asked St. Albert Avogadro, the patriarch of Jerusalem, to give them a rule of life which would serve to identify their charism, their way of life, and to declare their sense of purpose and unity. The Rule, called a “formula for life” and given in the early 13th century, defined a manner of balanced living for the hermits, a life of solitude within community. Later on, when the hermits had to flee to Europe from the Holy Land because of invaders, the Rule allowed them to justify their previous establishment as an order in a time when there was a ban on new orders within the Church. The Rule of St. Albert was, therefore, the “birth certificate” for the Carmelite Order.

The Rule is the shortest rule of all religious orders and yet is rich in both scriptural references and in practical advice for living. Written sometime between 1206-1214, it was later modified several times before arriving at its current form by Pope Innocent IV in 1247 after the hermits had come to Europe and had to live a cenobitical vs their previous eremitical life. Today, the Rule still endures some 800 years later as the standard of conduct for Carmelite living and illustrates the very spirit of Carmel.

Some of the topics set out in the Rule include their purpose to live out a life of allegiance to Christ with purity of heart and steadfastness of conscience and service. The prior and his authority over the community was defined and the evangelical counsels of obedience, chastity and poverty were listed as requirements. Counsel on practical matters was given: the locations of foundations, separate cells, the common refractory, common life together, fraternal discussion and loving correction, the Oratory and daily Mass. Their manner of fasting and abstinence, work and silence were also set out in the Rule. Importantly, St. Albert reminded them to be clothed in all the armor of God and to live a life of prayer and meditation. In the epilogue, St. Albert reminded them that to do more than one is obliged to do will be rewarded by the Lord but pointed out that “common sense is the guide of the virtues.”

The fact that over the centuries the Rule has been read, reflected on and lived out faithfully shows the enduring wisdom with which it was written. St. Albert listened to what the hermits told him about their way of life and then gave them a structure saturated with the wisdom of scripture. Today the friars, nuns and Secular Order of Carmel still purpose to adhere to the spirit of the text which makes us part of the family of Carmel, journeying up that mountain of Carmel to discover and live in the presence of God who seeks us.