From the beginning of creation God has invited all people to share his life. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, spoke to Moses on Sinai’s mountain, called Elijah into the intimacy of his presence and overshadowed Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit. Our God has made known to us the mystery of his purpose: “…that he would bring everything together under Christ.”
The Lord draws each person to himself in many varied vocations. Some of the faithful, in pursuit of perfect charity, are called to manifest within the Church and to the world a life totally intent upon prayer and the quest for intimacy with God. The Order of Carmel exists for this purpose. Carmelites symbolize the innate longing of each person for transforming union with the Lord who created us.
In solitude and in community the Nuns of Carmel “meditate day and night on the law of the Lord.” (Rule) Ours is a heritage rooted in the spirit of Elijah, the prophet. In ancient Palestine, Elijah retreated to the mountain of Carmel, where in a solitary cave he conversed with Yahweh. “Zealous for the Lord God of Hosts”, Elijah’s prophetic word challenged his people to faithful service of the one true god. Over the centuries Mount Carmel was inhabited by others who were fired with this same zeal. The charism of their lives would later be enfleshed within the Church in the contemplative form of religious life known as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.
Carmel is totally Marian. It is to Mary, model and most eminent disciple of Jesus, that Carmelites look as exemplar of faith and charity, for she “let it be done” to her according to God’s word. The Order of Carmel is dedicated to imitate Mary’s life of constant prayer for the Church and for all people.
The Discalced Carmelite nuns who follow the Reform of Saint Teresa of Jesus are women of prayer gathered in solitary places and summoned in community to live the imperatives of the Gospel in openness to transcendent mystery. In faith and love we share our life in Christ. All that we have and all that we are becomes gift to God after the pattern of Jesus.
The unfolding of Saint Teresa’s own prayer life endowed her with the gifts necessary to instill in her daughters a deep desire for prayer and to instruct them in its ways. For her, prayer was apostolic, the means of serving the Church she loved. She urged her daughters to give their lives generously in this service: “Let us strive to be the kind of persons whose prayers can be useful in helping those servants of God (leaders of the Church) who through much toil have strengthened themselves with learning and a good life and have labored so as now to help the Lord.”
In the teachings of St. John of the Cross, we are called to the heights of love in mystical marriage through complete detachment of spirit. He tells us that “at the evening of life, you will be examined in love…for a little of this pure love is more precious to God and the world and more beneficial to the church, even though it seems one is doing nothing, than all…other works put together.”