From Rev. Chalmer's Letter to the Carmelites


Father Joseph Chalmer, O. Carm. is the Prior General of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. Some time ago, he issued the letter from which this excerpt comes--a celebration of the 550th anniversary of the Papal Bull Cum Nulla. This bull acknowledge the privilege of the Blessed John Soreth to aggregate lay people to the Carmelite Order, and so it is, for the Lay Carmelite family a sort of Birthday Celebration.

Many have asked what it means to be a lay Carmelite, what is required, what is expected. The following excerpt outlines some of that:

from the Letter--Into the Land of Carmel
Rev. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm, Prior General

45. Within this common baptismal vocation, some lay people are called to participate in the charism of a particular religious family. Profession as a member of the lay Carmelites is an intensified repetition of our baptismal promises. By entering the Order they take upon themselves the Carmelite charism, which is profoundly marked by prayer. Therefore prayer, both liturgical and personal, is a vital and integral part of the life of the lay Carmelite. Participation, daily if possible, in the celebration of the Eucharist, is the source of the spiritual life and apostolic fruitfulness. The divine office, as a share in the prayer of Christ, is encouraged for the lay Carmelite and is also a source of great help on the spiritual journey. Personal prayer is vital for the life of lay Carmelites and the traditional ways, found in Carmelite spirituality, are particularly stressed, above all lectio divina, the prayerful listening to the Word of God, which is intended to open us to an intimate relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ. Devotion to Our Lady will be a mark of the lay Carmelite because she is the Mother of Carmel.

46. Like all Carmelites, the lay Carmelite is called to some form of service, which is an integral part of the charism given to the Order by God. Lay people have the mission of transforming secular society. They can do this in many different ways according to their possibilities. The great example for prophetic action is Elijah, whose activity had its source in a profound experience of God.

For the complete letter see here.

As with every member of a relgious order, I thank God each day for the blessing of belonging to such an order. I am constantly blessed by the requirements and the expectations of being a Carmelite. I am constantly challenged. I fall and I get back up to fall again. But it is my privilege and joy to do so for the glory of God, and I pray that my falling becomes less frequent, and my periods of striding forward more. I pray that God will speak through all of my actions and all of my life, and I lay myself open to allow that to happen. I pray for the grace to be more open. And I pray for everyone here that God helps each person in his or her vocation, helps them to understand that however they may choose to identify themselves, each one is a precious child of God.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 28, 2003 8:35 AM.

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