Another Reflection on the Rule

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From The Rule of St. Albert

Chapter 16

You are to fast every day, except Sunday, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from the fast; for necessity overrides every law.

What seems so wonderful in this simple rule is that it is so moderate. Yes, the long fast requirement is seemingly quite harsh--although it probably reflects the ways in which the hermits of Mount Carmel were already living. What is marvelous is "necessity overrides every law." This remarkably sensible moderation enters at the very foundation of the Carmelite rule. We are to see it surface again and again, with St. Teresa of Avila and her famous, "If you think you are having visions, perhaps you should eat more," to St. Thérèse's "little way" and its manifestation in "small things with great love." The Carmelite Way seems to be one of moderation in all things EXCEPT in the pursuit of union with God, about which it is completely immoderate--it is the goal, the point, and the source of life for Carmel.

What is remarkable is the subtle ways in which we are called to such things. I had no notion of the depths of the Carmelite Way or of the simplicity that is so foundational when I first joined. Indeed, I am only now beginning to understand some of the "mechanisms" of the Carmelite way and I am astounded continually by their sheer simplicity and beauty.

The Carmelite Way is not everyone's way, but it you are called to it, God will make that so clear as there can be no doubt. You may need help in the course of discernment, because it is so difficult sometimes to come to correct conclusions on your own, but then, that is part of what formation is all about.

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Steven, you sayd:

> This remarkably sensible moderation enters at
> the very foundation of the Carmelite rule

Hoo-boy!! Excellent point.

There is just such a struggle of immoderation going on within our turf, in which some secular members think that the entire worldwide secular branch should be living some sort of carbon copy of the Religious branch. Hey, it's gettin' scary!

- from one who has been there and already done that.

Dear Joachim,

Boy, did you say a mouthful.

At my recent retreat, our provincial delegate made a very strong point of saying that Carmelites enter contemplation to take the fruits thereof into the world through an active mission--we needed an apostolate. He said that some lay Carmelites seek to usurp the unique mission of the second Order by saying that their mission is to pray for others. Of course, we are to pray for others, but being members of Carmel in the world, we must also serve their substantial needs in the world--clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted. Our apostolates may all be unique, but they are not the apostolate of the second order and we were not called to behave or live our lives as either first or second Order. Our charism in Carmel is unique--it is to show the entire world that contemplation is not divorced from action, but the spring from which all worthwhile action flows. We are to show the balance between working in the day-to-day world, and seeking union in the Real World.

I'm still trying to figure out what that means, but it really sank in and is beginning to stir around with all the other slow moving thoughts and ideas. God will bring it to fruition in His time and way and I will seek to cooperate with that fruition.



Dear Steven of the Ancient Order,

Thanks for your re-affirming reply. And they are my thoughts, completely.

In reply to you further comments, somewhere in scripture we learn that God desires not sacrifice, but obedience. We will find that bedience in every little moment of every day, offers us a choice we must make: for good of others; i.e.: inclined toward salvation; or, selfishly for ourselves. We can judge by our own compliance to that criteria. It's sort of a waiting game. But not really a game, but a fierce struggle between the forces of good and evil. As I see it, even seasoned and learned people get sidetracked into misguided personal agendas. Our job is to rise to each sacrament of the moment, trusting in the inspiratioin of the Holy Spirit .....I pray.


It's always fascinating to see the similarities between your experiences and mine as a Dominican. I've had the same conversation you had with your provincial delegate, about not being First or Second Order and the need for an apostolate.

Of course, the differences, small and great, are also fascinating.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 15, 2006 10:49 AM.

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