« On Mary: from the Carmelite Constitutions | Main | At the Fountain of Elijah »

April 19, 2006

Forget Everything You Think You Know About the Carmelites

(A personal reflection)

I was startled today to realize that for the better part of ten or eleven years of pursuing a Carmelite vocation I have really been pursuing an illusion conjured by my reading of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of ?vila--the dream of the mystic encased in God. But Carmel is really and substantively about total immersion in God's word with resultant service to His people as summarized by this reflection:

from At the Fountain of Elijah
Wilfrid McGreal

Two contemporary Carmelites, Kees Waaijman and John Welch, have reflected on the closing lines of the Rule and have something to say that may help us respond to today's needs. The concluding lines of the Rule are as follows; Here then are a few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of conduct to live up to: but Our Lord at his Second Coming will reward anyone who does more than he is obliged to.

According to Welch and Waaijman this passage seems to refer to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Carmelite is the Innkeeper and Christ has come bringing the sick and the wounded asking that they be cared for--that everything possible be done to help. Christ will return and then repay the Innkeeper. According to this interpretation the Carmelite has his or her world turned upside down by the visit of Christ. We are asked to care for people with all their needs and wounds. This request, which causes inconvenience, challenges the Carmelite out of any egocentricity and reminds him or her that life is a mess and unpredictable. Spirituality is not a cosy option but is the call to respond to the gift of God's love by our involvement in what is often a dark and difficult world. Waaijman suggests: 'Real giving is essentially dark, and this is 'the going beyond' of the Rule into a desert of love, a night of trust.'

We spend time in the Scriptures to learn how to serve the Lord of the Scriptures and by serving demonstrate what true love means. In this round of life we may taste of the delights that are described by the Mystics. But whether this happens or not what matters is complete obedience to what God asks of us through the rule. Our obedience is its own reward--nothing more need come from God to me save the grace to obey and so to serve and to love.

Posted by Steven Riddle at April 19, 2006 8:45 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Thanks for sharing that tidbit...it's a great help to me. :)

Posted by: Kim at April 19, 2006 11:00 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Please enter the security code you see here