[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:1, topic:243867"]
I have been thinking for several years now about joining a religious order. When I was in college I was involved with a franciscan youth group that is connected to the lay order. I found it to be a wonderful experience and it helped me grow spiritually but I never really felt their charism. I am more inclined towards quiet and prayer and have been looking in that direction. I find carmelite spirituality beautiful and inspiring and am very much interested in pursuing this further. There is Carmel very close to where I live and I'm planning to get in touch with them and see what happens.
I was wondering if there are any secular carmelites here. I would love to hear about your experience and would appreciate advice if you have any.
In 1975 a friend acquainted me with the Third Order Lay Carmelites. (O.Carm). She invited me to a meeting, as she thought I might be attracted to it. And, I certainly was! It was a small group of about twelve, and at each monthly meeting it was possible for us to have Mass said by a Carmelite priest, and he gave a wonderful talk.
In 1986 I retired to another state, and I missed the community very much. I had it in mind to perhaps start a community where I moved to but that never happened. So, I was an isolated Carmelite till the year 1999.
I then learned that a woman was going to be received into the Lay Carmelite order and that anyone who wanted to go was welcome. She had been taking instructions privately.
Well, I went and the rest is history. A new community was formed, and it was just wonderful. Here it is 2011 and we now have 44 members. There was a great hunger for that spirituality in my area. The requirements are to pray the LOTH, at least Morning, Evening, and Night prayer daily. Then we are to pray one half hour daily of mental prayer. (Scripture reading, Lectio Divina, or being with the Lord with our own words.) Devotion to Our Blessed Mother is high on the list.
Here is what one of our monthly meetings is like. We meet on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
8:00 AM - Mass
8:45 AM - Morning Prayer (Monastic style)
9:15 AM to 9:45 AM - Coffee, rolls, Business Meeting in the Hall
9:45 AM to 10:00AM - Break
10:00 to 10:30 AM - Lectio Divina as a community
10:30 to 12:00 - Book Discussion time - "Elijah, Prophet of Carmel" (with discussion questions). The discussion time is very meaningful to us.
Silent, contemplative prayer is the goal of Carmelite spirituality.
At noon all are dismissed except for those taking Candidate classes, Phase I and Phase 2. They will have teaching and discussion for two hours, on a different aspect of Carmelite spirituality, each group with their own instructor and lesson.
I so look forward to going to the meetings and being with my brothers and sisters in Carmel. It is very uplifting to be with like-minded people who give spiritual support to one another.
We have one retreat a year, and two Days of Recollection.
My becoming a Lay Carmelite came at a very turbulent time of being a wife and mother of eight. I was filled with anxiety and frustrated many times. After my friend brought me to the first meeting, it was definitely the beginning of a new time in my life. My husband had no problem with me going to a monthly meeting. I can't imagine my life now without the goal of growing in the Lord with the wisdom, instruction, and inspiration of the Carmelite Doctors of the Church.
Those who are interested in our meetings may come up to 12:00 noon and see what it is like. They may like to come for several meetings before they decide if they would like to begin at the next Candidate class. Even during the time of their coming to those classes (12 months) they will still be discerning (and so will the Council) if they should continue onto the next phase.