(Secular) Carmelite charism and marriage?

I’m curious as to how the two vocations work together. They aren’t bound to celibacy and so they are able to marry, and I know I saw somewhere on here a married OCDS. I know Thomas Aquinas considered marriage an impediment to contemplation, and one of the key elements of Carmelite spirituality is contemplation, so how does it work together in the case of a married secular Carmelite?

Contemplation is for everyone, not just Religious, and though this may have been St Thomas’ opinion, other Saints like St Francis de Sales, St Pio, encourage all kinds of prayer including contemplation, in all Catholics. Every person can allow some time for mediation and contemplation if they are disciplined enough to allow the time. Contemplatives too, must work. Each year at Christmas I receive a newsletter from a dear Sister at our nearest Carmelite Monastery ODC and they have a schedule of daily work and routine, as all monasteries must.

For an understanding of what the Church encourages as prayer, and not exclusive to any group, see:
scborromeo.org/ccc/p4s1c3a1.htm

[quote="MarcusAndreas, post:1, topic:224396"]
I'm curious as to how the two vocations work together. They aren't bound to celibacy and so they are able to marry, and I know I saw somewhere on here a married OCDS. I know Thomas Aquinas considered marriage an impediment to contemplation, and one of the key elements of Carmelite spirituality is contemplation, so how does it work together in the case of a married secular Carmelite?

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I have now been a widow for twelve years, and have been a Lay Carmelite (O.Carm) since 1975. At that time I had eight children living at home, and being attracted to Carmelite spirituality helped me very much to learn some discipline in order to improve my prayer life.

Growing spiritually is ongoing, and one does the best they can under the circumstances of their vocation in their life, which is their first priority.

In the very beginning I knew I had to get up at least 1/2 hour before my husband and children started getting up. At first I was bleary eyed and had to focus carefully on Morning Prayer, but after the first couple of pages I found I was into it. Same with Evening Prayer. I was able to attend Mass some weekday mornings after the children were in school. Before I was attracted to Carmel I was a very anxious person. It took a while to settle down! Other good things started to happen in my faith life as well. I found a small group of ladies to get together with to meditate on the Scripture Rosary weekly.
Slowly, I increased my knowledge of the Carmelite saints.

Learning to pray silently and listen to God takes longer, but improves with perseverance.

Now all my children are grown and out of the house and I can attend Mass daily, and have as much quiet as I need! :)

And struggles to grow in faith, hope, and love are ongoing, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey.

While a Third Order may not be everyone's calling, I am grateful for being a Lay Carmelite, as I need the blessings, inspiration and guidance I find there.

Peace,

Dorothy

Some extracts from the OCD Secular Carmelite Constitutions

ocdswashprov.org/legislation/OCDSCONSTITUTIONSFinal.htm

9 b) to seek "mysterious union with God" by way of contemplation and apostolic activity, indissolubly joined together, for service to the Church;

  1. Prayer, a dialogue of friendship with God, ought to be nourished by His Word so that this dialogue becomes that, "we speak to him when we pray; we hear him when we read the divine word"[18]. God's Word will nourish the contemplative experience of Carmelite Seculars and their mission in the world. Besides personal contemplation, listening to the Word ought to encourage a contemplation that leads to sharing the experience of God in the Secular Order community. By this means, the Community together seeks to discern God's ways, maintain a permanent energy of conversion, and live with a renewed hope. The Carmelite Secular will be able to see through events and discover God in everything.

The Constitutions of the Secular Order were drawn up to strengthen the life purpose of its members, who form part of the Order of the Teresian Carmel. They are called to "to testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response......to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society"[44]. This they fulfil as Carmelite Seculars if, beginning with a commitment to contemplation, they succeed in giving daily witness in their family and social life to "an integrated approach to life that is fully brought about by the inspiration and strength of the Gospel"[45]. As Carmelite Seculars, sons and daughters of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, they are called to "stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and a symbol of the living God"[46], by means of a life of prayer, of service to evangelization and by means of the witness of a Christian and Carmelite community. ..."

I hope this helps to answer your question.
God bless you. :)

[quote="MarcusAndreas, post:1, topic:224396"]
I'm curious as to how the two vocations work together. They aren't bound to celibacy and so they are able to marry, and I know I saw somewhere on here a married OCDS. I know Thomas Aquinas considered marriage an impediment to contemplation, and one of the key elements of Carmelite spirituality is contemplation, so how does it work together in the case of a married secular Carmelite?

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I would also add that St Thomas Aquinas was not a Carmelite.

I know that, he was a Dominican, but I figured his statement would apply to any order.

Besides this, however knowledgeable St Thomas was, he didn't have papal infallibility, and while he is a great teacher, he cannot speak for numerous Lay Carmelite individuals throughout the ages. No one can presume that any other person is not to receive from God the gift of contemplation or any other gift of prayer. Saints are holy people but it doesn't mean everything they say is infallible. The Church only teaches that the Pope is infallible on matters of faith and morals when speaking ex cathedra, but even if a Pope is a Saint, even he can make general statements of personal opinion that are incorrect, like anyone else.
It is possible for contemplative Religious to become caught up in other duties and neglect contemplation, just as truly as a committed Lay person who happens to be wife and mother or husband and father, has many duties, but still can find time for contemplation.

Just because one is a lay person doesn't mean one doesn't allow time for contemplation...as I know myself best, I have to use the instance that when my boys were young and at school, I'd finish my housework and go back to the Church to spend time with the Lord, anything up to three hours, but at the least, one...and not in verbal prayer mode... after having also been to a six am Mass each morning, before getting my boys up for breakfast and lunches and walking them to school until they were old enough to go by themselves. I'd be back to make them afternoon tea...they had their favorites, eg applecake...but it can be possible for some if not all, however even working parents can make time for contemplation. I was a stay at home mother in a time before working mothers were the norm due to economic pressures.

It is easy for even the best of persons to make presumptions about what any group of people are capable of or gifted by God to do. I tend to be suspicious of generalizations about people as they usually involve injustice and even judgement towards others, and ascribe to all persons, the possibilities they may rightly or wrongly attribute to the least responsive.

[quote="MarcusAndreas, post:6, topic:224396"]
I know that, he was a Dominican, but I figured his statement would apply to any order.

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He was speaking as a Dominican. I greatly doubt he was a student of the Carmelite Charism.

Besides, as Trishie points out, this was his opinion and he, as well as all other saints, are not infallible in what they say.

If one has a question about contemplation in the Carmelite Charism I would suggest that they explore the many writings of the Carmelites, especially those of the saints such as St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

A Carmelite priest that I knew when I lived up north, said it was not impossible to be a contemplative, even to a high degree, while living a life in the world. (Of course a disciplined prayer life needs to be pursued). He was the spiritual director of a few such people.

For those who are interested in reading about others who have lived such a lifestyle a book called “Conchita” (about a married woman with a large family and many duties), and “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, would be good reading.

I am an aspirant in OCDS, I am married and I havd kids. Contemplation is a gift from God. He gives it as He sees fit. In the OCDS we are asked to give 30 minutes a day to mental prayer/contemplation. As I understand it, St. Teresa herself pointed out that not all are given the gift of infused contemplation. What we can do is dispose ourselves properly so that when Our Lord chooses to give us this gift of contemplation we will be ready. I think that living a life that is centered on Our Lord is what we are all called to do as Christians. He is to be the center. Contempletives don’t just sit around in ecstasy or absorption all the time. Even in the enclosed monasteries. Just as we in the world have responsibilities and duties, so do the clositered religious. Their schedule is given to them by their superior while those in the world must develop and maintain their own schedule. Hope that helps.

[quote="Rebelecka, post:10, topic:224396"]
I am an aspirant in OCDS, I am married and I havd kids. Contemplation is a gift from God. He gives it as He sees fit. In the OCDS we are asked to give 30 minutes a day to mental prayer/contemplation. As I understand it, St. Teresa herself pointed out that not all are given the gift of infused contemplation. What we can do is dispose ourselves properly so that when Our Lord chooses to give us this gift of contemplation we will be ready. I think that living a life that is centered on Our Lord is what we are all called to do as Christians. He is to be the center. Contempletives don't just sit around in ecstasy or absorption all the time. Even in the enclosed monasteries. Just as we in the world have responsibilities and duties, so do the clositered religious. Their schedule is given to them by their superior while those in the world must develop and maintain their own schedule. Hope that helps.

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Excellent post!







So true! I have been accepted to visit a Buffalo secular (discalced) carmelite order day in a couple of weeks. I am hoping and desiring to be accepted to become an aspirant, etc.

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