Secular Carmels could this be the answer?


#1

Hi Everybody

Some of you have been kind enough to reply to my post regarding my reservations about seeking a life in the Carmel - basically, because I struggle with my personal foibles.

I’ve been doing my research and there may be an alternative in joining the secular order. I’m already doing more in terms of prayer and contemplation than seems to be their requirement. Maybe it’s a chance to dip my toe in the water and gain some practical insight?

I think about my vocation every day and I really want to commit wholeheartedly but then I have that fear of those doors closing.

Is anyone out there a secular Carmelite? If so, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

In the meantime, God bless you all and thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Clare


#2

hi Clare! remain being poor! God loves the poor! :wink:

I am not a Secular Carmelite, but I have been to a Secular Discalced Carmelite gathering. We prayed (chant!) the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning,then prayed in silence, then we were separated in groups. We joined the postulants in their formation for the meantime since we are observers (i am with my brother). ALL of them are ladies, mostly are in their old age. So they were happy to see my brother and I. Unfortunately we cannot commit to the gatherings. They are held on fourth Sundays, the whole day. We cannot stay for a whole day because we also have other commitments. But I love these great ladies.They are truly daughters of St. Teresa! I hope you would appreciate this sharing. :wink:

My suggestion is this: Duc in altum! Launch into the deep! It is not enough to read about the secular carmelites (there are two btw: the TOCarm and the OCDS.) You have to experience being one of them! There’s no reason to fear! If God calls you, then go and do whatever he tells you! And you will witness your own “miracle of Cana!”

God bless you! Prayers for you. :thumbsup:

ahm, one question? Are you discerning a vocation to religious life as a Carmelite nun? What’s stopping you?


#3

I am a Secular Discalced Carmelite. Do understand that the seculars are just as much a part of the Order as the friars and nuns. We commit to a life of prayer, study, and community.

Perhaps this website will be helpful; it gives some contact information for those interested in the OCDS in the United Kingdom:
carmelite.org.uk/secular.html

I’m in the United States, but I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can.


#4

I USED to be in the OCDS myself-I ended up having to leave ten years ago because the spiritual director and formation director felt that I ‘didn’t have a vocation’, even after been in it for six years!

The group I was in met on the second Saturday of the month, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (so we wouldn’t interfere with the Saturday evening Vigil Mass crowd). Started out with Morning Prayer in chapel (building was the former parish school, converted into a ‘parish center’-one of the ground floor classrooms was turned into a chapel), chanted. Then after a short business meeting, we studied St. Teresa’s writings. When I was with them, it took a few years to complete reading her ‘Autobiography’. :o They were beginning ‘The Way of Perfection’ when I left.

After an hour for lunch at noon, we broke into ‘small groups’-I think there was a separate one for the newcomers. Studied various books having to do with prayer. Then it was time for St. John of the Cross. Read first some of his letters, then got into ‘The Spiritual Canticle’-that took a long time to go over, too. I think they were going to start ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’ when I left.

I know, too, that they were beginning St. Therese’s ‘Story of a Soul’ when I left, too.

We closed with Evening Prayer, chanted in the chapel. After cleaning up the meeting room and putting everything away, then we left.

That was my experience. I loved it tremendously. But the stress of learning a new job ‘outside’ and the inability to ‘verbalize’ my spiritual life (plus the infrequency of confession-they didn’t like that too much) caused me to be ‘let go’.

But don’t let that keep you from following the Carmelite way of life. I see that you are in London; I know that there is a Carmelite church near Kensington Palace, ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock’. That was an ‘OCarm’ church; in fact, the late Princess Diana used to slip into the church to make ‘on the sly’ visits. Have you contacted the Carmelite Shrine in Aylesford, Kent? I went there in 1997; there’s a TOCarmelite group that meets there, too. I met them during my visit-they treated me like a real ‘sister’!


#5

Dear Clare,
The secular Carmelites (Carmel OCDS) have been the answer for me. We have formation and study quite a bit before we make any sort of committment. We have regular assignments for our monthly meetings (take several hours with lunch) as well M ***, Liturgy of Hours and prayer time each day, which many other non-Carmelites also do. Carmelites strive for holiness and comtemplation, but also are very much encouraged to participate in active ministries in their parishes. I have been clothed, but have not made my first promises yet. I simply love the order. We have at least one retreat each year. When I have more time, I will give you the names of a couple of short books you could read to see if you truly have an interest in this vocation. Many love Carmelite saints, but are not called to become Carmelites. I love a number of other saints, particularly Franciscans, but I am not called to that order. There is also the other Carmelite third order known as OCarms, I forget the exact name, but my understanding is that the formation is simpler and the OCDS Carmelite Seculars ask a bit more. God’s blessings on you in your faith journey, Sandy


#6

[quote="ThomasEugene, post:2, topic:211357"]
hi Clare! remain being poor! God loves the poor! ;)

I am not a Secular Carmelite, but I have been to a Secular Discalced Carmelite gathering. We prayed (chant!) the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning,then prayed in silence, then we were separated in groups. We joined the postulants in their formation for the meantime since we are observers (i am with my brother). ALL of them are ladies, mostly are in their old age. So they were happy to see my brother and I. Unfortunately we cannot commit to the gatherings. They are held on fourth Sundays, the whole day. We cannot stay for a whole day because we also have other commitments. But I love these great ladies.They are truly daughters of St. Teresa! I hope you would appreciate this sharing. ;)

My suggestion is this: Duc in altum! Launch into the deep! It is not enough to read about the secular carmelites (there are two btw: the TOCarm and the OCDS.) You have to experience being one of them! There's no reason to fear! If God calls you, then go and do whatever he tells you! And you will witness your own "miracle of Cana!"

God bless you! Prayers for you. :thumbsup:

ahm, one question? Are you discerning a vocation to religious life as a Carmelite nun? What's stopping you?

[/quote]

Hi Thomas

Thanks for sharing your experience.

It sounds good and what I'm looking for. Heavy duty prayer. I'm not suprised that the sisters were elderly.

I'm not sure about going the whole way because of my personality: restlessness, impatience - a little problem with authority. Also I try to do a lot privately to help people and if I go into a cloistered life, I won't be able to do that any longer.

I want to be truly sure and committed.

I really appreciate your input.

God bless

Clare


#7

Good Morning Agnes

Thanks for the link. I actually found it yesterday which is when the penny dropped. I’d been visiting the website for the monastery in Notting Hill and that’s what made me think that was my only option.

Kensington High Street isn’t far from where I live so I’m going to make an appointment and chat to them.

I feel that God is calling me to do two things. The first is to pray for people who are troubled spiritually and emotionally. The second is to help the poor, particularly the homeless. I’ve kept to this for a long time and happily, I’ve witnessed some nice things and have achieved some success.

In a way, I’d like to remain in the world so that I can still help.

I would love to learn more about your experience and your feelings of vocation if you have time.

God bless

Clare


#8

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:4, topic:211357"]
I USED to be in the OCDS myself-I ended up having to leave ten years ago because the spiritual director and formation director felt that I 'didn't have a vocation', even after been in it for six years!

The group I was in met on the second Saturday of the month, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (so we wouldn't interfere with the Saturday evening Vigil Mass crowd). Started out with Morning Prayer in chapel (building was the former parish school, converted into a 'parish center'-one of the ground floor classrooms was turned into a chapel), chanted. Then after a short business meeting, we studied St. Teresa's writings. When I was with them, it took a few years to complete reading her 'Autobiography'. :o They were beginning 'The Way of Perfection' when I left.

After an hour for lunch at noon, we broke into 'small groups'-I think there was a separate one for the newcomers. Studied various books having to do with prayer. Then it was time for St. John of the Cross. Read first some of his letters, then got into 'The Spiritual Canticle'-that took a long time to go over, too. I think they were going to start 'The Dark Night of the Soul' when I left.

I know, too, that they were beginning St. Therese's 'Story of a Soul' when I left, too.

We closed with Evening Prayer, chanted in the chapel. After cleaning up the meeting room and putting everything away, then we left.

That was my experience. I loved it tremendously. But the stress of learning a new job 'outside' and the inability to 'verbalize' my spiritual life (plus the infrequency of confession-they didn't like that too much) caused me to be 'let go'.

But don't let that keep you from following the Carmelite way of life. I see that you are in London; I know that there is a Carmelite church near Kensington Palace, 'Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock'. That was an 'OCarm' church; in fact, the late Princess Diana used to slip into the church to make 'on the sly' visits. Have you contacted the Carmelite Shrine in Aylesford, Kent? I went there in 1997; there's a TOCarmelite group that meets there, too. I met them during my visit-they treated me like a real 'sister'!

[/quote]

Good Morning Barb

Sounds like all in all you had a positive experience and six years is no small commitment. Thanks for the insight into the prayers and reading. I "found" St Therese when I was at primary school and have loved her ever since.

I'm aware of the church in Kensington - not far all. Not surprised about Princess Diana. She used to anonymously visit the sick in hospital in the late evening - until the press found out and stopped her from offering that kindness.

In all honesty, I'm all over the place. I feel that I would find true peace and happiness in the Carmel but there are so many things going round and round in my mind.

I need to just get started and see where it takes me. Maybe they'll think I'm not suited for it. I won't know until I try.

Thanks for your support and insight. Thank you for reading my post.

God bless

Clare


#9

Good Morning Sandy

Yes, please. Any reading that you can recommend would be great.

Can you please give me an idea of what sort of work you do in the parish? Do you need any other sort of training other than spiritual? For example, are you working with people with social challenges?

I know that a vocation is a long road and sometimes it doesn’t go where we think it will.

I appreciate all of the support that I’ve been getting here at CAF. Thank you!

God bless,

Clare


#10

Hello! Yes, I am a member of of the OCDS (Order of Carmel Discalced Secular) here in the United States. I suggest you go and visit for a couple of months and see if you feel “at home” with the local Community.

It is a true vocation - - - we are Carmelites, just as much as the friars and nuns; only we live our vocation in the world instead of a convent or monastery.

God Bless!:thumbsup:


#11

[quote="anonymous_in_fl, post:10, topic:211357"]
Hello! Yes, I am a member of of the OCDS (Order of Carmel Discalced Secular) here in the United States. I suggest you go and visit for a couple of months and see if you feel "at home" with the local Community.

It is a true vocation - - - we are Carmelites, just as much as the friars and nuns; only we live our vocation in the world instead of a convent or monastery.

God Bless!:thumbsup:

[/quote]

Hi

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

I've contacted the Carmelite Priory to request an appointment at the end of the month. I sent an email so hopefully they'll reply during the week.

You're right; feeling at home is important - otherwise there's no point. I had a little chat with God about that and His reply seemed to be that I would find happiness in the Carmel -not the same as earthly happiness but peace. For me, peace is happiness.

God bless you also

Clare


#12

Clare, this is a beautiful possibility for you. I’ve been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for 30+ years. An article I always recommend to those interested in discerning a vocation to the Order is this one by Fr. Aloysius Deeney, O.C.D.:

discalcedcarmelites.net/docs/Profile_of_an_OCDS.pdf


#13

Hi Frances

Thanks for the article. I’ll make a cup of tea and get stuck in. Much appreciated.

30 years is amazing and you’re obviously very committed. That can only come from something deeply spiritual. Your love for God must be very special.

Everyone has been incredibly encouraging and supportive.

God bless,

Clare


#14

Hi All

Just to let you know that I’ve started a new group for those of us interested in the contemplative lifestyle.

You’re all more than welcome to join or visit. I’m sure the group would really benefit from your thoughts and insights.

It’s called contemplatives corner. I really hope that we can share and join our prayers and also lend support in our often solitary endeavour to find union with God and do good for others.

Good night and God bless,
:slight_smile:

Clare


#15

Hi Clare!

This sounds like a very cool group that you’re planning!

Even though I’m not ‘formally’ in the Carmelites as I was from 1994 to 2000, I still think of myself as ‘a Carmelite at heart’!

I’m rather solitary at heart-I live alone and do most of my daily activities alone. I attend Mass alone (EF Mass exclusively) and do Perpetual Adoration alone too.

As a little aside-will you get to see the Holy Father when he comes to the UK next week? If I were over there-either as a resident or a visitor-I would be SOOOOO EXCITED to see him! I have a priest-friend there who was ordained by Venerable John Paul II in 1988, at the end of the latter’s pastoral visit.


#16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.