Visit to Valparaiso, NE Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

I am discerning a vocation to the Discalced Carmelites. I thought it might be helpful to other discernees if I posted my experiences at the two Carmelite monasteries I’ve visited. This was the first Carmelite Monastery I visited. . . I visited 2 years ago, but I recorded the visit in my notebook for future reference.

The Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a special Ecclesia Dei Carmelite Monastery - they are in full communion with Rome and I don’t think they are under the 1990 or the 1991 Constitutions for Discalced Carmelites. I think they are a special exception.

About my trip to Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph:

Bob picked me up at the airport. He and his wife are caretakers for Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He told me that they are all so joyful - that when sometimes, like on feastdays, they get to visit with the community, their cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing. He says these nuns are filled with a genuine joy. Even in times of sadness and solemnity, there is a deep joy.

When this Carmel began, the sisters were able to design and build it according to their needs. Mother Teresa of Jesus does everything with prayer and discernment of God’s will - even if it is not her own. The builders told Mother that no one would come to this monastery because no one would know about it, and encouraged her to make a webpage or do some advertising. She said that if the Lord wants them here, He will bring them. And He has. They have already made two foundations.

The Sisters make their own butter, jam, and habits. They also embroider vestments for the altar. They have cows, sheep, chickens and a garden. They are located between two seminaries - an FSSP (This is a Tridentine Mass - celebrating seminary that is FAITHFUL to the Magisterium - NOT to be confused with the SSPX) and a diocesan seminary. How perfect for an order that offers itself for priests! Seminarians come out regularly, and the Vicar General of the area offers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass daily. He says coming home to Carmel is like coming to heaven. On Sundays and feastdays the seminarians come and the sisters enjoy the High Form of the Mass, complete with Gregorian chant. Otherwise, the Mass is spoken, and the Liturgy of the Hours is chanted on a single note.

Bob and Sue live right outside of the walls of the monastery in a house attached to the guest house. When we arrived at Carmel, we stepped into the chapel shortly, then went to see Mother Agnes - she is the Novice Mistress. There was a wooden turnstile when we entered with a little doorbell by it. When Bob pushed the doorbell, a nun on the other side said, “Praised be Jesus Christ, who is it please?” She pushed a button that unlocked a door to my right, and I was able to visit with Mother Agnes through a double grate. We visited shortly and she sent me to my room.

The guest house was nice and welcoming, with plenty of food to make my own meals. I was able to visit with Mother Teresa at 3:30 pm for about an hour. . . we talked about my vocation story and the Mass. She asked if I play any instruments and encouraged me to make this time a retreat. She wanted me to read a book in my room called *My Beloved. * When I returned to my room after the Liturgy of the Hours, I could not find it. I read a different book I found there, and let her know the next time I saw her.

I stayed for three days. The Chapel was locked after Vespers each day, and wasn’t unlocked until the morning Mass, so I couldn’t go to any of the prayer times in between the two times. The Mass was in Latin, and I did not have a way of following along in English. I love Latin, but don’t understand it without help. Maybe this had a hand in why I experienced a lot of dryness during this trip. . . I spent a lot of time sitting in silence, reflecting, laboring to pray and begging for help.

I was to meet with Mother Agnes at 9 am the second day, but a sister was cleaning in the turn room. I stepped out again, waited until exactly 9 am, and then returned. The sister guarded her eyes and quickly left. I rang the bell and was allowed in to see Mother Agnes. We talked about music, obedience, and spiritual poverty. She talked about the strictness of the Carmelite rule, but also the joy, appreciation and freedom in knowing that this is Christ’s will, and in following it you follow Him. She talked about the difficulty in transition to the Carmelite lifestyle, and said your will changes to God’s will for you, to the lifestyle. And then there is a sweetness, a purity of essence in it - without duplicity.

During prayer times, I could not always understand the nuns. . . and as I mentioned earlier, my own prayer was labored and very dry. But I could appreciate their love of God, and this adoration given Him as being sweet to Him.

THIS IS THEIR DAILY SCHEDULE

4:30 AM Rise
5:00 Lauds
5:20-6:20 Mental prayer before Mass
6:40 - Prime
7:00 - Mass
8:00 - Thanksgiving
8:20 - Terce
8:45 - Work
10:45 - Sext and Examen
11:00 - Lunch
12:00 PM - Recreation
1:00 - Siesta
2:05 - None and the Rosary
2:45 - Work / Spiritual Reading
4:30 - Vespers
5:00 - Prayer
6:05 - Supper
6:55 - Recreation
8:00 - Compline
9:15 - Matins
10:30 - Retire

I tried to follow their daily schedule with them…and I filled my time with prayer. I really wanted to be called to this Carmel, but despite myself, I felt more of a dread and dryness than anything. Maybe I wasn’t ready. . .I think it is simply that this isn’t the Carmel God is calling me to - but I’m sure it is for many others!

“All day long let us surrender ourselves to love, by doing the will of God, under His gaze, with Him, in Him, for Him alone.” - Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

My Beloved - Story of a Carmelite Nun by Mother Catherine Thomas is the book I found on the shelf in our Academy library in the Autumn of 1969. I lost count of how many times I have read that book. I even corresponded with Mother Catherine Thomas for a few years. Still have a copy of that book and still read it from time to time, even though I am now much much much older.

Thank you for posting this Ecce Ancilla 25.

God bless.

Cathoholic

“Ecce Ancilla”,

Thank you for posting your experience; I enjoyed reading it.

Peace,

Dorothy

Praised be Jesus Christ! Thank you for sharing with us about your visit to Valparaiso Carmel. I have a friend who recently entered there :slight_smile:

They are definitely under the 1990 Constitutions. I have visited them as well and talked to them about this. Here also it is written on the last page of this booklet on their life, picasaweb.google.com/112954809546652959393/CarmelOfJesusMaryJosephValparaisoNE#5051544199422801314

The 1990s are the 1581s with minor changes according to the new Code of Canon Law. All Discalced Carmelite Nuns’ monasteries are under either the 1990s or 1991s.

The only ones that aren’t are the SSPX Carmels and the one in CO Springs that aren’t a part of the Discalced Carmelite Order, and as we know, not in full communion with the Church.

The Carmels of Jesus Mary & Joseph are truly wonderful and so much needed in today’s world. If only everyone knew how many young women have been entering them in droves. It is such a beautiful witness to the love of Christ! <3

Oh, I’m glad to know they are '90s! When I visited, I wasn’t aware of the different Constitutions. I’ve checked about since then and there were a few sites that told me they were a special exception. . . I’m glad to know the truth - and I remember that booklet from when I visited! I didn’t know it was online! How nice!

I’m new to this site. Is there a way to correct my original post?

Hi Ecce! Hmm… I’m not sure if there is. I think we can’t edit our own posts here after a certain amount of time. But no worries because others reading this will probably read the replies and get the right info. And anyway, not life or death or anything, lol

Also, something else I thought to comment on here. Although all the Carmels of JMJ are pretty similar, there are some differences between them I’ve heard from a few people who have visited more than one. So if you didn’t feel drawn to Valparaiso, that wouldn’t necessarily mean you’re not called to either of their foundations. Just thought I’d mention it. Of course each community is going to be unique simply because there are different people.

Sounds like you had a terrific visit.

The above was my only quibble with your post and I’m grateful someone knew the correct answer. I knew that they were under one of those Constitutions, but could not recall which.

I am blessed in that my daughter is a novice there at the Carmel. She has been there almost three years and loves it. While we still miss her, it is a great consolation that she is in such good hands (Reverend Mother and Mother Agnes are incredible), and that she is following God’s will.

Your comment about adjusting to all the Latin gave me a chuckle as my daughter had the same reaction. In one of her first letters she wrote of the difficulty she was having. She said: "They told me when I visited that I would not need to learn Latin. What it seems they meant is that I will not need to study Latin grammar but still will need to know how to read and speak it. In addition, I will need to be able to read and speak Spanish, “Carmelite” (which I consider a language in itself), and know “Carmelite sign language”. … It all takes a lot of getting used to. Thankfully, they can all still understand me when I speak English to them on accident.” :slight_smile:

That was a couple of weeks after she entered. A couple of months later, she told us that all those things were second nature to her.

Best wishes to you as you discern your vocation. I will be sure to keep you in my prayers.

JM+JT

God Bless you, Ecce Ancilla 25, for visiting the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Nebraska. My daughter is a Novice there, and I can truly vouch for the indescribable joy and genuine happiness that radiates from our daughters faces! I don’t remember seeing a copy of ‘My Beloved’ in the guesthouse, but maybe at one time it was there and perhaps someone borrowed it. (I purchased a copy of this book from eBay years ago and I do recommend it for a true picture of the Carmelite life.) I do think that there may be some confusion if you are not familiar with the Latin Rite. Our daughter was raised in the Latin Mass and it is second nature to her. In the chapel, there are little red booklets on the chairs that you can use to follow along with the Mass. As the priest says the Mass in Latin, you can follow along on the English side. If you aren’t familiar with the Mass though, you may have a difficult time keeping up or knowing where you need to be in the booklet. The Carmelite life is definitely not for everyone. It is a strict life, cloistered, contemplative - but it is an absolutely beautiful life! Our daughter knew she was meant to enter Carmel - THIS Carmel, and she knew it the moment she stepped foot in the chapel on the one and only visit we made there prior to her entrance. Tears streamed down her face as she listened to the nuns singing behind the grate. I believed at that moment, I had lost her forever. (Selfish me at the time.) However, what I didn’t know, and what God has revealed to us in His many good graces, is that we actually didn’t lose a thing, but instead, we gained so many more beautiful, joyful, prayerful daughters in our lives! (My daughter did correspond with Rev Mother for a few years before she entered, via letter writing.) I think the most important thing to do is to pray for guidance as you discern your vocation. If you don’t feel that God is calling you to the Carmel of JMJ, I encourage you to continue checking other orders and/or locations. (The Carmel of JMJ also has a foundation in Elysburg, PA and Kensington, CA as well.) I believe that God will make His will known to you! May God Bless you on your discernment journey!

Thank you for the blessings, CarmelMom!

I’m used to using the red booklets, and did look for them, but couldn’t find them. Maybe they were replacing them while I was there. I thought I was ready to join when I visited, but it was pride - I was not ready. Perhaps I would not have realized that if I had not experienced such dryness, and the inability to follow was part of that humbling" dry and empty" experience.

I have been so drawn to Carmel. . . It isn’t the life I’d have originally picked out for myself, but He’s really led me here and put a desire and love in my heart for the life. However, I’ve had this dryness twice now when I’ve visited Carmels. It makes me wonder if He is calling me to Carmel, or if He led me to Carmel for a different reason. Perhaps to build an interior cell for Himself. I most desire to enter Carmel, but I don’t want it if it isn’t what He wants for me. I know, if He calls me somewhere, I should have an experience more akin to your daughter’s.

Right now, I am taking a step back and focusing on detachment, willingness to suffer, and love / total focus on God in prayer. My spiritual director also has me praying for simple love and solitude. All especially good focuses for Lent, and perhaps, with the help of our Mother, I will remove anything that may be causing a stumbling block in discernment.

True solitude is when a person is freed from their passions.

I think what you’ve said is a good summary of what He wants you to work on right now. You listened despite the dryness. That’s a grace.

Carmel is for everyone. Vatican II had wanted Salesian (St. Francis de Sales) spirituality of gentleness combined with Carmel’s writings on mysticism to be promoted for everyone. Both are post-Reformation Doctors of the Church. I like to say that they were God’s answer to Martin Luther.

I recall a sister from the Society of Mary Reparatrix who said Carmel ‘suited’ her, and she discerned both communities. Then an inner voice told her “Be a Teresa at Marie Reparatrice.” She entered the SMRs, then developed what sounded similar to MS. She died on the feast of St Teresa a number of years after final profession. She also had revelations of Mary and the Child Jesus. “How may I serve you, Jesus?” Mary would ask her Son. I think Our Lady gave her those revelations to assist the SMRs in their charism of being other Marys at the foot of the altar. Their charism was given to Blessed Emilie the very moment the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared in Rome.

Blessings,
Cloisters

I knew the SMRs well in the sixties and seventies. :thumbsup:

If your daughter perseveres in Carmel, she will be the greatest comfort you and your husband and all of your family could ever hope for!

Please feel free to start another thread on an appropriate forum and share those memories!

Blessings,
Cloisters

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