Carmelite Day of Reflection

There were approximately 40 of us who attended, some from the Ottawa French community and some from Kingston. Our English Ottawa community hosted the event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. We had a table of fruit, muffins etc for breakfast and registration started at 8:30. We had fellowship together until 9:30 when we began the day by reciting Morning Prayer.

Fr. Dominic Borg, our Provincial Delegate is a Maltese Carmelite friar. He gave several talks throughout the day and these focused on our foundress St. Teresa of Avila since we are all preparing for the 500th anniversary of her birth. After his first talk, we had Mass. Just before Mass, one of our members was received into the community and received her scapular. During the Mass, one of the members of the French community made her first promises.

After our lunch break, we had exposition of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. During this time, we prayed the rosary, had a brief time of silent prayer then another talk by Fr. Dominic followed by another period of silent prayer. After Benediction, we had a short break then Fr. Dominic’s final talk. We closed by praying the Salve Regina (in Latin).

It was a wonderful day and left me spiritually refreshed. I enjoyed seeing members from the Kingston community whom we only see once a year. Last year it was their turn to host the Day of Reflection. The agenda for each of these days is the same, only the content of the talks is different. I noticed that there are a few stories that Fr. Dominic repeats each year. I am glad he does because it does me good to hear them again and also because the new aspirants also need to hear them.

Fr. Dominic gave us our study plan for the next several years. In our communities, we will be continuing to study the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. This year we read the “Book of Her Life”. Next year, we will read the Way of Perfection and the following year, we will read Interior Castle. As a member in formation, I have already started to study Way of Perfection and last year, as an aspirant, I stayed with the professed members during the formation period of the monthly meeting. They were finishing Interior Castle so I read that one between meetings so I could benefit from and participate in their discussion. So over the next two years, I will get an opportunity to review these works.

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Joining the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites

In November of 2007 at daily Mass, I was reflecting on the direction of my spiritual life and feeling the need of guidance and support in the journey toward the holiness that every Christian is called to. I looked across the aisle and saw friends who I knew were members of the French Carmelite community and “heard” very clearly the instruction to ask them about joining the Carmelites.

A week or so later, the President of the English community called me and explained what it was all about and the obligations of members. She asked if I wanted her to send me the pamphlet and the application. Not wanting to rush into anything, I asked only for the pamphlet. From that point, I started wearing the scapular, praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Morning & Evening Prayer) and attending daily Mass. The other obligations that I have been striving to include in my life are: half an hour each day of mental prayer and spiritual reading, attending the monthly meetings to receive necessary formation, expressions of devotion to Mary and fasting on the vigils of significant Carmelite feast-days.

In mid-February 2008, I had firmly established these habits and felt that I was ready to take the next step. I completed the application and in mid-April was interviewed by the President and Director of Formation. Later that evening, I received an email welcoming me as an aspirant and inviting me to come to two meetings and to the annual Day of Reflection. I immediately felt at home and everything I heard resonated within me. I felt a sense of belonging, that I had finally found my spiritual home.

In September of 2008, I began my period as an aspirant which meant attending a formation class that began at 6:00pm followed by the regular meeting from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. In June of 2009, I submitted a letter expressing my desire to be admitted to the community for formation in preparation to make temporary promises two years later.

 In August, I was interviewed by the President, the Director of Formation and the members of Council together. In September, we had a Mass where one of our members made her temporary promises and before Mass, I received my scapular which is the “habit” of the order and was welcomed into the community as a “member in formation”. This scapular is large and is only worn at the meeting or other Carmelite functions.

In the April meeting, a new council was elected. Two of us in formation who had not yet made temporary promises and our new aspirant were not eligible to vote. The term for the councillors is three years. Next time there is an election, I will be eligible, both to vote and to be on council. Hope I am ready for that!

It is now May and last week I attended my third annual Day of Reflection. I emailed my “letter of intent” to our President and will be interviewed in July or August. In September I will begin my second year of formation. Next September (2011), I will make my temporary promises and in October I will attend the Congress which is held in Toronto every 3rd year.

To help discern if you have a vocation as a Secular Carmelite, visit

For more information about the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Canada, visit:

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St. John of the Cross: The Great Exchange – Part 1 of 4

Notes on Audio Series About St. John of the Cross

by Fr. Thomas Dubay Available from EWTN



Discusses 5 passages of Scripture that summarize what St John’s writings are about: Psalm 63:1, Ezekiel 16, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 2:10 and Ephesians 3:19-20.

Describes the kind of man he was (poet, joyful, deeply in love with God, Scripture expert, humble, teacher and spiritual director).

Lists 8 questions that St John answers in his writings

  • Is the world (the cosmos) our friend or enemy?
  • Who are you and I on this planet? Do we have an eternal destiny and how do we achieve it?
  • Can we know God intimately, personally, experientially in this life?
  • What is it like to experience God?
  • What exactly is an intimate communion with God? How does it differ from our meditations, reasoning and vocal prayer?
  • Since this deep communion with God cannot be produced or achieved by any technique of our own, what are the conditions necessary for God to give this experience?
  • How does St. John’s treatment of this deep indwelling prayer differ from the Oriental “awarenesses” and techniques?
  • How do we respond to the radical thirst for God that we all experience whether or not we recognize and acknowledge it?

Experiencing God

He starts by describing the two extremes where some do not believe we ever can experience God in this life and those who are too ready to believe they or another is experiencing God.

After stating that the reality is somewhere between these extremes, he lists 6 factors for determining if an experience is authentically from God.

  1. Experience is sudden, unexpected and independent of antecedents (not related at all to what the person was doing or thinking about before it happened). Therefore the person themselves were not the source of the event.
  2. The experience is often accompanied by an indescribable delight beyond anything experienced on earth. (I Peter 1:8)
  3. No negative “after-effects”
  4. A growth in human beauty, more patient, gentle, honest and self-giving
  5. The experience itself has great beauty in it
  6. It cannot be forgotten. The person remembers all the details of what they were doing, where they were etc.


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