In November of 2007 at daily Mass, I was asking the Lord for guidance because I had recently left a spiritual director who was deeply involved in the New Age and who no longer believed in some core teachings of the Church. From my teen years when I first came to know the Lord, my deepest desire has been to be all He wanted me to become. As I grew in my knowledge of the spiritual life through reading the lives of the saints, I became able to articulate this early desire. I pray the Lord will bring me to the Transforming Union through my formation in Carmelite spirituality.
I looked across the aisle and saw friends who I knew belonged to a French community of the Discalced Secular Order of Carmelites. I “heard” very clearly in my soul the instruction to ask them about joining the Carmelites. I gave them my contact information and a week or so later, the President of the English community called me. She 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.
By 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 attended these and immediately felt comfortable. 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 five member of Council together.
In September 2009, we had a Mass where one of our members made her temporary promises. 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 September 2011, I made First Promises and continued my formation for three more years.
In July 2014, after following the 33 Days to Morning Glory program, I made my first ever formal consecration to Mary. It was a special grace that I made my Definitive Promises on September 15th (the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows). I am so blessed in the community I belong to and the meetings are the highlight of my month.
If we are truly the Bride of Christ and one with Him, we must resemble Him in all ways. He told us that we must take up our cross if we are to be His disciples. Salvation is a free gift but discipleship costs “no less than everything”.
“And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.” — Spiritual writings of St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Jesus urges us to “seek first the kingdom of God”. What other things consume our thoughts? What desires captivate us and turn our attention away from our Beloved?
“In order to follow Him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.”– Spiritual writings of St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us that the pure in heart will see God. Let us seek Him with single-minded determination and devotion, embracing all that comes to us through divine Providence. May we recognize in these events and trials, opportunities to cooperate with His sanctifying grace and to participate in His mission through redemptive suffering.
“The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love and hope are taken up right into the heart of the Trinity.”– Spiritual writings of St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) said to her nuns that Jesus, their Bridegroom was always gazing at them and encouraged them to turn and look at Him often. Let us gaze on the Holy Face of the suffering Jesus and console Him with our “yes”.
“The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriously to renew your alliance with Him? What will your response be?”– Spiritual writings of St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Lord, help me to seek after You with an undivided heart, desiring nothing more than union with You and embracing with joy, peace and trust whatever prepares me for this spiritual marriage. Give me a deeper love for You and remove from me all attachments that hinder me from fully living out Your mission of redeeming love.