Communities for Women
of the Order of Carmel and its Founders
the Order of Carmel back nine centuries before Christ to the time
of the Prophet Elias who is considered its Founder. St. Elias lived
as a hermit on Mount Carmel in Palestine, which also became a place
of solitude for his disciples. During a long drought, he climbed
to the summit of Carmel in order to beg God’s help for his people.
At his prayer, a little cloud was seen rising up from the sea.
It grew until it covered the sky and poured forth a saving rainfall
upon the earth. Holy Mother Church has always viewed this cloud
as the prophetic announcement of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was
to bring forth the Savior. In his encyclical, “Ad Diem Illum”,
St. Pius X affirmed that “Mary was the object of the thought
of Elias when he contemplated the cloud which rose from the sea.”
In 1247, St.
Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave a Rule to the “Brother Hermits
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”, which codified the
form of the life they had spontaneously adopted. In the 15th
Century, Blessed John Soreth instituted the Carmelite observance
Thérèse of the Child Jesus
In the 16th
Century, St. Teresa of Avila entered the Carmel of the Incarnation
in Avila, Spain, where she lived for 20 years as a good religious.
She became aware of the fact that the numerous travels the religious
made outside the monastery and the long worldly conversation in
the parlor were hindrances to the life of prayer. With a few companions,
she resolved to return to the fundamental spirit of Carmel, the
spirit of contemplation, and after many contradictions and sufferings,
she founded the little Monastery of St. Joseph of Avila. She extended
the reform of Carmel to include the monks with the help of St. John
of the Cross, and spent the last years of her life travelling across
Spain founding Carmels. She died October 4, 1582, at the age of
67, having founded 16 monasteries for nuns and 14 for monks. Discalced
Carmelites lovingly refer to her as “Our Holy Mother Teresa”.
Marie Christiane with her brother Archbishop Lefebvre
It is especially
the Blessed Virgin Mary who is found across all the pages of the
history of Carmel. The Order claims to have been founded in order
to honor the Mother of God. Every Carmelite heart burns with a
filial love for her and wills to imitate the hidden, silent life
of the adoration of the Virgin of Nazareth.
of Avila says clearly that the desire of the Carmelite is “to
be alone with the Alone”. God reveals Himself to the heart
in solitude, and therefore, each nun works alone, as much as possible,
either in her cell or office. There is to be no speaking without
necessity outside of the two daily recreations. The strict enclosure,
walls and grates separate the religious from the world and help
to promote and protect this solitude.
day is centered on its summit, which is Mount Calvary – the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass. There, she offers herself with Christ to
fulfill the Divine Will in all she will do during the day. At the
foot of the Cross, and while reciting the Divine Office, she draws
the graces and the strength she needs for her own sanctification
and for all souls. Mental prayer is the cornerstone of Carmelite
spirituality. Solitude, silence, detachment and mortification are
the conditions of prayer and the negative aspect of the Carmelite
spirituality, while prayer and union with God are its positive aspects.
To be solid, prayer must be built on profound humility.
of Avila teaches that the essence of prayer is “not to think
a lot, but to love a lot”. Meditation and reasoning serve to
prepare the soul to stay near Our Lord and speak to Him. The more
a soul advances, the more this colloquy will occupy a greater part
of prayer. The value of prayer is not measured by the sweetness
that one might find in it, but by the fruit it bears of giving the
soul a firm purpose in accomplishing the Will of God in everything,
despite the repugnance of nature. Daily spiritual reading, reading
during meals, weekly spiritual conferences, and an annual retreat
furnish the common nourishment of the monastic life of prayer.
Marie Christiane (+Oct. 14, 1996)
The Rule imposes
certain mortifications to help attain conformity to Christ. St.
Teresa told her daughters, “Do not forget that you are spouses
of a crucified God”. Though the Rule requires perpetual abstinence
from meat, it does allow exceptions as a remedy for sickness or
weakness. The fast of the Order from September 14th
until Easter is less rigorous than that of the Church during Lent.
not be frightening because nothing is asked in the Carmelite life
which would surpass the normal strength of a young 20th-century
family of Carmelites:
Marie, Pauline, Thérèse and Céline Martin (4 sisters)
and their cousin Marie Guérin.
The Rule obliges
common poverty (food, furniture, clothing, etc.) and personal poverty
(no personal possessions). Linked to the profession of poverty
is the necessity of manual labor. Carmelite nuns are seamstresses,
embroiderers, gardeners, etc. Others apply themselves to painting,
restorations of statues, bookbinding, making of liturgical vestments,
as well as the necessary community works of cooking, cleaning and
scrubbing. The vows of poverty and chastity express this renouncement
of the world. Even during recreation, the nuns have some work to
do by hand while relaxing and conversing in a family atmosphere.
strive to learn the way of humility and abnegation through prompt
and joyful obedience to their superiors. Their least actions done
out of obedience are united with those of Christ and can then acquire
a very redemptive value for souls. The Rule recommends “Let
all that you do be done in the Name of the Lord”.
and modern technology united in the garden
Carmel and its Requirements
of Avila requires that aspirants have good health, good judgment
and a solid nervous equilibrium in order to be able to support solitude
and the regularity of monastic life. For six months (or more according
to circumstances) after entering Carmel, the postulant lives the
Carmelite life as all the other nuns. Upon vote of the Chapter,
she is admitted to begin her novitiate by receiving the Holy Habit
of Carmel. After two years, the novice may ask to be received,
by vote of the Chapter, to make her temporary profession, which
binds her to religion and the Order, by the three vows of Poverty,
Chastity and Obedience. These vows are renewed at the end of each
year over a period of six years. If a professed-novice realizes
that she is unable to continue in the Order, she is free to leave
at the expiration of her vows. The decisive step, by which a professed-novice
becomes a Carmelite, is the Solemn Profession at which she pronounces
her solemn perpetual vows. She then receives the black veil as
a symbol of her consecration.
Carmelites in their choir.
of a Carmelite’s Day
5:45 a.m. Rise
Lauds, Mental Prayer
8:00 Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass
Examination of Conscience
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading (Novitiate formation for the Novices)
followed by Mental Prayer
Supper (or collation during fast days)
8:00 Free time;
Grand Silence until Prime the following day
It is the thirst
for God which leads souls to Carmel. The desire to love Him more
and more, to spend one’s life for Him alone, in unceasing adoration,
to give Him back “love for Love”. In itself, the Carmel
can be considered “a visible sign, a sacrament of the presence
of God in the world. Its very existence raises a big question mark
for the world. The Carmel witnesses that God is there.” (Canon
are accepted between the ages of 18 to 30 years old preferably.
Carmel de Sacré Coeur
Rue des Wagnons, 16
 (65) 45 79 22
Carmel of the Holy Trinity
S 4027 Wilbur Road
Spokane, WA 99206