A life of silence, solitude, prayer and penance.
As Carmelites, the ideal of Elijah contemplating God on Mount Carmel becomes the ideal for a life dedicated to a personal encounter with the Eternal Father and the desire for transformation through the Holy Spirit by imitation of his son Jesus.
Saint Teresa of Jesus
On February 9, 1562, St. Teresa started
the reform of the Carmelite
nuns, leaving the Incarnation Monastery
to found the monastery of
St. Joseph in Avila and live the
primitive rule unmitigated.
and the reformers sought to return to
the Holy Customs and Traditions
of the original Carmelite hermits and
thus return to a God-centered
life with simplicity and poverty.
Four centuries before the Council
defined the contemplative life as
a most excellent sacrifice of praise,
Saint Teresa of Jesus, “would
wish not to do or say anything other
than praise Our Lord”
understood that her vocation and mission was
in the Church and for the Church, a praying
community, impelled by the Spirit in order that with
and in Him, it might adore the Father 'in spirit
truth (Cf John 4:23).
words, by prayer we open ourselves to the
which the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts
associate ourselves with Jesus as brother and
by crying with Him:
'Abba, Father' (Cf.Rom 5:5,8:15)
Saint John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross who was a great Carmelite mystic and contributor to the reform of St. Teresa of Jesus of the Discalced Carmelites is a great inspiration for a life of solitary prayer. His deep insight into a life of transforming love forms a basis for the spiritual life.
"It should be known that the Word, the Son of God, together
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is hidden by his essence
and his presence in the innermost being of the soul. Individuals
who want to find him should leave all things through affection
and will, enter within themselves in deepest recollection, and
let all things be as though not. God, then is hidden in the soul,
and there the good contemplative must seek him with love,
exclaiming: "Where have you hidden?"
(Spiritual Canticle—Stanza 1, #6)
Also, the desert fathers in whose writings one finds great wisdom for attaining detachment and great purity of heart in order to obtain mercy and forgiveness for ones soul and for the soul of others.
"And so every hour and every moment let us zealously guard
our heart from thoughts obscuring the mirror of the soul, which
should contain, drawn and imprinted on it, only the radiant
image of Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom and the power of God
'Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which
no man shall see the Lord' (Heb.xii.14) for the sake of acquiring
love and purity; for they are peace and holiness."
Saint Teresa Benedict of the Cross
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Discalced Carmelite nun, as the great philosopher Edith Stein., found her love in the person of Jesus, and with her insight on the great value of the cross and the gift of faith is a most admirable model in the spiritual life of the solitary.
"Faith is a gift that must be accepted. In faith divine and human
freedom meet. But it is a gift that bids us ask for more. As dark
and lacking the evidence of insight, faith awakens a yearning for
unveiled clarity; as mediated encounter it awakens a longing for
an immediate encounter with God. Indeed the very content of
faith awakens desire by promising the beatific vision."
(Faith and Knowledge—Edith Stein)