Along the Way–Christmas in Carmel

January 6, 2013 |

along-the-way-BESTWEBMerry Christmas and Happy New Year to our online Carmelite community! Between the holidays and my overbooked travel schedule in the last weeks of 2012, updating my blog has been challenging to say the least. I’m glad to be able to post something while Christmas season—which lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord on January 13—is still upon us. Despite this holiday busy-ness, during my journeys in December to visit our international community in Angers, France, and our formation houses in Middletown, NY and Washington, DC, I found that the sense of hope, joy, and peace of the Christmas season was also reflected in our Order and our Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary as we begin 2013.

Our international community in Angers, France has been in existence for less than twenty years and is part of the first Carmelite presence in France since the expulsion of all religious orders during the French Revolution. One of our members, Terry Cyr, O.Carm., lives with three other Carmelites in a very prayerful setting. The hope I was most in tune with was the contemplative dimension of our Order. We believe that,

“Contemplation is the inner journey of Carmelites, arising out of the free initiative of God, who touches and transforms us, leading us toward unity of love with him, raising us up so that we may enjoy this gratuitous love and live in his loving presence.” (Paragraph 17, Carmelite Constitutions, 1995)

The community in Angers, is dedicated to exploring the contemplative dimension of our life. Community prayer is a priority, along with personal prayer. This all leads to a high quality of fraternal life, while being of service to people through campus ministry, spiritual direction, and retreats. The most important part of the Angers community day involves prayer and entrusting themselves to God. It truly offered me hope that our contemplative dimension will help us find the Incarnate Word among the people of God and in the signs of our times.

The joy of fraternal life is obvious in our Washington DC community, as members are truly concerned and involved with one another as they journey together in Carmelite formation.
Our formation communities in upstate New York and Washington DC offer hope in the form of men who aspire to those same values of prayer, community and ministry that have drawn Carmelites together for eight centuries. At our Novitiate in Middletown, NY, the Advent Prayers and Office of Readings inspired me to reflect on preparing for our savior’s birth. Our novices’ discernment of where God is calling them drew me in and enabled me to have a more prayerful Advent. I also was reminded of my own Novitiate year there in 1984-85, and an inner peace came over me for which I was very thankful.

At Whitefriars Hall, our Theologate in Washington, DC, I was excited to be a part of the Our Lady of Guadalupe festivities. That experience helped me enter more deeply and prayerfully into Mary’s “Yes” to God to bring forth our savior into this world.

The joy of fraternal life is obvious in this community, as members are truly concerned and involved with one another as they journey together in Carmelite formation. Even as final exams and preparations for Christmas travels were on people’s minds, I was touched by the joy and peacefulness of the season evident among our men at Whitefriars.

When we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we enter more deeply into God’s transformational love. How wonderful it was for God to become human, and for us to be bathed in the new radiance of the Incarnate Word, the light of faith, that illumines our hearts and shines through our deeds!

During Advent 2012, I felt called to a prayerfulness that continues during the Christmas Season. My hope continues to be that in 2013, God will enlighten all the Carmelites of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary—as well as the tens of thousands who are part of our online community—to enter more deeply into all dimensions of Carmelite Life, especially prayer, community and ministry. May God continue to be with us along the way.

Carl Markelz
V. Rev Carl Markelz, O. Carm is the Prior Provincial for the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary (PCM) of the Order of Carmelites. As Provincial he is the spiritual leader of the Province and its official representative to the General Curia in Rome. Before his election in 2011, he served as the President/Principal of Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, for 15 years. He holds Masters Degrees in both Moral Theology and Education.
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