Climbing Carmel
A Charism of Many Colors, Pt 2

October 17, 2012 |

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled “A Charism of Many Colors.” In it, I tried to present excerpts from the constitutions of other religious communities that gave voice to aspects of my own personal charism. My original intent was to include excerpts from the Carmelite constitutions as well, to show how the Carmelite charism embodies all the best aspects of every community I have discerned with over the last three years. Unfortunately, as I researched the Carmelite constitutions to find these parallels I discovered, yet again, that the constitutions are like spiritual quicksand to me–once I get into it, I can’t get out. So, in an effort to avoid the painful task for having to choose which of these beautiful passages goes into the blog and which ones don’t, I have decided to get out of the way and let the gentle wisdom and love of the Carmelites speak for themselves. Hopefully, those who have not read the Carmelite constitutions will be drawn into the quicksand in a wonderful way and those who have read them will feel the pull of their depth on their heart once again.

Down the ages the Carmelites have emphasized the dynamic of the desert experience as a crucial factor in unifying these values [contemplation, fraternity, service]. The desert experience is a Carmelite commitment to make the crucified Christ – stripped and emptied – the very foundation of their lives; to channel their energies entirely towards him in faith, tearing down any obstacles which may stand in the way of perfect dependence on him or impede perfect charity towards God and towards others. (15)

More mother than queen

Contemplation begins when we entrust ourselves to God, in whatever way he chooses to approach us; it is an attitude of openness to God, whose presence we discover in all things. Thus contemplation is the inner journey of Carmelites, arising out of the free initiative of God, who touches and transforms us, leading us towards unity of love with him, raising us up so that we may enjoy this gratuitous love and liven in his loving presence. It is a transforming experience of the overpowering love of God. (17)

From the beginning, the Carmelite Order had taken on both a life of prayer and an apostolate of prayer. (64)

The prayer of the Carmelite community is a sign of the praying Church to the world. (64)

By meditating and entering more deeply into the mystery of Christ, we become more obedient in following him, deepening our commitment to work as his disciples for the redemption of humanity. (64)

Our entire lives must be imbued with a deep religious sense, so that we may view the events of our own lives and of the world around us in the light of God. Thus our whole life must be deeply contemplative, so that we may come to see all that happens as if with the eyes of God. (78)

Our Carmelite mission shares in the mission of Jesus, who was sent to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God and to bring about the total liberation of humanity from all sin and oppression. (91)

Moreover, Carmelites are to make themselves available to accompany those who genuinely desire to experience the transcendent in their lives or who wish to share their experience of God. (96)

Let our mission…be one that both evangelizes and is evangelized within the Church – a mission that is particularly concerned for those who have lost their way. (99)

Our Elijan inspiration, which our prophetic charism is founded on, calls us to walk with the “little ones” along the paths the prophet travelled in his time – along the path of justice, opposing false ideologies and moving towards a concrete experience of the true living God; along the path of solidarity, defending the victims of injustice and taking their part; along the path of mysticism, struggling to restore to the poor faith in themselves by renewing their awareness that God is on their side. (115)

Chris Sedlmeyer
Chris Sedlmeyer works as a Quality Assurance Director and lives on a 15 acre farm in Oregon. He has a Master's Degree in English Literature with a focus on Medieval and Renaissance literature, mythopoeic literature, and archetypal criticism. His scholarly work and poetry reflect his emphasis on archetypal psychology and Catholic spirituality. Chris has been discerning a call to religious life for the last 3 years and has specifically pursued a call to the Carmelites for the last year.
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