“For contemplation is nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love.” ~ Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.
On Saturday, February 16th, I professed my Definitive Promises to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Our OCDS Community gathered for a special day of grace and fellowship followed by a beautiful Mass officiated by our spiritual Father Dominic.
I was admitted to our OCDS Community in June 16th, 2012 and made my First Promise on April 25th, 2015. Over these years of spiritual formation and growth within my Carmelite family, I’ve been discerning my call to this rich spirituality and gift from God and I feel so grateful to my Beloved Lord to lead me into this blessed way.
I have a long way to go and so much to climb up the mountain of God, but with His grace and blessing and inspired by the Holy Spirit, I pray that I will continue faithfully to my journey in Carmel and be an instrument of God and His living flame of love in the world.
I’m eternally grateful, my Beloved Jesus, for calling me to Carmel!
O living flame, O living flame, O living flame, living flame of love!
How gently you wake in my heart. How tenderly you swell my heart with love, O living flame of love!
O lamps of fire, O living flame, O lamps of fire, our warmth and light!
Sweet cautery, delicate touch of life, sweet cautery, living flame of love!
O living flame, living flame of love O living flame, my living flame, My flame of love!
~ Based on “Living Flame of Love”, by St. John of the Cross, O.C.D.
O.C.D.S. (Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites)
“By the promise made to the community . . . the person becomes a full member of the Secular Order.” (Constitution 12) The promise is highly significant for Secular Carmelites and the process of formation moves the person toward making a life promise. The wording of the First Promise and the Definitive Promise differ only in the last phrase.
I, (name), inspired by the Holy Spirit, in response to God’s call, sincerely promise to the Superiors of the Order of the Teresian Carmel and to you my brothers and sisters, to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Constitutions of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, for three years [for the rest of my life]. I confidently entrust this, my Promise, to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel.
A significant part of formation is coming to understand the commitment made by the promise. It is a promise to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes and in the spirit of chastity, poverty and obedience. Each of these commitments has a separate paragraph in the Constitutions of the Secular Order.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of chastity
13. The promise of chastity reinforces the commitment to love God above all else, and to love others with the love God has for them. In this promise the Secular Carmelite seeks the freedom to love God and neighbour unselfishly giving witness to the divine intimacy promised by the beatitude “blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The promise of chastity is a commitment to Christian love in its personal and social dimensions in order to create authentic community in the world. By this promise the Secular Carmelite also expresses the conscious desire to respect each person as required by God’s law and one’s state of life, as a single person or married or widowed. This promise does not prevent a change in state of life.
The commitment to the promise of live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of poverty
14. By the promise of poverty the Secular Carmelite expresses the desire to live in accordance with the Gospel and its values. In evangelical poverty there is a wealth of generosity, self-denial, and interior liberty and a dependence on Him who “Though rich, yet for our sake, became poor” (2 Co 8:9), and who “emptied Himself” (Ph 2:7), to be at the service of His brothers and sisters. The promise of poverty seeks an evangelical use of the goods of this world and of personal talents, as well as the exercise of personal responsibilities in society, in family, and work, confidently placing all in the hands of God. It also implies a commitment to the cause of justice so that the world itself responds to God’s plan. In combination with these, evangelical poverty recognizes personal limitations and surrenders them to God with confidence in His goodness and fidelity.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the evangelical counsel of obedience
15. The promise of obedience is a pledge to live open to the will of God, “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Ac 17:28) imitating Christ who accepted the Father’s will and was “obedient unto death, death on a cross” (Ph 2:8). The promise of obedience is an exercise of faith leading to the search for God’s will in the events and challenges in society and our own personal life. For this reason the Secular Carmelite freely cooperates with those who have responsibility for guiding the community and the Order in discerning and accepting God’s ways: the Community’s Council, the Provincial and the General.
The commitment to the promise to live the spirit of the beatitudes
16. The beatitudes are a plan of action for life and a way to enter into relationship with the world, neighbours and co-workers, families and friends. By promising to live the beatitudes in daily life, Secular Carmelites seek to give evangelical witness as members of the Church and the Order, and by this witness invite the world to follow Christ: “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
The madness of love Is a blessed fate; And if we understood this We would seek no other: It brings into unity
What was divided, And this is the truth: Bitterness it makes sweet, It makes the stranger a neighbor, And what was lowly it raises on high.
I saw the Lord hungry and cold and shelterless. I could not rest, I had to take him into my arms and give him comfort. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a child, hungry and cold.
I saw the Lord bleeding and sick. I could not rest. So I arose to assuage his pain. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a wasted man, in pain.
I saw the Lord weeping and alone in a new Gethsemane I had not seen before. I could not rest. I had to go and share his tears and woes. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a beggar-woman by the road.
If we look at God without knowing that God always sees us first, and if we don’t encounter a love-filled gaze, then it is not God we meet. “Videntem videre,” says Augustine: We see the one who sees us. His gaze is prior and encompasses all. We are already known by God before we know him. We do not get to know God by looking at him, but by letting him look at us, and by enduring in his sight. One does not get to know the sun by staring right into its light, but rather by covering one’s eyes and exposing oneself to its rays. It is God’s gaze that makes us what we are. God is always first.
Every human being has a deep longing to be looked upon with love, to be known by another. Is it not part of love to hide nothing from the beloved? Everyone desires to be lovingly affirmed for being just what one is.
It is a singular joy to let oneself be beheld by God, to consciously give up all resistance against his merciful light, and thus become completely transparent. One could say that holiness is nothing but living every moment in the presence of God’s loving glance. Nothing impure can resist it. If you dare to give yourself over to it, and let God see into your innermost recesses, then you are purified without even knowing how. But it all depends on whether you truly let him see everything.
~ A meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Before The Beauty Of God
Oh, what Beauty, you exceed every other beauty’s features! Wounding not, you pained indeed, without pain destroyed and freed my love from all worldly creatures.
Oh, knot that so joins forever two things as unlike as we, unknown why our bond you sever, since when tied you strengthen ever and draw good from injury.
Bind that without being to Being of eternity; without finishing, now do, not having to love, love too, exalt our nonentity.
“God is humanity’s universal teacher and guardian, but his teaching to humanity is mediated by angels.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
On Behalf of Love
Every truth without exception—no matter who makes it—is from God. If a bird got accused of singing too early in the morning, if a lute began to magically play on its own in the square and the enchanting sounds it made drove a pair of young lovers into a wild, public display of passion, if this lute and bird then got called before the inquisition and their lives were literally at stake, could not God walk up and say before the court, “All acts of beauty are mine, all happen on the behalf of love”? And while God was there, testifying for our heart’s desires, hopefully the judge would be astute enough to brave a question, that could go, “Dear God, you say all acts of beauty are yours, surely we can believe that. But what of all actions we see in this world, for is there any force in existence greater than the power of your omnipresent hand?” And God might have responded, “I like that question,” adding, “May I ask you one as well?” And then God would say, “Have you ever been in a conversation when children entered the room, and you then ceased speaking because your wisdom knew they were not old enough to benefit—to understand? As exquisite is your world, most everyone in it is spiritually young. Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day, one’s self and others. Love would rather die than maim a limb, a wing. Dear, anything that divides man from man, earth from sky, light and dark, one religion from another. . . O, I best keep silent, I see a child just entered the room.”