As Discalced Carmelites we are a family of men and women, both religious and lay, situated in many countries of the world. A deep friendship with Jesus Christ is the foundation and inspiration of our lives. Our vocation is truly Marian: like her we are called daily to ponder Jesus in our hearts. We, the daughters and sons of Saint Teresa of Jesus, strive to live in the presence of God and to serve the Church.
As Secular Carmelites, we share the same charism as the Friars and Sisters, the same traditions, the same call to holiness and the same apostolic mission. What is unique about the vocation of a Secular, is that we live the Carmelite charism not in a monastic community but 'in the world': we are lay people (or diocesan clergy). Whether we are young adults, middle-aged or elderly; married, widowed or living a single life, we live our faith and Carmelite vocation in the midst of and through that present situation. In our families, in our work and professional lives, in parishes, in school parent's groups, in nursing homes, in the supermarket, on trains and buses, wherever we are, as prayerful people, living in awareness of God's presence, we bring this presence into all these situations and so bring this presence to others. Carmelite spirituality is not so much about doing certain things but rather about being a certain kind of person and so it affects every aspect of our lives, and every relationship or interaction we have with others. In such ways we contribute to the Order the benefits proper to our secular state of life.
Transformation and Witness
In a world of diverse beliefs and values, we are called to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ, supported by the patronage of Mary, our Mother. This involves a gradual and progressive conversion and transformation – a putting on of the mind and heart of Jesus. We cooperate with this process by taking time daily to develop and maintain an intimate friendship with Jesus, the one who we know love us. As with any relationship, this friendship develops by spending time together. Jesus is with us throughout our day but we can develop our conscious awareness of his continual presence by developing certain daily habits, which, over time, become a way of life. Finding time for the listed prayerful activities each day can be challenging in the midst of our busy lifestyles, but a discerning spirit will always focus on the purpose of these set activities. Relationship with Jesus is a consequence of our baptism, made more specific through our Carmelite calling.
Some of the ways we foster this relationship is by:
- listening to the Word of God and responding in silent prayer for at least half an hour each day,
- participating in the Church’s liturgy – daily Mass where possible, Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church, and, if possible, also Night Prayer,
- taking Mary our Mother as our model of prayer and service as she pondered the Word of God in her heart and lived in obedience to that Word,
- studying and meditating on the inspired teachings of the Carmelite saints, especially Saints Teresa and John of the Cross,
- studying and meditating on the beliefs of our Christian faith and our Catholic tradition,
- supporting one another through regular Community meetings, contact and service.
Our commitment to this way of life, through responding to God’s invitation in love, is a source of growth, strength, and transformation. Through our way of life, we desire to be changed into people who are the living Gospel to others and so to spread the message and charism of Carmel. Saint Teresa tells us the only proof of prayer is the growth of virtue, and also writes, “This is the reason for prayer, …. the birth always of good works, good works.” (Interior Castle VII.4.6.)
As we are called to evangelization, we are particularly interested in promoting prayer: meditation and contemplation, and sacramental and spiritual life. As exhorted by Saints Teresa and Thérèse, we support priests and religious by our prayers and sacrifice, while also collaborating with the Friars and Sisters in their apostolic commitment where possible.
The Church Documents remind us that the world has need of witnesses to the presence of God. We want to be those witnesses in the world so that through knowing us others may know the love of God. Becoming such a person, however, is a life long challenge, but being a member of the Order, through the local community, can be a constant support along the way.
This region, comprising Australia, Samoa and New Zealand, has eleven communities of Secular Carmelites. If you want to find out more go to our communities page.
More on Carmelite Spirituality
The boxed section below is taken from the page on Carmelite Spirituality.
As a Christian spirituality, Carmelite spirituality is a way of following Jesus Christ and walking the path of the gospel. In the Rule of St. Albert, the Christian character of Carmelite spirituality is clearly expressed as living ‘a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ’. This involves a gradual and progressive conversion and transformation – a putting on of the mind and heart of Jesus. Saints Teresa and John of the Cross, speak of prayer and contemplation as ‘friendship with God’ and ‘union with God’ respectively. Prayer and contemplation, as a relationship with God, in and through loving friendship with Jesus Christ, is not a technique or one of the many daily activities, but embracing of one’s whole life. For the Carmelite there is no experience in one’s life that is outside the ambit of relationship with God.