Vocation Profile - Discalced Carmelite Friars, Immaculate Heart of Mary
Discalced Carmelite Friars, Immaculate Heart of Mary
Boston, MA; Milwaukee, WI; Washington, DC
The discalced Brothers of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel belong to a religious family endowed with its own special charism in God’s people, and called to fulfill a specific role in the Mystical Body of Christ. Each of us receives a personal call to this family. As a renewed form of an ancient Order it entails both fidelity to the spirit and traditions of Carmel and a continual striving after renewal. This is as it were the dual heritage bequeathed to us by our Holy Mother St Teresa.
Mindful of this and docile to the voice of God, we cherish the spirit and way of life of our forerunners as we profess to be their descendants and heirs. Hence we regard the deeds of our ‘holy fathers and predecessors’ not as lifeless events of bygone days but as part of the providential shaping of our vocation in the living Church.
The beginnings of the Order, the title ‘Brothers the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel’ and the earliest authentic spiritual traditions, provide ample evidence of the Marian and biblical character of our vocation. Taking Mary as the mother and patroness of the Order, we look upon her life and her sharing in the mystery of Christ as a model of religious consecration.
Among venerable biblical figures Elijah stands out as Carmel’s source of inspiration, as he contemplates the living God and burns with zeal for his glory. We look upon his prophetic charism as the prototype of our own vocation to ponder God’s word and proclaim it to the world.
We find our earliest ‘pattern of life’ outlined in the Rule of St Albert. This remains basically the rule that governs our life today, urging us principally:
(a) to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ, serving him with a pure heart and a good conscience, looking to him alone for salvation, as we obey our superior in a spirit of faith, with our mind more on Christ than on the superior.
(b) to ponder unceasingly the law of the Lord in the Scriptures, and strengthen our hearts with holy thoughts, so that the word of God may be always in our hearts and on our lips, and guide us in everything we do;
(c) to come together daily for the celebration of the sacred liturgy;
(d) to put on the armour of God, as we live an intense life of faith, hope and charity, in a spirit of evangelical self-denial and a generous commitment to work, after the example of Paul the Apostle;
(e) to enter into a genuine sharing of life, having at heart the good of the community and the salvation of souls, sustained by the charity of fraternal correction; to hold everything in common under the guidance of a superior placed at the service of his brothers;
(f) above all to lead a life of unceasing prayer in silence and solitude, in accordance with the gospel admonition to watch and pray;
This way of life, in its original eremitical form, was duly sanctioned and approved by the Church. Subsequently the Order was granted mendicant status and entrusted with the apostolic ministry, but at the same time urged to remain true to its original spirit.
Specific Requirements for Admission to the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
• Visit to monastery and completion of a Live-in Retreat under the direction of Vocation Director
• Completion of the Application for Admission
• Letters of Recommendation (spiritual director, parish priest, family member, etc.)
• Complete physical, dental and eye examinations.
• Satisfactory completion of psychological evaluation.
• Submission of any and all documents (baptism certificate, testimonials, declaration of nullity of marriage, etc.) required by Canon Law
• Approval by the Provincial in consultation with the Admissions Board of the Province.
Normally applicants for admission to formation are between 21 and 40. It is only by exception that we accept candidates beyond 40.
All candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent. It is desirable that candidates, especially for the priesthood, have completed an undergraduate degree in college. Suitable candidates who lack a degree, however, will be seriously considered. For those who have been in the workplace, a stable work record is important.
Candidates should ideally be debt-free and must be able to provide for their health insurance costs during the postulancy and novitiate, at least two years. However, the Province will do all that it can to ensure that suitable candidates are not rejected due to financial concerns. This is a topic requiring candid discussion with the Vocation Director.
Although religious life, properly speaking, begins with the novitiate, a fitting preparation for it requires an earlier stage of formation which we call postulancy.As such postulants are gradually introduced to religious life in the Teresian Carmel. They are given classes, with obvious particular emphasis on the Carmelite Tradition and it’s place within the history of religious life. They are introduced to both the liturgical prayer (liturgy of the hours) and private prayer (mental prayer) that make up so much of the life of a friar.
Postulants have a director that is assigned to them in order to help them in their process of integration.
The postulancy lasts about six months.
The basic purpose of the novitiate, by which a novice begins his life in the Order, is to offer him a genuine experience of what it means to be consecrated to God in the Teresian Carmel. This reality is marked by his reception of the habit and name and title. It is an intense year when a man receives formation in the contemplative, fraternal and apostolic aspects that comprise the rich tradition that is our spirituality and way of life.
Novices receive classes to help immerse them in our spiritual patrimony and assist them in their transition to full Carmelite life.
Most of all the novitiate is ordered to be an intimate, profound, and life changing experience of God.
The novitiate is a year of grace and an essential foundation for the whole life of a religious. As such novices are assigned a novice master who is both knowledgeable and experienced in the spiritual life and especially in the life of Carmel. It is he who will guide the novice in this most important year of their religious life.
The novitiate lasts a canonical year.
III. Temporary Vows
If discernment and evaluations are favorable novices are permitted to profess temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at the conclusion of their canonical year.
The time of temporary vows is when the friar tests his vocation by living as fully as he can the Carmelite life as a vowed member of the community. He is assisted in these efforts and continues in his Carmelite and religious formation through the assistance of a director of formation. It is also during these years that formal studies are pursued.
In this stage vows are renewed yearly for a period of three to five years as vocational discernment by both the temporarily professed and the community continue.
St. Teresa of Jesus always admired religious who were both spiritual and learned. As such the friars of her reform strive to excel in each of these areas.
• Studies are made during the time of temporary profession and are meant to both theologically form a friar’s life and prepare him for the ministries he will perform as a friar, priest or brother.
• Students live in a community, under the direction of a rector, and are provided an environment to foster study as well as to continue to challenge them in their spiritual growth and appropriation of the Carmelite charism.
• Students for the priesthood fulfill all the requirements as prescribed by both canon law and our conference of bishops.
V. Solemn Profession
After the prescribed years of temporary vows are completed friars may petition to make their solemn profession of vows. If accepted they will spend about three months in preparation for this serious commitment in a time known as ‘the second novitiate’ which often includes an extensive retreat at one of our hermitages. With solemn vows, a friar becomes a fully incorporated member of the Province with all the obligations and rights afforded him by Canon Law and our Constitutions.
Religious in the Teresian Carmel can only be ordained as transitional deacons after they have made their solemn profession.
Transitional deacons usually spend a year serving in one of our parishes either at Holy Hill: the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians or St. Florian’s parish in Milwaukee, WI prior to their ordination to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
After ordination the newly ordained friars receive their conventuality (the monastery they will live in) and ministry assignments from the provincial.IRL