Vocation Profile - Carmelite Nuns, Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace
Carmelite Nuns, Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace
The vocation of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns has a rich history, whose origin dates back to the middle of the twelfth century on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. A group of men, former Crusaders and pilgrims, desiring to dedicate their lives more radically to Christ as hermits, were drawn to Mount Carmel—a place in itself abounding in symbolism and Biblical roots. St. Elijah, the fiery prophet, was the original inspiration of these brother hermits who were filled “with zeal for the Lord of Hosts.” Like Elijah, their lives were to be prophetic, giving witness to the living God “in whose Presence [they stood].” In the silence and solitude of their caves, they listened for the “still small whispering voice” which Elijah heard on Mt. Horeb.
Not only is Carmel Elijahan but it is totally Marian. It is “the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.” The hermits built a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady on Mount Carmel, as a sign of their total dedication and filial love for her. Mary is the contemplative par excellence whose life was a continual prayer, lived in simplicity. “She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” It was her life of intimate union with Jesus, her courageous faith and steadfast love which as Carmelites we strive to imitate.
Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus, foundress and reformer of the Discalced Carmelites, once said: “All of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation. This call explains our origin; we are the descendants of men who felt this call, of those holy fathers on Mount Carmel who in such great solitude and contempt for the world sought this treasure, this precious pearl of contemplation.” This precious pearl we seek day and night, living as “hermits in Community” as our Holy Mother desired. We live our contemplative life in the heart of the Church “hidden with Christ in God.” It is through our union with God that our lives bear fruit for the good of all humanity, through our life of prayer and sacrifice. Like Elijah who fearlessly pointed the way to the One true God, and like Mary who continues to bring us to Christ, our vocation calls us to be prophetic witnesses.
Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Constitution “Vultuum Dei Quaerere” (Seeking the Face of God), urges women contemplatives:
“The world needs you every bit as much as a sailor on the high seas needs a beacon to guide him to a safe haven. Be beacons to those near to you, and above all, to those far away. Be torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time. Be sentinels of the morning, heralding the dawn. By your transfigured life, and with simple words pondered in silence, show us the One Who is the way, and the truth and the life, the Lord Who alone brings us fulfillment and bestows life in abundance!” (V.D.Q. #6).
Candidates should be persons of prayer who aspire to the perfection of charity and to detachment from the world, so that they may be able to embrace our way of life, in which a deeply solitary communion with God is closely united to a sisterly life together in community. They should have an ability to understand and a willingness to be formed in our way of life. They should have good physical and psychological health which is essential for a life of strict enclosure.
They must be free of debt.
Formation begins with a one-year postulancy. The novitiate is two years without vows and three to six years with temporary vows before solemn (final) vows are taken.