Friday, May 14, 2010

The Carmelite way of life is first and foremost about prayer

"The Carmelite way of life is first and foremost about prayer. Albert’s Way, as the Rule is sometimes called, is eminently a way of prayer. It does not simply ask us to pray, but rather it leads our lives to become prayer. In The Way of Perfection, St. Teresa does not just teach us how to pray, but shows us how to live a life of friendship and intimacy with the Lord that is far more than saying prayers. In the same way, the writings of St. John of the Cross are centred on how to arrive at union with God, not through prayer in the more narrow senses, but through various phases of life – “ascent” and “the experience of the nights”, “climbing the mountain of the Lord.” As the Carmelite matures in the spiritual life, prayer becomes not merely an activity in life, but the essence of who he or she is.

The Rule’s demand of the separate cell, the injunction to stay in one’s cell in solitude, its insistence on silence, the common life and the counsels, the law of work, the ascetical practices and liturgical worship, and the incessant pondering of the law of the Lord: all provide the basic framework for a life that is maturing into prayer. Availing oneself of these basic structures outlined in the Rule one finds that ultimately prayer becomes spontaneous; it continues; it encounters and liberates the deepest impulses of our nature and the hidden glorification of objects. It puts an end of Glory’s exile from the soul. This is because when the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person not longer simply prays but has become prayer, the Spirit never leaves him/her, for the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him/her. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in his heart. Prayer never again deserts him. At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously."

-- Carmelite heritage speaks across cultures by Insun Joanne Lee

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