This week we continue our exploration of Carmelite Spirituality with a focus on prayer.
All humanity is on a spiritual journey, acknowledged or not. The writings, experiences and structures, which make up the history of Carmelites, are the result of attending to the Mystery met deeply within searching lives. Attentiveness to this Presence has been the continual goal of Carmelites. The first Carmelites carried lines of Scripture in their minds and hearts and regularly repeated them as a means of opening themselves to the One who gave them life.
Carmelite saints and writers have been compelled to express their experience of prayer. Teresa of Avila described it as conversation with a friend, with one who loves us. Thérèse of Lisieux spoke of simply gazing at God. Lawrence of the Resurrection spoke of a continual turning of heart and mind to God in each moment. John of the Cross encouraged a silent attentiveness to where our heart is struggling and experiencing exhaustion. This ‘dark night’ experience that John describes is an experience of transforming love, which first deeply unsettles opening to a deeper experience of the presence of God.
The challenge for Carmelites along with all Christians is to become regularly aware of this loving Presence, in good times and in bad, both as individuals and as a community. The way of Carmelite prayer is like breathing, bringing into each moment a love that inspires courage, healing, forgiveness, joy, peace and wonder.
Next time… more on Carmelite Community