A Reflection on Our Charism
In a discussion about vocations, Pope Benedict XVI invited young people to discover the richness of religious life through a study of the charisms of various Congregations. He explained to them that, “The word charism means a gift freely and graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit who inspires founders and foundresses with a subsequent spiritual heritage. […] Through the discovery of charisms, … I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of apostolic or contemplative service. Do not be shy to speak with Religious Brothers, Sisters or Priests about the charism and spirituality of their Congregation.”
Thus we offer, especially to our young people, a brief summary of our charism.
Summary: Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila was endowed by the Holy Spirit with mystical graces, charisms, which led her to reform Carmel. Her charisms, handed down to us, are lived, preserved, deepened and developed constantly in harmony with the Body of Christ, the Church.
St. Teresa directed the lives of the reformed ‘Discalced’ Carmelites toward prayer and the contemplation of the things of God. All observe the Evangelical counsels of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience according to the Primitive Rule. The community is small, a family centered on love for the Lord and sisterly charity. The prayer, work and entire life of the Carmelite is directed toward the service of the Church and the salvation of souls. In order to fulfil the vocation to contemplation in prayer and in a life which aims at union with God, we maintain faithfully, the papal enclosure of our monasteries, according to St. Teresa’s charism.
The Discalced Carmelites are called to a hidden life in union with God, in friendship with Jesus Christ and filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. With Christ as her unseen companion, the cloistered nun makes her hidden journey through life to a Fatherland, not of this earth. Where there is true love for God, the best investment of our time is to spend it in His Presence.
With the Holy Father we say, “No perfect community exists, but it is fidelity to a founding charism, not to particular individuals that the Lord calls you to discern. Have courage! You too can make your life a gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and in him of every member of the human family (c.f. Vita Consecrata, n. 3).”