A life of silence, solitude, prayer and penance.
As Carmelites, the ideal of Elijah contemplating God on Mount Carmel becomes the ideal for a life dedicated to a personal encounter with the Eternal Father and the desire for transformation through the Holy Spirit by imitation of his son Jesus.
St. Teresa of Jesus
On February 9, 1562, St. Teresa started the reform of the Carmelite
nuns, leaving the Incarnation Monastery to found the monastery of St. Joseph in Avila and live the primitive rule unmitigated. St. Teresa and the reformers sought to return to the Holy Customs and Traditions of the original Carmelite hermits and thus return to a God-centered life with simplicity and poverty.
Four centuries before the Council defined the contemplative life as a most excellent sacrifice of praise, Saint Teresa of Jesus, “would wish not to do or say anything other than praise Our Lord”
“Teresa understood that her vocation and mission was
prayer in the Church and for the Church, a praying
community, impelled by the Spirit in order that with
Christ and in Him, it might adore the Father ‘in spirit
and in truth (Cf John 4:23).
In other words, by prayer we open ourselves to the
charity which the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts
and we associate ourselves with Jesus as brother and
friends by crying with Him: ‘Abba, Father’ (Cf.Rom 5:5,8:15)
Saint John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross who was a great Carmelite mystic and contributor to the reform of St. Teresa of Jesus of the Discalced Carmelites is a great inspiration for a life of solitary prayer. His deep insight into a life of transforming love forms a basis for the spiritual life.
“It should be known that the Word, the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is hidden by his essence and his presence in the innermost being of the soul. Individuals who want to find him should leave all things through affection and will, enter within themselves in deepest recollection, and let all things be as though not. God, then is hidden in the soul, and there the good contemplative must seek him with love, exclaiming: “Where have you hidden?”
(Spiritual Canticle—Stanza 1, #6)
“The soul that desires God – must surrender itself entirely to Him without keeping anything for itself.” (St. John of the Cross)
“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation, knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation.” (St. John of the Cross)
“GOD makes use of nothing else but LOVE” (St. John of the Cross)
Also, the desert fathers in whose writings one finds great wisdom for attaining detachment and great purity of heart in order to obtain mercy and forgiveness for ones soul and for the soul of others.
“And so every hour and every moment let us zealously guard our heart from thoughts obscuring the mirror of the soul, which should contain, drawn and imprinted on it, only the radiant image of Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom and the power of God the Father. ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb.xii.14) for the sake of acquiring love and purity; for they are peace and holiness.”
Saint Teresa Benedict of the Cross
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Discalced Carmelite nun, as the great philosopher Edith Stein., found her love in the person of Jesus, and with her insight on the great value of the cross and the gift of faith is a most admirable model in the spiritual life of the solitary.
“Faith is a gift that must be accepted. In faith divine and human freedom meet. But it is a gift that bids us ask for more. As dark and lacking the evidence of insight, faith awakens a yearning for unveiled clarity; as mediated encounter it awakens a longing for an immediate encounter with God. Indeed the very content of faith awakens desire by promising the beatific vision.”
(Faith and Knowledge—Edith Stein)