Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stained Glass Scapulars-Reflections on the Rule of the Secular Carmelites

Photo: R.Massaro(C)2013SpiritSinging

Just a few short days ago all of the members of the Catholic Church who were present for Mass at the Easter vigil or at Mass on Easter Sunday renewed their baptismal promises. It is fitting then, that the Order of Carmel asks each of its members to renew their promises during the Easter season.

Our Rule states:

Article 12:

By the promise made to the community in the presence of the Superior of the Order or his Delegate, the person becomes a full member of the Secular Order. By this commitment members strive to acquire the necessary training to know the reasons, the content and purpose of the evangelical lifestyle they are undertaking. The promise heightens and enriches the baptismal commitment in the Secular Carmelites. This includes those called to married life, both as spouses and as parents. This promise is renewed once a year at Easter time.

Members should prepare to renew their promises with prayer and reflection and thanksgiving.  It is also a good time to start this "new year' with an examination of conscience to see where we have failed to live up to our promises and the living out of the beatitudes in our daily lives.

It's good to celebrate the anniversary of our promises.  Do you remember the date of your promise?  This should be as important as remembering  and celebrating our baptismal date. If one is married, the wedding anniversary date should be remembered with joy and thanksgiving with the intention of trying to be more faithful to the vows more than ever.  Remember, when we made our Carmelite promises it was a spiritual marriage to the order and to our local community. We took on a new name (religious title) and made a commitment to the community that we would strive to help each other achieve union with God, just as husbands and wives make this commitment to help each other reach heaven.

Here are some questions for discernment:

*Have I been faithful to mental prayer?
*Have I been faithful to the obligations of the Secular Carmelite?
*Do I fast on the designated vigils of the Carmelite Saints?
*Have I missed meetings out of laziness?
*Do I foster fraternal charity within the community?
*Do I know the names of the members in my community?
*Do I pray for the members of my community on a daily basis?
*Do I pray for the superiors of the order on a daily basis?
*Do I pray for the deceased members of the order?
*Do I pray for the Carmelite missions?
*Do I pray for the priest I have spiritually adopted for the year?
*What is the date of my temporary profession? My final profession? My Carmelite vow?
*What is my religious title?
*What is my active apostolate?    Am I faithful to it?

These are just a few questions we can ask ourselves.  For Carmelites, we know that our main obligation is mental prayer.  If we are not praying, if we are not being faithful to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, we must strive to begin again. Remember, even our Holy Mother, St. Teresa gave up prayer for about 2 years.  She said this was one of the greatest mistakes of her life.  She tells us over and over again to never give up prayer.

Here is the promise formula. It's good to read it over while meditating to prepare to renew the promise/vow.

I, _________________, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in response to God's call, sincerely promise to the Superiors of the Order of the Teresian Carmel and to you my brothers and sisters, to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Constitutions of the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites, for three years (or the rest of my life). I confidently entrust this, my promise, to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel.

Let us pray for each other!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

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