Monday, June 9, 2014

Spiritual Life Dictionary


Ah!  Sweet solitude!  Does the very sound of this word evoke images of a quiet place? Perhaps it's a quiet place near restful waters. Perhaps it's a place sitting quietly in the shade of a large oak tree, where you hear a lone bird chirping in the trees as a gentle breeze rustles the leaves.

Are you a person that longs for solitude?  Or are you a person who is content with the many noisy distractions the world has to offer? Distractions that drown out the voice of God; a quiet voice that is only found in prayer and solitude. Oh yes, we can hear the Lord speak to us in other persons and events, but do you desire to be alone with the Bridegroom of your soul?

The Secular Carmelite is called to solitude each day by seeking the face of the Lord in quiet prayer. Our Rule states that we should:

Practice mental prayer for at least 30 minutes each day
 in an atmosphere of interior silence and solitude.

We all lead busy lives.  I think of the young moms in our community who must find true solitude a precious gift that is hard to come by.  Yet, they are committed and determined to be faithful to a life of prayer that they are being called to as Carmelites. 

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) teaches us that true solitude is a place within the heart that is found when we continually practice the presence of God. It is a disposition of the soul that is united to the Beloved even in the midst of one's daily activities.  It is the marriage of Martha and Mary, the active and contemplative aspects of our being. It is the union of the heart and body in active service while contemplating the Beloved as we respond in charity to the task at hand.

Solitude of heart is a peaceful state of soul that is not easily flustered or irritated when things don't go as planned. Solitude of heart is like a peaceful river, it is God's love, the Spirit, that flows in and out and through the people and circumstances we encounter each day.

The world is fearful of solitude. Society keeps offering us more distractions with the constant advancement of technology. It's a challenge to "unplug" in today's world.  I'm wondering if there are any true ascetics left in the world?  An ascetic for our modern times. A person who can go "out into the desert" without  a phone or tablet and be content.  

I'm wondering if there is anyone among us that have the heart of a true ascetic? I'm wondering if there is any among us that has the heart of a saint of the "old school."  Our world is changing, perhaps sainthood, in some respects, is changing. I guess I'm yearning for the John the Baptists of the world to cry out-not only "repent" but "unplug," "shutdown," "turn off." "Be still and know I am God!"

The Secular Carmelite is called to be a witness in the world of God's love. We are called to follow in the footsteps of the holy Prophet, Elijah, who encountered God in a tiny whispering sound that spoke directly to his heart.  The Carmelite must be true to the "old school" of sanctity. He must, by obedience, and with courage, go into that foreign land of solitude-the quiet of his heart and witness to the world, that "God lives in whose presence I stand..."  

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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