Indeed, admitting their possible limitations or reluctance, they undertake without hesitating or wavering a gradual path towards those chosen ideals of change and transformation. By putting on Christ, they begin to shine like his living image, being a new creation in him. This gradual transformation enables Tertiaries to be more discerning of the signs of the times and the presence of God in history. It also strengthens in them a sense of community as well as in a serious commitment to the transformation of the world.
Through sharing in the prophetic office of Christ and the Church, Tertiaries undertake, in all walks of life, to assimilate the Gospel through faith and to proclaim it by their works. This commitment includes not hesitating to denounce evil courageously. In ordering creation for the true good of humanity, an activity which is supported by the life of grace, Tertiaries share in the exercise of that power by which the Risen Christ draws all things to himself.
Their life, lived in the world in the midst of the people, is dedicated to the cares and tasks of the world, in the ordinary ups and downs of family and of society. Tertiaries are invited by God to contribute to the holiness of the world: they are to have the spirit of the gospel in their work and to be guided by Carmelite spirituality. But there is a danger of misusing temporal goods. Hence the pursuit of the ideal of directing scientific and technological discoveries to the improvement of human life in both material and spiritual terms. The Carmelite Order is present in the Church in the friars, the enclosed nuns, the active sisters and the lay people who all share, to varying degrees, the charism and spirituality of the Order.
Lay people can share in the same call and same mission of Carmel. It communicates to them the richness of the Carmelite spirituality and tradition, and enables them to share in all the spiritual benefits and good works carried out by all members of the Carmelite family. For lay people, the fullest form of belonging is by profession in the Third Order of Carmel. In this way, they share in a way proper to lay people the charism of the Order. Carmel favours the membership of couples, of families and of young people who wish to know and to live Carmelite spirituality including also new ways of doing so.
Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Carmelite charism, proven over the centuries in various cultures and traditions, offers a sure way to reach holiness and a high standard of ordinary Christian living. Lay Carmelites too are called to live in the presence of the living and true God who in Christ has come to live among us.
They look for every possibility and occasion to reach divine intimacy. Letting themselves be guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, lay Carmelites are open to a transformation of mind and heart, of their vision and of their actions. Their whole person and whole existence awaken to a recognition of the caring and merciful action of God in the life of each one. Lay Carmelites discover that they are brothers and sisters, called to share a common path towards the fullness of holiness and to bring to all the news that we are children of the one God, brothers and sisters in Jesus.
They become enthusiastic about the great works God performs and for which is required their commitment and contribution. They recognize these and cultivate the seed of salvation according to the spirit of the Beatitudes. They achieve this through a humble and constant exercise of those virtues of honesty, justice, sincerity, courtesy, and strength of spirit without which there cannot be a truly human and Christian life. Like Mary, first among the humble and the poor of the Lord, lay Carmelites discover that they are called to sing of the wonders that the Lord has performed in their lives.
Mary, in whom the Word was made flesh, inspires lay Carmelites to be faithful to their mission, to actions which are animated by charity and by a spirit of service and to practical co-operation in the work of salvation. In her own way she has shared increasingly in the unique mediation between God and humanity, made real in Jesus Christ, and which today the Church carries and mediates in history.
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In Carmel, this was traditionally seen in terms of the motherly love of Mary for Carmel. Carmelites are aware of being loved by such a great and tender mother and cannot but love her in return. Lay Carmelites also share the zeal of the prophet Elijah for the Lord and his law. They are ready to defend the rights of those who are downtrodden.
They learn from the prophet to leave everything to go into the desert in order to be purified, made ready for their meeting with the Lord and to welcome his word. They feel impelled, like the prophet, to support true religion against false idols. Together with Elijah, lay Carmelites learn to feel the presence of the Lord which comes to humanity with strength and gentleness.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Strengthened by this transforming and life-giving experience, lay Carmelites are able to face the realities of the world, confident that God holds the destiny of each one and the whole of history itself. Lay Carmelites live a life of intense prayer, focused on a personal dialogue with the Lord, the true friend of humanity. As St.
Sacramental life, centred on the Eucharist, is the source of the spiritual life. Lay Carmelites are called to a deep sharing in the sacraments. If they are married, they should live their own call to matrimonial holiness energetically and resourcefully. The Liturgy of the Hours represents a reminder during the day of the grace that wells up from the Eucharist and nourishes an authentic encounter with God. According to their circumstances, lay Carmelites should celebrate, at least, Morning, Evening and Night Prayer. Place and circumstances will indicate other possible forms of liturgical prayer.
Inspired by Mary, lay Carmelites also desire to make present the saving work of Jesus in space and in time through the celebration of the divine mysteries. The scope of spiritual life is not limited to the liturgy. Although all Christians are called to common prayer, they are also asked to go into their rooms and pray to their Father in secret. Lay Carmelites, according to the constant tradition of Carmel, very diligently cultivate prayer in all its forms.
Other forms which have found a place in the Carmelite tradition are mental prayer, the practice of the presence of God, aspirative prayer, silent prayer, as well as other devotional practices. She inspires them to imitate her eminent virtues: universal charity, love of prayer, humility, purity and modesty.
It also reminds us that Marian devotion, more than a collection of pious practices, is a real habit, that is, a permanent orientation of Christian conduct. Gathered by Mary, like the disciples, in the upper room, lay Carmelites come together to praise the Lord in the mysteries of his life and that of his mother: the devout practice of the Rosary can become an inexhaustible source of genuine spirituality which nourishes daily life.
Lay Carmelites are sustained by grace and guided by the Spirit who encourages them to live the Christian life concretely by following the tried and tested ways of Carmel. They recognize that they are the sisters and brothers of whoever is called to share in the Carmelite charism. The communal life of lay Carmelites must shine with simplicity and authenticity. Every group must be a family in which everyone feels at home, welcomed, known, appreciated, encouraged on the path they are following and possibly even corrected with charity and kindness.
Lay Carmelites commit themselves to co-operating with other members of the Carmelite family and with the whole Church so that it may realise its calling to be missionary in every circumstance and situation. The family life of Carmel is also reflected in dealings with the outside world. Every lay Carmelite is like a spark of love thrown into the forest of life: they must be able to enflame anyone who approaches them. Family life, the workplace, professional and Church areas where lay Carmelites are found will all receive from them some warmth from their contemplative hearts which can see the image of God in others.
The lay Carmelite community becomes a centre for life which is authentically human because it is authentically Christian.
Make Every Day a Path to Holiness
In a world which is ever more united by multiple and complex bonds, lay Carmelites can be witnesses to an authentic universality because they know how to give value to the richness and potential of each person. They are conscious of being part of an international family, they support opportunities for meetings that may give rise to sharing between members of the Order.
The purpose of the Church is to spread the kingdom of Christ on earth so that all may share in that salvation brought about by the Cross. Since it is the proper calling of lay people to live in the world and in the midst of secular affairs, they are called upon by God to carry out this mission of the Church so that there is a Christian yeast in the temporal activities which they are deeply engaged in.
So too the prophet Elijah was caught up in a world in the process of great change and which led many people to abandon the true God. They thought that they were self-sufficient. Elijah was sustained by his certainty that God was stronger than any crisis or any danger. So lay Carmelites live in a world which is ever more uncertain in the face of fundamental questions, and in an era which has presented new problems for faith, morals and society. The desert experience which was so determining in the life of the Prophet, becomes an obligatory phase for lay Carmelites who are called to be purified in the desert of life in order to meet the Lord authentically.
This is so that they may listen to the Lord who speaks to their heart in new and surprising ways of the world, and also in signs which are sometimes hard to interpret, or in the silent and barely perceptible voice of the Spirit. They come back enthused after this encounter and realise that they are to be tireless in giving life to the setting in which they are called to work. Inspired by this encounter, they can proclaim it as the only answer to the ever present temptation to deny God or to be proudly self-sufficient.
Sustained by the Spirit, Tertiaries do not let themselves be disappointed by apparent failure, by meagre results, by indifference or by the success of those who live contrary to the gospel. Lay Carmelites understand and show in their lives that temporal activities and material work are themselves a sharing in the ever creative and transforming work of the Father.
The Third Order of Carmel TOC , or the Secular Carmelite Order SCO is an international public association of laity erected by Apostolic privilege with the purpose of working towards Christian perfection and of dedicating themselves to the apostolate. It sets out to do this by living the Gospel in the spirit of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel under the supreme direction of the Order itself.
The Carmelite Order considers itself enriched by the faithful who, inspired by the Holy Spirit and answering a specific call from God, freely and definitively promise to conduct their lives according to the norms of the Gospel in the spirit of Carmel.
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The Third Order of Carmel, like other lay Carmelite groups, has its own influence on the structure and on the spirit of the whole family of Carmel. The Order undertakes to help lay Carmelites to reach the objective they have set themselves: to heal and to develop human society with the leaven of the Gospel.
The Third Order of Carmel, or Carmelite Secular Order, together with other communities who are inspired by the Carmelite Rule, by its traditions and by values expressed in Carmelite spirituality, are a constituent part of the Carmelite Family in the Church. As spiritual father, head and bond of unity of the whole Carmelite Family, it is the task of the Prior General of the Order of Carmel to ensure in an effective way the spiritual good of the Third Order, to promote its growth and vitality by means of a General Delegate for Lay Carmelites.
The Third Order of Carmel is divided into communities, called by various names viz. These are run by lay people according to the norms of this present Rule and the statutes of each community, under the supreme direction of the superiors of the Order or their delegates.
According to an old tradition, some members of the Third Order are called to live in communities which are governed by particular statutes. Communities are erected canonically by the Prior General of the Order, with the consent of his Council, with the previous written consent of the Prior Provincial and that of the Diocesan Bishop. However, the consent given by the Diocesan Bishop for the erection of a house of the Order is valid also for the erection of a Third Order community attached to the same house or church.
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They are also to take care that individual communities help in the activities of existing apostolates in the dioceses where they operate, working under the direction of the Ordinary of the place, and with other associations of the faithful in the diocese which have the same aims.