Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you, all things pass away.
The one who possesses God, lacks nothing. God alone suffices. (Teresa of Avila)

 

What is Carmelite Spirituality

To speak of spirituality is to speak of inspiration, that is, of ways of seeing, of profound conviction, of attitudes and ways of being, of the dynamism of life.  It is to speak of what makes us live at the very depth of our being.  The spiritual life is putting into practice the life of the Holy Spirit who is within us.


Carmelite Spirituality is all about longing and desire


The Carmelite tradition recognizes this longing in the human heart. We are made to seek and search, to yearn and ache, until finally our hearts find something or someone to match the depth of its desire and longing - for us that goal is God. It is God who puts this longing within us - it is he who has touched us.   This deep current of desire within our lives is the result of God having first desired us.  St. John of the Cross says: “If anyone is seeking God, the Beloved is seeking that person much more”.  If God has given us such longings, God will ultimately fulfil them.  Silence and solitude remind us of that space in the heart where every person is called to find God’s presence. St. Teresa wrote in her famous bookmark:  “Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you, all things pass away.  The one who possesses God, lacks nothing.  God alone suffices”.  This is the basis of Carmelite spirituality.


"Contemplatives are part of the great tree of life, we hold it, for we are the roots.  The tree may be axed, burnt, stripped off for medicine, but if the roots are intact, the tree will be able to give life again to all.  Everyone can come to it for shelter and solace. "


Transformation of Consciousness


We are called to a transformation of consciousness which frees us from violence, greed and hatred, opening to love, compassion and prophetic hope. The deepest dimension of Carmelite spirituality promises, therefore, a freedom of the heart that does not seek or expect its own consolation and fulfillment but rather is totally given for the flourishing of the contemplative dimension within every human heart and the continuing transformation of God's people in love.


Teresa of Avila described prayer as nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us (Teresa of Avila, Life 8.5).


A day by day faithfulness to this relationship opens one to the educating power and presence of Jesus' Spirit and calls forth a determination to commit oneself in fidelity to a lifelong process of self-gift and transformation. In a purifying movement entailing not only light, consolation and affirmation, but also dryness, darkness and suffering, intimacy with Christ matures expanding consciousness and affectivity with a new kind of contemplative understanding, wisdom and selfless love.


Now a deepening identification with the suffering, crucified Christ brings about solidarity with the poor that is not only theologically grounded but actually experienced. In the darkness of this hidden presence of God, the self is broken open to embrace the victimized, the hopeless, the dispossessed, the suffering ones of the world.