How is Lay Carmelite living meaningful in the Church today?
The Lay Carmelite is called to the Family of Carmel to be deeply involved in the mission of the Church, to contribute to the transformation of the secular world. A Lay Carmelite does this by sharing in the charism of the Carmelite Order. We find in Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and in the Prophet Elijah the models for this way of Gospel living, Profession of promises as a member of the Lay Carmelites is an intensified commitment to the living of one’s baptismal promises. Being a Lay Carmelite is not just a devotion added to life; it is a way of life, a vocation. By entering the Order the Lay Carmelite takes upon him/herself the Carmelite charism of prayer, community, and service to others. The call to Carmel, a call to seek God’s will in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life, roots Lay Carmelites in a love of those with whom they live and work, in the recognition of God’s presence in all circumstances, and in solidarity with God’s People everywhere.
What is this relationship that Carmelites have with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Prophet Elijah?
Mary is Patroness, Sister and Mother to all Carmelites. Lay Carmelites have to live this relationship, imitating her virtues, listening to the Word of God in and through daily life. Lay Carmelites stand with Mary, cooperating with the mysterious will of God who desires salvation for all people. Elijah is an example of prophetic action, a life spent in service of God, a service that finds its source in a profound experience of God in prayer. Lay Carmelites see in the prophet of Carmel a model for a life spent testifying in deeds of love to God’s presence in the world.
What are the requirements for admission to formation?
A candidate must be a Catholic fully participating in the sacramental life of the Church, who feels called by God to live more deeply one’s baptismal vocation as a member of the Carmelite Family. A candidate should be between 18 and 69 years of age when seeking entry to the formation program. A person is admitted to formation through an existing Lay Carmelite community.
What does the Lay Carmelite formation process entail?
Formation is divided into three specific periods:
- Phase 1— Preparation for Reception; lasts one year but may extend up to two years; instructions include history of Carmel, its charism and traditions.
- Phase 2 — Preparation for temporary Profession; lasts two years but may extend up to three years; instructions on prayer, community, and the call to ministry
- Preparation for final Profession; last 3 years; ongoing formation takes places at monthly community meetings with the other professed; is a time of deepening one’s living of the Carmelite Way as a means of discerning one’s call to Final Profession.
- Once a person has been accepted by the community council for Final Profession, he/she continues ongoing formation, which is life-long for all the members of the local Lay Carmelite Community.
What is expected of a Lay Carmelite?
- To participate in the daily celebration of the Eucharist when possible
- To spend about ½ hour in meditation each day, reflecting on the Scriptures, using Lectio Divina, or some other appropriate method of personal/reflective prayer
- To pray the Liturgy of the Hours — Morning and Evening Prayer — in union with the Church throughout the world
- To spend some time doing spiritual reading each week
- To attend the monthly community meetings and other (periodic) community activities
- To wear the Brown Scapular daily as a sign of dedication to Mary, trust in her motherly protection, and as an expression of one’s commitment to live in allegiance to Christ by serving others
Candidates studying to become a Lay Carmelite are also expected:
- To meet monthly with the formation director for a two-hour class in the Phase 1 formation program, which consists of 12 lessons in preparation to be received into the Lay Carmelites
- After Reception, to meet monthly with the formation director for a two-hour class in the Phase 2 formation program, which consists of 24 lessons in preparation to make temporary profession as a Lay Carmelite