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Our Way Of Life

As St. Teresa was a woman of deep prayer in her time, so we seek to be 21st century Carmelites and persons of prayer. Forty years ago Vatican Council II initiated a renewal that touched every aspect of our lives. Together we reassessed our customs and lifestyle, asking: "How are these related to a deep life of prayer?" We examined the difficulty of balancing silence and solitude with a strong community life. We acknowledged that the human and spiritual needs of our sisters differ according to personality, and change over time. As a result, our policies and schedules have a built-in flexibility that encourages each sister to deepen her presence to God in love.

An ordinary day looks like this:

  • Morning Praise from Liturgy of the Hours
  • Eucharist, followed by personal thanksgiving
  • Breakfast, picked up either before or after Mass, in silence
  • An hour of private prayer
  • Work, generally for about two hours
  • Midday Prayer from Liturgy of the Hours
  • Pick-up lunch, on your own or with others
  • Free time for spiritual reading, writing, etc.
  • Work for about another two hours
  • Evening Praise from Liturgy of the Hours
  • An hour of private prayer
  • Supper, which is our community recreation
  • Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings for the next day
  • Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours is recited privately before retiring.

Ordinarily, one day each week is "unstructured", except for morning Eucharist. This gives each one the freedom to seek her own rhythm of prayer and work for the day. Sundays and Feast days are typically times of greater leisure and rest.

The atmosphere of prayer is meant to inspire all the activity of a Carmelite's life, so much so that we tend to speak of prayer always in the singular: our life is one of prayer, not prayers. Prayer becomes an attitude, a reverent approach to all of life. Times of deeper solitude and silence include our yearly community retreat, each sister's two week private retreat, and monthly hermit days.

In her Way of Perfection Saint Teresa wrote: "…all must be friends with each other, love each other, and help each other." She wanted her sisters to live in small communities where they would be able to support and companion one another on the way to union with God. Our daily time of informal sharing and recreation at the evening meal; our ways of decision-making that involve all the members of the community; our interest and concern for one another's family members; our sessions of faith-sharing around a chosen theme; these are some of the ways we have found of building a loving community.

Our life together also includes on-going education for the community through current books and media, as well as invited speakers who expand our theological and spiritual horizons.

The types of work we do to help support ourselves have changed over the years. Presently, our sisters do clerical work for the diocese, some Liturgical art work, spiritual direction and spiritual sharing with groups that come to the Monastery.

Carmelite Communities Associated (CCA) is a group within the larger family of Carmel as it exists today in the United States of America. CCA was created in 1970 by a number of Discalced Carmelite Monasteries in order to enable an exchange of ideas and resources, and to create a deeper contemporary understanding of Teresian contemplative life among the member communities. Benefits which we experience from belonging to CCA are: study projects related to Carmelite history and Church law; the sharing of lived experience in Carmel today; personal encounters made possible by bi-annual meetings open to all the nuns of the associated monasteries; increased communication among member monasteries and with monasteries in other countries.

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