The Journey of the Carmelite

The Lord shall guide you continually Isaiah 58:11

journey3_1We are a community of Carmelite nuns, living in Loughrea, Co. Galway. Many years ago, we decided to follow Christ in this particular style of life. We did not know the future but we trusted God to help us along the Way, because the path we had chosen was a response to his call to, “Come follow me”. It would lead us to God, to heaven and to eternal happiness. It all began when we made the decision to leave our families and friends, our seeming securities, our freedom to do as we liked and we accepted that it would not be easy, so putting all our trust in God, we were confident that he would help us to carry our cross, with Him and for Him.

There were many ups and downs along the Way, but after a few years, our solemn profession of dedication to Jesus with Mary, as carmelite nuns, put the seal on our gift of ourselves to Him. We try to be faithful, day by day. Once accepted, the cross becomes part of the journey and that “better part” was revealed to us as we began to discover God in all his goodness and holiness and beauty and incredible humanity, that is, the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of God’s love for us.

As we travelled on, the journey began to transform us. Jesus said, “Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, s/he will have the light of life”. This light enabled us to discern the ways of fallen human nature and how easily we follow those ways, even though they weigh us down and make life more difficult. Side by side with this, we could see emerging the new creation, Christ, risen from the dead, was wanting to rise in us also, urging us with his words, “If, by the Spirit, you put an end to the misdeeds of the body, you will live”. This was no easy task. Apart from our dislike for self-denial, we are creatures of habit so without the patience of God, who could always see beyond our many falls, the hearts that longed to find Him, we would never have survived the 30, 40, 50, 60 years we lived here.

journey3_4The  growth was slow, but in a sense the foundations were being well laid. From time to time, God, in his goodness, would surprise us with glimpses of His love, but only for a brief while. The struggle must be resumed. The particular form of the struggle would vary for each individual and the more we kept our eyes on Jesus, the more progress we made. “Jesus leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection, who for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, endured the cross, despising the shamefulness of it”. He asks us to follow the Way He took.

The carmelite life is an enclosed life of  Prayer, Silence, Retirement and Penance. Yet our life is composed of many journeys e.g.

  • The journey from lay life to carmelite life.
  • The journey from Postulancy to Novitiate to First Profession onto Solemn or Final Profession.
  • The journey of everyday life in Carmel with its many and varied duties.
  • The many, many spiritual journeys we make as we daily rise up from our sins and imperfections, coming ever closer to that freedom of the children of God as we reach out continually towards the fullness of Christ’s full stature, as fellow heirs with him of a heavenly inheritance.

journey3_7In a sense, our vocation becomes a journey in the Lord’s company that could last forever. With Mary as our model, we grow into a permanent relationship with the One whom our soul loves. When the Other is God, one longs to devote one’s life  “to doing whatever He tells you”. In this way we help to bring about that union of one’s whole being with God, mind, heart, soul, work, leisure and every single thought, word and deed. This is our task, par excellence.

The Devil lurks in hiding all along our way to God but Scripture assures us that our victory over him lies in our Faith. Fortified with this knowledge we travel on, renouncing all his works and pomps and all his empty promises.

Ours is a life with and for the Church. It entails the giving of ourselves to God, who asks no less than everything. It becomes a holy contest. God asks for all we can give but He will only transform what we actually give Him. When we succeed, we become new creatures, able to guide and help others with the same help we ourselves have received from God. Instead of always wanting our will we learn to want what God wants for us. This is all part of the transformation which comes about as we walk confidently and with a determined determination, hand in hand with Jesus, our Friend.

For God so loved the world,
He gave his only son
To die in Calvary’s tree,
From sin to set me free.
Someday He’s coming back,
What glory that will be,
Wonderful his love for me.

Holy,   Holy,   Holy,  is his Name.