The following article appeared on Catholic Exchange on Thursday, July 15, in preparation for the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16. I am grateful to CE for publishing my work!
This is the second article meant to help laity develop good spiritual practices that aid in the journey toward holiness. The basic premise of this series is that the laity can and should learn to incorporate the wisdom and spiritual practices of some of the great consecrated religious orders throughout Church history. This time, we’re focused on Carmelite spirituality. Along with the Carmelites, we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16 each year.
The Rule of St. Albert Avogardo, by which Carmelite life is governed, says: “whatever his station or the kind of religious observance he has chosen, should live a life in allegiance to Jesus Christ—how, pure in heart and stout in conscience, he must be unswerving in the service of the Master” (§2; emphasis added). Here we are reminded that this lifestyle is, first and foremost, in answer to the universal call to holiness. Allegiance to Jesus, “pure in heart and stout in conscience,” can be lived by any of us, not just monks and religious sisters.
According to the Carmelite mission statement, a person develops a pure heart and stout conscience by seeking the face of the living God through a commitment to contemplation. Carmelites are guided by a spirit of mysticism, finding God’s face in every possible place. The laity must know that God’s face can be found everywhere in the midst of daily life. We can ponder his goodness and power, and draw ever closer to him in every situation.