At the end of the 19th century a mysterious man offered to build a staircase for Sisters of Loretto, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Out of great need the sisters agreed and the result was miraculous. Because St. Joseph is a patron saint of the Carmelite Order, Carmelite Homilies decided to post the following video. It's of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which contains the Miraculous Staircase of St. Joseph.
The following homily was given by Fr. John Russel, OCarm, in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux. It was given at a Eucharistic celebration in Mundelein, IL, on June 14th, 1996, about one year before the centenary of the death of St. Therese of Lisieux, September 30th, 1997. The occasion was a provincial chapter of the Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.
"As we celebrate the centenary of the death of St. Therese of Lisieux in 1997 we remember that she took her Carmelite identity and gave it to the world in a narrative that reveals depth of commitment to Jesus Christ. For many ordinary people Therese spoke a word of life and of holiness that seemed attainable. Thomas Merton admired her everyday kind of faith. French novelist George Bernanos read her autobiography many times and used her line 'everything is grace' in his Diary of a Country Priest. He kept a relic of Therese on his night table. Theologian Hans Urs von Baltasar wrote a book-length study of her life as did social activist Dorothy Day. Dominican Yves Congar, who played a significant role in the work of Vatican II, wrote that in an age of anxiety and discouragement Therese offers the wisdom of the gospel: live in love and you will be transformed. Or to paraphrase, 'Do it right and do it well and you will be changed.'
"St. Therese's life story has been received within many cultures. Her STORY OF A SOUL has been translated into over 50 languages and dialects. Her "little way" appeared to make God accessible to people as a God of love and mercy. Her doctrine of spiritual childhood modeled the paschal mystery: you give yourself to life, to people, to tasks and to responsibilities with loving care. In the process you learn much about yourself and others. You experience suffering and hurt, joy and peace. And all the time you are being transformed through faith, hope and love into Christ Jesus. As Therese once put it: life is a process of 'transforming nothingness into fire.'
"Let me briefly allow Therese to offer three of her convictions to us. It is our way of being a listening heart to a voice from our past.
"Therese would tell us that all Christian and of course Carmelite spirituality is always evangelical, Scriptural. When we attend to God's word whether personally or communally in liturgy, meditation or lectio divina, God's word needs to become more and more our word. Our interaction with God's word is critical in shaping our own identity as Christians.
"She went to scripture to seek guidance in living out her own faith commitment and from time to time she sought comfort from God's word. Jesus of the gospels shaped her own consciousness in responding to the members of her community in the convent of Lisieux. 'The more my life is focused in Jesus Christ the more I am able to love the Sisters,' she wrote. She relished the Psalms and Isaias and the letters of Paul. She memorized many passages and retrieved them as prayer and consolation.
"In MS B of the STORY OF A SOUL Therese recounts how she found direction in the first letter to the Corinthians. She knew that she was filled with many desires; she wanted to be a martyr, a missionary, a doctor of the church, a warrior like St. Joan of Arc, a priest. She sought a way to unify her desires. In reading 1 Corinthians 12 she learned that the body has many parts and all have a place in actualizing the body. She went on to 1 Corinthians 13 and found that love was the greatest of all virtues. Therese captured the center of her own vocation:
'I will be love in the heart of the church!' She had added the heart to 1 Corinthians 12 and had unified her dreams within the vision of love.
"Therese would share a second conviction: community life is the setting for loving God and neighbor.
"She had lived her nine years in Carmel with the same women. Therese noted in her autobiography that some women with whom she lived lacked social graces, were uneducated and lacked good judgment. Some were quite sensitive and tended to spoil even the amenities of life. Therese stated that the condition was chronic; it was not going to go away. Thus she had to face the question: 'what am I to do in the midst of these limitations?' They do tend to be aggravating. Therese decided that she would bring to every one in her community and to every situation the commitment to love. She would try to be a good Samaritan reaching out to the roadside casualties. It need not be more at times than a smile or a good word.
"Therese would suggest that a community of faith accepts a gospel call to self-emptying love. Self-focus is out of the question. Fulfillment comes in giving oneself away generously. Therese knew also that love cannot stand up straight without the companionship of justice. Justice keeps love from becoming sentimental. And thus Therese became angry when she learned that a superior was thinking of postponing the vows of one Sister for no good reason than an arbitrary exercise of authority. Therese rejected any kind of manipulation as inauthentic. She sought to know the truth and to live it.
"Therese's third conviction would state that to be church is to be in mission. We are to be good news and to make good news in our world. She thought of her mission as working for the salvation of souls. That was the vocabulary that she inherited. That was a way to talk about ministry. She knew that priests and all those in ministry get their hands dirty in the ebb and flow of preaching the word, bringing comfort and challenge to people, serving so often when one is out of sorts and tired and on edge. She knew too that there would be failures and opposition.
"Within this context Therese saw that she had a role to play. There is no reducing the mission of the church and her ministry to data, techniques or management skills. One who ministers certainly has to work with a knowledge of personal and social climates and people's needs and ways of communication. But bringing about the 'Kingdom of God' is ultimately God's work and so mission and ministry are rooted in the realm of grace and mystery. Thus, Therese could take her obscure life and give it for the church. Her vocational response in Carmel in prayer and sacrifice and love was offered for the benefit of missionaries and priests and countless others. God could take her life and make it part of a larger story whereby new life comes out of life given away in love in an obscure convent in Normandy. One cannot measure nor trace precisely the sweep and depth and route of grace. She believed that her life affected the outcomes of the missionary endeavor wherever it occurred.
"Therese had a profound awareness that faith, hope and love form a surge that is creative of new life and holiness and peace. She chose to center all in love and for her it made all the difference in the world."
This is a funeral homily for Very Rev. John Malley, OCarm, by Very Rev. William Harry, OCarm. It was given on February 24, 2012, at St. Cyril of Alexandria Roman Catholic Church in Tucson, AZ. Scroll down to view the homily in text format.
Probably each one of us has a little different experience of Fr. John. For some he was member of the family—the uncle who came home to Massachusetts during the summer and spent time on the Cape. For others of us, John was the prior of our community, our provincial, our prior general; he was a fellow member of our Carmelite province. For others he was a major supporter of their work on behalf of the Church’s missions. For most perhaps, he was a familiar smiling figure in the hallways or patios of Salpointe, the school gym, or on the baseball diamond. He was the one sitting in the back at a school play or musical concert. And for those of us who have gotten a little long in the tooth, he was our classroom religion teacher!
But I find it interesting that lots of people will say “Fr. John taught me” or “Fr. Randall taught me.” But I have yet to hear one person talk about the actual content of those classes, the subject matter taught in those religion classes. And here is an important point for all of us who see ourselves as teachers. While no one talks about what John taught, they all talk about how John taught them. Everyone speaks very fondly and very gratefully of John’s gentle presence, his ready smile, his encouraging word, the hand on the shoulder. That is the lesson they took from his class! That is what has proved important for them in later life.
John was never my classroom teacher, but he was very much my teacher. The man spent his life teaching each of us. I think his classroom was life itself, and the content of his lesson was that God has greatly blessed each and every one of us with abundant gifts … and that living life completely, fully, and without compromise, means we need to develop those gifts and use them, not for ourselves, but for others. John just loved people and he could never understand why people would keep God’s gifts for themselves. All those gifts were to be used to build a better school, family, community, church, or world. And John did not just talk about this. His
methodology was to teach by example. John never asked me to do something that he himself had not already done. Why did he live that way? Because he genuinely loved people! He wanted us to succeed. He wanted us to become better people.
"I suspect John was very much influenced by the passage Kate McGarey-Vasey just read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was trying to get them to move beyond the status quo, from merely living life (often a self-centered life) to living a life centered on love. Paul points out to the Corinthians that they could have everything---the gift of prophecy, the ability to understand all of life’s mysteries, a faith that could move mountains … but if their lives were not based on love, if “love for other” was not their motivation for doing everything, than they had nothing at all. In fact, St. Paul says, “If we live without love then we are nothing at all.”
"Then St. Paul goes on to describe what qualities love really is. We have all heard this passage many times but it bears repeating because this was at the heart of John’s lesson. Paul writes that love is patient, kind, not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong, it is not self-seeking. Do you catch what St. Paul is doing? He is taking some ordinary characteristics of personal relationships—qualities that each of us is capable of possessing and Paul is saying “do these ordinary things with love” and you will gain everything. Didn’t Fr. John teach us this lesson of St. Paul’s? Didn’t John show us how to live these ordinary things with great love?
"Think back. In all the sporting events I attended with John, I never remember him raising his voice. Did you ever hear him yell? If you heard a Malley yelling, it was his brother! John accepted the victories and defeats with the same spirit. He was even keeled as someone said last night. He preferred winning to losing, no doubt about it. But he saw teachable moments in both. He was there for all involved with his quiet, gentle, reassuring presence, the hand on the other person’s shoulder, shaking the hands of the athletes after a victory or a defeat (It did not matter), giving each performer in the play an encouraging word. He would use those events to teach us to accept graciously whatever comes our way. If we did not like the result then we could try harder next time, work together better. Or if we had tried our best, then it was possible to move on. Life would continue. We would be okay.
"You know besides never hearing John yell, I never saw him get mad. One of handful of times I remember seeing him a little testy was when Fr. Leo McCarthy was visiting our community and kept using his cell phone at the dinner table. Some in the community—and they will remain nameless—found this slightly inappropriate and so before the next evening meal, we printed up signs and hung them all around the monastery dining room, proclaiming it to be a cell phone free zone. Let me just say that what seemed like a very funny idea fell kind of flat. And as John left the room after a slightly tense dinner, he turned around and just said “No more signs.” Even the man’s fraternal corrections were gentle!!
"The Carmelite Family follows the Rule of St. Albert, a very short document … 1600 words … composed before 1214. When you read through this document, you realize that it is really taking the ordinary things of life—time management, silence, religious practices (Mass, group prayer, private prayer, meditation), relationships with another, even eating—these very ordinary things of daily life and making them the way that a person lives extraordinarily, that one actually becomes capable of encountering God face to face. It is in living the ordinary things of life extraordinarily with love that we come to know God.
"One artistic representation of our Rule was created by the Dutch artist Arie Trum. He called it “No Image Satisfies.” What Trum did was arrange the 1600 words of the Rule in the shape of a cross. In the center of that cross is an empty space. To highlight the importance of this empty space, Trum made it into the most perfect of shapes, a circle. Then to give the empty circle even more importance, he highlighted it with a band of pure gold.
"For me, this representation means that living life following the Rule of St. Albert will involve quite ordinary experiences. But most of life is very ordinary, and so it teaches us how to use those ordinary events and experiences that the Rule speaks of—how we use time, silence, common religious practices, relationships with another, yes, even eating—to create this space within us, within our soul, in interior space that can only be filled by God! Was not that really what Fr. John taught us?
"Fr. John’s support and presence very often came in the form of a handwritten card or letter. He had many friends, literally around the world. He helped them and us navigate all those moments that normal, ordinary life brings, as well as some of the extraordinary ones, making sure we understood that he was there with us with his quiet, gentle, reassuring letters—the theology of the note. How much more simple could it be! But how many of us treasure those notes and cards that we received from John!
"That is what the Rule of St. Albert and living as a Carmelite is all about. That is what the first reading, from the first book of Kings, is about. Elijah is attempting to experience God in the extraordinary—in the earthquake, in the fire, in the storm—but he does not find God in any of those. It is only when he feels this gentle breeze, or as some translations put it, in the sound of sheer silence, does Elijah realize that God is there with him. That silence, that gentle breeze is Elijah’s encounter with God. God is not in the incredible events, not in the extraordinary. Elijah only finds God in the ordinary. Helping us to discover God in those ordinary events of our own lives was John’s gift to so many of us.
"The Gospel passage from St. John was the only Scripture reading that Fr. John specified he wanted read at his funeral. So obviously this Gospel had special meaning to him. It was also an important passage to St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish Carmelite mystic, who Fr. John read and studied. Teresa never had direct access to this Gospel passage as the Bible was only available in Latin in her day. But she became familiar with this passage in her spiritual reading, from authors who would quote the Scripture in Spanish. This particular passage had a tremendous influence on her writing “The Interior Castle” based on a direct, personal experience Teresa had of God—and how she understood her own faith journey, of going through the many rooms of the castle, ending with union with God.
"Of course, the goal, the vocation, the desire of each Christian is union with God--- but the journey is arduous. While St. Teresa uses the image from Scripture of moving through this castle with many rooms, St. John of the Cross uses the image of ascending a mountain, and Carmelite spirituality also often speaks of the spiritual journey as a journey into the desert. We Tucsonians can perhaps relate best to that. The point is that we are all on this journey.
"I would not presume to judge where John Malley was in his own spiritual journey—that is between him and God. But it was obvious to me that there were two aspects to John’s journey. While he was incredibly people oriented, he was also very reflective and prayerful—he worked at developing a personal relationship with his God. How appropriate that he died praying the office and that the book was open to the Psalm 116 which says, “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all his people. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”
"When Fr. John was prior provincial, his secretary, Helen Sullivan often referred to Fr. John—when he wasn’t around—as St. John. When I went to Rome as a member of the General Council, John had completed his term of office six years before so he was well-known in Rome. I enjoyed making some statement and attributing it to “St. John.” Someone would always get flustered and say, “That is from St. John? Where is that written in St. John?” Then someone familiar with my tactic would explain I was actually quoting John Malley. One day we were having a rather heated discussion about something when one of the Council members said “This was John Malley’s doing when he was prior general. I told him it was wrong. He didn’t listen! This is Malley’s fault.” And then, for his great finish, he pointed across the table at me and said “And THIS ONE calls him St. John!!!” Everyone at the table dissolved into laughter. We all walked out of a very tense meeting laughing! To this day, the Spaniards who were there call me Este (This One).
"John was a very good man—no doubt about that. And the natural reaction is to want to memorialize him—a picture, something of concrete or metal. But I don’t think John would be very interested in those kinds of memorials. Pictures fade. Concrete crumbles. Metal rusts. Plus John just did not like a lot of attention focused on himself.
"I think what Fr. John would be most interested in is a monument of flesh and blood. He would want us to memorialize him by taking seriously all those things he taught us by his own example. He would want us to really live out authentically with our lives those lessons he taught us. Our best tribute to him would be to live life to the fullest, that we create space for God within us by making sure we take those little moments—being with each other, listening to one another, encouraging each other, connecting via letter or email (although he was not too keen on email himself), or one of the other ways John showed us how to love. He would ask that with our love we turn those very common, ordinary moments into great moments of love, genuine encounters with our God. That I think is the best, most lasting monument we could build to remember
John, you good and faithful servant, enjoy living forever in the tender and loving presence of the Lord. And many thanks for all that you were for us. Amen."
The following homily by Most Reverend Fernando Millan Romeral, prior general of the Carmelite Order, was given on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th, 2012. It was addressed to the Carmelite Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery, in Palangkaraya, Indonesia. Please leave your comments at the end of this post. Thank you!
Funeral homilies, besides primarily serving as encouragement on the Christian journey, also serve to teach us the essential aspects of the lives of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. The following is the funeral homily for the Very Rev. Kilian J. Healy, O.Carm. (November 15, 1912 - May 18, 2003), by the Very Rev. John Malley, O.Carm. (July 26, 1930 - February 18, 2012). It was given at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Carmelite Nuns, Danvers MA USA - May 23, 2003. Besides giving us Christian encouragement, may it also put us in touch with the good life of one of our Carmelite brothers.
"As I speak of Father Kilian Healy this morning, I would begin by asking each one of you a question: what word or phrase would you use to sum up his life? Reflect for a moment: as a member of his personal family, as a Carmelite brother or sister, as one who knew him as a friend through his daily Mass at the shopping center chapel — how would you describe his life in a word or a phrase?
The phrase that I would use to describe Kilian is his own, the title given to his first book: WALKING WITH GOD. To me those words describe Kilian, a person who was constantly "walking in the presence of a living and loving God" throughout his life. He was so mindful of the words of the Prophet Elijah in the second book of Kings: "God lives, in whose presence I stand," and of the words of St. John in his first letter: "God is love, and he who lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
To that phrase, "Walking with God," I would only add these words to describe Kilian further: "Walking with God in simplicity and sincerity." Kilian was a very humble person, honest and good. Whether in his habit or in his clerics, the old adage was true about him: "What you see is what you get." Of course, though, Kilian was from Worcester, so close to Boston, and he had two major faults or passions, he loved his Red Sox, and he loved his ice cream!
Regretfully I cannot speak of his parents, family or early life in Worcester. We are grateful that his brother-in-law Raymond Foley, and his nephews Raymond and Richard with his wife Susan are here with us today. Suffice it to say that because of the quality of Kilian's life, a life that all of us so greatly respected and admired, we know that his parents, Lawrence and Abby, and his sisters Marion and Margaret, and his brothers, Lawrence and James, must all have been individuals of the highest integrity and value.
This morning, then, I would speak of Kilian's life as a Carmelite. Very simply, he was professed on August 15,1931 at eighteen years of age. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the international Carmelite College of St. Albert in Rome, and he was ordained on July 11,1937 at the age of twenty four. He continued his studies for a doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University until 1939 when he was forced to return home because of the beginning of World War II. There were three specific areas to his priestly life: (1) as a teacher from 1939-1959; (2) as Prior General from 1959-1971; (3) as a simple priest from 1971 until his death last Sunday.
1) Teacher (1939-1959) - Kilian taught Theology at Whitefriars Hall in Washington to a generation of Carmelites. His field was primarily dogmatic Theology, and he was highly admired and always respected as a teacher. During these years at Whitefriars, he began his strongest friendships with some of his Carmelite brothers: Roland Murphy, Joachim Smet, Eamon Carroll and many
In 1950 he returned to Rome to finish his doctorate at the Gregorian University. He wrote about contemplative prayer in the Carmelite tradition according to the Reform of Tourraine. He later published this work as a book with the title "[Methods of prayer in the Directory of the Carmelite Reform of Touraine]" At the General Chapter of 1953, he was elected an Assistant General of the Order for the English-speaking world, and this meant that he now would be teaching in Latin for the following six years at St. Albert College in Rome. His mentor and inspiration during those years was Father Bartholomew Xiberta from Catalonia in Spain, a legendary theologian and teacher.
On a personal note, I first met Kilian a month after that General Chapter. On October 15, 1953, he came to Naples to meet four of us seminarians from the United States as we arrived by boat from New York to begin our theological studies at St. Albert. He was so concerned about our well-being and brought us to Carmine Maggiore for a meal before our train ride to Rome.
I spent the following four years at the College where Kilian was teaching, and the courses that he taught were primarily the Sacraments in general and the Eucharist. I was privileged during my ordination year to take his course on the Eucharist. This subject matter was such a strong and vibrant part of his life. He truly lived what he taught as he shared his personal belief in Christ present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the love of God exemplified in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I remember so well his concern in November 1956 soon after my own ordination, [when] I got sick with tuberculosis. Kilian was a key figure in arranging for me to go to Switzerland for four months to help my recovery.
2) Prior General (1959 - 1971) At the General Chapter of the Order in September 1971, Kilian succeeded Father Kilian Lynch of Ireland and the New York Province as the 86th Prior General. He brought his own personal style to being General, more simple and more personally concerned.
His first six years in office were very happy ones for Kilian. Pope John XXIII had been elected in 1958 and had brought great respect to the Church and the priesthood. There were many vocations to the Order in Europe and the United States, and St. Albert's was filled to overflowing. The missions were flourishing, and monasteries of cloistered Carmelite Nuns were springing up in Spain, Italy, the United States and in countries of the Third World. Various congregations, like the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, were growing throughout the world. There was excellent support for the General Council by the members of our American Province. It was a good time to be the General of the Order.
Early during his first term, the Second Vatican Council began at St. Peter's in Rome, and Kilian attended every session until its closing in 1965. As General of the Carmelites, he was a member of the Papal Family, and he automatically had the privilege of attending the Council, like the Generals of the other ancient Orders in the Church, [such] as the Benedictines, Dominicans and Franciscans. He was an excellent representative for the Carmelites because he was a theologian and he spoke Latin (the official language of the Council and there were no simultaneous translations) and Italian perfectly. He used to laugh when he remembered those days and his good friend Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, who did not understand a word that was being said. He mentioned that he was soon going home, and he did not return!
After the 1965 General Chapter, with the help of the new Assistant General, Father Richard Nagle of New York. Kilian was responsible for transferring the residence of the General Council from St. Albert's College to its present site (the former Collegio Pio Decimo) - an action for which the present General, Joseph Chalmers, and myself are sincerely grateful.
The last six years of Kilian's term were different and more difficult, and they brought him much pain and suffering. During the final years of the 1960's, there were many drastic changes in society, in the Church and in religious life. There were misunderstandings and disagreements over the meaning of the Council. Many Carmelites left the priesthood in the United States, Holland, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Kilian sincerely felt the anguish of each one who left. During these years, he was "walking with God" under the shadow of the Cross.
3) Simple Priest (1971 - 2003) - The final thirty years of his life were back home in the Province. First he was at Carmel Hall with the students at Marquette University during the 1970's, and those years were agonizing for anyone involved in formation. Still Kilian was a bastion of traditional values and a beacon of steadiness and stability for the young students. Later he had a brief stay at Whitefriars Hall
In 1978 I was Provincial, and when I visited Kilian in Washington, I asked him if he would consider coming to Peabody to do ministry at the Shopping Center Chapel. There were many reasons for this possible transfer: 1) for his own health and well-being, because living in a formation house during such a period of transition had to be trying, 2) the need for a steady, stable influence in the Peabody community, and I felt that it would be an excellent place to use his gifts: daily Mass and homily, hearing confessions, giving spiritual direction, and 3) the opportunity to be close to his family in Worcester. Kilian's response to my request was typical - - even though he could have chose any house in the Order: "John, wherever you want me to go!" Truly a man "walking with God in simplicity and sincerity."
He has been here for 25 years, and he has done excellent work in the Chapel, with the Carmelite Sisters in Peabody, here with you Nuns in this monastery, saying Mass with such devotion, giving homilies that were so meaningful and insightful about our Carmelite traditions, sermons that were always practical and down to earth. His ministry at the Chapel fortunately also gave him sufficient time to write, and we are so grateful for his books on Elijah, Prophet of Fire and The Assumption of Mary.
Over the past 25 years, my brother Vernon and I would visit the Peabody community each Summer while we were home in Boston on vacation, and we always enjoyed our time with Kilian. He had such an interest in everything Carmelite, and what an incredible memory, as he would ask me about various classmates from his Roman years: Father Methodius in the Czech Republic under the Communists, Bishop Donal Lamont and his support of the native people of Zimbabwe, and various members of Provinces, monasteries of Nuns, and teaching Sisters around the world. And his stay in Peabody during these years was also such a blessing for his personal family - as every Sunday afternoon he would be with his sister Margaret and Raymond and their family.
Finally, the goal in life for each Carmelite is expressed so beautifully in our Rule: "to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully," or as we sometimes express it: "to walk in the footsteps of Jesus." Kilian has done this so faithfully for 70 years, "walking with God" in simplicity and sincerity as a teacher, as General and as a simple priest.
There are words in the Gospel that we used to quote often in Latin that would express the Lord's welcome and reward to one who lived in love and faithfulness, and I am sure that Kilian understood those words well on his death last Sunday afternoon when he heard Jesus say: Euge serve bone et fidelis - - "Well done, good and faithful servant," and our prayer for him is: Requiescat in pace - "May he rest in peace.' "
The books written by the Very Rev. Kilian J. Healy, O.Carm., which were mentioned in the above homily, can be purchased through Carmelite Media, www.co-store.com/carmelitemedia.
Did you know that you are a unique gift to the Church and to the world? There is only one you and there is something that God wants to offer His people which He has entrusted to you alone. What is that gift?
God has also entrusted unique gifts within every ecclesial community, for the sake of the Church and the world. We call such gifts charisms. Communities within the Church that have received charisms from God include religious orders, like the Carmelites. What is the Carmelite charism? This question can be difficult to answer, just as it may be difficult to discover personal charisms.
In our search for the Carmelite charism the following video may be helpful. It was produced by the Carmelites of the Province of Aragón and Valencia. Who knows, perhaps by watching it you may come to appreciate more, not only the Carmelite charism, but your personal charism as well.
As we live our days, periodically we come accross puzzling phenomena. For instance we may experience and question the cultural habits of different ethnic groups, wonder how it is that man can invent marvelous devices and technology such as cars, planes, computers, the internet, etc., be amazed at the beauty of conjugal love, or awaken to the realization that the hearts of our friends and our own hearts can never be fully known. In all these experiences there is a mystery that calls for respect, all the while inviting us to contemplate within them something of the divine. The following four-part video reveals such a mystery, the mystery of a Carmelite vocation. Why is it that Carmelites live the lives they lead, mystical lives of abandonment and selflessness for a love that is signified by an object of condemnation? We will never fully understand this simply by watching a video. However, if we give the following Interview with a Carmelite Nun a chance perhaps we will begin to see what she sees and consequently be lit with the same joy her face radiates.
"I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission to make God loved as I love Him, to teach souls my little way."
Carmelite Homiles would like to honor St. Therese of Lisieux in its first posting on Carmelite spirituality. St. Therese was a Carmelite nun of France at the end of the 19th century. Her short life on earth, though seemingly insignificant by some of her contemporaries, has proved to be a powerful catalyst in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. The reason why we would like to honor her in our first post on Carmelite spirituality is twofold.
Firstly, her sprituality is a "little way," one in which any person can find the means to spiritual satisfaction (cf. the Gospel of Mark 8:8). Therese's Little Way is, according to the saint herself, "the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute surrender," (Story of a Soul, translated by John Clark, OCD, Third Edition, page xi). To learn more about this little way, please obtain a copy of her autobiography, A Story of a Soul, which can be purchased at www.icspublications.org.
Secondly, besides being the patroness of vocations, she is officially recognized by the Holy Catholic Church as the patroness of the missions. As she once said, "I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach Your Name and to plant Your glorious Cross on infidel soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the cunsummation of the ages. But above all, O my Beloved Savior, I would shed my blood for You to the very last drop." (Ibid, pages 192-193). Carmelite Homilies needs St. Therese to pray for the success of this website, that it may be used by the Lord Jesus Christ to spread his Gospel throughout the world.
May St. Therese's mission to make our Lord Jesus Christ loved as she loves Him become realized in each one of our hearts! How can we help her do this?