The Discalced Carmelite life thrives throughout the world. We count many Saints and Blessed among our numbers. Our rich spiritual tradition continues to draw countless men and women to God. St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese have each been declared a Doctor of the Church. Other outstanding Carmelites are St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Teresa of Los Andes, and St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein).
There have always been laypeople who have desired to share in the spiritual life of Carmel. Before Vatican II, these communities were called “Third Order.” Now they are referred to as “Secular Order Discalced Carmelites,” abbreviated as “OCDS.”
Secular Order Discalced Carmelites are married or single, from all walks of life, from every level of education, and from every type of work. Ordained diocesan deacons and priests may also be members of the OCDS.
Throughout the world, the OCDS number around 25 thousand members. There are 1,736 communities in 75 countries. In the Western United States, we are organized into five (5) regions containing 72 communities. We are under the jurisdiction of the Discalced Carmelite friars of the California-Arizona Province of St. Joseph
The life of a Secular Order Discalced Carmelite is a calling from God, a true vocation in and for the Church. Prayer and the apostolate, when they are genuine, are inseparable. St. Teresa writes, “The purpose of prayer is good works.” The graces we receive in prayer ought to have an effect on us and on the whole world.
Carmel is all Mary’s
The brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is our habit. It symbolizes that we are under the loving protection of Our Lady and that we pledge ourselves to her service. She is our Queen and Mother.
The Blessed Trinity Community of Discalced Carmelite Seculars normally meets on the 4th Sunday each month. If you are interested in being a visitor to those meetings, please contact the Formation Director and tell us about your interest in the Carmelites.
To begin, see this video on the Brown Scapular, which was a gift from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to her Order.
Read a good book on a Carmelite saint, available from ICS Publications.
Learn about our Carmelite call to prayer. We encourage beginners to learn Lectio Divina, the prayerful reading of Sacred Scriptures. Listen to the Lord and allow Him to draw you closer and direct your heart.
Each day, members of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites commit to pray Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and, when possible, Night Prayer, from the Liturgy of the Hours. We spend at least half an hour in quiet, personal prayer. We do our best to attend daily Mass. Members frequently avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We keep the fasting laws of the Church, and we fast on vigils of Carmelite solemnities and major feasts.
What is the timetable for becoming a Secular Order Discalced Carmelite?
After some initial visits, attendance at meetings for one year is required so that the Aspirant may learn more about the OCDS life and discern with the community if this is his/her calling. The candidate may then be approved to receive the scapular and begin formal formation. After two years, he/she may be approved to make a Temporary Promise of chastity, poverty, and obedience for three years. Following the three years, one may make the Definitive Promise for life with the permission of the Community's Council.
This entire period of formation requires about six years. On-going formation then continues for life.