Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Fr. Aloysius Deeney, OCD, past General Delegate, tells us there are six elements to an OCDS vocation.
The first element is that one must be a practicing member in good standing of the Roman Catholic Church, who can “fully participate in the Eucharist without hindrance.” Discalced Carmelites are an institution within the Roman Catholic Church and are subject to the laws of the Church.
The second element is to be under the protection of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Mary calls us to meditate in the heart—she is our guide to prayer and meditation and attracts us to the contemplative way of understanding the mystical body of her son, Christ.
To be drawn to the Carmelite saints is the third element. To love the study of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein, and St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and to recognize the importance of ongoing formation for spiritual growth is essential.
The fourth element is a big one—it is a commitment to OCDS—a life-time commitment that must come first before any other organization.
To seek the face of God is the fifth element. It is our longing to be with our Lord in prayer and meditation in order to develop a personal relationship with God that keeps us seeking and doing His will. The Secular Carmelite has a burning desire for holiness in the heart and mind.
The sixth element is for the sake of the Church. The OCDS member has a yearning for the sacraments, liturgy, prayer and medication. These bring us to a fuller life, the authentic life we are intended for through a close relationship with God.
As a Secular Carmelite you make promises to the Order and before the community to live by the prescribed practices and charisms of the OCDS. The secular belongs to Carmel. Carmel does not belong to the secular. Seculars are Carmelites, one of three branches of the world-wide Carmelite Order, along with the Friars and Nuns. Being a Carmelite is a responsibility, not a privilege. The responsibility lies in bringing our charisms of Carmel into the Church, our families, the workplace and our world. We are called to share our gifts with the world.
The six elements are tangible things, but there is one more that isn’t defined by time, space, or pages read. It is that little voice calling within your heart reminiscent of what Elijah heard on Mt. Horeb. Do you hear it? Not with ears but with the heart! That is the call to a vocation. It is the essential element.
What makes coming to monthly meetings different from going to a Bible study or enjoying a spiritual talk at your parish? You will find friends in both, the opportunity to learn about your faith, and tasty treats. Coming to the monthly OCDS meeting should be the fulfillment of a deep longing or desire to “seek the face of God,” and knowing when you walk into the community you are home. It is where you belong.
Not having a Secular Carmelite vocation and not continuing on doesn’t mean you are not a wonderful or holy person; it simply means God is not calling you to Carmel. There are many places and ways to serve others and the Church; keep seeking and praying.