To let prayer penetrate their entire daily existence, nourished by the Word of God, by the Eucharistic Liturgy, and the Liturgy of the Hours, Carmelite Seculars will commit themselves daily to spending one-half hour in the practice of mental prayer. This is the time to be with God and to strengthen their relationship with Him so that they can be true witnesses to His presence in the world.
In addition, Carmelite Seculars pray Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. When possible, they also pray Night Prayer with its accompanying Examination of Conscience.
[Constitutions and Statutes of the OCDS of the California-Arizona Province of St. Joseph]
Prayer in Carmel
The vocation to the Teresian Carmel is a commitment to “live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ”, “pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch in prayer” as noted in the Rule of St. Albert.
St. Teresa placed prayer as the foundation and basic exercise of her religious family. For this reason, Secular Carmelites are called to strive to make prayer penetrate their whole existence, in order to strive to walk in the presence of the living God, through the constant exercise of faith, hope and love, in such a way that the whole of their life is a prayer, a search for union with God.
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
“In keeping with the ancient tradition of the universal Church, Morning and Evening Prayer form a double hinge of the daily Office and are therefore to be considered the principal Hours and celebrated as such.” [Second Vatican Council, constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 89a]
Lectio Divina is “to listen to the Word of Jesus to us through the readings of Scripture and to put it into practice.” The Lord reminds us of this basic truth of the Gospel and sums it up: “Not everyone who is saying to me: Lord, Lord, shall come into the reign of God, but those who keep my Word” (Mt. 7:21+; Lk. 6, 46-49). He reinforces that when he says in Luke 8:19: “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
Those discerning a calling to the Carmelite Seculars are encouraged to begin their half-hour of meditation with Lectio Divina (The Prayer of Recollection) which emphasizes reading and reflecting on the Gospels. “I should consider the time of prayer as not belonging to me and think that He can ask it of me in justice when I do not want to give it wholly to Him.” [St. Teresa in The Way of Perfection]
Distractions in prayer are normal, unavoidable, and should not disturb you. Be prepared for periods of dryness in prayer as the Lord tests your devotion and perseverance. St. Teresa speaks often of determined determination and the need for trust and humility. Jesus may have gone into the desert to speak with his Father, He may be out seeking His lost sheep or He may be asleep in the boat. Be patient. Be faithful.