Thursday, August 2, 2007

Spirit of Prayer In Daily Life-Carmel Retreat Conclusion

Carmelite spirituality does not call for ecstatic visions or the mystical heights, which has been Gifted to few. Instead it means incorporating God into everything we do from washing the dishes, doing the laundry or sweeping the floor and sundry other duties.

The Spirit of Carmel is grounded on practicalities which embraces all facets of life. It does not call for us to spend copious hours in solitary prayer or that we undergo severe physical mortifications which does more harm than good. What busy mother or father has the time to spend hours in quiet prayer? Instead Carmel teaches us to do all things in a spirit of prayer, it is essentially combining Martha and Mary in one person. It means living in awareness of the Divine in all we do and undertake, keeping God in the forefront of our minds, heart and soul.

There is no set 'formula' to follow, it is indeed an intrinsic individual way of living the Spirit, which has been incorporated within your soul to such an extent that one is doing the Will of God in all you do.

The most essential aspect is the need for a spirit of 'solitude', which does not mean quietism, it instead means allowing God to dwell in the sanctuary of your heart even amdist the daily trauma's and difficulties of one's life. It is a lifestyle even though steeped in Tradition yet over the centuries maintains its realism, for it calls us to do the ordinary with greatness.

Teresa of Avila was a passionate woman with a great deal of common sense. When both Saints Teresa and John of the Cross began the Reforms it was done with sensitivity and a knowledge of human nature. They combined prayer and work and to undertake both with an equal measure of fervor and devoutness. The ultimate purpose which both Saints understood was to attain Union with the Divine and conformity to God's Will.

In order to be able to conform our will to The Divine one must understand God's Will and that can only be done by the study of His Word. There is no greater example in the Bible than Mary the Mother of Jesus, who lived her life in utter conformity and also a surrendering of herself to the Beloved. This is why the Carmelites Revere our Blessed Mother and follow in her Holy footsteps. Mary herself said, 'Do whatever he tells you'. That is the essence of Carmel to do the Will of the Father just as Jesus and Mary did.

As St. John of the Cross said, "first have a habitual desire to imitate Christ in all your deeds by bringing your life into conformity with his. You must then study his life in order to know how to imitate him and behave in all events as he would."

The Victory when one chooses to live a more spiritual life is in the struggle. It is not in the Victory itself but the daily struggle to overcome one's faults and failings and to live a life of prayer. When we give up the struggle in hopelessness then we have lost all. It is the struggle that is the victory.

For us time is of the essence. God is Eternal. How we spend our time will define where we spend our eternity.