Carmel: Interpreting a Great Tradition by Ruth Burrows OCD

By Ruth Burrows OCD

One of many extraordinary Carmelite authors of this day has now written at the imaginative and prescient and aspirations of the nice foundress of her order,St Teresa of Avila. the main to that imaginative and prescient used to be ardour - no longer a few kingdom of heightened non secular emotion, yet an all-engrossing preoccupation with God. yet, as Ruth Burrows issues out, what all too usually occurs in perform is that the day by day way of life turns into tailored to non-passion: she argues, passionately, that devoted observance - the horarium, the 'detachment from created issues' obedience, the connection among sisters - presents a nearly excellent scenario for receiving a truly nice love of God, and that the constitution mustn't ever be tailored to a lesser love. This, maybe her most vital publication up to now, is written essentially for fellow participants of her personal Order.But this quite, and the aspect and readability with which she expresses it, makes Carmel a booklet of profound curiosity to all contemplatives, to monks and spiritual with extra lively apostolates, and to laypeople - in a note, to all Christians who see the 'passionately pursued' comtemplative lifestyles not just as a center vocation within the Church, yet as a resource of notion for his or her personal non secular lives.

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The authorities have proscribed books of devotion. Even the scriptures must be carefully censored so as not to lead foolish women astray. These same empty-headed creatures must be kept to vocal prayer only, reciting their Paters and Aves, and get on with their spinning. Teresa will dutifully observe this injunction — no one could fault her - and sets herself to teach her daughters how to pray the Our Father well. ) she discovers that, in so doing, she has been telling them all about mystical contemplation.

This she did for the community as a whole, by a strict, carefully protected enclosure, but within the solitude of enclosure, she is more flexible. For her, relationships had irreplaceable value. We find no hint in her writings that she saw the introduction of two periods a day in which the sisters could talk together, as an innovation, still less a mitigation. On the contrary, she confidently affirms that her nuns were living the Rule in all its perfection. 1 In Teresa's Constitutions the pivot of the Rule remains unimpaired: All of that time not taken up with community life and duties should be spent by each sister in her cell or hermitage designated by the prioress; in sum, in a place where she can be recollected .

We are human. God asks of us our reasonable service and there will rightly be exemptions that are wholly in accord with God's will. For instance, it would seem wise for the sisters to enjoy a monthly day of solitude and a private retreat with exemption from Choral Office; and perhaps, during the community retreat, for one of the Little Hours to be celebrated in private; and there may be other similar occasions when the prioress judges exemption fitting. However, what seems contrary to our charism, with its obligation to Choral Office is that for a whole day the monastic choir is silent, still less for several days at a time.

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