A Summary of Living the Carmelite Way: The Rule of the Third Order of Carmel
(all quotes are from this Rule)
Chapter 1 – The Vocation to Holiness: All of us are called to a holy life. “All the faithful, of whatever state, are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love.” …Not just priests or cloistered nuns.
Chapter 2 – The Carmelite Secular Third Order: “…the Carmelite Order [organizes] its various lay groups along the same lines as the third orders of other mendicants…in which brothers and sisters made vows of obedience and chastity according to their state.” “They try to overcome in themselves the divisions between Gospel and life.”
Chapter 3 – Bonds with Carmel: Members of Carmel’s Third Order make a commitment of obedience to the Order, recognizing consecrated Carmelite Religious as their spiritual guides and they become “co-responsible” in their task of evangelization. “This commitment is made explicit in some form of promise, or otherwise in keeping with our ancient custom, by the profession of vows of obedience and chastity according to the obligations of one’s state.”
Chapter 4 – The Specific Call of the Lay Carmelite: “The father searches out individuals, draws them to himself and towards his Son; the Spirit urges them to be attentive, to listen to the voice of God.” The call of a lay Carmelite is a “radical re-alignment towards gradual change.” “Ascending the mountain implies a desert experience in which the living flame of God’s love transforms and detaches the lay Carmelite from everything”.
Chapter 5- Sharing in Jesus’ Mission: “Lay people are recognized as having their own absolutely necessary participation in this mission…They are to commit themselves to extending such celebration into daily life itself.”
Chapter 6 – Secularity: Lay Carmelites are in the world, but their mission is to transform the world, to take Christ into the world in a way that other religious cannot.
Chapter 7 – Sharing in the Charism of the Order: Our order started with lay hermits on Mount Carmel 800 years ago and today the Order communicates to our lay Carmelites “the richness of the Carmelite spirituality and tradition and enables them to share in all the spiritual benefits and good works carried out by all members of the Carmelite family.”
Chapter 8 – The Contemplative Dimension of Life: Lay Carmelites are “called to live in the presence of the living and true God…So in the family, in the workplace, in the professions, in social or Church responsibilities, in the deeds of everyday life and in relationships with others, lay Carmelites look for hidden signs of God.”
Chapter 9 – Mary and Elijah: Presence, Inspiration, and Guide: Lay Carmelites walk with Mary as their mother and follow her in taking responsibility for cooperation in Jesus’s saving work. Lay Carmelites also “share the zeal of the prophet Elijah for the Lord and his law.” and are called to draw closer to God to face the same battles of evil vs good as Elijah faced.
Chapter 10 – A Life of Prayer (on our charism of PRAYER): Carmelite daily prayer should be anchored in the Eucharist, Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours (the prayers of the Church) as well as daily reflection upon Scripture (Lectio Divina). “Prayer is life, it is not an oasis in the desert of life.” (St Titus Brandsma) In Carmel “prayer becomes life and life flourishes in prayer” (St John Paul II)
Chapter 11 – The Family Life of Carmel (on our charism of COMMUNITY): Lay Carmelites are part of an 800-year-old international family. We live our charism not just in our own local community life, but also in taking Carmel to our families, our parishes, our workplaces, and to the world.
Chapter 12 – Service (on our charism of SERVICE): Carmelites are “love in the heart of the church” (St. Therese of the Child Jesus) and are called to live our love in service to others. “They are called upon by God to carry out this mission of the church.”