The Desert in Carmelite Spirituality

The Desert in Carmelite Spirituality

“What did you go out to the wilderness to see?” (Matthew 11:7) These were Jesus’ words to the crowd. John took to the desert to draw people out into solitude to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. For many years the desert had become...
The Paschal Mystery

The Paschal Mystery

Burning but not consumed! This was the strange sight that Moses beheld in the desert – a bush on fire yet contained. Such a strange phenomenon! Moses moved closer to examine the mystery before him. “No, Moses, stop where you are and remove your sandals for...
Advent: The Reason for the Season

Advent: The Reason for the Season

“For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Fall:  Winter, Spring, Summer The cycles of nature coincide with the cycles of life. Those of you living today have relived these cycles countless times. We are presently...
St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross

St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross

 There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.-Saint Thomas Aquinas Picture in your imagination a recreation room in a Carmelite monastery of nuns or in a Carmelite Friary! A young Carmelite nun spots a pair of castanets on a shelf,...
Why Consecrated Chastity?

Why Consecrated Chastity?

Several years ago a voice was heard bellowing out in an airport waiting area, “Chaste for 45 years!”The surrounding space was electrified as heads turned toward us as I stood facing a non-Christian gentleman who had asked me if we practiced chastity and then posed to...
Getting To The Heart of the Matter

Getting To The Heart of the Matter

How many times have you heard the expression, “GET TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER!”? St. John of the Cross loses no time on that one for he counsels us, ” Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.”To  better understand the place of...
What is the Carmelite Charism? (Pt. 2)

What is the Carmelite Charism? (Pt. 2)

This is the second part of Sister Mary Colombiere’s article on charism.  Part One focused on charisms in general while this portion is about the Carmelite charism in particular.  Click here to read Part One.Every religious community is unique because it lives...
What is a Charism? (Pt. 1)

What is a Charism? (Pt. 1)

The mere title itself begs a definition but that definition is dependent on the context in which the word is used. Most persons, if at a loss for an exact definition, would perhaps at least associate the word with charisma or charismatic. But each of these words has...
If You Only Knew…Saint Teresa and the Waters of Prayer

If You Only Knew…Saint Teresa and the Waters of Prayer

Jesus tired and thirsty sat down at a well and there encountered a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. Asking her for a drink,“He said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, Give me a drink, you would have asked him and he would...
The Interior Castle: Saint Teresa’s Diamond

The Interior Castle: Saint Teresa’s Diamond

The De Beers Jewelry marketing slogan of “Diamonds are Forever” might have been a perfect catchphrase for Saint Teresa’s “Diamond”, better known to us as the Interior Castle. However, this company was not yet around in 1577 when she was ordered to...
To God With Love From St. Teresa

To God With Love From St. Teresa

St. Teresa and Way of PerfectionTo God with Love,I am yours, I was born for You:What do You want me to do?Teresa of JesusThese words taken from one of St. Teresa’s poems could easily have been penned by her in a letter to God. The phrase “I was born for...
No Greater Love…the Story of Saint Teresa Benedicta

No Greater Love…the Story of Saint Teresa Benedicta

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Have you ever thought of what this might look like in real life? The account below relates a story of the unconditional love of a little boy: There was a young boy...
A Prophet’s Legacy: Elijah and Carmel

A Prophet’s Legacy: Elijah and Carmel

Have you ever been the excited recipient of an inheritance? If so, you may have received money, property or a treasured family heirloom. As a high school student I became one of the beneficiaries of my paternal grandfather’s inheritance. Knowing that I had...
The Scapular…a Sign of Mary’s Motherhood

The Scapular…a Sign of Mary’s Motherhood

“What is the scapular, and why is it so important to Carmelites?”Do you remember what Our Lady was wearing when she appeared to Bernadette? How about her appearance as Our Lady of La Salette? How did Juan Diego describe her or how did she appear on his...
St. John of the Cross…Window Gazer

St. John of the Cross…Window Gazer

What do you see when you look out a window? As I write this looking out the second-floor window on my right the rooftops are still covered with a gleaming snow that fell a few days ago. For me the snow is an opening into the Advent season – there is an expectancy in...
2 Doctors, 2 Ways, 1 Goal: St. Teresa and St. Therese

2 Doctors, 2 Ways, 1 Goal: St. Teresa and St. Therese

Many of you probably have seen the 1965 film entitled The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp and Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp. The first verse of the theme song goes like this:Climb every mountain,Search high and low,Follow every...
The Goal of Carmel

The Goal of Carmel

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere,I know that all Catholic spiritualities are centered on Christ and the Gospel.  But what is the ultimate goal of Carmelite Spirituality? Life is a journey through time and every journey has a beginning and an end. The goal of every journey...
Meditation and Contemplation – What is the Difference?

Meditation and Contemplation – What is the Difference?

Dear Sister Mary Colombiere,I have heard of meditation and contemplation and sometimes the words seem to be interchangable.  Is there a difference between the two?Let us begin by saying that the basic difference between meditation and contemplation is that meditation...
Those Pesky Reptiles

Those Pesky Reptiles

Dear Sister, In the Interior Castle, St. Teresa talks about “pesky reptiles” and other creatures. What exactly does she mean when she is saying these things?Those “pesky reptiles”! When you come across a snake unexpectedly, what is your immediate reaction? Well,...
Distractions During Prayer

Distractions During Prayer

Question:I have a hard time dealing with the silence that prayer requires. My mind never stops racing every time I sit down to pray. I heard somewhere that St. Teresa of Avila had the same problem. Do you know how she overcame it? Is it possible to overcome this...
How Can I Get Out of My Patterns of Sin?

How Can I Get Out of My Patterns of Sin?

How can I deepen my relationship with God when I am stuck in patterns of sin that I can’t seem to break?  I’ve asked this question to several people at different times, but I really can’t seem to figure this out or make any progress.  I am really grieved over this. It...
Distractions During Prayer

Silence & Solitude

What aspect of Carmelite Spirituality do you find most helpful for your prayer?  What thoughts have crossed your mind when you have read the Gospel narrative of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha “stewing” in the kitchen because she was left alone to do the...
Sometimes Prayer is So Frustrating

Sometimes Prayer is So Frustrating

 Dear Sister,  In the second mansion St. Teresa strongly emphasizes the need for perseverance. Can you help me understand how this works in a practical way? I really struggle to keep a consistent prayer time and to stay focused when I pray. Sometimes it is so...
Spiritually Stuck, Pt 1

Spiritually Stuck, Pt 1

Dear Sister, I feel like I am stuck in mansion somewhere in mansion one or two. Is this normal? Where do most people get stuck in the journey through the mansions and is there any common way you can suggest that we get unstuck? Maybe I am just impatient. I feel like I...
Spiritual Detachment

Spiritual Detachment

Dear Sister, In your recent series on getting stuck in spiritual growth (which was very helpful  by the way) you mentioned the idea of “attachments.” I think I understand this as I have read a bit of St. John of the Cross. However, I would be grateful if you could...