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Archive for the ‘evangelical counsels’ Category

Seculars Carmelites promise to strive towards evangelical perfection. Regarding these counsels the Secular Discalced Carmelites Constitutions states:

 

“Following Jesus as members of the Secular Order is expressed by the promise to strive for evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and through the beatitudes.”

To strive toward evangelical poverty is not poverty for poverty’s sake, but for the sake of the Gospel. Voluntary poverty is something lay Carmelites can do for the love of God. This in not the strict poverty like those in religious orders where their Constitutions require them to relinquish ownership of material goods.

Through voluntary poverty those of us living in the world can live in solidarity with the poor. Poverty in clothes, for example, would look like a closet limited to just a few outfits. Each day could be lived like the poor by economizing the day’s spending habits. This could include not wasting food or other things, and repairing items or repurposing them, if possible, rather than throwing them away. Doing without some comforts and forgoing some conveniences would also be some ways to practice voluntary poverty. Working hard to achieve the day’s necessities, renouncing superfluous things and denying yourself the desire to acquire more things would allow more freedom and resources to help others, especially those closest to you. Doing without so that you could help others in your own family, your children and even friends would be the happy result of voluntary poverty.  You could make contributions financially to the Church, missions and the poor of the world with the money and resources that you deny yourself. This spirit of poverty will also allow you to contribute to other good works, institutions and noble causes.

Not letting material things distract you from God and your relationship with him will come from giving up the less essential things in your life. Not only that, but you will find more freedom from the occupation with things that will allow more time and energy to be given to serving God and to prayer.

Other ways to practice voluntary poverty are to not complain when deprived of something, when something is demanded of you or when confronted with some hardship. Accept your situation serenely and with patience in the spirit of voluntary poverty.

Practice voluntary poverty so that you won’t become a slave to things and develop a divided heart between loving God and loving things. Embracing voluntary poverty will allow you to be more generous with the poor and help you to draw closer to God.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. ~ Mt 6:21

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The three gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As Secular Carmelites we make promises to “to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience” (OCDS Ritual). We can compare these three counsels with the gifts the Magi offered to Jesus on the Feast of the Epiphany.

We can offer the newborn King the gold of our obedience, the frankincense of poverty and the mysterious myrrh of chastity.

Precious gold represents the offering of our most precious treasure – our will.

The frankincense of poverty is our complete trust in God. The burning of this incense carries our prayers heavenward. Our trust rises to His throne as a sweet perfume.

The myrrh of chastity redirects our natural affections into supernatural love, a love that makes us die to all that is purely human. Myrrh had been known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It had been used to treat wounds, bruises and swelling. The myrrh of chastity can be used now to heal the wounds of hearts and help to turn hearts back to God.

The Feast of the Epiphany would be a good time to renew our commitment to the promises we have made to tend toward the evangelical counsels and to ask for the grace to manifest Christ to others in the world with more fidelity than ever before.

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Today, September 14th , is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The cross is more than ever a sign of contradiction.

“The followers of the Antichrist show it far more dishonor than did the Persians who stole it. They desecrate the images of the cross, and they make every effort to tear the cross out of the hearts of Christians. All too often they have succeeded even with those who, like us, once vowed to bear Christ’s cross after him. Therefore, the Savior today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified?

In this particular writing, reflecting on the Elevation of the Cross, St. Teresa Benedicta asks Carmelites to consider what they have promised. Those in the Secular Carmelite Order have promised to “tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Constitutions of the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites”.

St. Teresa Benedicta uses her reflections of Christ on the Cross to expound on the virtues of obedience, poverty and chastity.

“Before you hangs the Savior on the cross, because he became obedient unto death on the cross. He came into the world not to do his own will, but his Father’s will.” To practice the virtue of obedience in imitation of Jesus, we are to have the same attitude. We have come into this world to do the Father’s will. Therefore, we are to renounce our own will. As a matter of fact, we should have no will of our own. We should have no other desire except to fulfill the will of God. This means we must listen! Listen as He speaks to us through our Rule and Constitutions. Listen as He speaks through the mouth of our superiors: of the Order, of the community’s council, of our pastors, of our spouse, and of our families. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks gently in our hearts. All this listening means we have to daily, even hourly, crucify our will and self-love. This “demands your obedience because your human will is blind and weak.”

“The Savior hangs naked and destitute before you on the cross because he has chosen poverty.” To practice the virtue of poverty we must renounce earthly goods and gratefully receive whatever God sends to us. We are to be joyful in doing without. Our Holy Founding Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus, tells us we are to be unconcerned about our body, which makes so many demands with its selfish inclinations. We are not to be concerned about today or tomorrow. He demands poverty because hands must be empty of earth’s goods to receive the goods of heaven.”

“ The Savior hangs before you with a pierced heart. He has spilled his heart’s blood to win your heart.” To come to such holy chastity we are to have a heart free of desires of this earth. Jesus is to be our desire. Let him be the object of our thoughts, longings, wishes and desires. “He demands chastity because only the heart detached from all earthly love is free for the love of God.”

“What you have promised is indeed beyond you own weak, human power, But it is not beyond the power of the Almighty – this power will become yours if you entrust yourself to him.”

“The arms of the Crucified are spread out to draw you to his heart. He wants your life in order to give you his.”

Ave Crux, Spes unica!

(Take and adapted from: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, The Hidden Life p. 94-95, ICS Publications, Vol. IV The Collected Works of Edith Stein)

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