Our Daily Life
Our Daily Life
The Teresian Carmelite way of life is one in which a deeply solitary communion with God is closely united to a sisterly life together in community. Called to contemplation in prayer and in life, our commitment to continuous prayer is sustained by faith, hope and love, in which all our energies are directed towards the service of others.
St. Teresa wanted her communities to remain small in number, where relations could be open and sincere, and joys and sorrows shared. 'All must be friends, all must love one another, all must be cherished, and all must help one another.
If our whole life is a striving for intimate communion with God, there are certain times when this quest is intensified. The two hours of quiet, personal prayer, one in the morning and another in the evening, offer an undisturbed space where we open our minds and hearts to God. It is a time when we remain in loving attentiveness to God's presence. In the words of Teresa, 'prayer is an intimate sharing between friends, a frequent lingering in solitude, with the One Who we know loves us.'
Liturgy Of The Hours
Through the Liturgy of the Hours the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God. Being the Prayer of the Church, we are aware of praying with and for the entire Church throughout the world. We pray, too, on behalf of those who are unable to pray due to other commitments in their lives, and for all people in the world. Although removed from many of the happenings and pressures of modern life, we make a determined effort to inform ourselves of significant social issues affecting the lives of people today, so that we may hold in our hearts their pain, anguish, cares and concerns. We constantly receive requests for prayers, usually by phone or mail, and we are aware that people find comfort in knowing that someone cares and prays for them.
At the heart of community life is the abiding eucharistic presence of Christ. A sign of unity and a bond of charity, the celebration of the Eucharist is the high point of our life as a religious community, where we find the strength necessary for the radical following of Christ, obedient, poor and chaste.
'The Eucharist makes us discover that Christ, risen from the dead, is our contemporary in the mystery of the Church, his body. Of this mystery of love we have become witnesses.' (Benedict XI).
It is this same love that we try to carry throughout our lives, so that everyone will know we are Christ's disciples by the way we love one another.
We devote about one hour a day to spiritual reading, giving priority to scripture, theology and Carmelite spirituality. Good reading is important for nourishing the life of prayer.
Half an hour of free time for solitude in the middle of the day and another in the evening, ensures a regular refocusing on the essentials of our vocation.
As an ambience for fostering the spirit of continual prayer, silence is an integral part of our life. During the day we avoid unnecessary communication, respecting each sister's need for interior recollection.
In the evening - after Night Prayer - the Monastic silence begins. This period of complete silence extending throughout the night until after Morning Prayer is valued as a time for deeper communion with God. Silence blossoms in loving relationship, above all with our triune God, and, flowing from that, with our sisters.
Work, preferably simple and manual, done alone and in silence, fosters the interior awareness of God. We place our gifts and talents at the service of the community, earning our living by baking Altar Breads and making candles, particularly those for liturgical use.
Domestic tasks, gardening, handcrafts, photography and printing of cards keep us otherwise fully occupied. Whatever its form, work brings us close to God who is ever creative. It unites us with Jesus, who worked with His own hands, and is in itself a form of asceticism requiring self discipline and generosity. Moreover, hard work connects us in solidarity with the poor.
The Common Table and Recreation
The common table is the symbol of family unity. Meals are eaten together in silence and gratitude to our Father in Heaven who provides for us, and blesses the work of our hands. During meals we listen to scripture or some other suitable reading. Feasts and special occasions are celebrated with joyful conversation, quiet music and decoration of the refectory - our monastic dining room.
Two periods a day are set aside for community recreation. Some days there is cleaning to be done, while other days are free for games, music rehearsal or just sitting together talking. As recreation is a community building exercise, we are careful always to be in groups rather than alone at this time.
At the evening recreation we all come together to converse on topics of mutual interest and share news, stories, or intentions which have been confided to our prayers. Twice a week we watch a suitable video for the first half hour, and on special occasions a play, music or dance will be organized.