Carmelite spirituality is characterised by an intense thirst for an immediate and direct experience of God. Reduced to its most fundamental expression, Carmelite spirituality is centered on prayer, understood as loving friendship with God, and contemplation as the free gift of God. Hence, Carmelite spirituality is focused on attention to one's relationship with Jesus.
Together with prayer and contemplation, Carmelite spirituality emphasises the doctrine of the Divine Indwelling. Both Sts. Teresa and John of the Cross teach us that God, the Blessed Trinity, dwells within the human person. Hence, one need not go out of self in search for God but enter progressively ever deeper within oneself to be with God who dwells at the very centre of our being. St. Teresa speaks of this journey within as an itinerary through a castle with seven mansions.
The Saint of Avila says that a life of prayer consists in "being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us" (Libro de la Vida 8, 5).
Daily Intentions of Divine Office, Holy Mas and Meditation according to Mother St. Teresa of Avila
|Day||Objective of devotion||Thanksgiving for||Reparation for||Intercession for|
|Sunday||Holy Trinity||Creation||Priests and Religious||Bishops, Priests and Religious||Fidelity to Vocation|
|Monday||Holy Family||Redemption||Christians||Conversion of Sinners||Humility|
|Tuesday||Holy Angels||Baptism and Faith||Heretics||Heretics and Schismatics||Obedience|
|Wednesday||St. Joseph||Religious Vocation||Pagans and Infidels||Evangelization||Poverty|
|Thursday||Blessed Eucharist||Sacrament of Love and Holy Communion||Sins against Blessed Sacrament||Those in agony||Purity|
|Friday||Passion of Christ||Sacrament of Penance||Sins of Blasphemy||Conversion of infidels||Spirit of Prayer|
|Saturday||Blessed Virgin Mary||Maternal Protection of Mary||Obstinate Sinners||Souls in Purgatory||Spirit of Mortification|
What it is and how to make it:
- Hold in the highest esteem this exercise of the monthly retreat, which is a most suitable means for renewing and increasing fervor, would to God that all might put it in practice according to the counsel of St. Teresa, for indeed they would derive marvelous fruits from it.
- Select one day at least every month on which you will be free from other occupations, and withdrawing into solitude, as far as obedience will permit, consecrate it wholly to interior exercises of your soul.
- From the evening before, treat seriously with God in prayers of this matter so important for your soul's salvation, recommended it devoutly to His mercy, and beg earnestly light and grace of know fully and remove all impediments to your spiritual progress.
- On the eve offer for this end one of the greater mortifications for example, a fast , a prolonged vigil , some corporal penance etc
- Place this pious exercise under the special protection of some saint as well as our Blessed Lady, ad observe the other points, which we have already indicated in the last chapter .( About annual retreat)
- Make your sacramental confession with more than ordinary care and devotion; receive Holy Communion with all possible fervor; then recommend anew to our Lord, by earnest prayer, the success of this holy exercise, for the greater glory of His Name, and ask again His light and grace etc.
- After having said the hymn, Veni Sance Spiritus. Emitte (Come Holy Spirit) begin with what is the most important part of this whole exercise, namely a most careful examination of the state of your soul.
- Read over and retrace in your mind every attentively, point after point, what you have entered in your note-book during the last retreat or day of recollection, that is, the lights which God then communicated to you, the particular inspirations, the affections and resolutions; recall attentively also and weight well the graces you have received during the course of this month.
- Examine well what and how much fruit you have since delivered from these lights; that is from the clear knowledge of the truths of faith and these holy affections; how far you have corresponded with these Divine inspirations and the good resolutions you made, If the fruits have been considerable, and you have corresponded as a rule faithfully, refer all the success to God, whose goodness is infinite; attribute nothing to yourself; rejoice in the Lord and humbly return Him a thousand thanks.
- If you have delivered but little or no fruit, and not kept your resolutions; if, moreover, you have not been careful to correct your usual faults, for these also should be the object of your examination; cause yourself severely before God, be confounded and fear exceedingly; for you have every reason to fear, lest, on account of your inconstancy and tepidity, God, by a just judgment, may vomit you out of His mouth. (Rev 3:16).
- Then, with a deeply contrite heart, detest your ingratitude, your negligence and your sins; ask earnestly of the Divine clemency, pardon and help; have recourse to the Mother of Grace and Mercy; invoke the powerful intercession of the Holy Protector whom you have chosen for your day of retreat; finally, armed with a Holy anger against yourself, to avenge the offences committed against a God so good and great, perform some corporal penance, or recite penitential psalms, or say the Miserere and De Profundis. In this way the first part of the examination is brought to a close.
- After having again recited the hymn of Holy God, begin the second part of the examination. It consists in seeking out carefully, among the faults you have discovered, those that are the causes and source of the others, until you arrive at the true root of the evil, and find out the principal obstacle or obstacles of your spiritual progress. In order to discover them more easily and certainly; you must seriously consider what was the cause or the occasion that the fervor conceived in your last retreat or day of recollection, or which God communicated to your soul from time to time in Holy communion or at prayer, first began to grow cold and still continues and thus has opened the door to several faults that otherwise would not have been so easily committed. These causes are usually:
- An inordinate love or sensual inclination or desire for something, perhaps insignificant in itself, such as a recreation, an office, a duty, a friend, either secular or religious, and useless conversation with such, a book, a picture, a cell etc...
- Too much care of the body and health.
- The imagination and the fear of a difficulty, and of mortification in general or particular.
- Pusillanimity, uneasiness or moroseness because of an unfortunate event.
- Suspicious and aversions, especially towards superior.
- Superfluous occupations, too much distractions or care about of an office, a business affair or a duty.
- Neglect of the presence of God, of direction of the daily actions, of aspirations, but above all, of mental prayer and examination of conscience.
- Making little of light transgressions and of mortification in small things.
- Pride and vainglory.
- Human respect.
- Liberty of tongue and exterior senses.
- Curiosity, levity, worldly conversations at recreation, where thoughtless Religious often loss in an hour the interior spirit they had acquired by the labour of many days.
- Infidelity in making known temptations and the whole interior of your soul to your Spiritual father, etc...
- After having found out the chief impediment or radical defect, examine attentively all its circumstances - the intensity, frequencies, occasions and ways in which it usually occur, and the consequences that are its ordinary result. Then excite yourself to sorrow, return humble thanks to God for having enlightened you on your state, ask once more pardon, light and strength to amend. Now the second part of the examination is terminated in its way.
- During the midday recreation make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and to the oratory of the Blessed Virgin, review with our Lord and His immaculate Mother what you have done thus far, and recommend to them what remains to be done. Then prepare yourself for the prayer that follows Vespers.
- Select for mental prayer morning, midday and evening, subjects which you know by experience are best calculated to move you to a salutary fear of God, to excite fresh fervour, and fill you with compunction, in order that you may conceive more efficacious desires of amendment, and make stronger resolutions.
- When you have finished the prayer recite the Rosary with the Litany and the Hymn to the Holy Ghost, then proceed to the third part of the examination. It consists in finding out by what means you are to overcame in future the radical defect which you have discovered to be the principal obstacle to your spiritual advancement; what occasion you ought to avoid, or how you should conduct yourself in them; how you are to guard against dangers; what you should resolve to do or to omit; what further remedies you should employ against inconstancy and sloth which always tend to master to the soul; and how in future you can best strength yourself in your good resolutions. Now it is the time to consider the particular examination, compare your improvement with your deficiencies, the gains and the losses of the present month with the past, of the last week with the preceding ones; find out if the subject should be changed for another, or continued using increased activity and fresh energies to secure victory with their aid of God's grace. But all this must be done subject to the approval of your Spiritual Father as it is for him who hold the place of God in your regard, to confirm or change, and to correct everything by any modifications he may judge proper.
- Finally, having thus completed the examination, renew your vows with great fervour, as if it were the day you first received the Holy Habit of the Order, or made your Holy Profession, and consecrate yourself entirely to God; sacrifice to Him in particular the obstacle which has most impeded your spiritual progress and prevented you from being wholly pleasing in His sight.
- Observe exactly each and every point noted down in the last section of the preceding chapter, and on the following day, at least, have a conference with your Director of Spiritual Father.