By Sebastian Harries
For our community evening during the second week of Advent we were joined by members of the Carmelite General Council. Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm, the Prior General, gave us an inspiring talk on Carmelite spirituality and how it can help us in everyday life today.
He said that prayer is the basic work of preparing our heart, which is both practical and important in a world which focuses on predominantly the mind and body, and matters of the heart and spirituality are often neglected. Carmelite life can be summarised in the following four charisms:
1. The essentials and basics: this is about allowing God to be at the centre of everything we do and inhabit St Teresa of Avila’s prayer that ‘God alone will suffice’. This is not something sanctimonious that separated us from the world, but a way that allows everything in our life to be re-imagined through the light of God.
2. Contemplation and mysticism: this is about being able to see the God by looking around in our immediate environment rather than constantly “gazing up at the heavens”.
3. Beauty: God often speaks through beauty that can be found in nature, music, and art. Thus finding beauty in our lives can help bring us some perspective, particularly when our horizons are narrowed by the world around us so that we are only aware of the immediate and the superficial.
4. Mary: Our Lady or Mount Carmel has been a popular devotion over the years, and while good academic study of theology is important, we can learn much from the simplicity and deep faith that can be found in many popular devotions.
Following the Homily, Fr. Fernando presented Donna Orsuto, Director of The Lay Centre, with a scroll that is a sign of spiritual affiliation with the Carmelites. This spiritual affiliation, given at the discretion of the Prior General, does not affect in any way the status in life of a person, but acknowledges a spiritual bond between her and the Ancient Order of Carmel. Indeed, Donna has been teaching Carmelite spirituality form many years and is deeply affectionate to Carmelite saints.
Photo: Kyle Burkhart