Relationship with family
The separation from the family is often difficult and painful for them. We try as much as possible to soften the shock by paying particular attention to each member of the family, particularly the parents. The family of a sister becomes the family of all and we bear together through affection and prayer the family joys and sorrows of each one. Families can communicate with their sister by mail, email or telephone, visit the Carmel according to the rules of the monastery. The Carmelites do not go out except when the parents can no longer travel due to illness or old age and the burial of these, and sometimes in exceptional circumstances which justify it, to the discernment of the sister and the prioress.
Can we go out?
By entering Carmel, we choose to dwell in this interior space which favors our growth in intimacy with God. We only leave for essential reasons (training sessions for Carmelites, doctors, health, voting in civil elections, etc.). We try as much as possible to have what we need delivered and a sister is in charge of the remaining groceries. Outings are always made with the authorization of the prioress.
As a preliminary to this question, it is necessary to redefine freedom from a Christian point of view. Freedom does not consist in choosing between two things: marriage or religious vocation, living in the city or in the countryside, going to the cinema or going for a walk. This freedom is the one that the world and the consumer society hold out to us.
In the Christian life, freedom is a response to the love of God and to our desire to follow him. The question then becomes, not a choice but a preference towards what corresponds most to what our desire perceives of the will of God on us. We always have this freedom to say yes or no since God wants us to be free in our response of love.
So yes, entered Carmel to respond to a call from God and sustained by our desire to love him, we remain free in our daily response. The constraints that we can experience on a daily basis have been chosen. They can be rough at times but are there to help us grow in love. For example, we choose to live in enclosure to grow in intimacy with God, it is not a ban on going out, but a free choice of our lifestyle.
Obedience is lived in an open dialogue with the prioress who has the last word, respecting the vocation of each one and the community walk. The outside view and the vigilance of the ecclesial superior (most often the bishop) makes it possible to verify the quality of the freedom left to each person.
Distractions in prayer
"Praying is not thinking a lot, but loving a lot", Saint Teresa of Avila tells us. During our times of silent prayer, if the heart is turned towards God, the thoughts, they wander and are sometimes very heady. Teresa of Avila encourages us to see them only as flies and not to worry about them. Not always easy! In this case, it is good to have a book (a Bible or other) close to you to bring our attention back; it is also possible to repeat the prayer of the Our Father or other, or a sentence that we repeat to ourselves like a mantra. Another point to check: before beginning prayer, it is good to empty the mind of our habitual worries, of the activity that preceded it and to begin prayer by becoming aware of our body, of this God before whom we stand. Abandoning a distraction that seduces us to return to Christ is an act of love that we offer to him. Whatever the distractions, they don't touch the much deeper presence of God. These distractions that make us see our poverty make us grow on the path that leads to God, as little Thérèse said: "the poorer one is [...], the more fit one is for the operations of consuming and transforming love" to condition, however, of “consenting to remain poor; to love his poverty”.
What are you for?
Apparently nothing…. What is love for if not to make life more beautiful and to enrich the Beloved! However, an act of love is like a little flame that can ignite the whole world; it is enough for us to see the incredible radiance of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus who lived hidden in a little ignored Carmel. John of the Cross says: The smallest movement of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the works put together. (Spiritual canticle stanza 29)
A monotonous life? Are you bored?
The regularity of our schedule, the simplicity and the repetitiveness of our activities can suggest boredom. In reality, the days are full of unforeseen events. Moreover, our life of intimacy with the Lord makes us experience interior battles, renunciations to be made, forgiveness that has not been given. This gives us leads to dig deeper into our daily lives and fills it in a beautiful way.
Are we arguing?
Living in a closed space, always together, between people of different cultures and generations, without “distraction” to escape common life, without escape, it happens that annoyances or ideas that are too fixed provoke strong reactions that can rarely go as far as an argument. The desire to love remains the strongest; the request for forgiveness comes quickly enough to restart the relationship.
Are you going on vacation ?
We don't go on vacation the way the world does.
Each year, our community takes two weeks of rest, relaxation on site: the schedule is reduced, the work stops. We watch videos, listen to music, take time to enjoy the garden.