Saint Joseph Secular Discalced Carmelites

San Francisco, California


What is Carmelite Spirituality?

"Pray without ceasing." (1 Thes 12:16)

Carmelite spirituality is Gospel spirituality. In the Garden of Gethsemene, the Lord asked His apostles, "Could you not wait with me one hour?" (Mt.26:40). Secular Carmelites prefer in all things to remain in the presence of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, doing His holy will, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and within His Body, the Church.

Our distinctive expression is to "live in allegiance to Jesus Christ," "to be zealous for the Lord", and to "meditate day and night on the Lord" under the protection of His Blessed Mother. The way we live Gospel spirituality is influenced by the writings of St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Terese of Lisieux. Here are some basic teachings. May they inspire your life of prayer.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel

From the beginning, Carmelites considered itself "Our Lady's Order" and placed itself under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of " Our Lady of Mount Carmel". She always points us to Christ, as she did at the wedding at Cana, when she said, "Do what He says". She models the path of true contemplation: With humility and openness to God's will at the Annunciation, she said, "Be it done to me according to Thy will." She bore Christ in her being, as the Ark of the Covenant bore the Law of God. She contemplated Him and all things in her heart. And she walked the passion with Him to the end. The Carmelite devotion to Mary lends a special character to our Order's spirituality. <Read>

The Way of Prayer and Contemplation

What is prayer and how can we pray? This link will take you to some resources to help you begin cultivating a life of prayer and to sustain it. <Read>

Making Progress in Prayer

St. Teresa of Avila, mystic, reformer our Order and Doctor of the Church, wrote prolifically about her experience of mystical growth in her loving relationship with God. She had a particular love for the humanity of Jesus Christ. At this link, you can read her autobiography in which she describes her description of different types of prayer and her experience of increasing intimacy with God.  <Read>

This link discusses:

  • Distinctions between recollection, meditation and contemplation
  • Degrees of prayer and mystical relationship with God: Prayer of Quiet, Prayer of Union, Spiritual Marriage.



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