Life in Carmel
A rhythm of prayer and work, in solitude and community characterizes our Carmelite life. We begin our day with the Angelus and Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours at 6 a.m. Throughout the day we pray together this official prayer of the church, also called the Divine Office, which is composed of psalms, readings and intercessions. An hour of silent, personal prayer follows next, for as Carmelites we are called to imitate Christ "contemplating on the mountain." Another part of the Office precedes our celebration of the Eucharist at 8 a.m.
After a light breakfast each sister begins her daily work, usually in solitude, doing all in the presence of God and for his love. We cook, wash, iron, clean, garden, sew, make rosaries, write enrollment and prayer cards, do the bookkeeping, and attend to the sacristy. On summer days we often tackle garden projects together. Maintenance jobs are never lacking and community correspondence is faithfully answered. Each sister is assigned tasks in keeping with her abilities (although an unexpectant challenge can draw out unsuspected talent!)
Before noon we gather again for part of the Office. We have our main meal at midday and we ordinarily eat in silence while listening to readings or tapes of spiritual books or conferences. According to our rule, we observe the traditional monastic fast from Sept. 14 until Easter, and we perpetually abstain from meat. Our meals are simple, but well-prepared and nourishing.
We continue our work in the afternoon, stopping for another part of the Office and a time of spiritual reading. Each sister reads alone in her cell from Scripture, our Carmelite saints, and other sources which help each one foster and deepen her life in prayer. At 4:40 p.m. we meet in choir once again for evening prayer and the Liturgy of the Hours, which is followed by another hour of silent prayer.
A light supper is taken at 6 p.m. and after clean-up, we come together for an hour of recreation: a time of informal conversation noted for its laughter and the Christian joy that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We also customarily do some hand work, such as sewing, while we converse. On Sundays and Solemnities our recreation has a more festive tone, in the spirit of our holy Mother Saint Teresa.
Compline, the beautiful Night Prayer of the Office, brings our liturgical day to a close, and a time of "Great Silence" begins. At 9 p.m. we pray the Office of Readings, anticipating the coming day in ancient monastic tradition. For our night and our day, our every act and whole being is consecrated to God by the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty, so that all becomes a praise of the glory of God and service of his church.