Called to Our Life? Learn About the Carmelites
— CCA Charter of Life
The Origin of the Carmelites
It was the apostolic love of our foundress, St. Teresa of Avila and her close companion, St. John of the Cross, that led to the reform of Carmelite life, which is lived in Reno Carmel today and in hundreds of monasteries around the world. Drawn by a similar desire to do something more with their lives, to impact our world in its deepest center for good, and believing that “prayer is the fulcrum that lifts the world,” women continue to respond to Teresa’s spirit giving themselves wholeheartedly to a life lived in “allegiance to Jesus Christ” in prayer.
Our Way of Following Christ
There are many ways of living out the following of Jesus. Consecrated, religious life in community is one of them. Our Carmelite, contemplative tradition is a commitment to a life of prayer, both solitary and communal, lived out through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It is a life in which we embrace the Gospel call to daily conversion. We believe that our personal commitment to inner transformation not only affects our own lives and that of our community, but touches the whole world with the grace of the Spirit. In this sense prayer is Carmel’s ministry. As St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) said, our vocation is “to stand before God for all.”
A Life of Prayer & Work
Carmel’s life of prayer and our response to God’s call are lived out in the everyday circumstances of our daily community life. Our Rule exhorts us to give ourselves “to work of some kind.” Over the years, the Carmel of Reno has distinguished itself by the work of designing, printing and distributing cards around the United States and beyond. In addition to this, our daily activities involve cooking, cleaning, liturgy, bookkeeping, gardening, correspondence, hospitality, care for our own sisters and much more. Each of us gives of her own talents and energies for the building up of the community, indeed for the building up of the Body of Christ throughout the world.
“Our vocation is to stand before God on behalf of everyone, no matter who. And when I look out the windows [of the chapel] sometimes, I just think ‘everyone’. It goes beyond us and beyond the city. We’re here for others. We’re at the service of everyone. It’s sort of a hidden kind of a thing. And if people appreciate it and know about it, that’s fine. But if they don’t, it’s still an energy that goes out, and we are part of the whole world. St. Teresa would say ‘the whole world is in flames’ and we want to do something about it. And our ‘doing something about it’ is our prayer life and our trying to think of others, being ourselves, and trying to put that energy of prayer out there, where it is needed. It’s bigger than we are. And it’s hard to put into words.”
Over the past decades we have embraced the call of the Second Vatican Council and continue to strive toward embodying its Spirit of shared responsibility in our community. In our weekly community meetings we listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking through each sister and, through this means, plan and implement decisions for our life as well as chart a vision for the future. Opportunities for faith-sharing on Scripture and our Carmelite life bind us together in love and in a common Spirit. We cooperate in the care of our earth through ecologically sensitive decision-making. Through means of on-going community dialogue we gently call each other to the living out of the Gospel values of compassion, hospitality, joy and solidarity with all.
At this time, we have paused formal vocational inquiries as we discern new ways of expressing the Carmelite contemplative charism in our time. We encourage you to journey with us by joining us at the monastery for prayer, signing up for our email News and Events on the home page and/or subscribing to our Carmel of Reno YouTube channel. Stay tuned for updates!