What is the Lay Carmelite Order?
The Lay Carmelite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (historically known as the Third Order) is an association mainly of laypersons. Its members, responding to a special call of God, freely and deliberately commit themselves “to live in the following of Jesus Christ” according to the charism, traditions and spirit of Carmel under the authority of the Prior General of the Carmelite Order.
The members, though not in Religious Life, choose to live out their baptismal commitment according to the spirit of the Carmelite Order. Members are brothers and sisters of the Carmelite Family and sharers in the same call to holiness and in the same mission of the Carmelite Order.
How is Lay Carmelite living meaningful in the Church today?
The Lay Carmelite is called to the Family of Carmel to be deeply involved in the mission of the Church, to contribute to the sanctification or transformation of the secular world. A Lay Carmelite does this by sharing or participating in the charism of the Carmelite Order. We find in Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and in the Prophet Elijah the models for this way of Gospel living.
Profession of promises as a member of the Lay Carmelites is an intensified repetition of one's baptismal promises. Being a Lay Carmelite is not just a devotion added to life; it is a way of life; it is a vocation. By entering the Order the Lay Carmelite takes upon himself or herself the Carmelite charism, which is profoundly marked by personal and liturgical prayer.
The call to Carmel, a call to seek God's will in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life, roots the Lay Carmelite in a love of those with whom they live and work, in the recognition of God's presence in all circumstances, and in solidarity with God's People everywhere.
What is the Carmelites' relationship with Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Elijah?
Mary is Patroness, Sister and Mother to all Carmelites. Lay Carmelites seek to live this relationship, imitating her virtues, listening to the Word of God in and through daily life. Lay Carmelites stand with Mary, cooperating with the mysterious will of God who desires salvation for all people.
Elijah is an example of prophetic action, a life spent in service of God, a service that finds its source in a profound experience of God in prayer. Lay Carmelites see in the prophet of Carmel a model for a life spent testifying in deeds of love to God’s presence in the world.
What are the requirements for admission to formation?
A candidate must be a Catholic in good standing who feels called by God to live more deeply her or his baptismal vocation as a member of the Carmelite Family through a deeper formation in Christian values according to the particular charism of the Carmelite Order. A candidate must be at least 17 years of age when seeking entry to formation as a Lay Carmelite. A person is admitted to formation through an existing Lay Carmelite Community.
What does the Lay Carmelite formation process entail?
Formation is divided into four specific periods.
- Reception. The first is preparation for Reception and lasts a minimum of twelve months but may extend up to two years. This period comprises a series of elementary instructions about Carmel, its charism and traditions. This phase ends with Reception (by which one becomes a Lay Carmelite), if approved by the Community Council.
- Temporary Profession. After Reception follows preparation for Temporary Profession. This two- to three-year formation period entails a course of instruction that will deepen one’s prayer life, one’s sense of community and one's call to ministry. This phase ends with Temporary Profession, if approved by the Community Council.
- Final or Perpetual Profession. The third period is preparation for Final or Perpetual Promises. In this time period of three years one engages in formation with the perpetually professed on a monthly basis. The temporary professed Lay Carmelite deepens his or her living of the Carmelite way during this period as a means of discerning the call to Final or Perpetual Profession.
- Ongoing Formation. If accepted for Perpetual Profession, the Lay Carmelite then begins the final and fourth period of formation, which is life-long for all the members of the local Lay Carmelite Community.
How do I find a Lay Carmelite Community near me?
To locate a Lay Carmelite Community in your area, please contact the office of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.
Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary
Lay Carmelite Office
8501 Bailey Road
Darien, IL 60561-8417
Web site: http://www.carmelnet.org/
Source: Call to Carmel Pamphlet (#757), Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, Aylesford Lay Carmelite Center, 8501 Bailey Road, Darien, IL 60561-8417, Telephone: 630-969-5050