By Fr. Alexander Ezechukwu, OCD
A Charism Is a Distinct Spirit of a Religious Order
If you've looked around at various religious orders, you've discovered that each of them has what is called a charism.
For example, Dominicans give to others the fruits of contemplation through their preaching. And the charism of the Franciscans is to simply live the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by a markedly simplicity of lifestyle.
To put it simply, a charism is a distinct spirit of a religious order.
When a charism is approved by the Pope, the charism is said to participate in the official mission of the Church in making Christ present in the world.
The Charism of the Discalced Carmelites
The core of our Carmelite charism is friendship with God. We express it in three important ways: Contemplation, Community and Service.
Let’s talk about contemplation – it’s at the heart of Carmel. Saint John of the Cross, who co-founded the Discalced Carmelites along with Saint Teresa of Avila, described contemplation as the inflowing of God's grace into a human being. Thus, to become contemplative, Carmelites seek to open their hearts to God, practicing what our tradition calls "vacare Deo" (Latin for "space for God" or "openness to God").
Most importantly, contemplation is a gift of God that provides the fertile soil of a life of community and service.
Fr James McCaffrey, OCD who was my Prior when I was a novice expressed the idea of Carmelite charism in a poetic way by describing it, “like the exodus experience of God’s people and their meeting with ‘the Lord’, in the wilderness.”
What Carmelites Do
The charism of contemplation is why our Carmelite community in Oxford, UK gives retreats, offers online courses, provides Mass and prayers for others, publishes books, etc. In these ways, we share with others our friendship with God.
Just for fun, why not check out this video with Fr Matthew Gummess who belongs to our other branch of the Carmelite family, discussing being mistaken for a Jedi knight. Contemplation might not give us Jedi mind powers, but our brown habits seem to make people think so.
Men, Have You Thought About Becoming a Friar?
If you’re a single Catholic man age 18 to 35, have you thought about becoming a religious friar? Maybe God is calling you to a Carmelite vocation in our Anglo-Irish Province in the UK! Contact me, Fr. Alex, Carmelite Encounter Director, at +44 (0)7477 673932, email@example.com
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Why not test your call to the Carmelite Friars of the Anglo-Irish Province?
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