Formation for members of the Teresian Carmel is an ongoing process.  We are all called to grow in wisdom and grace as we grow in age.  Some souls are called to a specific Rule/Order and community where they experience the support and love of one another as they seek to conform their minds and wills to Jesus.  This site contains material for the OCDS formation of members of the Community of Mary, Catholic laity who wish to live the charism of Carmel as taught by Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.  Login  if you are a member and wish to post/comment.  Return to Carmelife site.

The intention of St. Teresa of Jesus, in reforming Carmel, was that their lives should be entirely directed toward prayer and contemplation of the things of God and that all would observe the evangelical counsels, as set forth in the ‘Primitive’ Rule, in a small sisterly community that would be founded on solitude, prayer and strict poverty. She wished the life of her nuns to integrate, on the one hand, solitude and silence, with a sisterly communion of life, on the other. It was to be centered on love for Christ and ruled by sisterly charity and generous evangelical self-denial, all in the service of the Church.

OCDS life is built on the principles and ideals Teresa articulated for her sisters while acknowledging the obligations and responsibilities of the person living in the world.  It is a lifelong challenge to perfect the balance and integration of these two.  The ideal we strive for is found in Jesus, the human Incarnation of the Divine.

There are four phases of initial formation.  The first class are Visitors, guests who attend the prayer session of meetings after which they have the opportunity to get to know the members and ask questions.  Six months before Ceremonial Day they begin orientation which consists of  consecutive meetings with classes where they receive basic general information about an OCDS vocation before being admitted to the Aspirancy which lasts for one year.  At the end of the Aspirancy spent studying the Charism, Rule, Constitutions, Statutes and obligations of Carmel, if both the person and the Council have discerned that s/he could have a vocation to Carmel and the relationship between the person and the Community would be mutually and spiritually beneficial, s/he is invited to request the Scapular and the Council may admit him/her as a Candidate during a clothing (Scapular) ceremony.   After two more years and further mutual discernment the person could be invited to profess the Temporary Promise for three years.  At the end of those three years the person may make a Final (Definitive or Perpetual) Profession for life.  Ongoing formation continues at the monthly meetings for all who are professed for life.

Formation does involve an element of study but it should not be approached as an academic endeavor.  The goal is always union with God and the growth and purification necessary to make that possible.   We study the writings of our three Doctors of the Church, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Therese of Lisieux,  and the lives and writings of many other Carmelite Saints/saints for wisdom and inspiration.  While we use the words study and classes, formation is about growing spiritually as a Carmelite, particularly in the area of prayer. Questions for discussion or reflection are selected to advance this primary goal.  While Bible Study is not a formal part of our meetings we do practice Lectio Divina (prayer with Scripture) as a community and pray the Divine Office daily.  Members are encouraged to attend Bible study, when available, in the parishes or schools and to use Scripture for spiritual reading and inspiration.

This website is intended to provide material and study guides for the formation classes of the Community of Mary.

For more information, visit www.carmelife.org .

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