Listen to the Bells.
Carmel is all Mary's; she is our Mother, our Patroness, and our inspiration for a life of prayer "hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Our life as contemplatives is closely patterned on Mary's since she is the best example of total dedication to Jesus and His mission of salvation.
Often we are asked, "What brought you to Carmel," or we ask an inquiring person, "What made you consider the life of Carmel." Though the answers are varied, there is one sentiment that is constant. It's expressed something like this: I want to give myself wholly to God, and Carmel is a place that makes this truly possible. St. Teresa often refers to life in Carmel as a total gift to God.
Another frequent answer is: Life in Carmel is a life of prayer. It is a life in which we grow in union with Jesus Christ so that more and more we may pray truly in His Name. In the silence and solitude of this life, it is possible to listen closely to He and so become more sensitive to the needs of the world. We place these needs in the Hands of the Father and pray that His Kingdom of justice, peace, and forgiveness might come.
The sacred liturgy is another facet of our life of prayer. The Eucharistic The celebration is the center of our day and the most important part since we actually receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Here we are most closely united With him and with each other. The Liturgy of the Hours sometimes called the Divine Office is preparation and thanksgiving for Eucharist.
The Apostle would have us keep silence, for, in silence, he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us, silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says, your strength will lie in silence and hope.
- Rule of St. Albert, Our Holy Rule
Though prayer is our main work, like any family, we need to "earn our living by the sweat of our brow." There are daily tasks – cooking, cleaning, paying bills, shopping, etc. Our income is from our Altar Bread distribution. Since 1950 we have gladly served our diocese in this way along with a few churches of other Christian denominations (even a few out-of-state communities) on a regular basis. Our suppliers are the Benedictines nuns in Clyde, Missouri, and OCO International in Vermont. We are grateful to be able to offer this special service to our diocese and all the churches we provide for.
Four times a year, we print a one-page bulletin about events in our Carmel. With the Bulletin, we enclose the Novena prayer to St. Joseph (March), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July), St. Teresa and Therese (October) and to the Child Jesus at Christmas. We ask our friends and families to join us in prayer. Though no donation is ever asked for or necessary to request prayer, many wish to send an offering with their prayer intentions. We are very grateful for the help and support of our friends and benefactors that make it possible for us to continue our life of prayer for the Church and the world.
Recreation & Dialogue
St. Teresa wanted her Carmels to be small so that a family-like atmosphere might always be present in them. As we are learning today, for a family to remain united, along with prayer, sincere communication is essential. In order to help foster an easy dialogue with each other, we have two periods of recreation each day. At these times, we come together to exchange views, news, and share our life. There are also other times of personal sharing on a daily and weekly basis, in community meetings and among individuals.
All in Carmel revolves around prayer. Since we are a purely contemplative In the order, we have no active apostolate such as teaching or missionary work. However, Carmel's prayer has always been apostolic, and in her reformed Carmel's St. Teresa placed even greater emphasis on Carmel as a service of love in the heart of the Church. Through prayer and self-sacrifice, the Carmelite nun offers herself for the Church and the world since "He desires that all be saved and come to know the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
Have you ever seen a procession of all the Religious Orders in the Church? Did you recognize that the Carmelites were first? Why is this? Carmel takes its inspiration from the ancient Prophet Elijah and Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Patroness of the Order.
The Original Carmelites
The original Carmelites were hermits who settled on Mount Carmel in the Holy The land where St. Elijah the Prophet had lived in Old Testament times. In 1204, they received a rule that expressed clearly their charism "to meditate day and night on the law of the Lord and to watch in prayer." Today the Discalced Carmelite Nuns live as hermits in the community, following the inspiration of St. Teresa of Jesus, reformer of the order in the 16th century.
In response to the plight of the Church and the world of her time, St. Teresa sought to live the evangelical councils to the best of her ability. For this reason, she founded monasteries, where the nuns would be able to follow the "primitive rule" of the order. She desired that these monasteries be houses of prayer where Jesus would find true friends. She writes in the Way of Perfection, ". . . all I care for is that as the enemies of God are so many and His friends so few, these latter might at least be good ones" (cf. Way 1:2). Today, there are sixty-six Discalced Carmelite Monasteries in the US.
Carmel of Little Rock
The Carmelite nuns in Little Rock were founded in 1950 from the Carmel of Loretto, PA in response to an invitation from the bishop of Little Rock, Albert Fletcher. The first Mass for the new community was celebrated on August 22, 1950 and one month later, the Carmel was canonically erected.
During the early years the young community had it's full share of trials living in a temporary house not suited for a monastic way of life. They also had the disadvantage of being located next door to the School Board offices that were actually bombed in 1959 during that volatile period of the equal rights movement. Providently, this led to the relocation of the community. In the late summer of 1959, the community moved into their new monastery built on property donated by the diocese, 22 acres of wooded land.
The most outstanding feature of the monastery is its rather large chapel with its steep roof situated against a backdrop of pine and oak trees. The first Mass was offered there on September 19, 1961. Bishop Fletcher and his successors, Bishop Emeritus Andrew McDonald and Bishop Peter Sartin have all been true pastors to the community, giving guidance and helping in many other ways.
Most recently, Bishop Sartin blessed the entire building and the grounds upon the completion of the renovation.
We are a community of 14 at present, including one sister information for the extern vocation. We give thanks and praise to God for his gracious providence to our community for so many years. We are blessed to be a house of prayer in this mission diocese of Little Rock, where we strive to be "daughters of the Church" as Our Holy Mother St. Teresa desires us to be. Our privilege is to intercede through our daily life of prayer and sacrifice, love, sorrow, and joy on behalf of the many who request our prayers for our Holy Church and the whole world.