The British Province of Carmelite Friars

[This work is translated by Miceal O'Neill, O.Carm. and is reproduced here with permission]


+ Keeping Vigil in Prayer +

Carlos Mesters, O.Carm.


In the Rule of St Albert we can glean how the first Carmelites, in fidelity to a long tradition, tried to nourish their lives with the Word of God.

Today, we Carmelites - brothers and sisters - face a challenge. While life makes us sense the need for a prayerful reading of the Bible, and the people look to us for direction, we still have difficulty in giving a response because we ourselves were never given a preparation for reading the Bible as prayer.

There are many difficulties: pastoral pressures lead us to read the Bible more for others than for ourselves; we have too little time to stop and allow the Word to penetrate into our lives; often, our way of reading smacks more of study and discussion than of meditation and prayer. Also, there is a certain rationalism in us and the remains of forms of fundamentalism, which disturb us with questions like; did it really happen like that? And, how could God allow that to happen? All of this makes peaceful attention to the Word of God more difficult.

To come back to a prayerful reading of the Bible is an urgent task if we are to be faithful to what God asks of us today. It is something like curing the veins where the blood which keeps us alive has to flow.

To this end I offer five helps:

 I  A brief account of what the Rule of St Albert says, directly and indirectly, about lectio divina or the prayerful reading of the Bible.
 II  Ten Words of advice about the mystical life which must guide our prayerful reading of the Bible, i.e. the light which needs to be in our eyes when we do our lectio divina.
 III  Ten points of orientation for personal and daily reading of the Bible (each person will gradually develop his/her own way of communicating with the Word of God).
 IV  Seven suggestions for reading the Word of God in groups. In these there is a reflection of the tradition of the four steps of the lectio divina.
 V  A set of Biblical texts:
The prophet Elijah

Mary, the mother of Jesus.

 Carmelite Vocations

Aylesford Priory

Shrine of Saint Jude

 Lay Carmel