A brother's story - How Carmel helps my search for God
As a Carmelite I have learned to love the Bible and to appreciate it as the Word of God. The lives of the very first Carmelites on Mount Carmel were shaped by their listening to God's Word. Throughout the 800 years of the Order's existence the Bible has been the staple food of all Carmelites. In the pages of Scripture Carmelites have sensed a call to enter into a deep relationship of friendship with God. The Order's many saints are good guides to the way that God speaks to the human heart.
God is never completely predictable. That is why we can talk about searching for God even though God is in fact very close to us. We have got to tune into God's wavelength and the Carmelite way has always helped me to do that. It speaks about prayer as a deepening relationship with God and this relationship develops through all the ups and downs of life. The Carmelite saints encourage me to go on searching even when times are a little bit difficult because God is never far away.
The different religious orders represent different approaches to the mystery of God and different ways of responding to what God is asking of us. I find in Carmel - its history, its spirituality, its sense of family, and its saints - wonderful ways to keep me searching for God who calls me both "beloved child" and "beloved friend".
"Religious community is a human reality and therefore is flawed but it is the ambient in which we have been called to respond to God's gratuitous love for us. It is the privileged place where we can grow as human beings, as Christians and as religious.
Let us accept one another with all our faults, strive to love one another as Christ has loved us and value one another as brothers and co-heirs of God's Kingdom. Of course we will fail from time to time to live up to our high ideals but that is no reason to let go of these ideals and settle for an unhappy mediocrity.
Christ has promised to be with us and we can depend on that promise. If we allow him, he will love our brothers through us. If our experience of community has not been good, why not try to follow the principle of our brother, St. John of the Cross who said, "Where there is no love, put love and you will find love."
If there is love within a community, all obstacles can be overcome. Life will not be perfect but we will know that we are accepted for who we are which will give us the confidence to go out to others and share that love with them.
Our community lives will bear witness to the truth of the Gospel that Christ has broken down the barriers which separated people from one another and that his love can heal."
Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.