25th March 2000
Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord
Prot. No. 14/2000
With great pleasure I present to you the new, revised Ratio Institutionis Vitæ Carmelitanæ. Since 1988 the Ratio has been the fundamental document for formation throughout the whole Order. It has been necessary to update the Ratio due to the publication of several papal documents on the consecrated life and the approval of our new Constitutions. I want to thank all those who have been involved in the writing of this new Ratio. The General Council, during session no. 238, held today, 25th March 2000, approved the text and gave instructions for its publication.
The title is "A Journey of Transformation" which describes the underlying thrust of the whole formation process. The person who feels called to Carmel embarks on a journey of faith, like our models, Mary and Elijah. Gradually over the course of a lifetime, the Carmelite is changed, not just on an exterior plane but is transformed on every level of his personality if he consents to the will of God. In this way the Carmelite is conformed to Christ and becomes a new creation in him.
On the spiritual journey, our faith, hope and love are purified through the events of daily life and our response to them. We are called to walk together as brothers and to serve the people in whose midst we live. In order to stay faithful to this vision, we need the strong support of prayer, which is the way we relate to God and through which we learn to take on the mind of Christ.
The formative process lasts a lifetime with many twists and turns. The joys and difficulties of our lives will be formative if we try to discern the hand of God in them all. Through continual prayer, we begin to hear the voice of God in the sound of sheer silence and we are renewed in our mission to live as Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in the midst of the people.
The Ratio is not intended only to be for initial formation but for ongoing formation also. Therefore I strongly encourage each friar to read this Ratio frequently because, along with our Rule and Constitutions, it describes the purpose of our Carmelite life. We are on the spiritual journey together and we must support each other as we are slowly transformed so that we can look upon the world as if with the eyes of God and love it as if with God's heart.
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Mother and Sister, accompany each of us on our journey of faith and teach us to do all that the Lord tells us (cf. Jn. 2, 5).
Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.,