A. Called by God's love
5. Called by the Father
to follow Christ in the Spirit
The Father - who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, calls us to a spiritual experience of deep attraction to and love for Jesus Christ the chaste, poor and obedient One (5) - is the source and the goal of religious life, and therefore of Carmelite life. Through the Holy Spirit, the Father consecrates us, transforms us and conforms us to the image of Christ, guiding us to communion with himself and with our brothers and sisters.
As individuals and as communities, we in turn choose Jesus as the one Lord and Saviour of our lives.(6) We commit ourselves to a journey of gradual and progressive conversion encompassing every aspect of life, allowing ourselves to be conformed to Jesus by the action of the Spirit and to come to union with God.
The commitment to follow Jesus Christ with all one's being and to serve him "faithfully with a pure heart and total dedication"(7) is a commitment to live in him, allowing him to guide our thoughts, our feelings, our words, our deeds, our fraternal relations and the use we make of things, so that everything may come from his Word and be done in his Word.(8)
Carmelites feel drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ and invited to a deep, constant, personal and living relationship with him, to the point of taking on his spiritual features and personality.(9)
As they encounter Christ in prayer, in the Word and in the Eucharist, as well as in their brothers and sisters and in the events of daily life, Carmelites are transformed and motivated to witness to Christ and to proclaim him throughout the world.
Thus "the following of Christ is still and will always be for us the fundamental law, marking out the path we have to follow on the way to an ever deeper experience of the love of God."(10) The commitment to live a deep relationship with Christ and to conform to him is therefore the very core of our formation.
7. Called within the
The Father calls us to holiness and to discipleship by calling us into the Church, which is his people, the bride and body of Christ, filled with the Spirit. "All the faithful, by virtue of their new birth in Christ, share in a common dignity. All are called to holiness. All cooperate in the building up of the one Body of Christ, according to their particular vocations and to the gifts they have received from the Spirit (cf. Rm 12:3-8)" .(11)
The Church recognises that the life of special consecration by means of the evangelical counsels "indisputably belongs to the life of holiness of the Church."(12) Thus the consecrated life, "which mirrors Christ's own way of life, is an especially rich manifestation of Gospel values and a more complete expression of the Church's purpose, which is the sanctification of humanity."(13) Moreover, religious life lived in community is "an eloquent sign"(14) of the Church, which is "essentially a mystery of communion"(15) and an "icon of the Trinity."(16)
Our vocation as Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is a form of religious life which belongs to the Church. It flows from the Church and participates in her mystery.
8. Following Christ as
a community for mission
The vocation to the Carmelite life is God's free and gratuitous initiative,(17) which demands and generates a personal response: the fundamental choice of a life that is concretely and radically dedicated to following Christ.
We are called to share this life in community, "the eloquent sign of ecclesial communion".(18)
We are called to give concrete expression to the mission of evangelisation and salvation,(19) in union with the Lord and with his Church, so that all may receive the gospel message and become part of God's family.
9. Profession of the
The evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity, publicly professed, are a concrete and radical way of following Christ. They are "above all a gift of the Holy Trinity,"(20) whose eternal and infinite love touches "the very root of our being."(21)
When they are embraced with the generous commitment which flows from love, the evangelical counsels contribute to purification of the heart and to spiritual freedom. By means of the evangelical counsels, the Holy Spirit gradually transforms us and conforms us to Christ.(22) We become "a living memorial of Jesus' way of living and acting."(23)
Far from becoming estranged from the world by the profession of the evangelical counsels, we become a leaven for the transformation of the world (24), and we bear witness to "the marvels wrought by God in ... the frail humanity of those who are called."(25)
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5 Cf. VC, 1; 17-19.
6 Cf. Rule, 2,19, 23; Constitutions, 2; 3; 14.
7 Rule, 2
8 Rule, 15; see also Constitutions, 20.
9 The many references in Carmelite tradition include the following: St. Teresa of Jesus, Life, 9, 4; 22, 4, 7; St. John of the Cross, Ascent, 1.13, 3; 2.7, 8-12; Canticle B 1, 2-6, 10, Living flame 2, 16-20; St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, Probatione, 780; Ammaestramenti, XXXVI; John of St. Samson, L'Aiguillon, 3, 854-886 (f.362r); Michael of St. Augustine, Introductio ad vitam internam, tractatus tertius, sive Brevis Instructio ad vitam mysticam, 27.
10 Carmel: a place and a journey, 2.2.
11 VC, 31; LG, 32.
12 LG, 44; cf. VC, 29.
13 VC, 32.
14 VC, 42.
15 VC, 41.
16 Fraternal life, 9.
17 Cf.. VC, 17.
18 Cf. VC, 42, and the whole of Chapter II; Signum fraternitatis; see also Fraternal life, 10; 54-57.
19 Cf. VC, 72, and the whole of Chapter II, Servitium Caritatis; see also Fraternal life, 58.
20 VC, 20.
21 VC, 18.
22 LG, 46.
24 Cf. LG, 46.
25 VC, 20.