Carmel: Interpreting a Great Tradition by Ruth Burrows OCD

By Ruth Burrows OCD

One of many extraordinary Carmelite authors of this day has now written at the imaginative and prescient and aspirations of the nice foundress of her order,St Teresa of Avila. the most important to that imaginative and prescient was once ardour - now not a few kingdom of heightened non secular emotion, yet an all-engrossing preoccupation with God. yet, as Ruth Burrows issues out, what all too usually occurs in perform is that the day by day way of life turns into tailored to non-passion: she argues, passionately, that trustworthy observance - the horarium, the 'detachment from created issues' obedience, the connection among sisters - offers a virtually excellent state of affairs for receiving a truly nice love of God, and that the constitution must never be tailored to a lesser love. This, might be her most crucial ebook thus far, is written essentially for fellow contributors of her personal Order.But this relatively, and the aspect and readability with which she expresses it, makes Carmel a e-book of profound curiosity to all contemplatives, to clergymen and non secular with extra energetic apostolates, and to laypeople - in a notice, to all Christians who see the 'passionately pursued' comtemplative lifestyles not just as a center vocation within the Church, yet as a resource of suggestion for his or her personal non secular lives.

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Her option preceded the Council of Trent's imposition of enclosure on all women religious. She did not, as some would claim, seek refuge in enclosure from the zealous scrutiny of the Inquisition. Someone feeling the need to keep her head down is hardly likely to have used her pen so freely. In a period of more than ordinary misogyny and repression of anything remotely bordering on 'illuminism', Teresa had indeed to be wary. Illuminism is the name given to a particular movement in sixteenthcentury Spain which claimed that personal, spiritual 24 THE RETURN TO SOURCE experience had an authority that superseded that of the teaching Church.

This will be discussed when we consider the eremitical aspects within the enclosure itself. 1 The evangelical counsels In common with all forms of religious life, Carmel is grounded on the three evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity. To claim this is to claim that Carmel is grounded on Jesus, for to pledge oneself to live by these counsels is a particular — and we may say, radical — way of following him, of being his disciple. Rightly does St Teresa equate it with forsaking all things for his sake.

Living in community affords us unparalleled opportunities. Teresa and John share a deep appreciation of the purifying, sanctifying effects of community life if lived as 53 CARMEL it should be lived. Both excel in showing us how to exploit its potential to the full whilst avoiding its pitfalls: Teresa principally in The Way of Perfection and John in his Precautions and Counsels to a Religious. To expose ourselves generously to the demands of community life, to refuse to shirk them in any way is to expose ourselves to God, allowing him to purify us through others, shatter our illusions with humbling self-knowledge, divest us of everything selfish and enable us to love others with a pure, mature, disinterested love.

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