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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Carmelite Final Promises

You may have noticed I've been more absent than usual recently. I'm trying, in addition to holiday cleaning, to prepare spiritually for OCDS Final Promises. For those who don't know, OCDS refers to the Secular branch of the Order of Carmelites, Discalced. A secular, sometimes referred to as "Third Order," is a member of a religious order who is not a nun, friar, monk, sister, or brother. In other words, we are attached to our order by prayer, spirituality, study, work, and charism.

The Discalced branch of the Carmelites was founded by St. Teresa of Avila, with the help of St. John of the Cross, in response to a need for reform in the then lax attitude toward the Rule of Life of Carmelites. In a time of great religious upheaval, Teresa found herself heading a convent where benefits and privileges were granted based on family wealth and favoritism, and where the rules were practically ignored. One of the rules that she reinstituted was the traditional habit, which included sandals, not shoes. Her reform was originally known by many popular names, but the name "discalced," meaning shoeless, was the one that stuck. St. John headed the male reform, at St. Teresa's request.

Today, the original Carmelite order (OC) and the Discalced Carmelites (OCD) make up separate orders with separate lines of authority and slightly differing spirituality, but they share a history and charism, as well as maintaining mutual "authority" over the Brown Scapular. The Brown Scapular, the symbol of both Orders, represents a smaller version of the brown habit of Carmelites. Both Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross have been named Doctors of the Church, and recently so was St. Therese of Lisieux, another Carmelite saint.

My name in Carmel is Mary of the Feet of Jesus. Please pray for me as I prepare to make my promises permanent on Saturday.