Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Teresa of Jesus
Many have heard of this Third Order but know little about it. The Way of Perfection for the Laity by Fr Kevin ODC is an excellent book which expounds the Rule of the Third Order. It tells us that that the ideal is 'the union of the soul and God, a union more intimate than that of window and the ray, of the coal and the fire. Wondrous means: surrender of the soul to the action of God by prayer, by 'holy meditations and contemplations,' in a word, Love and its pursuit, those are the spiritual arms of the Order of Carmel.
Its motto is that of St Paul, 'Ambulate in dilectione' (walk in love). The child of Carmel 'knows only one means to reach perfection . . . Love'; nothing troubles him, nothing affrights him - nothing is wanting to him. God alone is sufficient for him. Following the beautiful programme of Sr Elizabeth of the Trinity, his life must be a continual communion, 'he awakes in Love - the whole day is lived in Love in doing the will of Good God - then, when evening comes after a dialogue of love which has never ceased in his heart, surrendering to the fire of love which consumes all his faults and infidelities, he sleeps again in love' under the gaze of Our Lady, the sweetness and glory of Carmel.'
The rule of the Discalced Carmelite Third Order is a most suitable form of life to attain this end. Of all Tertiary rules it is the nearest approach to the religious life, and although the Tertiaries of other Orders are bound to seek perfection of the Christian life, towards this end there is a definiteness and helpfulness in the Discalced Carmelite Third Order which is lacking in others. For that very reason the obligations are greater. The whole goal of the Carmelite rule is to cause people to lead interior lives, in order to foster the interior spirit, much time is given to prayer. The end, of course, is for our life to become a constant prayer. This requires retirement, of course, the Carmelite nuns are strictly contemplative and enclosed - the Tertiaries are not. Nevertheless, the tertiaries also are to be isolated from the world as far as possible. In all conversation etc., the objective must be the sanctification of the other person. Unfortunately, the value of this type of life hidden from the world is rarely understood and even more rarely appreciated. Certainly, a Carmelite Tertiary must be careful not to neglect their duties of state - in fact; tertiaries must make every effort to be a model in performing their duties. The call of perfection is for all. Therefore, Our Lord's demand for us not to be "of the world" applies to each and every one of us.
A summary of the obligations - The tertiary when received into the Discalced Carmelite Third Order will receive a brown scapular composed of two equal parts of 10 inches in length and 7 inches in width. It is to be worn at all times. The new novice will also be given a religious name at this time.A period of at least one year and one day must elapse, before the novitiate ends and the Profession ceremony takes place. The novice will at this time make a vow of Chastity and Obedience. Before Profession, the novice will make a retreat or other pious practices according to the advice of the Spiritual Director of the Third Order. It is essential that a prayerful study of the Third Order Rule is undertaken by each novice, so that they can learn the spirit, the distinctive character of the Third Order, and so become deeply convinced of the sublimity of their vocation and infused with an abiding Marian love.'
· The tertiary who is able to read will unless prevented by some reasonable cause, recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
· Each day, they will spend a half an hour in meditation. Either a quarter of an hour in the morning and a quarter of an hour in the evening, or all at one time.
· Each Wednesday, the tertiary will abstain from meat, as also the Saturdays of Advent.
· Every day, if possible, the tertiary will hear Holy Mass. He or she will receive Holy Communion regularly, at least once a week.
· Also, on the First Friday, and the principal feasts of Our Lord and Our Lady, as well as the feast of the founders and patrons of our Order.
· On the anniversary of their Profession in the Third Order of Mount Carmel.
· The Renewal of vows - the 6th of January (the Epiphany) and 14th September (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
· When they learn that any member of the Third Order is dangerously ill or has died.
· Once a month they will, if possible, set apart a day of recollection, and once a year, they will make the Spiritual Exercises.
· All tertiaries should never fail to make the daily examination of conscience with due care and contrition for their sins.
· Tertiaries should be exact in the observance of the Fast and abstinence prescribed by the Church, and never seek to be dispensed without grave and sufficient cause. Besides the Fast days prescribed by the Church, they shall fast using the foods and condiments permitted by the Church on ordinary fast days in their respective countries on the vigils of the following feasts:- Corpus Christi; Our Holy Father, St. John of the Cross; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel; Immaculate Conception and Our Holy Mother, St. Teresa·
They will abstain from meat, besides the days prescribed by the Church on the vigils of the following feasts: The Purification; Our Holy Father, St. Elias; The Annunciation; The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; The Visitation; The feast of All Saints of the Carmelite Order (14th November 2nd Class feast - those saints who have not as yet been canonized)
On the 15th November, the feast of All Souls of the Carmelite Order, the tertiaries will receive Holy Communion and recite the Office for the departed members.
Fr. R. Brucciani (District Superior)
St. George's House
125 Arthur Road
London SW19 7DR