WHAT IS A LAY CARMELITE?
The Lay Carmelite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (historically known as the Third Order of Carmel) is an association mainly of lay persons. Its members, responding to a special call of God, freely and deliberately commit themselves “to live in the following of Jesus Christ” according to the charism, traditions, and spirit of Carmel under the authority of the Prior General of the Carmelite Order. The members, though not in Religious Life, choose to live out their baptismal commitment according to the spirit of the Carmelite Order. Members are brothers and sisters of the Carmelite Family and sharers in the same call to holiness and in the same mission of the Carmelite Order.
SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE LAY CARMELITES
How is Lay Carmelite living meaningful in the Church today?
The Lay Carmelite is called to the Family of Carmel to be deeply involved in the mission of the Church, to contribute to the transformation of the secular world. A Lay Carmelite does this by participating in the charism of the Carmelite Order. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Prophet Elijah are the Carmelite models for this way of Gospel living. Profession of promises as a member of the Lay Carmelites is an intensified repetition of one’s baptismal promises. Being a Lay Carmelite is not just a devotion added to life; it is a way of life; it is a vocation. By entering the Order the Lay Carmelite takes upon himself or herself the Carmelite charism, which is deeply grounded in personal and liturgical prayer. The call to Carmel, a call to seek God’s will in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life, roots the Lay Carmelite in a love of those with whom one lives and works, in the recognition of God’s presence in all circumstances, and in solidarity with God’s People everywhere.
What is this relationship that Carmelites have with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Prophet Elijah?
Mary is Patroness, Sister, and Mother to all Carmelites. Lay Carmelites have to live this relationship, imitating her virtues, listening to the Word of God in and through daily life. Lay Carmelites stand with Mary, cooperating with the mysterious will of God who desires salvation for all people. Elijah is an example of prophetic action, a life spent in service of God, a service that finds its source in a profound experience of God in prayer. Lay Carmelites see in the prophet of Carmel a model for a life spent testifying in deeds of love to God’s presence in the world.
What requirements are necessary for membership in the Lay Carmelites?
A person wishing to become a candidate for admission to the Lay Carmelites must be a Catholic in good standing who is a registered member of a parish, who feels called by God to live more deeply his/her baptismal vocation as a member of the Carmelite Family according to the charism of the Carmelite Order. A candidate must be between 18 and 69 years of age when seeking entry to formation as a Lay Carmelite. A person is admitted to formation through an existing Lay Carmelite Community.