Formation in this secular order, which includes laypersons and secular priests, resembles formation in religious orders. It may not be as rigorous, but may be more difficult, since the person does not have the helpful structure of a convent, and has to cope with all the demands and distractions of the outside world, while making spiritual progress. Of course, our community is there for mutual support.
We feel we do not need to take on great penances, but rather deal well with the little and sometimes great penances God allows in our daily lives, learning to trust in God's providence with a peaceful heart. A well-formed Secular Carmelite, having been with our OCDS community for many years, should be as holy, prayerful, and detached from selfish clingings as a well-formed cloistered nun or monk. We ourselves are not there yet, but are striving to be. Through our ongoing formation we Carmelites seek a humble life of union with God through prayer and the goodness that flows from that. The process starts with a person becoming an aspirant.
The entire period of formation commonly requires about six years.
Eligibility: To be eligible to enter aspirancy, a person must be: at least 18 years of age; a baptized and confirmed Catholic in good standing for at least 18 months; if married, validly married in the Catholic Church; and not a member of any other group that requires promises or vows. An application form is provided.
Formation classes begin each September. Before beginning formation, in edition to the eligibility requirements to the left, an individual is required to visit with us a minimum of three times in the preceding 12 months before being accepted into formation. This will help familiarize a person with the community and get a sense of what monthly meetings are like, assisting with discernment of a call.
Aspirancy is for those who are beginning to discern a call to a vocation in the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
"The purpose of this stage is that the applicant might become more familiar with the community, the style of life and service to the Church proper to the Secular Order of the Teresian Carmel. This period also gives the community the opportunity to make an adequate discernment." [OCDS Constitutions 35a]
At the end of the Aspirancy, the applicant may be invited by the Council to receive the scapular and enter the formal period of formation in preparation for the Temporary Promise.
Duration: A minimum of 12 months
Formation I is for those who have received the Scapular and are candidates in formation preparing to make the Temporary Promise.
This stage is "to prepare candidates for making the Temporary Promise through an understanding of the Teresian Carmel, a deeper study and experience of prayer in the Teresian tradition, a detailed study of the OCDS Legislation (rule of St. Albert, Constitutions, and Statutes) in order to provide a thorough understanding of the promsie they are aspiring to make." [Program of Formation]
At the end of these two years, the applicant may be invited by the Council to make the temporary promise to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience -- according to one's state in life -- in the spirit of the beatitudes for a period of three years.
Duration: A minimum of 2 years
Formation II is for those candidates who have made the Temporary Promise and are preparing to make the Definitive Promise.
The goal of this stage is "to prepare candidates for making the Definitive Promise through a deeper immersion in the spiritual tradition of the Teresian Carmel as exemplified by the Carmelite Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. The candidate will work to integrate this Carmelite Spirituality into their lives as lay persons." [Program for Formation]
Duration: A minimum of 3 years
The goal of ongoing formation is
to continue to deepen one’s Carmelite vocation.
Durations: Throughout one’s life
Course of Study:
2) Teaching of St. Teresa
3) Teaching of St. John of the Cross
4) Teaching of St Therese
5) Other Saints and Blesseds of
6) History of the Order
7) Christian Doctrine
8) Papal Encyclicals