Life of a Secular
Secular Order members belong to a local community of Secular Carmelites. Practical charity and a hidden life of prayer are supported through membership in a local community.
Meetings: Secular Carmelites attend monthly meetings for formation, fellowship, prayer, and community business.
Mental Prayer: They strive to develop a spiritual life through solitary mental prayer for at least a half-hour each day.
Morning & Evening Prayer: They pray Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Night Prayer if possible.
Mary: They wear the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, who should be present in a special way in the life of every Carmelite, and pray the rosary if possible.
Mass: Members seek to draw strength from the liturgical life of the Church by attendance at daily Mass, if at all possible.
Mission: Secular Carmelites participate as much as possible in the apostolic endeavors of the Church.
They make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and observe days of penance and fast prescribed by the Church or by Secular Order rules.
They also support their Carmelite vocation through spiritual reading of the Carmelite saints and other works.
Periodic retreats and days of reflection are essential to supporting and nourishing our Carmelite vocation. We traditionally have one weekend retreat in the Fall of each year led by a Discalced Carmelite friar. Days of reflection are also sometimes held. Both offerings draw members from several area communities and are also excellent opportunities to gather with a larger part of our Carmelite family.
The Carmelite Shield
Discalced Carmelite Seculars are practicing members of the Catholic Church who, under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and inspired by St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, make the commitment to the Discalced Carmelite Order to seek the face of God for the sake of the church and the world.
The shield of a religious community usually symbolically
expresses some key insights into their understanding of their charism. This is particularly true of the Carmelite Shield. It embodies a great deal of what the Carmelite charism is all about.
The center of the shield is a mountain, which symbolizes both the actual mountain, Mt. Carmel in Israel where the Order was born, but it also, and more importantly, symbolizes the soul's union with God through prayer and contemplation. The process of this union with God is looked at, especially by St. John of the Cross, as climbing the mountain of the Lord.
This is a key theme in the Psalms as well, e.g. Psalm 2:6, 3:4, and especially 24:3: "Who shall ascend the Mountain of the Lord and who shall stand in His holy place?" One of St. John of the Cross's master works on this union is therefore appropriately named: The Ascent of Mount Carmel.
Back to the Shield, on top of the mountain is a Cross, symbolizing the Person of Jesus Christ and His saving death on the Cross for us. The Cross is in the center of the shield, symbolizing our need to center all that we are and all that we do on the Person of Jesus Himself.
There are also three stars on the shield. The lower star, directly below the Cross, represent Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Carmel. She is symbolically represented at the heart of Carmel and, in her role as Mother of God, is the one from whom the Cross, i.e. the Lord Jesus, came forth, hence the Cross rising from her star. The two stars adjacent to the Cross represent the earliest patriarchs of the Order, St. Elijah and St. Elisha, the pre-Christian founders of Carmel.
The crown with its twelve stars also represents Mary, calling to mind St. John's glorious vision of her in Revelations as crowned with 12 stars (Rev. 12:1).
The arm and the fiery sword represent Elijah, who in his great burning zeal for the Lord called down fire from Heaven.
The inscription is the Latin translation of Elijah's words in 1st Kings:
"With zeal I am zealous for the Lord God of Hosts."
(1st Kings 19:10).