The Carmelites are gathering in Aylesford from various parts of the country to participate in the Provincial AGM this week. This meeting is for friars and lay Carmelites who are closely associated with the work of the British Province. Bishop Patrick Lynch, auxiliary bishop in Southwark, will assist us in our deliberations.
One of the reasons for such a meeting is simply to get together and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. We have all been busy in different parts of the country and it is good once a year to spend time together. We will also have serious discussions about how best to live our Carmelite vocation in Britain today. We seek to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ, a phrase which comes from the 13th century Carmelite Rule, and we do this through a commitment to seek the face of the living God, through our connection with one another and through service in the midst of the people. Carmelites have all sorts of different apostolates but all of us seek to live a life of prayer and to share our prayer with others in and through whatever work we do. We are committed to the group and try to support one another in whatever way we can.
The Old Testament Prophet Elijah is very important to us and we learn from him how to be open to God in whatever way God chooses to approach us. Like Elijah, we try to be faithful to the Tradition that has been passed on to us and, at the same time, to be creative so that we do not miss what God is saying to us in new situations. Our Lady of course is our patroness. The first chapel on Mount Carmel was dedicated to her as the Lady of the Place, and since then Carmelites have seen in her their model of how to listen to the Word of God and to follow Jesus faithfully.
The word that Carmelites use for the value that holds all our other values in unity is contemplation. By contemplation we mean the process of trusting our lives and future to God in whatever way God chooses to approach us, remaining open to God who seeks to transform us. Contemplation is a transforming experience of the overpowering love of God that empties us of our limited and imperfect ways of thinking, loving and acting, transforming them into divine ways.
Getting together is fun; we catch up on what has been happening around the country and we just enjoy each other’s company. However there is also a serious side to it as we ponder on the event of Easter and try to discern where the Risen Lord is leading us. With Our Lady’s help, we seek to understand more deeply how we can live our Carmelite vocation faithfully in the changing circumstances of our society.
Please spare a prayer for us as we meet together and we will remember you.