A Contemplative Space

A Contemplative Space

by the Carmelite Sisters

Photography by Carmelite Sisters

People are experiencing great yearnings to be fulfilled, satisfied, and whole, and the world is running out of answers for them.

“Lord, when can I come to you with a quiet heart?”

“I hear noise outside of me and there is more noise going on within me. I am bombarded with noise. My mind wanders in a thousand different directions. My world has too much stimuli and marches past me in an ever-moving parade of sounds and images. I am drowning in the noise. My spirit is suffocating from the noise. Lord, set me free.”

This prayer demonstrates the call of the Holy Spirit to deeper prayer, to a more profound interior life. Note the elements of the prayer. First of all, there is the enlightenment that one’s heart is not quiet. At the same time, there is an understanding that so much noise is not good. The prayer reflects a person who is aware of the need to reduce the stimuli bombarding the senses with their accompanying thoughts and feelings. It depicts a soul that is submerged in noise, suffocating from the noise.

This is the prayer of our present cultural milieu. It could be called, “The Cry of Today.”

Carmel’s call through truth echoes in the souls of many people throughout our world. People are seeing that the final product of all this consumerism is not so good. They are experiencing great yearnings to be fulfilled, satisfied, and whole, and the world is running out of answers for them. This is where Carmelite spirituality can be helpful to God’s people today. It explains, guides, and teaches all those who are ready to learn.

One of the things that Carmelite spirituality teaches is that the contemplative life arises from within the soul and needs a contemplative space. That’s why the prayer ends with, “set me free.” What is a contemplative space? It consists of an attitude, a choice, and a decision.

The Attitude: I need to change my approach to the quantity and quality of my life’s activities in order to weed out the busyness from my life.

The Choice: I will eliminate from my life unnecessary hectic, frantic activity and slow down, in as much as it is possible. I will choose a simpler lifestyle and build into it a contemplative space.

The Decision: I will pray every day. I will go to my contemplative space and listen only to God that I may come to know Him better and grow into a deeper relationship with Him. The interesting outcome of this is that I will actually get more done.

After adjusting attitude, making the choice and the decision, it is very helpful to read spiritual books. Read about the saints and learn how they “downsized” their life’s activities and made more time for God. As prayer deepens, turn to the Carmelite Saints who explain the various stages of prayer.

After reading, we, too, can say, like Edith Stein, “This is truth.”

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography in the left-hand sidebar and visit their website (link provided at the bottom of the bio).

They publish a beautiful print magazine, Spirit of Carmel, and we encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and subscriptions to the Spirit of Carmel.

If you are able to help them, please click on the image of their magazine to visit their subscription and donation page. And please share this article with your friends.

– ICL Editors

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About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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1 Comment

  1. ” My world has too much stimuli and marches past me in an ever-moving parade of sounds and images. I am drowning in the noise. My spirit is suffocating from the noise. Lord, set me free.” The Carmelites could not have said it any better.
    Drowning and suffering in the noise is one of the many impediments to grace and interior peace, within the noise of life. And sometimes the ‘noise’ knows no audible sound but will plague your mind with a rendundant echo that pushes many to the edge of madness. Once the soul has been prepared and thus been nourished by silence, contemplatively speaking, the tranquility becomes a vital ‘daily bread.’ I am absolutely convinced that without silence, we simply cannot hear what He so desperately wants to avail to the human soul; which most importantly is more of Him. We can prattle in our thoughts without ever uttering a syllable. The greatest way to still one’s self preparing for the silence that awaits, is to sit regularly before the exposed Presence of Him in the monstrance. Go to adoration, frequently and regularly, but turn off the phone, and leave the rosary beads, prayer cards, and books at home. Just you and Him. Let Him decorate your soul with silence. He can still an unquiet heart and mind. Beautiful insight, beautiful instruction, beautiful article.

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