Carmelite Silver Tea planned this weekend at Monastery
With the days of the annual Silver Tea Benefit for the Carmelite Nuns just around the corner, perhaps someone may be wondering: “Just who are these ‘Carmelite Nuns’ and what is the meaning of their life so hidden from view? What could bring together 20 women ranging in age from 22 to 98 and from many diverse backgrounds and places?”
The answer is both simple and profound — the loving, persistent invitation of Jesus to leave all and give oneself entirely to Him in a life of prayer and sacrificial love for the church, for priests and all souls.
The Carmelite’s life is a balance between the eremitical life of the early hermits on Mount Carmel and a life shared in community. As silence and solitude are a real help in fostering a life of prayer, the sisters do not have radio or television, or even the internet. They wear the traditional habit of the order and follow a daily schedule laid out for them in their constitutions. Daily the monastery bell summons them to various community obligations: Mass, the Hours of the Divine Office and the morning and evening hours of quiet prayer.
Since Carmel is “All Mary’s,” the rosary and litany of Our Lady as well as the Salve Regina chanted solemnly every Saturday evening are cherished traditions. Besides ordinary tasks such as cooking, sewing habits, laundry and cleaning, the nuns bake and cut altar breads. They also make articles to be sold in the shop at the entrance to the monastery. These include rosaries, scapulars, note cards and other craft items.
Within the spacious grounds of the enclosure are two large vegetable gardens cultivated by the sisters. Incorporated into the Carmelite’s day are two hours of recreation to provide healthful relaxation at which time the silence is dispensed. Ordinarily the sisters bring handwork, but on occasion they go out to the garden or do some other outdoor activity. Tradition may also call for a “spiritual play” on certain occasions which often includes a good bit of comedy. Thus the Carmelite’s life of love, prayer and sacrifice is lived in a spirit of great simplicity and joy, each one feeling unworthy of so great a grace as that of her vocation and yet so grateful for this undeserved gift.
Striving then to respond generously to that gentle and mysterious call from Jesus, the Carmelite’s goal is union with God — “to love Jesus and to win souls for Him so that He may be loved,” as St. Therese of Lisieux put it. With grateful hearts they remember daily in prayer the needs and intentions of all and especially those who in their goodness help them fulfill their mission in the Heart of the Church, by their support and above all, their friendship.