In this year of the "Cum Nulla" celebrations, the Carmelite Family in Valencia, Spain, celebrated the 500th anniversary of the monastery of Carmelite nuns in the city.
The Prior General was the principal celebrant at the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In his homily, he spoke of contemplation as the development of the relationship with God towards intimacy. He thanked the Carmelite nuns of Valencia who, for the past 500 years, had given witness to the People of God and to the Order that God alone suffices to satisfy the infinite desires of the human heart.
The President and the Council of the Mater Unitatis Federation of Carmelite nuns were also present.
A book celebrating the 5th centenary of the monastery has been published.
LETTER OF THE POPE TO THE CARMELITE FAMILY ON THE 550TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE NUNS AND SECULAR THIRD ORDER CALLS CARMELITES TO BE 'BEACONS OF
In the letter, addressed to the Prior General of the Order, Joseph Chalmers, the Pope refers to the 550th anniversary of the cloistered nuns’ admission to the Order, and the establishment of the secular third order by Pope Nicholas V’s decision.
"Carmel reminds people, preoccupied by so many cares, that the absolute priority must be the search for the ‘Kingdom of God and his justice,’" the Pope wrote.
"In looking at Carmel, where prayer becomes life and life flowers in prayer, Christian communities understand better how they can become authentic schools of prayer," he explains.
The Pope wrote "to the dear Carmelite Sisters, dedicated solely to the praise of the Lord," to request "that their convents be beacons of holiness, especially for the parishes and dioceses that have the good fortune to count on their presence."
The bull "Cum Nulla" of October 7, 1452, also recognized the incorporation of the laity in the Carmelite family through the establishment of the secular third order.
The Pope invited the "men and women, called to live the Carmelite charism in the world," to sanctify "all daily activity through faithfulness to their baptismal promises."
To fully realize this vocation, John Paul II requested that they lace the day with prayer, especially the Eucharistic celebration and the liturgy of the hours, imitating "Mary, who listened to the words of the Lord, kept them in her heart, and put them into practice."
The Vatican itself joined the Order in celebrating the anniversary of "Cum Nulla." The various language services of Vatican Radio carried the news of the celebration as the lead story on the afternoon "International News." The official newspaper of the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, carried a lengthy article about the bull.
More information about "Cum Nulla" and the various ways it is being celebrated throughout the year can be found the website: carmelites.info/cumnulla
Printed copies of the letter of Pope John Paul II’s letter as well as the letter of the Prior General to the Carmelite Family are being made available through Edizioni Carmelitane, the Order’s publishing house in Rome. Each house, monastery, and General Superior will receive copies in the mail.
Additional copies will be available-- the Prior General’s letter at cost and the Pope’s letter for free. More information is available at the website of the Edizioni Carmelitane (carmelites.info/edizioni) or by writing (Edizioni Carmelitane; Via Sforza Pallavicini,10; 00193 Rome, Italy).
CELEBRATION AT GELDERN, GERMANY, SITE OF
FIRST CARMELITE MONASTERY IN WORLD
On October 2-3, 2002, a very significant celebration for the 550th anniversary of the "Cum Nulla" papal bull was held. This celebration was in Geldern, Germany on the site of the first monastery of Carmelite nuns. The monastery stood on the site for 500 years but did not survive the Second World War. The nearby parish was the site of a house of Carmelite Friars for many years.
About 80 members of the Carmelite Family turned up for the two day event. The first evening was a para-liturgical celebration including a procession to the site of the monastery and ending with Compline in the parish church.
The following day two lectures were given to celebrate "Cum Nulla." Sr. Anna Strehle, OCD, Prioress of Tübingen and President of the German Federation, gave the first presentation on "Carmelite Spirituality from the Female Perspective." She underlined the major concerns in the Carmelite tradition: the tensions between prayer in the community and personal prayer, the community itself and solitude, contemplation and action.
There is not a fundamental difference between male and female life in Carmel, but there are different accentuations. Outlining the limitations of activities for women in the church in history and today, Sr. Anna referred to the time of Teresa of Avila and her difficulties with the clergy. The approach of women towards prayer and contemplation was and is more experiential than theoretical. The center of the life continues to be the two hours of meditation a day. In our days the monasteries of the Carmelite nuns are becoming more and more centres of spirituality, where people come searching for spiritual guidance and introduction into prayer.
At the end Sr. Anna Maria underlined that the situation of women in the church is not at all satisfactory. She pointed out that all the important decisions are made by men for women.
Following a discussion and lunch, Dr. Elisabeth Hense TO.Carm., from Kleve, gave a conference entitled "With Pleasure and Inner Calmness!: The so-called ‘Third Order.’" She gave a short overview on the historical development of the Carmelites, especially with respect to the Rule and the Constitutions. The first Constitutions for the Third Order are from the 17th century.
Referring to the contemporary situation of the Carmelites, Dr. Hense underlined the possibilities and limitations of the Third Order members. The limitations come from the fact that most members of the Third Order live with their families or with partners. They must work for their livelihood. However theses limits could also be opportunities. Since they are living in the midst of the people, with certain relationships to the people, the Lay Carmelites can bring their personal and professional talents with them. It is Dr. Hense’s experience that people are looking for spiritual food, especially from the Carmelite tradition.
Dr. Hense, along with her husband and three other members of the Third Order, took the initative to create updated statutes for the Third Order in Germany. At the end of her talk, the first draft of these statutes was given to the provincials of the two German provinces for further discussion.
The Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, attended the two day event along with William J. Harry, the General Councilor for the Northern European Region. In his welcome to the participants, Fr Joseph said, "I am happy to be present for this celebration on the site of the first official monastery of Carmelite nuns. Deep down in every human being there is a thirst for God. Many people seem to satisfy this thirst for a time with material goods or with activity but the Carmelite nuns bear witness that God alone suffices."
Noting the historical aspect of the day, he continued, "On an anniversary, it is tempting to dwell on the glories of the past. However, we will not simply look back at what has been, rather we will look forward to the challenges of living the Gospel in our modern world with all its complexity. The Carmelite nuns pray for us and for the whole Church. Today let us pray for them and thank God for the witness they give."
The conclusion of the event was very positive as it served to foster mutual understanding between the various parts of the Carmelite Family.
ENFOC III HELD IN BRAZIL
The third meeting of those in formation in the Commissariat of Paraná (Brazil-GermS) took place from September 6-8, 2002. The topic focused on post-modern values in the religious life.
Those in formation at all stages took part: seminarians, postulants, novices, and students in philosophy and theology.
In all 39 young men took part, some of whom belong to the Pernambuco Province and a novice from Colombia of the Italian Province.
Being together was a wonderful experience for all. We shared our dreams as well as our expectations and perspectives on the future of the Order. Prof. Mauro Cardoso Simões, who teaches philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, took part in the meeting.
It was of utmost importance to understand that as men in formation we need to find time to come together to share our lives, to celebrate our Carmelite charism, and to increase our awareness that we are members of the international Family of Carmel.
One of the powerful moments of the meeting was the "Cry of the Emarginated," which was a national event in Brazil on September 7. Those who are emaginated or excluded are those who do not have access to education, health, work, and housing. This exclusion is seen as a consequence of post-modern values and we as Carmelites must be united with those who are excluded.
The meeting was closed with a Eucharistic celebration followed by a meal together. The Eucharist is, of course, central to our lives.
Another meeting, ENFOC IV, will be held next year.
Marcio Wolf, O. Carm.
GerS - Paranál
From August 23-25, 2002, the Carmelites in the Upper German Province celebrated the 900th anniversary of the foundation in Springiersbach.
In 1102, Springiersbach was founded as an Augustinian Abbey. The Augustinians lived there until the secularisation in 1802. For more than 100 years the church was used as a parish church while several individuals resided in the monastery. In 1922, the Carmelites bought the church and a section of the cloister. Since 1982, the building has served as a retreat center.
The celebration of the anniversary started the evening of August 23, 2002, with the presentation of a new book on the history of Springiersbach. On Saturday, August 24, the new Bishop of Trier celebrated Eucharist together with many brothers from all parts of the province and many of the people who have been in contact with the Carmelites in Springiersbach over the years. During the civic ceremony that followed the religious service, some local politicians made speeches.
The third day of celebration, August 25, started with Sunday mass. Fr. Michael Plattig O.Carm. gave the sermon. The entire day was spent with the Carmelites celebrating together with many people from the area. In the afternoon, the president of Rheinland-Pfalz visited the monastery. The celebration ended with evening prayer in the church.
The jubilee was not only a memorial of the past but also an encouraging
celebration for the future of our community and the people it serves.
Karmel Johannes Soreth, Münster
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has recently published a new instruction with the approval of the Pope (Solemnity of Pentecost, 19th May 2002). This document is a result of the deliberations of the Plenary Session of the Congregation in September 2001.
The Instruction is a call to all consecrated people to a continual conversion so that we will live more profoundly our vocation for the good of the Church and the world. The document has an introduction and four parts. In the introduction we are reminded of the fundamental points of the Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata, and the call to all Christians to "cast out into the deep" at the beginning of the new millennium (Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 6 January 2001).
The first part of the Instruction examines consecrated life as a presence of the love of Christ in the midst of humanity. The second part looks at some challenges faced by consecrated life and stresses the importance of formation at all levels. The genius of those who founded religious institutes, "to respond to the challenges and difficulties of their times with a genuine charismatic creativity" (no. 13) is an example to us all. Part three places the spiritual life at the source of any renewal of consecrated life (no. 20 quoting Vita Consecrata, 93).
The center of our lives is of course Christ (no. 21) and all the different elements of the consecrated life only make sense if they lead to a more profound love of him and a deeper commitment to do his will (no. 22). Praying the Word of God and celebrating the Eucharist allows us also to meet Christ in the trials of life and in those who suffer (nos. 24-27).
One of the important tasks of consecrated life in our day, according to the Instruction, is to spread the spirituality of communion (nos. 28-29 quoting Vita Consecrata, 46). In particular there needs to be dialogue between the traditional charisms of consecrated life and new ones, which are emerging in our own days (no. 30). Communion with lay people (no. 31) and the Bishops (no. 32) is particularly stressed.
The final part of the Instruction (part 4) gives encouragement to
consecrated people by looking at them as witnesses to love. We bear
witness to Christ and to the love of God for all men and women in and
through all our various ministries. "A life transformed by the evangelical
counsels becomes a prophetic and silent witness and at the same time an
eloquent protest against an inhuman world" (no. 33).
The "Donum Dei" Family of France met for their annual gathering at the "Foyer Louis et Zélie Martin" in Lisieux, France from July 29 until August 3, 2002. Some 60 adults, including 12 couples, and 27 young people and babies, and the Missionary Workers responsible for the various fraternities associated with Donum Dei in France. The purpose of the meeting, being held so close to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, was reflected in the slogan "Work as Liturgy" and to deepen the message of the Saint, now a Doctor of the Church.
The gathering was laced with prayer and spiritual talks in the morning by Fr. Gianfranco Tuveri, the General Delegate for the Carmelites in France and in the afternoon by Renèe Prieur, a former "Responsabile Generale" for the Donum Dei Family. There were pilgrimages to the Teresian places and a joyous sharing during the meals and in the evenings.
A group of Missionary Workers facilitated the various parts of the meeting.
Thursday, August 1, the participants in the session traveled to Alençon. In the church where Louis e Zélie Martin were married and where Thérèse was baptized, the group celebrated Eucharist. During the Mass, some 12 people received the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Then everyone went together to eat in the garden of the birthplace of St. Thérèse.
After a visit to the house and a moment of prayer in the adjoining chapel, everyone headed back to Lisieux. During the journey, the pilgrims made a little detour to go on pilgrimage to the grave of Léonie Martin, in Caen, to pray for "the difficult children."
Saturday, August 3, during the Eucharistic celebration in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with Fr. Désiré presiding, Marcel-André Salaün-Penquer received his First Communion.
In the afternoon, during the Thanksgiving, the participants shared the gifts they had received, the graces and the joys of such a beautiful experience of community. Many said that they were truly happy and fortunate to have been able to spend these days near to St. Thérèse, at the school of simplicity and abandonment. For some it was their first time in Lisieux.
Some, after these days of learning about and deepening their understanding, expressed the desire to become involved in the Donum Dei Family. The members of the community are bound to pray for each other, asking in particular through the intercession of Venerable Servants of God Louis and Zélie Martin.
All are also bound to share with the communities of the Donum Dei Family in poorer countries, especially in Cameroon.
The departure, as always, was a bit wet, not only because of the bad weather, but also because the tears flowed freely from many of the participants who were particularly moved by the gathering.
Everyone went off with the hope of returning the next year to share in the experience of community, of prayer, and of missionary service in the great Family of Carmel.
The Edizioni Carmelitane, the Order’s Publishing House, at present has no director after Fr. Antonio Ruiz, O. Carm., returned to Spain this summer at the request of his Province because of their needs. No one has been named to replace him.
However, during a meeting of the Edizioni’s management team, steps were taken to insure that service to the Provinces and the public who depend on the Edizioni for Carmelite books will be maintained. The group hopes to present some names for the administrator’s postion to the General Council soon.
In the meantime, Maurizio Pietrangeli, a long time employee of the Edizioni and the Institutum Carmelitanum before, is working to fill orders and answer the customer’s questions.
Since the meeting, a webpage has been initiated. The site currently provides a listing of the Edizioni’s publications by language along with prices and ordering information. In the coming months, listings of publications by subject area and author will also be available. Links to other Carmelite bookshops and publishing houses around the world will also be provided.
The 1995 General Chapter, in a plan of restructuring the Institutum Carmelitanum, approved the creation of the Edizioni Carmelitane, giving it responsibility to publish and distribute materials of the Institutum and the General Curia. It was also given the right to assist other organizations with their publications.
That same Chapter approved a "Management Team" to be responsible for the operation and to determine its projects. That team, consisting of the Bursar General, the President of the Institutum, and the Legal Representatives of the Order and of the Edizioni Carmelitane, as well as the director of the Edizioni, are responsible for the coordination of the operation. The Management Team will meet quarterly.
For information about publications available from Edizioni Carmelitane, go to: carmelites.info/edizioni
CARMELITANUM HOLDS FIRST MEETING OF ITS CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO STATEGIZE
The "Central Committee" of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome held its first series of meetings on October 5-7, 2003 to chart the direction for the Order’s Institute for the next six years. The Central Committe of the Institutum is responsible for organizing, planning, and evaluating the scientific activity of the organization.
Members are Patrick McMahon (President-PCM), Jos Huls (Neer), Joachim Smet (PCM- Previous Praeses), Mark Attard (CISA, Delegate for Culture), Fernando Millán (Baet), Richard Copsey (Brit), Michael Plattig (GerS), Carlos Mesters (Curia), and Peter Go (Indo). Only Frs. Mesters and Go were unable to attend.
William J. Harry, member of the General Council and responsible for Culture in the Order and therefore the General Council’s liaison with the Institutum, was present for most of the sessions. In welcoming the new group, Fr. William acknowledged and thanked those responsible "for the Institutum’s 50 years of tremendous service to the Order" and called for the group to help "take the Institutum to a new level."
He highlighted several goals of the General Council’s Six Year Plan and said, "Each of those projects will need input from our professional theologians and scholars if we are going to reach our goals and if any lasting impact is going to be made upon the Order."
The plan calls for recruitment of new members to the Institutum over the next several years, including Lay Carmelites and non Carmelite scholars. Following up on the proposal made by the Dutch Province to the 2001 General Chapter, efforts will be made to network with other Carmelite Institutes around the world. A meeting is currently being set up for representatives of those Institutes. A ‘web community’ of scholars in spirituality (SPIRIN) is currently being developed by the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen and the Carmelites have already expressed their interest in taking part.
Participation in the preparation for the various congresses called for by the last General Chapter will also be a focus.
A number of projects have been underway for a while and efforts will be made to encourage these and see that they are completed. Among these is the Dictionary of Carmelite Spirituality, the on-going publications such as Carmelus and the magazine for Lay Carmelites Carmel in the World, Joachim Smet’s History of the Carmelite Order, and a number of other projects that members have been working on and are waiting for their publication.
To make the resources of the Order more available, a number of projects have been proposed. The possibility of putting materials on CD for distribution to the various parts of the world and to university libraries will be studied. A website for the Institutum will be developed. Proceedures will be developed for the placement of Order documents and publications on the internet as well as access to the Carmelite Library and the Archives of the Order in Rome.
COMMISSION SETS 10 POINT FINANCIAL STRATEGY PLAN
The new International Finance Commission of the Order met for the second time in 2002 in Rome at the Curia house from September 16-20, 2002. The meeting specifically addressed and established a 10 point "Six Year Financial Strategy Plan."
Among the strategies was the reduction and elimination of the Curia debts on CISA, the Curia residence, and the Domus Carmelitana. The establishment and expansion of the new international "Little Flower Society" for the works of the Curia was also discussed.
Strategies were also introduced to insure good financial practices. A regular audit of the Curia’s revenues and obligations will also be initiated. A policy of obtaining three bids for any future extraordinary work will also be instituted. A new financial reporting form for the annual Provincial reports will be developed. This will have specific standards and expectations to be followed.
The General Council will also appoint three volunteer lay members to the Finance Commission. These lay members will have expertise in banking and accounting, in investment management, and in financial development.
There will be a three day general meeting of all Provincial Bursars at the Domus Carmelitana in Rome November 6-8, 2003. The next meeting of the International Finance Commission will take place at the General Curia November 10-13, 2003, following the Bursars gathering.
Pope John Paul II’s recent changes to the rosary—its first makeover in 900 years—in order to increase the devotions of the faithful is actually Carmelite based.
According to published reports in The Guardian newspaper, the Pope may be adopting the idea of Bl. George Preca, a member of the Carmelite Third Order in Malta and a candidate or sainthood. Fr. Preca proposed adding extra decades to the rosary nearly 50 years ago.
In fact the five important moments in the life of Christ recall the five mysteries, also called the "mysteries of light", which in 1957 Bl. George Preca wrote for his followers in the Society of MUSEUM. The mysteries chosen by Blessed George, three of which are being proposed by Pope John Paul II, are: 1) the baptism of Christ; 2) the manifestation of Christ as God through teaching and miracles; 3) the teaching of Christ in the beatitudes; 4) the transfiguration of Christ; 5) the institution of the Eucharist.
CONGRESS AT CARMINE MAGGIORE IN NAPLES
The fourth annual Marian Congress at the Carmine Maggiore in Naples was held October 26-27, 2002. The gathering focused on "Popular Piety and the Liturgy," related to the directory on that theme issued by the Vatican in April 2002.
Presenters included Ignazio Calabuig, OSM, President of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of the Marianum in Rome. Fr. Calabuig spoke on the Marian sanctuary as a place of culture celebration, evangelization, charity, and cultural and work ecumenism. On Sunday evening, Francisco Pio Tamburrino, Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments spoke on the theme "The Liturgical Year and Marian Piety."
The gathering took place in the "Titus Brandsma Room" in the Carmelite Monastery at the Sanctuary.
PROVINCE STRENGTHENS PRESENCE IN ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND
Following discussion in the Province and at the Provincial Chapter, the British Province has finalize arrangements to accept a parish in the northern city of Aberdeen, Scotland. The Province has provided chaplaincy services to the university community for a number of years.
The parish of The Holy Family in Mastrick will be ministered to by the Carmelites. Mastrick is a working class area of the city, close by the university chaplaincy, which covers approximately one sixth of the town. The parish has a modern church and a bungalow style residence for the priest. For the past several years the parish has been served by an Indian Jesuit who was engaged in full time study at the university.
A Mass of Welcome was held for Anthony Pelan, O. Carm., the new pastor on October 6 at the regular Sunday Mass.
Currently serving in the Carmelite ministries in Aberdeen are Mark Patterson, Joseph Kelly, in addition to Anthony Pelan.
The General Council held its third plenary meeting this year in Rome from September 2 - 7. The Prior General and members of the Council reported on their summer activities, including a visit to Rumania, formation meetings in Latin America, and the profession of new members of the Australian Province in Timor Lorosae.
The Council devoted some time to the arrangements for the XVth Council of Provinces, which will be held in Batu, Indonesia on September 1 - 11, 2003. Apart from logistical questions of accommodation, translation equipment, and travel plans, the Council drafted an outline program which includes reports from the Prior General and Council, a day on finances, a day on the question of sexual abuse and several days on the main theme "Authority at the Service of the Charism." Possible speakers were discussed and approaches made to a number of confreres who have specialized knowledge in various areas. Further announcements will be made and the program finalized at the December meeting.
The Council also spent some time reviewing the operational results of the Domus Carmelitana for the
first half of 2002 and noted that there has been a steady improvement in performance. Finally, further plans were made for celebrations of the 550th Anniversary of the papal bull Cum nulla.
The General Council will hold its next planary meeting December 9 - 21, 2002.
Ismael Martínez, O.Carm., of the Baetica Province, was given the role of Director by the Archbishop of Seville of a series of conferences in the city. The conferences deal with the religious Orders and Congregations in Seville. Some 20 conferences will then be published in book form. Giving the conferences are some of the most prestigious historians of the religious Orders.
They are using critical study methods to show the historical importance that the monastic Orders, the mendicants, and the modern religious congregations had and continue to have today. The result will be a published history of the Church in Seville and its influence in Latin America.
The Atheneum of Seville is known as an educational institution with tremendous prestige in the city.
The members of the International Commission for Peace and Justice met in Rome June 3-7, 2002. The Commission’s website, complete with minutes from the meeting, can be found at: carmelites.info/peaceandjustice