A certain freedom of soul is felt upon walking through the courtyard gate of the Carmelite monastery. Peace
reigns here. When you pass through the doors of the monastery, you enter a world apart. The noise and values
of the world have no place here. Here, as Carmelite nuns, we live our lives of poverty and silence, of prayer,
penance and sacrifice for the world, hoping that the austerity of our lives would be acceptable reparation
for the losses and sufferings of the Church and the ills of the world at large. The scope of our concern,
then, is the whole world.
The main work of the Carmelite is prayer. Our day begins early; we rise at 4:30 a.m.
for the recitation of the Divine Office, followed by mental prayer and Holy Mass. A thinly veiled grille
separates our choir, or monastic chapel, from the altar and public chapel. Here the priest celebrates
Mass and administers Holy Communion to us through a small door in the grillework.
Our day ends at 10:30 p.m. Eight hours of the day are spent in prayer and two hours in recreation, and
about five hours are given to manual work, reading and study. Except for the time of recreation, we
strive to keep strict silence and recollection so as to make our lives of prayer continuous. During recreation,
the Sisters may converse, and it is a joyful time, but our hands are always busy on the many and various works
by which we support the community. We depend, also, on the generosity of friends and charitable alms of the
Meals are simple but nutritious, consisting of such foods as bread, cheese, eggs, fish, vegetables and fruit. We observe the fast and abstinence directed by Our Holy Mother St. Teresa in the Carmelite Rule and Constitutions. During meals, a Sister provides food for the soul by reading from Holy Scripture or some other spiritual work.
The day is long and hard and busy for the Carmelite nun. From the time she rises in the morning to chant the
praises of God until she retires to her austere little cell at night, she is striving to make herself more
pleasing to God, and so, more valuable to others. Though she spends those many hours before the Blessed Sacrament,
her prayers do not end in the chapel. She prays alone in her cell; she prays as she cheerfully goes about her
assigned tasks; she endeavors to make her every action a prayer. And gradually she herself becomes a living prayer.
The Carmelite nuns withdraw completely from the world and dedicate themselves entirely to a life of prayer and
penance. But their sacrifices and their prayers reach out to the world they have left behind. They have not fled
the world because they did not enjoy the life they had there. They love the world – they love life – and they have
found it in all its richness and beauty...by giving themselves to God.