- With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord, God of hosts. (I Kings 19:14)
Today is very special to me. Ten years ago, on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, I made my Definitive (final) Promise as a Secular Discalced Carmelite. It was the culmination of six years of preparation.
I think the special dates in our life, such as birth, death, baptism, marriage, etc., often have some significance, and so I was delighted that the day of my Definitive Promise fell on such a magnificent feast.
Three of us made our final commitment in Carmel that day. A storm raged outside the Church, dedicated to Our Lady. We could hear the rain pouring, as we read our Promises following the gospel at a special Mass being celebrated for our Carmelite community.
“For the rest of my life….” It was like a wedding. I dreamed of being the perfect Carmelite. My two companions and I were giddy with excitement. We took pictures. We cut a cake. We wrote out and signed the text of our Promise in a special log book. Many had filled that book before us. Some had passed into eternal life. Others had left the Order.
Now, ten years later, one of us has severe back problems and can no longer attend meetings. Another has left the Order, and as for me, well I am certainly NOT a perfect Carmelite.
A wise Franciscan priest, now deceased, once counseled me: A vocation is the work of a lifetime. You will always fail at times. Don’t become discouraged.
My friend left because she felt she was not living up to her Promise. I stay because I keep believing that tomorrow I will do better.
My “wedding” was ten years ago, and today I live as in a marriage, with good times and bad. Ups and downs. Outpourings of love and faithfulness and periods of lukewarmness where prayers and promises get overwhelmed by the sheer demands of daily life.
But always there is the desire to remain faithful, to keep promises, to begin again, to seek refuge and forgiveness in the Merciful Heart of the Divine Spouse who somehow never gives up on me.
I am grateful for my 16 years in Carmel, and especially for my tenth anniversary today.
A vocation to a secular order is a great gift. Many Catholics are not aware of this possibility for them — to belong to a secular (third) order.
I plan to write more about this topic in the future, with the hope that others will consider one of the many secular orders in the Church. They all offer a beautiful path to holiness, and a unique way to serve others.
Meanwhile, I give thanks to the Triune God Who has taken me this far, my Beloved Three in One Who chose this day as a feast for me too.
Jesus came to be flesh like me,
The Father’s gaze trusting the Virgin
While the Spirit overshadowed her.
Most Holy Trinity, I love You so!
Queen, Beauty of Carmel, pray for us!