/* /* Eclectic Contemplative: September 2006

Eclectic Contemplative

Driven by a need for a more reflective approach to existence, I am exploring contemplative thought from a variety of traditions, particularly Catholic and Buddhist, in an effort to find a practice that will enable me to access that "inner room" that is at once still and luminous.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Marianism in Carmel

This went a long way towards allaying my fears that Carmel was a cult of Mary.

Testing and discerning a vocation to Carmel

From www.carmelite.com/ocds/discern2.shtml

We come to the second element-"under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel."

It is not just any devotion to Our Lady that identifies a person called to the Secular Order. There are many Christians who are very devoted to Our Lady and have a very highly developed Marian character to their Christian life. There are many Orthodox Christians as well as High Church Anglicans who are very Marian. There are many Catholics who wear the scapular for all of the correct reasons and with sincere dedication to Mary who are not called to be Secular Carmelites. Not only that, but there are some people who come to the Secular Order precisely because of devotion to Mary, the scapular, and the rosary who do not have a vocation to be Secular Order members.

The particular aspect of the Blessed Virgin Mary that must be present in any person called to Carmel is that of an inclination to "meditate in the heart", the phrase that Saint Luke's gospel uses twice to describe Mary's attitude vis-à-vis her Son. Yes, all the other aspects of Marian life and devotion can be present, devotion to the scapular, the rosary, and other things. They are, however, secondary to this aspect of Marian devotion. Mary is our model of prayer and meditation. This interest in learning to meditate or inclination to meditation is a fundamental characteristic of any OCDS. It is perhaps the most basic.

A very frequent experience of many groups is to have a person approach the Secular Order to become a member, sometimes a diocesan priest, who is very devoted to Mary, a person who has been on many pilgrimages to Marian shrines throughout the world, a person who is very familiar with many of the apparitions and messages attributed to Mary, a real authority on current Marian movements. Many times they do not have the slightest inclination to "meditate in the heart". They desire quickly to become the 'teachers' of the community about the Blessed Mother and introduce an entirely un-Carmelite strain of Marian interest into the community. If this person is a priest, it is very difficult for the community to protect itself from this detour in its Marian life. There are other Marian groups and movements that might be the home for this person, but it is not the Secular Order.

In addition, within the Teresian Carmelite family there is a place for people whose primary motivation is devotion to the scapular and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular, or the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Mary, for a Secular Order member, is the model of a meditative attitude and disposition. She attracts and inspires a Carmelite to a contemplative way of understanding the life of the mystical body of her Son, the Church. It is she who draws the person to Carmel. And in the formation program, which the person finds when they enter Carmel, it is this aspect that must be developed in the person. So, I say that this is the second element-"under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mindfulness, Christian style

The most complete and poetic exposition of Christian mindfulness I have found so far is Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ, who died in 1751. The downloadable text is available free of charge at Christian Classics Ethereal Library at www.ccel.org/ccel/decaussade/abandonment.html. By the way, they have many similar texts available, including in portable formats like palm ebooks.

Particularly good quotes:

"The active practice of fidelity consists in accomplishing the duties which devolve upon us whether imposed by the general laws of God and of the Church, or by the particular state that we have embraced. Its passive exercise consists in the loving acceptance of all that God sends us at each moment."

"Whatever ideas may fill the mind, whatever feelings afflict the body; even if the mind should be tormented with distractions and troubles, and the body with sickness and pain, nevertheless the divine will is ever for the present moment the life of the soul and of the body; in fact, neither the one nor the other, no matter in what condition it may be, can be sustained by any other power."

"The mind with all the consequences of its activity might take the foremost rank among the tools employed by God, but has to be deputed to the lowest as a dangerous slave. It might be of great service if made use of in a right manner, but is a danger if not kept in subjection."

"When one is thirsty one quenches one's thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Benedictine [Oblate Reading List]

from the website of St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, CA


THE FORMATION of the OBLATE is ongoing throughout life. During their oblate novitiate they are guided in the practice of contemplative prayer and Lectio Divina by their oblate director; they are additionally expected to study in some depth the following texts:

1) The Holy Scriptures
2) The Rule of St. Benedict: in the workbook, Preferring Christ, by Norvene Vest (Source Books), or in the RB 80 edition (Collegeville, 1980)
3) The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict by Pope St. Gregory I (Collegeville or St. Bede's Press)

ADDITIONAL TEXTS which are very helpful and which should be read under the guidance of the oblate director include:

1) The Lives and Sayings of the Desert Fathers: (The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton, New Directions, 1960; The Desert Fathers, Helen Waddell, Ann Arbor 1966; The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Benedicta Ward. Cistercian Pub., 1975; The Lives of the Desert Fathers, Norman Russell, Cist. Pub., 1981)
2) The Institutes and Conferences of John Cassian: (Both Institutes and Conferences - Erdmans, 1982; Select Conferences only - Westminster, 1958; or Paulist, 1985)
3) Seeking God, the Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Collegeville, 1984)