Carmelite Spiritual Directory


by the Carmelite Community of Pozzo di Gotto (Sicily)

Table of Contents

1 The Hermeneutic Context of our Times
1.1 The human person: a being-in-relation

1.2 The theological view of koinonia

1.2.1 The ecclesiology of communion

1.2.2 Fraternal life in common

1.2.3 Biblical inspirations

1.3 The challenges of postmodernism

2 Fraternity in Carmel
2.1 Around the Word and the Eucharist

2.1.1 Diligent personal listening to the Word

2.1.2 Listening to the Word in community

2.1.3 The Liturgy of the Hours

2.1.4 Daily Eucharist

2.1.5 The community chapter

2.2 Individual and community

2.2.1 The community "we"

2.2.2 Evaluating the individual

2.2.3 Relativisation of institutional roles

2.2.4 Humanisation of the environment, of work and verbal

2.3 Dialogue in the Spirit

2.3.1 Pedagogical options

2.3.2 The most common forms of dialogue in the Spirit today

2.4 The Church's presence in the world

2.4.1 Diakonia of welcoming

2.4.2 Diakonia of the Word

2.4.3 Diakonia of Prayer

2.4.4 Diakonia of spiritual companionship

2.4.5 Diakonia of justice and peace

2.4.6 Diakonia of inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue

2.4.7 Diakonia of beauty

3 Suggestions for Personal Reflection and Dialogue

4 Small Anthology of Spiritual Reading
4.1 The Carmelite Rule

4.2 The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila

4.3 The Spiritual Canticle by John of the Cross

4.4 The Manuscripts of Thérèse of Lisieux

4.5 The Manuscripts of Thérèse of Lisieux

4.6 The Letters of Elizabeth of the Trinity

4.7 The Writings of Titus Brandsma

4.8 The Writings of Titus Brandsma

4.9 "A Brotherhood Among the Nations"

4.10 Letter of the General Superiors J Malley and C. Maccise

5 Community Prayer


1 The Hermeneutic Context of our Times

Every form of human and christian existence that wishes to understand itself as a discernible "sign" for people today, has to take its cultural context into account. We are talking here of setting out courageously on the slow, patient and gradual journey of inculturation, a journey which is regarded as urgent by the magisterium.1

As a particular form of human and christian life called to be a discernible "sign" for all believers and people in general today,2 Carmel cannot by-pass this journey of inculturation. If Carmel wishes to understand itself as a "sign" or existential "parable" of evangelical fraternity, it cannot ignore the cultural co-ordinates of our times.

We need to begin with the socio-cultural-ecclesial context that characterises our times; to rediscover and assimilate those values which orientate our minds and hearts, so that we can build up an authentic Carmelite fraternity capable of living in a coherent way our four great commitments as indicated many times by the magisterium: commitment to humanity and to our times; to Christ and to the gospel; to the Church and its mission in the world; to the renewal of consecrated life and to the charism of our Order.3

1.1 The human person: a being-in-relation

First of all we need a coherent anthropological view-point. While it is true to say that the human person is a unique and unrepeatable being endowed with self-determination and dignity, it is also true to say that the human person is a "person-in-relation" to others, to things and the world. The person is fully self-realised in dialogue and interpersonal communion.4

In fact, a person's first experience is that of being in relationship with a "you", with another person, and thereby creating a "we". This is expressed in communication, in sharing, in reciprocal giving and taking while being an individual among many different people. Without other people, an individual's identity and dignity cannot be recognised; without others there is no development of an adult, responsible conscience.

Within interpersonal relationships the "word" plays a fundamental role. It is not simply the way and means by which we communicate, it also "reveals" the individual. By means of the "word" people reveal their interior world, the riches of their culture, the meaning of their existence, their needs, their joys and pains, their expectations and hopes. Thanks to the "word" individuals are reached by other people in all of their existential complexity and, likewise, they are able to reach others in their undeniable otherness.

1.2 The theological view of koinonia

Secondly we should take a look at the theological viewpoint of koinonia, communion, as the essential axis of the life of the Church and every form of christian life within it. We will make a few observations.

1.2.1 The ecclesiology of communion

With regard to the Church, it is the overwhelming belief that the ecclesiology of communion is the central idea of Vatican II.5 The pivotal textual reference is undoubtedly Lumen Gentium. The Council presents the mystery of the Church in the context of the mystery of the Trinity, as the blueprint of communion that has its source and homeland the communion of the Three Persons.6 By rediscovering the trinitarian foundation of the Church, the Council also rediscovers the basis of all ecclesiology: that unity lies behind the multiplicity of vocations, charisms and ministries and is its essential premise. This reveals the fundamental dignity and equality of all members of the people of God in so far as through the sacraments of Christian initiation they participate in the kingly, priestly and prophetic mission of Christ our Lord.7 From here we see the coexistence of the diversity and complementary nature of charisms and ministries expressing the multi-faceted richness of the mystery of Christ,8 and the universal vocation to the holiness of the people of God as they journey towards their trinitarian homeland.9

We should not forget that the trinitarian communion does not only influence inter-church relationships. It also influences the world and its history. In this sense Lumen Gentium, which places the Church firmly within the dynamism of history,10 should be read in conjunction with the point of view expressed in Gaudium et Spes, which places the Church at the service of humanity and in dialogue with the world, and in conjunction with Ad Gentes, which indicates the mission attached to being a pilgrim in history.

1.2.2 Fraternal life in common

Among the different forms of christian life we would like to consider consecrated life in a particular way. Beginning with Vatican II, the inspired teachings of the magisterium, the prophetic, charismatic impetus experienced not just by the few, and a more mature theological reflection, have all favoured the gradual rediscovery of the theological dimension of community in the context of authentic, evangelical fraternity.

The prime textual reference is Perfectae Caritatis Art. 15. This paragraph, which is in the opinion of J.M.R. Tillard, "one of the most beautiful and evangelical pages of the entire Council",11 has the merit of proposing a scheme of solid theological values, based on the inspirational model of the early Church; on its Christocentric, pneumatological and trinitarian reality and on its anthropological style of journeying in mutual support of each other.12

These indications have opened the way to a more open fraternal life in common by paying attention to the authenticity of interpersonal relationships and to the value of the individual. This is markedly less anchored in the old style of the community of "observance" that was characterised by disciplinary uniformity and by reducing the individual to anonymity in the crowd. Later documents have continued this approach, expanding on the conciliar decree. We need think only of the apostolic exhortation, Evangelica Testificatio Art. 39, which highlights fraternity as the place in which the individual can mature spiritually; of SCRIS, The contemplative dimension of religious life Art. 15, which bestows on the community the value of theological reality as the place to experience God; of canon 602 in the new Code of Canon Law which harmonises the charism of the institute with the realisation of the individual's vocation, based on the dynamism of koinonia and theological charity; of CIVCSVA, Potissimum Institutioni Art. 26-27 which highlights the dynamism of growth in the community that is united in the name of the Lord for a common mission in the Church.13

Staying in the area of consecrated life we should take note of the most recent research focusing on "brothers". This is an upshot of rediscovering the values of apostolic, evangelical fraternity proper to "mendicants". With regard to fraternity the following points are underlined; equality, interpersonal relationships, evaluation of personal charisms, the collegial administration of life (adelphocratia) animated by the prior (primus inter pares), liturgical prayer, goods in common, fraternal correction, the convent as a place of "coming together", open and cordial friendship, hospitality, travelling, evangelisation and attention to the minores of history.14

In the world of Carmel the theological value of fraternity is being emphasised increasingly. From the Constitutions of 1971 through to the ongoing work on the new constitutions, fraternity, has been increasingly understood as the bed-rock and nucleus of the Carmelite charism. Harmonising with this, the other two dimensions of the charism, the contemplative and the diaconal (in its fullest sense), are being allotted their rightful importance. But we are still in the early stages. We should acknowledge here the innovative impulse provided by the studies on the origin of the Order and the re-reading of the Carmelite Rule which in these post-conciliar years have enriched the cultural and spiritual patrimony of the Order.15

All the studies of the various sciences, historical, biblical, spiritual or mystical theology, have the merit of speaking of Carmelite fraternity by basing their research and reflection on the text of our rule considered in its global nature.16 This approach has been widely accepted as being one of the hermeneutical criteria necessary for theological reflections on Carmel. In this way the rule returns to being a "living" text, inspirational for our own times.

1.2.3 Biblical inspirations

We should make a special mention of modern biblical studies (both Old and New Testament) on the theme of fraternity and koinonia.17 These studies help us to understand some biblical passages as paradigms and figures deeply inspired by the contemporary ecclesiology we mentioned earlier. Here are just a few points. Looking at the pages of the Old Testament the image of the Community of the Covenant (Deut 27:1-26) becomes meaningful for us today, particularly where the renewal of the covenant is recounted. The text tells us that the people were invited to divide themselves into two halves, six tribes on Mount Gerizim and six tribes on Mount Ebal. Each half could look the other in the face. In the centre was erected "an altar of stone that no iron tool has worked" (v5), that is to say, stones "which belong to the order of peace and not war".18 On these stones all the letters of the Torah were clearly written. In the proclamation of the Torah, placed in the centre as the foundation of the community of the covenant, everyone is facing each other.

To sum up then, the biblical text depicts a community that is "standing erect" and which achieves its self-realisation not just by the Word of the Torah itself, but also by being face to face with one another in a shared experience of reciprocal welcome, attentive to the concrete life each of the other. By saying "Amen" to the Torah, they are also saying "Amen" to the faces in front of them, thereby assuming a responsibility for everyone. By this act they are recognising the fragility of others so that all may remain faithful to the covenant. The Torah thus becomes a bond of communion and an ethical principle of responsibility.

A totally different experience is that of Cain (Gen 4:1-6).19 He is unable to look his own brother Abel in the face. The only words he can say to his brother are those with which he invites him to the place of his death. With Cain we see the formal renunciation of being a "guardian" of our brother. By declining this responsibility Cain is brought to the tragic decision to eliminate anyone who gets in his way and is consequently incapable of having an authentic relationship with anyone. He becomes the restless "vagabond" who has no identity of his own because he sees enemies everywhere. Even the earth itself, which he has learned to subdue, will eventually turn against him.

Another significant text is that of the story of Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:19-37), particularly the spiritual journey undertaken by Jacob.20 Having cheated Esau out of his inheritance and received the blessing of their father Isaac, Jacob is forced to flee and undergo exile. His relationship with Esau, built as it is on deceit and fraud, on the one hand allows him to achieve success but on the other, arouses feelings of violence in his brother. His escape and in particular, his experience of exile, teach Jacob another way of dealing with his brother. Jacob returns from exile as a man renewed; a fragile hobbling man maybe but now at least able to look at his brother in a different light. In fact, the journey home is primarily a journey towards his brother. The Jacob who approaches Esau is the Jacob who has chosen to present himself as "a servant to his brother whom he acknowledges as his Lord" and to share with him all the good things with which God has enriched him. By making himself servant and gift to his brother, Jacob discovers the meaning of that blessing which he has seized by fraud.

Turning to the New Testament we will focus on the experience of the early christian communities. Our attention is drawn first of all to the Community of Jerusalem as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles.21 Here we see the ideal life-style of that community living in accord with the gift of the Spirit that was poured out at Pentecost; fraternal koinonia; being of one heart and mind; having a "common sense of being" founded on listening to the Word, on the "breaking of bread" and on prayer which is manifested concretely in the sharing of goods and by living in "sympathy" with the life of the people (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35). This lifestyle does not dispense the community from the toil of the journey. On the contrary, it brings the community face to face with the infidelity of some of its members (Acts 5:1-11) and with the hard reality of a conflict of different pastoral-theological options that need to be resolved through dialogue and discernment (Acts 15:1-19).

The communities founded or evangelised by the apostle Paul merit equal attention.22 He had wanted to form communities of believers whose adhesion and integration was founded on a common faith in Jesus, the Risen Lord of history (1 Cor 15; 2 Cor 11:17-33) and on the excellent path of divine agape (1 Cor 12:31-13:13). These communities were not all levelled out by uniformity but were alive and creative in the dynamics of the Spirit. Indeed they were capable of evaluating charisms and ministries (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 1:4-7,12; Eph 4,11-16), living and working with dignity and love (1 Tim 4:9-12), sharing spiritual goods (Rom 15:27; Gal 6:6-10; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) and material goods (Rom 15:25-28; 1 Cor 16:8-9; 2 Cor 8:9), living co-responsibly as members of one single body (Rom 12:7-11; 1 Cor 12:12-27), being guardians and feeling responsible for each other (Rom 12:12-16, 14:1-15,3; Gal 6:1-7; 1 Tim 5:12-15), being open to the toil of evangelism (Cor 3:2-3; Rom 16:1-12; 1 Tim 1:2-10).

1.3 The challenges of postmodernism

The traumatic events of our century (the two world wars, totalitarian regimes, nuclear discovery, pollution, the revolutionary events of 1989, corruption) have thrown the mythical and utopian aspects of modernity into crisis. Out of this crisis has emerged a situation of bewilderment, uncertainty and a fear of the future.

Hence the need for the dawn of a new awareness in contemporary man; postmodernity.23 This is a form of reply to the crises of the totalitarian ideologies of our century and has the following characteristics: a lack of confidence in human reason which is considered incapable of reaching the truth; the prevalence of "partial thought" and fragments of truth at the expense of "metaphysical thought" and systems of global thought; the fragmentation of truths and the crumbling of values from which anyone can choose that which is most convenient for his own particular situation; the prevalence of intellectual scepticism and ethical nihilism; the many different forms of the mythification of the "I" and of exasperated subjectivism (the typical post-modern person is single, non-communicative, negative and intolerant); the emphasis on a private life and on being different in one's own subjectivity. This leads to a way of life with a narrow horizon, the abandonment of all foundation and identity (our roots) and the incapability of dealing with other people.

These characteristics, while being of a generally negative nature,should not obscure the more posi-tive elements that emerge from postmodernism, i.e., the emphasis on the personal dimension of existence; on the rediscovery of values and the quality of life; the relativisation of the presumed absolute quality of reason and the recognition of the "fragments" of truth present in every form of knowledge.

Quite clearly this culture, in both its positive and negative aspects, poses a challenge to christian faith which, being trinitarian, is essentially relational. It also poses a challenge to the spiritual and charismatic tradition of Carmel, "narrated" by brothers and therefore essentially relational too. In other words we are dealing here with recovering the centrality of the individual and his vocation and outlining paths of growth proportional to the diversity of individuals by focusing on a respect for individual charisms, indeed actually promoting them. We are also dealing with promoting the rediscovery of the world of the individual as a world of interpersonal relationships in which we can stand face to face with others and be responsible for our brother by sympathising with his needs.

2 Fraternity in Carmel

2.1 Around the Word and the Eucharist

Fraternity cannot be taken for granted. It is a continual risk that enjoys happy moments, periods of great drive and energy and, at times, moments of morbid introversion, difficulties and crises. Because of this it needs a solid theological foundation which animates it and allows it to express itself with ever greater vitality. This foundation is provided by the Word of God and the Eucharist; that is to say, by the Word being heard and "made flesh", by the Word being meditated upon, celebrated and put into practice. We are not dealing here with the simple observing of a formality, but with recognising in the Word and the Eucharist, their characteristic of "event" that gives substance, dynamism and shape to life.

The Carmelite Rule already points us in this direction. It presents us with an itinerary that is still valid for our times.24 By opening ourselves to this text and to some further intuitions by Carmelite authors, we cannot but discover the rhythm of a community that grows around the Word and the Eucharist.

2.1.1 Diligent personal listening to the Word

We are dealing here with lectio divina; the practice of prayerful listening to the Word of Scripture which leads to an ever more intimate communion with Christ and an ever more radical conversion in one's own life. Today this practice has returned to being a daily form of nourishment in our communities. There are many echoes of this too in the spiritual tradition of Carmel. For example John of the Cross advises; "Leave behind all the other things which you still have and limit yourself to only one which contains in itself all the rest: that is sanctified solitude accompanied by prayer and holy divine reading. Persevere in this by forgetting all other things".25 Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi compares the Word to Jacob's ladder which enables us to climb to the Father's "womb";26 Thérèse of Lisieux, writing to Fr. Roulland communicates her experience of being a disciple of the Word in this way: "I close the book of the wise that breaks my head into little pieces and turns my heart dry and I take the Scriptures in hand. Then everything becomes clear to me; a simple word unlocks infinite horizons for my soul and perfection suddenly seems so easy".27

2.1.2 Listening to the Word in community28

In the context of the rule this listening takes place at the moment of the common table; nowadays, other forms involving greater participation and more conducive places are preferable. For example; a type of lectio divina based on the biblical readings of the Sunday and festive liturgies celebrated in the chapel or in another more appropriate place. We should not forget that Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi often liked to join up with her sisters on the vigils of Sundays and liturgical solemnities to meditate on the scripture readings. Nor should we forget the words of John of the Cross: that by ourselves we will never grasp the meaning of the Word of God that is speaking to us today; we need the company and the words of others. In John's opinion this is a theological necessity: "Moses felt encouraged because he was inspired by the hope that his brother Aaron would have comforted him with his advice. In fact it is a characteristic of the humble soul not to attempt to deal with God by oneself but to feel not totally satisfied without seeking the direction of human counsel. God wants it this way since He is in the midst of those gathering to understand the truth...".29

2.1.3 The Liturgy of the Hours30

Here the Word that is listened to on a personal and community level is made into community prayer; prayer that unites us as brothers, sons of the one Father. The spiritual tradition of Carmel likes to emphasise the doxology at the end of the psalms; Carmelites are called prophets because they sing the psalms and hymns accompanied by musical instruments.31 The praise becomes prophecy, an announcement of the new age of the Spirit. This praise becomes real living music for God because it is alive with the life of the Trinity32 and capable of "trinitarian" relationships, i.e., communitarian relationships.33

2.1.4 Daily Eucharist34

Here the Word, having been listened to and prayed about, becomes flesh and really is the existential "centre" of the community in the sense that it teaches the evangelical values of unity, of gift and of service. "It is here to call to creatures; and they are filled with this water, although in darkness, because it is night", sings John of the Cross contemplating the Eucharist as a mystical fount of unity for all.35 Elizabeth of the Trinity on the other hand contemplates the Eucharist as a sacrament of "receptivity"; communion with the body and blood of the Lord is more of a receiving than a giving; it is more a case of being assimilated by Him than us assimilating Him.36 Finally, Edith Stein teaches that "living in a eucharistic way means coming out of oneself, out from the narrowness of one’s own life and growing into the immensity of life in Christ". This life opens up to love without frontiers, a love of solidarity where no one is considered a stranger.37

2.1.5 The community chapter38

Here the Word, having been listened to and made flesh, is experienced existentially as the "guardian" of community life, looking after the spiritual welfare of individuals, and involves fraternal correction that is exercised with charity. Saint Paul says that the Word finds its fulfilment in agape (Rom 13:10). It is evident that in this important moment of community life the Word is efficacious in convoking, instructing, exhorting, discerning and illumining the concrete life of the brethren in their community way of life. When we deal with dialogue later on we will make some practical applications for the community chapter.

2.2 Individual and community

The dynamism of fraternity functions in the dialectic relationship and integration between the individual and the community. It must be made clear that the community exists for the individual, i.e., its goal is the full maturing of the individual. The community is in fact made up of individuals and, taken together, not as an institution as such, they create the common good.39 On the other hand it should be made clear that individuals overcome "individualism" in so far as they are capable of entering into a relationship with a community that lives determined values, in our case the values of the Kingdom as mediated through the charismatic way of life of Carmel. At this level the individual inter-reacts by bringing his own gifts, attitudes and capabilities which he puts at the service of all. Within this context of values the individual matures and, at the same time, the quality of life of the community is enriched.

How, then, do we express the relationship between the individual and the community in Carmel? Our starting point, as ever, has to be the charismatic way of life outlined in the Rule. This provides us with some fundamental anthropological and evangelical values which need to take root in the concrete circumstances of different communities. We will take a brief look at these values.

2.2.1 The community "we"

For a community of brothers made up of different individuals with their own history and cultural background to feel bonds of belonging and travelling together on the same journey of faith, all members need to live the values of unity, reciprocity and sharing.

Living the value of unity40 means being of "one mind and one body"; a fundamental meeting of aims and viewpoints on a common project, mixed in with a good dose of maturity, truth and transparency of acting (operis veritate servare). This unity is the basic premise for genuine love to exist between the brothers and for genuine relationships to flourish (1 Jn 3:1,18). In fact, if there is unity there is also a will and desire to participate in decisions to be made together and there is thus created a climate of open and serene dialogue which is indispensable for the exercise of discernment. The visible sign and living reminder of unity is the prior who is the "first among the brothers". To him is entrusted the guardianship of remaining faithful to the decisions taken by the community and so preventing the arbitrary attitudes and individual quirks of the brothers from creating unstable situations.

Living the value of reciprocity41 means living the unity on an even more intense level of maturity. This is realised when the person who presides over the community and the community itself, together and in their different roles, obey Christ, and when both serve each other in humility.

Finally sharing.42 Basically there are two forms of sharing that are helpful to the growth of the community: sharing of material goods and sharing of spiritual goods. Both forms, each in its own way, free us from selfish proprium, which as we know focuses attention on oneself, creates division and even subtle forms of antagonism. Instead, we are rendered evangelically poor by that poverty that reaches out to the brothers, that knows how to share and help. We are in tune with the true needs of others. The evangelical paradox of poverty lies precisely in sharing; if we are poor, we share. If we are rich, we accumulate things just for ourselves!

2.2.2 Evaluating the individual

If the community "we" is lived in its most profound evangelical sense, it does not absorb or weaken the individual. On the contrary, the individual's dignity is given its genuine value. The promotion of the individual is not neglected in our charismatic way of life.43 In fact, each individual is offered an adequate personal space (his cell) where he can grow in dignity as a follower of the Lord. This space must be faithfully guarded. Furthermore, consideration is given to the physical spiritual and cultural situation of each individual so that they may feel at ease and fully respected and esteemed. Lastly, as a further stimulus for the individual, we have the exhortation to "give more",44 to live our own lives in the generous and creative service of our brothers.

A further consideration should be given to the needs of the individual. Being mindful of these means improving the quality of life from the point of view of "being" and not "having". But we need to take care. It often happens that needs are merely masking forms of greed, sometimes bare-faced, sometimes subtle. We need to actively practice self-limitation in our needs and a return to a sobriety of life. This can be indicated by fast and abstinence.45 These are proposed as an Easter journey of liberation from false needs of "having" and rediscovering a simple life reduced to its essentials.

2.2.3 Relativisation of institutional roles

Our way of life, as outlined in the Rule, places no emphasis on institutional roles. This is not to say that we should not give any importance to the service offered by the prior, the bursar and others who work for the common good. On the contrary, it is simply that we should not give undue emphasis to them because the true protagonist is the community itself, where equality precedes any role, office or ministry. The roles are essential for a community, but we will consider them in the context of fraternity.

2.2.4 Humanisation of the environment, of work and verbal communication

Our way of life also outlines the relationship between the individual and the community in terms of their rapport with the environment, work and verbal communication.

With regard to the environment we will indicate two criteria for discernment;

- osmosis with the life-style of the fraternity: the environment in which the brothers live should be suitable and convenient for their way of consecrated life.46 In other words, the structures should be able to communicate the spiritual reality of the community.

- harmony with the characteristics of the land: the need for living spaces (cell refectory, church....) should not only take account of the situation of the place47 but should also observe a coefficient of adaptability to individuals so that they do not feel oppressed by the rigidity of the structures.48

With regard to work, the only criterion needed for a serenity of heart and mind in oneself and in relation to others is that of seeing work (following the example of Saint Paul), as an expression of the gift of oneself to each other.49

With regard to verbal communication: this needs to be founded on and nourished by silence.50 Only silence lends wisdom, taste and due weight to our words. Only silence educates us for a true and authentic communication with our brothers and consequently for a relationship that is healthy and balanced.

2.3 Dialogue in the Spirit

Dialogue is an interpersonal communication where I reveal and give to the other person something of myself. The other person likewise gives me something of themselves. Giving-receiving; gift; reciprocal communication; welcome; reciprocal listening: these together constitute the nucleus and basic dynamism of dialogue.

On a spiritual-theological level, dialogue becomes the moment par excellence of a meeting animated by the action of the Spirit (which is why we speak of "dialogue in the Spirit"). It is in the Spirit (who is the meeting of the Father and the Son, the reciprocal giving of the Lover and Loved), "poured into our hearts" (Rom 5:5; Jn 14:16-17), that dialogue with another person and the communication of our faith with our brothers is possible.

2.3.1 Pedagogical options

In Ecclesiam Suam Art. 47, Paul VI wrote that dialogue is "an art of spiritual communication". Like any art it needs to be gradually assimilated by means of some basic pedagogical criteria. We will look at some of them.

  • Rediscovering the face of the other person as a mystery, as something authentically transcendent, as an "event". By the simple fact of being an "us", them standing in front of me as someone distinct from me, in all their richness and fragility, turns my horizons completely upside down; they call me to be responsible in their regard. They make me capable of giving a responsible reply. They enable me to rediscover my identity of "being-for another". They regenerate my openness to goodness. This rediscovery of the face of the other person requires a deconstruction of my egocentricity in order to build my "being-for-another". Concretely it requires the deconstruction of four types of attitude: an attitude of centrism and superiority (this graduates differences into a hierarchy); an attitude of friendship and enmity (this divides humanity into friends and enemies and lies at the root of the so called "ideology of the enemy"); an attitude of competition (this determines relationships with others on the dialectic of winning/losing and the sole objective is not co-operation or solidarity but simply winning); an attitude of conformism (this is the attitude of passivity, of simple alienation, of lack of creativity).
  • Placing value on silence as a gestation period necessary for any true and authentic verbal communication. Silence (which is quite different from remaining dumb!) encourages the individual to look inwards and to discover the truth inside themselves, face to face with the contemplative Word of God. Human words accumulated without reflection are simply mundane things, mere chatter and pure exhibitionism that only engenders superficial and banal communication.
  • Placing value on time and space, we cannot communicate at speed and in one fell swoop. Communication needs a certain amount of time to be delivered, gathered and assimilated.
  • Teaching ourselves communicative transparency: i.e., learning to erase ambiguities and hidden meanings. We should bear in mind though, that in this life our transparency will never be total. There will always be light and shadow in the sphere of interpersonal communication. Perfect clarity of truth will remain an unattainable goal. Hence the need to recompose the various "fragments" of truth which each of us carries in our lives and our choices.
  • Teaching ourselves the importance of listening. Listening means becoming receptive cavities, understanding and gathering what the other person is communicating; their reasons, feelings, "vibrations", to the extent of putting ourselves into their shoes.
  • Teaching ourselves about reciprocity. Dialogue is not a one way system. Quite simply there is no dialogue if communication does not invite a reply. This means that both the listener and the speaker must make the effort to put themselves into the world of the person to whom they wish to speak.
  • Teaching ourselves to deal with conflicts and overcome them through dialogue. "To overcome conflicts and ensure that normal tensions do not become dangerous for the unity of the Church, all of us need to be confronted with the Word of God. By abandoning our subjective points of view we can seek the truth wherever it may be; i.e., in the authentic interpretation of the divine Word given by the magisterium of the Church. Seen in this light, mutual listening, respect and avoidance of hasty judgements, patience, ensuring that faith (which unifies) is not subject to opinions, changing fashions or ideological bandwagons (which divide), are all characteristics of a dialogue within the Church that must be assiduous, undertaken willingly and sincerely."51
  • Pointing everyone towards a superior gift: to a good offeredto all, which is the result of the richness and positive attitude of every speaker; showing that this good is not the property of any one person but is a gift offered to all, so that all may make it bear fruit.
  • Cultivating meekness. Christ Himself urges us to learn from Him; "Learn from me, that I am meek and humble of heart" (Mt 11:29). "Dialogue is not proud, haughty or arrogant. Its authority is intrinsic to the truth it expounds, to the love it spreads, to the example it proposes; it is not a command or an imposition. It is peaceful; it avoids means of violence; it is patient and generous."52
  • Cultivating faith, "both in the virtue of our own words and in the listening attitude of the correspondent; promoting confidence and friendship; involving hearts in a mutual adhesion to a good which excludes all egotistic aims".53
  • Cultivating pedagogical prudence, "which takes into account the psychological and moral conditions of the person who is listening (cf. Mt 7:6); whether they be a child, uneducated, unprepared, diffident or hostile, and to try to understand their sensibilities, in order to change one’s approach in a reasonable way so as not to appear unsympathetic and incomprehensible. When dialogue is conducted in this way we can see the combining of truth with charity; of intelligence with love".54
2.3.2 The most common forms of dialogue in the Spirit today

Dialogue can come in many different shapes and sizes, from the daily and informal to the more institutionalised: walking with a brother or a friend, writing a letter, making a telephone call, working together, eating together, praying together, travelling together, spending free time together, taking part in a meeting; these are all forms of dialogue and communication which need to be taken into account and evaluated. Here we wish to limit ourselves to the so called institutionalised forms of dialogue employed in a group or community to help them grow as a fraternity in the Lord. We shall call them institutionalised because they are the mature fruit of a long experience of community and groups in the history of the Church. In fact there are forms of dialogue already found in the early christian communities, e.g., community sharing of the Word (1 Jn 1:3; Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16-17); community discernment (1 Tim 5:21; 1 Jn 4:1), fraternal correction (Mt 18:15-20). We find other forms of dialogue that have matured in contemporary groups and movements e.g., revision of life, the elaboration of the community project, fraternal promotion, permanent formation. We will take a closer look at some of these.

a. Communication of the Word that has been heard

For the Word of God to become the corner-stone in building up the community, the Word needs to be circulated among its members. The Word needs the service of our voice, not just to be proclaimed, but also to be re-expressed and to ring out when faced with new situations and new personal and ecclesial journeys.

Each time a brother or friend shares the Word he has read, meditated upon, contemplated and experienced, it becomes nourishment for the community; it is the gift of the Word "made flesh" in the life of the community. Within this Word made flesh we can discern without prejudice, the community's hopes, joys, pains and expectations. It is the Word that speaks through my brother!

To experience this form of dialogue we need to practice epiclesis, i.e., invoking the Spirit to create an atmosphere of silence and prayer.

b. Community discernment

No matter how much the christian life tries to be faithful to the Gospel, there will always be lots of ambiguities. To deal with this we need spiritual discernment on both a personal and community level. This involves the capacity of learning to experiment with applying God's plan of salvation in the circumstances of daily life, the capacity of knowing how to perceive the creative action of God present in every created thing (the signs of the times) which is often hidden and side-lined by the decisions of individuals (1 Jn 4:1). On the community level, discernment is a spiritual process by which a community, putting together the opinions of its members within the context of an atmosphere of prayer, can perceive God acting and be aware of what is the best thing to do (Rom 12:2) here and now, so that the community can be guided by the action of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:5-8).

What are the fundamental criteria for discernment? First of all, the fruits of life. Discernment is authentic if individuals grow on a human level and on the level of faith, maturing in their vocation and mission. But these fruits are harvested only after a certain time and after detailed analysis. We therefore need other criteria for evaluation.

Listening to the normative sources i.e., the Word of God, the Magisterium of the Church, a particular tradition (in our case the experience of Carmel through the centuries) as signposts for the journey to be undertaken.

A comparison with other experiences, other disciplines so as to be able to make a more "global" comparative analysis of situations. The essential elements of community discernment are: dialogue, necessary to formulate the problem and identify all of its aspects by listening to various opinions and then making a decision; community prayer, to compare the Word of God with the ideal of the chosen way of life (in our case the charism and mission of Carmel); contemplative reflection and operative decision, to orientate the common action.

c. Elaborating the community way of life

The community way of life is the means by which a community outlines the characteristics of its identity, offers suggestions for improving itself in the sphere of being and acting, and gives us competent operative indications. In concrete terms, the community way of life attempts to translate the charismatic and spiritual patrimony of Carmel for our actual community socio-ecclesial situation, making the community the responsible subject of fraternal and apostolic life; creating a strategic frame of mind by examination, research, mutual regard and respect and community discernment. The aim of this is to identify priorities, objectives, stages, subjects and operative means that are shared by all; harmonising the primacy of the individual with the common good; placing the spiritual goods of individuals (attitudes, personal charisms, capabilities) in common and at the service of all in order to foster coresponsibility; harmonising community life and mission; situating the community in its particular context (local church and territory); keeping alive the memory of values to be interiorised.

But how do we articulate the community way of life? It is essentially based on three active verbs: seeing, judging and acting.

Seeing: starting with the analysis of the problems and situations that face the community; pressing necessities in the local territory; needs and requirements of the local church; directions from the provincial and general chapter. The help of experts, lay, religious, clergy, may be employed.

Judging: by referring to the values (Word of God, magisterium, charism and mission of Carmel) and coming to a community discernment of priorities. Here, too, the help of experts may be called upon.

Acting: establishing goals, objectives, specific areas, avoiding the imbalance of abstract idealism and appeasing the status quo, evaluating the actual resources, potential to be activated, the first steps to take and subjects and means.

We should bear in mind that the community way of life is not an absolute: it is simply a means that allows us to indicate a common purpose. After an appropriate length of time a valuation has to be made in relation to the objectives, the means and the quality (not so much quantity) of the results achieved. If made sincerely and responsibly, the valuation guarantees continuity and becomes the starting point of another journey.

d. Revision of life

We are a community on the move: a small portion of a people, the people of God, on a pilgrimage towards our homeland, the most perfect community of the Trinity, of which we have already tasted, but do not yet fully possess as our own. Our pilgrimage requires conversion and renewal i.e., a valuation of our journey of faith, of our individuality in the sphere of being and acting. This is what we mean by "revision of life". In general, the most common method is seeing, judging and acting. The object may be an event that has interested the community; each member of the community communicates how they have experienced it (seeing); the causes, reasons and consequences of the event are analysed in the light of the Word of God (judging); the community then attempts to identify the appropriate attitude and course of action to be taken (acting). Or as we saw earlier, it may be one particular aspect of the community way of life.

e. Fraternal correction and affirmation

We know that fraternal correction is a command of Jesus ("Go and warn him... bring it to the assembly.... do unto others"); it is a similar command to that of fraternal love (Jn 13:34; cf. Les 19:17-18). We must also know that correction made by us must be based on God's pedagogy; "He reproves the one he loves" (Prov 3:12; Rev 3:19) and behaves towards the person who errs like a doctor and a parent (Heb 12:7-11). For this reason Church tradition has always linked fraternal correction with charity. Indeed it affirms that we must correct with charity.

From this we can reach our first conclusion: in so far as we are not capable of correcting our brother with charity, we fail to fulfil the commandment of fraternal love. There is another reason that urges us to consider the importance of fraternal correction, that of responsibility. Every believer is called to feel responsible for the other person, to be a guardian of his brother's life and vocation (Eccl 4:9-11; Les 19:17;
2 Tim 3:5; Gal 6:1-2). This responsibility is, in reality, another dimension of the commandment of fraternal love.

From this we can reach a second conclusion; we are called to correct our brother because we love him and feel responsible for both his human and christian life. We also feel responsible for the evil he has done.

What is the fundamental criterion of fraternal correction? The answer is charity. This is the theological virtue that determines whether correction is appropriate. If correction runs the risk of dividing the community, or is not seen as a help, or if it provokes scandal, it is better to postpone it to a more opportune moment. However, it should not be postponed through laziness, shame, connivance, fear of comebacks or rancour. Nor should it be postponed when there is a danger that, by not correcting a brother, he may fall even deeper into sin with irreparable harm both to himself and the community.

Furthermore, it is not appropriate to correct someone who harbours hatred, revenge or a persecution complex. Rather, it is appropriate to correct someone who has the other's good at heart, who is patient and moderate, who hates sin and loves the sinner.

Seen in the light of this fundamental criterion of charity, what predispositions are required in the person who has to correct? We should explain at once that we are talking about predispositions for one simple reason; correction is not easy, neither for the person who receives it nor the person who gives it. In fact, it is the person who administers correction, (depending on the circumstances, another brother or the person responsible in the community), who experiences the greater difficulty. This is why he needs the necessary predisposition, recognising his own weakness and his own sin (Lk 6:39-42). He then needs to fast and pray so that the efficacy of the correction depends on God alone.

This predisposition allows us to approach another person in a disarming way without any traces of pride or vain glory, simply strong in the Gospel. Our method is that indicated by Matthew 18:15-20: first a personal approach, then a small group and, finally, before the whole community. But this method should be integrated, if we can say that about the Word of God, with fraternal concern. In other words, the erring brother should not just be criticised negatively. His positive and good points should also be acknowledged. Experience teaches us that personal and community correction should proceed in the following way: begin with the brother's positive attributes, then point out the negative elements (the reason for correction) and finally, conclude with another positive contribution so that evil is seen to be defeated by good (Rom 12:21). This is how we become instruments of God's will, which creates what is good in the people God loves. We can see how fraternal concern may be understood as something quite distinct from correction. Its aim is to embrace all that is good, true and beautiful which God is creating in our midst through life itself, through work and through the efforts of our brothers.

f. Permanent formation

There is no church document which does not recommend ongoing education. Lay people,55 religious,56 and clergy57 are all exhorted to revive the gift that God has sown in us. We are dealing here with being open to the signs of the Spirit visible in our present age in order to live our gift of vocation ever more faithfully by integrating all its aspects, human and christian, social and spiritual, cultural and pastoral.

As we know only too well, this undertaking is extremely difficult to carry out by ourselves. It is easier and more profitable to carry out together in community or in groups where everyone, with the help of proper communication, full of evangelical wisdom, becomes the teacher of others, a support and a prophetic stimulus. Through this communication we share not only more or less "up-to-date" ideas, but we also get to know each other better, understand each other better and so are able to collaborate more enthusiastically in pastoral work.

2.4 The Church's presence in the world

By its very nature the Carmelite fraternity is open to ecclesial service and to the world. If lived to the full, fraternity can lead to a way of life. This is "useful for one's own salvation and for that of one's neighbour", as affirmed by the papal bull Paganorum Incursus of Innocent IV.

Today, however, given the changes in world outlook, the cultural transition from modern to postmodern and the question of a new evangelisation, ("new in its vigour, new in methods and new in expression" as John Paul II likes to put it), the Carmelite fraternity is called upon not to change its forma vitae along the lines of clerical religious congregations like the Jesuits, Salesians and Paulists, but to revitalise its diaconal character. This will allow the charism of "contemplative fraternity in the midst of the people" to be alive and active and at the service of the Church and the growth of the values of the Kingdom in the world.

This revitalisation needs to take place within the following framework. The charism of all forms of consecrated life in the Church, in order to be "alive", needs to be translated into a spirituality and concretised in one or more forms of diakonia which must not alter the nature of the charism itself.58

The charism of all forms of consecrated life in the Church, in as much as they owe their origin to the action of the Holy Spirit, is by its very nature, a "creator". Hence, "it brings a certain newness to the spiritual life of the Church and operates interdependently with it".59 This interdependence has to be revitalised with a good dose of creativity.60

The charism particular to each form of consecrated life should not be monopolised; rather, it belongs to the whole Church. It is therefore possible to create a "mutual relationship", a sort of charismatic communion, with christian lay-people by applying the criteria of mutual support and reciprocity.

From all of this we can formulate a proposal consisting of seven forms of diakonia that take their inspiration from the charism and spirituality of Carmel. We should be careful to point out that these forms of diakonia must not be seen as an alternative to the pastoral projects of the local Church; rather, they should be in harmony. They may also be shared by the christian lay-people who actively collaborate in our communities. Finally, depending on personal attitudes, capabilities and means, a community or a group of Christian lay-people may feel themselves called to one or more forms of diakonia. We will now outline the main points of our proposal.

2.4.1 Diakonia of welcoming

a. Carmelite inspiration

The way of life outlined in n.9 of the Carmelite Rule denotes a fraternity that is open to the world with a style of attentive welcoming and availability that has matured through discernment. The biblical inspiration is probably the welcoming hospitality exhibited by Abraham and Sarah who sat at the entrance to the tent (Gen 18:1-4; Heb 13:2). Along with this observation we should not forget that in the Carmelite tradition the convent was always a place of "coming-together", an intimate meeting, a place of open and glowing koinonia.

b. In the context of diakonia

Carmelite communities, at least those with adequate means and structures, should be open to welcoming people who wish to deepen their prayer life by listening to the Word and living a desert experience. Here we are attempting to offer the mature fruits of our being a contemplative and praying community living in the presence of God by the force of our witness and communication of the faith.

This is the form of diakonia most requested from religious by our bishops and committed lay-people;61 particularly from those religious who are heirs to a fruitful and significant spiritual tradition in the history of the Church. Are we Carmelites not to be counted among them?

c. Involvement of lay-people.

For obvious reasons we will add a note about the integration of lay-christians.

Carmelite inspiration

Besides the references to open fraternity mentioned above, it is also worth noting that the spiritual tradition of Carmel highlights Mary as mother and sister with the characteristics of intimacy and tenderness.

In the context of diakonia

Hopefully, married couples will dedicate themselves to a diakonia of married welcome, by opening their houses for meetings and prayer groups; looking after the spiritual journey of young people preparing for marriage; supporting couples in difficulty; making themselves available for looking after children.62

2.4.2 Diakonia of the Word

a. Carmelite inspiration

In Carmel, the primacy of the Word of God is pre-eminent; meditated, prayed, contemplated and experienced in life. Above all, this is true of the Rule. The Word of God not only provides its very fabric and inspiration, it is seen as the creative energy behind fraternal koinonia (nn.7,10-15,22-23) and, as the dynamism for growth in the formation of the spiritual person (nn.18-21).

Furthermore, every author, in his own way and according to the biblical knowledge of his own age, has read, meditated, prayed and contemplated the Scriptures. We need think only of the author of the Institutio primorum monachorum, who meditates on the Elijah-Elisha cycle; of Teresa of Avila who has left us a personal commentary on the Our Father; of John of the Cross who with great ease ranges from the Old to New Testament tracing the path of faith of the spiritual person; of Thérèse of Lisieux who discovers her vocation in the Church as love by meditating prayerfully on some pages of Saint Paul's letters; of Elizabeth of the Trinity who, in her retreats, also loves to meditate deeply on the Pauline letters.

b. In the context of diakonia

The diakonia of the Word can become another aspect of the ministries of Carmel if communities and individuals, religious and lay people, train both themselves and others in the daily and weekly practice of lectio divina, and if they set aside moments for biblical formation and sapiential reading of the Bible so that the Word in all its richness lives in our hearts and on our tongues and is the inspiration behind all our actions.63

Here too, there is no lack of urgent requests by the magisterium for religious and lay-people to evangelise by proclaiming the Word of God they themselves have already interiorised and assimilated.

2.4.3 Diakonia of Prayer

a. Carmelite inspiration

One of the most evocative symbolic images of Carmel from its very beginning is the centrality of the little chapel dedicated to Our Lady. This indicates the centrality of the Eucharist,64 as the creative force of fraternal koinonia in its essential aspects of sharing, charity and service. It is not for nothing in fact that the Rule places this centrality in a broader context, nn.10-16, where we can see the clear link and interweaving between prayer and life. The personal listening to the Word (n.10) which becomes community praise (n.11) requires the brothers to practice the communion of goods (n.12) which finds its prophecy and foundation in the Eucharist (n.14). The Eucharist takes existential form in the practice of dialogue and reconciliation by means of charity (n.15) and a simple, sober life style that is attentive to the needs of others and able to adapt to circumstances (nn.17-18).

Another image that complements the first is expressed in spiritual tradition by a ritual note in the Institutio primorum monachorum (Book 2 ch 3; Book 3 ch 3) where we see the confirmation that the Carmelites were called prophets because they were singers of psalms, i.e., they praised God with psalms, hymns and canticles, accompanied by musical instruments in the house of prayer Elijah had built for them on Mount Carmel and where they met together three times daily for prayer. With the coming of Jesus Christ, we read further on in the same work (Book 4 ch 5), this rite of praising God with musical instruments becomes interiorised in the way mentioned by Saint Paul (Eph 5:18-20). Here too, we can see the author's intention of repeating, albeit in different language and with different images, the interweaving of prayer and life that we have already observed in the rule, i.e., making our lives into a perennial doxology, an authentic "praise of glory" to use the words of Elizabeth of the Trinity, in which we can see reflected the presence of the living God.

Finally we should not forget the theme of "prayer and life" is one of the most fertile in the spiritual tradition of Carmel, to the extent of having an ecclesial resonance on a universal level by teaching and inspiring whole generations.

b. In the context of diakonia

It is up to us today to revitalise the incredibly rich heritage of diakonia in our tradition, above all in our individual and community prayer and in our liturgy; not simply by adding dignity and decorum but by infusing a contemplative "breath" which nourishes it with the Word of God and incarnates it in life itself. From this foundation will spring forth the pastoral undertaking to create schools of initiation in prayer; promoting liturgical formation; and the development of an authentic Marian cult in memory of the "centrality" of the first small chapel dedicated to Our Lady.

2.4.4 Diakonia of spiritual companionship

a. Carmelite inspiration

One of the characteristics of Carmelite spirituality is to promote itself as a "spirituality of journey" i.e., a mystagogical itinerary that leads to a more authentic and mature experience of God. We find this mystagogical dimension present in the greater part of Carmelite writings, especially in those of the mystics themselves. We can think, for example, of the Institutio primorum monachorum where we can see a spiritual itinerary with the prophet Elijah; of Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection and Interior Castle, where the contemplative experience becomes an itinerary of prayer; of John of the Cross’ Ascent, Dark Night and Spiritual Canticle, where we can see a spiritual itinerary in which the believer learns to love as God loves; of Michael of Saint Augustine, who puts forth a mystical itinerary of vita mariaforme i.e., permeated by the presence of the mother of the Lord; of the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux; of Elizabeth of the Trinity who produced a small pamphlet How to Find Heaven on Earth for the mother of a family. These are only a few examples, enough to remind us of Carmel's great pedagogical heritage at the service of the spiritual companionship of believers. In fact, we can say that in this field Carmel leads the way as an essential point of reference, as an authoritative "magisterium".

b. In the context of diakonia

Today Carmel cannot but feel itself called to reconsider this diakonia by revitalising it in new and creative ways, either by proposing itineraries of faith suitable for modern people or by giving a heightened mystagogical dimension to pastoral action and to the direction and discernment of vocation.

2.4.5 Diakonia of justice and peace

a. Carmelite inspiration

The Carmelite Rule proposes the exercise of fraternal correction by charity (n.15) as the only non-violent means of resolving conflicts and of bringing one's brother back into fraternal koinonia. In our opinion the Rule makes no mention, either implicitly or explicitly, of any other methods that lead to punishment or excommunication. We are exhorted to clothe ourselves with "spiritual armour" to disarm the "enemy" and to bear witness with faith, hope and charity to the Gospel of peace (nn.18-19).

We should note that in Carmel there is no lack of shining examples of this approach: e.g., Angelo Paoli, called "Father Charity"; Mariangela Virgili, called "Mother of the Poor"; the biblical models of Mary and Elijah, too, are sometimes contemplated as inspirations of solidarity; Mary of Nazareth as a woman of humility, able to walk with the poor of the earth;65 the prophet Elijah as a man of solidarity for the promotion of justice.

Nor is there a lack of exemplary witnesses to the cause of peace in Carmel: some medieval authors speak of the martyrdom of the early Carmelites by the Saracen invaders of the Holy Land. Speaking of martyrdom, how can we overlook the life, work and witness of Titus Brandsma who was martyred in Dachau? Furthermore, considering the theological axiom, lex orandi, lex credendi, we cannot ignore the euchology of a true Carmelite that regards Peter Thomas as an apostle of peace among people and as a wise builder of peace; Andrew Corsini as an example of someone who worked tirelessly for the justice that guarantees true and lasting peace; Nuno Alvarez Pereira as the man God called from the violence of arms to the peaceful service of Christ; Luigi Rabatà as a man full of singular love and patience in bearing injury.

b. In the context of diakonia

These examples from our tradition, seen in the light of statements from the magisterium66 and in the light of mature ecclesial experiences, can be translated today into a form of diakonia by the promotion of justice and peace; collaborating in setting up permanent observers of poverty and injustice against human rights; setting aside moments of prayer and spirituality focusing on justice, peace and the integrity of creation; educating youth about the alternative of civil service to military service; making people sensitive to voluntary work or simply giving up some of their time for the good of others.

2.4.6 Diakonia of inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue

a. Carmelite inspiration

We know Carmel was born in the Holy Land, a place where we find the three great monotheistic and Abramitic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. We know too, that the biblical figures of the prophet Elijah and Mary of Nazareth, characterising the charism and spirituality of Carmel, are meaningful not only for the Eastern Churches and the Protestant Churches, but also for Judaism and Islam.

b. In the context of diakonia

How do we evaluate this from the viewpoint of diakonia? First of all, by giving our community prayer a more ecumenical dimension and feel; secondly by promoting ecumenical prayer meetings, organising opportunities for ecumenical formation and instruction about other religions; finally by collaborating with diocesan centres of ecumenism.

2.4.7 Diakonia of beauty

a. Carmelite dimension

We are speaking here of beauty in a theological/spiritual sense, i.e., as a harmonious life modelled on the qualities of Divine Love; the possibility of kenosis, of communion and reciprocity, of gift and graciousness; the ability to stand in awe and wonder and so be part of whatever new things God is creating in the events of history. This beauty and this aesthetic dimension of the spiritual person is present in a remarkably rich way in Carmel. We need only look at the rich symbolism used by Carmelite authors: the Rule portrays spiritual person as someone clothed with the qualities of Christ, the New Man (nn.18-19); the Institutio primorum monachorum depicts Carmelites as prophets singing the psalms with musical instruments; John of the Cross views the itinerary of the believer as a progressive clothing with the Beauty of God reflected in the image of the Son;67 Elizabeth of the Trinity invites us to become a "hymn of glory", a "harp of the spirit" vibrating with "divine harmonies";68 Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi describes Carmel as a "beautiful cottage", or a "column of the most beautiful porphyry", a "flowering meadow";69 Titus Brandsma synthesises the image of the sunflower continually turned towards the sun (God) with the contemplative dimension of Carmel.70

In Carmel the most successful anthropological model is Mary of Nazareth. She is invoked as the "Mother and Beauty of Carmel" and is contemplated as the purest mirror of God's beauty.

Nor should we forget that some of these authors were gifted with artistic talents. Some were poets, musicians, painters (especially John of the Cross and Elizabeth of the Trinity). Thanks to their artistic sensitivities they were able to communicate their indescribable experience of the Mystery to their contemporaries.

b. In the context of diakonia

Today in Carmel we are rediscovering the "Way of Beauty" in a perspective of diakonia. This involves appreciating the value of all artistic expressions (literary, figurative and musical) with the aim of witnessing to the experience of God and announcing this experience to the generations of our time who are often devoid of ideals and alienated in the ephemeral.

3 Suggestions for Personal Reflection and Dialogue

  1. Try to make your own analysis of the modern person‘s situation, listing positive and negative elements.
  2. Briefly recount your own experience of fraternity, listing the positive and negative elements, situations that could be improved, and those that you would like to avoid.
  3. What means could the community adopt, or what initiatives could it undertake, to help it grow ever more fully in evangelical fraternity?
  4. In your opinion, what other forms of dialogue in the Spirit would help a greater growth in fraternity?
  5. Evaluate the quality of individual and community experiences of listening to the Word. Evaluate the quality of the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist.
  6. What type of presence does your community have in the local Church? Is there some potential that has not been fully realised or needs to be rediscovered?

4 Small Anthology of Spiritual Reading

4.1 The Carmelite Rule (nn.10-15,21)

n.10: Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord's law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty.

n.11: Those who know their letters, and how to read the psalms, should, for each of the hours, say those our holy forefathers laid down and the approved custom of the Church appoints for that hour. Those who do not know their letters must say twenty-five "Our Fathers" for the night office, except on Sundays and solemnities when the number is to be doubled so that the "Our Father" is said fifty times; the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in place of Lauds, and seven times too for each of the other hours, except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.

n.12: None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but your property is to be held in common, and of such things as the Lord may have given you each is to receive from the prior - that is from the man he appoints for the purpose - whatever befits his age and need. However as I have said, each one of you is to stay in his allotted cell, and live by himself, on what is given out to him.

n.13: You may keep a certain amount of livestock or poultry.

n.14: An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.

n.15: On Sundays too, or other days if necessary, you should discuss matters of discipline and your spiritual welfare, and on this occasion the indiscretions and failings of the brothers, if any be found at fault, should be lovingly corrected.

n.21: The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the prophet also makes known to us; silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says; your strength will lie in silence and hope. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from vespers until terce the next day, unless some necessary or good reason or the prior's permission, should break the silence. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as scripture has it - and experience teaches us no less - sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and he who is careless in speech will come to no harm; and elsewhere; the use of many words brings harm to the speaker's soul. And Our Lord says in the Gospel; every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgement day. Make a balance then each of you to weigh his words in; keep a tight reign on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall will be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offence and employ every care in keeping silent which is the way to foster holiness.

4.2 The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila (ch 6:4-7)

It may be, sisters, that you will think it irrelevant for me to treat of this, and you may say that you already know everything that I have said. God grant that this may be so, and that you may indeed know it in the only way which has any meaning, and that it may be graven upon your inmost being, and that you may never for a moment depart from it; for you know it, you will see that I am telling nothing but the truth when I say that he whom the Lord brings thus far possesses this love. Those whom God brings to this state are, I think, generous and royal souls; they are not content with loving anything so miserable as these bodies, however beautiful they be and however numerous the graces they possess. If the sight of the body gives them pleasure they praise the Creator, but as for dwelling upon it for more than just a moment - no! When I use that phrase "dwelling upon it", I refer to having love for such things. If they had such love, they would think they were loving something insubstantial and were conceiving fondness for a shadow; they would feel shame for themselves and would not have the effrontery to tell God that they love Him, without feeling great confusion.

You will answer me that such persons cannot love or repay the affection shown to them by others. Certainly they care little about having this affection. They may from time to time experience a natural and momentary pleasure at being loved; yet, as soon as they return to their normal conditions, they realise that such pleasure is folly save when the persons concerned can benefit their souls, either by instruction or by prayer. Any other kind of affection wearies them, for they know it can bring them no profit and may well do them harm; none the less they are grateful for it and recompense it by commending those who love them to God. They take this affection as something for which those who love them lay responsibility upon the Lord, from Whom, since they can see nothing lovable in themselves, they suppose the love comes, and think that others love them because God loves them; and so they leave His Majesty to recompense them for this and beg Him to do so, thus freeing themselves and feeling they have no more responsibility. When I ponder it carefully, I sometimes think this desire for affection is sheer blindness, except when, as I say, it relates to persons who can lead us to do good so that we may gain blessings in perfection.

It should be noted here that, when we desire anyone's affection, we always seek it because of some interest, profit or pleasure of our own. Those who are perfect, however, have trodden all these things beneath their feet, (and have despised) the blessings which may come to them in this world, and its pleasures and delights, in such a way that, even if they wanted to, so to say, they could not love anything outside God, or unless it had to do with God. What profit, then, can come to them from being loved themselves?

When this truth is put to them, they laugh at the distress which had been assailing them in the past as to whether their affection was being returned or not. Of course, however pure our affection may be, it is quite natural for us to wish it to be returned. But, when we come to evaluate the return of affection, we realise that it is insubstantial, like a thing of straw, as light as air and easily carried away by the wind. For, however dearly we have been loved, what is there that remains to us? Such persons, then, except for the advantage that the affection may bring to their souls (because they realise that our nature is such that we soon tire of life without love), care nothing whether they are loved or not. Do you think that such persons will love none and delight in none save God? No; they will love others much more than they did, with a more genuine love, with greater passion and with a love which brings more profit; that in a word is what love really is. And such souls are always much fonder of giving love than of receiving, even in their relations with the Creator Himself. This (holy affection), I say, merits the name of love, which name has been usurped from it by those other base affections.

4.3 The Spiritual Canticle by John of the Cross (Bk 39:3-4)

This breathing of the air is an ability which the soul states God will give her there in the communication of the Holy Spirit. By His divine breath-like spiration, the Holy Spirit elevates the soul sublimely and informs her and makes her capable of breathing in God the same spiration of love that the Father breathes in the Son and the Son in the Father, which is the Holy Spirit Himself, Who in the Father and the Son breathes out to her in this transformation, in order to unite her to Himself. There would not be a true and total transformation if the soul were not transformed in the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity in an open and manifest degree.

And this kind of spiration of the Holy Spirit in the soul, by which God transforms her into himself, is so sublime, delicate and deep a delight that a mortal tongue finds itself indescribable, nor can the human intellect, as such, in any way grasp it. Even that which comes to pass in the communication given in this temporal transformation in God breathes out in God to God the very divine spiration which God, she being transformed in Him, breathes out in Himself to her.

In the transformation which the soul possesses in this life, the same spiration passes from God to the soul and from the soul to God with notable frequency and blissful love, although not in the open and manifest degree proper to the next life. Such I believe was Saint Paul's meaning when he said; "since you are sons of God, God sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, calling to the Father (Gal 4:6). This is true of the Blessed in the next life and of the perfect in this life according to the way described.

One should not think it impossible that the soul be capable of so sublime an activity as this breathing in God, through participation as God breathes in her. For, granted that God favours her by union with the Most Blessed Trinity, in which she becomes deiform and God through participation, how could it be incredible that she also understand, know, and love - or better that this be done in her - in the Trinity, together with it, as does the Trinity itself! Yet God accomplishes this in the soul through communication and participation. This is transformation in the three Persons in power and wisdom and love, and thus the soul is like God through this transformation. He created her in His image and likeness that she might attain such resemblance.

4.4 The Manuscripts of Thérèse of Lisieux (251-252)

O Jesus, my Love, my Life how can I combine these contrasts? How can I realise the desires of my poor little soul?

Ah! In spite of my littleness, I would like to enlighten souls as did the prophets and doctors. I have the vocation of the Apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your Name and to plant your glorious Cross on infidel soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me. I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages. But above all, O my beloved Saviour, I would shed my blood for you even to the very last drop.

Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me within Carmel's cloisters. But here again, I feel that my dream is a folly, for I cannot confine myself to desiring one kind of martyrdom.

O my Jesus! What is your answer to all my follies? Is there a soul more little, more powerless than mine? Nevertheless even because of my weakness, it has pleased you, O Lord, to grant my little childish desires and you desire, today, to grant other desires that are greater than the universe.....

4.5 The Manuscripts of Thérèse of Lisieux (253-254)

During my meditation, my desires caused me a veri-table martyrdom, and I opened the Epistles of Saint Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters 12 and 13 of the first Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes. I read there, in the first of these chapters, that all cannot be apostles, prophets, doctors etc., that the Church is composed of different members, and that the eye cannot be at hand at one and the same time.

The answer was clear, but it did not fulfil my desires and gave me no peace. But just as Mary Magdalene found that she was seeking by always stooping down and looking into the empty tomb, so I, abasing myself to the very depths of my nothingness, raised myself so high that I was able to attain my end.

Without becoming discouraged, I continued my reading and this sentence consoled me; "yet strive after the better gifts and I point out to you a yet more excellent way". And the Apostle explains how all the most perfect gifts are nothing without love. That Charity is the excellent way that leads most surely to God.

I finally had rest. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I had not recognised myself in any of the members described by Saint Paul or rather I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understand that if the Church had a body composed of different members, the most necessary and most noble of all could not be lacking to it, and so I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with Love. I understand it was Love alone that made the Church's members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood. I understand that Love comprised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and places..... in a word, that it was eternal!

Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out; O Jesus, my vocation, at last I have found it.... My vocation is love!

Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realised.

4.6 The Letters of Elizabeth of the Trinity (Letter 191)

In the days of His earthly life, Our Lord said, "Because I love my Father, I always do what is pleasing to Him..... He has not left me alone. He is always with me". So we too, by our actions tell Him of our love, doing what is pleasing to Him. He will not leave us alone, but will remain at the centre of our life so He himself will be our bond. By ourselves we are nothing and sinful, but He is the Holy One who dwells in us with the hope of saving us, purifying us and transforming us in Him.

Remember the proud boast of the Apostle; "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" He had sounded out the Master's heart and knew what treasures of mercy were stored there. With all the force of his confidence he proclaimed; "I glory in my infirmities because it is when I am weak, the power of Jesus Christ dwells in me".

Always love prayer; but when I say prayer I do not mean reciting a vast quantity of vocal prayers every day. I mean the elevation of the soul to God through all things, which places us in a kind of continual communion with the Holy Trinity so that everything we do is done under His watchful gaze.

4.7 The Writings of Titus Brandsma (Anthology ed. Rogate pp196-197)

A person who is unable to see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the Church does not understand the very essence of the Church. The knowledge of this reality is the surest guarantee of the well-being of the Church....

We need, therefore, to open our hearts and leave aside the narrow limits in which we live our lives. The Spirit of God must find the path towards us open; He must feel His presence through us. He will fill us fully and abundantly to the degree that our hearts, which are created for the Infinite, will allow Him......

We recognise that we are not single thing with Him and that we do not live through Him, in Him, with Him. But this is the first requisite for being a true catholic.

The awareness of this truth has diminished among many people. If we were to live in the wide horizons of the Spirit, we would see things in a different way. It is impossible to pray without knowing that God has sent His Spirit and that everything has been created in Him and that the face of the earth has been renewed in Him. This is of vital importance for the Church.

4.8 The Writings of Titus Brandsma (Anthology ed. Rogate pp127-128)

We are living in a world in which even love is condemned as a weakness to be overcome. Away with love! – so it is said – rather, develop your own strength. Each person is vying to be the strongest; the weak can simply wither away.

It is also said that the christian religion with its preaching about love has had its day and should be substituted by noble German might.

Oh yes! These people come to you with these doctrines and they find people who accept them willingly. Love is disowned. "Amornon amatur", said Francis of Assisi and, a few centuries later in Florence, Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, while in a state of ecstasy, rang the bell of the Carmelite nuns convent to tell people how beautiful love really was.

I, too, would like to ring the bells to tell the world how beautiful love is. Precisely because neopaganism (National Socialism) does not want love any more, we will defeat this paganism by love. History teaches it. We will not abandon our love; it will win over the hearts of the pagans for us again. Nature is superior to theory. Let's allow theory to condemn and repress love and call it a weakness. The praxis of life will continue to make it into a force that will win over men's hearts and keep them won over. "Look how they love one another." This phrase that was used by the pagans with reference to the early Christians should be used once again by the neo-pagans about us. In this way we will win over the world.

4.9 "A Brotherhood Among the Nations" The Council of Provinces 1985

We were created as a Carmelite family in the Church by the Holy Spirit, through the evangelical experience of a group of penitents, pilgrims and hermits in the context of the great medieval European movement to recapture the Holy Land.

The pilgrimage to Jerusalem which had given us birth and formed us at the very beginning, has become over the years a "type" of our evangelical journey towards perfection. Through the centuries the Spirit has created different forms of Carmelite life from the same charismatic root; contemplative, consecrated apostolic service and Christian presence in social and lay organisations.

The multi-faceted incarnation of the charism is a cause of great joy for us and is confirmation of a wealth of creativity lived out under the influence of the Spirit. This is to be accepted with gratitude and discernment. A generous and faithful sequela Christi, the paramount norm for Christian living and the key-stone of the Way of Life in our Rule (nn.1-3), has always been expressed in concrete ways and incarnated in different circumstances and cultures.

The Spirit has made us rich in the basic values of evangelical brotherhood; the listening and proclamation of the Word, assiduous prayer, communion of goods, fraternal reconciliation, reciprocal service and service of the poor, spiritual struggle and the commitment to freedom of the oppressed, discernment, solidarity with all and lastly, active hope.

The source of this process has been the prayerful individual and community listening to the Word of the Lord, while the centrality of the daily Eucharist has been the confirmation, synthesis and model of unity and ecclesial projects for holiness.

The dedication to the Mother of the Saviour, Mary the most pure Virgin of Carmel, sister, patroness and splendour and, the acknowledgment of the prophet Elijah's inspirational role, have created a common language for us, both in our spirituality and our pastoral activity.

All of this has come down to us from history and, in its turn becomes history wherever the Carmelite charism is experienced with an openness to the new paths of the Spirit.

4.10 Letter of the General Superiors J. Malley and C. Maccise; "A Praying Community at the Service of the People" (n 25:27- 28)

Called to live in community, we have to make our communities such that they are a real proof that community is possible. We are talking about community which is born of listening to the Word of God, and so humanises its members, brings people together despite their differences and is thus a true presence of the Gospel. In this way our communities will become signs of hope which will cause the poor to say about us what the widow of Zarept said about Elijah, "Now I know that you are truly a man of God and that the Word of the Lord in your mouth is truth" (1 Kings 17:24).

As sons and daughters of the prophets we cannot close our eyes to what is happening in the world. As an international family, living in each of the continents, we need to open our eyes to the fundamental injustice which is dividing the human race between rich and poor with all that this implies for the overwhelming majority. As contemplative men and women we should be able to say a prophetic word, not only to denounce the evils, but also as a tender and welcoming word for the victims of injustice. Conscious of God's presence in the human person, we cannot accept that human dignity be trampled upon. Our love for our neighbour, the living image of God, leads us to stand on the side of the very poor, the least significant. Our option for the poor is a theological option, born in the heart of Emmanuel, the Incarnate Word who calls us to work for justice and peace.

In order to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him with pure heart and stout conscience, we need to learn, as Jesus did, to detect the gifts and spiritual reserves which are in the poor and marginalised. Thus, united with Jesus Christ, we too may praise the Father, "I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do" (Lk10:21).

5 Community Prayer

Being of one heart and soul



Leader: In common with every religious family Carmel is called to live in a dynamic and creative way the evangelical values that characterised the life of the early christian communities. Fraternity, unity and communion of hearts are the perennial values of our lifestyle.
We pray that the Lord awaken in us an openness to His Word and so help us grow in fraternal communion.

Greeting and invitation to prayer

President: May the God of all love, who has called you to follow Jesus Christ strengthen and encourage you in your faith.

All: To Him be glory and power for ever and ever, Amen.

Listening to the Word

Leader: Being men and women of faith and being formed by the power of the Word means that each day we grow in communion of hearts and in the sharing of goods. In this way we will be witnesses of the Risen Lord and a people renewed in the Spirit.

Acts of the Apostles 4,32-35

Psalm 133

Silent Pause

Spiritual Reading (Choose one of the passages offered in the anthology).

Psalm 100

Soloist: Praise the Lord all the earth!
Serve the Lord with joy!

Go to Him with songs of joy!

All: God is light
And in Him there is no darkness.

If we walk in the light

We are in communion with each other.

Soloist: Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
He made us, we belong to Him.

We are his people, the flock that He leads.

All: We acknowledge and we believe
In the love God has for us.

God is love

The person who loves dwells in God

And God dwells in him.

Soloist: Go to His house with praise!
With hymns in His presence!

Sing Him praise bless His name.

All: Yes, the Lord is good,
His love endures for ever.

His faithfulness lasts for ever.


Leader: The prayer of Our Lord has become our prayer. May the profound communion between Father and Son become our way of life.

Gospel John 17:14-26.

Short Lectio divina

Prayerful reflection on the Word

President: Brothers, God has called all of us in the family of Carmel to follow Christ with a pure heart and total dedication. Let us offer our prayer to Him; "Father, make us of one heart and mind".

Opportunity for Intercessions

Our Father

Leader: God our Father, source of all love and unity, we thank you for calling us to follow your Son, Jesus Christ in the way of Carmel. We ask you to confirm us in our vocation, so that by persevering in listening to your Word and, by prayer, we may grow in communion and fraternal love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen



President: Let us bless the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

Foot notes

1. cf. John Paul II Redemptoris Missio, 52-54.
2. cf. Lumen Gentium, 44.
3. cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 22; SCRIS Religiosi e Promozione Umana, 13-21; CIVCSVA Potissimum Institutioni, 18.
4. J. Gervaert, Il Problema dell’uomo, (Torino:  LDC, 1989); I. Sanna, La categoria di persona e l’antropologie contemporanee in idem, La teologia per l’unità d’Europa, (Bologna: EDB, 1991), 75-142; B. Forte, L’eternità nel tempo, saggio di antropologia ed etica sacramentale, (Balsamo: Paoline, 1993), 42-81.
5. cf. John Paull II, Christifideles Laici. P. Boni,  Koinonia: L’idea della comunione nell’ecclesiologia recente e nel Nuovo Testamento (Brescia: Paideia, 1972); A. Acerbi, Due ecclesiologie: Ecclesiologia giuridica ed ecclesiologia di comunione nella ‘Lumen Gentium’ (Bologna: EDB, 1975); B. Forte, La chiesa icona della Trinita (Brescia, 1984); J. Tillard, Chiesa di chiese: l’ecclesiologia di comunione (Brescia: Queriniana, 1989).
6. cf. Lumen Gentium, 1-8, 48-51.
7. cf. Lumen Gentium, 9-12.
8. cf. Lumen Gentium, 12, 18-29, 38, 43-47; Christifideles Laici 20-24.
9. cf. Lumen Gentium, 39-42.
10. cf. Lumen Gentium, 9, 13-17.
11. J. Tillard, Le grandi leggi del rinnovamento della vita religiosa in Il rinnovamento della vita religiosa (Firenze: Vallecchi, 1967).
12. B.  Secondin, “Il testo conciliare sulla vita fraterna in comune”, Consacrazione e Servizio 41 (1992), 7-16.
13. cf. Code of Cannon Law, 602, 607 Art. 2, 608; J. Tillard, Davanti a Dio per il mondo (Alba: Paoline, 1975), 206-292; Vita Comunitaria (Milano: Ancora, 1979); R. O’Toole, “What the Lord’s Supper can mean for Religious”, Review for Religious 44 (1985), 237-249; “Comunidad” in  Diccionario Teologico de la Vida Consagrada (Madrid: Claretianas, 1989); C. Maccisse, “Fraternidad”, ibid. 741-756; A. Alaiz, La Comunidad religiosa, profetica de la nueva humanidad (Madrid: Claretianas, 1991); E. Hillman, “Religious Community” in Review for Religious 149 (1991), 3-10; F. Ciardi, Koinonia. Itinerario teologica spirituale della comunita religiosa (Roma: Citta Nuova, 1992); J. Aubry, Teologia della vita consacrata in Vita Consacrata: un dono del Signore alla sua chiesa (Torino: LDC, 1993), 197-207.
14. The more significant contributions are H. Vicaire, L’imitazione degli apostoli: monaci, canonici, mendicanti S.IV-XII (Roma: Coletti, 1964); L. de Candido, I Mendicanti tra ieri e domani in Vita religiosa; bilancio e prospettive (Roma: Teresianum, 1976), 349-392; L de Candido, I Mendicanti, novita dello Spirito (Roma: Ed. Studium, 1983); O. Steggink, “Fraternita e possesso in comune”, Carmelus 15 (1968), 5-35; O. Steggink,  “Fraternita apostolica”  in  Profeti di fraternita (Bologna: EDB, 1985), 41-65; Mendicanti, Ordini in Dizionario degli Instituti di Perfezione 5: 1163-1189.
15. In chronological order: C. Cicconetti, La Regola del Carmelo; Origine, natura, significato (Roma: Inst. Carmelitanum, 1973); B. Secondin, La Regola del Carmelo: Per una nuova interpretazione (Roma: Inst. Carmelitanum, 1982).
16. cf. B. Secondin, Tentare fraternita. Il progetto evangelico del Camelo Profeti di fraternita (Bologna: EDB, 1985), 67-101.
17. cf. E. Levinas, L’aldila del versatto: Letture e discorsi talmudici (Napoli: Guida, 1986), 144-159.
18. Ibid., 147.
19. cf. L. Schokel,  Dov’è tuo fratello? Pagine di fraternita nel libro della Genesi (Brescia: Paideia, 1987), 27-56.
20. Ibid., 125-255.
21.  cf. J. Dupont, Studi sugli Atti degli Apostoli (Roma: Paoline, 1971); J. Dupont, Nuovi studi sugli Atti degli Apostoli (Balsamo: Paoline, 1985); P. Borl, Chiesa primitiva. L’immagine della communita degli origini (Brescia: Paideia, 1974).
22. G. Barbaglio, Paolo di Tarso e le origini cristiane (Assisi: Cittadella, 1985); R. Penna, L’apostolo Paolo. Studi di esegesi e teologia (Balsamo: Paoline, 1991).
23. cf. J. Lyotard,  La condizione postmoderna; Rapporto sul sapere (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1981); V. Vattimo, La fine della modernità (Milano: Garzanti, 1988); Il pensiero debole (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1988); I. Mancini, L’ethos dell’Occidente (Genova: Marietti, 1990); A. Rizzi, L’Europa e l’altro (Balsamo: Paoline, 1991).
24. cf. RA 8.
25. John of the Cross, Parole di luce e d’amore, 1,76; 2,79.
26. Mary Magdalen de'  Pazzi, Revelazione e intelligentie (Nardoni: Firenze), p 73.
27. Thérèse di Lisieux, Letters, 202.
28. cf. RA 7.
29. John of the Cross 2 S, 22, 10-11.
30. cf. RA 11.
31. cf. Institutio primorum monachorum, Bk II ch 3; Bk III ch 3.
32. cf. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Retreat 10,2; Last Retreat, 2; Letters, 228.
33. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letters, 236, 241, 252.
34. cf. RA 14.
35. John of the Cross, Poems, 5, 10.
36. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Retreat, 5, 2.
37. Quoted in the anthology E. Stein, La mistica della Croce (Roma: Citta Nuova, 1985), 63-64.
38. cf. RA 15.
39. cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 6; Gaudium et Spes, 25-26.
40. cf. RA 1-9.
41. cf. RA 22-23.
42. cf. RA 12-15.
43. cf. RA 6,8,11,12,15-17.
44. cf. RA 24.
45. cf. RA 16-17.
46. cf. RA 5.
47. cf. RA 6.
48. cf. RA 7,14-15, note the use of ‘commode’ and ‘ubi opus fuerit’.
49. cf. RA 20.
50. cf. RA 21.
51. John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Poenitentia, 25.
52. Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, 47.
53. ibid.
54. ibid.
55. cf. Christifideles Laici, 57-63.
56. cf. Potissimum Institutioni, 66-71.
57. cf. Pastores dabo vobis, 70-81.
58. cf. Mutuae Relationes, 11, 19; John Paul II, I cammini del vangelo, 26.
59. Mutuae Relationes, 12.
60. Ibid. 19, 23.
61. cf. Mutuae Relationes, 25; Contemplative dimensions of religious life, 22.
62. cf. Christifideles Laici, 40.
63. cf. RA 19.
64. cf. RA 14.
65. cf. Thérèse of Lisieux, Composizioni poetiche, 34, 11.
66. cf. Christifideles Laici, 35; Redemptoris Missio, 55-56.
67. cf. John of the Cross,  Spiritual Canticle, Bk 5, 1-4.
68. cf. Elizabeth of the Trinity, How to find heaven on earth, 10, 2; cf. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Last Retreat, 2.
69. cf. B. Secondin, Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (Roma: Inst. Carm, 1974), 397-412.
70. cf. S. Scapin,  Nella notte la libertà (Roma, 1985), 192-193.


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