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Journey of a Secular Carmelite

By Heather Peters, Lay Carmelite

It is a joy and a struggle to live the life of a new spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to balance that with the joys and struggles of the secular life as a wife and mother to seven boys. (I am a wife and a mother to 7 wonderful (and challenging)boys. I began my journey to Carmel in November of 2007 and am so grateful to Our Lord for calling me to such a beautiful vocation.)

So, Lent is upon us, and I had been longing for it to start. I was looking forward to a more focused journey with The Lord. A time of peace, prayer, fasting, and quiet. Almost like turning inside and pulling the curtains shut and being at peace; close to God.

Well, Ash Wednesday was here and gone. What am I doing for Lent? The list is long and changes from moment to moment-I feel lost and shut out from my inner world. What is going on?? I don't feel that purposeful direction leading me along a glowing path, headed right to Jesus.

I feel like a reed blowing in the wind.

And then I thought, maybe that's it. Maybe that's what I am supposed to "do" for Lent. I am to be that lonely blowing reed, swaying in any direction the wind seems to blow. Feeling weak and pulled in all directions. The sun is hidden behind the clouds, rain and wind batter the reed. But the most important part is the root. The feet planted in the Word and in prayer. So, I am to let the world batter me, and feel like I am wandering alone in a harsh elements, but to turn to the Word of God, and prayer in order to withstand all that comes my way. When the sun comes out again it will find the reed standing tall, with stronger roots.

So, during the Lenten journey I will be more focused on making time for extra prayer and my Bible. The Lord has asked me to strengthen my roots. I will answer "yes!"

So, why did I have all these other things on such long lists? I have a tendency to want it all-and right now!! And then to feel like a failure when I can't achieve all that "stuff". I am learning to see that long list and the desire to have "holiness" yesterday as a distraction set before me by Satan. He wants me to be distracted from the true path to Our Lord. Only time spent in prayer can help me to discern what is from God and what comes from other sources.

Now I am ready for my focused Lenten journey infused with inner peace no matter what the world throws at me.

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."