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Evangelization through the Carmelite Order

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By Michelle Laviola, Joliet Catholic Academy

Evangelization is the process which seeks to spread the Gospel and the teachings of the gospel throughout the world. Jesus instructed his followers to go out and spread the Good News. As Catholics, this duty is required for us to develop an intimate and meaningful relationship with Christ. Though this task may seem somewhat impossible, many religious orders, such as the Carmelites, help educate us on how to promote the gospel to others. Unlike most religious orders, the Carmelites do not have a founder. The original order consisted of hermits who dedicated their life to God while residing on top of Mount Carmel. Without a founder, the Carmelites look to great figures in the Catholic Church such as Elijah and Mary for inspiration. This also means that God's founding gift, or charism, to the order is not found in a particular person, but within the community. The Carmelite charism consists of several different elements; the main one being contemplation, or a quiet meditative form of prayer. Contemplation helps the Carmelites develop a very• close relationship with the Father. They can now minimize the distractions from the outside world while in turn asking God to support the needs of the world through their prayer. Some Carmelites follow their vocations and become teachers of prayer or spiritual directors. Through these positions, Carmelite priests and nuns can expand their knowledge of the gospel and help promote evangelization amongst parishioners, and even the students that they teach.

Carmelite do more than solely dedicate their lives to God; they dedicate their lives to spreading God's moral teachings to those in need of His grace. The Carmelite as a whole are very involved with communities through-out the world. Members of the Order educate their followers on a firsthand basis. Many provinces of the Carmelite Order have opened up schools or parishes in which they can further expand their instruction of the faith. To have a strong bond with Christ, we must not only know his teachings, but also make known his teachings. This means that to prove our discipleship to God, we must send forth his good news to the world. Again, to many this may seem like a daunting task. However, God does not expect his followers to go to extraordinary means to proclaim his word. Oftentimes, it is the everyday deeds that reveal God in us all. Anytime God's love is present becomes an astonishing moment. The Carmelites are a perfect example of how ordinary people can perform extraordinary deeds wilt God's guidance. The simple act of providing a Carmelite education can change the world forever. Their students not only are educated on typical school subjects, but also on morals and God's teachings. Carmelite religion classes allow students to think at a more aesthetic perspective. Unlike math, English, or science classes, a religion class teaches students lifelong lessons that can be applied immediately to almost any situation. Carmelite teachings open up students' eyes to God's grace in the world. The lessons that the Carmelites offer are considered very valuable by most of their students. Though it may not seem like it at the time, a Carmelite education changes one's life for good. For some, it may take only a few days to realize that they should continue to pass on the values that they were taught. For others, it may take years. No matter how long it takes for someone to come to terms with their faith, the Carmelites have indeed touched another life and promoted evangelization throughout the world.

I personally have had the privilege of receiving a Carmelite education. Like with many others, it truly has changed my life. I have enjoyed exploring my faith and learning about all that God has to offer. My Carmelite education has inspired me to promote evangelization throughout my community Since starting my education at Joliet Catholic, I have decided to volunteer to try to teach others about the gospel. One of my most enjoyable opportunities was working a retreat for First Communicants to prepare them for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It was such an amazing experience to educate the children about how sacred receiving Christ's Body and Blood really is. I loved seeing them start to comprehend how great God's love for us is, and helping them understand all that He has sacrificed for us. Even at school I help promote evangelization to my fellow students. I love discussing my faith with my religion teachers and often volunteer to lead prayer and retreats so I can help inform my peers about God's teachings.

The Carmelite Order truly has made a difference in our world today. Even amongst the modernization of our lives, the Order helps remind Jesus' disciples about the importance of our faith and our relationship with our Father. Carmelites not only teach us about our Catholic beliefs, but also how to spread them to others. I am very proud to have been brought up on Carmelite teachings and I plan to hold them and promote them both now and later on in my life.

* from Carmelite Review: Volume 51, Number 2 - Spring / Summer 2012

* Photo: Joliet Catholic Academy’s March For Life

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." 

 



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