Do You Want To Pray Like A Carmelite? Before I became a Secular Carmelite I was looking for ways to get closer to God, I wanted to spend my entire days in prayer. This was nearly impossible since I work a full-time job and still have one of my young adult children at home. I wanted to pray like a Carmelite and didn’t even know it at the time. I wasn’t even aware of the vocation yet or how become one. How blessed I am to have been chosen to be a Secular Carmelite.
Saying you want to pray like a Carmelite is a bit like saying you want to play baseball like Joe DiMaggio. The Carmelites are, after all—when it comes to lifting the heart and mind to God—heavy lifters, so to speak. I’m only a light weight compared to my fellow Friar, Brothers, Sisters, Nuns Carmelite OCD’s and long time Secular Carmelites. That said, I’m going to give it best shot today at starting you down the Carmelite path of prayer. May God bless you on your journey.
What’s the first big difference between Carmelites and the rest of us when it comes to praying? They do it. Lots of it. All the time. So if you want to pray like a Carmelite, start praying, period.
As a matter of fact, because the Carmelite prayer tradition is so rich, there really isn’t an easy “Walk Like an Egyptian” way to simply jump in line and start praying like a Carmelite. It takes lots of practice and years of it, so don’t get discouraged. As Dory from Finding Nemo would say… “Just keep praying, just keep praying, just keep praying…” Oh, wait she said “swimming”. 🙂
Reading up on Carmelite prayer? You’ll find that is largely focused on Sacred Scripture. It also has a Marian dimension, a Prophet Elijah dimension, and several other points of focus.
Some things to keep us praying as much as I can and keeping God in our thoughts.
- Carmelites take a line from the liturgy of the day and repeat it during the day, using a new line every day. Sometimes I use the same line all week if it really speaks to me so I can try to implement it into my life. The responsorial psalm and the Gospel Acclamation theme are good ones to use.
- Let a spiritual thought from a hymn or a book or Mass be the background music in your mind during the day. For me, it makes for lovely thoughts on a walk or sitting in my car.
- Take a holy card (or picture) of Christ and place it where you can see it so that you may think of Him. I have a crucifix at my desk, a Divine Mercy card, and I have a clear cell phone cover I place a photo or prayer card to see any time of the day.
- Make spiritual communion every hour. I set reminders on my phone, I try but it’s not always easy for me to stop at work.
- Randomly hold an inward gaze upon Him throughout the day. At times it’s hard to bring myself back to earth, I’ve been late a few times coming back from lunch or break. “Sorry, I was caught in the long prayer line.”
- Find “trigger moment’s”… I have the fount of The Blessed Mother Mary with Holy water in it at my front door, turning off the computer, or laying out clothes for the next day that can be a reminder during the day to take a moment for short prayer.
- Instead of a coffee break, I take a short prayer break walk. In the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, get up and move into a different space and think of God.
- Think of God every time I look at a watch or clock. I think of God whenever I see candles, all those prayers going up to heaven. What a lovely sight…
- Spend time in Adoration before of after work. We are blessed to have an adoration chapel at my parish. That hour is precious!
- Make Spiritual aspirations during the day. (See below) Basically, short prayers meant to be memorized and repeated throughout the day. This allows us to “Pray without ceasing” and continually turn our thoughts toward God.
- Jesus, I Trust in You
- Jesus, I give You my will
- Hail Mary
- Jesus Prayer
- Come Holy Spirit
- Eternal Rest
How do you keep prayer going during the day? What are some of your Spiritual aspirations during the day?
What are Spiritual Aspirations? (From the spiritual works of St. Francis de Sales)
“My child, aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise God, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant bouquet.
In short, enkindle by every possible action your love for God, your tender, passionate desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom of souls. Such is prayer of aspiration, as it was so earnestly inculcated by Saint Augustine; and be sure, my child, that if you seek such nearness and intimacy with God your whole soul will imbibe the perfume of His Perfections.
Neither is this a difficult practice—it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations, without hindering any; for neither the spiritual retreat of which I have spoken, nor these inward upliftings of the heart, cause more than a very brief distraction, which, so far from being any hindrance, will rather promote whatever you are doing. The practice of these short aspirations can supply all our deficiencies, but without a true contemplative life cannot be lived, and the active life will be but imperfect.” ~St. Francis de Sales