The Teresian Carmel and The Little Way Community is a Discalced Carmelite Secular Community serving the Colorado Springs Diocese. We are secular members of the California-Arizona Province of St Joseph of the Discalced Carmelite Order. We were canonically established on October 1, 2011. Our original members came from the Denver OCDS community.
What are the Discalced Carmelites?
The Carmelite religious order dates back to the times of the Crusades when a group of men decided to live as hermits on Mt. Carmel, near Haifa, Israel. There is not a formal founder of the Order, but these original members looked to St. Elijah for their inspiration. It was on Mt. Carmel that he proved that the priests of Ba’al worshipped a powerless god, while the Israelites worshipped the all-powerful God.
After a time, they asked St. Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to write a rule for their order. The original Rule of St. Albert was written sometime between 1206 and 1214, while the most recent version was approved by Pope Innocent IV on October 1, 1247. This rule emphasized both the eremitic nature of the order, by telling the brothers to pray without ceasing in their individual cells, but also the somewhat unusual direction for a group of hermits to meet together daily for Mass. The Carmelite charism is contemplative prayer.
As the situation in Israel became more precarious during this period, the Carmelite brothers were forced to flee Mt Carmel and headed to Europe, where they made a transition from being a community of hermits to being a mendicant order, like the Franciscans and Dominicans.
Over the next couple of hundred years, the Order grew, but also grew a little more relaxed. St. Teresa of Jesus was a member of the Carmelite monastery in Avila, Spain, and she longed for a more strict adherence to the Rule. In the 1560’s, she created the Discalced Carmelite branch of the Order. “Discalced” means “without shoes” and was the term used by people to describe groups that went about reforming religious orders to follow more strict rules, as they often would not wear shoes, but only sandals. With the help of the Carmelite friar, St. John of the Cross, she built monasteries of both men and women religious throughout Spain.
Throughout history, religious orders have attracted secular members of the Church to their charisms. The Discalced Carmelite Seculars are secular members of the Church who become secular members of the Discalced Carmelite Order. They are equally members of the order with the friars and the nuns, but living the charism in the secular community.
A Typical Meeting
Our Community meets once a month on a Saturday at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Colorado Springs. On most months, this occurs on the 4th Saturday of the month, except for May, November, and December, when it is moved to the 3rd Saturday due to the holidays. In addition, we do not have a regular meeting in August, as that is when we have our annual silent retreat.
A meeting is structured to follow the pattern that a Discalced Carmelite Secular should be following in their normal day to day routine. We start by attending Mass, usually celebrated by our Spiritual Assistant (currently Fr. Jim Baron). Following Mass, we sit for a while in silent, mental prayer. After that we will prayer Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours in chorus and then pray the Rosary. After our period of prayer we will move out of the chapel and have a business meeting, which will include a short conference relevant to Carmelite spirituality. We then break up into groups for formation classes, where we study the writings of the great Carmelite Doctors of the Church, St Teresa of Jesus (Avila), St John of the Cross, and St Therese of the Little Flower, as well as other Carmelite saints, depending upon what stage of formation a member is currently in. We end our community meeting by breaking bread and socializing together. A typical meeting lasts from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Interested in Discerning Membership in This Community?
The process of discernment for becoming a Secular member of the Discalced Carmelite Order typically takes 6 years. The first year is the Aspirancy, where individuals learn about the Order and the role of the Secular in the Order, as well as the importance of the Community. After completion of the Aspirancy year, Aspirants my be asked by the leadership of the Community, the Council, to become clothed with the Brown Scapular and welcomed as members of the Community. This begins a period of formation of two years. During the first year, the new members study St. Teresa of Jesus’ Way of Perfection, and during the second year, they study St. John of the Cross’ Living Flame of Love. After these two years, they may be invited by the Council to make temporary promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Community for three years. These evangelical counsels are lived as appropriate to the Secular’s state of life. During this three year period, they study St Therese of the Little Flower’s Story of a Soul, St Teresa of Jesus’ Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mt Carmel. After this period, the member may be invited by the Council to make their definitive promise to the Community for the rest of their life. Formation continues after this, reading from various Carmelite saints and sometimes returning to the documents previously studied.
Our Community accepts new Aspirants only once each year, during our January meeting. If you are interested, contact the President of the Community or the Director of Formation for the Community (see the Contact page).