An interview with a Carmelite nun
We are very excited to introduce you to a new team member joining the effort to serve you in your desire to deepen your relationship with Christ. Her name is Sister Carmen Laudis, O.C.D. and she is part of a Carmelite religious community based in Alhambra, California in the U.S. To introduce her to you I asked her a few questions about her perspective on her life and service to the Church in the Carmelite tradition.
Q: How long have you been a nun?
A: I have been nun for over 40 amazing years.
Q: What drew you into the Carmelite tradition?
A: I loved the Carmelite way of life with its utter simplicity and austere beauty, its silence and solitude, quality daily prayer and, above all, its concentrated focus on striving to always living in the presence of God, together with its unparalleled devotion to Our Lady.
Q: Why did you join the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles?
A: No one person can do everything, and when I prayed about what I wanted to do with my life, or rather, what God had in mind for me to do when He created me, I was drawn by His grace to think more and more about a spiritual mission of prayer. I came to realize that so many people in our world do not know God, or have a skewed idea of Him (for whatever reason). I wanted to pray for, intercede for, and draw God’s blessings upon our world. I also desired to instruct people in our Catholic faith. I loved reading about the different Carmelite Saints and when I made my retreats, it was at a Carmelite retreat center, Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California. I noticed when I came there for the first time that every single sister had a smile and every single one of them had time to greet me, and talk for a few moments. They were all filled with God’s love. From meeting these real people (as opposed to reading a book) I was able to discern the depth and profound encounter with the living God within the Carmelite tradition. I saw it on their radiant faces. I was also drawn to the silence and beauty of the retreat center and the simplicity and fervor of the Sisters’ prayer. When I moved over to kneel in a corner of the church which allowed me to watch the Sisters as they chanted the Divine Office in the Sisters’ choir, I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit within my soul, that this was the life for me. Prayer, silence, solitude, community and promoting a deeper spiritual life among God’s people through healthcare, education and retreats, all taken together, seemed to pull me into this contemplative/apostolic Carmelite tradition.
Q: What is unique about your expression of Carmelite spirituality there?
A: Many people are aware of the Carmelite Order with its priests, cloistered nuns and the Secular (Lay) Carmelites (OCDS). In addition, there are scattered throughout the world, contemplative/apostolic Carmelites, like our community. We are affiliated to the Carmelite Order and follow the Carmelite rule as it applies to us in our active ministries of healthcare, education and retreats. We bring the world to Mt. Carmel, which of course is the symbol of prayer and union with God; we bring Carmelite spirituality to our world.
Q: What would you say is at the heart of Carmelite spirituality?
A: The heart of Carmelite Spirituality is a thirst, a longing for the living God, to know Him, and to come to a deeper and deeper union with Him through prayer even in the here and now. At the heart of Carmelite spirituality is God Himself – not so much the so-called “experience of prayer”; but “a heart-to-heart conversation, true and living relationship with God Who loves us.” – St. Teresa of Jesus
Q: Why should anyone pursue Carmelite spirituality?
A: Carmelite Spirituality is gospel spirituality. It is one thing to pray, another thing to grow in prayer, and a third thing to be able to write clearly about the prayer journey. Carmelite Saints like St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, and many others have the gift of clarifying prayer experiences and putting them into context. They have gone ahead over the terrain and have come back with a roadmap.
Q: What benefit will they find?
A: They will come closer to God, closer than they ever dreamed possible.
Q: What would it mean to pursue Carmelite spirituality?
A: To pursue Carmelite Spirituality would be to take the spiritual life seriously. And as St. Therese says, “really try to pray.”
Q: How would it affect my prayer life as a layperson?
A: Carmelite spirituality will help you to become more grounded, more forgiving of yourself and others. When Moses came down from the mountain his face was “radiant.” People will notice the difference in you, even if you are not aware of it yourself. “Know you not that you are God’s temple and that His spirit dwells within you.” You will know you are, indeed, God’s temple.
Q: Is there a place for both men and women or just women?
A: The Carmelite Order is comprised of friars (brothers and priests), Cloistered nuns, Secular Carmelites (lay men and women) and active communities affiliated with the Carmelite Order (like the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles)
Q: Can you tell us about your foundress?
A: She said, “May your life in that little corner of the earth be as a bonfire of love, consuming itself in the love of God and zeal for souls.” These are words of Mother Luisita, a candidate for sainthood. She began our community during a religious persecution in her native Mexico, came to the United States in 1927 as a religious refugee with two other sisters. Our first ministries, which included building projects, took place during the worst of the Great Depression. We continue to bring healing and hope to our world through healthcare, education and spiritual retreats are venturing out into the vast sea of the internet, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in this explosive new way on this blog.
Q: Can I submit prayer requests to you?
A: Yes, send prayer requests to email@example.com
Q: What if I feel I might be called into the life of your community?
A: Visit our web site: www.carmelitesistersocd.com and for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Sister Grace Helena, OCD, Vocation Directress, 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra, California 91801
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