To live in the presence of God; that is surely an inheritance left to the children of Carmel by the prophet Elijah, who cried out in the fervor of his faith: “The God I serve is a living God”… A life of prayer is the essence of the Carmelite vocation; the heart to heart communion that never ends, because when one loves, one no longer belongs to oneself but to the Beloved, and so lives more in Him than in oneself. That is what life in Carmel means: to live in God, contemplating His goodness and beauty, and dedicated entirely to the fulfillment of His blessed Will. Then every immolation, every sacrifice becomes divine; through everything the soul sees Him whom she loves and everything leads her to Him… it is a continual communion. All day long she surrenders herself to Love, by doing the will of God, under His gaze, with Him, in Him, for Him alone.
This is the life of a Carmelite: to be a true contemplative, another Magdalene whom nothing can distract from the ‘one thing necessary’. I want to be an apostle from the depths of my beloved solitude in Carmel; I want to work for God’s glory and the good of all His people, especially His priests; and for that I must be full of Him. Then I should be all-powerful: a look, a wish, would become an irresistible prayer that could obtain everything one asks in the Name of Jesus. I want to remain like Mary Magdalene silent and adoring at the Master’s feet, asking Him to make the words of apostles bear fruit in souls.
As Our Lord dwells within us, His prayer is ours, and I want to share in it unceasingly, remaining like a little vessel at the spring, at the fountain of life, and so be able to communicate it to others by letting its floods of charity overflow.
How sublime is the Carmelite’s mission! She should be a mediatrix with Jesus Christ, and be for Him, as it were, another humanity in which He can perpetuate His life of reparation and sacrifice, of love and praise and adoration. She abides faithfully in prayerful silence and solitude so that the Most High God may be able to realize His desires in her, accomplishing His will in her as an instrument of His love and peace among His people.
So, on the mountain of Carmel, in silence, in solitude, in a prayer which is unceasing, for nothing can interrupt it, the Carmelite already lives as though in heaven: for God alone! The same God who will one day be her beatitude and will fulfill her desires in glory, is already giving Himself to her here on earth. He never leaves her, He dwells in the depths of her being, and more wonderful still, He and she are but one. And so she is hungry for silence and prayer that she may always listen to Him and penetrate more deeply into His infinite Being. She identifies herself with Him whom she loves, she finds Him everywhere. She sees Him shining through everything. She belongs to Him alone, and trusts completely in His loving and faithful providence. Is that not heaven on earth?
When you think of the life of the Carmelite, thank Him for the beautiful portion that is hers. What will it be like in heaven, if even here below He enters into such intimate union with those who love Him?
Here in Carmel, there is nothing, nothing but God. He is all, He suffices, and one lives for Him alone and for His glory… this life of prayer and contemplation, interceding always for His people before the Face of God…
Bl. Elizabeth, kneeling bottom left, in her postulant habit.