the Carmel


The specific prayer of Carmel
Two hours a day praying silently in choir, kneeling next to the stalls, seen in this contemporary photo. What happens in this silence?


A surge of the heart...
A simple look to the sky...
A cry of gratitude and love...

Manuscript c, 25r

The great Teresa of Avila was passionate about the presence of God in each person. His main occupation was to keep Him company! Also, when she reformed the Carmel in the 16th century, she wanted to insert in the daily schedule two hours of intense attention to this divine presence: two hours ofprayer, which are specified in the text of the Constitutions contemporary with little Thérèse.

Prayer is an exchange of love with God, a conversation, an interview. This exchange of love causes God to be sought within, at the center of the soul. Heaven lives entirely in our soul, and faith makes the contact. It is an appointment where we are expected. God of Love created us out of love and calls us to communion of love with him. Thérèse, so young, understood the greatness of the vocation of the human being called to union with God.

“Let us stay close to the Saviour. Let us consider that He is watching us, that we are keeping Him company. »

Teresa of Avila, Fri, Ch. 13

Saint Teresa of Avila invites us to this intimacy with God. It describes his presence in the inner castle of our soul. She claims that " the door of this Castle is prayer... an intimate relationship of friendship where one often converses alone with this God whom one knows oneself to be loved. »

“All I ask of you is to look at Him. »

Teresa of Avila, Path of perfection

The little manual spiritual direction, from the time of Thérèse, declares that " this hour is the holiest and most useful of the day; for it is in prayer that the soul is nourished and regains new strength; it is there that she rekindles, every morning, the spiritual fire which must burn ceaselessly in the sanctuary of her heart. »

In this little manual for Thérèse's use, several ways of beginning prayer are described, in particular " to put ourselves in the presence of God and to represent him as present in everything and everywhere, and filling everything in heaven and in earth, and being in him like a sponge in the sea "(P. 14).

"You yourself are the abode where he dwells, the retreat where he hides."

John of the Cross in The Spiritual Song

We see the importance of prayer in Carmel when we consult the Mistress of Novices Manual in use at the time of Thérèse: an entire chapter explains how the mistress of novices must take the greatest care to lead the novices in the ways of prayer "according to their attraction" (chapter 12).

Prayer is an act of faith that continues, or better, a series of acts of faith that resume an interrupted contact. Thus Thérèse, who happens to be distracted during prayer, compares herself to a little bird which never ceases to stare at "the divine Sun, the Sun of Love" (Ms B folio 4 v°). She continues in this text to go around her distractions but always she returns to the divine Sun: Manuscript B, folio 5 recto.

"In this happy night
I saw nothing
To guide me
That the light 
that burned in my heart
She guided me more surely
Let the midday light..."

John of the Cross in The Dark Night

These two hours of daily prayer, this time for God in silence, have an effect on the person: he is transformed. This exercise of love of God overflows and leads to love of neighbour. Thérèse bears witness to this, recounting that little by little she was led to understand what charity is in her Manuscript C, folio 11 verso, and following.

Once when they wanted to give Thérèse a fairly long remedy during evening prayer [foot bath with mustard flour] they told her: “But that will prevent you from praying! She replied: "Nothing can prevent us from praying." »

Letter from Mary of Jesus to Mother Agnès 1935

To learn more about prayer