45. Called for mission [C 99]
A vocation always corresponds to a mission in salvation history. The mission does not belong to the order of activities but is an integral part of the identity of the one who is called. It is proper for the Carmelite mission to manifest itself and to communicate itself to the world by entering into the number of the many charismatic identities that enrich the Church. The mission of our religious family is unique and unifying, intimately linked to the primacy of the search for union with God in prayer. From this source radiates the apostolic and social work carried out by the Order in many forms and in many nations of the world.
However, together with the pastoral work at the service of the local Churches, up to the peripheries of the world passing through the poorest missions, we are invited to a work of deepening our mission in relation to the continuous changes that affect humanity.
46. The Mission of the Order [C 15d, 100]
The mission of Teresian Carmel in the Church is to live and bear witness to our call to friendship with God. We are called to proclaim what we have seen and heard (cf. 1 Jn 1:1-3), accompanying people on the journey of their interior life, so that all may have the experience of feeling loved by the God who
dwells within us and calls us to respond to his love. Without this foundation of lived experience there can be no specific mission of the Teresian Carmel.
47. The apostolic dimension in the Teresian experience [C 6-7, 89]
The Carmelite charism has a definite apostolic, missionary, and service thrust. Teresa was moved by the situation of Christians in Europe, as well as by the news about the indigenous population in America, and she felt an irrepressible desire to respond to the great needs of the Church with all her strength. She even experienced a strong apostolic impulse: “I invoked our Lord, begging him to give me the means to do something to win souls for his service.” (F 1:7).
48. Pleasing the Lord
Teresa’s apostolic desire always had a Christocentric orientation, that is, the desire to “please the Lord in some way” and to help “this Lord of mine as best I can.” (W 1:2). Teresa even said: “I aim for nothing else but to please him” (L 25:19). The true friend always tries to do what pleases his friend, collaborating with him in the same project. To enter into friendship with God and to do it together with others in order to help one another entails the
unavoidable consequence to remain always at his disposal: “Perhaps we do not know what love is. I wouldn’t be very surprised, because it doesn’t consist in great delight, but great determination to please God in everything.” (4M 1:7) .
49. A life commitment [C 87-88, 128]
The mission for the Carmelite translates, first of all, into fidelity to one’s own commitment to religious life in community: “To follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could and strive so that these few persons who live here do the same” (W 1:2). Carmel, like any form of religious life, is not to be measured by its usefulness or effectiveness. Rather, we are called to be a visible sign of Christ and the Gospel (cf. Lumen Gentium 44). It is not a matter of doing much, but of giving ourselves totally for the love of Christ. This requires moving from activism to service, from what pleases me to what serves the other. What counts, then, is not the numbers but the quality of charismatic life and the witness that comes with it.
50. The apostolic value of prayer [C 15d]
The witness of a contemplative life is our first and fundamental service to the Church and to humanity. Prayer itself has the power to transform the world and others. It does so in a hidden way without us even realizing how it happens. Our daily prayer has an apostolic and ecclesial intention, and not just a
personal or private one, as so many examples from the biblical tradition and the history of Carmel remind us.
51. The multifaceted ecclesial work [C 91-93, 98]
Our mission develops through the concrete work that Christ and the Church need in every time and place. We are open to all the commitments in which we can express, develop, and communicate our experience of God, especially those that are requested of us by the local Church in which we are inserted. There are many and varied ecclesial activities that are compatible with our form of life, but not every way of carrying them out is an adequate expression of our charism.
52. Ministry of spirituality [C 100-101]
In our pastoral service the desire to help others to experience a relationship with God occupies an eminent place. This is achieved, first of all, through confession, spiritual direction, and through specific activities such as initiation into prayer and the ministry of spirituality, but also by giving a Carmelite stamp to any other ecclesial commitment we undertake. In this sense, a concrete way can be to welcome people into our communities to share our
life with them and to speak to them by example and witness rather than with words.
53. The mission ad gentes [C 94]
Explicit missionary activity has been strongly present in the life of the Order throughout the centuries. The missionary spirit remains fundamental for us and must not wane. In today’s context, it must be extended to the diverse realities of our world and must include the necessary re-evangelization of regions that until recently were predominantly Christian and are no longer so. On the other hand, we know well that mission is accomplished not so
much by what we do, but by who we are; it is essentially a matter of being rather than doing. It flows from our personal encounter with Jesus Christ who calls us to be with him and to accompany him in his permanent mission in the world.
54. Attentive to today’s world [C 90]
If Teresa was particularly attentive to the reality of her time, we too, called to live her charism today, are obliged to discern the needs of our contemporaries. We cannot be insensitive to the countless needs and sufferings of contemporary humanity. We feel called to collaborate in the Church’s evangelizing activity even in the simple, everyday ways characteristic of our lives. Our presence as Carmelites can also be significant in areas relevant today such as the pastoral care of youth and the family, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, the struggle for justice and peace, and ecological commitment.
55. Community discernment on mission [C 37]
Faced with the diversity of possible commitments and the many needs of the Church and of humanity, and often also with the limited personnel at our disposal, a good communal discernment of the commitments to be undertaken is more necessary than ever so that they may be truly consonant with the charism God has entrusted to us and with what the Church expects of us. John of the Cross asks, “What does it profit you to give God one thing if he
asks of you another?” (Sayings of Light and Love, 73)
56. The communal character of the apostolate [C 15e]
Each of us is called to participate in the mission of the Order by our personal collaboration. The normal manifestation of our service to Christ and the Church are the commitments which the community assumes and carries out with the coordinated collaboration of its members. An individual friar may also undertake a personal assignment, suited to his gifts and abilities, always with the community’s consent and carrying it out as it’s member. In fact, the gifts of the Spirit that each one receives are always “for the common good” (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), knowing that we are “Christ’s body and individually part of it.” (1 Cor 12:27).
57. The apostolate shared between friars-nuns-laity [C 102-103]
The first recipients of the apostolic dimension of our life is within the same family of the Teresian Carmel. The apostolic commitment in its multiple forms (prayer, witness, preaching, spiritual direction, teaching, publications) is addressed first of all to the friars, the nuns, and the laity of the Order. On the other hand, our family can more effectively express its witness and carry out its apostolate through the active collaboration of the members of the three branches, each according to its own form of life.
IV.D. Unity of prayer-fraternity-mission [C 15b, d, e]
58. Three aspects of an indivisible reality
The three fundamental elements of the Teresian charism are prayer, fraternity, and mission. However, what truly characterizes it is the fact that all three are intrinsically linked and do not make sense independently but call upon one another.
59. Three elements that nourish one another
In fact, one cannot live friendship with the Lord without a true fraternal relationship in community and without an apostolic commitment as a response to God’s will. Community life has no meaning if Christ is not at the center and if it does not lead to witness and service to him and his Church. Apostolic activity becomes a worldly occupation if it does not spring from a loving relationship with God and is not lived as an expression of commitment and communal discernment.
60. A harmony to be fostered
One of the great challenges for the present and future of the Order is not only to increase and consolidate prayer, fraternity, and service in daily life, but also to establish in practice a profound and coherent relationship between them.