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UIP: Carmelite Nuns of St. Joseph's Monastery

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Jan. 12, 2012

Day and night on Carmel’s height, someone prays for you.


We are Cloistered Carmelite Nuns, called to live the gospel and the charism of St. Teresa through a hidden life of unceasing contemplative prayer in the service of the Church.

Standing in the presence of the living God we adore and intercede for all, becoming channels of spiritual energy and a prophetic witness of hope to the world (our Mission Statement)

We are consecrated women of the Teresian Carmel, living in sisterly communion, holding the lamp of contemplation till we become a living flame of love (our Vision Statement).

When St. Teresa, who was proclaimed the first woman Doctor of the Church in 1970, re-founded the Order of Carmel, she sought to create a balance of solitude and community life for her sisters.  It is in solitude, in prayer and at work, that we foster a deeper relationship with Christ – “being alone with the One we know loves us.”  It is in community-living that we share our life – coming together for prayer, the liturgy, meals and recreation; sharing in the joys, sorrows, and “everyday-ness” of life.

St. Teresa had a great desire to uphold the faith at a time when the Church was being torn apart by differing religious views.  She was determined that she and her sisters would make it their aim to support by their prayer the theologians and priests who were occupied in defending the Faith by their learning.   “Since we would all be occupied in prayer for those who are the defenders of the Church and for preachers and for learned men who protect her from attack.    Let us strive to be the kind of persons whose prayers can be useful in helping those servants of God … who must strengthen people who are weak, and encourage the little ones.  We shall be fighting for Him even though we are cloistered” (The Way of Perfection).  St. Teresa’s vision, however, was not limited to praying for priests. She envisioned that the community of sisters she was establishing would pray unceasingly for the souls of others.

St. Therese, co-patroness of the Missions and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1997, also had this apostolic spirit in her own cloistered, contemplative environment in the Carmel of Lisieux, France.  Therese felt within her heart other vocations – that of “warrior, the priest, the apostle, the doctor, the martyr … one mission alone would not be sufficient for me … I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.”  Therese knew that she could be none of these, but this did not lessen her desire; it only enflamed it more. 

God granted Therese the grace to realize her true vocation through the reading of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (chapters 12 and 13).  Reflecting on the mystical body of the Church she realized that this body, composed of many members, had a Heart that was burning with love and that love alone made the Church’s members act.  Therese understood that “… love comprised all vocations.”  Through her cloistered life of prayer – a life wholly committed to God – St. Therese finally understood her vocation:

“Yes, I have found my place in the Church … My vocation is love!  In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love.  Thus I shall be everything.” (The Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Therese.)

St. Therese describes succinctly our vocation as Carmelite nuns.  Just as the heart is hidden inside the body, assuring life for the entire body, we are “hidden” as cloistered nuns, living lives of contemplative prayer in “the heart” of the Church, the Body of Christ.  We pray continually for our Church, for priests, and for the needs of the world in which we live, joining together seven times each day to praise God and to pray for the needs of others.  We begin at 6:00 a.m. for our first hour of common prayer, Office of Readings, and conclude the day with our last hour of prayer, Compline or Night Prayer, at 9:00 p.m.

United to one another and in the spirit of St. Teresa and St. Therese, prayer is the thread that is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives, overflowing into all that we do:  during our Liturgy – the celebration of the Eucharist and our praise and worship of God; formal prayer and prayer in solitude; while attending to the business affairs that keep our monastery operating, answering mail, doing our own printing, writing icons, and card-making; while performing household duties, the upkeep of our monastery grounds, and growing our own vegetables.  Prayer is our very life-breath.  Our commitment to the way of life here in Carmel –prayer and all that we do – is out of love for Christ, for His Church, and for the whole world.  It is our response of gratitude to God for His boundless love and the gift of faith to each one of us.

Carmelite Monastery
59 Allendale
Terre Haute, IN