Discernment and Formation
A Lay Carmelite is always growing in their faith through knowledge and formation which leads to a transformation of the person. Visiting with a local Lay Carmelite Community begins the process of discernment. The Director and Formation Director will meet with the person to explain the application and formation process. If one continues on this path to deepen their Baptismal Promises with the Charism of Carmel in their life, besides continuing to attend community meetings, the formation classes will begin.
Discernment of a vocation to the Carmelite Order as a Lay Carmelite has three stages of initial formation. During Phase I, which is approximately 12 months, a candidate will attend a separate class examining an overview of the History of the Order, the Carmelite Rule, the Local Provincial Statutes, Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Saint Elijah our spiritual founders, and other Saints of the Order as well as some Carmelite prayer forms - in particular the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina. At the end of this stage of Initial Formation if the person feels called and ready they may ask to be Received into the Carmelite Order and be given their Ceremonial Scapular which is the outward symbol of lay membership.
Formation now continues for approximately 2 years with more in-depth study of our roots and traditions within Carmelite spirituality, our responsibilities as a Lay Carmelite to the community, and to our daily prayer life. When this is completed, a member can request Temporary Profession. If the community council agrees that a person is being called by God to continue on in this vocation they can make a Profession of Promises for three years.
During the third stage of Initial Formation the person will live the life of a Professed Lay Carmelite for three years. They attend all community meetings, days of Recollection and other opportunities to grow in their Carmelite life. A mentor will assist them during this time of discernment. After a period of three years the person may ask to make their Final Profession as a Lay Carmelite for life.
This begins after Final Profession and continues for the life of the Carmelite. Ongoing formation entails a continual exploration and study of the varied aspects of life in Carmel including, but not limited to, the life of prayer, Sacred Scripture, the Saints and Blesseds, and apostolic ministry. Ongoing Formation is part of each community’s monthly meeting but can reach far beyond the meetings to their personal spiritual reading and study. Ongoing Formation becomes a pattern for a life lived in allegiance to Jesus Christ.