Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa
A contemplative community for women in the Episcopal Church
|123 Little New York Road, Rising Sun, Maryland 21911
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN OBLATE
OF EPISCOPAL CARMEL OF SAINT TERESA?
Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa is blessed to have Oblates as part of our Community. Ordinarily, Oblates are single women, however others may be considered under special circumstances. “Oblature” means “to be offered”, and to offer oneself to God’s service in a particular way and as part of a particular community. Our Oblates offer their lives to God with the other members of Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa.
An Oblate is responding to God’s call to live according to the traditions of Teresian Carmelite life as expressed by our Community. Oblature is our freely-offered response of love to the initiating love of God. It is our “yes” to God’s loving call, embracing us, and inviting us to live our lives as Oblates. It is God who calls; it is God who draws us into this special relationship and challenges us with this particular vocation. It is God who provides the strength and means for us to fulfill our obligations.
CARMELITE HISTORY: The Carmelite Order evolved from a group of hermits living in solitude on Mount Carmel in the 12th century who, traditionally, identified with the prophet Elijah. They witnessed to the power of prayer and the pervasive presence of God. The first Way of Life was written by Albert, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the request of the hermits. When the brothers built their first chapel on Mount Carmel, they dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. She was to them Mother, Sister, and friend. Her example of holding all within the silence of her heart, of pondering, of being quietly, lovingly present, even to keeping vigil at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday provides the inspiration for all Carmelite life.
Teresa of Avila, a Spanish Carmelite nun of the 16th century renewed and revived the original vision of the Order. She called the nuns to live like hermits but in the context of community, to take their meals, pray, and recreate together, and live each day in a spirit of joy, wonder, and intimacy with God. Teresa’s wisdom, common sense, and good humor guide the Episcopal Carmel dedicated to her. Oblates share in the vision of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Elizabeth of the Trinity, among many other Carmelite saints. With its founding in 2003, Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa brings the Carmelite tradition into the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
MINISTRY: Carmelite spirituality may initially appear to be isolationist, but it is actually a call to ministry and involvement with the needs, sorrows, and brokenness of the world. Each Carmelite answers God’s call as Thérèse stated “to be love in the heart of the world”. Oblates carry in prayerful silence and apostolic ministry the pain and concerns of all with whom she shares life on this planet, and stands bearing them in prayer before the presence of God. She lives a life of openness to God and of detachment from all that would prevent her total availability to God. Her life is sacrificial, counter-cultural, and a prophetic witness.
REQUIREMENTS: Oblates of Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa, along with all Carmelites, profess their allegiance to Christ as expressed in the Gospel. Scripture is the basis of their life. Oblates are seeking union with the will of God by the Teresian path of love, humility, and detachment. Oblates are members in good standing of the Episcopal Church, or of a church in communion with the Episcopal Church, and who believe themselves called to Oblates of Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa. Oblates spend at least thirty minutes daily in Christ-centered mental prayer. They recite Morning and Evening Prayer or Compline. They receive the Holy Eucharist at least once a week, unless prevented by illness or unavoidable circumstance. It is expected that Oblates will make a financial pledge to the Community and do what they can to support the Community. Oblates engage in ongoing study of the Carmelite tradition.
FORMATION – POSTULANCY: A person who discerns a call to oblature should first contact the Community and arrange to speak with the Prioress. Following this initial contact, she should plan to visit the monastery. These contacts begin a process of mutual discernment that continues for several years. With the consent of the Prioress, the person may be admitted as an Oblate Postulant. During this period which lasts at least one year, the Postulant comes to know the Community and to discern what God is asking. The Postulant attends three Study Weekends per year, and undertakes the study of Carmelite spirituality. The Postulant receives individual guidance by one of the nuns. Postulancy is a time of exploration and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is a time to ask questions and to discern if God is inviting one to the Carmelite life, and to Episcopal Carmel, in particular. At any time the Postulant may withdraw or the Prioress may end the process. By the end of Postulancy, it is expected that the person will be living the Oblate Rule.
FORMATION - NOVITIATE: Having discerned a call to Oblature in Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa, and with the consent of the Oblate community and the nuns’ Chapter, the Postulant joins the Community and is admitted to a period of further formation and training as an Oblate Novice. The novice Oblate receives the habit of the Community to wear when at the monastery and adds a dedication to her name. The novice Oblate continues to live the Oblate way of life with an ever deepening understanding of its implications for her own life experience and ministry. The novice Oblate continues to work with a nun of the Community and to attend Study Weekends. It is expected that the novice Oblate will participate when possible in Oblate-related programs. The novitiate period lasts two years.
OBLATE VOWS: Having discerned and tested a call to oblature in Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa, and with the consent of the Oblate community and the nuns’ Chapter, the novice makes a promise to live for two years as an Oblate of Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa. This vow may be renewed for an additional two years, following which, with the approval of the Oblate community and the nuns’ Chapter, Oblate vows may be made for life.