Teresian Community life   

True to the ideal of their Holy Mother, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns live their contemplative ecclesial life in an atmosphere that integrates, on the one hand, solitude and silence, with sisterly communion of life, on the other.  This is lived in a family which is set up like the little "College of Christ," centered on love for the Lord, and ruled by sisterly charity and generous evangelical self-denial. (Const. No. 11)

Practice

Community life, as set forth in the Rule of Carmel and renewed by St. Teresa, follow the example of the primitive Church.  It requires that the sisters who have been called to form the little "College of Christ" should help one another advance toward sanctity. (Const. No. 87)

Their supreme law must be the love which the Master enjoined on his disciples, the very love which he proved in giving his life for us (Jn. 15:12-13). When this mutual love is put into practice, it is a proof of the authenticity of their life of prayer.  It ensures for them the presence of the Lord in the midst of the community.  It maintains peace and concord.  This love should make every monastery an example of mutual concern, a witness to unity, a sign of universal reconciliation in Christ, and a beacon of the Gospel of justice and peace. (Const. No. 87)

St. Teresa taught a community lifestyle which is that of a small family in which all are evangelically equal, relations are openly sincere, joys and sorrows are shared, and the members are committed to one another as sisters for their entire lives.  "All must be friends, all must love one another, all must be cherished, and all must help one another" to create a joyful atmosphere that sets everyone at ease, and atmosphere that accords with "the sisterly style of life and recreation that they have in common." (Const. No. 88)

 The Eucharist is the source and summit of community life and the sign of unity and bond of union in Christ.  When a community celebrates in common the Liturgy of the Hours, it perseveres in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14) (Const. No. 89)

The sisters should keep in mind that they were called by the Lord to the same community in order to live their vocation together.  They will make every effort to grow in unity, for that is God's gifts to them and their task.  This means that they must strive daily to persevere in esteeming and cherishing one another, in showing practical love for their community, and in their efforts to renew its vitality in the Church. Following the truth in charity (Eph. 4:15), they will make every effort to help one another to reach the perfection to which they have been called as individual persons and as a community. (Const. No. 104)

In order to promote a full and effective communion of life, the monasteries will have but one category of nuns, with equal rights and duties, saving those which derive from religious profession and from differences of office, in accord with the norm of these Constitutions.  Communion in the same vocation requires that all the nuns participate in the life of the community through dialogue, example and personal effort.  (Const. No. 90)

The common table is the symbol of family unity.  The sisters' food is both a gift of Providence and the fruit of their labors.  The religious will joyfully take their meals together with gratitude to God who is the giver of gifts and who blesses the work of their hands. (Const. No. 93)

So that the sisters may joyfully and spontaneously communicate with one another, recreation will be held in common, according to the mind of Holy Mother, twice a day - after dinner and after supper.  All the religious will faithfully take part in it.  They will charitably collaborate with mutual respect and affability in building up the community. (Const. No. 94)

Since the nuns are called to be a part of the family of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they will wear the habit of the Order, for it is a sign of their consecration and a witness to poverty. As St. Teresa indicated, the habit is to be poor and austere, made from brown cloth.  It is made up of the habit in the strict sense [the tunic], which is worn with the cincture, of the scapular, which is worn over the toque, and of a black veil.  The veil is white for novices and those temporarily professed.  On certain occasions, the white mantle is added. As befits a Discalced Carmelite, footwear and other items of dress should be simple and inexpensive, and adapted to the climate, needs and customs of the different communities and regions.  For the sake of self-effacement, the sisters are not to wear anything fancy or anything that would pander to vanity. (Const. No. 95)

Community life requires an established order of common acts. In them, the sisters express their communion with God and with one another; and they diligently help one another to be faithful to their vocation. The Chapter of each monastery will draw up its daily horarium.  In doing so, it will respect the prescriptions of Holy Mother and the circumstances of the climate and customs of the diverse regions.  Nevertheless, the horarium will keep the faithful balance, which St. Teresa wanted, among the hours or prayer, work, and rest, as well as harmony between times of solitude and of community acts.  They should see to it that about seven hours be given to rest at night, in accord with the Teresian tradition. (Const. No. 96)

All the nuns will diligently observe the obligations of common life and carefully avoid differences in everything that has to do with food, clothing and furnishings. However, in the spirit of the Rule, each sister will be lovingly provided with whatever she needs because of her age, her health, or the requirements of the work she is engaged in. (Const. No. 97)