Discalced Carmelite Nuns are called to live always in God's presence, pondering Christ and his words in Scripture. The Bible is our prayer book, from which we come to know and love Christ. In contemplation, we open our hearts and minds to his love and presence, in Scripture, in the liturgy, in God's creation, in our brothers and sisters, and in all the events of our lives.

Christ and Prayer

Discalced Carmelite Nuns are obliged by their vocation to "live in allegiance to Christ Jesus" and to "meditate day and night on the law of the Lord and watch in prayer."  Holy Mother was faithful to this principle of the "primitive" Rule.  She renewed the call to contemplation of Mt. Carmel's fathers of old.  She made prayer the foundation of her daughters' life and their primary activity. For this reason, the Church expectantly asks all Teresian monasteries to enter deeply into the mystery of contemplative prayer and to offer an exemplary witness to it among God's People. (Const. No. 60)

Christ, Teacher of Prayer

Christ raised the prayer of his disciples to the dignity of a share in his own filial converse with his Father in the Holy Spirit (Lk. 11:2-4; Rom. 8:15-17).  Model, teacher, and mediator of Christian prayer, he taught his friends the Our Father.  This evangelical prayer expresses the intentions which the Christian holds dearest; and as Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus noted, it contains a program of life that follows the way of perfection. (Const. No. 62)

Contemplation

Therefore, in virtue of their vocation, they are called to contemplation in prayer and in life.  Their commitment to continuous prayer is sustained by faith, by hope and above all, by divine charity.  In that way they are enabled to reach the fullness of life in Christ with pure hearts.  Through such prayer, they prepare themselves for ever more lavish gifts of the Spirit. (Const. No. 10)

Practice

The obligation of praying and of contemplating cannot be confined to participating in prayer at stated times.  On the contrary, in the spirit of the Rule, it must permeate the entire existence of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns.  In that way they will walk in the presence of the living God (1 Kings 18:24), put faith, hope and love unceasingly into practice and make their entire life a prayerful quest for union with God. As a consequence, prayer must be the first priority in organizing the life of the community and in the personal commitment of every nun. (Const. No. 61)

The spirit of the Rule and the example of our founders stress the importance in the life of Carmel of a full and attentive participation in the holy liturgical mysteries.  (Const. No. 65)

The sacred liturgy is the highest expression of our sharing in the prayer of Christ.  This participation is prolonged during the day in personal prayer.  The liturgy enriches personal prayer which, in turn, enables us to bring a truly contemplativ to a worthy celebration of the divine mysteries. The sisters are to be suitably trained in liturgy, in accord with what the Church asks, so that they may participate in the sacred liturgy with full understanding and in an active and fruitful manner. (Const. No. 63)

1. Mass

When it celebrates the liturgy, the assembled religious community realizes the mystery of the Church and shares in the Paschal mystery of Christ and in his priestly office. 

In fact, by word, sacraments and prayer, he nourishes and sanctifies his Church, and through the gift of the Holy spirit joins the Church to himself so that it may worship the Father's glory and obtain the well-being of the entire human family.

Therefore, by celebrating the Eucharist and the sacraments, and by proclaiming the word and singing the divine praises, a community builds and renews itself, expresses its union with the universal Church, and does its part for the coming of the Kingdom. (Const. No. 64)

The Eucharistic banquet is a sign of unity and bond of charity.  Through its participation in the one bread and one cup (1 Cor. 10:17), the community is united as one body and one spirit. (Const. No. 66)

 All the religious shall take part every day in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the life of the Church.  They will remain in prayer for a suitable period of time after mass in order to give thanks to the Lord. (Const. No. 66)

2. Eucharistic Adoration

At the heart of community life is the abiding Eucharistic presence of Christ, whom Holy Mother Teresa calls, "our Companion in the Most Holy Sacrament".  It fosters union with him and sustains Teresian prayer for the Church. All the sisters will be sure to make a daily visit to the Lord present in the tabernacle.  They will adore him and offer him other expressions of Eucharistic worship in keeping with the norms of the Church and with the traditions of their own monastery. (Const. No. 67)

3. Prayer of the Church

The Eucharistic praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation, and the foretaste of heavenly glory that are celebrated in the Mass, are prolonged and renewed all day long by the Liturgy of the Hours.  Through this liturgical payer, each community, in union with the Church in heaven and on earth, joins itself to the unceasing praise and supplications which Christ offers to the Father for the salvation of the whole world. (Const. No. 68)

Each community represents, in a special way, the Church at prayer and exercises its ministry of prayer on behalf of both the entire Mystical Body of Christ and the local Churches.  Mindful of this, every community will celebrate in common every day all the hours of the Liturgy of the Hours - which comprise Morning Prayer, the Office of Readings, the three middle hours of Terce, Sext and None, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer, - in accord with the norms of the Church. (Const. No. 69)

The life of "Christ who contemplates on the mountain" was always nourished by filial conversation with his Father.  Imitating him, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns should give witness in the Church to a life of unceasing prayer. Since prayer is "an intimate sharing between friends, a frequent lingering in solitude, with him who we know loves us", it involves every aspects of the nuns' being.  It informs their life with faith, hope and love that marks out the path leading to evangelical sanctity. (Const. No. 78)

In compliance with Teresian tradition, every community will spend two hours daily meditating in common.  One of these hours will be in the morning and the other in the evening, as shall be laid down in the horarium.  The choir is to be the place for this prayer, unless in special circumstances the Chapter of the monastery decides that some other place is more suitable. A religious who for some good reason is prevented from participating in the common prayer, should set aside some other time, with the agreement of the Prioress. (Const. No. 79)

Since prayer is a friendly conversation with God "who speaks to men and women as to friends and who remains with them in order to draw them and admit them to communion with himself", progress in the life of prayer is not possible without sufficient knowledge of God's word.

For that reason the Rule lays down that the nuns must continuously keep the word of the Lord in their minds and hearts.  And so they will study all of the Scriptures with special care - especially the Gospel - and meditate on them so that they may come to the pre-eminent knowledge of Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:8).

Besides using the Scriptures for their spiritual reading the religious must nourish themselves with the works of the Church fathers, with the documents of the Magisterium, with the writings of the saints and other authors of our Order especially Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint John of the Cross, and with other theological and spiritual books.  In that way, they will renew their spiritual formation. They will dedicate about an hour each day to spiritual reading. (Const. No. 80)

In order to foster the prayerful and solitary atmosphere that is the hallmark of Carmel, all the sisters shall carefully keep silence, except when they are required to talk by necessity or by reason of their duties, or when they have the permission of the Prioress to speak with sisters in response to some need.  All the same, work and every other occupation must be reconciled with silence so that the monastery truly becomes a house of prayer. The silence prescribed by the Rule will be faithfully observed from after Night Prayer until the end of Morning Prayer the next day. (Const. No. 82)

For all the time in which the sisters are not with the community or are occupied with house duties, they will keep each to her own cell, as the Rule prescribes they will remain in God's presence in solitude and give themselves to prayer, study or work. No sister may enter the cell of another without the permission of the Prioress. (Const. No. 83)

The monasteries are not to have a common workroom.  That does not, however exclude the possibility of having different sisters work successively on a piece of work or of having several sisters together attend to task that require collaboration.  Even in these cases silence and recollection are to be safeguarded. (Const. No. 84)

For Contemplative Life

The ceaseless quest for God in solitude is like an exodus into the desert.  God draws and guides us there in order to speak to our heart (Hos. 2:16)  Under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, many have responded to Christ's invitation to his disciples (Mk. 6:31) and have retired to solitude where they adore the Father and listen to his word.  They have chosen the one thing necessary the better part, and it will not be taken from them. (Lk. 10:39-42) (Const. No. 105)

The institutes which are wholly consecrated to the contemplative life of cloistered solitude, hold a distinguished place in the Mystical Body of Christ; for they offer a singular sacrifice of praise to God, they enrich God's people with the choicest fruits of their sanctity, they encourage it by example, and they extend it by their mysterious apostolic fruitfulness. (Const. No. 106)

This kind of life imitates Christ "in contemplation on the mountain".  It shares in his paschal mystery, because it is a dying for the sake of rising again.  Furthermore, in a special way, it fulfills the contemplative vocation of the Church as Bride which it reveals for all to see.  For the Bride, hidden with Christ in God, always seek the things of above, while she keeps watch for the final manifestation of the Lord (Col. 1:1-4). (Const. No. 106)

Teresian Enclosure

Holy Mother Teresa, from the beginning of her reform, chose the enclosed life as both an expression and a means of following Christ, according to the evangelical counsels, in the original contemplative vocation of Carmel.  She did this in order to combat spiritually for the glory of the Lord on behalf of his Church. (Const. No. 107)

Benefits

According to St. Teresa, the freely-chosen life of enclosure brings about a radical detachment from exterior things that leads to interior detachment, and it involves a life of silence and solitude ordered toward finding in the Spouse the living water of contemplation.  It is also a great aid for reaching holy liberty of spirit, in a joyful experience of sisterly union in Christ, of those who are "alone with him alone." (Const. No. 107)

Teresian enclosure's purpose and requirements continue to be valid.  They are consistent with radical Christian discipleship and with evangelical self-denial.  They safeguard the freedom and harmony of community life and so foster the full gift of self to God in contemplative life for the Church. (Const. No. 108)

Papal Enclosure

In conformity with their contemplative vocation, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns are obliged to observe Papal enclosure, that is, enclosure according to the laws established by the Apostolic See and by the present Constitutions which contain the fundamental norms of their proper law. (Const. No. 109)

Boundary

The law of papal enclosure extends to all the residential spaces of the nuns, including the gardens and orchards reserved to them.  The boundaries of the area subject to the law of enclosure will be fixed in a way that constitutes a material separation that protects the privacy and recollection proper to a Teresian community.  Apart from the safety exits which may be prescribed by civil law, this fixed separation must prevent people from coming in or going out.  The doors for entering and leaving the enclosure are to be locked with a key. (Const. No.110)

The material separation between the choir reserved to the nuns and the church will be made by means of a grille of solid material. It is to be arranged in such a way that the nuns can see the altar, the tabernacle and the ambo, so that they may participate better in liturgical celebrations.  An opening is to be made in the grille, or some other place in the sanctuary, which is large enough for distributing communion to the nuns.  A suitable place must be chosen for confessions.  It must be provided with a fixed grille. (Const. No.111)

In the parlors, the separation will be made by means of a fixed grille of solid material. Holy Mother wished them to be an expressive sign of separation from the world and of forgoing the most cherished human things.  (Const. No.112)

In order to pass necessary things from the enclosure to the outside and vice-versa, turns will be installed according to the tradition of the Order. Where the particular needs of the monastery require it, the Superior General, by a special concession of the Apostolic See, may authorize the use of another means that is more functional. (Const. No.114)

Entering and Leaving

In virtue of the law of enclosure, the nuns, the novices and the postulants must live within the boundaries of the monastery set apart by enclosure.  It is not permitted for them to go out except in the cases foreseen in  universal law and in the present Constitutions.

This law also prohibits anyone else from entering within the bounds of the monastery's enclosure, except in the cases listed in universal law and in these Constitutions.

Nuns who leave the enclosure and other persons who enter it will spend only as much time there as is necessary.  They will not allow themselves to become involved in other things besides that for which they left or entered the enclosure.  (Const. No. 115)

Parlor and Means of Communication

Care will be taken that visits to the parlor serve for mutual edification in truth and in charity so that the persons who go there may derive benefit for their life.  However visits must not be allowed to disturb community life or harm the recollection proper to a contemplative life.  Nor must they take place at a time that should be spent in prayer and work.

In making use of means of communication, due discretion and sobriety will be observed.  Everything that can harm the contemplative life and sisterly union is to be avoided. (Const. No. 120)