The vocation of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns is essentially ecclesial and apostolic. (Const. No. 126)

A.  Apostolic life

The apostolate to which Saint Teresa wished to dedicate her daughters is the purely contemplative one.  It consists in prayer and immolation with the Church and for the Church, and it exclude every form of active apostolate. (Const. No. 126)

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns are united with Christ who intercedes for us and offers himself for us.  With him, they offer themselves to God, and complete what is lacking in the passion of the Lord in favor of his Mystical Body (Col. 1:24).  In this way, they open themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and gives it life; and they move toward achieving that pure and solitary love which is more precious in God's sight and of greater profit for the Church than a great many other works taken together. (Const. No. 126)

Holy Mother Teresa was filled with zeal for the glory of God.  Christ gradually led her to an understanding of the Church of her time in which she interiorly experienced the labors of its reform, the wounds that tore at its unity, and its concern for evangelizing new lands. (Const. No. 124)

She wanted to help her Lord and to contribute to the welfare of souls.  She expressed, with undoubted charismatic originality, the value of gospel holiness and of prayer in building up the Body of Christ and helping it to grow.  She founded for this purpose the monastery of St. Joseph, in order to live out, together with her daughters, a strong commitment to Christian perfection.  They wanted to "be the kind of people" who obtain from God everything they asked for in their fervent intercession for the Church. (Const. No. 124)

Holy Mother transmitted to her daughters her own apostolic spirit.  She longed to see them take the good of souls and the increase of the Church to heart, for she considered that an evident sign of true perfection.  For this reason, she designated prayer and immolation as their service in the Church.  It was the reason why the Lord himself had brought them together in Carmel. (Const. No 125)

a. Love of the Universal Church

Every community is a living cell of the Mystical Body, and it should have that faithful feeling for the Church which animates Teresian contemplative life.  In that way, renewed by the Holy Spirit, it can become love in the heart of the Church. (Const. No. 125)

The Prioress must keep the community vividly aware of the Church and in communion with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff and Bishops.  For that reason, she is to keep the nuns adequately informed about the Magisterium of the Pope and of the Apostolic See, about the teaching of the Bishops, and about everything that has to do with the life of the Church and with the great problems of society, especially questions touching on justice and peace. (Const. No. 130)

In that way the religious will embrace in Christ the heavens and the earth, and be involved in the universal mission of the Church.  They will present to the Father in prayer, the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and the anguish of the human family in their times, especially those of the poor and the suffering. (Const. No. 130)

b. Communion with the Local Church

Every monastery will seek to belong fully to its local church.  The sisters should remember that they are part of the diocesan family and ought to offer in it the special witness of the contemplative life of the Teresian Carmel.  They will show their communion with the local Church, first of all, by their esteem and filial obedience toward their bishop, by their concern for the problems of the diocese and its undertakings, and by their prayer for all its members, especially for its priests. (Const. No. 128)

c. Missionary Spirit

In the style of the Teresian Carmel, the sisters will make all welcome as brothers and sisters; and they will give the joyful witness of their life and spread love for prayer. (Const. No. 128)

Taught by the shining example of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Patroness of the missions, all the Carmels will carefully foster a missionary spirit which should animate their contemplative life.  They will pray, in particular, for those who spread the Gospel, for an increase in vocations, for the unity of Christians, and for the evangelization of peoples, so that all  may be opened to the message of Christ. (Const. No. 127)

While holding faithfully to the contemplative spirit and observing the requirements of community life, and with due regard for the norms of enclosure, the monasteries may give to persons who ask for it, space and assistance for prayer, to help them find God and deepen their faith through an experience of solitude in which they may meditate and participate in the liturgy  However, every form of active apostolate is excluded. (Const. No. 129)

B. Consecrated Life

The very nature of the Teresian charism demands that the prayer of a Discalced Carmelite and the consecration of all her energies be directed to the salvation of souls. (Const. No. 10)

The evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience are founded on the teaching and examples of Christ the Master.  They are a gift of the Spirit to the Church.  When religious profess them by means of public vows, they follow more closely the form of life which the Son of God chose for himself and which his Mother embraced.  And so they live for God alone, they love him above all things, and they unite themselves in a special way to the Church and to its mystery. (Const. No. 21)

By means of the public and solemn profession of the evangelical counsels, they are consecrated to God through the mediation of the Church.  By a new and special title, they are dedicated to his honor, to building up the Body of Christ, and to the salvation of the world. This consecration stems from that of baptism.  It was established in order to give plentiful development to the graces of baptism.  It is a true wedding with Christ in a renewed covenant of love, which shows forth the mystery of the Church as Bride and foretells the good things of the glory that is to come. (Const. No. 23)

The love of God, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rm. 5:5), gives life to the evangelical counsels as we live them and directs them toward achieving that fullness of love for God and for our sisters and brothers toward which all of the rule and constitutions lead.  Sustained by the obligation of evangelical self-denial, the consecrated life serves to purify the heart, to liberate the spirit, to inflame charity, and to assure the fruitfulness of contemplative life in the Church: As they grow in perfection, their praises will prove  more pleasing, and their prayer will benefit their neighbor. (Const. No. 24)

Called to live "in allegiance (2Cor. 10:5) to Christ and to serve him faithfully with a pure heart and a good conscience",  the Discalced Carmelite Nuns make it their purpose to follow the evangelical counsels with utmost perfection.  For that reason, their basic obligation is  to give themselves entirely and without reserve to him who is everything, to imitate Christ in everything by conforming their lives to his, while meditating on it in order to know how to imitate it.  They resolve from the very start to follow the way of the cross, since it is the way of perfection in which the Lord walked. (Const. No. 22)

Consecrated Chastity

The sisters imitate Christ in his virginity, in order to be holy in body and in soul (1Cor. 7:34). They profess by vow the evangelical counsel of chastity, which involves the obligation of perfect continence in celibacy for the Kingdom of heaven (Mt. 19:12). (Const. No. 26)

Through consecrated chastity, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns witness to that love which always gives first place to Christ their divine Spouse who gave his life for them.  They must fix their hearts on him, for they are called to live with him and they receive every good thing from him. (Const. No. 27)

Consecrated chastity is a joyous manifestation of divine charity that enlarges the heart's capacity to love, leaving it undivided and free, just as God wishes his brides to be free and attached only to him.  It inclines the heart to contemplate the things of God, because the person who already has a pure heart, finds in all things a joyful and pleasing, chaste and pure, spiritual, happy and loving knowledge of God. (Const. No. 27)

Consecrated chastity, is a precious gift which the heavenly Father grants to some.  It ought to be lived with humility and without presumption.  It requires trust in the grace of God and a bond of friendship with Jesus Christ and with Mary.  She is the faithful Virgin and the model of virginal consecration. (Const. No. 28)

In order that consecrated chastity may be lived with joy and as a good for the integral development of the person consecrated to God, sufficient positive formation on human nature and on its deepest inclinations and on the Christian vocation to celibacy and to matrimony must be given to the religious.  In this way, too, all of them will be helped to reach due psychological and affective maturity, and to understand that the observance of perfect continence asks them to give themselves wholly to the Lord and to love their sisters genuinely. (Const. No. 29)

The sisters, each of them mindful of her fragility, will practice mortification, and make it their business to watch over their hearts and master their senses.  They will not overlook natural means which contribute to health of mind and body and to keeping the person balanced. (Const. No. 28)

Constant application to their work, concord in community life, the cheer of sisterly love which unites all in Christ, without making distinctions, will help the sisters very much to live in full measure their consecrated chastity. (Const. No. 28)

Poverty

In order to share in the poverty of Christ, who rich though he was, made himself poor to make us rich (2 Cor. 8:9), the sisters will embrace by vow the evangelical counsel of poverty. (Const. No. 30)

In the spirit of the evangelical beatitude, Holy Mother Teresa, contemplating Christ in his poverty, chose for herself and for her daughters the treasure hidden in holy poverty, and the weapons of holy poverty for fighting the good fight in a life of exemplary austerity. (Const. No. 31)

The nuns are among the Lord's poor who, like Mary, look hopefully to God for everything.  In the spontaneity and simplicity of their sisterly relations and in their life style, they will advance in that liberty from exterior things which does not seek human sources of security; they will progress in self-denial which prepares them for contemplative encounter with God. (Const. No. 31)

Because of their poverty and simplicity, the monasteries will shine as places where poor people live so that, with due consideration for their surroundings, they may offer a public witness of sober living and detachment.  They are to avoid every appearance of luxury and anything that is not necessary. The cells and their furnishing must be poor and austere in character, just as Holy Mother wanted. (Const. No. 35)

The choice of poverty, as a basic element of the Teresian Carmel, demands detachment from earthly goods, humility and sobriety in the use of things, diligence in work, and trustful abandonment to Providence. It demands a life that is poor in fact and in spirit. (Const. No. 30 and 31)

Since the sisters are truly poor, sisterly sharing asks that they all take care of the things of the community so that everything may be available for the use of everyone.  No one should consider anything as belonging to herself. (Const. No. 36)

In imitation of Christ who wanted to work with his own hands in Nazareth, and in obedience to the prescriptions of the Rule, the nuns will submit themselves gladly to the common law of work.  They will share the condition of the poor and earn by toil the necessities of life.  They will place at the service of the sisters their energies and talents and keep in mind that labor is also a way to associate themselves with the redemptive work of Christ. (Const. No. 37) They will also be ready to spend their own time serving the community and to take on the more difficult jobs of the house. The Prioress will be the first to set an example.  (Const. No. 36)

In organizing work assignments, they will be most careful about safeguarding the requirements of contemplative life; and they will take into consideration each one's skills and talents in such a way as to make their work not only an expression of poverty and of mutual service in charity, but also help in maintaining a fitting atmosphere for a Teresian community and in sustaining the interior serenity of the sisters. (Const. No. 38)

When the Lord provides them, alms are to be accepted gratefully in the spirit of Holy Mother as help in providing for life's necessities.  All the same, they are to avoid begging for anything unless the sisters are forced to by great need, for they know that if they try to please the Lord with all their strength, His Majesty will see to it that they do not lack anything they need. (Const. No. 37)

Obedience

Servant of God

The foundation of the consecrated life is obedience, the sure way for clinging to the will of God and reaching perfection.  The nuns will imitate their Spouse, Yahweh's Servant, by making themselves slaves of God, branded with the mark of the cross, so that they may be spiritually at the service of all their sisters and brothers in Christ, and more specifically, at the disposition of the entire community and of each one of the sisters. (Const. No. 41)

Union with God's Will

By professing with a vow the evangelical counsel of obedience, religious imitate Christ who came into the world in order to do the will of the Father (Jn. 4:34; 5:30) and who made himself obedient unto death on the cross (Phil. 2:8). Following his example, they offer to God the full dedication of their will as a self-sacrifice.  They thereby unite themselves more intently to the salvific will of the Father.  (Const. No. 40)

The practice of obedience conforms a person more and more to the mind of Christ.  It becomes a stable theological bond to the will of God.  It finds its perfect model in Mary.  For God's handmaid, she was never moved to act by a creature, but she did everything moved by the Holy Spirit. (Const. No. 41)

While obedience limits the scope of one's individual choices, freely accepted, it leads to the total freedom of the children of God.  Obedience is meant to be active and responsible.  It asks the individual and her community to seek God's will through frank dialogue, conducted in a spirit of charity between the Prioress and the community.  Dialogue does not limit the authority of the Prioress to decide and command what is to be done, nor may it diminish the character of immolation and sacrifice which distinguishes obedience founded on the paschal mystery of Christ. (Const. No. 43)

The evangelical counsel of obedience obliges a religious to submit her will to the legitimate superiors, when they command according to the Rule and the Constitutions. (Const. No. 44) The sisters should regard the superiors as God's representatives, and place all their resources of mind and will and all their gifts of nature and grace under the superior's guidance and at the service of others.  In that way they will do their part in building up together the Body of Christ according to God's designs. (Const. No. 41)

All who, according to the norm of the Constitutions, are called upon to exercise the power they have received from God through the Church, must do so in a spirit of service - especially the Prioress, for it pertains to her to guide and direct the Teresian community. In carrying their office, those in authority will help the sisters to work together harmoniously so that one and all may endeavour to build a sisterly community in Christ. (Const. No. 42)

As true daughters of the Church, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns will willingly receive everything that the Church proposes to them through the Magisterium and legitimate authority, for they are happy to be bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest superior because they are also obliged to do so by the holy bond of obedience. (Const. No. 45)

Evangelical Self-denial

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns who follow the gospel path of Christ must conform themselves to his example and share in his mission of salvation.  This means that they must renounce their very selves.  Because Jesus had invited them to join his group of disciples, they accept his call to take up their cross daily (Lk. 9:23).  Since they are aware of their sinfulness, they acknowledge their need for repentance which, to be true, requires that external practices be closely united to conversion of heart. (Const. No. 46)

They should never forget that the reason Holy Mother organized the life of the new Carmels with "great vigor" was to help the Church in its great need.  And so, individually and as a community, they will lead a life of austerity and mortification.  They will take courage from the example of Christ himself: Fix your gaze on the Crucified, and everything will become easy for you. (Const. No. 47)

In order to practice evangelical self-denial, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns will take as their standard of life the exhortations on spiritual combat which are contained in the Rule and the doctrine of Our Holy Parents on renunciation and mortification.  These are not to be understood as ends in themselves.  Rather they are means which are necessary for expressing and sustaining a deeply theological life at the service of the Church. (Const. No. 47)

Penance

The Discalced Nuns are called to prayer and contemplation, and they should keep in mind that "prayer and self-indulgence do not go together."  The generous practice of penance is an integral part of the contemplative life.  Nevertheless, in their penitential practices, they should stress the interior spirit and the exercise of virtues more than the rigors of corporal mortification, keeping in mind that the Lord is more concerned "with love than the magnificence with which works are done." For this reason their first concern will be to acquire the sovereign virtues of sisterly love, detachment and humility. (Const. No. 48)

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns will hold to what the Church prescribes for penitential days and the observance of fast and abstinence. Equally, they will faithfully observe the norm of the Rule, restored by Holy Mother, by abstaining from meat, except in case of need. (Const. No. 50)

The first penitential practice which the Discalced Carmelite Nuns ought generously to renew every day and the one that is most fruitful for the Church and for themselves is what flows from their vocation:

  • - the self-denial and detachment imposed by living the evangelical counsels;
  • - the radical demands of a wholly contemplative life;
  • - the sacrifices imposed by always living, as a community, within the confines of the same monastery;
  • - the monotony of the regular observance and of monastic activities;

- and the burden of work.

United and strengthened by sisterly love, they will carry one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2) and everything will become sweeter, lighter and more refreshing. (Const. No. 49)

In conformity with Carmel's spirit of penance and austerity, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until the Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, the fast prescribed by the Rule will be observed, except on Sundays, solemnities, the three days after the Nativity of the Lord and on other major feasts.  In implementing the spirit of the Rule, the traditions of the Order, and the norms of local statutes are to be respected. (Const. No. 50)

Without detriment to what is laid down in no.50, the local norms of the monastery or, in their absence, the Chapter will take care to review local traditional penitential practices, where they may have fallen into disuse, and replace them with new forms of communal penance that fit better the different situations or conditions of times or places. In the common penitential act which is to be done every Friday, the ecclesial intentions expressed by Holy Mother are to be kept specially in mind. (Const. No. 51)

They should also give an example of patience and proven virtue in affliction, like illness and old age, which are our common lot on earth.  In this way they will conform themselves to Christ in his passion, for the sake of his Mystical Body (Col. 1;24). (Const. No. 49)