By Fr. Pete Manila Jr. O carm
National Spiritual Director
My first months as co-journeyer of the lay Carmelites broadened my mind on the meaning of commitment. I witnessed how these already committed people made another commitment in life or intensified their commitments to a new commitment as members of the community of lay Carmelites. I officiated in a number of rites of Reception and Profession of the different tertiary communities. I was able to visit Mayon in Bicol because of the Lay Carmelites. There is joy in my heart as I listened the prayerful moment of profession before God and the people. By the rite of profession, I believe that the Lord consecrates us for a very obvious reason: to transform us, to deify us. Personal holiness remains a divinely ordained goal of human life.
Newly professed lay Carmelites, I do pray for your perseverance and may you prolong the joyous moment of your profession, to ponder in your hearts the presence of God who called you to this life. There is joy in doing more sacrifices because of your option and commitment in life. To become member of this community is indeed a way of finding the meaning of life in the presence of the Lord in the alternate way of living in community and in service.
The joy truly radiates as you authentically make yourself available more for God through this community. The joy in you makes you young and energetic, makes you move further to reach to our brothers and sisters who are in need, makes you pray harder and makes you beautifully human as you relate to one another.
I imagined how the first Carmelites professed also before God that they have to live a way of life which they believe as way of being faithful to the love of God and being faithful to the Spirit that guided them to come together, to be able to risk their lives in the uncertainties of their way of life because deep in their hearts they were convinced that God is with them. In the spirit of our forefathers in Carmel, we also enter Carmel in the spirit of trust and confidence in the loving presence of God.
May we realize that entering Carmel is not simply a matter of entering a building or a group or community. There is uniqueness in Carmel that distinguishes us from other groups of organization. Our profession to be in Carmel is an act of actively entering a drama playing out deep within every human life. We are awakened in the midst of our love story with God. It is a story of the human spirit encountered by God’s Spirit. We are explorers of an inner place of intimacy with God.
We are entering into the cell of purification, opening our hearts and minds in the whole process of transformation. It is a process of unmasking us, of knowing who we truly are—we are God’s children. It is a process that our desires are transformed so that more and more our life as humans and as Christians is expressing desires which are in accord with God’s desire. God’s desire is to see us truly His children.
Entering into this story of our life in Carmel purifies us that we want what God wants. This is what holiness means…we are not building castles on the air, but we are living naturally and beautifully human.