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An interview with a Carmelite nun

July 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Carmelite Spirituality, Dan Burke

Carmelite nunDear Friends,

 

We are very excited to introduce you to a new team member joining the effort to serve you in your desire to deepen your relationship with Christ. Her name is Sister Carmen Laudis, O.C.D. and she is part of a Carmelite religious community based in Alhambra, California in the U.S. To introduce her to you I asked her a few questions about her perspective on her life and service to the Church in the Carmelite tradition.

 

Q: How long have you been a nun? 

A: I have been nun for over 40 amazing years.

 

Q: What drew you into the Carmelite tradition? 

A: I loved the Carmelite way of life with its utter simplicity and austere beauty, its silence and solitude, quality daily prayer and, above all, its concentrated focus on striving to always  living in the presence of God, together with its unparalleled devotion to Our Lady.

 

Q: Why did you join the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles?

A: No one person can do everything, and when I prayed about what I wanted to do with my life, or rather, what God had in mind for me to do when He created me, I was drawn by His grace to think more and more about a spiritual mission of prayer. I came to realize that so many people in our world do not know God, or have a skewed idea of Him (for whatever reason). I wanted to pray for, intercede for, and draw God’s blessings upon our world. I also desired to instruct people in our Catholic faith. I loved reading about the different Carmelite Saints and when I made my retreats, it was at a Carmelite retreat center, Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California.  I noticed when I came there for the first time that every single sister had a smile and every single one of them had time to greet me, and talk for a few moments. They were all filled with God’s love. From meeting these real people (as opposed to reading a book) I was able to discern the depth and profound encounter with the living God within the Carmelite tradition. I saw it on their radiant faces.  I was also drawn to the silence and beauty of the retreat center and the simplicity and fervor of the Sisters’ prayer. When I moved over to kneel in a corner of the church which allowed me to watch the Sisters as they chanted the Divine Office in the Sisters’ choir, I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit within my soul, that this was the life for me. Prayer, silence, solitude, community and promoting a deeper spiritual life among God’s people through healthcare, education and retreats, all taken together, seemed to pull me into this contemplative/apostolic Carmelite tradition.

 

Q: What is unique about your expression of Carmelite spirituality there?

A: Many people are aware of the Carmelite Order with its priests, cloistered nuns and the Secular (Lay) Carmelites (OCDS). In addition, there are scattered throughout the world, contemplative/apostolic Carmelites, like our community. We are affiliated to the Carmelite Order and follow the Carmelite rule as it applies to us in our active ministries of healthcare, education and retreats. We bring the world to Mt. Carmel, which of course is the symbol of prayer and union with God; we bring Carmelite spirituality to our world.

 

Q: What would you say is at the heart of Carmelite spirituality?

A: The heart of Carmelite Spirituality is a thirst, a longing for the living God, to know Him, and to come to a deeper and deeper union with Him through prayer even in the here and now. At the heart of Carmelite spirituality is God Himself – not so much the so-called “experience of prayer”; but “a heart-to-heart conversation, true and living relationship with God Who loves us.” – St. Teresa of Jesus

 

Q: Why should anyone pursue Carmelite spirituality? 

A: Carmelite Spirituality is gospel spirituality. It is one thing to pray, another thing to grow in prayer, and a third thing to be able to write clearly about the prayer journey.  Carmelite Saints like St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, and many others have the gift of clarifying prayer experiences and putting them into context.  They have gone ahead over the terrain and have come back with a roadmap. 

 

Q: What benefit will they find?

A: They will come closer to God, closer than they ever dreamed possible.

 

Q: What would it mean to pursue Carmelite spirituality? 

A: To pursue Carmelite Spirituality would be to take the spiritual life seriously. And as St. Therese says, “really try to pray.”

 

Q:  How would it affect my prayer life as a layperson?

A: Carmelite spirituality will help you to become more grounded, more forgiving of yourself and others. When Moses came down from the mountain his face was “radiant.” People will notice the difference in you, even if you are not aware of it yourself. “Know you not that you are God’s temple and that His spirit dwells within you.” You will know you are, indeed, God’s temple.

 

Q: Is there a place for both men and women or just women?

A: The Carmelite Order is comprised of friars (brothers and priests), Cloistered nuns, Secular Carmelites (lay men and women) and active communities affiliated with the Carmelite Order (like the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles)

 

Q: Can you tell us about your foundress

A: She said, “May your life in that little corner of the earth be as a bonfire of love, consuming itself in the love of God and zeal for souls.” These are words of Mother Luisita, a candidate for sainthood. She began our community during a religious persecution in her native Mexico, came to the United States in 1927 as a religious refugee with two other sisters. Our first ministries, which included building projects, took place during the worst of the Great Depression. We continue to bring healing and hope to our world through healthcare, education and spiritual retreats are venturing out into the vast sea of the internet, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in this explosive new way on this blog.

 

Q: Can I submit prayer requests to you?   

A: Yes, send prayer requests to prayers@carmelitesistersocd.com

 

Q: What if I feel I might be called into the life of your community?   

A: Visit our web site: www.carmelitesistersocd.com and for more information, please contact   vocations@carmelitesistersocd.com   Sister Grace Helena, OCD, Vocation Directress, 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra, California 91801

 

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs. If you have an interest in having Dan come speak at your parish or Catholic event or group, contact us at rcspiritualdirection@gmail.com or call 818-646-7729.

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  • Jesusbpraised

    I am very happy to see a member of our active Carmelites on your panel.
    The beauty of Carmelite spirituality will be explored and revealed even more on a daily basis. The Sisters also have a wonderful publication called “Spirit of Carmel” people might like to look into. It is uniquely different and simply beautiful!

    • Cheryln27

      How does one acquire the publication “Spirit of Carmel”?

      • Jesusbpraised

        You should be able to find a link on the Sisters website.

    • Kathy

      I would love to be able to receive your publication “Spirit of Carmel” but cannot afford it as I am on a fixed income and living from paycheck to paycheck.  Is there a way to find out more about Carmelite spirituality without having to pay for it.  I lose out on a lot of spiritual help being at a financial disadvantage.

  • 40Days

    Praised be JESUS CHRIST!

    Welcome, Sister…so nice to have you here.

  • gonesimera

    Welcome sister

  • Cheryln27

    Dear Sister Carmen, Thank you for a beautiful and touching explanation of your discernment process and the experience of a Carmelite nun. It was meant to be for me by chance to find this website and this new blog entry as I feel I have been called on this journey and am discerning the life of the 3rd Order Lay Carmelites…and perhaps more. My next step is to join a group vocational retreat. I am very excited by this new venture-the Holy Spirit is truly working its marvels. Thank you again for your inspiration..  

  • Tapinu33

    Welcome Sister, how Blessed are we to have you with us! Thank You Jesus and Mary

  • Totus2us

    Welcome Sister Carmen!  What a blessing for us readers to have you as part of the team!  Thank you so much for taking this on. 

    I look forward to what you may have to share with us about our faith, and in particular the Carmelite spirituality. 

    God bless you and all the sisters of your Carmel community.

  • Rita

    It was great to read the interview. Carmelite sprituality is living Heaven on earth.
    I thank God for this way and for everybody who is in the Way.
    Rita OCDS

    • Jesusbpraised

      Rita, a few simple words, but oh so very true. I, too have found Heaven on earth through this Carmelite way. Praised be Jesus Christ forever!
      Diane OCDS

  • Jeanas45

    I wonder how you would become a Carmelite  secular or lay person?

    • Jesusbpraised

      Jeanas45, you can Google discalced Carmelite Seculars and find info. There are Communities throughout the US.

  • Mbtvalli

    Welcome, and thank you for being here with us, Sister Carmen!
    What you said is true of the benefit of Carmelite spirituality:   that we will come closer to God, closer than we ever dreamed possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jgeneroso3 Joe Generoso

    Hello Sr. Carmen! Its nice to know that CSD now has a cloistered nun, an OCD at that, as a team member. I enjoyed reading your answers to the queries; very Carmelite. I especially like your description of prayers. I am a professed TOCarm. If I read these same responses when I was still a Novice, I would have enjoyed them just the same but it would have a different impact on me.

    I had the pleasure of meeting and attending the retreat of Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh 8 years ago in Manila. How is he?

    With you around, this website is now truly a Carmelite website. We will all be contemplatives.  

  • woody

    Thank you for joining us Sister Carmen.  Excellent interview.

  • Marcelin

    Dear Sister Carme Laudis, thank you for your commitment to bring life to the world through the doctrine of the Carmelite Order.I was very glad after reading your comments.It was exciting and enriching.May the almighty God continue to assist you in this wonderful journey. 

  • marymartha

    Welcome Sister Carmen, 
    How refreshing to know about the work of your order that it is devoted to prayer and the Carmelite way of life but also has active ministries (retreats, healthcare and teaching.)  I’m in formation for Secular Discalced Carmelites and I love the spirituality but at times I find myself wishing our community had an active apostolate as well.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    peace in carmel,
    marymartha of mi.

  • Sister Carmen Laudis

    From Sister Carmen Laudis:
    I have read all your comments and commend you in your faithful striving to live a virtuous life in today’s seculare milieu. Just wanted to clarify that we are contemplative/apostolic Carmelites, that is to say, we work in healthcare, education, and spiritual retreats while living the Carmelite Way of Life. Our community is one of the first “active” Carmelite communities, afiliated to the Carmelite Order in 1921. Our mission is to promote a deeper spiritual life among God’s people. Our website is http://www.carmelitesistersocd.com. Until next time, Sr Carmen Laudis

  • Nttranvo

    I am trying to find a place to post my question but don’t know how, so I post here.  I don’t have a spiritual director and I have a question that I would like to receive an answer from a priest: I have a friend who is 50 years of age and has two young children, age 13 and 11.  My friend studies to become a deacon. I am wondering if after 5 years of studying, and he become a deacon, can he give homily on Sunday mass at his parish?
    I am waiting for your answer….thanks

    • Anonymous

      Dear Friend: Once he is ordained, he will have the freedom to preach a homily if the pastor and the Bishop allow him to do so. It is a normal function of an ordained deacon.

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  • Sharlafell

    Hello, I am doing a research project for 10th grade religion class for St. Bonaventure HS. I would like to email interview a Nun. Can anyone help me? Scott