This project began a little more than two years ago, although at the time, I was not thinking about a long term project of any kind, nor about posting them on a regular website. I was a novice with the Carmelites, and it began as a Lenten meditation.
In putting together this blog and series, I thought about whether or not to continue with publishing these reflections, considering that the vast majority of readers are people not in the Order and some may be taken a little aback by the strong address of some sections to the brothers. The goal and purpose of this series is to share the Carmelite Way of Life and the ways that it can be helpful and meaningful to daily life in the 21st century. It responds to a culture shrouded in inescapable noise, lends support to the constant stress of intense busyness, answers the shortcomings of digital intimacy, it speaks to a collapsing world of east and west, and shows the value and uniqueness of a life lived in allegiance to Christ. For over 800 years, the Carmelite Way of life has led people to a more intimate and loving relationship with our Lord, and along a path that leads us to become better people and more fully human.
The Rule of St. Albert is the beginning of this Carmelite Way of life and there is something immensely valuable, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us, in knowing that these ideas and concepts came from somewhere, and are not things that were simply thought up on a whim or sound good according to popular trends. Rather, there was a letter written to a small group of men on a secluded mountain that has proven over time and across cultures to lead people in living a better life and more in allegiance to Christ.
The Desert Reflections make direct contact to this beginning, with a time when I was vowed to live according to its teachings and wondering how it was relevant to life in 21st Century United States; and then to a life in training as a diocesan priest. In reading them, I believe that you will see the connections and begin seeing the underlying wisdom and experience in the Rule that will be meaningful to your life. The Adaptations then will directly address some of these connections and how they can be lived out in day-to-day life. In other words, why include the reflections addressed to a time and life in the Order? The Rule is the foundation which is not isolated and irrelevant to ordinary life, but its guidance and promises hold true for everyone, regardless of one’s station or place in life. The brothers and sisters living a consecrated life in the Order are just as human and ordinary as we are and we all benefit from the same wisdom and principles that lead us to live more fully and closer to our God and Creator.
In reading the Desert Reflections, begin here, adding your imagination to the principles and insight that the Rule sets forth, and then adapting them to your particular life.