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My Carmel Homework

alec vanderboom

I affectionately call Carmel my "Special Reading Group with Jesus." Remember those poor readers in fourth grade who had to have weekly meetings with the teacher at those dinky group tables in the front of the class? No matter what cheerful name the teacher came up to call the group such as "The Reading Rockets", everyone knew that this group contained only slowest kids who needed extra remedial instruction in phonics.

I feel that way about belonging to Carmel-- only now I'm happy to be identified as a "slow Christian" and someone Jesus knew at her conception would need extra remedial instruction.

The purpose of Carmel, in fact, all Third Orders, is to "deepen the Christian commitment received in baptism." Jesus totally knew that I was so clueless about how to discern and follow our common Christian call that he gives me extra help. Thus, Carmel is my "Special Reading Group Time with Jesus!"

Just like a poor reader who finally figures out the wonder of phonics, I'm constantly amazed by the insights that are simply handed out for free through Carmel meetings. Check out this line from my Carmel Homework:

"Christ is the centre of our lives and of Christian experience. There are various ways of following Jesus: all Christians must follow Him, must make Him the law for their lives and be disposed to fulfill three fundamental demands:

a) to place family ties beneath the interests of the Kingdom and Jesus himself (Mt 10:37-39; Lk 14: 25-26);
(b) to live in detachment from wealth in order to show that the arrival of the Kingdom does not depend on human means
but rather on God’s strength and the willingness of the human person before Him (Lk 14:33),and
(c) to carry the cross of accepting God’s will revealed in the mission that He has confided to each person (Lk 14:33; 9:23)."

(OCDS Constitution Section II).

Wow! Has anyone else heard about this a,b,c approach to Christianity before?

I've vaguely heard about "carrying your cross" or "detachment from the world." What does "placing the ties of family beneath Jesus himself mean?

How does that play out in my life as a wife and mother?

I've figured out that I need to go to Catholic Mass during visits to see my Protestant Parents, even when that displeases my Mother. By honoring my obligation to attend Mass each Sunday, I am placing Jesus ahead of my natural family ties.

Yet, how does this sentiment apply to life withing my own Catholic family? Does this statement meant that I should make sure to get necessary prayer time for myself, even when I nurse a newborn 24/7 in the Fall?

Anyone have any ideas?

It will be interesting to discuss this at my Carmel Meeting tomorrow.