Prot. N.C. 20-1/79
After the Second Vatican Council the members of the Third Order Secular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and of St. Teresa of Jesus carefully gathered the opinions of all the fraternities worldwide and went to work diligently on the revision of their Rule. They wrote a new text which concentrated on basic principles and highlighted the way of life of the Secular member.
The text was approved by this Sacred congregation on October 26th, 1970 and put into practice on an experimental basis. Then a Commission of experts from all regions was formed to work on a definitive text. The work of this Commission was carefully examined by the Definitory General of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The definitory approved the work and presented a definitive text for approval by the Holy See.
And this Sacred congregation considered the matter carefully, made some changes here and there and approved the "Rule of Life" which is attached to this Decree. The faculty was also granted to discontinue the old name of "Third Order" and to take on the new name of "The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites", which is more in keeping with the earliest traditions.
May God and His Virgin Mother Mary enable all those who in secular life share the spirit of the Discalced Carmelites to be filled with the spirit, while living in the world, to follow more perfectly the Gospel path. May each one according to this vocation try to reach that secret union with God which gives new life to the apostolic service of this Church.
This Decree now takes the place of anything contrary to it.
Given at Rome on May 10th, 1979.
E. Card. Pironio, Prefect
Augustinus Mayer, Secretary
The Rule of Life of the
Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites
All men are called to share, through charity, the holiness which belongs to God alone: "You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect". (Mt. 5,48).
The way to the attainment of perfection, which is opened to all by baptism, (1) lies in the following of Christ: but Christ's grace can take many forms, and there is in consequence, among those in quest of holiness, a variety of gifts and charisms, which not only reflect the boundless wealth of the mystery of God but also give rise to a great diversity of personal vocations within the Church of the Lord (2).
Thus the religious vocation is given only to those whom God has especially marked out, but the gift, which they have received, becomes the common heritage of the People of God (3).
One finds in the ecclesial charisms of the religious life an inspiration to holiness, a call to heavenly realities, a light and a support on the road to the perfection of charity.
It is no wonder, therefore, that in harmony with the divine economy of grace and charisms in the Church, the different religious families become schools of sanctity not only for their own members but also for many of the faithful. For these the grace of their particular vocation, together with the spiritual relationship it includes, permits their finding in the religious family, which they prefer and choose, effective inspiration and sustenance both for their interior life and also for their apostolic endeavors, in circumstances proper to their state of secular life (4).
Through the canonical establishment of these Secular Third Orders, the Religious Orders recognize and ratify the desire of these faithful, whether lay or cleric, to a participation in their own proper charisms. They receive them into their own religious family, placing at their disposition their own heritage of teaching and evangelical life, and at the same time offer them fraternal aid and spiritual direction.
By their very nature then the Secular Orders are intended to subserve the secular state of life of their members, not to change it. For this reason the formal and juridical structures are kept to a minimum.
The main obligation which the Secular Orders impose on their members is one of fidelity to the charism respective parent Orders; in fact, the Secular members full the Order's ideals, its grace and spiritual heritage, but at same time enjoy a sufficiency of autonomy from every style life proper to religious together with full appreciation of their secular state of life.
The juridical bonds which unite the Secular Order to Religious Order are, therefore, a sign and a guarantee living spiritual communion which respects the secular character of the institution. Their purpose is precisely to inspire and assist the secular members to carry out in the Church and in the world the manifold duties incumbent upon them as Christians (5).
Finally, all the Secular Orders are in fact united in the pursuit of evangelical perfection in answer to the call to holiness received in Baptism, and all serve the universal Church, though each according to its proper charism.
The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, or Third Order of Teresian Carmel, welcomes, therefore, those of the faithful who, by special vocation, undertake to live in the world an evangelical life of fraternal communion imbued with the spirit of contemplative prayer, in imitation of the Virgin Mary (6), and animated with apostolic zeal according to the example and teaching of Carmelite saints (7).
It is the mission of the Secular Carmelites, called as they are to a life both contemplative and apostolic to carry into the world the distinctive witness of Carmel: "The Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand" (3 Kgs. 17,1).
1. Vatican 11, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), 40.
2. Cf. 1 Cor 12, 1-22.
3. Cf. Vatican 11, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church(Lumen Gentium)44,2.
Cf. Vatican 11, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), 4,8.
Cf. ibid., 2,2: 4,7-9.
6. Cf. ibid., 4.10: Interior Castle 111, i,3,
7. Cf. Life 32,6; Way of Perfection 3,10.
For serious reasons the General or Provincial of the Order, or the Religious duly
delegated by them, may within limits of their respective jurisdictions, admit
isolated members into the Secular Order.
Isolated Secular Carmelites should follow in its entirety the present Rule of Life
except that which concerns community life.
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