In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love...” - St. Therese of Lisieux

Consecrated to God, to His Work and to His Church

Prayer and Spiritual Life

Spirit of Our Carmel

Our Hermitage here in West Cork provides the way for chosen souls to fulfil the command to love God and neighbour. Each Sister leaves behind family, friends and possessions to gain Jesus by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. As the beloved of Our Lord, she becomes a “garden enclosed” in which she and God may lovingly commune and wherein He may dwell and find comfort and consolation. This self-abandonment and total dedication of her being adds efficacy to her prayers as she intercedes and obtains supernatural aid for the Church, for souls, and especially for priests. Like St Therese, every Carmelite heart burns with apostolic charity for her fellow men.

“...Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them...” - Our Lady of Fatima

As Carmelites, we seek to achieve these lofty goals by leaving the world and entering the “desert” of the Hermitage. The cloister minimizes distractions and provides the silence needed for the great work of prayer and contemplation. Many hours each day are spent in chanting the Divine Office, Holy Mass, meditation, the rosary, spiritual reading, work and other religious exercises.

Our enclosure not only guards against the world so peace, prayer and holiness can blossom, but it serves as a fortress where spiritual war is waged against sin and evil. Carmelites taste of struggle as much as they taste of the sweetness of contemplation and spiritual joy. We live an austere life of penance and renunciation to make reparation both for our own sins and those of the world to implore God’s pardon.

“As the Lord lives, whom I serve...” - 1 Kings 8:15

Our Daily Life: Living The Call

Each day in Carmel is a journey that brings us one day closer to Heaven. St. Teresa of Avila called this journey "the royal road to Heaven.” This is the joyful hope that draws us through each day. Our day is modelled after the Holy Family of Nazareth, a life of simplicity, intended in its routines and rhythms to foster a lifestyle of prayer and contemplation. During each hour of the day, we strive to make our every action and prayer a sacrificial offering of love to God for the good of the whole world.

Life in our Carmelite Hermitage is substantially what it was in the early period of Hermits on Mt Carmel and with much of the same monastic customs practiced in the first foundations of St Teresa in Spain. We live in silence and solitude, retaining the eremitical (hermit-like) spirit of our first Fathers on Mount Carmel while participating in a strong and joyful community life. The life is simple and austere, yet full of the warmth, peace and contentment that characterize a family united in love and centered on Christ.

Each day begins with a call to praise: Laudetur Jesus Christus et Maria Mater “Praised be Jesus Christ and Mother Mary”. Each Sister echoes this praise when she wakes from sleep: "Ave Maria". As she clothes herself in the habit of Our Lady, she is preparing all the while for prayer and meditation. Eight times daily Carmelites set aside assigned duties to praise God in choral or her cell to recite or chant the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours). The high point of each day in Carmel is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when the sisters worship God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Our daily life includes devotional prayers in the Carmelite tradition; simple manual labour for the maintenance of the community; practices of mortification, fasting and penance; community recreation; meals in common (Sundays and Solemnities) with spiritual reading; private mental prayer; and spiritual reading.

The day in the life of a Sister begins at 4.00am when she rises to pray Matins and Lauds in her Cell.

"Upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed guardsmen. All the day and all the night long, they will not hold their peace from praising the Name of the Lord." - Antiphon from the Benedictine Breviary

After half an hour of meditation and Prime the Sisters return briefly to their cell. The high point of the day for a Carmelite Nun is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which usually begins at 8.00am. Attendance at Mass and the reception of Holy Communion is such a solemn and important part of her day that she clothes herself in a white mantle to remind her of the purity of soul which the very greatness and holiness of her Divine Spouse requires. Collation (Simple breakfast of coffee and bread) is followed by the third Liturgical Hour of Terce in solitude. The Sisters then spend and 40 minutes of Lectio Divina (Sacred reading of Scripture or other Spiritual writings).

The rest of the morning until 12:00, she spends in manual labour . “Each one should try to labour for the support of the others.” Whether sweeping, preparing the meals or mending the clothes, she keeps in the Presence of her Beloved Spouse Who looks for proofs of her love for Him. She knows that the work which she does under obedience is very pleasing to Him for it is assigned to her by her Superior, “whose will the Lord very much wants to be fulfilled as if it were His own.” (Constitutions) Nothing much distracts her from her primary occupation which is to LOVE Our Lord. She accepts and welcomes everything that happens during the course of the day, knowing that in these occurrences, He is awaiting her response to His invitation to greater intimacy with Him.

The Sisters normally work alone at their assigned task in the solitude of their cell, kitchen or garden. Whether they are in the cell or outside, they must, as soon as they hear the bell for the Divine Office, leave their work aside and begin praying the Liturgical Hour of Sext, and examination of conscience in the solitude of the Cell.

This is a 5 minute assessment of the effort she has made in acquiring a particular virtue or in overcoming a particular fault. The object of her examine is of her own choosing. Since by her vows, she has promised to strive constantly towards perfection, she must know what virtues she needs to acquire and plan how she is going to acquire them. Concentrating on one thing at a time, however, better ensures the acquiring of a habit, and that is what a virtue is - a good habit. Once she has decided what is to be the object of her attention, she uses the time of the Particular Examine to evaluate whether she is profiting by all the occasions during the day to attain her goal. She concludes her examine by renewing her resolution and says an Our Father to obtain the grace to keep her resolution.

While partaking of the food which is the nourishment of the body, her soul is nourished by a holy reading.