Following Mary’s example, the contemplative is a person centred in God. (VDQ 10)

Carmelite Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East


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                   Such was the theme of the 18–23 September 2017 Session for the Carmelites from the five communities of the Carmelite Association in the Holy Land held in Amman, Jordan.  


Participating and contributing with the nuns were Father Abdo (Assistant for the Association of the Carmelites in the Holy Land), Msg. Jean Sleiman (Latin Archbishop of Baghdad), Fr. Enrique (Delegate for Israel), Fr. Patrizio (Delegate for Egypt), Fr. Miguel (Provincial of Spain), Father Raymond (Provincial of Lebanon), and Father Guillaume (Provincial of Paris and of Iraq).
Following each conference were stimulating exchanges on a diversity of subjects:
·         What is Carmel’s witness in the Middle East? Above all it’s our life of firm union with God, attesting to our interactions with others with empathy, not domination.
·         How do we progress together as brothers and sisters in Carmel? Is it not a means of cultivating a familial and spiritual bond?   We can’t evaluate another person’s rapport with God, but we can examine our own relationships with one another.
·         How do we safeguard the special quality of our Carmelite life, its charism?  This is perhaps something that cannot be “taught” but rather “caught”, living out our call from God each day in allowing the touch of the Holy Spirit deep within our soul to blossom with joy in community.  It’s “letting go” and “letting God” shape and form us.
·         How do we walk "together"?  We celebrate the meaning of our vocation together within the context of our daily communal life, seeking our own sanctity and accepting others as they are, each of us a child of God.  Here on earth we will never reach perfection, but we humbly walk together in our journey with God, knowing that we each have our weaknesses and strengths, appreciating the other in his or her path to God.  How do we deal with difficulties, little clashes of personality?  With God, problems can be solved!  “Jesus, Master of the impossible’!
·         We’ve a number of times evoked the novitiate of Brother John of the Cross with the Carmelites of Valladolid.  Our Holy Mother did not teach about prayer ... but rather about mortification, i.e. the living-out of fraternity in our recreations!  Yes, our recreation periods may truly be times of being “re-created” proving to be a testing ground to put into practice the virtues we seek.
.         The time was equally valuable as it better clarified our understanding of the geopolitical conflicts in a region so rich culturally and in resources, no doubt also in a position strategically important. Conflicts are clothed in religion, but are not religious.  They underlie rather the political and economic issues already so well known.
     We are therefore grateful for having had this occasion together, as we return to our respective communities with a renewed vision of an enlarged Carmelite witness in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq), not to overlook the Maghreb (Carmel of Tangiers in Morocco) with a fresh determination and vigor of witnessing together our Carmelite charisma and mission!

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