A Carmelite Nun
It is literally impossible to give an accurate impression of a day in the life of a Carmelite nun. This may seem an absurd statement; after all, every Carmel in the country has a similar timetable (also called an horarium) and the structure of a typical day can easily be given.
People are often curious about the kind of work we do. We need some sort of remunerative work (e.g. many Carmels provide altar breads for parishes or produce greeting cards), we tend the grounds we live in, usually growing some of our own fruit and vegetables and do the work of any family group, cleaning, cooking meals, washing dishes, doing the laundry etc. Similarly the work of prayer (the work which is the reason for Carmel’s existence) can be ‘dissected’ into formal prayer times; the ‘quiet’ prayer in the morning and evening of the Carmelite day, Mass and the Office of the Church. However, taken as mere externals, all this misses the point!
All the elements of the life and the structure of each day are portals through which we try to ‘hear the heartbeat’ of Divine Life. Trying to give ourselves completely in love and service in every circumstance of our living is what we do as Christians but there is a particular Carmelite way of exploring the fact that ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Col.3:3). St. Teresa of Avila urges us to ‘holy daring’ because it takes real courage and determination to give ourselves totally to this adventure and an adventure it is; an adventure into the intimacy of Christ. It is an adventure into ‘the hidden life’ where daily we are called to enter into the heartbeat of the Saviour, to allow the deep interior work wrought by the Spirit, so that in all that we are and do we may enter ever more generously into Christ’s own prayer for His Church and His world.
(By a sister of Ware Carmel)
A typical time table of a Carmelite day can be found on the website of the association of Carmelite nuns in Great Britain: http://carmelitenuns.uk/
Individual timetables for each Carmelite Monastery can be found on each Carmel’s web site (found at the site above) or by contacting the relevant Carmel.
Please click here to watch a short video on the life of Carmelite sisters.