“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35)
The disciples gathered around Mary in the upper room after the Resurrection, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, one in mind and heart and united in prayer. This is the model for every Christian community and in a particular way for the religious community, which is to remind all Christians of their calling in this life, but also of the community to which we are all called in Heaven. “What a great thing is that holy love which binds religious together! It is this love which makes the life in the Order… a Paradise!” (Bl. Maria Teresa of St. Joseph)
A little picture of Heaven, and yet – not Heaven yet. Religious living in community “polish” each other in the perfection of charity, smoothing off the rough edges of our fallen human nature. This requires constant growth in humility, charity, patience, and perhaps most especially, in forgiveness. By striving after these virtues, our life becomes a spring of true joy and a reflection of the depth and mystery of the communion found in the Blessed Trinity. Our community life becomes a powerful witness that Christ has come into this world and redeemed us. He prayed at the Last Supper “that they may all be one…that the world may believe that you sent me.” This witness of Christian charity lived out in a particular way in the religious community is a powerful apostolate.
How is this manifested in the community of the Carmelite Sisters DCJ? Our Foundress had a special gift for making a Home. The first children called her “Liebe Mutter – Dear Mother” and the name stuck. The children in her Homes were organized into family groups. Among the Sisters, too, a family spirit reigned from the beginning. “We are all Sisters, and with all we feel at home.” “We cherish every Sister, not because of the position she holds or has held in the Community, but because she is our Sister!” (Constitutions, 105).
This “holy love which binds religious together” is supernatural. Our Sisters come from an immense variety of backgrounds, but a genuine love that is rooted in our vocation to Carmel DCJ and our shared living of the vows becomes the bond that unites us. Our focus on the Heart of Christ puts human differences in a different perspective, making them a source of enrichment rather than division, a salve to the wounded Heart of Christ. This focus also supernaturalizes the tremendous joys that come with community, the comradery, the support, the sharing. It is a bond that is deeply rooted in prayer, the fruit of genuine contemplation. Such a bond is not possible without Christ.