ORDO 2017



The Teresian Carmelites of the Anglo-Irish Province
To help people in every aspect of their lives by sharing and exploring
with them the rich sources of Carmelite teaching on prayer
within the broad perspective of Christian spirituality and life experience.

James McCaffrey, OCD

Assistant Editors
Joanne Mosley

Editorial Advisers

Iain Matthew, OCD Margeret McLaughlin, OCDS
Mary of St Philip, OCD Craig Morrison, O.Carm.
Peter Tyler, PhD. Martin Wray, MA

Cover Design
Joshua Horgan, Oxford

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website: www.carmelite.org.uk
ISSN 0307 - 5958

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Available from : Carmelite Book Service
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James McCaffrey

My Search for Silence: Unifying Prayer and Life
Mary Fear

'The music that I care to hear': The Life and Calling of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Vincent O'Hara

'Action and contemplation well united': Living the Spirituality of Blessed Marie-Eugène
Eduardo José E Calasanz

Graced Encounters: The Future Père Jacques and Fr Marie-Eugène
Joanne Mosley

A Charitable and Spiritual Life: St Raphael Kalinowski
Michal Kramarek

Springs of Living Water

Restless for God: Catherine of Siena, a Monumental Woman of the Church
Mary T Malone

'Give me a word by which I may live my life': On Pilgrimage to the Spain of St Teresa
Susan Muto

Jesus at Prayer: Embracing the Old and the New
James McCaffrey

Food for the Journey - Books








James McCaffrey


We often see Jesus in the Gospels at prayer in a remote, solitary, quiet place: 'In the morning, a great while before day,' Mark tells us, 'he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.' The evangelist does not seem to tell us much about this silent prayer of Jesus, nor indeed about prayer in general. There is only one other reference in his Gospel to Jesus going off to pray alone. After the multiplication of the loaves, we are told, and before he came to his disciples walking on the waters, he 'went into the hills to pray'. But if we consider Mark's Gospel more carefully, we get a different picture.

Mark is describing a typical day in the life of Jesus when he says that he 'went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed'. This is not just an isolated moment of prayer. It is a daily occurrence. It is also a strong reminder to each of us of our own need for daily prayer. Jesus tells his disciples that 'they ought always to pray and never to lose heart'. He does not say this expecting his followers to be always praying in the Temple or in public or on bended knees. Nor is it meant to discourage us, as though continual prayer were impossible. Instead, we are called to turn to God constantly - that is, in an ongoing prayer, so to speak - by lifting our heart to him, even if only at intervals, with a whisper or a silent glance: a gaze full of trust, knowing we have been assured that we need never to lose heart.

It is also significant that Jesus went off alone to pray. He is teaching us by example what he also teaches us in words, as we read here in Matthew: 'When you pray, go into your [inner] room and close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.' That inner room is the human heart where God dwells. It is what St Teresa calls 'the interior castle', where God invites each of us to 'close the door' by shutting out the world's distractions, and to commune with him there in secret. Our Carmelite saints repeat the same lesson in different words. One voice speaks for all - these words from Edith Stein: 'The only essential,' we are told, 'is that one finds, first of all, a quiet corner in which one can communicate with God as though there were nothing else…' An Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh, expresses this in his own way: 'One love lone flame in a dark cell makes fuel of firmaments and dims out hell.'

Mark may tell us nothing explicitly about the content of Jesus' silent prayer. However, the whole setting of Jesus' quiet communing with the Father helps us to explore it in some depth. The evangelist first presents Jesus to us as the wonder-worker: he has just cured Simon's mother-in-law and 'healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons'. He is the popular hero: 'Everyone is searching for you,' Peter tells him. But here, we have a complete misunderstanding. Even Peter gets it wrong. The crowds pursue Jesus into his solitude, searching for him relentlessly. The people are ready to be converted: the whole world has gone after him! More signs, more wonders, more miracles - that's what is needed! We can almost see Jesus raise his eyes to heaven, we feel his desperation and hear him sighing out of his very depths: How can I make them understand?

Jesus resorts to prayer. He plunges once more into the mystery of God's plan of redemption: he is to save the world, not as a miracle-worker or a popular hero - but, as Mark highlights so powerfully in his Gospel, as the Suffering Messiah. That is central to Mark's message. In silent prayer, Jesus comes face to face with his destiny: he is to save the world through suffering - rejected, misunderstood, despised, a failure. Salvation is impossible by human means, but 'nothing is impossible to God'.

That is also what prayer is all about in Mark's Gospel: we cannot and must not try to rely on our own unaided efforts. Instead, we are called to live by faith. 'Have faith in God,' Jesus says to his disciples. Literally, this means not only to have faith in God, but also to have the faith which comes from God, which is the gift of God, guiding us ever more deeply into mystery. 'Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be taken up and cast into the sea" and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.' Here, Jesus commands the impossible: the unthinkable human situation of trying to move a mountain. Precisely! It is impossible. That is the point Mark is making. For him, prayer is about what is impossible - by unaided human effort. Yet, all things are possible through the prayer of persevering faith. The power of Jesus is always there. If we opened the eyes and ears of our soul, we would be staggered: the power of God within us is like Niagara Falls exploding with energy! We have only to tap into this hidden but unfailing force.

To pray in the spirit of Mark's Gospel is to reach out in our impossible human situation and to touch Jesus with faith. Powerless, we can share in his power, for strength goes out from him just as it did for the woman with the issue of blood. Mark is at pains to explain her impossible situation: she had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; her treatment by various doctors was long, painful and in vain; she had spent all she had and was still no better, in fact she was getting worse. Yet, we see her there, edging her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' cloak: 'If I can just touch his garments,' she said, 'I will be cured.' She was. She reached out to him in faith. Power went out from Jesus. Only a single touch was needed. 'My daughter, your faith has made you well.'

The disciples try in vain to expel 'a dumb spirit' from a boy who is possessed. He is brought to Jesus. The boy writhes before him, falls to the ground in convulsions and lies there foaming at the mouth. He has been like that from childhood, with no possible human remedy. Again, the situation is impossible. The story of his healing is an epitome of Mark's whole teaching on prayer. In utter desperation, the boy's father pleads with Jesus: 'If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us' - a cry from the depths of powerlessness. 'If you can!' replies Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who has faith.' 'I have faith,' the father cries out, 'help my lack of faith!' His prayer releases the power of Jesus. The story concludes: 'This kind can be driven out only by prayer.' The prayer of faith is all-powerful with the power of God. The impossible is possible.



The author is a Secular Carmelite in the St Thérèse group, Boars Hill and member of a Quaker Fellowship in Oxford. In this helpful article, she recalls the landmarks on her life's pilgrimage, directing her into a place of silence, to God's dwelling within us - a path for all of us which may even be 'a glimpse of eternity, of timelessness'.


Silence in the life of prayer
Having reached a time when silence has become a necessary and important part of my prayer life, I look back and wonder how it all came about.

Having grown up and been married within an 'Exclusive' branch of the Plymouth Brethren, I and my husband left them after a time of deep trauma, which meant that parents and previous friends would have no more to do with us, due to our departure. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, I had an experience of falling in love with Jesus which lifted me up and renewed my life. 'He is altogether lovely' (Sg 5:16).

We were welcomed into a nearby chapel of 'Open Brethren'. After a time there, we became involved in a Billy Graham Television Crusade, and a dear friend (who had adopted us when our parents rejected us) would come to our house to pray with me about this crusade and all the people involved. I hadn't prayed aloud in this way before, and I view her as setting me on the path of prayer; I also remember asking God to give me this privilege and teach me the way ahead. She also showed me a booklet based on Galatians 2:19-20: 'I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…' This began to open my eyes and thoughts to God within, as well as around.

As my husband was invited to work full-time with Billy Graham in London, we moved from Leicester to Surrey. Here I met another friend who had a small Christian greetings cards business, 'Vision Cards', and began to help her with the work. As we worked, she shared with me about the Prayer of Quiet, of Contemplation. She asked: Did I know anything about the prayer of silence, for example sitting quietly in church and lifting my heart silently to God in worship? She told me about her visits to Homes of Healing, to Rest Homes or Quiet Weekends. I became interested and began to explore for myself. There is a phrase in the Psalms, 'He brought me out into a spacious place' (Ps 17:20/18:19), which began to describe for me the breadth of silent worship.

First contact with the Quakers
Through a Bible Society group, an introduction was made to a Healing Fellowship organised by a Quaker. The worship there was mainly in silence, as was the prayer for healing. This silence was full of the presence of Jesus - it was powerful. One night after such a visit, I was at a prayer time in the local Free Church, a place where a time of silence made people uneasy. But this particular session held a long time of quiet, the stillness was deep and good, and led to my sharing God's recent lessons and saying that there was no need to be afraid of such silence, either in our own devotions or in public worship.

I also discovered the Jesus Prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner', as a way into the silence of prayer. I learnt to say this inwardly, so that my mind fastened on the words rather than on the distractions which often lurk in prayer. (Although some distractions may need to be noted, for future action.) I still use this prayer often during the day, in silence or in intercession: 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.'

Catholic links and indications of Carmel
Through a local ecumenical prayer group, I met a couple who would become my sponsors at my reception into the Catholic Church. They spoke of these other dimensions of prayer - of monks, nuns, saints, lay people who knew the prayer of silence. My sponsor friend also spoke to me about 'The Little Flower': she had had a very real experience of the Carmelite St Thérèse of Lisieux, after the death of a baby. She had also become attached to 'little' Edith Stein, as she called her. Also, she spoke lovingly of the Virgin Mary and helped to free me from the inhibitions of my upbringing.

Together we went to a retreat given by a priest near Guildford. I still remember an illustration he gave: 'Think of yourself as a sponge floating in the ocean of God's love. The sponge drifts backwards and forwards, resting completely in this ocean which gives it full support.' It was only some years later that I discovered that the priest was a Discalced Carmelite friar!

During this time, I was joining in silent retreats and quiet days in various places. One such retreat was with a little community headed by a Methodist minister. There were two statues at the front of their chapel. Asking her who they were, I was told they were St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross. That didn't mean much to me then, but I would meet them again later on.

All these influences led to my receiving instruction to become a member of the Catholic Church. This led to my asking to be received, and the priest was happy to arrange this, despite my diverse pilgrimage.

Boars Hill and the Secular Carmelites
In 1991, due to my husband's illness, there was a move to Oxfordshire. Before I left Surrey, my sponsors handed me an advert about a Priory on Boars Hill. This resulted in early visits there, after I had also met one of the Carmelite priests celebrating Mass at the local church. I also explored the Quaker Healing Fellowship and found a Wednesday Meeting for Worship in central Oxford.

Spending a weekend at the Boars Hill Priory resulted in an introduction to two Scripture groups: one in the village and one at the Priory. Following this, I spent a weekend at a local Quaker retreat centre; the weekend was led by a Catholic priest from Blackfriars and a Quaker retreat leader. This began to show me that my life was not running on parallel paths but was all part of one whole. And I found the same depth in silent prayer at both places.

I was also introduced to a group of Secular Carmelites who desired to follow the aims of the Carmelite Order while living their lives within the world. Within this group we received teaching on many aspects of the life of prayer and of studies of Carmelite saints through their own writings, and about living our Carmelite life. My early days here were times when I received much practical and loving support during the last days of my husband's life.

Helpful writings on silence
Various writings have helped me on this pilgrimage, which include the aspect of silent prayer. To be involved in continual prayer - that is, a continual relationship with God - was described by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection as the 'Practice of the Presence of God': knowing God as silence in the busyness of life. He was a Carmelite lay brother who lived in Paris in the seventeenth century.

Pierre Lacout, a Swiss Carmelite who also became a Quaker and embraced both paths, wrote in his small book, God is Silence:

Words split apart. Silence unites. Words stir up. Silence brings peace… In my active silence, I shall prepare myself to hear the Silence of God. But when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret…

I have received further help from A Testament of Devotion by a Quaker writer and teacher, Thomas R Kelly:

I find that a life of little whispered words of adoration, of praise, of prayer, of worship can be breathed all through the day. One can have a busy day outwardly speaking and yet be steadily in the Holy Presence.

Then there is a small green booklet, entitled Carmelite Life, produced by the Carmelite Monastery of Newry, County Down. I still find this helpful, with a quotation from the section headed 'Carmelite Prayer'. It is about a simple method of prayer which Our Lord taught St Teresa. The method is this:

God, as we know, is everywhere but He dwells in the human mind in a very special manner.

Close your eyes, then, and look at Him present there within you.

This look is already a prayer.

This simple gaze gives glory to God.

There are two memorable passages, in particular, from Elizabeth of the Trinity that have also helped me:

It seems to me that I have found
my Heaven on earth,
since Heaven is God,
and God is [in] my Soul…

A praise of glory is a soul of silence
that remains like a lyre
under the mysterious touch of the Holy Spirit…

Each extract, in its own way, has added to prayer as a 'going within', as a 'way of silence', as a way of being in love with God. If a group worships in this silence, there is often an even deeper sense of togetherness. This could even be a glimpse of eternity, of timelessness.


These are just a few thoughts which have helped me on this pilgrimage towards silence in the life of prayer. It has been a consolidation of life in Carmel in its various aspects, and incorporating times of quiet for prayer. A final quotation sums it up in better words than mine:

To achieve silence: this is of all things the hardest and the most decisive in the life of prayer. Silence is not merely negative - a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech - but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening…



Into inner stillness

There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:11-13

The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul.

John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love 100

Be still and know that I am God…

Psalm 45:11

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery…
Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to you, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

Elizabeth of the Trinity, Prayer to the Trinity

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience…

Psalm 36:7

If you cannot find joy in peace in these very moments of sitting, then the future itself will only flow by as a river flows by, you will not be able to hold it back, you will be incapable of living the future when it has become the present. Joy and peace are the joy and peace possible in this very hour of sitting. If you cannot find it here, you won't find it anywhere. Don't chase after your thoughts as a shadow follows its object. Don't run after your thoughts. Find joy and peace in this very moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
As a child has rest in its mother's arms,
even so my soul.

Psalm 130:2

I breathe in the silence - and breathe into it - at one with the silence and with the created world around me. I often repeat slowly a word of scripture, either from the day's lectio, or simply, 'Abba, Father', not as a mantra but as a final gathering of myself into prayer.

Mary McCormack, OCD, Upon This Mountain

'What makes the desert beautiful,' said the little prince, 'is that somewhere it hides a well…'
I was astonished by a sudden understanding of that mysterious radiation of the sands. When I was a little boy I lived in an old house, and legend told us that a treasure was buried there. To be sure, no one had ever known how to find it; perhaps no one had ever even looked for it. But it cast an enchantment over that house. My home was hiding a secret in the depths of its heart…
'Yes,' I said to the little prince. 'The house, the stars, the desert - what gives them their beauty is something that is invisible!'

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince