My life as a lay Carmelite

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I believe we come to Carmel for our own reasons and stay for God’s reasons.

Many Carmelites live outside the walls of friaries and monasteries. My husband Peter Murphy and I completed a Diploma in Christian Spirituality facilitated by Rev. David Walker in November, 1979.

We were drawn particularly to the writings of St Teresa of Jesus and St John of the Cross. Consequently, in a conversation with Fr Albert McKeogh OCD we were invited to Carmel in 1980.

Lorraine Murphy OCDS is one of the founding members of the St Elijah Community based at Varroville, Sydney. She says life as a Carmelite has been an “adventure of deep friendship and love”.

We made promises to help us to live this Carmelite way as people in the world. It was a swift learning curve. Our four children were aged six to 12 years. I was working part-time for a medical practice along with commitments as a Girl Guide Leader and pastoral commitments in my parish community.

Fortunately, I received some wise counsel from Fr Albert for those busy years to peacefully try to pray a little each day, at least Night Prayer from the Divine Office.

I believe we come to Carmel for our own reasons and stay for God’s reasons. When people ask me what do I value most in Carmel? I reply, Community. To what challenges me the most? I also reply, Community! We are certainly a mixed crew as we endeavour to live the life of Carmel in this ever-changing world.

The journey in Carmel is indeed an adventure of deep friendship and love. As St Teresa reminds us “Prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him whom we know loves us”. [Life, 8-5]. Friendship implies communication – mutual affection.

How do we communicate our friendship? Words are not the only way! Prayer is the exercise of loving desire. I am reassured to hear that God’s love is not dependent on the quality of my performance! Our “littleness” is endearing to God. I needed to be reminded to ‘never judge a meditation, just trust the process – the prayer.’

Prayer is the exercise of loving desire.

Our lives are filled with meaning as we fall in love with the living God – living the rest of our days in companionship with His Son, Jesus. We seek the Face of God in Solitude and Community. We are called to live in the Spirit of his beatitudes.

Certainly, Carmel has stretched my capacity to love. It is what gets me out of bed of a morning and fills my days with gratitude for the gift of my life.

The past 20 years have been challenging in a different way. I cared for my mother as she developed dementia and then over 10 years ago my dear husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia. As an outcome of this I became a carers coach with Baptist Services. It is now seven years since he went home to our loving God.

Recently, I was re-appointed to the Interfaith Commission of my Parramatta Diocese. I am now in what one may call my twilight years with all the challenges of the ageing process. I am blessed to still be an active member of OCDS Community of St Elijah, Varroville.

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