The Heart on Fire ~ How we worship...
Living in the United States, we have the freedom to worship in thousands of local churches, denominations, and religions. It seems many local churches focus on ethnic groups, age groups, economic groups, "traditional" worship, "modern" worship, magisterial doctrines, liberal interpretations, and the list goes on.
While it is a great blessing to have the ability to gather in groups comfortable to our lifestyles and needs, there is a tendency to interpret the Bible in a manner where we can feel "comfortable" in believing we are serving the Lord without permitting the Word of God to convict us of our weaknesses, bring us to repentance, and challenge us to develop our relationship with the Holy Trinity.
The Celtic Carmelites hold the Bible as the Word of God. We believe the Truths found in the Bible transcend time, cultures, and public opinions. We believe the Bible in as pure a translation as possible, and we do our best to read the Word for what it says and not what we want it to say.
After reading the above, you might be thinking we are a community of believers without joy. On the contrary, the joy of the Lord and His people permeates the Sacred Scriptures, even to the point where the Epistle of James starts with the admonition, "My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials..." (James1:2).
Celtic Carmelites are identified by our ability to feel joy in whatever state we are in. Certainly we grieve when appropriate, we get frustrated, angry, and self-centered. Yet, in times where we are not following in the example of our Master, we go to Scripture and are reassured that whatever our state, one of the heroes of our faith experienced similar difficulties and the Grace of God was more than sufficient to bring him or her back to peaceful acceptance of the situation we are encountering.
Carmelites throughout history have been known for their contemplative charism. Studying and contemplating Sacred Scripture gives us an ability to remember the promises of Christ, provides specific examples of God's faithfulness to His chosen ones when they were in uncomfortable situations, the assurance His love for us will never fail, and that He has freely given us the most incredible honor of coming before Him clothed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.
So, though we stumble time and again, our lives reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit - "love, joy, peace, long suffering, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Gal. 5:22-24). Additionally, we see in 1 Corinthians 13 (the great love chapter) the personality of Jesus Christ, and we embrace the challenge to be a reflection of Him in the world.
How do we worship? By living the Gospel of Jesus Christ with humility of heart, kindness toward ourselves and others, and a steadfast commitment to the Holy Bible as the inerrant Word of God.