Can A Charismatic Be A Contemplative Nun?

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Can A Charismatic Be A Contemplative Nun?

A Carmelite novice explores the link between the charismatic spirituality and life as a contemplative.

Dolgellau Carmelite Monastery in Wales is hosting Come and See weekends in Wales for women who are tentatively open to the idea of becoming a nun, and wish to discern their vocation.  We asked one of the sisters: can you be charismatic and contemplative? 

"Yes, you can. Definitely," says a Dolgellau Carmel novice.  "The early Church was entirely charismatic and contemplative-look at St. Paul. However, the call to live as an enclosed contemplative nun is specific.  A person feels called to spend more time with Jesus, to sit at His feet and rest in His presence."

"Yet most Carmelites probably do have a missionary heart, longing for others to know Jesus," she continued. "St Thérèse is patron saint of missions because she had that yearning, but sacrificed it for the hidden life of Carmel, believing she could reach more people from her cloister."

Four Carmelite nuns belonging to the community in Wales are charismatic. So how does this fit with the Carmelite vocation? 

"Entering Carmel involves a material separation from things that previously nurtured you in your faith life. You obviously can’t go to your old prayer group, or Life in the Spirit seminars, and there aren’t any lively worship sessions. However, our whole day is praise," she said.

Watch a video about the Carmelite vocation:

What is the Carmelite vocation? 

"The Carmelite vocation draws a woman deeper, purifying her prayer, so that she is more open to God Himself and less dependent on His consolations and gifts," she said.

"Some of the externals of CCR, such as music and prayer ministry, are sacrificed, but the essentials of CCR deepen. Carmel is an environment that enables an openness to the action of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of your life.

"The solid things CCR gave me were: a love of Scripture, the Church, Our Lady, the Blessed Sacrament, the all- essential friendship with Christ, praise, and openness to the Holy Spirit. These are all enabled to flower in a Carmelite Monastery.

"Our vocation is to ponder the Word of God, day and night, to have Scripture as an accompaniment to everything we do. The Holy Spirit gives you the initial nudge to find out more, prompting you to spend more time in prayer, solitude and silence.  The silence helps to tune in better to hear His voice. 

"We are free to pray however we want in private prayer. Sisters do not generally break into tongues when we’re having a sing-song.  But St. Teresa of Avila certainly had this gift, and writes about using it in private prayer."

What draws a woman to Carmel?

"It’s a love affair," another Sister explains. "It’s the pearl of great price, for which you’d give up everything.  The enclosed environment enables a beautiful transformation to occur. That’s what we want to share on these Come and See  weekends. We want to give women the chance to see if they are called. How do you know unless you ask?"

Here are the dates for the weekends:

Friday 27 – Sunday 29 March 2020

with  Sr Silvana Dallenegra RSCJ

Friday 17- Sunday 19 July 2020

 with Sr. Lynne Baron FCJ

Friday 9 - Sunday 11 October 2020

with Carmelite sisters

It is possible to attend one, two or all three. Book through the website:

All Charismatics must be contemplative, even if for most it will not involve the radical step of going and selling all, to follow Christ.  To deepen that relationship, we need to slow down, go into our room , and take time to be alone with the One who we know loves us (Matthew 6:6; St Teresa of Avila, Life 8.5).

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