1. How do I know if God may be calling me to a cloistered life? What are signs that I should be looking for within myself?
If you are wondering if you have a vocation to the contemplative life, here are some questions you may ask yourself. Do I have good health and a positive outlook on life? Do I practice my Faith, does prayer have a special place in my life, and do I do any volunteer work to help others? Do I want to deepen my friendship with Jesus and Mary, and feel a deep inner longing to surrender myself totally to God? Do I long to give glory to God by my self-giving, and to help souls and the Church by prayer and penance? If you can answer positively to these questions, you may indeed have a calling to the Contemplative life.
2. I feel the Lord is calling me, how can I go about starting the discernment/formation process?
It’s very simple! All you need do is to contact us. You can email us or you can write us for more information. Then once you have contacted us, we can see if it is feasible for you to come for a first visit. Having made our acquaintance, you will have a better idea about us and our way of life. As we come to know each other better, then you may want to come for an observorship. This is a three-month stay within the enclosure to really live our life. This is the real start of the discernment/formation process.
Our address is as follows:
Carmel of St. Joseph
1127 Carmel-Koch Rd, RR 1
St. Agatha ON N0B 2L0 Canada
3. Why does God call for such a hidden life within an enclosure?
Our apostolate on behalf of the Mystical Body of Christ is to seek an intimate communion with Christ. And solitude and silence are essential helps to this.
4. Despite the silence and solitude in your contemplative life, how is your community life tremendously enriched with so much love and unity?
Because we seek to love God, this opens our hearts to Him, and this then opens our hearts to our neighbour. Our Lord taught that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them. Christ is the bond of our love and unity.
5. Under what Monastic rule does the Carmelite order live?
We belong to the Monastic Rule of the Carmelite Order that lives by the Rule of St. Albert.
6. What are ways in which a nun lives the rule of “meditating upon the Law of the Lord day and night”?
Our whole way of life helps us keep the principal precept of our Rule; “Each of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord’s law day and night, and keeping watch at his prayers unless some other duty claims his attention.” We live this by striving to remain in the Lord’s presence, seeking His Face in faith. Our way of life is arranged to favour this, our enclosure, silence, the prayers we say at certain times throughout the day.
7. What is the purpose of you keeping silent during the entire day except for recreation hours?
God speaks to the heart that is open and listening. “I will allure her into the desert and there speak to her heart” (Hosea). Recollection and silence are very important for rendering intimacy with God safer and easier. They protect the life of the spirit so that it is not divided. This seeking the “one thing necessary” leads to a peace unknown by the world, and to the joy of the Holy Spirit.
8. I am currently a member of another religious community, and my heart is longing for Carmel, is the application procedure the same as mentioned above?
A religious needs to have the permission of her general Superior of the religious institute to which she belongs, and the consent of her council. Then she can apply to our Monastery.
9. My health does not permit me to become a vegetarian, is that a sign that I may not be called to Carmel?
We are not strictly vegetarian – we do eat fish, eggs and dairy products. However, having many limitations on food would make it difficult for the community. It would be a sign that God is not calling you here.
10. I know this is a cloistered community, I am interested in joining as an extern sister, is that a possibility?
Yes, it is possible. Each person’s vocational call needs discerning by the person herself and by the Community as well.
11. Besides the apostolate of prayer, do you also have an active apostolate outside of the monastery (such as teaching, caring for the homeless and elderly, etc.)?
No, we do not have an active apostolate. We are strictly cloistered.
12. Do you spend the whole day praying?
We have certain times for communal prayer throughout the day; e.g. the Eucharist, the Divine Office, and meditation. All this helps us to retain a spirit of recollection during the rest of the day.
13. What kind of work do you do at the monastery?
We have the usual care and maintenance of the Monastery, and the grounds. We do our cooking, laundry, and sewing of our clothes. From our gardens, fruit trees and fruit bushes we produce jams and relishes for sale. In our small gift shop we also sell our crafts, art work, and cards. Finally many people write us for prayers, and so we have an extensive correspondence that we lovingly answer.
14. Why do you not eat meat?
This comes from an old monastic custom of solidarity with the poor, who largely could not afford meat. To this day it remains a form of asceticism as well.
15. Do you ever leave the enclosure (to go to the doctor, for example, or to visit your families)?
Yes, we are permitted to go outside the enclosure for medical reasons. But we do not go home to visit our families. They however may certainly come and visit us.
16. Once inside the enclosure, are you able to maintain contact with your families and friends?
Yes, we certainly keep contact with our loved ones. While we do not encourage too frequent or very long visits, we do receive our families and friends at the monastery. And we keep contact as well by mail.