COVID-19 virus and Lent

Experiencing isolation as a potential grace


The situation that much of the world is going through is obviously disconcerting. The decision to use social distancing, isolation, and other containment measures to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be deeply unsettling: how can we live in a confined space within our own homes? Not just for 24 hours but for two weeks and probably longer?

The real challenge of the cloister

Here, the spiritual tradition of Carmel comes to our rescue! Through the means of monastic enclosure, it could help us to experience this crisis not only as a problem but also as an opportunity, as an amazing grace that we can receive. In the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila founded her first monastery of Discalced Carmelites living in a strict enclosure. Why? So as to create a free space protected from outside intrusions in order to lead a life centered on the presence of God. This is what Carmel is all about: experiencing the intensity of God's presence ... within a limited space. Here we are: condemned during this period of confinement to live the life of Carmelite nuns in spite of ourselves ... We may as well do it with a bit of intelligence!

Living in a limited space

Of course, this isn't easy and you have to learn how to do it, especially when you haven't chosen it, unlike the nuns. It takes time to get used to this limited space. Moreover, we don't have equal opportunities in our isolated, quarantined, or lockdown living situations. However, St. Teresa can help us in her writings by showing us the importance of recollection: to choose to turn toward the interior of ourselves; to discover there the presence of God hidden in our hearts; to experience that where we are, we can live with God. God is even found in the middle of the pots and pans, as Our Holy Mother testifies! The challenge is to accept the need to master our interiority. This will be done differently depending on whether we live alone or in a restless house, but for each one, a pathway is possible!

So let's try to turn the constraints of confinement into an opportunity for growth in contemplation. We will grow through this ordeal.

Resources to expand your interior space

Here are a number of ideas to help you through this period of confinement:

Before God for All

In 1934, the newly-clothed Carmelite, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein, 1891-1942) wrote to an old friend: "Whoever enters Carmel is not lost to his own, but is theirs fully for the first time; it is our vocation to stand before God for all” (Letter 174). In these harsh times when the baptized are deprived of access to the Eucharist, please believe that in Carmel, we friars, sisters, and laity who also are members of Carmel, are living out our contemplative mission of intercession for the world with particular intensity. Each day before the Lord, we present your intentions and ask the Lord for the strength to get through this time of trial together. In a special way we entrust the sick, the lonely, and the caregivers to the Lord. When Europe was beginning to be torn apart by the Wars of Religion, St. Teresa of Avila wrote: “The world is all in flames… this is not the time to be discussing with God matters that have little importance” (Way of Perfection 1.5).

We're bringing that cry up to date. May this time of confinement give us the grace to come closer to God and to love our neighbour better.

We’re in communion with you!

We hope you enjoy this online retreat, journeying through Lent with St. John of the Cross!

Each retreat is the result of a collective work that does generate costs: graphics, translations in 9 languages ​​(!), mailing software, and so on. Thank you for supporting us financially by making a donation so that we can continue this spiritual apostolate.

If you can not help us financially, thank you for carrying our mission by your prayers, especially for vocations to Carmel!

You can send your donation directly to the Austrian account:

Karmeliten Online-Aktivitäten
Landstrasse 33, 4020 Linz
Österreich / Austria
IBAN: AT17 5400 0009 0028 5875

Or by credit card and paypal following this link:

or through cheap bank transfer from outside Europe:

We thank you warmly for your financial contribution.

With our sincere gratitude for your generosity and your prayer,

The Discalced Carmelite Friars
Copyright © 2020 Teresian Carmelites in Austria, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.