(I pulled this out of the comments box below)
Okay! Here goes:
1)It is obvious that Carmelite spirituality is very important to your life. How and when was it first introduced to you?
I first realized what true mysticism was in 1991, after a post-partum depression and subsequent disillusionment with the "if you can't obey the Word and feel joyful, then you must have a rebellious heart" attitude of my evangelical protestant church.
I was scanning the religion shelves of the public library one day and came upon the title Ecstatic Confessions, ed. by Martin Buber. Being nosy, I checked it out!
To that point, I'd always associated "mysticism" with new age types or the guru in Nepal--I didn't have any idea that it was RELEVANT to any Christian's actual prayer life. Mysticism, as it turned out, was simply love talk between God and His people: between the Lover and His beloved!
In 1991 I told Him I wanted to have that kind of love relationship with Him.
Various chapters of family life intervened--we moved to VA, my kids entered school in a local Catholic school. I continued in a branch of the same evangelical church that I'd attended in PA--I didn't see a better alternative.
Then, in Dec. 1995, I tried to get help for recurrent sinful thought patterns from my Care Group leader--instead of giving guidance, she said, "Heck, I don't blame you!"
I longed for deliverance, not sympathy! I felt alone. I KNEW the Catholic Church was "bogus" (HA!); but I felt compelled to go to confession anyway in the church where my kids went to school. I felt that God was absolutely pushing my back to the wall to become Catholic again; but, for the life of me, I couldn't understand why.
But I obeyed. In blind faith I agreed to comply with everything the priest directed me to do to "revert" to Catholicism. If I couldn't assent to certain doctrines, I just gritted my teeth and said, "There must be some aspect to this that I don't yet understand."
Three months later I went on a parish retreat. The associate who heard my first confession was the speaker--his topic was CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, and it just happened, since he is a secular Carmelite, that he leaned heavily on Carmelite tendencies.
My jaw dropped. "All these years I've felt like I'm a daydreamer and a timewaster--I'M A CONTEMPLATIVE! GOD PLANNED FOR ME TO BE THIS WAY!"
A month later, amid much stuttering, I told that priest that I thought I was supposed to be a Carmelite. He invited me to the local tertiary meeting, and I stayed. The more I read of Teresa, Therese, and John of the Cross, the more it resonated.
2) Like so many bloggers, you seem to juggle family committments, work in and out of the house, a life of prayer and reflection, and blogging. How does blogging help with the other parts of your life?
My prayer life, aside from keeping me in the presence of the One who loves me best, enables me to LIVE with the people in my life. I am able to deal wisely with family members and others only because of His influence.
But I cannot share my deepest reflections or even my most particular humor with my family and closest friends outside: they do not share my faith--or do not even care to listen to my spiritual thoughts! I function mainly as a sounding board at home, believe it or not!
That's where blogging comes in! What a boon it has been--what a joy to talk to other believers, Carmelite or not, who get something out of what I say and don't think I'm bogus or weird (at least not weird in a bad way!).
3) Have you had the chance to meet other bloggers 'in real life' after becoming virtually acquainted? Is this something you would recommend to others or would like to do?
Yes! The first one I met was Tom Kreitzberg of Disputations. I was so pleased I just couldn't stop beaming and grinning! He probably thought I was a dork! :-)
Next I met Davey's Mommy, her husband Honkman, and Peony Moss for a pizza lunch. They were great, and Tony's NY Pizza was delicious.
The most recent blogger I met was Eve Tushnet. We got together for a Thai lunch (including Zombies for her and Mai Tais for me) at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.
I might also mention that I know Fr. Dan Gee of The Banica Mission from my days as a brand new Catholic--he, too, was an associate pastor of the parish where my kids went to school.
Also, I speak regularly on the phone with Dylan. We've never actually met, but we've exchanged letters and family pictures. We're close friends.
I have received threats from the Kairos Guy and the Old Oligarch that they might drop in for lunch where I waitress when they're here in town.
4) What are some things that would make you say,"This is an ideal parish for me and my family."?
I like orthodoxy and good homilies--not necessarily eloquent (though that helps!), but good, hard-hitting, common-sense homilies that instruct us on how to KNOW and LIVE our faith. I like good RE materials, time set aside for Eucaristic adoration, and good "extracurriculars": Legion of Mary, Apologetics Groups, Scott Hahn (or his ilk)-based Bible Study classes. Mom's, Women's, Men's, and Youth fellowship groups.
As for music, I don't care--just as long as no goofy middle-aged women twirl ribbons on the altar. Actually, no music at all is quite copacetic with me.
5) Any thoughts on who might next fill the shoes of the fisherman? Are there any Carmelites who might be papabile?
I wonder--maybe Cardinal Arinze. He's accessible to the public and press, and he doesn't hesitate to speak his mind! He's about the only one I know, other than Ratzinger, who's too old.
Carmelites? I don't know any who are Cardinals (though there might be some). JPII is a Secular Carmelite, so maybe they won't elect two in a row. I have corresponded with some amazingly singlehearted, gifted, and brilliant Carmelite seminarians from Nigeria who are now priests. May their star ascend (so to speak)!
Thanks for asking, Alicia!
Posted by KTC at September 30, 2003 09:39 AM