My Community has a website! There will be pictures uploaded soon of our recent day of recollection and the Mass where I made my three-year promises as a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
There are four “stages” of being an OCDS:
1. After the first year of attendance, a person is vested in the “ceremonial” Brown Scapular. This is not to be confused with the “Brown Scapular Confraternity,” which is a popular devotion administered by the Order. OCDS members wear a larger version of the Brown Scapular as the Habit of our Order, which we wear at official functions, liturgies, etc. We have the option of wearing a smaller brown Scapular or a “Scapular Medal” (any medal with Mary on one side and Jesus or His Sacred Heart on the other–the Miraculous Medal is a form of Scapular Medal) on a day-to-day basis.
2. After another 2 years, the person makes temporary promises of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. This is understood in relation with the state in life. We’re supposed to live in spiritual poverty and simplicity. The promise of Chastity is also in accordance with the state in life. It’s in principle the same thing every person is obliged to, but we are committing ourselves to strive for greater virtue and uprightness in this regard, making the penalty for sins against Chastity all the greater. The promise of Obedience mostly applies in practice to our particular Community. It’s not the same as the Vows of a religious person, since we’re not living in Community.
3. After 3 more years of study, if the person has passed through formation successfully, he or she makes perpetual promises of the same things, and is now bound for life to the Carmelite order. To try and leave the Secular Order of Carmel after this point would be the same as a religious brother or sister leaving an Order and would require a canonical process.
4. Some members choose to make, after 7 years, vows of chastity and obedience which add yet another level of strictness. This is mostly a personal, ceremonial thing. Some orders distinguish between “third Order religious” and “third Order secular.” Carmelites do not.
So the promises are the same, but the text says ” . . . for three years [the rest of my life],” leaving it up to the individual, at the appropriate time, to read the appropriate choice based upon whether he or she is making temporary or permanent vows. Well, of course, some people misread it, and it’s kind of fun.
So I was strongly tempted to say, ” I promise . . . . for three years, or the rest of my life, whichever comes first.”
Also, our local community’s founder and professor emeritus–a really bright guy–has a cool website where he’s posted some of his articles.