The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel was established on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land in the 13th century, "near the spring of Elijah." The Order is both contemplative and apostolic.
The first Carmelites were hermits living on the slopes of Mount Carmel. The contemplative aspect is the essence of the Order and the apostolic ideal flows from it as an overflowof love of God into love of neighbor.
In the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila initiated a reform of the Order and from Spain it spread throughout the world.
The Carmel of St. Teresa in Alhambra was established in 1913. Five Nuns from the monastery in St. Louis, Missouri, came to Los Angeles to begin the Carmelite life in Southern California. The Sisters lived in rented houses in Los Angeles for ten years until the present monastery could be built in Alhambra.
The site in Alhambra was chosen because of its beauty.
The area was just beginning to be developed and had originally been an orange grove. There was an unrestricted view of the San Gabriel mountains to the east with snow-capped ranges just beyond; a very lovely sight.
The monastery and chapel are constructed of red brick with tile roof, this type of architecture being chosen as it was more in keeping with both the history of the Order and of California.
In this contemplative life, we answer the divine call to follow Christ in a life of consecrated chastity, poverty, and obedience. We surrender ourselves, heart and soul to God whom we love above all else, and are totally consecrated to Him.
The lifestyle of a Cloistered Carmelite Nun is almost as it was for St. Teresa: Prayer, Silence, Penance, and Sacrifice. A typical day begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. It is filled with various forms of prayer: Mass, personal prayer, spiritual reading and the Divine Office. Manual labor, an external expression of the life of prayer and an expression of poverty, occupies half of our day.
Why do we leave our careers in the outside world for the life of a Cloisterd Carmelite Nun?
Certainly not because life has been so unattractive,
but more because of an appreciation of the worth of the good and beauty in the world, and a willingness to put aside those things for the love of God and to become free of all earthly possessions in order to devote one's self entirely and completely to loving and serving God. This really is a very special way of loving God!