Hannele Kivinen de Fau Ecumenic Monastic Carmel of Finland
Sons of Teresa dwell in The Arctic Circle
On a very normal day a mystical experience changed my life and made me feel a great peace. I started to discover the voice of God in the silence, a silent voice which resounded louder than a thunder inside me.
I always felt attracted by Teresa´s works, because she was a very courageous woman in her times. Those times were difficult for women who dared to think by their own and still more for those who understood God wanted them to carry out a mission. I, also now, admire her courage which every day helps me to go on in my life, but paradoxically enough it was my personal experience which helped me to understand Teresa more deeply.
My search for contemplative life began this way. As I lived in the most luteran country of the world, in which monastic life had sank into oblivion for centuries, I looked for a contemplative and ecumenical life with the features of monastic life, but could not find it.
During my childhood and youth I had spent long periods in Spain, in Teresa´s land; I knew spanish and was acquainted with the Catholic Church. For some years I set out on many unsuccessful journeys, without finding what I was looking for. In the end I gave up. I had the impression nobody understood me and that, after many attempts, nobody took me seriously.
I decided to retire in the silence of my home, where I could live my contemplative life, without talking about it any more.
Once again I went to the land of the Saint in order to get ready for my life of silence and solitude: I went as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela and I took part to the Ignatian Exercises with the Jesuits of Cantabria. A couple of days before entering their house in Pedrena I had an encounter which would have changed my future: I met the foundress of the ecumenical and monastic Carmel.
I was full of gratitude and surprise when I understood that God had given us the same aim of the ecumenical, interreligious and contemplative Carmelite life for those who seek after God today.
Six months later the Carmelite Provincial of Castile travelled to Finland and Sweden to announce to the Finnish Carmelite Mothers, to the Bishop of the Finnish Catholic Church and to the representatives of the Lutheran Church of Finland the beginning of the first experience of an ecumenical monastic Carmel in the northern lands.
At present we are a small community on a lovely isle in front of the capital of Finland and we are members of the big Carmelite family.
Our mission is to make the Carmelite mystics and contemplative life known. We offer retreats and courses and we organize journeys to Spain, to the Carmelite places; we open new ways for the seekers of today.
In the present crisis of the European Churches there surely won´t be one single solution, but the Carmelite mystic and the contemplative prayer will be one of the answers: in an economically and politically united Europe ecumenism among Christian confessions is required in order to preserve our culture. In view of real peace, the world globalization requires an authentic and true dialogue among religions.
At the moment, in the countries of the Reformed Churches there is a certain nostalgia for the roots of Christianity and a certain longing for a new interpration of the Fathers of the Church. New forms of monastic life and small communities rise: they are willing to face today´s challenges, as Teresa of Jesus did in her times.
Reading and meditating "the Book of Her Life" introduces us into our own experience, in our life, today, also in the Arctic Circle: what would Teresa say?
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