In this “Carmelite Conversation” with Denis Andrew we considered modern Western society which has been described as being increasingly secular and looked at how we live our Carmelite life in this milieu. We take the opportunity to delve into the writings of contemporary Carmelite Ruth Burrows [Sr Rachel Gregory OCD], who died last year at the age of 100. A tribute to her published in THE TABLET suggested she “can justifiably be considered a Teresa of Avila of our era.” (18 November 2023)

A recording of the session is available on youtube. Part 1 on the secular world and Part 2 on Ruth Burrows.

Some of those who attended via zoom express their thoughts.

In last Wednesday’s Carmelite Conversation with Denis Andrew, I had a felt sense of there being  no, one, way of being part of the Church.  That beneath some of the Church structures that may exclude there is a sense of welcome and belonging for all to ‘Come and See’.  My heart was moved by Denis’ sharing of Ruth Burrows faith; the utter bare-bones truth of the centrality of the Trinity.  It became alive for me.  Not a concept.  A deeply contemplative truth. A new wondering that arose for me was do I dare believe the breathtaking news that rather than God maybe at best tolerating us humans with our human frailties, God loves us not only with them, but because of them. What I do know is I will seek out her books and hopefully get to discuss along the way. The journey continues. . . Thank you Denis for creating with your presentation such a welcoming space that opened up rich input from others in conversation. Sahndra

Ruth Burrows gives us hope that the Church will help us ‘get there’ by focussing back to the core message from Jesus. Even though one can have ups and owns, we can learn from them AND grow spiritually through those experiences. Jim

What struck me was the starkness of Ruth’s experience and she is clear that she did not have any experience of God’s presence. However, there is a difference between experiential knowing and mystical knowing and her mystical knowing allowed her to write about her experiences of peace. She stresses that it’s in our poverty, in our nothingness, in our lack of spiritual achievements or accomplishments that we are most open to receiving God. Bernadette

Thank you sooo much for the Carmelite session with Father Denis Andrew. It was so wonderful – a delightful, warm hearted talk that was engaging, questioning and led me to deeper and vaster contemplations. My two main takeaways are that (a) we are all connected and (b) there is always more to learn. a) Even though we live in a somewhat isolated culture (especially city living) we all have the same questions, thoughts and feelings one way or another. Even though it looks like the church is falling apart, with societal structures changing and family life and individual life with different demands mindsets and focuses, than previous generations, have hope, my dearest friends, God has a plan and He is leading us – as mentioned in this session maybe it will be a new structure that leads us all to a more personal, heartfelt and deeply spiritual relationship with Jesus, who Loves us all, always. b) The learning never ends. This session left me with much to explore. Ruth Burrows! Where have you been all my life?? Time to make a new spiritual friend in Ruth, time to dive deeper into the ‘stream of love’ and explore new spiritual depths, ideas and contemplations. Thank you again to all those who organised this conversation. I look forward to attending the next one in early May. Emily

A recording of the session is available on youtube. Part 1 on the secular world and Part 2 on Ruth Burrows.