Carmel: An Ancient Path for Today's Pilgrim
Carmelites seek to be contemplatives: God-seekers, friends of God who are open to God's transforming action in our lives. Our particular charism - that is, the gift God has graced us with for the benefit of the Church and the World - is to form praying communities at the service of all God's people, taking particular inspiration from Elijah, Mary, and the saints of Carmel. Prayer, community-building, and service are key to our way of life. Our mission in life is to know and love God, and to make God known and loved. This sends us out to evangelise and share the Good News of Christ, that God loves humanity with a deep passion.
In essence the reality which we call "Carmel" has little or nothing to do with a particular way of doing things, or of wearing religious clothes, or of living in special houses. Neither is it the property of a particular group of people or organisation. Carmel stands for the intimate encounter which God brings about between the person and God in the midst of all that is most ordinary in life. So, if you are seeking visions and ecstatic experiences then you are in the wrong place. This is the mystery of the 'Word made flesh' who 'emptied himself to take the form of a slave ... and then was humbler still...'
Carmelites seek to live, as our Rule of Saint Albert states, 'in allegiance to Jesus Christ'. Our spirituality is focussed on Christ, and inspired in a particular way by the patrons of the Order - the prophet Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary - as well as by the saints of the Carmelite Family over the centuries.
The Carmelite Order has given to the Church some of the greatest teachers in prayer and holds in itself great wisdom in discerning the 'delicate touch' of God's action in the depth of the personality, the soul. Without this lived encounter with God Carmel is nothing - it ceases to be. This is why the expression and source of this encounter, God's gift of contemplation, is the very heartbeat of what Carmel is and what it desires to be.
At the heart of Carmel's rich imagery is the symbol of the mountain, Jesus Christ our saviour, master and brother. Our pilgrim journey to the height of the mountain continues...
"Into the land of Carmel I have brought you
to enjoy its fruits and its blessings"
Carmelite spirituality resources on this website
The sections to your right and the links they contain are offered with humility as 'viaticum' food for the journey.
The first document is the Rule of Saint Albert, the text which all Carmelites take as the foundation for their way of life. It was approved for the hermits on Mount Carmel by Albert Avogadro, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, sometime between 1205 and 1214.
The Medieval Spirituality section includes some of the Order's ancient spiritual texts translated into English, as well as articles relating to Carmel's spirituality before the Discalced Reform in the 1500s. Texts of more historical rather than spiritual interest can be found in the Carmelite Studies section of this website.
The section entitled Modern Texts includes recent official documents of the Carmelite Order and its various incorporated groups, which express in often very beautiful terms how the Carmelite Family sees itself today. This section includes the 1995 Constitutions of the Carmelite friars and their formation Ratio, as well as the 2003 Rule for the Third Order of Carmel.
The page on the Charism of Carmel gives more detailed consideration to what makes our Order unique within the Church, and the page on the Evangelical Counsels considers what we have in common with all baptised people.
Pages on Scripture and Lectio Divina, and on Mendicancy, Justice and Peace, consider these aspects of our spirituality.
Under Saints of the Order you will find links to the writings of some of the holy women and men of the Order over the centuries.
The Carmelite Family Letters page lists some of the modern teachings from the Superiors General, and the "Contemporary Authors" pages list some modern exponents of Carmelite spirituality, arranged alphabetically.
How much of yourself and your own spiritual journey do you find reflected in these articles? Are there questions that touch the searching of your heart?
Saint Brocard, reputedly an early hermit on Mount Carmel, depicted in an icon
in York Carmelite Friary, written by the Carmelite nuns of Ravenna.