A brief overview of Carmelite Spirituality

“Into the land of Carmel, I have brought you to enjoy its fruits and its blessings.”
Jeremiah 2:7

Encountering God and each other in Carmel

Our Carmelite story begins with a searching heart, a search for a new way of living. The early hermits were attracted to Mount Carmel, to a wilderness, a mountain oasis in a vast desert. Once the home of the Prophet Elijah, who continues to inspire all Carmelites, and the backdrop of the Gospels that feed and nourish us. The first Carmelites centred their lives on the Eucharist, and dedicated a chapel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of The Lady of the Place. Even after their migration to Europe and particularly the big cities, the Carmelites did not lose their mountain identity and Charism. It is through silence and solitude (prayer) that Carmelites encounter God and through their community life and ministry they encounter the people. 

To live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ
The Carmelite Order began in the early 13th century on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land - the place where Jesus was born, lived, proclaimed the Good News, suffered, died, and rose from the dead. The early Carmelite hermits were committed to live "in the footsteps of Jesus Christ."

"To live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience." (Carmelite Rule #2)
Mary, Mother and Sister of Carmel
"Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." (Luke 1: 38)

The hermits living on Mount Carmel had a special devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Entrusting themselves to her protection, they built a Church dedicated to Mary, the “lady of the place” and eventually the hermits became known as The Brothers of Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Carmelites consider Mary as their patron, mother, sister, and friend. Mary is a constant presence and inspiration; she is the perfect disciple, fully open to the Spirit and to God’s action in her life.
Elijah, Prophet of Carmel, and spiritual father
“God lives, in whose presence I stand.” (1 Kings 18:15)

Carmelites are unique in tracing their origins back to an Old Testament prophet: Elijah. They were inspired by Elijah who met God in the sound of a gentle breeze, and who turned his contemplative experience into prophetic action: speaking out for truth, challenging those in power and standing up for the voiceless. Deeply rooted in this spirit, Carmelites are challenged daily to stand in the presence of the living God and to actively seek God’s face. Carmelites journey to the place where we encounter God and are transformed.
A different way of being Community
"With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord of Hosts." (1 Kings 19:14)

The first Carmelite hermits were probably from Europe and travelled to the Holy Land as part of the crusades. In the late 1230s the military conflict began to threaten the lives and they were forced to leave their spiritual home. One of the early communities was established at Aylesford. This move required the Carmelites to rethink their way of life, moving from being cave dwelling hermits to Friars, responding in new ways to God’s call to holiness. Carmelites continue to adapt and respond to the world around them, living simply in praying communities and at service to others and the wider Church.
Scroll to Top