† The Origins of Carmel


The beginnings of the Order, it’s title “of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel,” and its oldest spiritual traditions show clearly the Marian and biblical character of the Carmelite vocation.  By choosing the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother and Patroness, the Order places itself under her protection; and it takes the mystery of her life and her union with Christ as the ideal model of consecration.

In looking to the venerable fathers of old, especially to the Prophet Elijah, whom it regards as its inspiration (1 Kings 18:15,36-37; 19:12,14; Way of Perfection 11:4), the Order becomes more fully aware of its contemplative vocation which makes it intent on hearing God’s word, and on searching in great solitude and in total detachment from the world the supreme treasure, the precious pearl of His Kingdom (Interior Castle 3:1,3-4 and 5:1,2; Way of Perfection 13:3).  “For the love of God, I ask all of you to fix your eyes on the race of Holy Prophets from whom we have descended.” (Foundations 29,33)

The first Carmelite “formula of life” is found expressed in the Rule of St. Albert of Jerusalem. The chief topics and prescriptions in it are:

a)  To live in allegiance to Christ by serving Him faithfully with a pure heart and an upright conscience, by placing our sole hope of salvation in Him, and by paying Him obedience, in the person of the Prior(ess), in a spirit of faith;

b)  To remain in one’s cell, meditating day and night on the law of the Lord, and fortifying the spirit with holy thoughts, so that the word of God may abound on our lips and in our hearts, and everything be done in the word of the Lord;

c)  To celebrate every day in community the Eucharist and the Prayer of the Church;

d)  To practice evangelical asceticism and to be clothed with the divine armor in order to live devotedly in Christ; to imitate the Apostle Paul in generous application to work; and to practice constant mortification with prudence, which is the guide of the virtues;

e)  To establish a communion of life that is sustained by familiar relations, by the charity of mutual correction, by the common possession of goods and by mutual spiritual solicitude under the guidance of the Prior(ess) who is placed at the head of the community to serve it;

f)  Above all, to promote unceasing prayer in solitude, silence, and in a spirit of evangelical vigilance.

 

 

(from the Carmelite “Rule & Constitutions,” approved by the Apostolic See in 1991)