An Ancient Path for Today's Modern Pilgrim
CCIA Carmelites seek to live the contemplative life in the midst of our busy world. We are God-seekers, seeking to be friends of God who are open to His transformative movement within 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. In this vision, we are sent us out to evangelize and share the Good News of Christ, that God loves humanity with a deep passion.
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 church, group of people or organization. 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.
If you are seeking visions and ecstatic experiences then you’re likely in the wrong place. Our way of life is focused on 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 historic 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 are the symbols of the mountain, Jesus Christ our savior, 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"
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Mother & Beauty of Carmel
The Sacred Scriptures speak of the beauty of Mount Carmel in Palestine where the Prophet Elijah defended the faith of Israel in the living God. There, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, under the title of "Saint Mary of Mount Carmel", the Order of Carmelites had its formal beginning with a community of hermits. Mary was revered on Carmel as "The Lady of the Place", and she came to be regarded as "Patron of the Order", and "Sister of Carmelites".
From the fourteenth century this title - The Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel - recalling the countless blessings of the Order's patron, began to be solemnly celebrated, first in England and then gradually throughout the whole Order.
The Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel attained its supreme place from the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Carmelite General Chapter declared it to be the principal feast of the Order, and Paul V recognized it as the feast of the Scapular Confraternity.
This feast is now celebrated in the whole Catholic Church, in recognition of Mary as she is revered within the Carmelite tradition. In some countries, it is a major festival and public holiday.
Over centuries of development and reform, the Carmelites have continued their distinctive mission of living ‘in allegiance to Jesus Christ’, by forming praying communities at the service of all God’s people. The heart of the Carmelite vocation is contemplation, that is, pondering God and God’s will in our lives.
Like the spirituality of all the major religious orders (Benedictines, Franciscans, etc.), Carmelite spirituality is a distinct preaching of the one Christian message. Through our charism, Carmelites blend prayerful contemplation with active service of those around them, and this takes many different forms depending on the time and the place they find themselves in.
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