Kirk Edge Sheffield
|In the Prophet Elijah in
profound prayer on the summit of Mount Carmel, burning with zeal for
the glory of God, the Order recognises the inspiration of the Carmelite
dedication to contemplation in solitude.
For centuries the eremitical life flourished on Mount Carmel. About the year 1210 the superior of a group of hermits, Brother Brocard, obtained from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Albert, a Rule of life; a Rule which we still keep today. This Rule emphasises the following of Christ, by means of the evangelical counsels: chastity offered to God, poverty and obedience; counsels which are a divine gift "which the Church has received from Our Lord and with His grace preserve perpetually," Lumen Gentium. In order to preserve this divine gift the Rule prescribes solitude in the cells; "meditating day and night on the Law of the Lord and watching in prayer."
The First Carmelite Monastery on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land
The centre of this life is Sacred Scripture, which nourishes contemplative prayer and ecclesial prayer. To the evangelical counsels the Rule adds work and penance so that the soul can more freely practice perfect charity. The Rule of the Order of Carmel promotes the heroic exercise of the virtues and encourages one to advance more and more on this road; placing no limits to the following of Christ nevertheless exercising a supernatural prudence.
The Rule was mitigated by His Holiness Eugene IV in 1431. In 1562 Saint Teresa of Jesus founded the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Avila, Spain, and penetrating the original spirit of the founders of the Order and its sound traditions, placed before her daughters as an ideal, the holy hermits of Mount Carmel. With balance and prudence Saint Teresa adapted this Rule of Life for the circumstances of a convent of nuns. She preserved the eremitical spirit, solitude, silence, absolute poverty, austerity and penance. In conformity with the Rule, she presents the Prioress as the centre and soul of community life; a life founded on charity and joyfully enclosed by voluntary cloister. She recommends humility as the foundation of all the other virtues, especially of charity, and a free and generous obedience. Finally, she gives to it all an apostolic and ecclesial meaning, with its characteristic stamp of simplicity and radiant joy.
Saint Teresa wrote her Constitutions in 1581. Her Constitutions together with the Rule have been the Law governing the Discalced Carmelite Nuns from their beginning and which Saint Teresa, on her death bed, left as a heritage to them. She declared that the observance of the Rule and Constitutions was enough to canonize them. Saint Teresa renewed the spirit of Carmel by her own ardent desires, enriched it with her holy life and mystical experiences, and clarified it by her writing in a way which cannot be surpassed.
With Saint John of the Cross, the Church has honoured Saint Teresa with the title of Doctor of the Church. To preserve and transmit this type of consecrated life and its doctrine is our privilege and duty.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO THE CONSTITUTIONS - 1990
|Our Vows||Our Vocation|