A brief introduction
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…