Charism

The Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a De Facto Private Association of the Faithful that seeks to observe the eremitical Carmelite charism. Following the first hermits on Mount Carmel who, “in imitation of that holy anchorite the prophet Elijah, led solitary lives,”1 the charism and Constitutions of our community are based upon the unmitigated observance of the Primitive Rule of St. Albert in its original character of contemplative religious life in a particular eremitical form. We are not proposing to live something novel, but simply to revive a divinely-inspired and proven charism that was lived with impressive spiritual fecundity for centuries by hermits on Mount Carmel and was endorsed by the Church. Therefore, in a revival of this ancient charism, we are in the process of seeking canonical recognition as a new religious community.

All of the baptized are called to the perfection of divine charity: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment” (St. Mark 12:30). The soul of the religious life in the tradition of the Church is the organized, vowed state oriented to the realization, not only in spirit but also in deed, of evangelical spiritual perfection and perfect charity regarding God and neighbor. The essence of the Carmelite Charism is to pursue, by the action of divine grace in the soul, the radical transformation, spiritual fecundity, and divine union that are the blessed fruits of ardent penance, spiritual purification, assiduous meditation and loving contemplation of the Triune God. Simply seeking “the one thing necessary…the best part which shall not be taken away” (St. Luke 10:42), the Carmelite is not to be a specialist in any human occupation but in the spiritual life: the life of grace, charity and the other virtues in the soul. “Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself” (Rule of St. Albert). Thus, a soul called to live the Carmelite Charism in its primitive, specifically eremitical form follows Our Lord in the way of perfection by a religious formation and observance that is vivified with a greater measure of mental prayer, sacred study, silence, solitude, and penance than might be found in monastic communities of a more cenobitical, communal observance. The unmitigated Rule of St. Albert lays the foundations of this observance:

Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty…Each one of you is to have a separate cell…let him endeavor with diligence and care to observe silence, which is the cultivation of righteousness…Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for, as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you….The sword of the spirit, the word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment…You are to fast every day, except Sundays, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day…You are always to abstain from meat…The Apostle commends silence when he commands us to work in it, and as the Prophet also testifies: silence is the cultivation of righteousness, and again: your strength will be in silence and hope.

The faithful observance of this strict religious life equips the called soul with the fullness of the external means to attain to that interior sanctification which is the fruit of Christ’s Saving Cross and the beginning of eternal beatitude, not only for itself but for the benefit of the entire Church.

“Hid with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:3) the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel seek through grace of Christ to imitate and be conformed to the inexhaustible adoration and contemplation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and to emulate the example of the holy prophet St. Elias who, as a contemplative solitary, lived in the presence of the Living God (cf. III Kings 17:1). Zealous for the glory of the one true God and the sanctification and salvation of souls, their life of prayer, sacrifice, and love conforms the Hermits, through their union with Christ Crucified and the omnipotent prayer of that Great High Priest, to Christ the Saving Victim, thus interceding for the needs of all those for whom the Savior shed His Precious Blood. “Human activities cannot help us, but only the suffering of Christ. It is my desire to share in it” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

However, in addition to the hidden influence of its prayers and sacrifices, the community aspires to offer at the appropriate times and with the permission of its Canonical Ordinary a specific spiritual apostolate that provides possibilities of spiritual direction, welcoming retreatants to the large guesthouse and multiple cabins in its property, as well as occasionally commissioning one of its priests to preach a retreat abroad. This mirrors the specific apostolate of the ancient hermits on Mount Carmel.

To the solitude of mountain or desert it was, then, that our Saviour retired when He desired to pray; although we read that He came down from the mountain when he wished to preach to the people….He who planted our Fathers in the solitude of the mountain thus gave Himself to them and their successors as a model…They tarried long in the solitude of the desert, conscious of their own imperfection. Sometimes, however, though rarely, they came down from their desert, anxious, so as not to fail in what they regarded as their duty, to be of service to their neighbours, and sowed broadcast of the grain, threshed out in preaching, that they had so sweetly reaped in solitude with the sickle of contemplation.2

Thus, following St. Elias in his loving service to the Israel of God, the Church, the Hermits labor that God might be glorified in an ever-growing number of souls sanctified by progress in prayer and the spiritual life, consequently increasing the fruits of divine grace in their various states of life and external responsibilities. Also, in addition to its visible and invisible efforts to plant or nourish the good seeds of authentic Catholic spiritual life in the souls of priests, religious, and the lay faithful, the community could offer for guests at its own mountain Hermitage a quiet, beautiful retreat hidden away in the mountains like Mount Carmel for the refreshment and spiritual growth of souls. “And I brought you into the land of Carmel, to eat the fruit thereof, and the best things thereof” (Jeremias 2:7).

 

The Observance of the Eremitical Carmelite Charism

HORARIUM EREMITARUM DOMINAE NOSTRAE DE MONTE CARMELO
Horarium of the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

 

Sunday and Feasts of Double Major of the First Class
0:30 Matins, Lauds (in chapel)
6:00-7:00 Angelus & Mental Prayer (in cell)
7:05-8:00 Spiritual Reading (in cell)
8:40 Prime (in chapel)
9:00 Conventual Solemn High Mass; Quarter-hour of Thanksgiving (in chapel)
10:35 Terce (in chapel)
10:50 Breakfast & Recreation
12:00 Angelus, Sext, & Examen (in chapel)
13:00 Dinner (in refectory); Optional Recreation
15:30 None (in chapel); Optional Recreation
16:30 Vespers (in chapel)
17:00-18:10 Exposition, Mental Prayer & Angelus; Benediction (in chapel)
18:15 Compline (in chapel); Supper (in refectory); Return to cell

 

Feria
0:30 Matins, Lauds (in cell)
6:00-7:00 Angelus & Mental Prayer (in cell)
7:05-8:25 Prime & Spiritual Reading (in cell)
8:50 Low Mass; Quarter-hour of Thanksgiving (in chapel)
10:10 Terce (in private); (Optional breakfast, when fasting is not obligatory)
10:30 Work / Study
12:00 Angelus, Sext, & Examen (in private at location of work / study)
12:15 Manual Work
13:15 Dinner & None (in cell); Free Time
16:30 Vespers (in cell)
17:00-18:00 Mental Prayer & Angelus (in cell)
18:05 Compline; Spiritual Reading / Study (in cell)
19:00 Optional Collation, or Supper when fasting is not obligatory (in cell)

 

Friday
Feria Horarium Except:
15:00 Via Crucis & Discipline (in private)

 

Saturday
Feria Horarium Except:
15:00 Chapter (in chapter room); Free Time
15:50 Rosary (in common)
16:30 Vespers (in chapel)
17:00-18:10 Exposition, Mental Prayer, & Angelus; Benediction (in chapel)
18:15 Compline (in chapel); Optional Collation, or Supper when fasting is not obligatory (in cell)

 

Community Recreation Day
(Normally on one feria day each week Monday-Thursday):
0:30 Matins, Lauds (in cell)
6:00-7:00 Angelus & Mental Prayer (in cell)
7:05-8:25 Prime & Spiritual Reading (in cell)
8:50 Low Mass; Quarter-hour of Thanksgiving (in chapel)
10:10 Terce (in private); (Breakfast when fasting is not obligatory)
10:30 Recreation
12:00 Angelus, Sext, & Examen (in common at location of recreation)
12:15 Recreation
13:15 Dinner & None (in common at location of recreation); Recreation
17:30 Vespers (in cell)
18:00-19:00 Mental Prayer & Angelus (in cell)
19:00 Compline, Optional Collation, or Supper when fasting is not obligatory (in cell)

 

Community Work Day
(On a feria Monday-Thursday when there is a particular need):
0:30 Matins, Lauds (in cell)
6:00-7:00 Angelus & Mental Prayer (in cell)
7:05-8:25 Prime & Spiritual Reading (in cell)
8:50 Low Mass; Quarter-hour of Thanksgiving (in chapel)
10:10 Terce (in private); (Breakfast when fasting is not obligatory)
10:30 Work
12:00 Angelus, Sext, & Examen (in private)
12:15 Work
13:15 Dinner (in refectory) & None (in private); Work or Free Time
17:30 Vespers (in cell)
18:00-19:00 Mental Prayer & Angelus (in cell)
19:00 Compline, Optional Collation, or Supper when fasting is not obligatory (in cell)

 

In General

  1. Grand Silence is observed everyday from Vespers until Terce.
  2. Times for retiring and arising from sleep will be determined according to individual need.
  3. The Hermits will each pray everyday the 6-Decade Carmelite Rosary and the Litany of Our Lady at times of their choosing (excluding Saturday) when other exercises or works are not scheduled.
  4. When there are multiple priests in the community, each will offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day. On Ferias, those who do not offer the 8:50 Low Mass at the main altar will offer their Low Masses either after Lauds at night or at 8:50 at side altars in the chapel. On Sundays and Feasts of Double Major of the First Class, those not offering the Conventual Mass will offer their Low Masses after Lauds at night or at 7:40 so that all of the Hermits can assist at Prime and the Conventual Solemn High Mass.
  5. Confession will be available before Holy Mass each day.
  6. According to the Rule and Constitutions, the Hermits will fast every day from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross until Easter, excepting Sundays, Feasts of Double Major of the First Class, or dispensation from the Prior due to bodily debility or other just cause. They will also fast on all Fridays that are not Feasts of Double Major of the First Class. A fast consists in one meal and one optional collation. Days outside of fasting permit three meals.

 

1Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acre, History of Jerusalem, §52
2Nicholas, Prior General of the Carmelite Order. “Chapter VI.” Ignea Sagitta: The Flaming Arrow. Trans. Bede Edwards, OCD. Ed. Adrian Staring, O.Carm. Critical Edition ed. N.p.: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2014. 28-29.