The Order of Carmelites
The Carmelite Order is present throughout the world, made up of people from many different cultures and traditions. What unites the Order is the call to live the threefold charism of prayer, community and service.
The Order of Carmelites in Ireland
The Carmelites are a religious order who follow an 800 year-old tradition of spirituality. Our official title is ‘The Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.’
Who we are
Beginning on Mount Carmel in Israel, towards the end of the 1100’s, the earliest Carmelites came to the Holy Land from Europe. They eventually sought to settle there and to live a hermit lifestyle in prayer and silence. This first group of Carmelites settled near a fountain associated with Elijah, the Old Testament Prophet, and built a chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Following Elijah, Prophet of Carmel, Carmelites seek to attune themselves to God, living in God’s presence, and developing a hunger and a thirst for justice and all that is right.
Following Mary, Mother of Carmel, and inspired by her ‘yes’ to God, Carmelites seek to help people come to know the love and compassion of God who entered this world through her willing acceptance.
The Carmelites follow a Rule which was written for the very first hermit-brothers on Mount Carmel by St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Carmelite Rule is a living document, deeply rooted in the Word of God in the Scriptures. It fosters prayerfulness, encouraging an openness to God’s presence in our lives, teaching us to see the world with God’s eyes, and inspiring us to seek, recognise, love and serve God in those around us.
Carmelites follow Jesus Christ through living the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. We are known as ‘friars’ which is another word for ‘brothers’, reflecting the community dimension of our lives and the fact that we hold all things in common.
The Pillars of the Carmelite Way
PRAYER, COMMUNITY, and SERVICE are three ‘pillars’ of the Carmelite way.
PRAYER is at the very heart of our lives as Carmelites. Our Rule calls us to spend time alone reflecting on the Word of God. It also calls us to gather each day to celebrate the Eucharist and to pray together the psalms of the Prayer of the Church. As Carmelites we try always to make time in our lives for prayer – no matter how busy our ministry or how many demands may be made upon us. ‘Prayer is life, not an oasis in the desert of life.’ (Blessed Titus Brandsma O. Carm.)
Carmelites are called to live as members of a COMMUNITY. We seek God not as isolated individuals but as brothers and sisters who are committed to supporting one another in prayer and in the service of other people. Living in community involves close personal interaction on a daily basis, which helps each one to grow as a human being. Being community is prophetic in a world which can sometimes tend towards fragmentation and individualism. In community, Carmelites try to accept one another in all their diversity and to see in this reality something of the richness of God and humanity. Building community always demands commitment and generosity but it gives much in return, especially through companionship, support and solidarity in facing the challenges of human living, the needs of the Church and the world.
All Carmelite SERVICE and ministry flow from community living and prayer. Our ministries are varied and, like all Christian service, are directed towards the coming of the Kingdom of God in response to the words of the Lord’s Prayer – your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Today Carmelites live and work in 26 nations throughout the world. We are teachers, retreat directors, chaplains to hospitals and prisons, in parish ministry, counsellors, spiritual directors, and missionaries. In Ireland, Carmelites have care of two parishes in Dublin: Whitefriar Street, which is also an important and historic city centre church, and Knocklyon. People come to these and to other Carmelite churches at Kinsale, Kildare, Moate, Terenure College and Gort Muire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and other religious services. Irish Carmelites are still committed to education at Terenure College, Whitefriar Street, Third Level and through CIBI (Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland), which provides distance-learning courses on Carmelite Spirituality. Opportunities for sharing and teaching the Carmelite spiritual tradition also arise through preaching, retreats and occasions of special devotion. The Irish Carmelites established a mission in Zimbabwe in 1946. This has now developed into a vibrant presence, with many young Zimbabwean Carmelites.