Carmelite Spirituality

Image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel rock garden

Carmelite Rule

Every Carmelite monastery harkens back to the picturesque Mount Carmel in the Holy Land, just an hour’s drive west of Nazareth and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The origins of the Carmelite Order come from that very place, Mount Carmel, where crusaders and others settled into a common hermit life. Around the year 1209, they requested and received a Rule to live by. That Rule calls us to practice unceasing prayer in solitude, silence, and a spirit of evangelical vigilance.

Discalced Carmelite Constitutions

“The vocation of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns is a gift of the Spirit. Through it, they are called to a ‘hidden union with God’ in friendship with Christ” (#10).

“The Discalced Carmelite Nuns are united with Christ who intercedes for us and offers Himself for us. With Him, they offer themselves to God, and complete what is lacking in the passion of the Lord in favor of His Mystical Body (see Col 1:24). In this way, they open themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and gives it life; and they move toward achieving that pure and solitary love which is more precious in God’s sight and of greater profit for the Church than a great many other works taken together” (#126).

The Saints

Saint Teresa of Jesus

Image of St Teresa of Jesus

“However softly we speak, He is near enough to hear us. Neither is there any need for wings to go and find Him. All one need do is to go into solitude and look at Him within oneself.”

Saint John of the Cross

Image of St John of the Cross

“She lived in solitude, and now in solitude has built her nest; and in solitude he guides her, he alone, who also bears in solitude the wound of love.”

“O Lord, my God, who will seek You with simple and pure love and not find that You are all one can desire.”

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Image of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

“How much Jesus desires to be loved!”

“In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love!”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

“Live with Him. How I wish I could make known to every soul what a source of strength, of peace and of happiness as well, they would discover, did they only consent to live in this intimacy.”

 “Realize that your soul is ‘the temple of God,’ as St. Paul teaches. The Three Divine Persons dwell within it during every instant of the day and night. You do not possess the Sacred Humanity except when you receive Holy Communion, but the Divinity, the Essence which the blessed adore in heaven, resides within your soul. When once we realize this, a most delightful intimacy is established, and we are never again alone.”

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyred at Auschwitz in 1942

“Oh my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage, and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it in peace.”

Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified, Flower of the Holy Land

“Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God, consume me. To the right path lead me. Mary my mother, look down upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”

“I am in God, and God is in me. I feel that all creatures, the trees, the flowers belong to God and also to me. I no longer have a will, it belongs to God. And all that is God’s is mine.”

“Only love can fill the heart of man. The just man is satisfied with love and a pinch of earth, but the wicked man, with all the pleasures, honors, riches [he can acquire], is always hungry, always thirsty. He is never satisfied.”

“Pay attention to little things. Everything is great before the Lord. The Lord does not want robbery in the sacrifice. Offer and give Him everything.”

“In heaven, the most beautiful souls are those that have sinned the most and repented. But they made use of their miseries like manure around the base of the tree.”

Saints Louis & Zélie Martin

Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

This icon of the Martin Family, Icona della famiglia Martin, was written by Paola Orlando of the Diocese of Milan and is reproduced here with permission.

Canonized October 18, 2015, Saints Louis & Zélie Martin are pictured here with their nine children. Four of the children died very young while the other five lived to become religious: four Discalced Carmelite nuns, including our St Thérèse, and one Visitandine sister, Léonie. We’re hoping Léonie, who embodied St Thérèse’s Little Way, will be the next Martin Saint!

Suggested Reading

St. Teresa of Jesus:
Way of Perfection
Book of Her Life

St. John of the Cross:
Spiritual Canticle

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus:
Story of a Soul

Image of Our Lady of Mt Carmel