The Carmelites


The Carmelites

For eight centuries, men have answered the call to Carmel. Whether it was the 12th century crusaders who established a contemplative community on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land or the thousands of men all over the world today who have followed in their footsteps, Carmel has become much more than a geographic place, it is a spiritual home. Since those first Carmelites, Carmel has become home to both men and women all around the globe as well as some of the most important and beloved saints in history.

Still, the call to Carmel is as unique as each soul who makes the journey. The common denominator that links us is the deep desire to find a way to marry both contemplation and action in the world. As we strive for union with Christ we draw others closer to Him. In this life, we draw ever closer to one another in Christ.

We invite you to join us on the path up Mount Carmel. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus with Elijah and Mary is a wonderful, deeply satisfying life.1

The Third Order

The Third Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is an association of lay people who, in response to a call from God promise to live the Gospel in the spirit of the Carmelite Order and under its guidance.

As well as lay people, diocesan priests, who find in the Carmelite charism help for their spiritual lives and their mission in the Church and the world, may be members of the Carmelite Third Order.

The Third Order member is connected to the Carmelite Order by means of the promise which he or she makes. It is possible, following a very ancient custom, to make private vows of chastity and obedience according to one's state in life in order to be consecrated more closely to God.

Lay Carmelites, filled with the spirit of the Order, seek to live their own vocation by silently listening to the Word of God (Lectio Divina). According to the constant tradition of Carmel, they will especially cultivate prayer in all its forms.

The members of the Third Order take their inspiration from the figures of Our Lady and the Prophet Elijah.

In the midst of their normal family lives, in the work place, in their social commitments and relationships with other people, Carmelite Third Order members seek out the hidden image of God. They try to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes, humbly and consistently exercising the virtues of honesty, justice, sincerity, courtesy and fortitude, without which no Christian or human life is possible.

The Carmelite Third Order is divided into communities, fraternities or sodalities which are accompanied by the superiors of the Carmelite Order or their delegates. These groups are instituted by the Prior General of the Carmelite Order according to the law of the Church with the previous approval of the local Bishop.

Those who wish to be members of the Carmelite Third Order must be practicing Catholics. They must not be members of any other Third Order or Secular Institute, except in special cases, and they must be at least 18 years of age. After a period of initial formation, candidates are accepted for profession.

There are very many enthusiastic members of the Carmelite Third Order throughout the world at present. In recent years many new communities of lay Carmelites have been set up in various parts of the world. There has been a marvelous growth in the Third Order especially in the USA, Italy, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Kenya, The Philippines, Indonesia and Timor Leste.

New groups like "Carmelo Domestico" and "La Famiglia of Castellina (Florence)" in Italy, "Carmel Movement" in the Netherlands and the International Missionary Family "Donum Dei". These groups have found in the Carmelite Third Order and its Rule of life a great help to live their own vocation in the Church and the world.

Over the centuries, the Carmelite Third Order has given many models of holiness to the Church. At present there are a number of Third Order members whose causes for beatification are being considered. Among these there are, Liberata Ferrarons (a young Spanish woman who worked in a textile factory), Anita Zelickova (a young Czech woman who offered her life to God in reparation for the sin of abortion) and Carmen de Sojo i Anguera (mother of a large family).

Fr. Kilian Lynch, who was the Prior General of the Carmelite Order from 1947 to 1959, talking to lay Carmelites, said, "The Third Order is an extension of the Order among those who believe. They are members of the Carmelite Order living in the world. In the modern world, the Third Order has greater significance than in past centuries. It is a firm anchor for those working for the transformation of the world."XX