Nine Themes of Carmelite Spirituality

Rev. Patrick Thomas McMahon, O.Carm. has defined Nine Themes of Carmelite Spirituality. These themes are listed below along with quotes from his writing.

#1    Carmel is Christocentric.

“Carmel is first and foremost about following Jesus Christ.”
“We never take our eyes off him. We never set our feet on any path but his.”
“We walk after him in the company of Mary, his mother, and with the other disciples, but we run after him and him alone.”

#2    Carmel is Eucharistic.

“Carmelite life has always been centred around the Eucharistic celebration.”
“…St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, The Little Flower, St. Edith Stein, Blessed Titus Brandsma. They all write about the importance of receiving the Eucharist.”

#3   Carmel is Scriptural.

“We are a community centred on the word of God. The prayer book of the Carmelite is the Bible.”
“Lectio Divina is a prayer form that the whole Order is rediscovering. Lectio Divina means the ‘Sacred Reading’, the prayerful, prayer filled, attentive reading of the Word of God.”
“Bibles are meant to be worn out.”

#4    Carmel is in harmony with the teaching office of the Pope and Bishops.

“Carmel is a family within the hierarchical Church.”
“The teaching office of the Church belongs to the bishops”
“Let us wage war for the truth not by our efforts by our fights and our quarrels, but by quiet prayer and unfailing charity.”

#5    Carmel is theologically in the classic Catholic tradition.

“Our past defines and shapes our present. We cannot understand our present unless we go back to our past. And so the writings of our Carmelite tradition have a very special place in our reading and study and prayer.”

#6    Carmel is Marian, in the context of our Christological focus. 

“We belong to Mary. But if you notice, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is always depicted as holding the Child Jesus. Carmelites love Mary and honour her as the one who introduces us to Jesus.”

#7    Carmel is Elijan.

“Carmelites from the very beginning of the Order have looked to Elijah for inspiration. They saw in the prophet everything that they wanted to be.”

#8    Carmel is Communitarian, not individualistic.

“Carmel must be committed to restoring community on every level, in our families, in our Lay Carmelite groups, and in our parishes.”
“We must be a community of Carmelites.”

#9    Carmel is lay, not clerical or monastic.

“Carmel does not draw definitive dividing lines or distinctions between the vocation and spirituality of its lay and religious members. … The first Carmelites were laymen.”