“Like the prophet Elijah, all the Saints of Carmel have been shaped through a school of spiritual fire. They also intimated the example of Mary and made their truest expression in the experience of love and that love makes the history of the Order. They became a hymn of praise to offer to our God.”
We receive the great gift from our brothers and sisters who have consecrated their lives to God. They embraced the teachings of the Divine Master and lived their lives in “allegiance to Jesus Christ”. They gave themselves to the service of God in prayer, in evangelical self-denial, and in loving for souls. At times, they have shed their own blood to testify this love.
Who are the saints of Carmel? They are hermits of Mount Carmel who “lived in small cells, similar to the cells of a beehive, they lived as God’s bees, gathering the divine honey of spiritual consolation.” They are mendicants of the first medieval communities, who discovered the presence of God in the events of ordinary daily life and especially seeing God in his brothers and sisters. They are teachers and preachers, missionaries and martyrs who searched for the face of God among the people. They are nuns who have contributed to the growth of God’s people by their mystical experience and especially through their fervent prayer and contemplative life. They are religious, who showed us the face of Christ through their apostolate in hospitals or schools, especially in the mission lands. They are laity, who were able to embody the spirit of Carmel and lived that spirit in the midst of the people. Simon Stock, Andrew Corsini, Albert of Trapani, John of Cross, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Edith Stein, Titus Brandsma, Angelo Paoli and countless saints and blesseds of Carmel together with Mary, the Mother of Carmel, are now singing a song of praise to the Father in Heaven.
They can be great saints that the whole Church venerates and invokes in the liturgy, or they are humble saints, who are known and venerated by only a few outside the Order. But all of them, through their lives, have offered us a secret of holiness to become saints. They can teach us how to live virtues of hope, love and faith and how to make our daily commitment to God. And they show us how to dedicate their whole heart to Christ.
All Carmelite Saints let themselves be shaped according to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who lived in intimacy with her Son. It is from her that they have learned to live in Christ and to live the love of Christ. From her they were inspired to consecrate their lives for the Church and for souls. In short, the life of the Virgin has an absolute importance in the experience of all the Carmelite Saints.
We pray that the example of these saints will continue to inspire holiness in a new generation of our brothers and sisters. Like them, we can live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve Him with a pure heart and a good conscience. Like them, we can know how to devote ourselves day and night to the contemplation of the Word and to generous service for the humanity. Finally, we ask that the examples of Carmelite saints may impact us immensely and concretely and make us have a deeper love for Christ, for the Church and for the whole world.
“So I say now that all of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation. This explains our origin; we are the descendants of those who felt this call, of those holy fathers on Mount Carmel who in such great solitude and contempt for the world sought this treasure, this precious pearl of contemplation that we are speaking about.
Let us remember our holy forebears of the past, those hermits whose lives we aim to imitate. We must remember our real founders, those holy fathers whose descendants we are. It was by way of poverty and humility, we know, that they came to the enjoyment of God.
On the subject of the beginnings of Orders, I sometimes hear it said that the Lord gave greater graces to those saints who went before us because they were the foundations. Quite so, but we too must always bear in mind what it means to be foundations for those who will come later. For if those of us who are alive now have not fallen away from what they did in the past, and those who come after us do the same, the building will always stand firm. What use is it to me for the saints of the past to have been what they were, if I come along after them and behave so badly that I leave the building in ruins because of my bad habits?
For obviously those who come later don’t remember those who have died years before as clearly as they do the people they see around them. A fine state of affairs it is if I insist that I am not one of the first, and do not realize what a difference there is between my life and virtues, and the lives of those God has endowed with such graces!
Any of you who sees your Order falling away in any respect, must try to be the kind of stone the building can be rebuilt with—the Lord will help to rebuild it. For love of our Lord I beg them to remember how quickly everything comes to an end, and what a favor our Lord has done us in bringing us to this Order, and what a punishment anyone who starts any kind of relaxation will deserve. They must always look at the race we are descended from—that race of holy prophets. What numbers of saints we have in heaven who have worn this habit of ours! We must have the holy audacity to aspire, with God’s help, to be like them. The struggle will not last long, but the outcome will be eternal.”
– From the works of Saint Teresa of Avila
All hail! you gentle dwellers Of wilderness and cloister. You won out over the wicked cunning Of the raging forces darkness.
Jewels and treasures of gold, High places of worldly honor, The fleeting joys which the world offers All these you trod underfoot.
Far from the affairs of men The soul on fire with love fled away; Joining the assembly of God’s chosen Dwelt among heavenly things.
Wounded by love’s dart, Teresa and Magdalen faint with love; Cries the one: To suffer or to die! To suffer, not to die! cries the other.
He who was called “Of the Cross” Yearned to suffer and be despised. In all things the Cross was his portion, His honor, his comfort, his joy.
You who endured labors so great And now share in the vision of God, Prepare, w beg you, the same reward For us who follow in your paths.
With the Father and the loving Spirit, To you, Jesus, be glory Who were born of the Virgin, Beauty of Carmelites.
V. God is wonderful in his Saints. R. And holy in all his works
All-powerful, merciful God, you give us joy each year in the commemoration of all the Saints of the Order of the most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. In your kindness grant to us this grace: by their merits, and with the help of their prayers, we may live for you alone, meditating always on your law, denying ourselves in all things, and so merit to join them in the happiness of eternal life. This we ask of you through our Lord.