Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our Lady and the Carmelites

A History.
For many centuries before Christ, men communicated with God living in caves on the slopes of Mount Carmel in the Holy Land where Jesus was to be born.  These men were hermits devoted to the one true God of Israel.  They lived a life of solitude and service inspired by the great prophet Elijah whom they looked on as their spiritual father.  In later centuries after Christianity had spread far and wide, came the desire to follow Christ in his homeland in solitude and prayer. Pilgrims to the Holy Land joined the hermits on Mount Carmel and became known as Carmelites.  In the 12 and 13thcenturies war in the Holy Land forced these men of prayer to spread abroad.  The Church asked this group, now officially known as "the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel" to serve the people by bringing their contemplation and love of prayer into communties in the busy streets of cities, in quiet rural areas, wherever they were needed.  They served the needs of the people by preaching , by teaching, by bringing the knowledge and love of Jesus into the market place.  Always and everywhere they remained true to the ancient heritage which they brought with them from Mount Carmel.  And in everything they did, they were inspired by the Old Testament prophet Elijah and Mary the Mother of Jesus.

Elijah embodied the ideal of the contemplative man of prayer and the active apostle of God.  Mary called them to selfless service and closeness to Christ.  The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a garment and the Order of Carmel.  This sacramental is a sign of affiliation to the Carmelite Order and a symbol of our Lady's desire to bring us all to Jesus.  The message of the Scapular is the same advice she gave the servants at the Cana wedding: "Do whatever he tells you."  When we wear the Scapular, it is a sign of our loving response to the Mother of God.  So, in our special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Carmelites celebrate our unique relationship with Mary as an intrinsic part of our spirituality.  We love her, venerate her and, with our bothers and sisters in Christ, we are called forever to be her children.  We invite you to share this spirituality with us, particularly in our devotion to Mary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

(Article taken from "Special Devotions to Our Lady of Mount Carmel" by National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel). 

1 comment:

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Thanks for this inspiring post, Elena Maria!

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