Living out the Gospel in both active and contemplative ways, the Carmelites hold as their exemplars both the prophet Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of our Lord Jesus – remembering her under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrated on this very day: the Feast day for all Carmelites.
The Carmelites today are a diverse collection of communities of friars and women religious (including cloistered contemplatives). One of these communities, the Carmelite Hermits of Christoval, Texas, eloquently expresses the Carmelite way:
* * * * * * * * * *
"The Hermits of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel are a community of men called to a life of silence, solitude, prayer, and penance for the good of the Church and the salvation of the world. The hermits live in a Laura, a colony of Hermits living in separate dwellings around a central chapel, following the original Carmelite rule.
"The vocation of the Carmelite Hermit is the contemplative vocation. And the foundations of his life are the Eucharist, The word, and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel .
"For the hermits the cell is the place of encounter. The Carmelite Rule states "Let each one remain in his cell, or near it, meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and keeping vigil in prayer, unless occupied with other lawful duties." The cell is also the place where the hermit sleeps and takes his meals alone, except on Sundays and special days where the hermits eat in a common refectory. The cell is composed of a study, chapel, bedroom, bathroom, and porch. Each cell is separated from the next by an enclosed garden.
"Centering their lives on the Word, through Lectio and the Eucharist the main activity of the hermits is prayer. Because of our lifestyle we are not engaged in any active ministry.
"The hermit's first priority is that of prayer and penance. Because we see God as the Absolute of our lives, we give Him our full attention, Praising Him and bringing all people to Him through prayer."
from the website of
the Carmelite Hermits of Christoval, Texas