Carmelite Spiritual Directory


A Study of the Marian Heritage of the Order

by Christopher O'Donnell, O.Carm.

1 Introduction
1.1 Early history
1.2 Carmelite Mariology - A word of caution
1.3 Medieval Mariology
1.3.1 Doctrine
1.3.2 Devotion
1.3.3 Slavery of Mary
1.3.4 Not only Carmelites
1.4 Twentieth Century

2 From The Beginnings To 1324
2.1 The Oratory on Mount Carmel
2.2 The Brothers and Sisters
2.2.1 The brothers
2.2.2 The nuns & sisters
2.2.3 Carmelites
2.3 Strange Silences
2.4 Observances
2.4.1 Liturgy
2.4.2 Prayers and hymns
2.4.3 Practices
2.5 Conclusion
2.6 Lectio Divina

3 Evolution of the Order's Marian Consciousness
3.1 Elijan Origin of the Order
3.2 Mary and Elijah - Mary and Carmel
3.2.1 Early writers
3.2.2 John Baconthorpe
3.3 A First Elijan - Marian Synthesis: Philip Ribot
3.4 Elijan-Marian Synthesis: Arnold Bostius
3.5 Marian Synthesis - Bostius
3.6 Most Pure Virgin
3.7 Scapular
3.8 Lectio Divina

4 Core Marian Themes
4.1 Patron
4.2 Model
4.3 Mother
4.4 Mediation
4.5 Sister
4.6 Most Pure Virgin
4.7 Conclusion
4.8 Lectio Divina

5 Marian Spirituality?
5.1 Spirituality
5.1.1 Marian spirituality
5.1.2 A relationship with Mary
5.2 Marian Mysticism
5.2.1 Mary and the Carmelite mystics
5.2.2 The Mariform life
5.2.3 Marian mysticism in Mary of Saint Teresa (Mary Petijt / Petyt)
5.3 Scapular
5.3.1 Pius XII
5.3.2 The meaning of the symbol
5.3.3 Revitalising the symbol
5.4 Conclusion: Mutual Love of Mary and the Carmelite

6 Liturgy
6.1 Early Celebrations
6.2 Pre-Vatican II Celebrations
6.3 Post Vatican II Reforms
6.4 Conclusion
6.5 Lectio Divina

7 Order Documents 1968-1995
7.1 General Chapters of 1968 & 1971
7.2 Documents 1972-1978
7.3 Fifth Council of Provinces 1979 - A Return to the Sources
7.4 Documents 1983-1991
7.5 Letter of Prior General (1988)
7.6 Letter of the Two Generals (1992)
7.7 The New Constitutions (1995)
7.8 Conclusion
7.9 Lectio Divina

8 Our Marian Charism in the Church Today
8.1 The Core of our Charism
8.2 Charism in the Church
8.3 Some Contemporary Insights
8.3.1 Pneumatology
8.3.2 Ecclesial picture of Mary
8.3.3 Women
8.3.4 Liberation theologies
8.3.5 Mary as teacher
8.3.6 The beauty of the Virgin
8.3.7 Consecration and the Scapular
8.4 Conclusion
8.5 Lectio Divina

9 Conclusion


AAS = Acta apostolicae sedis (Rome).
ACG = G. Wessels, ed., Acta capitulorum generalium O. Carm. Vol. 1. (Rome: General Curia O.Carm., 1912).
AOC = Analecta ordinis carmelitarum (Rome).
AOCDisc = Analecta ordinis carnmelitarum discalceatorum (Rome).
CouncProv = Council of Provinces (from 1971).
Congreso 1989 = A. Yubero, ed., Congreso mariano internacional Roma, Abril 1989. Documentos carmelitas 10. (Madrid: Libreria carmelitana, n.d.).
DS = H. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, eds, Enchiridion symbolorum definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum (Barcelona – Freiburg – Rome – New York, 351973).
Dspir = Dictionnaire de spiritualité (Paris, 1937–1994).
Geagea, Maria = N. Geagea, Maria Madre e decoro del Carmelo. La pietà mariana dei Carmelitani durante i primi tre secoli della loro storia. Institutum historicum  Teresianum. Studia 4. (Rome: Teresianum, 1988).
GenChap = General Chapter.
GenCong = Triennal General Congregation (from 1930).
Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio = V. Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio mariana in Ordine Fratrum B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo a medio saeculi XVI usque ad finem saeculi XIX. Collationes mariales Instituti Carmelitani 1. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1960).
Maria icona = Fraternità carmelitana di Pozzo di Gotto, eds, Maria icona della tenerezza del Padre. La spiritualità mariana nell'esperienza del Carmelo. Theologia III. (Palermo: Edizioni Augustinus, 1992).
MarLex = R. Bäumer and L. Scheffczyk, eds,  Marienlexikon. 6 vols. (St. Otillien: Eos, 1988–1994).
MCH = A. Staring, ed., Medieval Carmelite Heritage. Early Reflections on the Nature of the Order. Textus et studia historica carmelitana XVI. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1989).
ND = J. Neuner and J. Dupuis, eds, The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church (London: Harper Collins Religious, 51992).
NdizLit = D. Sartore and A.M. Triacca, eds, Nuovo dizionario di liturgia (Rome: Ed. Paoline, 1984).
NdizMar = S. De Fiores and S. Meo, eds, Nuovo dizionario di mariologia (Milan: Ed. Paoline, 1985).
NdizSpir = S. De Fiores and T. Goffi, eds, Nuovo dizionario di spiritualità (Milan: Ed. Paoline, 1985).
O'Carroll, Theotokos = M. O'Carroll, Theotokos. A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wilmington: Glazier, 21983).
Pellegrini = E. Boaga, ed., Pellegrini verson l'autenticità. Documenti dell'Ordine Carmelitano 1971–1992. Carisma e spiritualità. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1993).
PG = Migne, Patrologia graeca.
PL =   Migne, Patrologia latina.
Roschini = G.M. Roschini, Maria santissima nella storia della salvezza: Trattato completo di martiologia alla luce del concilio Vaticano II.  4 vols. (Isola del Liri: Ed. M. Pisani, 1969).
RA = Rule of St. Albert
Smet, Carmelites = J. Smet, The Carmelites. A History of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 4 vols. (Rome: Carmelite Institute – Darien: Carmelite Spiritual Centre, 1975–1985).
SpecC = Daniel a Virgine Maria, ed., Speculum carmelitanum (Antwerp, 1680).
TowardsPB = Towards a Prophetic Brotherhood. Documents of the Carmelite Order 1972–1982. (Melbourne: Carmelite Centre, 1984).
Valabek, Mary = R.M. Valabek, Mary Mother of Carmel. Our Lady and the Saints of Carmel. 2 vols. (Rome: Carmel in the World Paperbacks, 1987–1988).


1 Introduction

Mary and Carmel belong together. The Carmelite Order has had a rich Marian heritage for many centuries. But it cannot be studied in a vacuum. The Order's Marian charism is only

fully understood when seen against both the ongoing history of the Order, and of the Church's Marian developments and insights over the centuries. A short account of this essential background will be outlined, with indications as to where the themes are more fully expounded.

1.1 Early history

We are on sure ground when we assert that a group of hermits gathered on Mount Carmel in the latter part of the twelfth century, and that they requested a rule of life from Albert of Jerusalem which he gave between 1206 and 1214.[1] Sometime around 1235, forced by Saracen hostilities, these hermits began to leave the Holy Land to settle in Europe. There they sought to live their previous eremetical life, but this proved impossible. They obtained some changes in the Albertine Rule from Innocent IV in 1247. The early decades, indeed the first centuries, of the Order's existence in Europe proved extremely difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly, its members were an unknown group from the East with little support from secular or ecclesiastical authorities. Secondly, they had a strange religious habit: a striped cloak which was the object of derision by others. This was changed to a white cloak at the general chapter of Montpelier in 1287.[2] Thirdly, and more importantly, they appeared to be a recent Order and thus in contravention of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) which had prohibited the foundation of new orders.[3]

The Carmelites appealed to the Albertine Rule which predated the Lateran interdiction. In time they would seek to establish much earlier origins, going back in fact to the prophet Elijah. Even in 1274 the Second Council of Lyons left their situation uncertain: We grant that the order of Carmelites and that of the Hermits of Saint Augustine, the institution of which preceded the said general council, may remain as they are, until other regulations are made for them.[4]

It would be only in 1298 that Boniface VIII removed the threat to the Order.[5] But they had to wait until 1326 for John XXII to extend to them the bull Super cathredram by which Boniface VIII had given privileges and exemptions to the Franciscans and Dominicans. The Order would be subject to periodic attacks. One such was the noted debate at the University Cambridge on 23 February 1374 at which John Hornby defeated the Dominican John Stokes who impugned the Order's Elijan origins, its Marian appellation and its canonical approval.[6]

It is no surprise then that much of the early writing of the Order until that time was apologetic, and that the Elijan origin of the Order was defended in the context of attacks on the Order's very existence.

1.2 Carmelite Mariology - A word of caution

In Carmelite studies one must always take care about precisely what is asserted under the word “Carmelite”. Since the Order has no founder in the accepted sense, there has always been a problem of identity. In such circumstances it is natural that Carmelites should seek to stress what is theirs; the mistake, however, would be to assume that what is truly Carmelite might not also be shared by other religious families.

One way of seeking a Carmelite identity would be to eliminate from consideration what is found in other religious orders, and identify the remainder as being “Carmelite”. Thus one might seek what is exclusive to Carmelites in the area of spirituality and devotion. One result would be to ignore the scriptures, sacraments, dogmas, vows, since these are common to the whole Church. Even granted that there might be some specific Carmelite insight into any of these, for example the vows, it will remain true that what is shared with the Church about obedience, poverty and chastity will be more important for the life of Carmelites than what might belong solely to the Order.

If one were to seek what is specifically Carmelite, that which is not found in other religious orders, one might end up with a few hymns or spiritual texts like the Flos carmeli, and a vision of Elijah and Mary—one indeed which is not historical in any modern sense. Instead our purpose will be to examine the whole Marian life of the Order, without being unduly concerned with what may be shared with others.

An analogy may be helpful. Three builders might be supplied with identical materials and be asked to build a single-story house. The same materials can be used to build one house with abundant living space, another with spacious sleeping area, the third with a more generous kitchen sector. Using the same materials, even more or less the same quantities of material, one could get three very different houses. What is different is the focus of the builders and their ordering of the same materials.

The same main elements are to be found in the Mariology of the medieval orders. Our attempt will be to see the Carmelite experience of Mary. The whole will be genuinely Carmelite, even though the various constituents are shared. It is important to obtain some idea of the culture of our early Mariology, and as this material is not readily accessible we begin with a brief outline of medieval Mariology.

1.3 Medieval Mariology

We begin by noting the times in which the Order migrated to Europe, the thirteenth century. It was the century which saw the great scholastics, the completion of many cathedrals, enormous intellectual ferment, new forms of religious life, remarkable mystical writings, and huge cultural and social change. Medieval Mariology both reflected this exciting time and made its own contribution to the developments.

We have already noted the great medieval cathedrals. Each of those had their own splendours of Marian art. The great windows of Chartres and other churches spelled out the history of salvation in the Old and New Testament with an important place for Mary who was seen as prefigured in the Old and central in the New Testament story of salvation.

1.3.1 Doctrine

The main truths about Mary were generally held by the thirteenth century. The dogma of her Divine Maternity had been constant since the Council of Ephesus (AD 431). The fact of her Assumption had been celebrated in liturgy from about the sixth century and its liturgical feast had an octave from the time of Leo IV (d. 855). The perpetual Virginity of Mary was in peaceful possession since about the time of the non-ecumenical Lateran Council of AD 649. The Fourth Lateran Council used the phrase “Mary ever Virgin” in its credal formula for the Albigensians and Cathars. The Immaculate Conception was generally believed in some form, but many theologians had serious reservations, most notably the followers of Thomas Aquinas. It was widely celebrated liturgically from the twelfth century. The Syro-Sicilian Pope Sergius (d. 701) had earlier laid down a solemn procession in Rome for four feasts with a Marian character: the Birthday of Mary (8 September), the Presentation (2 February), the Annunciation (25 March) and the Assumption (15 August).

In addition to these solemn truths there was widespread belief in other truths about Mary. In some form or other we find significant statements about Mary’s union with her Son at the Redemption. Already in Saint Bernard and later in Saints Albert the Great and Bonaventure, we find some doctrine of Mary’s mediation. The Memorare attributed to Saint Bernard, has some phrases from him, though in its present form it is fifteenth century, or even later. The spiritual maternity of Mary, that she is our Mother and Mother of the Church was taught with ever greater clarity from the eleventh century, when theologians like Anselm of Lucca (d. 1086) and Rupert of Deutz (d. 1130) began to see the truth latent in the scene at the foot of the Cross related by John (19:25-28a). The notion of Mary as Queen had already been found with increasing frequency in sermons and hymns from the sixth century; it had long been found in the liturgies both East and West and became very marked in the thirteenth century.

1.3.2 Devotion

When we look at Marian prayers and devotion in the thirteenth century we find exuberance. Already, there are many Marian shrines and places of pilgrimage. For example in England two shrines were long established: Walsingham (1061) and Glastonbury (from seventh century, rebuilt 1186). Einsiedeln in Switzerland dates from tenth century. Vernacular lyrics are found especially from the middle of the twelfth century.

There were many devotions to Mary at that time. Collection of prayers of various kinds had begun in the Carolingian period. One of the better known was the Book of Holy Prayers (Libellus sacrarum precum) dating from the end of the ninth century; it contains several Marian prayers. Later we find the Books of Hours, the core of which was the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. Its origins were additional devotions (cursus) added to the canonical Office as well as votive offices of the Blessed Virgin, which arose from Carolingian times. It was reorganised by Saint Peter Damian (d. 1072) and commended by him for daily usage.

There were many Marian hymns and prayers circulating in the thirteenth century, which were incorporated into Carmelite liturgy and community prayers. The first part of the Hail Mary was in existence from about the seventh century. It was an element of the Little Office, and was recommended by Peter Damian for frequent recitation. The addition of the name “Jesus” may come from the time of Urban IV (d. 1264), but the second part of the prayer (“Holy Mary…”) was fifteenth century. Hymns common during this period included Ave maris stella which dates from the ninth century. The four great Marian antiphons were already known: Alma redemptoris mater (twelfth century); Salve regina (perhaps eleventh century), Ave regina caelorum (twelfth century) and the Regina caeli (probably thirteenth century).

Other more popular prayer forms are found in the period. Marian litanies appeared from about the eleventh century with one of the Litany of Loreto type dating from the end of the twelfth century with seventy-three invocations. An Irish litany with seventy-six invocations can be dated from the twelfth century. Similarly, greetings to Mary, often repeated 150 times corresponding to the Psalter (Grusspsalter), came into use from about 1130. These last would in time give rise to the Rosary, which took its modern form in the early fifteenth century. Collections of the Joys (five) and of the Sorrows (seven) of Mary (Marienklagen) are also from the twelfth century. The great sequence Stabat Mater is probably late thirteenth century, perhaps from the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi (d. 1306). The custom of saying three Hail Marys in the evening may date from the eleventh century; Gregory IX (d. 1241) commanded bells to be rung so that people might offer them for the crusades. The first collection of legends of Mary appeared in the eleventh century, the Liber de miraculis santae Dei geneticis Mariae.

Lives of Mary, often loosely based on the apocrypha, become popular in the twelfth century. Marian confraternities are found from the first quarter of the thirteenth century, especially in France and Italy.

A further significant area of interest for early Carmelite Mariology has been highlighted by E. Boaga, namely the number of shrines and holy places in Palestine which were associated with Mary in the scriptures, apocrypha and oral traditions.[7] These will help us later to grasp more fully the significance of the choice of Mary as Patroness of the oratory on Mount Carmel.

1.3.3 Slavery of Mary

Finally, we may note the emergence in the eleventh century of what would later be called “the slavery of Mary”. Saint Bernard, for example, calls himself Mary’s page (servuli). This may be significant for the common Carmelite idea of patronage, which we will find later.

1.3.4 Not only Carmelites

As we shall see Carmelites coming to Europe took up many of these existing practices and beliefs. If we restrict ourselves to studying only what is Carmelite, we run the risk of underestimating and even neglecting a substantial amount of our Marian heritage. We must rather try to see the whole Marian life of the early Carmelite friars, only some of which will be specific to themselves.

There are numerous parallels with other orders such as the Cistercians,[8] Premonstratensian Canons[9] and of course the Dominicans.[10] We must first take up the question of Carmelite identity, seen particularly in the early Constitutions and titles of the Order.

1.4 Twentieth Century

In the twentieth century we had what has been called the “Marian Movement”, a time of great enthusiasm, congresses, writings, devotional developments.[11] It culminated in the definition of the Assumption (1950) and the Marian Year (1954). After this there was a decline, despite the significant teaching of Vatican II. With the important papal documents of Paul VI, Marialis cultus (1974) and of John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (1987) there has been a gradual recovery. From the mid 1970s there was a flood of substantive scholarly works on all aspects of Mariology.[12]

In the Order 1950 was also a twentieth century climax with the warm endorsement of the Scapular by Pius XII in the letter Neminem profecto latet.[13] But the succeeding years witnessed to some decline and failure of nerve on the part of the Order. The historicity of the Scapular vision came in for serious scrutiny. Though the evidence for the vision was deemed unsatisfactory by the stringent scholars, Jean de Launoy (d. 1678) and Herbert Thurston (d. 1939), their views had not greatly influenced the Order's appreciation of the Scapular. But the valiant efforts of B.M. Xiberta to defend the authenticity of the Scapular vision[14] were gradually deemed less than convincing. More nuanced statements were made, which did not console those whose previously calm certainty about the Scapular vision had been disturbed.[15] The Sabbatine Privilege, based on a supposed vision to John XXII was shown to be a medieval forgery.[16] In the Carmelite Proper for the Mass of 1972 there was no feast or memorial for Simon Stock. The initial revision of the Calendar for the universal Church had previously dropped the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

But there was also a somewhat uneven recovery of Carmelite Marian consciousness dating from the extraordinary general chapter of 1968 which presented Mary largely in Vatican II terms and defended the Scapular's significance.[17]

These issues lie behind the 1971 general chapter and are to an extent found in some only of the meetings of the council of provinces, general congregations and chapters. The revision of the Roman Missal in 1969 restored the celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For the Carmelite Order the Mass and Office of Saint Simon Stock were reinstated by the Holy See in 1979.

Along with these developments one can see in the annual bibliography in Carmelus that there has been ever increasing interest in Carmelite Mariology and extensive writings by members of the Order on the Virgin Mary. In 1989 there were three Marian congresses in the Order: Saint Albert's Centre Rome; Sassone outside Rome, and New York. A conference in Reno (1998) was celebrated by the wider Carmelite family in the United States

It is thus an appropriate time to consider again the Order's Marian charism and to present it in terms appropriate to the contemporary Church. This short work will examine the origins and development of the Carmelite Marian charism. It will then present the reflection on Mary in official documents of the Order since Vatican II, before outlining some of the contemporary Mariological perspectives within which we will have to express our charism.


2 From the Beginnings to 1324

The first decades of the Carmelite Order’s existence as hermits on Mount Carmel and the first century of its existence in Europe does not have very extensive documentation. There are as a consequence few references to Mary to be gleaned from the beginnings of the Order; those we do find will therefore be all the more precious. But we must keep in mind that the Carmelites came into a medieval Church and society scene which had a very highly developed awareness of Mary. The Carmelites’ Marian life took up much of what existed around them. In this period we can however note the foundations of the Patronage theme and the name of Mary in the title of the Order.

2.1 The Oratory on Mount Carmel

In the Rule of Life given by Albert of  Jerusalem (ca. 1206–1214) there was no mention of the Blessed Virgin. The Rule did specify that there was to be an oratory in the middle of the cells where daily Mass was to be attended (RA 14). From the accounts of pilgrims it is known that from about 1231, or perhaps somewhat later, this oratory was dedicated to Our Lady. Testimonies about this church dedicated to Mary on Mount Carmel were still found as late as the fifteenth century. At that time there were many churches dedicated to Mary in places associated with her life, with legends about her or with the liturgy.[18]

The hermits' choice of Mary, given the mentality of the times, could not have been coincidental or casual. It was in some sense to have Mary present to the community, to have her as patroness. In the following centuries the implications of this oratory will be drawn out by our authors, sometimes in very fanciful ways indeed.

2.2 The Brothers and Sisters

The names given to religious institutes are always significant. In the case of the Carmelites, given their problems of identity and origin, it was doubly so. We consider the titles of the Order, including the Sisters, even though they belong to a later century.

2.2.1 The brothers

In the Albertine Rule the members are referred to as hermits (ermitis),[19] but much more frequently as “brothers” (fratres).[20] When they came to Europe they were known by different names. The first pontifical document Ut vivendi formam of Honorius III (1226) is addressed to the “prior and hermit brothers of Mount Carmel.”[21] The first papal ascription of a Marian title to the Order may have been in 1247 in the constitution Devotionis vestrae precibus of Innocent IV, but is certain in the case of his bull Ex parte dilectorum (1252) which was addressed to archbishops and bishops “in favour of the hermits of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel”. However, the use of a Marian title for moral entities such as religious congregations, churches, monasteries and hospitals was not uncommon at the time.[22] During the remainder of the thirteenth century titles such as “the Order of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel”, “the Hermit Brothers of the Order of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel” are frequently found in pontifical documents.[23] However, throughout this time, within the Order and in legal and other civil documents, the title, “Order of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel” or a variant, was quite common.[24] A most significant passing reference in a rescript of Urban IV in 1263 stated that Mary was Patron of Carmel.[25]

The first Order document we have asserting her to be patron is the 1294 Constitutions.[26] This notion would be the subject of much reflection in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries papal documents speak of the Order being “distinguished” (insignitus) by the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.[27] As well as the Marian title, the name “Carmelites” came into use from the time of Gregory X in 1274.[28] In time the brief title would be amplified by the addition of the words “Genitrix” (Mother of God) and “Virgin” or “Ever Virgin”, so that in the late fourteenth and fifteenth century the title was found, “Order of the Brothers of the Holy Mother of God Mary of Mount Carmel”,[29] and from Sixtus IV, “Order (or Brothers) of the Most Glorious Mother of God the Ever Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”.[30]

2.2.2 The nuns & sisters

In the complex evolution of the women's branches of the Order from confraternity to religious life properly so called, we find similar language. In the Rule for the Sisters of 1488 it is stated that the non-professed sisters are admitted “to the Confraternity of the Order of the Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel” by being given the cloak with the words: “Receive the sign of the holy Order (sanctae religionis) of the Mother of God and of the Virgin Mary for the remission of your sins”.[31] The women of Florence associated with the Order in 1450, that is before the foundation of the convent of Saint Mary of the Angels, were said “to live in their own homes, leading a very exemplary and holy life, having themselves called the Sisters of the Virgin Mary”,[32] and were said to have the white mantle of the Glorious Virgin Mary.[33] The various constitutions of the nuns and sisters have different titles: Parma to be dated not later than 1481 were entitled “Statutes of the Religious Sisters of the Order of the Most Blessed Mother of God of Mount Carmel”;[34] Bologna in 1594 were entitled “Constitution and Rule of the Carmelite Sisters”.[35] In a papal motu proprio in 1476 we have reference to the “nuns of the same Order of the Most Glorious Mother of God, the Ever Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”.[36]

2.2.3 Carmelites

Throughout the whole Order, however, the accurate and more convenient name “Carmelites” grew in popularity until the general chapter at Traspontina in 1680 ordained that in writings and printed works the title “Brother of the Order of the Most Blessed Ever Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” was to be used instead of “Carmelite”. This norm was retained in the 1930 Constitutions where instead of “Carmelites” the members of the Order were to call themselves in official documents “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”.[37]

In time reflection on the name of the Order would lead to an understanding of Mary as Sister of Carmelites.

2.3 Strange Silences

Though there is impressive evidence for the Marian character of the Order in the thirteenth century, there are a few surprising gaps. We have earlier noted that the Rule does not mention Mary. The ex-prior general, Nicholas the Frenchman, in his passionate appeal to the Order to return to its eremitical life, The Fiery Arrow, has only a passing reference to Mary speaking of her as in solitude at the Annunciation.[38]

More surprising still is the foundational text, the Rubrica prima (first article) of the 1281 Constitutions. It was a reply that was to be given by the younger members of the Order to those who questioned them about its origin. It points to an Elijan origin of the Order, but is silent on Mary.[39] It was not until the 1324 Constitutions that there is reference to her in the Rubrica prima. By then the purpose is not any longer merely to answer “how did our Order originate?”, but there is added “and why we are called Brothers of the Order of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel”. This 1324 version of the Rubric gives the Elijan origin, but inserts a highly significant paragraph: After the Incarnation their successors built a church there (on Mount Carmel) in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and chose her title; therefore from that time they were by apostolic privilege called the Brothers of Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

This insertion shows already in a developed form the Marian and Elijan legend that we shall study in the next chapter.

Also absent from thirteenth century documentation is any reference to the Scapular or to a vision to Saint Simon Stock.

2.4 Observances

As we look to the Marian life of the Order in its early and formative centuries we need to look out not only for texts and formal statements, but we need to appreciate the life of the Brothers at this time. What did they do in community, and especially at liturgy, that indicated a relationship with Mary? There are two most important sources for study. These are the three earliest extant Constitutions: London (1281), Bordeaux (1294) and Barcelona (1324). The second source is our early Ordinals which specified how liturgy was to be celebrated. The earliest Ordinal we possess dates from about 1263, and contains many Marian elements, most of them common to other religious orders of the time. The general chapter of Bordeaux in 1294 committed to the prior general a revision of the Order's Ordinal. The revised Ordinal of Sibert de Beka (d. 1332) dating from about 1312 did not make any substantial change but added a few further signs of devotion.[40]

2.4.1 Liturgy

The celebration of feasts is a major source of information about the Marian dimension of the Order. We find such elements from the very beginning. There is reference to a daily commemoration of Blessed Mary; when there is no feast there is to be a sung Mass in her honour. An antiphon for peace and protection, not however addressed to Mary, is to be added to all the hours of the Virgin.[41]

By 1324 there were four main Marian feasts: Purification, Annunciation, Assumption and Birthday of Mary.[42] Except for the Annunciation, which fell close to Holy Thursday and Easter, all these feasts were days on which Holy Communion was received.  

On Saturdays there was normally a Mass and office of the Blessed Virgin. The 1324 Constitutions laid down that in every convent of the Order Mass of the Blessed Virgin is to be sung before Prime.[43]

The canonical hours of the Blessed Virgin were to be said daily. The Marian office which began with the Hail Mary (still in a short form) was the first office of the day, and the Marian Compline ending with the Salve regina was the concluding office. In the main office there was a commemoration of the Virgin Mary at Lauds and Vespers. At Compline the name of Mary figured in the Confiteor, and, in the Marian Compline, the Sub tuum paesidium (“We fly to thy patronage...”) was said.

There were also some interesting rubrics: a small bow at every mention of the name of Mary; a profound bow at the “Let us pray” in her offices; a prostration or genuflection at the invitatory Hail Mary, at the beginning of the hymn Ave maris stella and at the Salve regina. Sibert’s Ordinal prescribed a candle to be lit in her honour at the liturgical hours and Masses in her honour and at the singing of the Salve regina.[44]

The various Masses to be said in honour of the Blessed Virgin also shows something of the Marian dimension of the Order. The 1294 Constitutions specified fifty Masses for benefactors and deceased Brothers: ten were to be the Mass for the Holy Spirit, ten the Mass of the Blessed Virgin, and thirty the Mass for the Dead.[45]

2.4.2 Prayers and hymns

Already in the thirteenth century we find our two most ancient Marian prayers. The prayer Concede was used at profession ceremonies from 1281: Grant to your servants we beseech thee O Lord, unfailing health of mind and body, and through the intercession of the glorious and blessed ever Virgin Mary may we be saved from present sorrow and partake of future joy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.[46]

This prayer common in the Latin rite was used up to modern times in the Order after the Litany of Loreto. It does not figure in Constitutions after 1294. A similar prayer, Protege, quickly supersedes it, being found from the 1324 Constitutions: Protect, O Lord, your servants with the support of peace, and they being confident of the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, secure them from all enemies. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.[47]

In this latter prayer, Mary is seen more clearly as Patron than in the prayer Concede. It is often prescribed to be said several times in the one celebration. Afterwards it would be used in a variety of contexts in our Constitutions such as the reception of novices and their profession, chapters, jubilees, reception of Prior General, visitation, elections, the admission of people to share in the spiritual benefits of the Order.

In the 1294 Constitutions we find for the first time the versicle “Pray for us O holy Mother of God” (Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genitrix),[48] as well as Concede to be used at the end of a provincial chapter. In subsequent Constitutions it will feature in the same contexts as the two prayers above.

The 1324 Constitutions approve again the Ordinal of Sibert de Beka, and adds that before the Fidelium, the Salve and the prayer Protege is to be appended to each hour.[49] This prescription was soon extended to Masses also.[50]

We have already alluded to the Marian addition to the Confiteor. The General Chapter of 1342 which added several Marian elements also laid down that when possible after grace the following were to be added: Ave regina coelorum (“Hail Queen of Heaven”), Ora pro nobis (“Pray for us”), Protege.[51]

2.4.3 Practices

In addition to prayers and offices there were a number of practices imposed by various Constitutions. These were all constitutive of a profound Marian awareness, if not indeed spirituality. We find frequent references to inclination of the head and penalties for omitting to do so. In the first Constitutions we find that there is an inclination during solemn Mass whenever the names of Jesus and Mary are mentioned in prayers.[52] This is further extended to all prayers in the 1294 Constitutions.[53] The inclination was done bare-headed, and in such a way that one could touch the knee with the hand. Beginning with the 1324 Constitutions these inclinations bound under medium penalty, which was quite harsh to modern sensibilities.[54] From the beginning there were penalties also for any dishonouring of the names of Jesus or Mary.[55] There was a genuflection at the opening words of the hymn, Ave maris stella, and at the Salve regina sung at Compline.[56] We find important references to Mary in the ceremonies for the reception of novices and for profession. Already in the 1281 Constitutions we find that profession is made to God, Mary and the Prior General, a practice that continues to our day. I, Brother N., make my profession and I promise obedience to God and to Blessed Mary and to you Brother T, prior General of the Hermit Brothers of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.....[57]

It would not, however, seem to have been peculiar to the Order as it is found in other Medieval orders,[58] though at an early time the Dominicans claimed it was unique to them.[59] Prayers for the reception of novices from 1324 state that the Order was founded in honour of Mary and that she was given to the Order by God as its principal Patron.[60] The versicle, “Ora pro eo sancta Dei Genitrix”, as well as the prayer, Protege, are also found.[61]

2.5 Conclusion

In the first century after obtaining its Rule of Life, despite the paucity of documents, there is ample evidence of several kinds of a close association between Mary and the Carmelite Order. It is perhaps best summed up as an incipient sense of the presence of the Order to Mary and one of its belonging to her. The following century would reflect on these initial intuitions. In the context of controversy it drew out various implications and developed an historical myth about a relationship between Elijah, Mary of Nazareth and the sons of the prophet who were all asserted to be in a continuous history.

This study of the Marian charism of the Order will test the traditional assumption that the Order exists for Mary and that her service – a reflection of the service of Christ – was and still is, the main reason for the Order's existence,[62] or the aphorism which became traditional especially after A. Bostius (d. 1499): Totus marianus est Carmelus (Carmel is totally Marian).[63]

2.6 Lectio Divina

We can take for a lectio divina a hymn which was used by Carmelites in the thirteenth century and still features in modern liturgy and hymn books. It is the Ave maris stella. It is found in a ninth century manuscript, but may belong to the previous century.[64] As we reflect on it we are in continuity with the early medieval Church and with our Carmelite forebears. The modern translation by Ralph Wright is used in the English Liturgy of the Hours. For a Carmelite ear it has many echoes of our tradition. Another older translation is given below.

In the lectio we might ask ourselves:
1. What does the text mean and what might it have meant to Carmelites, who took it over from the medieval Church?
2. What does it mean to me/to us in our spiritual journey, in our socio-economic and political situation?
3. How can we respond to it by spontaneous prayer?
4. How can we rest with the beauty of its words, with the depth of its message?
5. How does it inspire us to action?
These are the phases of this traditional prayer form: lectio (reading); meditatio (reflection); oratio (response); contemplatio (resting, gazing, receiving, surrendering); [actio (action)].


Star of sea and ocean
gateway to man's heaven,
mother of our Maker
hear our pray'r, O Maiden.

Welcoming the Ave
of God's simple greeting
you have borne a saviour
far beyond all dreaming.

Loose the bonds that bind us
bound in sin's own blindness
that with eyes now open'd
God's own light may guide us.

Show yourself our mother
he will hear your pleading
whom your womb has sheltered
and whose hand brings healing.

Gentlest of all virgins,
that our love be faithful
keep us from all evil
gentle, strong and grateful.

Guard us through life's dangers
never turn and leave us,
may our hope find harbour
in the calm of Jesus.

Sing to God our Father
through the Son who saves us
joyful in the Spirit
everlasting praises.

(Trans. R. Wright, OSB, Ampleforth)


Ave star of ocean,
Child Divine who bearest
Mother, Ever-Virgin,
Heaven’s portal fairest.

Taking that sweet Ave
First by Gabriel spoken
Eva’s name reversing,
Be of peace the token.

Break the sinner’s fetters,
Light to blind restoring,
All our ills dispelling,
Every boon imploring.

Show thyself a Mother
In thy supplication;
He will hear who chose thee
At his Incarnation.

Maid all maids excelling
Passing meek and lowly,
Win for sinners pardon,
Make us chaste and holy.

As we onward journey
Aid our weak endeavour,
Till we gaze on Jesus
And rejoice forever.

Father, Son and Spirit,
Three in One confessing,
Give we equal glory
Equal; praise and blessing.

(Trans. A. Riley, 1891)


3 Evolution of the Order's Marian Consciousness

Most of the ideas in the previous chapter are found developed in the following centuries. The Order's Marian consciousness evolved rapidly.[65] If we are to appreciate the development we must not only examine the existing documentation carefully, but we must above all try and have a feeling or empathy for the situation of Carmelites in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Otherwise we run the risk of being totally out of sympathy with a delicate and complex evolution. Moreover, we need to keep a few salient points before our minds as we seek to understand the way in which the Order’s Marian life originated.

The Brothers began to come to Europe about 1238.[66] The migration would seem to have been gradual from then to 1291 when the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was conquered. They brought with them their Rule, a contemplative way of life strongly marked by asceticism. Surely they missed above all their chapel on the holy Mountain, dedicated to Mary. Indeed we see them dedicating a monastery in Europe to Mary as early as 1235.[67] They came to a Europe which as we have seen in the Introduction was very rich in devotion to Mary. The Carmelite Brothers easily inserted themselves into this Marian culture. They began a process of integrating their own heritage with the congenial Marian life of Europe.

They seem to have placed great store by their sense of Mary as Patron, symbolised by their Chapel in her honour on Mount Carmel. Already in 1282 the General, Pierre de Millau, in a letter to Edward I of England seeking his support asserted that the Carmelite Order was especially founded in honour of Mary.[68] This was stated again in the general chapter of 1287.[69] Later John Baconthorpe (d. ca. 1348) would say that “God...willed to establish the Brothers of Carmel for the praise of his Mother”.[70] And he looked to the end of the ages when Carmelites will be rewarded for their special role of militant service for the praise of Mary and the honour of Christ.[71]

In the time of adjustment and a searching for their identity, a firm ground for the Brothers was their relationship with Mary, their Patron. But there were other elements too: their contemplative ideal and their memory of Elijah.

3.1 Elijan Origin of the Order

We have already noted that the Elijan was already strongly asserted in the Rubrica prima of the 1281 Constitutions. It is not difficult to see how the Elijan theme was developed in response to opposition to this new Order, which did not have a clear historical founder such as Saint Dominic or Saint Francis. The Carmelite Bothers knew that they had been on Mount Carmel for a long time. It was a holy mountain, associated with hermits from very ancient times, and indeed with the great prophet Elijah. They saw in him a great prophet and a great contemplative, one who like Moses had met the living God on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:11–18). They knew that despite the opposition they encountered in Europe their way of life was ancient and authentic.

In the Middle Ages, as in biblical times, truths were often transmitted by myth. With our modern sense of historicity, we are often not comfortable with myth: we ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “what does the myth mean?” we ask, “did it happen?” And a myth has a truth which is not the explicit assertions of the myth. The truth which lay behind the Elijan myth was the fact that the Carmelites recognised in Elijah an idealized figure whose inspiration they followed when they dwelt as hermits near his historic well. Being contemplatives they sought his spiritual experience of the living God; consecrated to chastity they saw him as the first Old Testament exemplar of their ideal of perpetual continence for the Kingdom; as hermits they saw in him a fellow desert figure who had left all to seek God alone.[72]

The form the myth took was an apparent claim by our authors of an historical continuity between the prophet of the eighth century B.C. and the Order as it existed in Europe from the thirteenth century. Many good scholars and theologians of the Order devoted an enormous amount of energy to finding scriptural and patristic links in the chain going back to Elijah. Many biblical figures as well as Palestinian hermits and saints were seen as part of the historical continuity of the Order. As history such work is valueless. But it is not so much a legend as a myth. And it has its own truth as in terms of identity and spirituality.

3.2 Mary and Elijah - Mary and Carmel

Mary was gradually inserted into this Elijan myth or hagada.

3.2.1 Early writers

The Chronicle De inceptione ordinis (ca. 1324) stated that after the Incarnation the successors of Elijah and Elisha built a church in honour of Blessed Mary near the font of Elijah. It asserted that from the time of the patriarch Aiméric (d. 1196) they were known as the hermit Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel.[73]

The fourth chapter of the Speculum of Jean de Cheminot (ca. 1337) affirmed that like them the successors of Elijah and Elisha embraced chastity dedicated to the Lord. Two Old Testament texts, which would become traditional in the Order, were applied to Mary: “The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon” (Isa 35:2); “Your head crowns you like Carmel” (Cant 7:5). A legendary note was found in the statement that Mary along with other virgins used to visit the place of the hermits because of their sanctity and the beauty of the place: “It was appropriate that the mother of virtues should honour the place and the sons of such holiness and devotion by her presence”.[74]

Jean de Cheminot also recalled the oratory in honour of the Virgin Mary built after the Ascension and that to distinguish the Carmelites from others, they were called “the Brothers of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary” – a title later recognised solemnly by the Holy See.[75]

3.2.2 John Baconthorpe

Belonging to the same period was the English Carmelite John Baconthorpe (d. ca. 1348). Extremely learned in philosophy, theology and canon law, he had the medieval sobriquet of “Doctor Resolutus”. His writing is at heart polemical, since he is seeking to defend the Order from detractors; it is also spiritual, a reflection on the deepest roots of the Order. He wrote four works that are of interest from an Elijan-Marian viewpoint:[76] Speculum de institutione ordinis pro veneratione Beatae Mariae, the first treatise which deeply unifies the Elijan and Marian traditions of the Order; A Tract on the Rule of the Carmelite Order, which sets out to show that the Rule corresponds in many ways to the life of Mary; Compendium historiarum et iurium, a historical and juridical defense of the Order; Laus religionis carmelitanae, a defence and exaltation of the Order especially in its relation to Mary.

In Baconthorpe we see both previous ideas developed and new ones emerging for the first time to our knowledge. Mary is distantly seen by the prophets as venerated on Carmel.[77] It is especially because of her the place of Carmel is honoured;[78] the physical beauty of Carmel is a reason why it should have been given to Mary the most beautiful one.[79]

Following an apocryphal legend, he recounts how Mary was brought by an angel to Mount Carmel; it was on the mountain that she, rapt in contemplation, became God's spouse through a vow of virginity.[80] In several places he records the chapel built on Mount Carmel by the contemplative successors of the prophet in honour of the Virgin Mary and the choice of a Marian title.[81] Indeed the whole of Book I of Baconthorpe's Laus religionis carmelitanae is an extended attempt to bring together Carmel and Mary; through sometimes laboured and false etymologies, biblical allusions, legends, and at times profound spiritual insight, he insists that the Order being Carmelite belongs rightly to Mary.[82]

Baconthorpe seems to have been the first to view the small cloud seen by Elijah (1 Kings 18:44) as a symbol of Mary: after the drought it restored the fruitfulness of the earth.[83] “The love of God descended on Mary....and through Mary the rains of mercy and grace descended on what was dried up, and thus restored all things.”[84] Future Carmelite authors, following Ribot, would make this a major Old Testament symbol of Mary and draw out from it many implications.

Carmelites are rightly called after her, a point acknowledged by the Holy See.[85] Apart from the notion of examplarity developed in our next chapter, Baconthorpe's major contribution was the union of the Marian and Elijan elements of the Order's tradition and his specification of the implications in terms of patronage of the Order's choice of Mary as its titular along with the oratory established in her honour. These too will be examined more in the next chapter.

3.3 A First Elijan - Marian Synthesis: Philip Ribot

It is now generally agreed that if the Catalonian Provincial, Philip Ribot (d. 1391), was not the actual author of four major pseudepigraphal works, they were at least from his time.[86] By far the most important of these was the Institute of the First Monks, ascribed to John XLIV, Patriarch of Jerusalem (ca. 412?). It has been suggested that the first chapter on the ascetical and mystical ideal of the Order may be an earlier document, perhaps from the late thirteenth century,[87] but one should await the publication of the critical edition by Paul Chandler before taking such an hypothesis seriously. However, since it is entirely Elijan and does not mention Mary, it need not concern us here. On the Marian teaching of the other books, Ribot depends on previous writers, but can be said to have furthered their ideas developing a new synthesis.

The main Marian treatment is to be found in Book Six. Throughout this book Ribot is concerned with the Order's title, “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”; he also allows that “Carmelites” is a legitimate title.[88] A fundamental idea which he developed was a spiritual, somewhat arbitrary interpretation of the little cloud seen by Elijah (see 1 Kings 18:44). The key to its Marian symbolism is that the cloud of pure rain, that is Mary, arose from the bitter, salty sea, which is the image of sinful humanity. The prophet received by divine illumination four mysteries about the future redemption of the human race which he communicated to his followers:
* the birth of the future redeemer from a virgin-mother who from her origin would be free from any stain of sin;
* the time when this would be accomplished;
* the deliberate decision of the future mother to keep herself always virgin, consecrated to the service of the Lord;
* the fecundity of her virginity, foreshadowed by the rain, which would relieve the condition of humankind.[89]

In imitation of Elijah who was the first Old Testament virgin, Mary would vow virginity and be the first woman to do so.[90] The successors of Elijah also took such a vow. This established a similitude and a deep empathy between them and Mary so that they called her their sister and themselves Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[91] The notion of sister does not, however, eliminate the word “mother”, which is delicately insinuated: Before he (the Word) was incarnated there was only a fraternity of paternity, because from the same Father of whom the Son was eternally generated, was also created the human race...before he was incarnated there was not a fraternity of maternity, since the Son was not yet born of his mother.[[92]

The implication is that after the Incarnation, there was a new basis of fraternity in the motherhood of Mary.

The by now traditional title of “Patron” is allied also with virginity. The Carmelites took care to serve the Virgin with special devotion: They were eager specially to choose this virgin as a patron for themselves, because they knew that she alone was singularly like them in the first-fruits of spontaneous virginity. For just as spontaneous virginity for God was first begun by the ancient followers of this religion and introduced to men, so the same virginity was afterwards first introduced and begun among women by the Mother of God.[93]

Thus we see in Ribot a synthesis through virginity of the traditional notions of Mary and the Order – Mother, Patron and Sister. And all of these ultimately stem from the author's contemplation of the spiritual meaning of the little cloud. However, it is not so much that Ribot is adding something new to the Order's Marian consciousness; he reads into the little cloud what was the Order's attitude to Mary, but gave more clearly than previous writers its basis as virginity. Indeed, he uses a false etymology for the word “Carmel” to indicate “knowledge of circumcision” which he then interprets as virginity for God, sought first by Elijah and his followers, and then by Mary.[94]

3.4 Elijan-Marian Synthesis: Arnold Bostius

At the end of the fifteenth century we have a mature synthesis of the Order's traditions by the humanist Arnold Bostius (d. 1499).[95] His first work on Mary was the Breviloquium,[96] which was expanded in an unpublished large tract Speculum historiale.[97] His best known work was De Patronatu et patrocinio B. Virg. Mariae in dicatum sibi Carmeli Ordinem from 1479.[98] In this text written in response to a question as to whether Mary had specially favoured the Order, Bostius draws on most of the preceding tradition, on accommodated meanings of scripture, and scriptural symbols and persons understood in a Marian sense.

Bostius is interesting in the history of mariology for being a representative of positions commonly held towards the end of the fifteenth century. Thus we have clear teaching on Mary as Mother of God, as Mediatrix, as immaculately conceived, as all holy, as virgin, as assumed into heaven, as Queen, as Spiritual Mother, as Mother of Mercy. These are all truths that the Carmelite Order shares with the whole Church.[99] Though E.R. Carroll is not prepared to assert that Bostius was concerned with a unifying principle of mariology, he does concede that, though the divine motherhood is not a theme of major concern in De patronatu, it has some centrality in his thought.[100] N. Geagea concurs.[101] Our interest in Bostius must be more restricted: it is to see in what way he presents Carmelite mariology in his time, that is, the interrelationship of Mary and the Order.

There is, however, one general Mariological theme in Bostius that should be mentioned because of its prominence in the late twentieth century, viz. the beauty of Mary.[102] It is already found in Baconthorpe.[103] Sometimes in Bostius the theme is explicit: “Virgin of incomparable beauty, in whom every gift of nature and grace come together, above all others a person who is gracious, lovely, rose-coloured, serene, most beautiful”.[104] Or again, “Unless one knew the true deity by faith, one would not believe that there was anyone higher than the Virgin”.[105] On other occasions it emerges in different contexts, such as her plenitude of grace: “Mary the most exalted one is a mirror of the Trinity”.[106] She is the most beautiful of all: “by far the most brilliant of all creatures...and the glory of Carmel”;[107] “the honour of all females and the glory of all women”.[108] Bostius, a Latin humanist with an extensive vocabulary and polished rhetoric heaps up expressions in praise of her beauty throughout De patronatu. In a later chapter we shall consider the idea of beauty in contemporary mariology.

In treating of the specifically Carmelite associations with Mary one should deal firstly with the duo of Elijah and Mary. In compact paragraphs Bostius shows that Elijah and Mary shared twelve prerogatives through the Spirit which nourished them both: brilliant light, the splendour of virginity, institutors of religious life, exemplarity at various levels, conversation with God, association with angelic spirits, supreme love and zeal for God, prophetic charism, obedience, clemency and mercy, miracles, translation to heaven.[109]

But Bostius subtly changes the orientation of the Elijan-Marian tradition. Like some of his predecessors he held that Elijah stood at the origin of religious life. His emphasis is on Elijah the contemplative. But in the case of Carmel, Elijah is father, institutor, patriarch, legislator, teacher, principal patron, founder.[110] However, Bostius assigns to Mary the priority and primacy with regard to Carmel. Elijah's choice of virginity was inspired precisely by the future Virgin Mother whom he had glimpsed in the little cloud which came towards Carmel, whom he wished to honour, and whom he taught his followers to honour also.[111]

Bostius therefore concludes that Mary through her exemplarity is a “legislator” with respect to Elijah and the prophet's institute. Hence Mary is the legislator of Elijah, and is rightly said to be legislator and founder of the whole group of Carmel.[112]

Through her exemplar causality she is mistress (domina) and institutor.[113] In Bostius, who in this was followed by Lezana (d. 1659), and others,[114] we find Elijah and Mary as a founding couple of the Order.[115]

3.5 Marian Synthesis - Bostius

In his Elijan-Marian synthesis Bostius pondered the relationship between the two foundational figures of the Order and arrived at a priority of Mary with regard to Carmelites; it was her example and future destiny that inspired the prophet to found the Order, so that she could be called its true founder. It remains to be seen what are the other bonds which Bostius saw between Mary and the Order. He uses some significant titles, some of which are traditional, others of which he develops: Patron, Teacher, Guide, Friend, Sister, Mother, a Carmelite.[116]

Bostius continually calls Mary Patron of Carmel: “She specially is, and is truly called Patron of Carmel and of Carmelites”; “the renowned Mother of God Mary the most admirable Patron of Carmel”.[117] Mary is also Mistress and Teacher of Carmel: the Carmelites of that holy time were recognised as drawing from a living fountain, from the most perfect teacher of religious life, from the shining mirror of all modesty, virtue and nobility.[118]

He summarizes her teaching: By one word, like a thorough teacher she embraced all the commands of the Lord when she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (see Jn 2:5).[119]

Her teaching is not abstract, for she is the Guide of Carmel. She is joined with Elijah in having a care for the Order; she is Carmel's Protector.[120] Elijah is seen as having neither died nor entered heaven; Mary takes his place. Bostius recounts a vision in which she says: As long as the world lasts, it shall always have a protector. I am the chariot and the charioteer of Carmel, in place of its father. I rule those orphaned of a father; I am mother instead. I store the affairs of Carmel in my heart; I, the mother, copiously nourish those born of Carmel.[121]

Bostius also states frequently that Mary is also the Friend of Carmel, thus, Blessed are the sons of Carmel who saw the most blessed Mother of God in the flesh, the ideal fountain of all joy; but also specially adorned are all those who merit that friendship of hers which is joined to Christ's.[122]

Bostius goes far beyond the feudal relationships inherent in the notion of patron by emphasizing the notion of Carmel as a family: “the sons of Carmel are especially inmates of Mary's family”.[123] In that family Mary is both Mother and Sister, so that she has Carmelites as both sons and brothers. Indeed Mary, the most worthy Queen of heaven takes singular delight in the people, in the Carmelite gathering, in her own servants by title and patronage. How could she not always hear her sons and brother Carmelites who are singularly committed to her defense and are her champions, who are chosen and specially loved to propagate her flowering vine?[124]

The title of Mother needs no illustration from Bostius; it is everywhere; in the opinion of some, it is for Bostius the key attribute of Mary with regard to Carmel.[125] He states for instance: The Queen of heaven, the most exalted Virgin Mary is the universal Mother of all Christians, a common haven and refuge for all men and women, but she is specially Mother and Patron of the Carmelite Brothers.[126]

But Bostius develops more clearly than others the idea of Carmelites being sons of both Elijah and Mary, who are joined in a mystical marriage. We have already seen the basis of this idea: it was the vow of virginity that Elijah made when the future Virgin was intimated to him in the little cloud. Carmelites are therefore sons and brothers of their father Elijah and of their mother Mary, their most worthy co-parents.[127]

This tradition was summarized two centuries later by Daniel of the Virgin Mary in his dedication of the early Carmelite writings, the Speculum. Elijah was Marian; Elijah burned with love of Mary; Elijah made a vow according to the example of Mary which he foresaw. Elijah is the father of Carmelites, but firstly Mary is their Mother.[128]

Finally, for Bostius Mary can truly be said to be a Carmelite: “She showed herself to be spiritually, bodily and literally a Carmelite”.[129]

In Bostius we have a synthesis and an elaboration of the previous reflection on Mary. Later writers will not add very much to his central positions. Before leaving this medieval period of maximum development there are two further themes which though present in earlier writers will be unfolded in later writers, viz. the theme of the Most Pure Virgin and the Scapular.

3.6 Most Pure Virgin

The purity of Mary emerges in various contexts in the earlier documents. It is implicit at least in the strong attachment of most of the Order's theologians to the Immaculate Conception. It also lies behind the gradual insertion of “Virgin” into the Order's title. It is already emerging in Jean de Cheminot (d. ca. 1350). We have seen above that in his Speculum he ascribes virginity as a common bond between Elijah and Mary. He exhorts the Carmelites to rejoice that they have the name of Mary in their title, “the flower of beauty and the title of virginity”.[130]

In the Institutes of the First Monks we have seen the alignment of the virginity of Elijah and that of Mary. But this virginity is only one aspect of Mary's complete sinlessness and utter holiness, even though she had emerged from sinful humanity: As an infant she was in origin clean from all stain of sin, just as that little cloud arose from the bitter sea, without however any bitterness. Even though that little cloud was originally of the same nature as the sea, it had other qualities and other properties. The sea is heavy and bitter, but that cloud was light and sweet. Thus although in all other people human nature is like the sea in its origin, because pressed down by the bitterness of sin and the weight of vice, they are forced to cry out “For my iniquities have gone over my head; they weigh like a burden too heavy for me” (Ps 38:4). The Blessed Virgin Mary arose otherwise from this sea, that is human nature; for in her origin she was not burdened with the bitterness of faults, but like the little cloud she was light through immunity from sin, and sweet by the plenitude of charisms.[131]

The teaching is clear in Bostius: “she shone a great purity, such that after God no greater could be imagined”.[132] Or again, Furthermore, Carmelites, the sons of Elijah and Mary are warned and taught fervently to imitate Elijah totally brilliant within and without and Mary, whom under God nothing so pure, nothing so brilliant, can be understood.[133]

But it will be the following century before a fully developed ideal of purity and purity of heart will develop.[134]

3.7 Scapular

As we mentioned in the Introduction, the question of the Scapular poses particular difficulties for our time, even though for may of the faithful devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is synonymous with the Scapular. The evidence in the whole problematic area needs to be handled with care.

There is no reference to the Scapular in the Rule or in The Fiery Arrow of Nicholas the Frenchman. The first reference to it is in the London Constitutions of 1281. There we find the instruction: “The Brothers are to sleep in their tunic and Scapular under pain of severe penalty”.[135] The reason for this stern injunction is that at the time removal of the habit was seen as fleeing from the Order. Thus the Institutions of the First Monks states: This garment, the cowl/capuche and the scapular are worn together by the monk, and show that the monk must always humbly bear on himself the yoke of obedience, and be completely obedient to his superior.[136] And commands that “they be most diligently worn day and night without fail”.[137] The Montpelier Constitutions ordained that the new white cloak was to be open in front so that the Scapular, the habit of the Order could be seen, a regulation repeated in later legislation.[138] Thus for about 150 years the Scapular had a Christological sense of obedience rather than a Marian one.

In addition there is a problem about Saint Simon Stock: his name first appears in a list of priors general only with Jean Grossi (ca. 1411) and in a Florentine necrology which may be as early as 1374.[139] In later lists of saints, or Santorale, he is given as fifth or sixth prior general. These lists of saints may be late fourteenth century, but like the necrologies have much earlier sources. Saint Simon Stock's feast was celebrated from 1435 in Bordeaux where he died and in England; it was extended to the whole Order in 1564.

The earliest account of a Scapular vision is from the Brussels Sanctorale which can be dated about the end of the fourteenth century, and thus a century and a half after Simon Stock; the Sanctorale may indeed depend on earlier documents, but they have not been found. This, the most primitive and earliest account of the vision, reads: Saint Simon, was an Englishman, a man of great holiness and devotion, who always in his prayers asked the Virgin to favour his Order with some singular privilege. The Virgin appeared to him holding the Scapular in her hand saying, “This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved”.[140]

It is not possible by critical methods to establish the historicity of the vision; the absence of any reference in the extensive, and polemical, writing during the previous century is perhaps the only argument against authenticity, but it is a weighty one. On the other hand there is no evidence that disproves the vision, though such an argument from silence must be treated with some caution.

From a scholarly point of view it should fall on those who wish to assert the genuinity of the vision to furnish proofs. From a pastoral perspective it is perhaps best not to dwell on the details of the vision, but on the meaning of the Scapular as an expression of Mary's care and of consecration to her in line with Pius XII whose teaching we shall examine in a later chapter. The Marian title which best underpins the Scapular is Patron which we will consider along with others in the next chapter.

3.8 Lectio Divina

The writings of our medieval authors are of an age and a culture different from ours. We find expressions about Mary that would not be used today, e.g. “divine” (but which we can readily use in a secular context “The music of Mozart is divine”). But it is worth the effort to try to feel with our medieval forebears. This is best done through lectio divina of their texts. In this we ask ourselves
1. What does the text mean?
2. What does the text mean to me, and to the world in which I live and which I serve,
3. How do I prayerfully respond to the truth which is being presented in the text.

The following extract, taken at random from A. Bostius (1479) is a rich expression of our heritage. It is worthwhile to take the time to pray with it and thus to encounter our tradition in a living way. The text is from a long chapter which indicates how the Carmelites should honour Mary.

It remains to be seen how the Brothers are to show love, full honour and fraternal reverence to such a Sister, a most excellent Mother and Patron who is of such sublime power, gentle piety, bounteous liberality and wholesome fruitfulness. For from all peoples she chose the Carmelites to be a race that would be special to herself, and particularly took them under the shadow of her wings; as the Loved One adopted by the Brothers, she indeed prays at every moment for them, her people, whom she as it were holds to her breasts and instructs with divine milk.

I omit the special cult and devotions which day and night they do not cease to offer to the most divine, all powerful Mother which they so dearly love, most reverently venerate, most devoutly praise, magnify to the highest degree, and admiringly extol. In their hearts and mouths, they rightly proclaim a more special place for her. At least those things must be kept fixed in mind which bind the Carmelite family to the benefits of the divine Mary; they must with others display her most efficacious patronage in the midst of her people. They are to recognise as of right that they must eternally give thanks, for they do not have of themselves the ability to refer benefits to those who bestow them. And since, on the evidence of Pope Gregory, each one carries some title of his or her work, so that it can be easily seen under whose direction it is done, in addition all Churches of a Carmelite community are built in honour of the most glorious Mary and are called by her reverent name. Hence joyfully the whole of Carmel proclaims: I have chosen the abode of the Mother of Christ for a house, there may the holy Virgin come to the aid of her servants.[141]


4 Core Marian Themes

In the previous chapter we have seen largely in historical perspective the classical development of the Carmelite Marian heritage. This chapter will seek to analyse its main features, and suggest something of their contemporary relevance. We can begin with the fine summary by C. Catena to be found in his book on the Carmelites nuns and religious women; it applies to both branches of the Order, female and male.  

From the historical point of view it appears that the first task imposed by the friars on their nuns was the cult of the Madonna... The cult of the Madonna was the finest thing that the Order could offer the nuns.... The white cloak was a sign of the Blessed Virgin Mary... Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi simply said “for us Carmelite nuns, our sun is Mary”... the Annunciation, so closely connected with the Incarnation, was their special feast, and the Ave Maria their special prayer...

From the 15th century, whilst not forgetting the Immaculate Conception, the friars began to favour the term “the Most Pure Virgin”...The Carmelite nuns found in this idea a ground most suitable for developing a spirituality at once strongly Marian and with genuine feminine attitudes. Purity, which began with virginity, passes by ways of humility, of abnegation, of nothingness in order to arrive at the total adhesion to the divine will; this became the climate of the contemplative soul, and hence of the Carmelite soul.[142]

We will treat Carmelite themes as they arose historically and give some initial contemporary reflections, leaving to a later chapter a more extensive treatment of the interrelation of our Marian tradition with present day theology and spirituality. It is important that we continually keep in mind a point that has been made several times earlier: we are not looking for what might be unique to Carmelites, but what was genuinely their Marian experience.

4.1 Patron

The earliest Carmelite Marian theme was probably that of Patron. That is not to say that the idea of Mother, part of Christian heritage common to the whole Church, was ignored. But in a feudal age Carmelite reflection on the oratory consecrated to Mary rapidly moved to the idea of Mary as Patron of Carmel, e.g. in Baconthorpe (d. ca.1348).[143] The dominion of the place is given to her.[144] The hermits chose her title.[145] More explicit is the statement by Baconthorpe in his Laus religionis carmelitanae: Just as the prophets on Carmel gave a mystical service to the Virgin, so the brothers afterwards did not undo the mystical response of their predecessors, but fulfilled it for on the same Carmel they bowed their necks in slavery to the Virgin. Hence they are truly called “Brothers of Mary of Mount Carmel”.[146]

There are reciprocal bonds, as Baconthorpe notes in the same work: It is therefore most opportune among Carmelites that they invoke Mary their special advocate after each of the canonical hours on bended knees and reciting the antiphon “Salve regina”. Rightly this Order is more greatly venerated for such a great advocate, so that each one can say to it: “thou shalt have praise of the same”.[147]

In the medieval feudal culture Mary is thus seen as the Lady of the place, its patron so that it is all in her dominion; the Carmelite is thus a vassal in unconditional service.[148]

A. Bostius stated that everything geographically or juridically pertaining to Carmel belongs to Mary: its houses, its churches dedicated to her, its habit.[149] It is the thesis of his main work that nothing of Carmel, no one in Carmel escapes the dominion of Mary: all belongs to her as fief, as hereditament, as her property.[150]

In an aside it is perhaps worth noting that close as it may seem to these feudal ideas, the Carmelite tradition never took up the theme of “the slavery of Mary”. In the form proposed by Cardinal de Bérulle it was proposed to the French discalced nuns, but was felt to be alien.[151] Though undoubtedly, individual Carmelites may have felt drawn to the Marian slavery of Saint Grignon de Montfort, it has never been a strong current, or advocated, in the Order. There are, as can be seen below, some parallels in the Marian mysticism of Mary Petyt and Michael of Saint Augustine.

The notion of patronage is so deep and so traditional that it would seem to belong to the essence of the Marian charism of the Order. A key to its understanding is that unlike some other ways of considering Mary, patronage implies a two-way relationship. Mary protects her Brothers; they serve her. The dimension of such a double relationship to Mary is characteristic of the Carmelites’ way of life. In the next chapter we shall examine its implications more closely. The feudal expression of the relationship of patronage in the Middle Ages is not any longer appropriate. It is perhaps best presented nowadays in the form of consecration which we shall consider later.

4.2 Model

The notion of Mary as model for the Order is first spelled out in detail in John Baconthorpe (d. ca. 1348). His tract on the Rule of the Order of Carmelites sets out similarities between the life of Mary and the Carmelite Rule.[152] In the first printed editions this work was called The Analogical Mystical Exposition of the Rule: it is analogical because it seeks correlations between the Carmelite's life and Mary's; it is mystical in the common sense of being transcendent, spiritual, elevated.

The commentary has deductions of unequal value. Some are founded solidly on scripture, and stress above all Mary's faith and obedience; her chastity, poverty, prayer, humility, silence and discretion are also noted. Her Magnificat proclamation is seen as divine preaching. Other deductions are founded on legendary elements or based on the early apocrypha: her communitarian life of prayer in the Temple, and her daily routine of prayer and work until the angel fed her in the evening; her relationships with the layman Joseph and the cleric John the Evangelist. But its conclusion is quite firm: by following the Rule one is embracing a way of life that justifies the title “Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.[153]

In his Laus religionis carmelitanae Baconthorpe stated that the legislator, Saint Albert, wrote much in the Rule based on the Virgin's conduct.[154] Elsewhere Baconthorpe records that Mary made three vows on Mount Carmel, and Carmelites making their profession choose the title of the Blessed Virgin.[155] But both in the commentary and elsewhere, Baconthorpe stresses Mary's contemplation as an ideal imitated by Carmelites.[156] He develops the notion of the fountain of Elijah on Mount Carmel in both Carmelite and Marian terms: the spring overflows to provide for the flowers on the lower slopes; the Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel bring waters to others by preaching the praise of God and the divine mercy of the Virgin.[157]

In the earlier tradition it is especially Mary's virginity that is the model for Carmelites. In the later tradition it is associated above all with the notion of the Virgo purissima (the Most Pure Virgin), and has found new modern expressions, for instance in expositions of social concern and justice, as we shall see in another chapter.

4.3 Mother

From the Council of Ephesus (431) in both East and West the title Theotokos (literally “God-Bearer”, and hence usually “Mother of God”) has been the central title for Mary. It also became the touch-stone for Christological orthodoxy; the falsity of all Christological heresies becomes apparent when placed alongside the Theotokos. By the Middle Ages the Latin form “Genitrix” was firmly established in liturgical, theological and devotional literature. As such it was taken over into Carmelite writings.

The second element, namely of seeing Mary as our Mother, is not so early, though it does have biblical and patristic roots.[158] It is implicit in the New Eve theology developed at the time of Saint Justin (d. 165) and above all by Irenaeus (d. 200): “Mary is like Eve, the New Eve who generates human beings in God”.[159] After that, the idea of Mary being our Mother becomes more common in patristic writings. It was surprisingly later (perhaps ninth century) before the scene of Calvary was seen as the commitment of humanity to the maternal care of Mary (see Jn 19:25–28a). But by the Middle Ages there is no doubt. Saint Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109) can simply assert: “The Mother of God is our Mother”.[160]

The Carmelite tradition takes over this common teaching, but insists that Mary is mother to Carmelites in some special way, a way that goes beyond her motherhood of all Christians (all humans). The question arises as to where we identify this extra dimension of Mary's motherhood.

There are several elements. The Carmelites were very accustomed to calling themselves sons and daughters of the Virgin. Daily texts were chosen for the liturgy which emphasized her Motherhood. In legends and in the mystical history which they created, the Order felt itself as specially favoured by Mary; she came to be regarded somehow through Elijah as a true founder of the Order. She was seen as a special intercessor and Mediatrix. There was a very significant balancing of possible juridical implications of Patron with the softer tones of Mother.

We thus see that in the term “Mother” there is both an ascending movement from the Order to Mary. This is discerned in the dedication of the oratory on Carmel to her, in the choice of Mary as titular and patron – indeed in the Order's finality, and its service of, and devotion to, the Virgin Mary.[161] There is also a descending movement of Mary's experienced care and love. This central affirmation of Mary as Mother of the Order would in time be the basis for a rich spirituality of the presence of Mary to the Order, one most developed in various ways by many of our writers.

A significant variant of this theme of Mother is found in the Second Order, both Calced and Discalced. It is that of Mary being the true prioress of the community.[162] The Florentine convent elected Mary as Prioress in 1578.[163] Saint Teresa of Avila did likewise,[164] and saw Mary occupying the position of prioress in a vision.[165]

4.4 Mediation

Mary's mediation was an assured conviction of both theology and devotion in the Middle Ages and later. It is found in our classical authors. Her mediation is clearly taught by Baconthorpe in a passage which illustrates also Mary's special patronage: Since therefore she is already Mediatrix between God and humankind, and the most gracious advocate of all, by constant grateful faith she is seen to have a special care for those most specially committed to her, and to keep them as more constant household members. Just as star differs from star, so too there are different grades in every family, so that those with a special title are made to be closer to the Lord. Carmelites indeed have by special title obtained Mary as advocate without any holy intermediary after the Lord, as the bond of their profession shows. Hence by right and by way of gratitude she will adhere to them before any others. And since they are more dear to Mary, and hence closer to her Son, to these brothers she can say, “My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, stand fast in the Lord” (Phil 4:1).[166]

Again we have in Baconthorpe two elements of mediation, descending and ascending. There is a descending mediation mainly through her exemplarity, chiefly seen in his commentary on the Rule and is also indicated by the miracle he recounts in favour of the Order.[167] There is an ascending movement in her continual intercession for the Order.

But whilst in Roman Catholic circles it is easy enough to agree on Mary being Mediatrix,[168] difficulties arise immediately when we try to specify wherein her mediation precisely lies. In a popular theology which saw grace more or less as a “sacred thing”, we could easily imagine Mary passing on graces like spiritual jewels through her hands. But in the contemporary understanding of grace as a process of divinization, an entry into special relationships with each of the Persons of the Trinity, it is less easy to speak theologically, as opposed to symbolically, about Mary's mediation.[169]

One is on sure ground in asserting that Mary co-operated in mind and heart with the redemption accomplished by her Son, that she intercedes continually for the Church, that she is an exemplar for all the graces that God wishes to bestow on the Church which itself is at base profoundly Marian.[170] Others may indeed wish to assert more.[171] Though Vatican II might be seen to have relativised Mediatrix somewhat by including it in a list of other titles (“Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix”), it can also be seen as helping in an understanding of mediation through these titles and by a very cautious explanation of its relation to the unique mediation of Jesus (1 Tim 2:5–6).[172]

A careful reading of the encyclical of John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (“On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church” – 1987) will show that the pope speaks constantly of “maternal mediation”, though his precise doctrinal affirmations or theological statements on this mediation are quite limited in range. The pope's expression, “maternal mediation” is one that coheres well with our Carmelite tradition about Mary being Mother and Mediatrix. But given the theological and ecumenical problems surrounding the word “mediation”, it is sometimes pastorally preferable to communicate the truth enshrined in the word, whilst avoiding its actual use.

4.5 Sister

The notion of Mary as Sister could be said to be implicit in the titles of Brothers/Sisters of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel, which we have already noted. But apart from occasional references like John Hildesheim (d. 1375),[173] it was only in the later fifteenth century that the bold step was commonly taken and Mary was explicitly and directly called Sister of Carmelites. In Bostius Mother and Sister are frequently joined: “Mary is Mother and Sister of Carmelites”;[174] “do not become unlike the Mother and wonderful sister”.[175] For him the fact that Mary is sister was a source of both self-esteem and confidence: The humble Carmelite brother will rightly glory with great rejoicing and most joyfully will say: Behold the Queen of heaven is my sister, and so I act with confidence and my heart will not fear though an army encamp against me, though war rise up against me, for in this I hope: my strength, my liberator, my support, my refuge, and my praise, Lady Mary my sister, my hope in the fruitfulness of my sister and mother, has become salvation for me. Rightly he will give thanks for having such a worthy and holy sister, mother and patron.[176]

Since their primary consciousness was that of belonging to the order of the Brothers of our Lady of Mount Carmel, the notion of sister did not take root early in the Carmelite nuns, who found deeper resonance in the notion of Mary as Mother who led them to mystical union.[177]

The theme of Sister, which is quite significant for contemporary mariology, was not a central one in the fifteenth century, but its importance should not be minimized. V. Hoppenbrouwers seems to suggest that the use of “Sister” began more or less as a play on words with “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin” and did not reflect a genuine devotional use of such a Marian title.[178] Whatever of origins in the Order, it is surely more significant than appeared in the late 1950s to this great twentieth century student of our Carmelite Marian tradition.[179]

Its sources are in fact patristic, lying in the fact that Mary like us is a child of Adam. Thus Epipahanius (d. 403): “Mary is our sister by the fact that we all have our origin in Adam”.[180] In this he is echoing and is echoed by many patristic writers. In modern times Paul VI developed the theme as in the concluding discourse at the third session of the Vatican Council (21 November 1964): Even though in the richness of the wonderful prerogatives with which God has enriched her, by making her the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she is nonetheless close to us. She is Daughter of Adam like us and therefore our sister by the bond of nature. She is however the creature preserved from original sin in view of the merits of the Saviour. As well as the privileges she obtained, she added the personal virtue of a total and exemplary faith. [181]

The notions most emphasized by the pope are Mary's faith and example.[182]

There is always the danger that the privileges of Mary may make her appear distant from the mass of sinners. The papal teaching emphasizes what we have in common with Mary: our humanity from Adam and our faith. The notion of sister has that element of Mary's closeness to us, a loving companion and presence which are so characteristic of Carmelite mariology. It is especially important to note that some contemporary feminists can relate to Mary more easily as Sister than as Mother; this is surely an added reason for developing this part of our Marian heritage.

4.6 Most Pure Virgin

The Carmelite vision of Mary as the Most Pure Virgin (Virgo Purissima) has many roots in the past. It is occasionally found in patristic writers, e.g. Sophronius of Jerusalem.[183] It is still today found in the liturgical or official title of Mary in the Churches of the East: Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos (Mother of God) and ever-virgin Mary with all the saints...

It is implicit in all the Carmelite writing on the Immaculate Conception.[184] The well-known and often quoted sermon by Richard FitzRalph, Archbishop of Armagh the primatial Irish see, preached on 8 December 1342 before the Roman Curia at our Avignon convent, affirmed that the Carmelites wore the white cloak in honour of the Immaculate Conception.[185] It is clear that initially the purity of Mary was seen primarily in terms of her virginity. As we have seen in many texts already, the Carmelite imitation of Mary's purity was thus principally through the vow of chastity.[186] But it was not to remain restricted in this way and became more the total adherence to God rather than corporal integrity.[187]

As the reflection of the Order on its contemplative nature became integrated with its Marian elements, the understanding of the title Most Pure Virgin deepened and widened. Already we can see the basis of such widening in the programmatic ideal of the Order proposed by the Institution of the First Monks:

In regard to this life we may distinguish two aims, the one of which we may attain to with the help of God's grace, by our own efforts and by virtuous living. This is to offer God a heart holy and pure from all actual stain of sin...The other aim of this life is something that can be bestowed upon us only by God's bounty: namely to taste in our hearts and experience in our minds, not only after death but even during this mortal life, something of the power of the divine presence, and the bliss of heavenly glory.[188]

Mary could be easily seen as the model for both aims. Purity becomes understood progressively in terms of purity of heart. Thus we see Saint John of the Cross speaking about the conditions for supreme divine union: One cannot obtain this union without remarkable purity, and this purity is unattainable without vigorous mortification and nakedness regarding all creatures.[189]

Elsewhere Saint John of the Cross speaks about spiritual purity, purity of the heart, purity of the powers of the soul, purity of spirit, etc.[190] In a passage about the purification and thus about the purity required for deep divine intimacy, Saint John of the Cross writes about Mary: Such was the prayer and work of our Lady, the most glorious Virgin. Raised from the very beginning to this high state, she never had the form of any creature impressed on her soul, nor was she moved by any, for she was always moved by the Holy Spirit.[191]

In his poetry, the image of the bride is usually humanity or more often the Church; but like much writing based on, or inspired by, the Canticle of Canticles, ecclesiological imagery acquires Marian echoes. This is perhaps most obvious in the 9th Romance on the Nativity.[192] Similar extensions of the notion of purity beyond the area of chastity are to be found in Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi (d. 1607).[193] A text for lectio divina from Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi will be found at the end of this chapter. It shows the profound appreciation of the saint both of purity itself, and of its expression in the person of the Virgin Mary.

By the nineteenth century the cult of Mary as Most Pure Virgin in the Carmelite Order had diminished, partly due to other devotions and titles that had become imported from outside the Order; the Elijan traditions that joined the Carmelites with Elijah and Mary through chastity had lost their centrality.[194]

Texts from Carmelite authors on Mary as the Most Pure Virgin could be multiplied from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. There is a double focus. Firstly, Mary is a model for the Carmelite in the ascetical purification of the heart. But more significantly the Most Pure Virgin is the contemplative who draws others into life in communion with God. A fine summary of the spirituality of the nuns by C. Catena can serve as a succinct account of the role of the Most Pure Virgin for the whole Order. The purity of Mary had the effect of disposing her for the divine maternity. In the greatest purity the Holy Virgin became worthy to receive God, and capable of rising unto him in pure contemplation. Likewise the pure soul raises itself with the mind towards God in contemplation, and makes itself apt to unite itself to him, offering him a secure repose like a fortified castle.[195]

4.7 Conclusion

This chapter has sought to show the core values of the Carmelite Marian charism – Mary as Patron, Mother, Sister. Mary was also shown to have been a Model for Carmelites. Moreover, we have seen throughout some Carmelite sense of the continual presence of Mary. The chapter developed the idea of Mary as the Most Pure Virgin.

But the important question can be asked about the significance we should give to these core themes. Are we dealing with the devotional life of the Order, or with a spirituality? We need also to look at continued validity of the Scapular for our times. Themes for further chapters will then be Mary in our liturgy and in late twentieth century documents of the Order.

4.8 Lectio Divina

As promised earlier in this chapter, for a lectio divina we take two related passages from Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi on purity. These show us the developed sense of purity of heart which extends beyond initial expressions connected rather exclusively with chastity. From it we may come into a perception of a key feature of our Carmelite picture of Mary, and find in it a fruitful lesson for our times.

You wished to appear first to Mary because she conceived you, because she was a virgin, because she kept the faith, because she waited for you with anxious desire, and because she was the most humble...Then because she was a virgin! One must not only be a virgin in body, but also be a virgin in not possessing anything, anything, that hinders her (the soul); but she must be all pure. And this will be the first to be consoled and visited and have the first fruits of the Word. Mary was the first one consoled on account of her humility.

Purity exists within the soul, and is something so high and grand that creatures cannot acquire it by practice through their own efforts, if God does not by his liberality, infuse it into the soul. O purity! O purity, you who are so beautiful!

The Father immerses himself in you, the Son is nourished by you, the Holy Spirit exults in you, Mary takes pleasure in you, the angels delight in you, the saints find in you their beatitude.[196]


5 Marian Spirituality?

At this point we pause in the historical survey of our heritage to ask if one can speak of our Marian heritage as spirituality. We have already studied key ideas, which we called core themes of our tradition. We now ask what is the nature of these, and how they are integrated into our life. We begin with some general considerations about spirituality before examining some significant manifestations of Carmelite Marian life, Marian mysticism and the Mariform life as exposed by the Venerable Michael of Saint Augustine, as well as some reflections on the ongoing significance of the Scapular. We shall then be in a position to draw some important conclusions about Mary in the life of Carmel and of Carmelites.

5.1 Spirituality

Spirituality is a word that has become quite chameleon: it takes on a different hue when used about various schools or movements identified by a period, place, or institution (e.g. desert, medieval, Dominican, French spiritualities); it is applied to the appropriate response of various states of life (e.g. single, married, clerical, religious spiritualities); it can mean a focus on some aspect of revelation or of the Church's life, or it can draw attention to the life of some of its members (e.g. Eucharistic, liturgical, liberation, feminist spiritualities).

Some clarifications are necessary when people speak of spirituality; otherwise they will inevitably tend to talk at cross-purposes. Here we take spirituality as meaning the subjective response of the Church as bride to its bridegroom, Christ. One could substitute for this traditional language the idea that spirituality is the practical living out of the mysteries taught by the Church, that is a theology that has become incarnated, and that finds expression in the journey to God of individuals or groups. As such authentic spirituality will always be Trinitarian. People who accept what is offered in Word and sacrament and allow its implications in faith, hope and a love for God and others to emerge in themselves will be drawn into new and deeper relations with the Father, Son and Spirit and with humankind. The centre of this response is of course Christ, the one way to Trinitarian life (see Jn 14:6; I Tim 2:5). But we cannot speak of Christ merely as a model; he is more than this, for though he is bread of life (Jn 6), he is also himself our life, in whom we are hidden (see Col 3:3–4). The word “Christian” is not sufficient to specify or clarify spirituality, except to indicate that we are not talking about some other world-religion.

5.1.1 Marian spirituality

The critical question to be asked is whether we are dealing with Marian devotion and insights or with Marian spirituality. A phrase like “Marian spirituality” is enough to make some people uneasy: is there not just one spirituality, namely Christian? The issue is not only extremely important but also somewhat complex. In a significant, but often-overlooked essay written in 1960, Hans Urs von Balthasar argued that Marian spirituality underlies all others: A spirituality centred on the attitude exemplified by Mary, is...not just one spirituality among others. For this reason, although Mary is an individual believer and, as such, the prototype and model of all response in faith, she resolves all particular spiritualities into the one spirituality of the bride of Christ, the Church. What we learn from Mary, a lesson valid for all times, is that the response of the handmaid of the Lord to the Word working in her all his will – in such a special and unique manner – is not just one particular theme in theology. What is special in Mary's spirituality is the radical renunciation of any special spirituality other than the overshadowing of the Most High and the indwelling of the divine Word...The idea of making marial spirituality one among others is, therefore, a distortion...[197]

Here von Balthasar is partly anticipating a statement of Vatican II in its Constitution on the Liturgy: In celebrating (the) annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, Holy Church honours the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is inseparably linked with her Son's saving work. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be. (n. 103)

The paradigm of all response to God is thus a Marian one. Von Balthasar is asserting that any authentic spirituality will therefore be Marian, even if this is not explicated. If we look at what would commonly be called particular spiritualities we see that though each has a focus, the whole of spirituality is really an articulation of, a way of speaking and living Mary's total “yes”. Every spirituality is patterned on her expression in life of the Trinitarian and practical implications of her foundational response to God's Word.

In its recent collection of Marian votive Masses, the Church offers one on “The Blessed Virgin Mary: Mother and Spiritual Teacher”. (As we shall see it is largely derived from our proper Carmelite Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.) The preface reads in part: Father all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. Associated intimately in the mystery of your Christ, she (Mary) does not cease to generate with the Church children for you, whom she urges by love and draws by her example to pursue perfect charity. She stands as the image of that evangelical life which in prayer to her we learn with her mind to love you above all, with her spirit continually to contemplate your Word, with her heart to serve our brothers and sisters. (emphasis added)[198]

The same teaching is found in more extended form in the Apostolic Exhortation of Paul VI, Marialis cultus, in a dense article which is Christocentric, pneumatological and anthropological. In it he states that each aspect of Mary's mission is directed towards the same end, namely producing in the children the spiritual characteristics of the Firstborn Son...The virtues of the Mother will also adorn her children who steadfastly study her example in order to reflect it in their own lives and this progress in virtue will appear as the consequence and the abiding mature fruit of that pastoral zeal which springs from devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Devotion to the Mother of the Lord becomes for the faithful an opportunity for growing in divine grace, and this is the ultimate aim of all pastoral activity for it is impossible to honour her who is “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) without thereby honouring in oneself the state of grace, which is friendship with God, communion with him and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[199]

There are indications in contemporary thought which suggest that authentic spirituality must be Marian, at least implicitly so are clearly important. There are ongoing developments in its regard; the Ninth International Mariological Symposium (Rome 1992) also treated of this further question in its published multilingual Proceedings.[200]

5.1.2 A relationship with Mary

We have already seen that an early theme in Carmelite Mariology was to see Mary as Model. Such a consideration is not in any way exclusive to Carmelites and could be seen as a commonplace in spirituality. Valuable as the idea is, it could have a drawback if one relied too exclusively on it. Carmelite Marian devotion must always go beyond knowing about Mary to the more profound knowing Mary. We can have a lot of information about a person, without having a relationship with them. For a genuine Marian spirituality, we have to go beyond facts about Mary, that she is Patron, Mother, Sister, Model, to entering a relationship based on these or other titles. In our Carmelite tradition there are several expressions of such a relationship, not only in the mystics, but also through the Scapular.

We might begin by noting that in modern spirituality there is an emphasis on the spiritual journey to adulthood. In such a vision Mary can be seen not only as a Mother, but also as a companion. In human terms one's mother can, without ceasing to be mother, move to a new relationship of sister and friend; so too with Mary.[201]

What is here involved is a move from imitation to identification to communion in an ever-deeper relationship with Mary, so that we walk with her in a pilgrimage of faith, hope, obedience and love. Such a union with Mary does not terminate with her, but necessarily tends to an ever-deeper communion with Christ through the Holy Spirit. Though by theology we can appreciate the authenticity of this progression, to embrace Marian spirituality at the deepest level demands a special call from the Holy Spirit.

The relation between Christology and Mariology in Christian spirituality needs careful handling. In every orthodox author Mariology is always derivative. Christ is the heart of every spirituality. But the point of insertion into Christology will vary. Marian spiritualities present Mary as a model in the following of Christ. It is not a matter of choice between Christological or Marian: both Christological and Marian may both be applied to Carmelite spirituality and thought. A Capuchin will not assert that his spirituality is Christological rather than Franciscan; rather the way in which his spirituality is genuinely Christological is in a Franciscan mould. Carmelites too need continually to show their authentic centering on the mystery of Christ.

Several times already we have stressed that we will not find what is Carmelite by eliminating everything from consideration which is shared with other groups or orders. Even though practically all the elements are to be found also in other orders and congregations? We have here, it seems, a clear case of a wrongly posed question leading to distorted answers. There is no element in its spirituality or Mariology that is unique to the Carmelite Order. Everything that we have is shared by some, or indeed by many others. But there is nevertheless a Carmelite Marian identity. But we will not find it by trying to eliminate from view all that is shared.

The one mystery of Christ, which is a sharing in the life of the Trinity through grace in faith, hope and charity, is found in a variety of spiritualities, all of them based on the one New Testament revelation. The elements are all the same, but the order, the balance, the emphasis will be subtly different. The Marian heritage of the Order has the same elements as the tradition of many other spiritual families, but it can and should be sensed as different. One of the differences would seem to be an emphasis on relationship, which is developed, not only in our mystical writers, but also in the Scapular devotion.

5.2 Marian Mysticism

A significant element of the Order's tradition is that of Marian mysticism, a term which is not univocally used by all scholars.[202] Its main exemplar is the Flemish Carmelite tertiary Mary Petyt (Petijt – Mary of Saint Teresa, 1623–1677).[203] After some years of searching out her vocation she met the Carmelite, Michael of Saint Augustine, who became her director. He drew on some of her experiences in a little volume on the Mariform and Marian Life. The recent study by S. Possanzini makes this work more accessible to Carmelites today.[204]

Two questions arise about Marian mysticism: the first is the role of Mary that is ordinarily to be found in the contemplative – mystical life of Carmel; the second is the more difficult area of examining the reality and validity of a specifically Marian mystical experience.

5.2.1 Mary and the Carmelite mystics

In general we can answer that in the Carmelite Order contemplative life and mystical experience are very frequently seen to have Marian characteristics. Mary accompanies Carmelite contemplatives on their journey to divine union.[205] Furthermore, very many Carmelite mystics have had experiences in which Mary had a part. These are too commonplace to need much elaboration; one can take one example from Saint Teresa of Avila. It was on the feast of the Assumption 1561: I was reflecting on the many sins I had in past confessed in that house and many things about my wretched life. A rapture came upon me so great that it almost took me out of myself...It seemed to me while in this state that I saw myself vested in a white robe of shining brightness, but at first I didn't see who was clothing me in it. Afterward I saw our Lady on my right side and my father Saint Joseph at the left, for they were putting that robe on me. I was given to understand that I was now cleansed of my sins...

The beauty I saw in our Lady was extraordinary, although I didn't make out any particular details except for the form of her face in general and that her garment was of the most brilliant white, not dazzling but soft...(T)hen it seemed to me I saw them ascend to heaven with a great multitude of angels. I was left in deep loneliness, although so consoled and elevated and recollected in prayer and moved to love that I remained some time without being able to stir or speak, but almost outside myself. I was left with a great impulse to be dissolved for God and with similar affects. And everything happened in such a way that I could never doubt, no matter how much I tried, that the vision was from God.[206]

Here though Mary is central in the experience, it is a vision that is from God and leading to deeper union with God. Again, Saint Teresa of Avila in a mystical vision on 8 September 1575 renewed her vows in the hands of Our Lady. She notes: “This vision remained with me for some days, as though she were next to me at my left”.[207]

The healing of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux through the smile of our Lady on Pentecost Sunday 1883 is another example of a Marian vision, but one which is seen as a divine mercy. This was the beginning of a process of healing which five years later would allow her to enter Carmel.[208]

Such mystical experiences are extremely frequent in the history of spirituality, and need not be taken as specifically Carmelite,[209] even though also found in, and arising from, the life of Carmel.

5.2.2 The Mariform life

A second kind of experience is found in Carmelite authors though it has not yet been sufficiently studied by spiritual theologians.[210] It is, however, occasionally to be found apart from the Carmelite Order.[211] It is most elaborated by Michael of Saint Augustine and Mary Petyt, and texts in modern languages are not widely accessible; significant material remains unpublished. There are a few initial observations to be made. Mysticism is about a journey to God, divine union with the Trinity. Hence there will inevitably be a need of contextualisation of the writings of both these authors, since sentences taken apart may seem to indicate a distorted focus on Mary in place of God. Further difficulties arise from the highly symbolic mystical language used by them.

The recent study by S. Possanzini would seem to confirm what has been suspected by earlier writers namely that under the terminology Mariform the Venerable Michael is speaking generally about the ascetic life, or that part of the spiritual journey which is largely determined by human effort assisted of course by grace. What he calls the Marian life is mystical, namely what is freely bestowed as exceptional grace by God.[212]

The basis of the Mariform life is the spiritual motherhood of Mary and her mediation, both of which we have seen to be deeply within the Carmelite tradition. The Mariform life consists in “having one's eyes open on God and his most blessed Mother, so that one promptly and joyfully does what one knows is pleasing to them, and avoids what one recognises as displeasing to them”.[213] Thus one lives a life which is at once divine and Marian; the reign of Jesus and the reign of Mary coincide so that “Jesus and Mary unanimously reign in it (the soul)”.[214]

Thus it is clear that the central intuitions of this Mariform spirituality are fully orthodox. The expressions which it takes are explications of this insight of the identity of the will of Mary and Jesus. Where the teaching becomes specific and original is what Michael calls Marian, in which Mary is seen to accompany and instruct the person on the whole journey to profound divine union and mystical marriage. Still more distinctive is the notion of union with Mary as the way in which one comes into union with her Son and the Triune God. Thus Michael of Saint Augustine uses several images.

Firstly, there is life in Mary: As by the diligent exercise of faith and stable love one acquires the habit or practice of having the presence of God always and everywhere in mind, and there is such a sincere affection flowing with such facility towards God, it therefore appears impossible to forget God: in a similar way the one who loves Mary by constant exercise acquires the habit or practice of having her as loving Mother present in mind, so that all one's thoughts and affections terminate both in her and in God, and the person can forget neither the loving Mother nor God.[215]

This, he says, is not something infantile or innocent, but a very mature, rational and valiant (viriliori) movement. It is a work of the Spirit to lead the person to an awareness now of Mary, now of God, without any conflict or division of heart.[216]

Secondly, the person lives for Mary. Here the author is again careful to show that service of Mary in no way detracts from God. Just as in Mary everything is for the divine pleasure, and in eternity she lives for God for his pleasure, love and glory, so too every life and death for Mary must serve and be directed for God, and hence we do not live or die for Mary as our ultimate end, or with any reflection that would adhere to anything outside God for our own convenience; rather by life and death in Mary and for Mary we more perfectly live and die in God and for God in the cause of his pleasure and love, and the perfect reign of Mary in us also at the same time consists in the perfect reign of Jesus in our souls. Nothing of the reign of Mary contradicts the reign of Jesus, but is totally ordered to it.[217]

It would seem that this Mariform life is not mystical in the technical sense. Though grace is needed, indeed a special grace, one can choose this way of approaching God through Mary. Whether one grows deeply in this mode of spirituality would seem to depend on a continuance of such grace and on one’s temperament and affectivity. There is an essential difference between this Mariform life and Marian mysticism given to the Venerable Mary of Saint Teresa and described by her director, Michael of Saint Augustine.

5.2.3 Marian mysticism in Mary of Saint Teresa (Mary Petijt or Petyt)

The remaining chapters of the Venerable Michael’s work on the Mariform and Marian Life are a bold exposition of a genuine Marian mysticism. We know that Mary Petijt or Petyt was a directee of the Venerable Michael. She was born in Hazebrouck in 1623. She tried a religious vocation with the Canonesses of Saint Augustine, but was judged unsuitable. After having an over rigorist director, she met with Michael about 1647, who remained her director until her death in 1677. We can be sure that he learned much from her experiences, which he incorporated into his work. What is not clear is whether he had such mystical experiences himself.

Michael of Saint Augustine shows a way to union with God that is by way of union with Mary. There is growth in this mystical journey, and initial experiences of God and Mary may need to be purified.[218] The Marian mysticism of these authors is described as “contemplative life of God in Mary, and of Mary in God”.[219] But they do not allow confusion between Mary and God; the analogy used is that of the Incarnation in which the two natures are united but not fused.[220] Union with Mary is a love union with God: In this way we can understand the fruition of Mary in the soul, the melting (liquefactio) of the soul in Mary, the union of the soul with Mary and its transformation into Mary; this is because love tends to what resembles it and so inclines the soul, for the nature of love is to tend to union with the loved one.[221]

The heights of mystical union with Mary are described in language, which is indeed somewhat obscure, but has a haunting drawing power: Consequently the memory, the intellect and the will are then so quietly, simply, and intimately occupied in Mary and simultaneously in God, that the soul can scarcely detect how these operations are transformed. In a confused way it knows well and feels the memory to be occupied with some most simple remembrance of God and Mary, the intellect has a naked, clear and pure awareness of God present and of Mary present in God, the will has a very tranquil, intimate, sweet, tender and spiritual love of God and of Mary in God and a loving adherence to God and to Mary in God. I say “spiritual love” because love is then seen to shine and operate in the highest part of the soul with abstraction from the lower and sensitive powers, so that it is more proportioned to intimate melting, absorption in God and in Mary and union with God and at the same time with Mary. For when the powers of the soul are virtuously (nobiliter) and perfectly occupied in the memory, awareness and firm adhesion of the whole soul with God and Mary, so that by a loving melting or influx of love seem to make one with God and Mary, as if these three God, Mary and the soul are melted together. This seems to be the extremity and supreme realisation that a soul can reach in this Mariform life, and it is the principal activity of this exercise and spirit of love towards Mary.[222]

The mystics have their experiences not only as special and personal gifts from God, but also in order that they might teach the Church. The Mariform mysticism of Mary Petyt is not something eccentric in the history of spirituality, but teaches the whole Church something important about the journey to God. What may not be explicit in other mystics is very clear in Michael of Saint Augustine and in Mary Petyt, namely that divine union comes about through a person becoming more closely clothed with the virtues of Mary, and through her continuing presence and accompaniment. Theirs is the most dramatic and the most sublime expression of the truth continually expressed in all Carmelite Marian writings, namely the motherly presence of Mary accompanies the Carmelite always, and growth in holiness is found through opening oneself to this presence and motherly care. The fact that a reading from Michael of Saint Augustine is proposed for the Solemn Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is surely an indication to the Order to reflect on the journey to Jesus through Mary.

Though from a different culture, the Flemish mysticism of these two Carmelites is another expression of the theological truth proposed by Hans Urs von Balthasar about the need for the Church to be truly Marian if it is to be authentically Christian.[223] They also predate, and are a much more profound exposition of, the truths expounded in the better-known book on the slavery of Mary, The Treatise on the True Devotion by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (d. 1716).[224] But there is a very significant difference: for many people the “True Devotion” is a form of piety, an approach to Mary, which they freely adopt with the guidance of the Spirit; in this it resembles the Mariform life. Marian mysticism, on the other hand is the result of an extraordinary intervention of God in a person's life. In other words, the “True Devotion” can be chosen, Marian mysticism is given. The Mariform life like the True Devotion draws one into a relationship with Mary.

5.3 Scapular

In the previous chapter we have already seen the obscure origins of the Carmelite Scapular and the historical problems associated with it. These can, and should be kept apart from the question of the spiritual value of the Scapular.[225]

In the development of post-Reformation Carmelite Marian devotion the Scapular had a very important place and figured in the Touraine Directory (from ca. 1650 with later versions).[226] From medieval symbolism it had a double meaning: Mary's patronage and our service or devotion. At the same time there was an enormous growth of Confraternities of the Scapular, composed of laymen and lay-women.[227] Much remains to be done in studying the full history of the propagation of the Scapular, despite the work of exceptional value by E. Esteve.[228]

5.3.1 Pius XII

For our purposes it will be sufficient to take up the question in the twentieth century and begin with the Letter of Pius XII to the Superior Generals of both branches of the Order, Neminem profecto latet (11 February 1950). As this text is not so readily available today as in former times, it is useful to reproduce it in full: There is no one who is not aware how greatly a love for the Blessed Virgin Mother of God contributes to the enlivening of the Catholic faith and to the raising of the moral standard. These effects are especially secured by means of those devotions which more than others are seen to enlighten the mind with celestial doctrine and to excite souls to the practice of the Christian life. In the first rank of the most favoured of these devotions that of the Holy Carmelite Scapular must be placed – a devotion which, adapted to the minds of all by its very simplicity, has become so universally widespread among the faithful and produced so many and such salutary fruits.

Therefore it has pleased us greatly to learn of the decision of our Carmelite Brethren, both Calced and Discalced, namely, to take all pains to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary in a solemn a manner as possible on the occasion of the Seventh Centenary of the Institution of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Prompted therefore by our constant love for the tender Mother of God, and mindful also of our own enrolment from boyhood in the Confraternity of this Scapular, most willingly do we commend so pious an undertaking, and we are certain that upon it will fall an abundance of divine blessings. For not with a light or passing matter are we here concerned but with the obtaining of eternal life itself, which is the substance of the Promise of the Most Blessed Virgin which has been handed down to us. We are concerned, namely, with that which is of supreme importance to all and with the manner of achieving it safely. For the Holy Scapular, which may be called the Habit or Garment of Mary, is a sign and a pledge of the protection of the Mother of God. But not for this reason, however, may they who wear the Scapular think they can gain eternal salvation while remaining slothful and negligent of spirit, for the Apostle warns us: “In fear and trembling shall you work out your salvation” (Phil 2:12).

Therefore all Carmelites, whether they live in the cloisters of the First and Second Orders or are members of the Third Order Regular or Secular, or of the Confraternities, belong to the same family of our Most Blessed Mother and are attached to it by a special bond of love. May they all see in this keepsake of the Virgin herself a mirror of humility and purity; may they read in the very simplicity of the Garment a concise lesson in modesty and simplicity; above all may they behold in this same Garment, which they wear day and night, the eloquently expressive symbol of their prayers of divine assistance; finally may it be to them a Sign of their Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of the Immaculate Virgin, which (consecration) in recent times we have so strongly urged.

And certainly this most gentle Mother will not delay to open, as soon as possible, through her intercession with God the gates of Heaven for her children who are expiating their faults in Purgatory – a trust based on that Promise known as the Sabbatine Privilege. Now, therefore, as a pledge of the divine protection and help, and as an assurance of our own special dilection, we most lovingly impart on you, Beloved Sons, and to the Whole Carmelite Order, the Apostolic Benediction.[229]

It is important to note the exact meaning of this famous letter.[230] The pope presumes the historicity of the Scapular vision and the concomitant promise. He alludes to the Sabbatine Privilege, but not in a way that draws from it anything that is outside the normal Catholic tradition about Mary's intercession for the dead; most notably, he pointedly ignores any connection between this intercession and a release from purgatory on Saturday. He is careful to warn against any magical use of the Scapular, though he is forceful in asserting that it is a “sign and pledge of the protection of the Mother of God”. Finally, he ties the Scapular devotion with the notion of consecration to the Sacred Heart of the Immaculate Virgin. Irrespective of the historicity of the Scapular vision, the teaching of Pius XII retains its validity.

5.3.2 The meaning of the symbol

Carmelites today should be in no doubt about the value of the Scapular, and should be diligent in advocating it. There has been some failure of nerve among Carmelites in propagating the Scapular. Those who feel that evidence for the historicity of the Scapular vision is unconvincing need to find other foundations for the devotion. Its continuing value is asserted in recent years in two allocutions of John Paul II in which he spoke of multiple spiritual fruits arising from the Scapular devotion.[321] But we must at the same time be aware of the pluralism of the Order in five continents. The way in which the Scapular devotion is proposed in one place, or in one time, may not suit another.

However, one may put forward five theological, spiritual and past-oral principles that are appropriate foundations for any preaching of the Scapular. Others will, of course, suggest themselves; the future development of the Scapular in the Order cannot be predicted, but it can be fostered by giving the Scapular a sound basis.

Firstly, the Scapular belongs to the categories of sign and symbol. It points beyond the pieces of cloth (or medal) to other realities. The primary symbolism is that of a garment. The Scapular represents the Carmelite habit which is worn in an institute which is profoundly Marian. In this Order Mary is seen a Patron, Mother, Sister and the Virgin of the Most Pure Heart. Acceptance of the Scapular is in some way an adoption of these values and these Marian attributes.

Secondly, it is a sacramental of the Church. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church describes sacramentals as follows: “These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church”.[232] What is new about this definition of sacramental compared with an earlier theology reflected in the 1917 Canon Law[233] is that a sacramental is more than a thing; it is, as we have seen, a sign. It is thus ecclesial and not belonging solely to the Carmelite Order. But it implies that in our case more is needed than the mere wearing of the Scapular. If its effects are to be obtained through the intercession of the Church, then in addition to using it, one should open oneself to the prayer of the Church, especially through one's own prayer and reflection. The wearing of it should therefore be an invitation to prayer. Furthermore, there is the pastoral obligation to explain its meaning as a sign.

Thirdly, as a sign the Scapular is associated with the Carmelite Order, just as other sacramentals are promoted by other religious institutes, e.g. the Miraculous Medal. Those who wear it should be instructed in the Carmelite image of the Virgin Mary. The Carmelite Marian tradition, though rich and remarkable, is not the only one in the Church. But it takes its rightful place along with them. Some people may not, however, be drawn to it; forms of spirituality and devotion in the Church are free, and ultimately a matter of how a person is led by the Spirit.

Fourthly, the Scapular, as indicated by Pius XII is a sign of consecration. There is a large amount of serious theological writing about the meaning of consecration, especially consecration to Mary.[234] Consecration to Mary is firmly established in Catholic tradition. Many saints and popes have advocated it; numerous religious institutes have consecration to Mary at the heart of their spirituality. But in recent years there has been a feeling among some major theologians that the idea requires greater theological nuance than it often receives. The central issue is that strictly speaking there is only consecration to God and by God; since consecration is our divinisation by grace it is only God who is the principle and term of consecration. In this rigorous sense consecration is not something we do, but it is a divine action in us. If we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we are in fact only ratifying what God has already done for us through holy baptism. Once this is clearly understood then there is not really a problem in a consecration to Mary which expresses an intimate personal encounter with her, which implies trust, belonging, self-gift, as well as disponibility, availability and affective collaboration in her service of the mission of her Son.[235]

Pope John Paul II draws on the rich tradition to use other expressions which indicate belonging and disponibility: entrustment, consecration, dedication, recommendation, serving, placing oneself in her hands, etc.[236]

It may well be that in speaking about the Scapular in a particular place, the word “consecration” might best be avoided, and one of the alternatives chosen instead. But theological scruples about the word “consecration” can be effectively answered with the texts of Michael of Saint Augustine and Mary Petyt cited earlier in this chapter; there is an identity between the reign of Mary and the reign of Jesus.

Whatever about the language we use, the Scapular must be presented as a way of relating to Mary, of submission to her will, which is the salvific plan of God. It also implies that she in turn will favour us with her intercession.

Fifthly, we should be aware of the role of the Scapular in evangelisation and popular religiosity. Popular religiosity is a complex reality, varying in different cultures and in diverse periods of history.[237] It was given positive, if guarded approbation by Paul VI in his apostolic exhortation on evangelisation, Evangelii nuntiandi,[238] and stronger recommendation by the CELAM Conference at Puebla (1979),[239] and other Latin American meetings. But even when it is not fully purified from undesirable accretions, or expresses only very partially the Christian mystery, popular religiosity is always a window opening onto the transcendent; it invariably proclaims our insufficiency and the constant necessity of divine help. Those who wear the Scapular are expressing that they are not self-sufficient, and that they need divine help, which in this case they are seeking through Mary's intercession.

5.3.3 Revitalising the symbol

Finally, there is need for re-vitalising our grasp of the Scapular symbolism. In a study prepared by an international commission of the Order in 1995 our attention is drawn to contemporary work on symbolism by E. Voegelin.[240] He points to four stages in the life of a symbol. There is an engendering experience which gives rise to the symbol. For us this involved the sense of Mary’s protection of Carmelites. Secondly, there is a phase of dogma or reflection on the symbol. The Carmelite Order saw the Scapular largely in terms of its understanding of Mary as Patroness, the one who cared for her Brothers, who in turn served her. In this reflective period Mary’s caring was understood to extend beyond death and to be seen especially in her solicitude for our salvation and for our speedy deliverance from Purgatory. A third stage is found whenever contact is lost with the original experience. At this time there is scepticism in which the symbol is ignored, or fideism in which one trusts the Scapular without considering its meaning. This last stage can be very close to magic. If this stage comes about, and in some places it is already to be seen in the case of the Scapular, what is then needed is a reflective reconstruction of the symbol. We would have to see the Scapular within the whole of Carmelite spirituality, and especially in relation to the core themes that would be re-thought, represented and inculturated in each place. Without such reflection on the symbol within the Carmelite experience of Mary’s care, mere exhortation will not in itself revitalise the Scapular.

A valuable impetus for the revitalisation of the Scapular was the new rite for the imposition of the Scapular and the text “The Nature and the Spiritual Value of the Devotion of the Carmelite Scapular” issued by the General Council O Carm and the General Definitory ODC about the same time.[241]

The new rite of blessing and imposition has the following significant points and orientations:
* Because of the Incarnation simple material things can be raised up to be instruments of God’s mercy and to be signs of our commitment.
* The Scapular is a sign of Mary’s motherly care.
* It is a sign also of the reciprocal love we should have for Mary.
* It is a sign of communion with the Order of Carmel and of a desire to take part in its spirit and life.
* It is a sign of the purity of the Virgin Mary and of our consecration and service of the Virgin.
* It is a renewal of our baptismal commitment “to put on the Lord Jesus” (Rom 13:14).
* Its nature as a garment can be illustrated by biblical themes of clothes and clothing.
* Its wearing is a call to imitate and serve the Virgin and to live for Christ and his Church in the contemplative and apostolic spirit of Carmel.

This rich tapestry of themes shows that the Scapular is an open symbol capable of quite extraordinary meaning and commitment. Underlying almost all of them are the two themes of the Patron motif: Mary reaches to us, and we respond to her Son through service and imitation of her. Clearly the Scapular is a relational symbol; indeed it has little meaning except on the basis of a relationship.

The text of the central authorities of the Order develops these points especially affiliation to the Order, a bonding with the Family of Carmel. It outlines the main contemporary insights into Carmelite spirituality and shows the Scapular as a living symbol of, and commitment to, these values, and to evangelisation. The concluding paragraph reads:

The Scapular is a sign of the love of Mary, icon of the goodness and mercy of the Most Holy Trinity. This love is the fruit of the grace of God poured into the hearts of the faithful, who in turn commit themselves to it.[242]

Moreover, in an age in which religious symbolism is losing its place, whilst secular symbolism is constantly growing, it is important that the Church makes use of symbols which in some way encapsulate aspects of divine truth. The recent beatification of Isidore Bakanja (1994) showed that for this simple Zaïrian, the wearing of the Scapular was a way of witnessing to his faith, a testimony that led to his martyrdom in 1909.

It is thus clear that the Scapular, far from being a peripheral devotion belonging to another age, could be a vibrant symbol, one which above all highlights the key element of relationship in Carmelite Marian spirituality.

5.4 Conclusion: Mutual Love of Mary and the Carmelite

This long chapter has argued that we have a genuine Marian spirituality in the Order one which is seen very clearly in our own spiritual writers. The notion of relationship with Mary has been seen as central. The Scapular is clearly a sacramental in which the theme of relationship with Mary is essential. But there are other important sources, which are available in our provinces for developing and revitalising this relationship. The Spanish provinces have been well served by the use of spiritual writings, sermons and poetry in the recent work of P. Garrido.[243] Other sources for our Carmelite Marian heritage are the life of our Marian shrines, music, art and architecture as well as folklore. A privileged source is of course the liturgy to which we now turn.


6 Liturgy

In his apostolic exhortation, Marialis cultus (“To Honour Mary” –1974) Pope Paul VI drew attention to the liturgy in discussing the place which the Blessed Virgin Mary occupies in Christian worship, for “in addition to its doctrinal content, the liturgy has an incomparable pastoral effectiveness and a recognised exemplary value for the other forms of worship”.[244] Further, “The liturgy through its pre-eminent value as worship constitutes the golden norm for Christian piety”.[245] He also stressed the need to harmonise devotions with the sacred liturgy: we must neither scorn devotions and leave a vacuum, nor mix practices of piety and liturgical acts in hybrid celebrations.[246]

Before the publication of this most important document and especially since, scholars have been adverting to the importance for Mariology of the theological, spiritual and pastoral riches of the liturgy.[247]Carmelite writers have also taken up this theme.[248]

In its first part this chapter examines briefly some liturgical texts from the past; it then embarks on a more extensive consideration of our current liturgical books to learn what they teach us about our Marian charism.

6.1 Early Celebrations

In an earlier chapter we noted liturgical celebrations in honour of the Virgin Mary in the Order around the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth century. The main feasts were the Assumption and the Annunciation, with the Immaculate Conception being celebrated by the papal court in our church at Avignon in the fourteenth century.

The main specifically Carmelite feast was the “Solemn Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary” with the specification “of Mount Carmel” being later added.[249] The feast seems to have originated in England towards the end of the fourteenth century, and had as focus favours received by the Order: Mary's protection (descending aspect) and thanksgiving of the Order to her (ascending aspect). It was originally celebrated on 17 July, the day on which the Council of Lyons in 1274 allowed the Order to continue in existence. When the feast became extended to Europe, it was anticipated to 16 July where it remains to this day. In the seventeenth century it became approved as the feast of the Scapular as well as being the principal feast of the Order.[250]

The meaning of the feast is found in the pre-Reformation collect, Deus qui excellentissimae: O God who have honoured the humble order you have chosen with the title of the most excellent Virgin and your Mother Mary, and for its defence have procured miracles; grant we beseech you that as we devotedly venerate her commemoration, in the present we may be shielded by her assistance, and in the future may merit to possess eternal joys.[251]

The thanksgiving for the title harmonises well with what we know of the fourteenth and following centuries. The reference to miracles is unclear, though there were many accounts of miracles in favour of the Order in circulation in the late Middle Ages.[252] There is no direct reference to the Scapular in early texts, but the notion of patronage and protection is clear.

In lessons of the office conceded to the Discalced in 1609, and later used by the whole Order, there is reference both to the symbolism of the little cloud seen by Elijah and to the Scapular. The prayer also eventually used by both Ancient Observance and Discalced is a modification of the older one which omits all reference to miracles: O God who have honoured the Order of Carmel by giving it the name of your most blessed Mother Mary, ever virgin, as its distinctive title, grant us this grace: that we who are today commemorating her with solemn observance may be counted worthy under the shield of her protection to attain everlasting happiness. You who are God....[253]

6.2 Pre-Vatican II Celebrations

From the seventeenth century to Vatican II there was little change in the euchology for the Solemn Commemoration. It became celebrated as a double of the first class with a privileged octave of the second order (the only two first order octaves were Easter and Pentecost).

The office in the last breviary issued before the council (1938) had been approved in 1828.[254] It used many of the Old Testament typological texts about Mary. The hymn Ave maris stella was used for first vespers. The first nocturn employed classical texts: 1 Kings 18:42–45; Isaiah 35:1–7; 61:8–11. The second nocturn lessons were almost verbatim the same as those granted to the Discalced in 1609. They reported that holy men at the time of the New Testament accepted Christian faith and built a chapel in honour of the Virgin on Mount Carmel where Elijah had seen the cloud. They became known as the Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel, a title accepted by all, including popes. The lessons also refer to the bestowal of the Scapular on Simon the Englishman, and mention the promises which comprise the so-called Sabbatine Privilege. The lessons end by stating: Endowed with so many and such privileges the Order instituted the Solemn Commemoration of the Virgin to be perpetually celebrated each year unto the glory of the Virgin.

The third nocturn used the text of Luke 11:27–28 with a homily by Bede which centres around the fact of Mary's divine motherhood. In the other liturgical hours the antiphons, hymns and lessons have as significant themes Elijah, the glories of Mary and her benificence towards the Order, the coming together of dispersed brethren.

The Mass was basically the one approved in the early seventeenth century for both the Ancient and Discalced Observances.[255] The prayer (“O God who have honoured” cited above) was from 1609. The lesson was from 1 Kings 18:42–45 describing Elijah's vision of the little cloud, and the gospel was Luke 11:27–28 which is Jesus' response to the praise of his Mother by a woman in the crowd; here the choice would indicate an emphasis on Mary's faith and fidelity, as well as on her singular privilege of being the Mother of Jesus. The other prayers, Secret and Postcommunion, take up the themes of service to Mary and of her protection of the Order. The Preface unites the themes of Elijah and the Scapular: Right indeed it is and just, proper and for our welfare, that we should always and everywhere give thanks to thee, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who, in a light cloud rising from the sea, didst give to the blessed prophet Elias a wonderful sign of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who was to come; and hast willed that the sons of the prophets should venerate her. These, by the holy Scapular, the Blessed Virgin took, on this day, to be her favourite sons, and those who die holily clothed in the same Scapular, do thou graciously bring with all speed to thy holy mountain. Therefore it is that with Angels and Archangels....[256]

It will be seen that both Office and Mass are in line with, and echo, the medieval traditions of the Order reflecting the profound notions inherent in patronage, the Elijan traditions, as well as the Scapular with discreet evocations of the Sabbatine Privilege.

6.3 Post Vatican II Reforms

During the post Vatican II reforms of the liturgy the Order produced two supplements to the Roman Missal: the Discalced in 1973 and the Ancient Observance in 1974. Some traditional celebrations were in practice suppressed except in places associated with their saints; notable were Elisha (office restored 1992) and Simon Stock (Mass restored in 1978 and English office in 1979). The supplements of the Liturgy of the Hours soon followed. Translations of these supplements have appeared in recent years as a joint work of the two Observances of the Order.

The post Vatican II texts are a departure from previous texts; they are new creations, but retaining some traditional elements. The spirit and practice of the post-conciliar reforms demanded that due attention be paid to accurate historical research, that legendary elements be suppressed, that references to apparitions give way to theological statements.

We have four texts to consider: the office and Mass for 16 July and two votive Masses in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As the official liturgical prayer of the Order these new texts have a normative value for a grasp of its contemporary mariology.

The thrust of the main Prayers for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel brings up one important new feature, a reference to the mountain. This symbol directly envisages Christ, but it has also other intimations: the origin of the Order; the ascent of Carmel as the spiritual journey; the Marian patronage of the Order. There are two alternatives for the opening prayer: Father, may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel, protect us, and bring us to your holy mountain, Christ our Lord.


Lord God you willed that the Order of Carmel should be named in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of your Son. Through her prayers as we honour her today bring us to your holy mountain, Christ our Lord.

The first is from the Roman Missal with the addition of the words “Mother and Queen of Carmel”. The second is the traditional prayer from the period before the council, with the notion of Christ the mountain replacing the reference to eternal joy.

The idea of the mountain reappears in the familiar text about Elijah on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:42–45. The responsorial psalm 15 has a response which stresses the following of Mary as Mother and Model, and can be seen also as incorporating the mountain ascent motif: “Draw us after you, Virgin Mary; we shall follow in your footsteps”.

The second reading is the lapidary statement of the incarnation and divine adoption from Galatians 4:4–7. The Alleluia verse, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11:28) was the gospel of the feast before Vatican II. The ancient sequence Flos Carmeli is optional; it uses the early “Carmelitis esto propitia” in place of “da privilegia” (“be gracious” for “give privileges”). The gospel is the one which had traditionally been used for the vigil and for votive Masses of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, John 19:25–27; it points to Mary's union with her Son at the foot of the Cross and has a secondary meaning of her spiritual Motherhood of Christians.

The Preface is a new composition, with many of its phrases coming from the Vatican II Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium). It praises Mary in terms familiar to the Carmelite tradition: meditation of the Word, attentive obedience, and maternal protection. It presents her as a Mother and guide of the spiritual life: Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks as we honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Carmel. Your Word filled her heart and inspired all her actions, making her constant in prayer with the apostles, and, through her share in our salvation, constituting her the spiritual mother of all humankind. She watches unceasingly with a mother's loving care over the brothers and sisters of her Son, and lights us along our pilgrim way to the Mount of your Glory, our beacon of comfort, and the embodiment of all our hopes as members of the Church. Now, with all the saints and angels...

The other prayers of the Mass recall Mary's protection and the Order's service of Christ and of her (Prayer over Gifts and After Communion). The alternative Prayer over the People before the blessing in the English version of the Mass has a careful reference to the habit of the Order which avoids historical or other questions about the Scapular: Lord grant that those who in devotion have put on the habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, may put on her virtues also and enjoy her unfailing protection.

This Mass, with some emendations to remove explicit Carmelite references, is one of the forty-six new votive Masses in honour of Our Lady issued in 1987.[257] In this collection it is called “The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother and Spiritual Teacher”.[258]

The first of the two votive Masses of the Carmelite Missal is substantially the former Saturday Mass in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and is similar to the Mass of the feast. Both votive Masses stress our service of Mary and her protection, which is what is central to the medieval idea of patronage studied in earlier chapters. There is a new Preface celebrating Mary as “Mother and Model of Holiness”. It again echoes Vatican II: Mary shares in the work of her Son;[259] holiness is the path of perfect love.[260] But it also includes traditional Carmelite images. Again, there is a discreet reference to the habit of the Order which avoids any historical or spiritual issues arising from the Scapular. Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks as we honour the Blessed Virgin Mary. She shares with Christ his work of salvation, and with his Church she brings forth sons and daughters whom she calls to walk the path of perfect love. She claims us also as her beloved children, clothed in the habit of her Order, shields us along our way of holiness, and in her likeness sets us before the world, so that our hearts, like hers, may ever contemplate your Word, love our brothers and sisters, and draw them to her Son. In our joy we sing to your glory with all the choirs of angels.

The Office for the Solemn Commemoration was also revised after Vatican II. Some traditional themes were retained from earlier texts, especially the Old Testament images of Mary. Some established scripture readings like Sirach 24:23–24 (RSV 17–18) and Isaiah 35:1–2 on the splendour of Carmel were preserved. The text of 1 Kings 18:42–45 was replaced by either a longer pastiche of Elijan readings from 1 Kings 18:15 to 45 or by a composite reading of Isaiah 35:1–10; 61:8–11. But the most significant change is the replacement of the legendary second nocturn readings of the 1609 text either by a reading from Michael of Saint Augustine on the subject of going to Jesus through Mary, or one from Paul VI on Mary's faith and the Carmelite call to the interior life based on her example.

In the various liturgical hours other themes traditional in the Order frequently appear. Mary is praised for various prerogatives: Virgin Mother; glory of Jerusalem; graced and beautiful; image of the Church; patron; benefactress; source of mercy; humble and poor in spirit; woman of faith treasuring the Word; Virgin at prayer in the heart of the primitive Church; Immaculate Virgin who is pure in heart; guide of the spiritual life. The Order is seen from several perspectives: a gathering from East and West; blessed and gathered by the Lord; bound by allegiance to Jesus; a family that must follow the example of Mary who is a contemplative, associate of the Redeemer, and woman of faith and obedience.

6.4 Conclusion

The liturgy has always reflected images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which were contemporary. The revised texts of both Masses and the Liturgy of the Hours are a happy blending of themes which are the heritage and legacy of the Order with more recent ones which have come to the fore since Vatican II. The dominant strain of all the liturgies is that of rejoicing in Mary's example, love and protection which call for a response of trust, imitation and service from the members of the Order. Here again we see the need for relationship with Mary: the liturgy presumes and fosters a living contact with Mary.

6.5 Lectio Divina

The two new Prefaces of Our Lady of Mount Carmel cited above from the post-Vatican II revised liturgy could be recommended as suitable texts for lectio divina.


7 Order Documents 1968-1995

The period 1968 to 1995 is a significant one in the development of Carmelite identity, mission and spirituality. The extraordinary General Chapter to implement Vatican II demanded by the motu proprio of Paul VI, Ecclesiae sanctae (1966) was celebrated in 1968. The 1971 General Chapter issued new Constitutions and ordained the establishment of the Council of Provinces to meet annually (CON 337–339). In the period 1968–1993 important documents were issued by General Chapters, General Congregations, Councils of Provinces, Priors General; the new Constitutions were approved by the General Chapter of 1995. Some of these texts have significant Mariological statements which have to be read in the context of an evolving vision of the Order which looked both inwards at the life of its members, and outwards towards the world to be served.

There were several major preoccupations in the period 1968–1995: there was a crisis of identity and a search for the meaning of being Carmelite today; a rediscovered awareness of both the prophetic and the fraternal dimensions of our charism; studies on the Rule and generally on our Elijan and Marian charism; questions of justice and evangelisation.[261]

Several of the documents on these issues referred to Mary, and may thus be seen as an indication of the Order's search for a contemporary presentation of its Marian charism. But what is more surprising is the number of documents, which do not have an explicit Marian reference, or only a fleeting or superficial one. However, the searching and provisional character of these documents must be recognised. Whilst the main thrusts are undoubtedly authentic, there is a quality of tentativeness about several of them. Most were prepared at rather brief meetings (a week or ten days of Councils of Provinces) which did not always have the necessary help of experts in their final drafting. Again, the whole period is one in which there were profound transformations in ecclesiology, a development that has not yet come to full term. A clear example of such evolution is the influence of liberation theologies over the period, which themselves were in a process of growth and maturation.

In a study of the Marian charism of the Order we have to be careful to read the texts from this period with attention to the context in which they appeared. Since it was a time of evolution, groping and halting development for the whole Church, we should read these documents with a sympathetic eye, albeit with the necessary critical judgement. The Constitutions of 1995 can be seen as a stage in the Order’s grasp of identity, spirituality and mission. The documents produced in the period were not all “owned” or profoundly received as expressing the Order's truest identity. The vision of Mary in these documents is thus to an extent tentative and conditional; only time will tell what truths or insights about Mary from this period will eventually enter the Order's heritage. Furthermore a dialogue between recent Marian insights and our tradition is ongoing and far from complete.

Finally it should be noted that all these documents were productions of the First Order of Carmelite brothers and priests. Their language is thus not inclusive since, except for the most recent ones, only the male part of the Order was being directly addressed. No attempt is made in what follows to adapt the sexist language of these time-conditioned documents.

7.1 General Chapters of 1968 & 1971

The extraordinary General Chapter of 1968 produced an “Outline Statement (delineatio) of the Carmelite Life”. This document had three characteristics: it was very much dependent on the documents of Vatican II; it reflected the contemporary European and North American theology in anthropology and ecclesiology; it sought to integrate traditional values of our heritage and spirituality. The 1971 Chapter produced new Constitutions, the first since 1930. These largely followed the insights of the 1968 Chapter.

The 1968 document stated that our fundamental inspiration is to be found in our Rule and our traditions and indicated “the following of Jesus Christ” in Trinitarian terms before stating: “We see as in a mirror the image of this vocation in the life of the Virgin Mother of God and of the prophet Elijah”.[262]

Three articles on Mary and Elijah followed which were later incorporated into the 1971 Constitutions: Both of them in their separate ways lived in the firm conviction that God is with us; that our life finds its beginning and end in him. Through Elijah and Mary we come to realise that life only becomes fully human in its full sense when we allow God to be “The God” of our existence.

In the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, model of the Church, source of inspiration in matters of faith, hope and charity we see – in virtue of her perfect purity and her total openness to God – the ideal of all that we desire and hope for.[263]

This text carries footnotes to Vatican II: Church, LG 53 and Liturgy, SC 103. It will be clear that the 1968 Chapter did not really succeed in representing the earlier Marian traditions of the Order, even though the Delineatio ended with the words: Seeing our task in this way we continue our Elijan and Marian tradition in a renewed style and in an adapted way;...our Marian one by bearing witness to the living presence of Mary in salvation history, and thus co-operating in the incarnation of Christ in the modern world.[264]

The 1968 Chapter had another article, which reflected a little more the traditional themes of the Order; it is found in the document on “Fraternal Life”. Following the example of, and led by the Virgin Mary, who heard the word of God and retained it in her heart, in life and work we are to be doers of the word, so that Christ may again be received by people as Lord and Saviour. In this way we will be worthy of the title by which we honour her: Mother and Beauty of Carmel.[265]

The 1971 Chapter made some additions in its production of Constitutions. In its first chapter on the gift and task of the Order there is an article which summarises an earlier tradition: The practice of the imitation of Mary had its origins in the title given to the first church of the Order with the result that the Blessed Virgin Mary came to be considered as the Patroness of the Order; its “Mother” and “Beauty” whom the Carmelites venerated as “The Virgin Most Pure”. Even before the 16th century, but especially from then onwards, the Carmelites saw the Holy Scapular as the most important of the spiritual blessings given them by their Patroness. They saw the Scapular, too, as a means of associating with the Order. The result was that this devotion, “to the spiritual benefit of all, spread far and wide throughout the Church”.[266]

The footnotes to this article points to significant texts that we have already considered in earlier chapters; the final quotation is from Pius XII, Neminem profecto latet, already cited above in full in our fourth chapter.

In its Chapter IV on Prayer the 1971 Constitutions carry four articles on devotion to the Virgin Mary and one on meditating on her.[267] These articles have two characteristics: they generally reflect a Vatican II theology; the specific exercises recommended are, however, traditional to the Order. The Constitutions here have one very important statement which represents a constant conviction of the Order almost from the beginning: The cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the spreading of devotion to her pertain to the Order's very vocation in the Church.[268]

We can therefore see in these two General Chapters and their Decrees and Constitutions a serious attempt to incorporate the theology of the council. But traditional Marian values are placed alongside the more recent insights, and there is no integration or higher viewpoint, which would be a synthesis of the old and the new.

7.2 Documents 1972-1978

The first meeting of the new structure of the Council of Provinces took place in 1972. Its theme was “Pledged to the Service of Brotherhood”.[269] It concentrated on practical aspects of fraternity: problems and opportunities were carefully examined. The notion of justice as an integral aspect of fraternity emerges. It will be recalled that liberation theologies were beginning to emerge at the time, and that the Second Conference of Latin American Bishops (Medellín 1968) had made influential statements on justice and poverty. The final document mentioned neither Mary nor Elijah.

The second meeting of the Council of Provinces at Aylesford (1973) was devoted to prayer, “Lord Teach Us to Pray (Lk 11,1)”.[270] The final message was devoted to the complex Problematik of prayer at both individual and community levels. It took up in the context of prayer the theme of fraternity from the previous meeting. Strangely, neither Mary nor Elijah is mentioned in its message, even though the meeting took place at a Marian shrine.

The same year saw the approval by the Holy See of a new formula of religious profession for the brothers and the nuns of the Order.[271] A literal translation will show that it incorporated the traditional Marian awareness of the Order. I, N.N. in full faith and firm in will, consecrate myself intimately to God, and following the outstanding example of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God and of the prophet Elijah, I pledge my life in perpetual following of Jesus Christ. Whence, in the presence of the brothers [sisters] I vow to God perpetually [for ... years] into your hands N.N. chastity, poverty and obedience according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. By this perpetual [temporary] profession I give myself to this family, so that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I may follow perfect love in the service of God and of the Church.

But the note of making profession also to, or honouring, Mary is absent. It is probably fair to say that it is a document of its time, with a certain over-reserve with regard to the Virgin.

There is rather little mention of Mary in the documents of the General Congregation 1974 until the General Chapter 1977. This last had a few Marian references in its vision and planning around its theme “Our Prophetic Presence in the Church and in the World of Today”. Among the ideals was: Our presence in the world of the oppressed stimulates our consciousness wherever we are, inspired by the example of Mary and Elijah.[272]

One of the steps to be taken is: The Carmelite community is animated by a sense of God and a fraternal spirit; in turn it communicates this sense and spirit to others. Its members are challenged by the Word of God – after the example of Elijah and Mary – and they enter into the joys, sorrows, difficulties and problems of faith, life and labour of each other and of the people.[273]

And included in the ideal image of the Order for 1983 we find: Our presence in the world of the oppressed stirs our conscience wherever we live as we seek to follow the example of Mary and Elijah.[274]

It is thus 1977 before there is an explicit presentation of Marian dimensions of the themes that had been emerging since the 1971 General Chapter. A letter of Father F Thuis, Prior General, to all the nuns of the Order in 1978, cited this last quotation. The only other Marian reference in this letter is the significant valediction: In communion with Mary, our most holy Mother, the Lady full of grace and the Contemplative (cf. Lk 2:19), who lives always in the presence of God, we pray that every Carmel might abound with the fruits of the spirit of the Risen Jesus.[275]

In 1977 the Rule for the Third Order was revised after Vatican II and approved in 1977.[276] It gives a strong Trinitarian, Christological and ecclesial basis in its first part on “Spirituality”. Its Marian assertions are drawn from the 1971 Constitutions, with some additions notably from the 1974 apostolic exhortation, Marialis cultus. Overall the texts are not remarkably Carmelite in their inspiration or thrust, except for a reference to the Scapular. The fourth Council of Provinces meeting at Taizé in 1978 took as its focus “A Step forward after the General Chapter”.[277] Its final document has no explicit mention of Mary.  

In this period of 1972–1978 one is struck by the paucity of references to Mary, even when the context would easily suggest a Marian allusion.

7.3 Fifth Council of Provinces 1979 - A Return to the Sources

The fifth Council of Provinces was held on Mount Carmel in 1979. Its theme was: “A Return to the Sources. An Examination of the Biblical Significance of Mary and Elijah”. In its final document there is evidence of the concerns of previous meetings: fraternity, liberation, service of the poor. But these are not to the fore. The picture of Mary is largely biblical and reflecting Vatican II, though with some traditional elements. As it is not now easily accessible, the passage on Mary is here cited in full: The first chapel of the Order on Mount Carmel, mentioned in the Rule, is dedicated to Mary. We visited in pilgrimage the ruins which bring us back to the fact that the first Carmelites must have thought of Mary when they wished to choose a titular and patron to whose dedication and service they intended to consecrate themselves. They saw in her the most perfect model of a follower of Christ. In fact, she welcomed the Word of God making it the directional pole of her existence. The Virgin, a faithful listener, entered into a relation of communion with God to the point of completely dedicating herself to him. For this reason the Church, using the words of the Scriptures describes her as “the woman clothed with the sun”, “the all beautiful, glory of Jerusalem and the joy of Israel”, and “the Mother of all the living”. Our tradition venerates her as the Mother of Christ and the Virgin most pure. [A note states: “Virgin most pure is not to be understood in a moralistic sense; it carries a profound theological meaning: the disposition for union with God and for the contemplative life”.]

Mary is the daughter of God; to him she consecrated all her being. God fixed his dwelling place in her, covered her with his omnipotence as the bright cloud wrapped Moses on Sinai, and filled her with his glory. And she, who already had God in the depth of her heart, becomes the blessed among women, receiving in her womb the fullness of the Lord, the Incarnate Word. Mary generates the Word which bring salvation to the whole world: she offers the word, planted in her heart, to others whilst she remains constantly and sorrowfully united to it. Mary, who excels in being “the first amongst the humble and poor of the Lord” (LG 55) and is intimately bound to humanity allows herself to be fully involved in the work of redemption effected by her Son. She works in full collaboration to the extent of experiencing in the most profound intimacy of her being, the suffering of the Cross, which she accepted in lucidity of faith, in perspective of fecundity and in fullness of love.

Mary knew how to listen to God, how to make her own and fulfil his will. She knew how to pray being completely disposed and without compromises. But, listening and praying, she knew how to discover there service for men. In this way she traces the path of our earthly pilgrimage, having realised “in her earthly life the perfect image of the disciple of Christ, the mirror of every virtue and having incarnated the evangelical virtues proclaimed by Christ”. [Paul VI at closure of 3rd session of Vatican II, 21 November 1964.]

We, as Carmelites, look to Mary to understand and live in depth her attitude of listening and answering to the Word of God, thus avoiding religiosity with alienating pietism or with secularism which shuts the way to transcendence. Like her we would like to tend towards an ever more intimate habit of life with God and to realise, through this, profound and vivifying relationships with others. When we consider Mary as an inspiring model of life for us, we ultimately mean to approach Christ and to conform ourselves to him in a triple openness: to God, through listening and through prayer; to ourselves, through the incarnation of our own identity; and to others through generous service, especially towards the humble and abandoned.[278]

Later the Council of Provinces recalls the third stage for the implementation of the 1977 General Chapter, “a community search for the sources of inspiration, by recalling the biblical significance of Mary and Elijah”. The motivation was given as: impulse to authentic renewal in our lives can only be given by knowing in depth the sources of inspiration and principally the biblical images of Mary and Elijah and by confronting our lives with theirs.[279]

This meeting on Mount Carmel certainly heightened the Order's awareness of its Marian charism. It will be seen that its vision is again a biblical one and influenced by Vatican II. We could see this document moving out from what has been called a “Carmelite” Elijah and Mary, namely the traditional reflections on their person and mission to embrace a wider biblical picture, which drew not only from contemporary scholarship, but also from the experience of those who studied the bible in small communities. The document did retain, in a rather secondary way, the traditional Carmelite titles of Patron and Virgin Most Pure.

7.4 Documents 1983-1991

In the next period, up to the General Congregation at Caracas (1992) the main focus was on Carmelite family and on the Order’s commitment to justice and peace. The general Congregation of 1980 at Rio de Janeiro was devoted to the theme “Called to Account by the Poor”. By that year the insights of liberation theologies were more widely diffused in the Church and in the Order. The highly influential Third Conference of Latin American Bishops had taken place at Puebla in 1979. It had developed profound Mariological insights: her place in the Church; an example for women; the servant; the star of evangelisation; the Mother of the poor and the marginalised; an object of popular piety; an example of liberation through her Magnificat.[280]

Another theme that was treated in international meetings of the Order was that of fraternity and community. But there is little reference to Mary in their documents.

A letter of the Prior General, Father Falco Thuis, to the brothers and sisters of the Order in 1983 should be noted. It was not only published as usual in our Analecta, but was translated into several languages and made available to members of the Order in booklet form.[281]It is an important document on several scores. It was written at the end of Father General's twelve year term of office and therefore presumably felt by him to be an important testament. The period of his Priorship (1971–1983) was one of profound searching and new visions on the part of the Order, one in which the horizontal dimensions of fraternity and commitment to the poor was increasingly stressed. Whilst Father General did not renege on these developments — indeed he had been one of their main catalysts — he could perhaps be said to have added a counterbalance, by recalling what he calls in the subtitle of the letter, “Contemplation: the Life-stream of Carmel”.

The major passage on Mary comes after an extended treatment of allegiance to Jesus Christ, developed from the Rule and our earliest writers. It reads: Allegiance to Christ was also related by our forefathers to the Virgin Mary, their patroness, under whose allegiance they also wished to live, because in her they found a concrete model for a life wholly consumed in Christ. The life of Our Lady can be understood only in this relation to the Son through attention to the Word and readiness to fulfil its reply. (1) The Carmelites read this word, contemplating it in the form lived by Our Lady, and in the 17th century elaborated a Marian doctrine for living a life according to Mary, that is, in conformity to her will and spirit, and arriving at full union with God and Christ, thus realising a deiform and divine life. (2) [Notes: (1) Fifth Council of Provinces; (2) Michael of Saint Augustine.][282]

The ninth Council of Provinces at Fatima in 1985 took up the theme of “The International Dimension of Carmelite Fraternity”.[283] Its final message was for the first time explicitly intended for the whole Carmelite family. Reflecting on the interntionality of the Order the Council stated: Dedication to the Mother of the Saviour, Mary the Virgin Most Pure Virgin, Sister, Patroness and Beauty of Carmel, and the inspiring call of the prophet Elijah, have been constantly in our minds and on our lips, both in our spirituality and our pastoral activity.[284]

It also had a concluding prayer: May Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Unity and “icon of reconciled humanity” be our pilgrim friend as we journey among the nations until the day of the Lord, when all nations will be gathered together and all will be transformed according to the designs of God.[285]

These two brief references are significant. The fact that the meeting took place at a major Marian shrine would have sensitised people to the Marian dimension of the Order. But more notable is the reappearance of the strong traditional Marian themes of the Order: Most Pure Virgin, Sister, Patron and Beauty of Carmel. These had not been in any way to the fore in the preceding decades from 1968.

From a Marian perspective there is little of note in the international meetings at Niagara Falls (1986), Philippines (1987), Dublin (1988).

The most significant statement from these years is to be found in the 1988 formation guide. Work on a comprehensive statement on formation policy, the Ratio institutionis vitae carmelitanae (RIVC) took place from 1985 until its approval by the General Council in 1988. It is an important work as it was the result of extensive collaboration and consultation in the Order, especially on the part of those involved in formation and of experts in various areas. Given its purpose it had to contain an expression of the nature and charism of the Order. Its Marian statements show sensitivity to our earlier traditions and to the post-Vatican II insights. Since it is not readily available to the majority of the Order, the sections on Mary (19–22) are reproduced here:

#19.   Mary, under the shadow of the Spirit of the Lord, is the Virgin of the new heart, (1) the “purest virgin” who gives a human face to the Word made flesh. (2) She is the Virgin who listens wisely and contemplatively, who keeps and meditates in her heart the deeds and words of the Lord. (3) Mary is the disciple of Wisdom, who seeks Jesus (the Wisdom of God) and lets herself be taught and formed by him in order to make her own in faith his ways and choices. (4) Having learned in this way, Mary reads the “great things” which God has done for her.

#20.   In the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and a type of the Church, (5) the fraternity of Carmel finds the perfect image of all that it desires and hopes to be. This is why Mary has long been considered as the Patroness of the Order and was invoked as mother and sister of Carmelites; an eloquent sign of this is the dedication to her of the first chapel built on Mt. Carmel. As we look to Mary, “who gave inspiration to the apostolic life of the first Christian community”, (6) we learn to live together as brothers in the Lord. Mary is the mother and perfect disciple of the Lord. She, therefore, becomes our sister on the journey of faith. We share with her the demanding journey of following Christ and she helps us as we learn to live in fraternal love (7) and service of one another. (8) At the marriage feast of Cana she leads us to trust her Son. (9) At the foot of the cross she becomes the mother of all believers (10) and together with them she experiences the joy of the resurrection. Together with the other disciples she joins in continuous prayer (11) and receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which fills the first Christian community with apostolic zeal.

#21.   Mary is the bearer of the Good News of salvation to humanity. (12) She is the woman who brings about communion not only with the disciples themselves, but with the wider circle of people: with Elizabeth, with the bride and the bridegroom at Cana, with the other women and with the “brothers” of Jesus. (13) She lives among them like a sister fully attentive to their needs and she waits, hopes, suffers and rejoices with them. In Carmel's tradition, especially from the 16th century onwards, Mary's close relationship with people has been expressed through the Scapular devotion; it is both a sign of Carmel's consecration to her and a valuable means of evangelising people.

#22.   Today, following the example of Mary and Elijah, the Rule of Carmel is proposed as a way of life for the fulfilment of the whole person in Christ...

[Notes: (1) Ezek 36:26. (2) Lk 1:28–37. (3) Lk 2:19.51. (4) Lk 2:44–50. (5) SC 103. (6) General Congregation 1974 – “The Carmelite Today” n.3 Towards PB 41. (7) Jn 15:12–13. (8) Jn 13:12–15. (9) Jn 2:5. (10) Jn 19:26. (11) Acts 1:14. (12) Lk 1:39. (13) Acts 1:14.][286]

Despite occasional infelicities, this document is among the best to have appeared in the period 1968–1992. It continues the path begun at the Mount Carmel meeting of 1979 and it seeks to integrate traditional elements of our heritage. The positions it takes up would be reflected in the 1995 Constitutions. Neither the twelfth meeting of the Council of Provinces at Salamanca in 1991 nor the General Congregation in 1992 at Caracas had any significant Marian content.

7.5 Letter of Prior General (1988)

In the Marian Year of 1988, the Prior General, Father John Malley wrote a letter to the Brothers and Sisters of the Order.[287] This long letter sought “to reflect about the Marian dimension of Carmelite spirituality”. It was based on the three major Church documents on Mary in the past two decades: Vatican II, Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium, ch. 8; the apostolic exhortation of Paul VI, Marialis cultus, and the encyclical of John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater. Father General in three main sections developed the themes:
1. To know Mary better;
2. To love Mary more;
3. To imitate Mary faithfully.

He inserted into his reflections a great deal of our Marian heritage. This rich document was not content to repeat what was written in the past, but was a fine effort at a re-presentation of Mary for the Order. The unresolved problem of finding the appropriate means of communicating documents in those decades, probably meant that this important letter did not receive the attention it deserved.

7.6 Letter of the Two Generals (1992)

At the Caracas Congregation a joint letter from the two Generals, Fathers John Malley and Camillo Maccise, was announced. It appeared after the meeting, but bearing the date of 16 July 1992.[288] Its main theme was evangelisation, but it had some important Marian content. It noted that in the first evangelisation of Latin America the Carmelites “were close to the people through their witness to a life of prayer and the spreading of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel” (n. 5, cf. 8). It stated that our charism was “To live in allegiance to Jesus Christ after the example of the prophet Elijah and Mary” (n. 14). Referring to popular religiosity it noted devotion to Mary and the Scapular of the Order (n. 15). For New Evangelisation there is a need not merely of new techniques, but as in the case of Mary and the saints of the Order of a new experience of the living God. The Generals stated that in joint meetings there had been a rereading of the Order's charism involving three elements:
* contemplative experience of God;
* fraternity as fruit and sign of contemplation;
* prophecy and commitment to justice.

In the case of the first they stated: To help us accomplish this task, the most important and urgent one for the Carmelite family today, we have the example of Mary, Sister and Mother of Carmelites. She welcomed, pondered and gave flesh to the Word of God in her life and so she revealed the Good News of God to all. (n. 23)

In the context of the second, fraternity, they noted: Mary for us is a symbol and model of community life. Our devotion to her must lead us to imitate her example, and make us free as people who are capable of achieving the kind of community of which she sings in her Magnificat (Lk 1:46–55).(n. 26)

Their message concluded: May the Virgin Mother of Carmel help us to be faithful to what Jesus asks of us at this crucial moment in the history of humanity and of our family. Just as in the past, may Mary come to help us. When the desire to be faithful, both to our charism and to the poor put us in crisis, the fact that we looked to Mary helped us to take on the condition of mendicants. Sister, Mother and Queen of Carmel, intercede for us with your Son and gain for us the blessings of God. (n. 31)

Both the style and the contents of this letter are notable from a Mariological point of view. The two Generals found appropriate ways of applying our Marian charism to a current situation, namely new evangelisation. They drew both on modern biblical insights and on the long tradition of the Order, and found a contemporary relevance for traditional titles. This letter moreover, is the only document apart from the 1971 Constitutions to mention, albeit fleetingly, the Scapular.

7.7 The New Constitutions (1995)

As a result of the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983 and the developments in the Order's self-understanding, it became necessary to revise the Constitutions of the Order. A draft was presented to the General Chapter in 1989, but it was decided that wider consultation of the whole Order was required. It has some significant Marian contents. The main statement is found in the first part on the charism of the Order.

Mary, overshadowed by the Spirit of God Lk 1:35), is the Virgin of the new heart (Ezek 36:26), who gives a human face to the Word made flesh. She is the Virgin of wise and contemplative listening who kept and pondered in her heart the events and the words of the Lord (cf. Lk 2:19.51). She is the faithful disciple of the wisdom, who sought Jesus – God’s Wisdom – and allowed herself to be taught and formed by his Spirit so that in faith she might be conformed to his ways and choices (Lk 2:44–50). Thus enlightened, Mary is able to read the “great wonders” which God accomplished in her for the salvation of the humble and the poor (Lk 1:46–55).

Mary was not only the Mother of Our Lord; she also became his perfect disciple, the woman of faith"(1). She followed Jesus, walking together with the disciples, sharing their demanding and wearisome journey – a journey which required, above all, fraternal love and mutual service (Jn 13:13–17; 15:12–17). At the marriage feast of Cana Mary taught us to believe in her Son (Jn 2:5); at the foot of the Cross, she became Mother of all who believe (Jn 19:26); with them she experiences the joy of the Resurrection. United with the other disciples “in constant prayer” (Acts 1:14), she received the first gifts of the Spirit, who filled the earliest first Christian community with apostolic zeal.

Mary brings the good news of salvation to all men and women (Lk 1:39). She is the woman who built relationships, not only with the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, but beyond that, with the people: with Elizabeth, with the bride and bridegroom in Cana, with the other women and with Jesus’ “brothers” (Acts 1:14).

Carmelites see in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and archetype of the Church, the perfect image of all they want and hope to be (Preface of Feast of Carmel)(2). For this reason Carmelites have always thought of Mary as the Patron of the Order, its Mother and Splendour; she is constantly before their eyes and in their hearts as “the Most Pure Virgin”. Looking to her and living in spiritual intimacy with her, we learn to stand before God and with one another as the Lord’s brothers. Mary lives among us, as Mother and Sister, attentive to our needs along with us she waits and hopes, suffers and rejoices (3).

The Scapular is a sign of Mary’s permanent and constant motherly love for Carmelite Brothers and sisters. By their devotion to the Scapular, faithful to a tradition in the Order, especially since the 16th century, Carmelites express the loving closeness of Mary to the people of god; it is a sign of consecration to Mary, a means of uniting the faithful to the Order, and an effective and popular means of evangelisation.

[Notes: (1) Paul VI, Marialis cultus 17 and 35; John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater 12 and 19. (2) Vatican II, Liturgy, SC 103. (3) V Council of Provinces 1979.][289]

In the Constitutions there are also references to Mary in the chapter on prayer: we are to dedicate ourselves to prayer after the example of Mary (Acts 1:14).[290] There are also articles on devotion to Mary, especially liturgical, though traditional and new devotional forms are also recommended. Imitation is a major form of devotion.[291]

On the Scapular the Constitutions state: The Carmelite Scapular is a sacramental of the Church; as such it is a fitting symbol to express our devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the affiliation of the faithful to the Carmelite Family. The Scapular calls to mind the virtues of the Blessed Virgin with which we are to clothe ourselves—in particular, intimate union with God and humble service of others in God’s Church in the hope of eternal salvation.[292]

At a late stage in the writing of the Constitutions a much-amplified article on Marian shrines was added: The Marian shrines, in which we exercise our apostolate and to which the faithful traditionally come in large numbers, are to be held in high regard. They are to become more and more centres where the Word is prayerfully heard and where there is liturgical life with appropriate liturgical celebrations (Eucharist and Reconciliation). In particular our shrines shall increasingly become centres of reflection on the path taken by Mary and centres of evangelisation with special attention to popular devotion to the one who is Mother of God, of the Church and of all humanity. Shrines also have an exemplary function: they are places of welcome, attracting vocations; places of solidarity providing services to needy brothers and sisters; places of ecumenical commitment with meetings and prayer.[293]

7.8 Conclusion

It is clear from the above examination of the documentation of the Order from 1968–1993 that the primary interests of the Order were not Marian. Apart from the Constitutions of 1971 (reflecting the General Chapter of 1968), there have been only four major statements on Mary: the Council of Provinces of 1979, “Return to the Sources”; the letter of Father Malley, the joint letter of the two Fathers General (1992); the new Constitutions. Though Mary is mentioned in some other documents, the references are rather incidental and at times perfunctory. The documents which might easily have carried a Marian insight and failed to do so are surely significant both in their number and in the contexts where this omission occurred.

When we look at the Marian spirituality and theology of the documents from 1968–1995 several things can be noted. An enrichment is surely the biblical picture of Mary, which emerges, one which is more extensive and deeper than the main documents of our tradition. Secondly, the documents show an awareness both of the Christological and ecclesiological Mariology of Vatican II. Thirdly, there is an attempt, sometimes forced and not fully worked through, to relate Mary to the themes that most concerned the Order in this period: fraternity, community, justice and the poor. Fourthly, from 1968–1995, but more especially towards the end of this period, there is some attempt to incorporate traditional Carmelite insights about Mary, though mediation is totally missing. Fifthly, the Scapular is almost totally absent, except in the letter of the Generals and in the Constitutions. Sixthly, there is little evidence that the liturgical picture of Mary, seen especially in the Office and Masses of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, had any significant influence in the Order's search for its identity and charism. Finally, it should be noted that the tendency to omit reference to Mary in key documents, can be seen also in very many other religious Institutes during this period.

The main lesson this period brings up is the value of seeing more confidently, what previous generations took for granted, namely Mary as Patron, Mother and Sister in all our ventures and aspirations as Carmelites. This is not a matter of token references, but an attempt, where possible, to see the genuine Marian dimensions of almost every thing we do. In these Marian reflections we have to be both open to the new Marian developments in the Church both at Vatican II and since, as well as to the main features of our tradition. These last have been studied in the recent congresses noted at the beginning of this volume and in its earlier chapters. Our final chapter outlines some contemporary insights that might further deepen our Marian and Carmelite vision.

7.9 Lectio Divina

Suitable texts for lectio divina are the texts cited above from the Fifth Council of Provinces (1979) and the texts of the Constitutions. These should be studied for what they say (lectio), for what they mean to us in community and in our service of the people (meditatio), and we need prayerfully to respond to them and seek the grace to appropriate them in our lives (oratio). Most important perhaps is the task of allowing these texts to form our minds and to give what we do a Marian orientation (contemplatio).


8 Our Marian Charism in the Church Today 

8.1 The Core of our Charism

In earlier chapters we have seen that five major characteristics stand out in the Carmelite Marian heritage as it developed: Patron, Mother, Model, Sister and Most Pure Virgin. But if we are to see what is the most basic intuition of the Order about Mary it is probably her presence. This presence, symbolized in the dedication of the oratory on Mount Carmel, is the form or pattern of all our Marian sensibility. The sense of her presence was cultivated by a multiplicity of liturgical and devotional exercises. It informed the Carmelites' obedience to the Rule. The notion of Patron gave an awareness that all the service of the Order was offered to her, and she was always present as its protector-patron. The title Sister with its familiar overtones was again indicative of presence. The Carmelite cultivation of purity of heart in imitation of the Virgin Most Pure brought Mary into the situations of daily life. This sense of the presence of Mary reached a high point in the Marian mysticism of Mary Petyt and Michael of Saint Augustine.

Even if all the Marian titles found in the Carmelite Order are also testified elsewhere in the Church, it would seem that in the notion of presence we are very close to the fundamental Marian awareness of the Order. The notion of presence gives a special colouring, a particular flavour to Carmelite texts about Mary which is not so clear in other spiritualities. A consequence is that for many of our writers Mary is presumed to be continually close, even if many Carmelites, even someone like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, do not write extensively about her.

8.2 Charism in the Church

The Marian charism of an Order is not an exclusive possession; it has to be shared with the Church. Indeed, it is only when it is shared that the Order will come into a contemporary and relevant grasp of the charism. We share our Marian charism with the Church in various ways: in writing, in preaching, in prayer groups, in discussions with people in groups, or as individuals. The response of others will help us to clarify our charism. We will know if we have been sharing something that others feel to be valuable; we may have to search for more appropriate language and symbols in order to make our sharing more effective. What is reflected back to us by others about our Marian insights and devotion will in turn help us further to reflect and deepen our own appropriation.[294]

Our Marian charism must not be something fossilised from the past. Just as we can see its growth and development over the centuries, so too it must be alive and evolving in our time also. If then our sharing of our Marian charism is to be a true service of the Church, we must listen deeply: we must listen to our tradition; we must listen to what people are saying in our Church and our world; we must listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Catholic Church about the Blessed Virgin,[295] as well as to the Orthodox Church,[296] and the ecumenical movement.[297] We need also to be alert to modern scriptural studies on Mary,[298] and to contemporary presentations of the Marian dogmas,[299] and spiritual reflections on them.[300]

A summary of the way ahead is of course to be found in the great exhortation of Paul VI, Marialis cultus (1974) in which he notes the Trinitarian, Christological and ecclesial aspects of devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He also gives four guidelines for devotion: biblical, liturgical, ecumenical and anthropological.[301] As Carmelites we will best heed the pope by listening to the contemporary Church in the light of our tradition, and by recognising those areas in which our Marian charism can be further deepened in our day.

The first chapters of this book looked at tradition. The previous one on the period 1968–1995 shows something of the listening to the Church and the world as we sought to clarify our identity and charism. The sixth chapter ended with just a hint of critique; it was suggested that as we listened to the Church and the world, we did not fully bring our Marian heritage into our response. These texts of 1968–1995 seem to lack a sufficient sense of Mary's presence which is such a central feature of our history.

8.3 Some Contemporary Insights

We look briefly at some insights from contemporary Marian reflection in the Church.

8.3.1 Pneumatology

Paul VI called for a deepened pneumatology, or theology of the Holy Spirit, in Marialis cultus.

It is sometimes said that many spiritual writings today do not sufficiently reflect the whole doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit. It is the task of specialists to verify and weigh the truth of this assertion, but it is our task to exhort everyone, especially those in the pastoral ministry and theologians, to meditate more deeply on the working of the Holy Spirit in the history of salvation, and to ensure that Christian spiritual writings give due prominence to his life-giving action. Such a study will bring out in particular the hidden relationship between the Spirit of God and the Virgin of Nazareth, and show the influence they exert in the Church. From a more profound meditation on the truths of the faith will flow a more vital piety.[302]

It is generally admitted that the East is more pneumatological than the West, the latter being more Christological. Again, it was only with Vatican II and the subsequent reform of the liturgy that the Western Church came into a deeper consciousness of the need for a deepened pneumatology. These differences between East and West show a valid insight into characteristics of the two traditions, but they should not be exaggerated. However, the assertion about the lesser pneumatology of the West is in general true about the whole Carmelite spiritual tradition. It is strongly Christological, despite some passages of great depth and beauty about the Holy Spirit in many of our authors. The statement is equally true of our Mariology: though the Holy Spirit is not absent, our authors cannot be said to have given “due prominence to his life-giving action”, as Paul VI demanded. We can, indeed must, enrich our Mariological thinking from the significant writing on the Holy Spirit and Mary which has been appearing in recent years.[303]

A heightened sense of the Holy Spirit and Mary can be expected to have an influence in many aspects of our life. Thus whilst we speak very frequently of our charism, especially our prophetic charism, our texts coming from official sources such as Chapters and Councils of Provinces, and from our authors have not integrated a comprehensive theology of charism, nor even taken up fully the teaching of Vatican II on the subject.[304]

8.3.2 Ecclesial picture of Mary

In recent decades among the most urgent questions facing the Church are human dignity, justice and peace/liberation, the role of women and evangelisation. Our search for our identity and mission in the period 1968–1995 has given us valuable insights into how a contemplative fraternity in the midst of the people can answer these questions. We can be helped by Marian studies appearing widely in the Church about such issues. Each language group will have its own original works or translations; only indications can be given here of the kinds of work that can be helpful.

On the issues of human dignity, we seek from within our tradition and the contemporary experience of the Order the values of brotherhood and sisterhood. The Marian writing that will help us to develop our service in this area will be the works that concentrate on the ecclesial picture of Mary.[305] The values of fraternity and sorority always run the risk of being inward looking. By contemplating Mary in the midst of the Church, as its model, Mother and companion, we escape narrowness. As we read ecclesial Mariology we can recall our own special insights of Patron, Mother, Sister and Most Pure Virgin. These, along with our sense of Mary's presence, give a warmth and humanity to an ecclesial Marian vision that otherwise could be too intellectual.

8.3.3 Women

Our values of fraternity and sorority give us an approach to the difficult issues concerning the role of women in the Church. The modern feminist movement is unanimous in its protest against any domination of women by men, against that corruption of the male role which feminism calls patriarchy. The Order's search for a fraternity and sorority which emphasises basic equality, co-responsibility, complementarity can at once make us open to the legitimate criticism, indeed anger of women, and at the same time help to protect us from ourselves taking part in the unjust systems of domination. The Carmelite intuition of Mary as Sister, moreover, is one which seems to be very attractive to some women.

Feminist writing on Mary covers a very wide spectrum. On the one hand we have positive studies of the Virgin by men and women who are sensitive to feminist concerns.[306] But at the extremes there is an angry feminism that sees Mary as having been deliberately used by a patriarchal Church to keep women passive and servile. Such writers are often negative also about Mary herself.[307]

The profound insight of Hans Urs von Balthasar about the primarily Marian character of the Church[308] is one that should echo with our tradition. As we have always seen Mary as the model for all Carmelites, so we can easily be at home with a presentation of ecclesiology mainly in terms of its Marian, rather than its Petrine or institutional dimensions.

A further area in contemporary Mariology is a strong emphasis on Mary as a women in Palestine. Against pictures of the Virgin which in glorifying her, succeeded in removing her from real humanity, there is now a search to discover Mary in her womanhood and in her femininity.[309] Paul VI gave an initial sketch of an anthropological approach to Mary in Marialis cultus article 37. It is an important innovation in magisterial teaching, but we should perhaps take its thrust and inspiration rather than regard it as a definitive picture.

The way in which the Carmelite tradition has considered Mary as Mother and Sister, as well as her ubiquitous presence should allow us to develop easily an attractive picture of Mary as a woman. The picture of the easy relationships between Mary and her Carmelite followers on Mount Carmel in the early legendary material gives a good basis for such reflection.

8.3.4 Liberation theologies

We have seen in the last chapter that liberation theologies have very much influenced the thinking of the Order in recent decades. Quite early liberation theologians and the Basic Christian Communities saw in Mary's person and in her Magnificat a biblical basis for many of their concerns.[310] The second instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “On Christian Freedom and Liberation” (Libertatis conscientia – 1986) has a short but incisive paragraph on the Magnificat in which it notes that at the side of Christ, Mary “is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe”.[311]

Our documents from 1968 have shown a growing awareness of justice and peace and of the issues of liberation. But though they mention Mary in these contexts it is not clear that they grasped the full implications of this short Vatican statement. In liberation theologies there has been a tendency to over-emphasise the Magnificat in its theme of the exaltation of the poor and the scattering of the powerful. It is not always realised that Luke uses royal and triumphal language only in a few places in his first two chapters; elsewhere the themes of the suffering Messiah and of discipleship in poverty and humility predominate.[312]

Carmelite Mariology has much then to offer liberation theologies. Mary is not only the icon of liberation, but she is the one who as Mother and Sister draws us into a liberating struggle. But the teaching on the Pure Heart is a major protection against the deviations that anger, guilt, indeed self-seeking, can bring to the service of the poor. Mary as the Virgin Most Pure can teach us how to listen to, and learn from the poor, as well as being at their service. Indeed it is only with great purity of heart that is it safe to enter into the lucha or struggle for freedom.

8.3.5 Mary as teacher

A theme that is both modern and Carmelite is that of Mary as Teacher. We find it in Paul VI,[313] but it is also strongly in Bostius: “Mary is the most illuminated prophet and most wise teacher of God's way”.[314] In the fifth chapter we saw that the Holy See took over our Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to construct a votive Mass in honour of Mary Mother and Spiritual Teacher.

Mary teaches by her example. The picture of Mary in the New Testament is a solid basis for reflection on, and teaching about, the spiritual life. Again, her Immaculate Conception and Assumption are consoling truths for the Church that lead us to contemplate the spiritual realities that should inform our lives.[315]

But she surely also teaches us as Mother. Here we are brought into the difficult question of her mediation. In chapter three we have already seen that Mary's mediation was affirmed by our medieval Carmelite authors, and we noted some of the theological problems associated with this teaching. But if we follow the lead of the careful, but restrained teaching of John Paul II on Mary's mediation, we shall find a way to see Mary's mediatory role also as one in which she truly teaches, both in the fullness of her maternal function and through her intercession.

8.3.6 The beauty of the Virgin

One of the most common Carmelite invocations of Mary is Mater et Decor Carmeli (Mother and Beauty of Carmel). We have already seen in chapter two the celebration of the beauty of the Virgin in our authors, especially Bostius. The beauty of the Virgin is at the heart of the Order's most common invocation to Mary, the Flos Carmeli:

Flower of Carmel,
Blossoming vine,
Splendour of heaven,
Child-bearing Virgin,
None like to thee.
Mother so tender,
Who no man did know,
To Carmel's children,
Be gracious,
O star of the sea.

Beauty is not something incidental. One of the most significant developments in the twentieth century is surely the rediscovery by Hans Urs von Balthasar of beauty as a critical feature of all theology. It is in one sense the most correct way of viewing the whole divine plan. Beauty is a key idea in Mariology.[316]

I have argued elsewhere that Mariology is sound only when it holds together in proper harmony three truths: Mary's relationship with her Son and his mission; Mary's relationship to us; and the beauty of the Virgin.[317] If we neglect the beauty of Mary, we can fall into some kind of Protestant pessimism about human nature; or we can depersonalise Mary to concentrate on her function rather than on her person made glorious and beautiful by God's grace. Paul VI spoke to the Seventh Mariological and Fourteenth Marian Congresses on the way of beauty being an authentic approach to Mary.[318]

In a world that is frequently dark the beauty of the Virgin can raise up our hearts and lead us into a radical optimism about human nature and its destiny. Faced with the harshness of contemporary society, and indeed with the hard Christian message of the Cross, the figure of Mary is one of rest and repose. Her feasts are moments of refreshment in the liturgical year. The Carmelite image of Mary is one, therefore, that is a gift and a consolation for our time.

8.3.7 Consecration and the Scapular

We have already considered the Scapular and seen it as a significant form of Marian devotion. But we should also deepen our appreciation of the Scapular in the context of the valuable modern theological reflection on the meaning of consecration which we have already briefly considered in chapter four.[319]

In the twentieth century the notion of consecration of individuals and of the world to Mary has come very much to the fore. Not least of the reasons is the demand apparently made by Mary at Fatima that the world be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Some in the Church would see that bishops, even popes, have not taken this reported request with sufficient seriousness. We must be careful, however, about all apparitions: even when they are officially sanctioned according to Church law, the communications which come to us in apparitions must always be subjected to the most careful theological scrutiny. The reason for this is not that theologians set themselves up as judges of Mary's statements, but communications from the Virgin, almost invariably to simple people or children, can suffer distortion from human language—both in their comprehension and their translation—and from the cultural limitations of the time and place of an apparition.

In answer to this criticism of the popes, we can point to a series of papal acts of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary from the time of Pius XII;[320] John Paul II invited the bishops to unite with him in an act of entrustment to Mary on 25 March 1984.[321]

Many theologians are agreed that in its fullest sense consecration is an act of the highest worship,
or adoration, which is due to God alone. Furthermore, radical consecration is an act of God in us through grace and sacraments; our acts of consecration are only a response to what God has already done in us foundationally in baptism. But there is also agreement that there can be an analogical consecration to Mary, that is, a consecration that does not terminate in her, but is a consecration to God through her. Consecration to Mary can be seen as a recognition of the full implications of her motherhood.[322]

There is some theological writing on the possible distinction between consecrating to Mary and entrusting to Mary. Some authors will hold that the terms “consecration” and “entrustment” are identical; others will hold that there is a nuance between them, and that consecration should be avoided because of its ambiguity – an act properly speaking belonging to God, but applied analogously to Mary.[323] One should, moreover, note the strongly Christocentricism of the 1984 act of entrustment by John Paul II.[324] It is perhaps noteworthy that at a congress convoked in Manila in 1988 to renew the consecration of the Philippines, the ceremony took place in two parts: a consecration to God, an entrustment to Mary.

When we speak of Marian consecration, we must think firstly of Mary herself as being the one most consecrated to God: “Mary is above all the model and prototype of consecration to which not only the Church but each Christian is invited to partake”.[325] As she is the Mother who intercedes it is natural that we entrust ourselves to her. As she is exemplar, she forms our response to God in discipleship of her Son. Since she is our Mother, and an abiding presence in our lives, we are right to commit ourselves to her care.

These modern theological reflections on consecration can help us to enrich our appreciation of the Scapular as a vehicle expressing our entrustment to Mary. They may also be a guide to the way in which we perhaps best preach the Scapular devotion in our time.

8.4 Conclusion

We can thus see that the revitalising of our Carmelite Marian heritage involves a creative interaction of its riches with the modern developments of Mariology in the Church. It must be creative; it will not be sufficient to add something here and something there from modern theology to our classical texts. Not everything that is being said about Mary today will necessarily be fully incorporated into Carmelite Mariology. Our vision of Mary will always be partial; many profound insights about the Virgin will be for others to develop. But we must be in dialogue with the current guidance of the Spirit about the mystery of the person and role of Mary. As we do so, we will gradually learn as an Order what we should incorporate into our tradition. We will surely take up some themes that our successors will not receive – in the technical sense of fully owning and finding life-giving.[326] There will never be a definitive treatment of the Carmelite Marian charism; as a living reality, continually enkindled and supported by the Spirit, it will, despite times of decline and neglect, grow and develop. It is a challenge for each age to accept the tradition passed on, develop it in the heart of the Church and in turn leave it enriched for future generations.

8.5 Lectio Divina

For lectio divina in our times we might take up what is probably the central text of modern Mariology, Luke 1:26–38 on the Annunciation and pray with it; along with it we could use the text which Carmelites have so frequently used in liturgy, John 19:25–27. Together these may open our hearts to our deepest traditions and to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches (see Rev 2:17).


9 Conclusion

It is hoped that the above seven chapters make clear that we have a marvellous Marian heritage. This gift to the Order is one that we must both personally appropriate and share with others. There is a need to be at once traditional and creative as we live and share this charism. The last chapter indicated that we must seek to integrate our Marian heritage within the broader Mariological consciousness of the Church. But this cannot be merely a theoretical study.

At the personal level we have to come to know Mary as a person, to appreciate her presence in our lives, to know her caring for us. Without prayer and reflection these will never be life-giving experiences for us. The way in which at present the Order seems most drawn to reflection and contemplation is through the rediscovery of the lectio divina. This way of praying the scriptural texts about Mary can also be used with our classical texts as we seek to respond to them in our life situation. There is a need also to cultivate a devotional life suitable to the condition and temperament of each individual. At any time some people may not feel drawn to particular traditional practices. A valuable lead has been given by Paul VI when he advocated exercises of piety which take their inspiration from the Rosary.

Two recent presentations of our tradition are good examples of attempts to integrate recent scholarship, especially biblical, with our tradition. In 1986 a Marian Commission of the Order issued a Interim/Provisional Communication.[327]It concentrated on the traditional images of Mary used in the Order and showed their contemporary relevance; it also studied the notion of consecration and the Scapular today. The second was the Letter of Father John Malley, Prior General, for the Marian Year in 1988.[328] Again it is a sensitive biblical presentation of Mary with strong evocations of our tradition. The new element here was the explicit focus on contemporary relevance summed up in three points:
* to know Mary better;
* to love Mary more;
* to imitate Mary faithfully.

It is interesting that both of these documents, as well as the letter of Father Falco Thuis in 1983 noted in Chapter Six above, all refer to Michael of Saint Augustine and quote from him. One would not be overbold to suggest that we are being called upon to look again at this neglected element of our tradition. It would surely be a valuable corrective for, and approach to, the rash of purported apparitions, some only of which seem genuine. Our Carmelite mystics hold in a unified vision Mary and Jesus without any confusion, or unsound emphasis on Mary alone; she always leads to Jesus, who in turn is found with her.

A renewal will always be a dialogue between our past heritage and our contemporary world. There is need for greater study of our Carmelite authors. Though one can only welcome the recent publications of Marian texts in various languages,[329] much needs to be done. Other texts have to be studied and translated, and members of the Order, especially those involved in formation need to study existing and such future publications.

We have to be creative in seeking out ways in which we establish a psychological and spiritual bonding with the Virgin. It is perhaps too early to make a fair or firm judgement, but it may be that in the period after Vatican II there was excessive pruning of Marian practices and devotions. Our Marian heritage needs expression in theology, symbol, art, poetry, devotion, theology, and appropriate practices suitable for members of the Order and in pastoral activity. Theological writing alone will not guarantee a dynamic Marian life.

At community level there is need for some expressions of our Marian life. Careful celebration of liturgies in honour of the Mother of Carmel are obviously the most important. But there are also other possibilities such as group prayer, especially lectio divina. What must be sought is a development of the Marian consciousness of the whole community, so that an essential part of its identity and work will be its Marian attitude and colouring. In practice it might also be well to choose a prayer or action that will encapsulate, and give a focus to, each community's Marian thrust. In pastoral activities there are surely many possibilities: celebration of feasts, preaching, lectures, adult education, prayer groups, scripture study groups, lectio divina, media activities and writing both popular and scientific. At these levels of the individual, the community and our apostolic mission what is important is not sheer quantity, but the quality of our Marian expressions. However, in a very pluriform Order, where even in one geographical area there may be a need of different approaches, we can continually learn from what is happening elsewhere in the Order. Again in a time of renewal, not everything that should, or might, be tried will succeed. There is need not only for creativity, but also for patience and mature discernment. There is also need for prayer for the Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened about how to foster and serve the Marian gift we have received. We owe it to the Church that what has been committed to us as a heritage be guarded and animated.

In this whole attempt to know and love the Blessed Mother, and to make her known and loved, we can be assured of her gentle and sustaining presence. She is the one who has always been with the Order in all its vicissitudes. Her gift to Carmel has been to be its “Mother and Beauty” and “A Loving Presence”.


[1] Smet, Carmelites 1:3-9; C. Cicconetti, La regola del Carmelo. Origine - natura - significato. Textus et studia historica carmelitana 12. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1973).
[2] MCH 49-70.
[3] Canon 13, Ne nimia; see Cicconetti (n. 1) 127-139.
[4] Constit. 23 - Religionum diversitatem; see Cicconetti (n. 1) 331-348.
[5] Bull Tenorem cuiusdam; see Cicconetti (n. 1) 353-356.
[6] Smet, Carmelites 64-65; Geagea, Maria 223-242; J.P.H. Clark, “A Defense of the Carmelite Order by John Hornby, O.Carm., AD 1374”, Carmelus 32 (1985) 73-106.
[7] E. Boaga, “Origine Mariana dei carmelitani”, Marianum 53(1991) 183-198.
[8] See G. Vitti and M. Falletti, “La devozione a Maria nell’Ordine Cistercense”, Marianum 54(1992) 287-348.
[9] See N.L. Reuviaux, “La dévotion à Notre Dame dans l’Ordre de Prémontré” in H. du Manoir, ed., Maria: Etudes sur la sainte Vierge. 8 vols. (Paris: Beauchesne, 1949-1971) 2:713-720.
[10] See A. Duval, “La dévotion mariale dans l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs” in Du Manoir, Maria 2:737-782.
[11] Roschini, Maria 4:425-495; R. Laurentin, La question mariale (Paris: Seuil, 1963) = Mary's Place in the Church (London: Burns and Oates, 1965) ch. 2.
[12] See annual survey by E.R. Carroll in Marian Studies.
[13] AAS 42(1950) 390-391.
[14] De visione sancti Simonis Stock (Rome: Carmelite Institute, 1950).
[15] C.P. Ceroke, “The Credibility of the Scapular Promise”, Carmelus 11(1964) 81-123.
[16] L. Saggi, La “Bolla sabatina”: ambiente, testo, tempo (Rome: Carmelite Institute, 1967); cf. Carmelus 13(1966) 245-302; 14(1967) 63-69.
[17] AOC 27(1968) 45, 51.
[18] E. Boaga, “Origini mariane dei Carmelitani”, Marianum 53(1991) 183-198 at 188-191.
[19] RA 1-3 (Prologue).
[20] RA 5,6,8,12-13,15.
[21] Geagea, Maria 96.
[22] Ibid. 103 with n. 46.
[23] Ibid. 105-108.
[24] Ibid. 579-582.
[25] lbid. 109.
[26] Ibid. 146.
[27] Ibid. 579.
[28] Ibid. 578.
[29] General Chapter at Verona 1381, ibid. 586.
[30] Ibid. 590, nn. 92-93.
[31] C. Catena, Le Carmelitane. Storia e spiritualità. Textus et studia historica carmelitana 9. (Rome: Carmelite Institute, 1969) 129; cf. 119.
[32] Ibid. 167.
[33] Ibid. 149.
[34] Ibid. 231.
[35] Ibid. 247.
[36] Ibid. 297-298; cf. [L. Saggi], “Numenclatura monialium Ordinis tempore Sixti IV”, AOC 20(1956-1957) 163-164.
[37] Art. 16.
[38] A. Staring, ed., “Nicolai Prioris generalis ordinis carmelitarum Ignea sagitta”, Carmelus 9(1962) 237-307 at 286.
[39] MCH 40-41.
[40] B. Zimmerman, ed., Ordinaire de l’Ordre de Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel par Sibert de Beka (Paris: Picard, 1910) -abbrev. infra OrdSibert; see J. Boyce, “The Liturgy of the Carmelites”, Carmelus 43(1996) 5-41 at 16-18 on Sibert.
[41] 1281: post 51.
[42] 1324:4,1.
[43] 1324:3/12.
[44] Ibid. 158-161 with n. 13.
[45] See 1281:49; 1294:48.
[46] 1281:26 - “Concede nos famulos tuos, quesimus domine deus, perpetue mentis et corporis salute gaudere, et gloriose beate Marie semper virginis intercessione, a presenti liberari tristicia et futura perfrui leticia. Per christum dominum nostrum. Amen.”
[47] “Protege, Domine, famulos tuos subsidiis pacis: et beatae Mariae semper Virginis patrociniis confidentes, a cunctis hostibus redde securos. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.” See 1324:13.
[48] 1294:40.
[49] 1324:3,6.
[50] 1369:f.19v.
[51] General Chapter 1342 - ACG 1:141.
[52] 1281:6.
[53] 1294:4.
[54] 1324:3/14.
[55] 1324:5/7.
[56] OrdXIII 23 and 29; see also Geagea, Maria 140
[57] 1281:26; 1294:21 - “Ego frater .G. facio professionem et promitto obedientiam deo et beate mariae et tibi frater .t. priori generali fratrum heremitarum ordinis beate Marie de monte carmeli..”.
[58] See A.H. Thomas, ed., Constitutiones antiqui ordinis fratrum praedicatorum (1215-1237) (Leuven: Dominicanenklooster, 1965) dist. 16, p. 30—Ego N. facio professionem et promitto obedientiam Deo et beate Mariae et tibi N. magistro ordinis praedicatorum.
[59] “...facit professionem et promittit obedientiam Deo et B. Mariae, quod non invenitur in aliis ordinibus” in Humbert de Romans, De vita regulari: vol. 2—Expositio in constitutione (Befani, 1889) ch. 1, p. 71.
[60] 1324:13.
[61] 1324:13. Also in other contexts, e.g. at end of the General Chapter, 1324:23 and 25; conventual chapters 1324:26.
[62] Ibid. 52.
[63] Ibid. 434.
[64] G. Bernt and R. Wisniewski, “Ave Maris Stella”, MarLex 1:317-318; O'Carroll, Theotokos 379.
[65] V. Hoppenbrouwers, “Come l'Ordine Carmelitano ha veduto e come vede la Madonna”, Carmelus 15(1968) 209-221.
[66] See Smet, Carmelites 1:10-28, esp. 10-12.
[67] Ibid. 1:11.
[68] MCH 47.
[69] ACG 1:7.
[70] Laus religionis carmelitanae 4:2 - MCH 243.
[71] Laus 6:4 - MCH 253.
[72] See E. Boaga, “Elijah alle origini e nelle prime generazioni dell'Ordine Carmelitano” in P. Chandler, ed. A Journey with Elijah. Carisma e spiritualità 2. (Rome: Ed. Institutum Carmelitanum, 1991) 85-103; E. Boaga, Nello spirito e nella virtù di Elia. Antologia di documenti e sussidi. (Rome: Carmelite Order Commission for Charism and Spirituality, 1990).
[73] MCH 99.
[74] The text might be translated to indicate that the hermits were her sons: “Decebat igitur ut mater virtutum locum tantae sanctitatis et devotionis filios per suam personalem praesentiam decoraret”. - MCH 128; see Geagea, Maria 202-208.
[75] Ibid. 128, 131.
[76] MCH 184-253; see Valabek, Mary 1:25-42.
[77] Speculum 1 - MCH 187.
[78] Laus 1:1 - MCH 218.
[79] Laus 1:2-3 - MCH 219-220.
[80] Laus 1:4, 6 and 14 - MCH 221, 222, 231.
[81] Compendium 2 - MCH 202; Speculum 3 - MCH 190; Laus 1:6 - MCH 222-223.
[82] MCH 218-233.
[83] Laus 1:9 - MCH 226.
[84] Laus 1:11 - MCH 228.
[85] Speculum 2-3 - MCH 189-190.
[86] Smet, Carmelites 1:63-64; Geagea, Maria 129-137, 250-268; Valabek, Mary 1:43-59; see P. Chandler, “Ribot, Philippe”, D Spir 13:537-539.
[87] Geagea, Maria 136-137.
[88] Institutes 6:5 - SpecC 2:60-61, nn. 238-240; 6:7-8 - SpecC 2:62-63, nn. 246-251.
[89] Institutes 6:1 - SpecC 2:54-55, n. 215.
[90] Institutes 6:3 - SpecC 2:57-58, nn. 225-229.
[91] Institutes 6:5; 6:7 - SpecC 2:60, n. 238; cf. n. 240; 2:62, n. 246.
[92] Institutes 6:4 - SpecC 2:59, n. 234.
[93] Institutes 6:5 - SpecC 2:60, n. 238.
[94] Institutes 6:3 - SpecC 2:58, n. 226-228.
[95] E.R. Carroll, “The Marian Theology of Arnold Bostius, O.Carm. (1445-1499)”, Carmelus 9(1962) 197-236; id. “Arnold Bostius, Fifteenth Century Flemish Exponent of Carmelite Devotion to Mary”, The Sword 37(1977) 7-20; Geagea, Maria 372-438; Valabek, Mary 1:61-78 = Roseti del Carmelo (Florence) 1982/2, pp. 25-42.
[96] Daniel a Virgine Maria, ed., Vinea Carmeli seu historia eliani Ordinis B.V. Mariae de Monte Carmelo (Antwerp, 1662).
[97] Geagea, Maria 370-372.
[98] SpecC 2:375-431, nn. 1524-1703. A Spanish translation exists by A.M. López Sendín, Patronato y patrocinio de la Santísima Virgen María sobre la Orden del Carmen que le está consagrada (Madrid: Centro de Espiritualidad Carmelitana, 1981). We await both a critical edition and an English translation from Paul Chandler.
[99] See Carroll “Marian Theology” (n. 29); Geagea, Maria 379-397.
[100] “Marian Theology” (n. 29) 203.
[101] Maria 381-384.
[102] See Geagea, Maria 376-379; S. De Fiores, “Bellezza”, NDizMar 222-231; ch. 6 below,
[103] Laus religionis carmelitanae 1:4 - MCH 219-220.
[104] De patronatu 8 - SpecC 2:405, n. 1614.
[105] Ibid. 1:2 - SpecC 2:378, n. 1534.
[106] Ibid. 9 - SpecC 2:407, n. 1619.
[107] Ibid. 4:2 - SpecC 393, n. 1585.
[108] Ibid. 4:1 - SpecC 2:390, n. 1574.
[109] Ibid. 11:2 - SpecC 417-420, nn. 1654-1668.
[110] Ibid. pater 4:2 - SpecC 2:391, n. 1578; institutor 12:2 - SpecC 2:423, n. 1677; patriarcha... legislator ... praeceptor ... patronus... fundator 12:2 - SpecC 2:423, n. 1678.
[111] Ibid. 1:1; 2:2 - SpecC 2:377, n. 1529; 383, n. 1549.
[112] Ea propter Legis-latrix Eliae, Maria: & totius Carmeli coetus legislatrix, fundatrixque primaria rite dicitur. Ibid. 2:2 - SpecC 2:383, n. 1549.
[113] Domina et institutrix nostra Maria. Ibid. 12:2 - SpecC 2:423, n. 1678; cf. “you founded our order” (ordinem nostrum instituisti). Ibid. 1:1 - SpecC 2:377, n. 1531.
[114] Maria patrona 3 - SpecC 2:437, n. 1730.
[115] M. Cera, “Il rapporto Elia-Maria nel Carmelo”, Maria icona 83-92.
[116] Geagea, Maria 405-417.
[117] Mater igitur et Patrona Carmeli et Carmelitarum. De patronatu 4:2 - SpecC 2:392, n. 1548; Inclyta Dei Genetrix Maria patrona Carmeli praeclarissima. Ibid. 5:1 - SpecC 394, n. 1590.
[118] Ibid. 1:1 - SpecC 377, n. 1530.
[119] Ibid. 11:2 - SpecC 2:419, n. 1662.
[120] Tutrix. Ibid. 4:1 - SpecC 393, n. 1588.
[121] Ibid. 5:1 - SpecC 395, n. 1593.
[122] Ibid. 1:1 - SpecC 378, n. 1533.
[123] Ibid. 6:3 - SpecC 2:400, n. 1606.
[124] 4:2 - SpecC 2:391, n. 1578.
[125] Geagea, Maria 413-414.
[126] De patronatu 4:2 - SpecC 2:391, n. 1578.
[127] Ibid. 7:1 - SpecC 2:401, n. 1609.
[128] SpecC. Dedication to Cardinal Paluzio, protector of the Order.
[129] De Patronatu 4:2 - SpecC 392, n. 1584.
[130] Ch. 4 - MCH 127.
[131] 6:1 - SpecC 2:55, n. 215.
[132] De Patronatu 13:2 - SpecC 2:428, n. 1697.
[133] Ibid. 11:3 - SpecC 2:420, n. 1669.
[134] V. Hoppenbrouwers, “Virgo purissima et vita spiritualis Carmeli”, Carmelus 1(1954) 255-277; S. Possanzini, “La 'Virgo Purissima'“ in Maria icona 73-82; E.R. Carroll, “La 'Virgo puissima' y el Carmelo” in Congreso 1989: 51-61.
[135] Rub. 13 - AOC 15(1950) 218.
[136] 7:4 - SpecC 2:67, n. 265.
[137] Ibid. n. 264.
[138] ACG 1:11; MCH 67.
[139] MCH 314, 323, 324.
[140] B.M. Xiberta, De visione Sancti Simonis Stock. Bibliotheca Sacri Scapularis. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1950) 311.
[141] De patronatu 13:1 - SpecC 2:416, n. 1691.
[142] C. Catena, Le carmelitane. Storia e spiritualità. Textus et studia historica carmelitana 11. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1969) 349-354.
[143] Speculum 2 - MCH 187.
[144] Ibid. 1 - MCH 186.
[145] Compendium 2 - MCH 202.
[146] Laus 2:4 - MCH 238.
[147] Ibid. 3:2 - MCH 242.
[148] See Geagea, Maria 199.
[149] De patronatu 2:4, 2 - SpecC 393, n. 1586; prolog. - SpecC 376, n. 1525.
[150] Geagea, Maria 406.
[151] Catena (n. 1) 356.
[152] MCH 193-199; see Geagea, Maria 178-183.
[153] MCH 198-199.
[154] 4:2 - MCH 244.
[155] Ibid. 1:6 - MCH 223.
[156] Tract Reg. - MCH 196; cf. Speculum 3 - MCH 189; Laus 1:4 and 6; 5:1 - MCH 220-221, 223, 245.
[157] Laus 1:10 - MCH 227.
[158] G.M. Roschini, Maria santissima nella storia della salvezza. 4 vols. (Isola del Liri: Pisani, 1969) 2:256-343; M. O'Carroll, Theotokos 253-256; T.F. Ossanna et al, “Madre nostra”, NDizMar 830-842.
[159] Adv. haer. 5:33, 11 - PG 7:1080.
[160] Orat. ad BVM 52 - PL 158:957.
[161] Geagea, Maria 191-192.
[162] Catena (n. 1) 357-358.
[163] Text: Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 341
[164] Efrén de la Madre de Dios and O. Steggink, Tiempo y vida de Santa Teresa. BAC (Madrid: La Editorial Católica, 3rd ed. 1996) 516-518.
[165] Spiritual Testimonies 21 - Trans. K. Kavanaugh and O. Rodriguez, The Collected Works of Saint Teresa of Avila. 3 vols. (Washington DC: ICS, 1976-1985) 1:330.
[166] Laus religionis carmelitanae 3:1 - MCH 241.
[167] Ibid. 3:2 - MCH 241-242.
[168] Vatican II, Church LG 62; see G.L. Müller et al, “Mittlerin der Gnade”, MarLex 4:487-493; S. Meo, “Mediatrice”, NDizMar 920-935; O'Carroll, Theotokos 238-245.
[169] C. O'Donnell, “La mediación de María y la tradición del Carmelo” in Congreso 1989: 75-90.
[170] C. O'Donnell, “Mediatrix of Graces. Continuing Questions”, Milltown Studies 22(1988) 95-110.
[171] E.g. M. O'Carroll (n. 27).
[172] LG 62.
[173] “Sister in religion” (religione soror), Defensorium 2:16 - SpecC 1:159, n.708.
[174] De Patronatu 5:2 - SpecC 2:396, n. 1597.
[175] Ibid. 1:2 - SpecC 2:379, n. 1535.
[176] Ibid. 1:1 - SpecC 2:378, n. 1533.
[177] Catena (n. 1) 355-356.
[178] Devotio 252.
[179] A. Constantino, “María, nuestra hermana”, Congreso 1989: 121-130; Id., “Maria, Sorella nel Carmelo”, Maria icona 63-71; Geagea, Maria 564-572; V. Macca, “Sorella”, NDizMar 1323-1327.
[180] Adv. haer. 1:1-2,77 - PG 42:653; cf. Vatican II, LG 53 and 56.
[181] AAS 56(1964) 1016.
[182] Alloc. 11 Oct 1963 - AAS 55(1963) 874.
[183] Orat. 4 - PG 87/3:3319; Anacreontica 1, In Annuntiat. - PG 87/3:3737.
[184] V. Hoppenbrouwers, “Virgo purissima et vita spiritualis Carmeli”, Carmelus 1(1954) 255-277 at 256-261; S. Possanzini, “La 'Virgo Purissima'“ in Maria icona 73-82.
[185] B. Zimmermann, “Richardi Archiepiscopi Armacani bini sermones”, AOCDisc 6(1931-1932) 166.
[186] Hoppenbrouwers (n. 43) 261-268.
[187] Ibid. 240; L. Saggi, “Attegiamento di ascolto della parola di Dio nell'Ordine Carmelitano; testi ed autori”, Carmelus 15(1968) 127-164.
[188] Ch. 2 - SpecC 1:10, n. 24 - Engliah trans. B. Edwards, The Book of the Institution of the First Monks (Oxford: Boars Hill, 1969) 3-4.
[189] Dark Night 2:24,4 - Trans. K. Kavanagh and O. Rodriguez, The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross (Washington DC: ICS,. 1973) 388; see E. García Lázaro, “La spiritualità mariana in Teresa d'Avila e Giovanni della Croce” in Maria icona 129-137; Valabek, Mary 1:119-137.
[190] Ascent of Mount Carmel 2:7,5; 3:36,1; 2:7,1; 2:19,4 - Trans. ibid. 123, 277, 121, 169.
[191] Ibid. 3:2,10 - Trans. 217.
[192] Trans. (n.47) 732.
[193] Hoppenbrouwers, “Virgo purissima” (n. 43) 269; cf. B. Secondin, Santa Maria Maddalena de'Pazzi. Esperienza e dottrina. (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1974); F. Candelori, “La spiritualità mariana in Maria Maddalena de'Pazzi” in Maria icona 139-142; Valabek, Mary 1:139-154.
[194] Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 249-250.
[195] Op. cit. (n. 1) 354.
[196] Colloquoy 48 and Probation 31 August 1587 in The Complete Works of Saint Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi. Carmelite and Mystic (1566-1707). 5 vols. Trans. G. N. Pausback. (Fatima: Blessed Nuno House, 1969-1975) 3: 283; 4:262.
[197] “Spirituality” in Word and Redemption. Essays in theology 2. (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) 97-98 = Verbum Caro. Skizzen zur Theologie 1/2. (Einsiedeln: Johannes, 1960).
[198] Collectio missarum de Beata Maria Virgine. Editio typica. 2 vols. (Vatican, 1987) n. 32, 1:128 - Quae mysterio Christi tui intime sociata, filios tibi cum Ecclesia generare non desinit, quos ad perfectam caritatem persequendam, urget amore, attrahit exemplis. Ipsa enim vitae evangelicae existit imago, quam supplices intuentes, discimus eius mente te super omnia diligere, eius spiritu Verbum tuum iugiter contemplari, eius corde fratribus deservire.
[199] To Honor Mary (Marialis cultus) n. 57 (London: Catholic Truth Society 1974).
[200] E. Peretto, ed., La spiritualità Mariana: legittimità, natura, articolazione (Rome: Edizioni Marianum, 1994); see J. Esquerda Biffet, Espiritualidad Mariana de la Iglesia: María en la vida espiritual cristiana. Síntesis 6/2. (Madrid: Soc. Atenas, 1994).
[201] Paul VI, Marialis cultus (n. 9) nn. 56-57; see J. Castellano Cervera, “Una existencia renovada en Cristo. Aspectos antropologicos de la 'espiritualidad Mariana'“, in Peretto (n. 10) 185-216 esp. 199 where he follows S., Meo; see T. Goffi, “Spiritualità” in NDizMar 1362-1378.
[202] A. Neglia, “La mistica Mariana nel Carmelo” in Maria icona 115-128; cf. M. Schmidt et al, “Mystik”, MarLex 4:564-572; S. De Fiores, “Maria”, NDizSpir 878-902 at 890-891.
[203] A. Derville, “Petyt, Maria”, DSpir 12:1227-1229; A. Deblaere, “Maria Petyt, écrivain et mystique flamande”, Carmelus 26(1979) 3-76; O. Steggink, “Maria von der hl. Theresia”, MarLex 4:296-297; some texts in Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 403-419.
[204] S. Possanzini, La dottrina e la mistica Mariana del venerabile Michele di Sant’Agostino, Carmelitano (Rome: Edizioni Carmelitane, 1998); A. Deblaere, “Michel de Saint-Augustin”, DSpir 10:1187-1191; see G. Wessels, ed., Introductio ad vitam internam et fruitiva praxis vitae mystice. (Rome: Collegio S. Alberto, 1926) - Appendix “De vita Mariae-formi et Mariana in Maria et propter Mariam” 363-387.
[205] Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 268-277.
[206] Life 33:14-15 - Collected Works (n. 24) 1:225-226.
[207] Spiritual Testimonies 43 in Collected Works (n. 24) 1:343.
[208] The Story of a Soul ch. 3 - Trans. J. Clarke (Washington DC: ICS, 1975) 65-67.
[209] See M. Schmidt et al., “Mystik”, MarLex 4:564-572.
[210] S. De Fiores, “Marie (Sainte Vierge)”, DSpir 10:461; id. “Maria” in NDizSpir 890-891; Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 219-224; O. Steggink, “Mística Mariana en el Carmelo: P. Miguel de san Agustín y María de santa Teresa Petyt” in Congreso 1989 63-74; Valabek, Mary 1:269-289.
[211] E.g. Pierre-Joseph de la Clorivière - see A. Rayez, “Devotion et mystique mariales du Père de Clorivière” in H. de Manoir, ed., Maria. Études sur la Sainte Vierge (Paris: Beauchesne, 1954) 3:307-328; cf. H. Monier-Vinard, “La mystique du P. de Clovière”, Revue d'ascétique et mystique”, 17(1936) 147-168, 225-242. Veronica O'Brien (1905-1998) - see L.J. Suenens, The Hidden Hand of God. The Life of Veronica O'Brien and Our Common Apostolate (Dublin: Veritas, 1994) 298-309. See E. Neubert, La vie d'union à Marie (Paris: Alsacia, 1954).
[212] Op. cit. 99-127.
[213] Michael of Saint Augustine, De vita Mariae-formi et Mariana, ed. Wessels (n. 56) ch. 1, p. 363.
[214] Ibid. 364-365.
[215] Ibid. ch. 2, pp. 366-367.
[216] Ibid. ch. 3, pp. 368-369.
[217] Ibid. ch. 5, p. 371; cf. ch. 4, p. 369.
[218] Ibid. ch. 9, p. 378-379.
[219] Cf. ibid. ch. 7, p. 374.
[220] Ibid. ch. 7, p. 376.
[221] Ibid. ch. 11, p. 383.
[222] Ibid. ch. 12, p. 384.
[223] “The Marian Principle” in Elucidations (London: SPCK, 1975) 64-72 (= Klarstellungen zur Prüfung der Geister. Freiburg-Basel-Vienna, Herder, 1972); Word and Redemption. Essays in Theology 2 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) 87-108 (= Verbum Caro. Skizzen zur Theologie 1/2. Einsiedln, Joannes, 1960).
[224] Published only in 1842; many editions and translations. See S. De Fiores, “Maria”, NDizSpir 891-892; H.J. Jünemann, “Grignon de Montfort”, MarLex 3:28-29; M. O'Carroll, Theotokos 250-251.
[225] C.P. Ceroke, “The Credibility of the Scapular Promise”, Carmelus 11(1964) 81-123; C. Cicconetti, “La pietà popolare Mariana: prospettive”, Maria icona 191-209; H. Clarke, The Brown Scapular (Oxford: Carmelite Book Service - Aylesford UK: The Friars, 1994); G. Grosso, “Lo Scapolare del Carmine: storia e prospettive”, Maria icona 211-221; R.M. Lopez Melus, El Escapulario del Carmen (Onda: Apostolado Mariano Carmelitano, 1988); id.,”Devoción a la Virgen del Carmen. Devoción cosmopolita” in Congreso 1989: 159-190 = Ephemerides mariologicae 40(1990) 77-109; M. Reuver, “Lo Scapolare oggi”, Carmelus 15(1968) 222-229; L. Saggi, “Scapulaire”, DSpir 14:390-396; R.M. Valabek, “Nueva visión de la devoción al escapulario”, Congreso 1989: 191-238.
[226] Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 199-206.
[227] Ibid. 320-330.
[228] De valore spirituali devotionis S. Scapularis. Bibliotheca S. Scapularis 3. (Rome: Carmelite Institute, 1953).
[229] AOC 16(1950) 96-97; English trans. in E.K. Lynch, Mary's Gift to Carmel (Aylesford UK: The Friars, 1955) vii-ix.
[230] Geagea, Maria 636-641.
[231] Osservatore Romano, 24 and 31 July 1988 = AOC 39(1988) 4-7.
[232] N. 1667, cf. Vatican II, Liturgy SC 60. See A. Donghi, “Sacramentali”, NDizLit 1253-1270.
[233] Canon 1144.
[234] A. Boulet, “Peut-on se consacrer à Marie?” in Mater fidei et fidelium. FS T. Koehler. Marian Library Studies 17-23. (Ohio: University of Dayton, 1991) 540-544; A.B. Calkins, Totus Tuus. John Paul II's Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (Libertyville OH: Academy of the Immaculate, 1992); S. De Fiores, “Consacrazione”, NDizMar 394-417; M. O'Carroll, Theotokos 107-109.
[235] S. De Fiores (n. 85) 406.
[236] Ibid. 406; cf. Calkins (n. 85) passim.
[237] G. Mattai, “Religiosità popolare”, NDizSpir 1316-1331.
[238] N. 48 - AAS 68(1976) 37-38.
[239] Puebla. Evangelization at Present and in the Future of Latin America. Conclusions. (Washington DC: Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1979 - Slough UK: St Paul 1980) nn. 444-469, 910-915, 959-963.
[240] See Carmelite Marian Commission, Interim Report / Comunicazione provvisoria / Comunicación provisional (Rome, 1985).
[241] Ritus benedictionis et impositionis scapularis in AOC 48(1997) 26-36 (Italian), 37-47 (English), 47-59 (Spanish); De natura et valore spirituali devotionis carmelitici scapularis iuxta directions Concilii Generalis O.Carm., et Definitorii Generalis OCD in AOC 48(1997) 165-174 (Italian), 174-182 (English), 183-191 (Spanish).
[242] AOC 48(1997) 180 (English), 171 (Italian), 189 (Spanish).
[243] P.M. Garrido, La Virgen de la Fe: Doctrina y piedad Mariana entre los Carmelitas españoles de los siglos XVI y XVII (Rome: Edizioni carmelitane, 1999).
[244] Art. 1.
[245] Art. 23.
[246] Art. 31.
[247] W. Beinert, ed., Maria heute ehren. Eine theologisch-pastorale Handreichung (Freiburg-Basel-Vienna: Herder, 31979; F. Bergamelli and M. Cimosa, Virgo Fidelis. Studi mariani. FS D. Bertetto (Rome: CLV - Ed. Liturgiche, 1988); I. Calabuig, “Liturgia”, NDizMar 767-787; S. De Fiores, Maria nella teologia contemporanea (Rome: Centro di Cultura Maria “Mater Ecclesiae, 21987) 201-229; B. Kleinheyer, “Maria in der Liturgie” in W. Beinert and H. Petri, eds, Handbuch der Marienkunde (Regensburg: Pustet, 1984) 405-439; Th. Maas-Everd et al, “Liturgie”, MarienLex 4:135-136 (and associated arts.); C. O'Donnell, At Worship with Mary. A Pastoral and Theological Study (Wilmington: Glazier, 1988) = Celebrare con Maria. Le feste e le memorie di Maria nell'anno liturgico. Studio pastorale e theologico (Vatican, 1994); L. Scheffczyk, Neue Impulse zur Marienverehrung (Saint Otillien: EOS, 1974) 41-61.
[248] J. Castellano Cervera, “La Vergine del Carmelo nella liturgia” in Maria icona 170-190 = some adaption of Congreso 1989: 131-158; id. “(beata) Vergine Maria”, NDizLit 1553-1580; Hoppenbrouwers, Devotio 135-153. See E. Caruana, A Bibliography of the Carmelite Liturgy (Vatican: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana - Scuola di Biblioteconomia, 1977); “The Marian Spirit in the Liturgy”, Ascent (Rome) 25(1977) 41-47; id. The Ordinal of Sibert de Beka with Special Reference to Marian Liturgical Themes: Historical, Liturgical Theological Investigation. Diss. (Rome: Pont. Athen. Anselmianum, 1976); id. The Influence of the Roman Rite on the Reform of the Carmelite Liturgy after the Council of Trent. Diss. (Rome: Pont. Athen. Anselmianum, 1982) - Excerpt ibid. 1984 - Carmelus 31(1984) 65-131.
[249] A.M. Forcadell, Commemoratio solemnis Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo. Bibliotheca Sacri Scapularis 2. (Rome: Curiae O.Carm and ODC, 1951); L. Saggi, “Santa Maria del Monte Carmelo” in L. Saggi, ed., Santi del Carmelo. Biografie da vari dizionari (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1972) 109-135.
[250] Forcadell (n. 6) 76-79.
[251] Deus, qui excellentissimae Virginis et Matris tuae Mariae titulo humilem ordinem tibi electum singulariter decorasti et pro defensione eiusdem miracula suscitasti: concede propitius; ut cuius commemorationem devote veneramur, eius in praesenti auxiliis muniri, et in futuro gaudiis sempiternis perfrui mereamur. - Forcadell (n) 122-123.
[252] E.g. John Baconthorpe, Laus religionis carmelitanae 3:2 - MCH 241-242; John of Hildesheim, Dialogus 5 and 17- MCH 349-350, 385-388.
[253] Forcadell (n. 6) 134.
[254] Ibid. 135-142.
[255] Forcadell 146-147.
[256] The Missal according to the Carmelite Rite (Vatican 1953) 528-529.
[257] Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine. 2 vols. (Vatican, 1987).
[258] See C. O'Donnell, “Mary as Prophet, Spiritual Teacher”, Studies in Spirituality 1(1991) 181-198 at 186-188 = “Maria profeta maestra spirituale” in E. Monari, ed., Maria profeta (Rome: EGM, 1992) 1-26 at 8-11.
[259] Vatican II, Liturgy, SC 103.
[260] Cf. Vatican II, Religious, PC 1.
[261] See E. Boaga, “I Carmelitani dal Vaticano II ad oggi” in Pellegrini 156-185; for analysis of data see the significant, K. Waaijman and H. Blommestijn, “Riflessioni sull'evoluzione della spiritualità carmelitana negli ultimi anni alla luce dei documenti ufficiali” ibid. 186-208.
[262] Delineatio n. 11 - AOC 27(1968) 44.
[263] CON 14; cf. Delineatio 12-13.
[264] Delineatio 27; CON (1971) 15.
[265] Documenta 33 - AOC 27(1968) 50.
[266] Art 11.
[267] CON 68-71, 77.
[268] CON 69.
[269] AOC 30(1972) 54-62; Pellegrini 13-20; TowardsPB 14-23
[270] AOC 31(1973) 65-76; Pellegrini 21-31; TowardsPB 25-37.
[271] AOC 31 (1973) 48-49.
[272] Pellegrini 48.
[273] AOC 33(1977) 251; Pellegrini 49-50.
[274] Ibid. AOC 289.
[275] AOC 34(1978) 70 - Italian 61-62.
[276] AOC 33(1977) 345-356; Italian 333-344.
[277] AOC 34(1978) 123-131 - Italian 113-122; Pellegrini 53; TowardsPB 56-66.
[278] AOC 34(1979) 230-232 - Italian 220-221; Pellegrini 63-64; TowardsPB 73-75.
[279] AOC 34(1979) 234 - Italian 224; Pellegrini 65 and TowardsPB 77.
[280] Puebla. Conclusions (Slough UK: Saint Paul, 1980) nn. 282-303, 454, 844, 1144. See H. Rzepkowski, “Puebla” in MarLex 5:375-377.
[281] AOC 36(1983) 79-101 - In the Wonder of the Mystery of God. Contemplation: The Life Stream of Carmel (Rome: Carmelite General Council, 1983).
[282] Ibid. AOC 89; In Wonder 27.
[283] AOC 37(1985) 150-189; Pellegrini 113-119.
[284] Ibid. AOC 179 - Italian 172; Pellegrini 115.
[285] Ibid. AOC 184 - Italian 177; Pellegrini 119.
[286] Forming Prophetic Brotherhood. RIVC. The Carmelite Guide to Formation (Rome: General Curia of the Carmelite Order, 1988).
[287] AOC 39(1988) 77-91 (Italian), 91-103.
[288] AOC 43(1992) 150-170 in Italian, English and Spanish - Pellegrini 148-153.
[289] Article 27.
[290] Art. 64.
[291] Articles 85-87.
[292] Art. 89.
[293] Art. 90.
[294] See C. O'Donnell, “Religious Community as Apostolic Resource”, Religious Life Review 24(1985) 307-316.
[295] See S. De Fiores, Maria nella teologia contemporanea (Rome: Centro di cultura “Mater Ecclesiae, 21987); id., “Nuovi orientamenti della mariologia oggi” in Maria icona 24-34; F.M. Jelly, “Characteristics of Contemporary Mariology”, Chicago Studies 27(1988) 63-79. See annual bibliographical survey by E.R. Carroll in Marian Studies.
[296] E.g. A. Kniazeff, La Mère de Dieu dans l'Église orthodoxe (Paris: Cerf, 1990) = La Madre di Dio nelle Chiesa ortodossa (Milan: San Paolo, 1993).
[297] R.E. Brown et al eds, Mary in the New Testamenmt. A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (Philadelphia: Fortress - London: Chapman, 1978); H.G. Anderson et al eds, The One Mediator, the Saints and Mary. Lutherans and Roman Catholics in Dialogue VIII (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1992); E.R. Carroll, “Ecumenical Roundtable at International Mariological Congresses” in Mater fidei et fidelium. FS T. Koehler - Marian Library Studies 17-23. (Dayton: University Press, 1991) 292-305 with texts in Studi ecumenici 5(1987) 529-543; H. Grass, Traktat über Mariologie. Marburger theologische Studien 30. (Marburg: Elwert, 1991); J. Macquarrie, Mary for All Christians (London: Collins, 1990); H. Petri, ed., Divengenzen in der Mariologie. Zur ökumenischen Diskussion um die Mutter Jesu. Mariologische Studien 7. (Regensburg: Pustet, 1989).
[298] E.g. R.E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah. A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke (Gardon City NY: Doubleday, 1979) = La nascita del Messia secondo Matteo e Luca (Assisi: Cittadella, 1981); B. Buby, Mary of Galilee. Vol. 1 - Mary in the New Testament (New York: Alba, 1994); I. de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the New Covenant (New York: Alba, 1992).
[299] E.g. J.M. Carda Pitarch, El misterio de María (Madrid: Soc. de Educación Atenas, 1984); J. Galot, Maria la donna nell'opera della salvezza (Rome: Gregorian University, 1991); F.M. Jelly, Madonna. Mary in the Catholic Tradition (Huntington IND: Our Sunday Visitor, 1986); J. Paredes, Mary and the Kingdom of God. A Synthesis of Mariology (Slough UK: Saint Paul, 1991) = María en la comunidad del Reino. Síntesis de mariología (Madrid: Pub. Claretianas, 1988); G. Söll, Storia dei dogmi mariani (Rome: LAS, 1981) = M. Schmaus et al eds, Handbuch der Dogmengeschichte III/4 (Freiburg - Basel - Vienna, 1978).  
[300] E.g. H.U. von Balthasar, Mary for Today (Slough UK: Saint Paul, 1987) = Maria für heute (Freiburg im. Br.: Herder, 1987); De Fiores, Maria (n. 2) 289-314; A. von Speyr, Handmaid of the Lord (San Francisco, Ignatius, 1985) = Magd des Herrn (Einsiedln: Johannes, 1948).
[301] L. Scheffczyk, Neue Impulse zur Marienverehung (Saint Otillien: EOS, 1974).
[302] Marialis cultus (1974) 27.
[303] E.g. AA. VV. Maria e lo Spirito Santo. Atti del 4o Simposio mariologico internazionale. (Rome: Marianum - Bologna: Ed. Dehoniane, 1984); A. Amato, “Spirito Sancto”, NDizMar 1327-1362; De Fiores, Maria (n. 2) 256-288; F.-X. Durrwell, Mary. Icon of the Spirit and of the Church (Slough UK: Saint Paul, 1991) = Marie: méditation devant l'icône (Paris: Médiaspaul, 1990); X. Pikaza, “María y el Espíritu Santo (Hech 1,14). Apuntes para una mariología pneumatológico”, Estudios trinitarios 15(1981) 3-82; A. Ziegenaus, ed., Maria und der Heilige Geist. Beiträge zur pneumatologischen Prägung der Mariologie. Mariologische Studien VIII. (Regensburg: Pustet, 1991); F. Zeilinger et al, “Heiliger Geist”, MarLex 3:106-114.
[304] E.g. Vatican II, Church, LG 4, 7, 12; Laity, AA 3; Priests, PO 9; see P. Mullins, “The Theology of Charisms: Vatican II and the New Catechism”, Milltown Studies 33(1994) 123-162.
[305] E.g. AA. VV., Maria e la Chiesa oggi. Atti del 5o simposio internazionale. (Rome: Marianum - Bologna: Ed. Dehoniane, 1985); AA.VV. Maria nella chiesa in cammino verson il duemila. Atti del 7o simposio internazionale mariologico. (Rome: Marianum - Bologna: Ed. Dehoniane, 1989); R. Cantalamessa, Mary Mirror of the Church (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992) = Maria: Uno specchio per la Chiesa (Milan: Ancora, 1991).
[306] R.A. Coll, Christianity and Feminism in Conversation (Mystic CN: Twenty-Third Publications, 1994) 89-107; C. Halkes, “Mary and Women”, Concilium 168(1983) 66-73; C.F. Jegen, ed., Mary according to Women (Kansas City: Leaven, 1985); F.J. Maloney, Woman. First among the Faithful. A New Testament Study (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1985); M. Malone, Who is My Mother? Rediscovering the Mother of Jesus (Dubuque: Brown, 1984).
[307] E.g. M. Warner, Alone of All her Sex (New York: Knopf, 1976) - for reviews see E.R. Carroll in Marian Studies 29(1978) 122-123 and more generally his article in Carmelus 41(1994) 000-000.
[308] “Die marianische Prägung der Kirche” in W. Beinert, ed., Maria heute ehren (Freiburg: Herder, 1977) 263-279; “The Marian Principle” in Elucidations (London: SPCK, 1975) 64-72; Word and Revelation. Essays in Theology 2. (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) 87-108 = Verbum Caro. Skizzen zur Theologie 1/2. (Einsiedln: Johannes, 1960); The Glory of the Lord. A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. 1 - Seeing the Form (Edinburgh: Clark, 1984) 338-343, 362-364, 421-422, 562-565, 599. See S. De Fiores, Maria (n. 2) 351-370; J.L. Heft, “Marian Themes in the Writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar”, Marian Studies 31(1980) 40-65.
[309] E.g. M.T. Bellenzier, “Donna”, NDizMar 499-510; J. Michl et al, “Frau”, MarLex 2:520-524 both with excellent bibliography. See too W. Beinert, “Die mariologischen Dogmen und ihre Entfaltung - 4.5: Maria die solidarische Frau” in W. Beinert and H. Petri, eds., Handbuch der Marienkunde (Regensburg: Pustet, 1984) 307-312.
[310] B. de Margerie, “Mary in Latin American Liberation Theologies” in Kecharitômenê. FS R. Laurentin. (Paris: Desclée, 1990) 365-376 = Marian Studies 38(1987) 47-62; L.A. Gallo, “El Dios del Magnificat: una relectura desde la situación latinoamericana” in F. Bergamelli & M. Cimosa, eds, Virgo fidelis. Studi mariani. FS D. Bertetto. (Rome: CLV - Ed. Liturgiche, 1988) 465-485; J.J. Herrera Acevas, “El Magnificat, canto de liberación”, Efemerides mexicana 6(1988) 365-390; N. Zevallos, “Maria y la esperiencia del pueblo”, Páginas 5(1980) 8-12; I. Gebara & M. Bingemer, Mary. Mother of God, Mother of the Poor (New York: Maryknoll, 1989) = Maria, M_e de Deus e M_e dos pobres (Petrópolis RJ: Vozes, 1987); W.F. Maestri, Mary: Model of Justice. Reflections on the Magnificat (New York: Alba, 1987); J.C. Piepke, “Befreiungstheologie”, MarLex 1:400-401.
[311] Article 97; see John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (1987) n. 37.
[312] See J. Massynbeerde Ford, My Enemy is my Guest. Jesus and Violence (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1985).
[313] Ecclesiam suam - AAS 56(1964) 636; alloc. 25 October 1969 - AAS 61(1969) 724.
[314] De patronatu 11:2 - SpecC 2:418, n.1662.
[315] See Prefaces for Immaculate Conception and Assumption in the Roman Missal.
[316] See S. De Fiores, “Bellezza”, NDizM 222-231.
[317] C. O'Donnell, “Growth and Decline in Mariology” in J. Hyland, ed., Mary in the Church (Dublin: Veritas, 1989) 31-43.
[318] AAS 67(1975) 338.
[319] S. De Fiores, “Consacrazione”, NDizMar 394-417; id. Maria (n. 2) 314-336; R. Laurentin, The Meaning of Consecration Today. A Marian Model for a Secularized Age (San Franscico: Ignatius, 1992) = Retour à Dieu avec Marie. De la sécularisation à la consécration (Paris: O.E.I.L., 1991). See A. B. Calkins, Totus Tuus. John Paul II's Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (Libertyville ILL: Academy of the Immaculate, 1992) 139-156.
[320] AAS 34(1942) 313-325; cf. 44(1952) 511 with 38(1946) 266. See A.B. Calkins (n. 26) 95-137.
[321] Insegnamenti 7/1(1984): 774-777.
[322] P. Grelot, “Marie (Écriture sainte)” in DSpir 10:422.
[323] Laurentin (n. 26) 118-122.
[324] See E.R. Carroll, “Mary: The Woman Come of Age”, Marian Studies 36(1985) 136-160 at 151-154.
[325] Laurentin (n. 26) 162.
[326] See T.P. Rausch, “Reception” in J.A. Komonchak et al, eds, The New Dictionary of Theology (Wilmington: Glazier - Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1987) 828-830; C. O'Donnell, “Reception” in Ecclesia. A Theological Encyclopedia of the Church (Collegeville: Liturgical Press - forthcoming). Cf. more generally G. Alberigo et al, eds, The Reception of Vatican II (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1987) = La réception de Vatican II (Paris: Cerf, 1985).
[327] Various languages published Rome: Centro S. Alberto, 1986 by Carmelite Marian Commission.
[328] AOC 39(1988) 79-103 in Italian and English.
[329] E.g. N. Geagea, Testi mariani: Antoligia carmelitana sulla Beata Vergine Maria (Rome: Ed. OCD, 1996); P.M. Garrido, La Virgen de la fe: Doctrina y piedad marianas entre los Carmelitas españoles de los siglos XVI y XVII (Rome: Ed. Carmelitane, 1999) – Antología mariana 281-410; R.M. Valabek, Mary Mother of Carmel: Our Lady and the Saints of Carmel. 2 vols. (Rome: Inmstitutum Carmelitanum, “Carmel in the World Paperbacks, 1987, 1988).

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