Tuesday, July 24, 2012

450 years ago, the Carmelites were reformed!

Vatican City, (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a message to Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain, to mark the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the Monastery of St. Joseph and the beginning of the Carmelite reform by St. Teresa of Avila. The message, ample extracts of which are given below, is dated 16 July.

"The reform of the Carmelite Order, the anniversary of which fills us with inner joy, arose from prayer and tends towards prayer. In promoting a radical return to the original Rule and abandoning the mitigated Rule, St. Teresa of Jesus sought to create a form of life which favoured a personal encounter with the Lord, finding 'a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us. Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest'".  [The Pope emphasized the need of the Carmelites to go back to the original Rule, which led St. Teresa of Avila to found the Discalced Order.]

"St. Teresa presented a new way of being Carmelite in a world which was also new. Those were 'difficult times' in which, according to that Mistress of the spirit, ... 'the world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again. They would raze His Church to the ground. No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance'. Does this luminous and engaging call, written more than four centuries ago by the mystic saint, not sound familiar in our own times?"  [Really familiar isn't it?]

"The ultimate goal of Teresa's reform and the creation of new monasteries in a world lacking spiritual values was to protect apostolic work with prayer, proposing a form of evangelical life that would act as a model for people seeking the path of perfection, on the basis of the conviction that all authentic personal and ecclesial reform involves an ever more faithful reproduction of the 'form' of Christ in our own selves. ... Today too, as in the sixteenth century, in the midst of rapid transformation, it is important that trusting prayer be the heart of the apostolate, so that the the redeeming message of Jesus Christ may sound our clearly and dynamically. It is urgently important for the Word of life to resound harmoniously in peoples souls, with sonorous and attractive notes".  [That is why I love the Carmelite spirituality!  Discalced actually, ha!]

"The example of St. Teresa of Avila is of great help to us in this exhilarating task. In her time the saint evangelised unhesitatingly, showing tireless ardour, employing methods free from inertia and using expressions bathed in light. This remains important in the current time, when there is a pressing need for the baptised to renew their hearts through individual prayer in which, following the guidance of St. Teresa, they also focus on contemplation of Christ's blessed humanity as the only way to reach the glory of God".

"The power of Christ will lead to a redoubling of efforts to ensure that the people of God recover their vigour in the only way possible: by finding space within ourselves for the feelings of the Lord Jesus, and in all circumstances seeking to live His Gospel to the full. This means, above all, allowing the Holy Spirit to make us friends of the Master and to mould us to Him. It also means accepting all His mandates and adopting in ourselves criteria such as humility of conduct, renunciation of the superfluous, not harming others and acting with simplicity and humbleness of heart. Thus those around us will perceive the joy that arises from our adherence to the Lord; they will see that we put nothing before His love, and that we are always ready to give reasons for our hope".


The Discalced Carmelites are the reality that Orders can too lose sight of their original charism, members try to water down the Rule as set forth by their Founder.

It happened with the Franciscans when St Francis was still alive the Franciscans wanted to relax their rule on extreme poverty.  Now look at the Franciscans.  Look at this shameless guy here!

You think St. Francis would even be proud of him wearing that flashy coat?

This was what St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross did to their Orders.


WHEN are the Jesuits gonna be reformed?



  1. I would like to clarify something based on miscontrued history as if the original Carmelites have not done any reforms.

    1. There have been many reforms in the Carmelite Order: the reforms of Mantua, Monte Oliveti, Albi, Santa Maria della Vita, Santa Maria della Scala, the Teresian Reform and the Reform of Touraine. The most famous of course is the Teresian Reform in Spain.

    2. The "original" Rule of St. Albert that is being mentioned by Teresa is not the original but rather a modified Rule of St. Albert promulgated by Pope Innocent IV. The reform made by Teresa is against the mitigations of Eugene IV on the Rule of St. Albert. At present, both branches of the Order follows the Innocentian version of the Rule of St. Albert.

    3. Teresa wished that her reform stayed within the original Order. As such she died as an OCarm. However, after her death, a group of Discalced Carmelites led by Nicholas Doria severed the unity with the whole order when their "pet" or preferred friar did not become the Prior General during the General Chapter in Rome. Division is politically motivated one not on the observance of the Rule. In fact, the Discalced Carmelites led by Nicholas Doria expelled Jeronimo Gracian, Teresa's director and one of the collaborators of the reform, from the Order. John of the Cross was destined to be deported to Mexico by Doria but before it happened, the saint died in Ubeda.

    4. Carmelite spirituality is not only embodied in Teresa, Therese, and John. To stick only to these 3, one would have missed the richness of the Carmelite tradition.

  2. The Last Line Makes me Sad(Which I Agree with so Much),This Order which I Plan to Enter soon needs to Have Some Division ala Avila.


  3. It may just be me, but I find it disturbing that the secretariat of the tertiaries of a religious order refers to Saints, and at that, Doctors of the Church merely by their first names. I have not heard of any Saint, nor Pope who referred to their spiritual forebears in such a way. That being said...

    I frequently encounter the statement that La Santa Madre and San Juan belong to the O.Carm as they did not approve of Reform being set up as a separate religious order. I do not claim to speak for the OCD and my knowledge of the complexities of the issue regarding the Rule of Saint Albert and the Teresian Reform are limited, but here's my personal take on these:

    Santa Teresa and San Juan may not have envisioned and may have even opposed the division of Carmel, but it was inevitable nonetheless. This is what happened with reform movements in other religious orders - the Franciscans, Trinitarians, Benedictines, Augustinians. Even if the Teresian Reform was set up a separate congregation or province of the Carmelite Order, their austere observance of the Rule and the Constitution of Santa Teresa herself will produce tensions with Carmelites who observe the mitigated Rule. Ironically, I believe, it was the division of Carmel which gave success to the Teresian Reform, because other reform movements which stayed within the Order were never completely effective in the aim of reforming Carmel and stayed as only as local movements (i.e. the Mantuan and Touraine Congregations) and it was only very recently (in terms of O.Carm history) namely, in the 19th century, that the O.Carm was able to completely reform itself. From Wikipedia ("Carmelites"):

    "The prior general, Fr. John Baptist Rossi, realized that if reform was going to work, it could not be left to the whims individual provinces...Fr. Rossi laid the groundwork for a more systematic programme of reform. The place that offered the best conditions was the Province of Tourraine, which gave its name to the reform...The Congregation of Mantua continued to function in its little corner of Italy throughout this period.

    It was only at the end of the 19th century that those following the reform of Tourraine (by this time known as the "strict observance") and the Mantuan Congregation were formally merged under one set of Constitutions. The friars following Mantua conceded to Tourraine's Constitutions but insisted that the older form of the habit - namely their own - should be adopted. In a photograph of the period Blessed Titus Brandsma is shown in the habit of Tourraine as a novice; in all subsequent images he wears that of the newly styled Ancient Observance."

    It was with this independence from the Calced Carmelites that left the Teresian Reform to pursue and cultivate its own rich and distinct Spirituality - its Charism, the great Heritage of Santa Teresa and San Juan, which has produced incomparable authors on the subject like Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Saint Teresa of the Andes, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and of course, Saint Therese. Of course, Carmelite Spirituality does not just rest on the works of the OCD Saints, as the TOC Secretariat has stated. Nevertheless they, undeniably, have the lion's share.

    So, should we consider La Santa Madre and San Juan as O.Carm or as OCD? Technically, they did not separate the Teresian Reform from the Carmelite Order, but as the ones who initiated and spearheaded the movement which eventually became the Discalced Carmelite Order, they ought to be considered as belonging to the latter. But infinitely more importantly, they are faithful son and daughter of the Church to which we ALL believers belong.