“We are descendants of those holy fathers on Mount Carmel who in great solitude sought this treasure, this precious pearl of contemplation.” TERESA OF AVILA
We Carmelites trace our spiritual roots back to the Old Testament prophet Elijah and his passionate commitment to the living God. Elijah called those who were worshiping false Gods back to single-hearted fidelity to the one true God. He sought God in solitude and stood before God for the needs of the people. Elijah’s words “the Lord God lives, in whose presence I stand” resound in the heart of every Carmelite.
In the 12th century, a group of hermits who knew well the story of Elijah and were inspired by it, settled near the spring of Elijah on the mountain sacred to his memory - Mount Carmel in Israel - along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
“Your strength will lie in silence and hope.” CARMELITE RULE
In the early 13th century, these hermits asked Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to write for them a “Vitae Formula.” Albert’s “Formula of Life” was composed in accordance with the eremetical way of life the hermits had already adopted and were living along the slopes and valleys of Mount Carmel. The reference to their settlement being near the spring of Elijah suggests not only that they would draw water from a source used by the prophet but also that spiritually, their proposal was inspired by the solitary lifestyle of that prophet.
Albert is one who spoke and thought explicitly in biblical terms and the text itself abounds with biblical references. It reflects the style of a letter more than that of a legal document. The Rule of Carmel is Christocentric. In its extensive use of scriptural quotations, "the document disposes the Carmelite, mind and heart, to be saturated with Christ’s presence through his word." - James McCaffrey OCD