On Mount Carmel in the Holy Land, near the present-day Haifa, one can still see caves where hermits once lived in accordance with the spiritual tradition founded by the Prophet Elijah.
In the 13th century, the hermit brethren came together under a common rule as the "Brothers of the Virgin Mary." The Carmel was born.
The photo to the right is a view of Sfunim Cave on Mount Carmel in Israel. It is part of Carmel National Park.
Lay (Third Order) Carmelites
The Lay Carmelite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (historically known as the Third Order) is an association mainly of laypersons. Its members, responding to a special call of God, freely and deliberately commit themselves "to live in the following of Jesus Christ" according to the charism, traditions and spirit of Carmel under the authority of the Prior General of the Carmelite Order. The members, though not in Religious Life, choose to live out their baptismal commitment according to the spirit of the Carmelite Order. Members are brothers and sisters of the Carmelite Family and sharers in the same call to holiness and in the same mission of the Carmelite Order.
Within their state in life, Lay Carmelites seek to live in the presence of God 24 hours a day. In fact, the entire Carmelite family, in its task of living out its consecration to Christ, seeks to live in the presence of the living and true God who, in the person of Christ, lives in our midst; it is a family that seeks divine intimacy.
Lay Carmelites, imbued with the spirit of the Order, try to live its charism in a silent listening to the Word, making their whole life a prayer by allowing themselves to be caught up by the Spirit for the wonderful works that God accomplishes and which require their commitment and worthwhile contribution.
Lay Carmelites, according to the constant tradition of Carmel, are to cultivate in the greatest degree possible prayer in all its forms: mental prayer and aspirational prayer, as well as the traditional practices. Above all they should learn from the Virgin how to praise the Lord and to rejoice in God their Savior in their ordinary daily life.
For more information about the Lay Carmelites, please contact the Lay Carmelite Office:
Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary
Lay Carmelite Office
8501 Bailey Road
Darien, IL 60561-8417
Web sites: www.carmelnet.org and www.laycarmelitespcm.org
From Carmel's Call, a Manual for Members of the Lay Carmelite Order, ed. by Rev. Aloysius Sieracki, O.Carm., The Carmelite Press, Aylesford