WHO ARE THE CARMELITES?
The first hermits lived on Mount Carmel in Israel in the time of Elijah the Prophet, hundreds of years before Christ. Later, many Crusaders went to the Holy Land to free such holy places as Bethlehem, Nazareth and many other sites associated with the life of The Lord Jesus, from the Moslems. After they achieved their task of freeing the Holy Land, many of them stayed on Mount Carmel; a mountain range which juts out into the Mediterranean Sea near the present city of Haifa, along the southern border of present-day Lebanon.
We can read about the Prophet Elijah in the First and Second Books of Kings. There were also Jews and Moslem Hermits on Mount Carmel dedicated to the life of Elijah the Prophet. This all took place between 1190 and 1206. The first written document of the Carmelites, our RULE, dates to 1206. The Christian Hermits from Mount Carmel went to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Albert, (not of Trapani) and asked for a Rule of Life. That was the official beginning of the Carmelites. In 1245, the Moslems recaptured much of the Holy Land. They massacred most of the Carmelites. Those who escaped returned to their home countries of Italy, France, England and Germany. It is from these 4 countries in Europe that the Order spread throughout the world. Today, there are 5200 Carmelites of all branches of the Order, male and female, throughout the world.
During the canonization of Saint Nuno Alvares (April, 2009) Pope Benedict said, “Carmel teaches the Church how to pray.” That’s what Carmel has always been about: prayer. And that’s what being a Carmelite – whether friar, nun, or Lay Carmelite – is all about: prayer. It’s not method; it’s emphasis.
That is the witness of the great Carmelite saints. When facing a “dark night of the spirit” or a “dark night of the soul,” Saint John of the Cross will tell you to keep praying. When daunted by the heavy lifting that true self-understanding entails, Saint Teresa of Avila will tell you to keep praying. When vexed by the everyday foibles of the people around you, Saint Therese of Lisieux will tell you to keep praying. Or even when facing the darkest caverns of the Nazi prison camps (or the equivalent in your life) Blessed Titus Brandsma will tell you to keep praying.
SAINTS & DOCTORS
The original National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was established in the parish of Our Lady of the Scapular of Mt. Carmel in Manhattan on 28th St. and First Avenue in 1941 by our then Prior General, Fr. Hilar Doswald.
The Shrine began by making Scapulars for the Armed Forces in World War II. People associated with the Shrine literally made millions of scapulars that were sent to our Armed forces during the War.
The Shrine in Manhattan grew with requests for Masses, Novenas, Study and Reflection Days. The Shrine promoted devotion to our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmelite Saints and the spirituality of Carmel.
In 1991, with the approval of John Cardinal O’Connor the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was transferred here to Middletown, NY to this property because it was a more suitable and beautiful spot for prayer and reflection.
Our purpose today is to provide you with the opportunity and space to experience God through prayer, silence and reflection centered around devotion to our Lady of Mt. Carmel. We invite you to relax and pray. Let us lead you through the day in a calm and peaceful way. We invite you to take advantage of the beautiful atmosphere of the Shrine Chapel and the Shrine grounds outside.