|Secular Order of the Carmelites
Region of Saint Joseph
- Province of Bulacan -
|How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Hosts!
My soul yearns, pines,
for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
Happy the pilgrims whom you strengthen,
to make the ascent to Zion.
As they pass through the valley,
they make it a place of springs,
the early rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength
till they appear before God in Zion.
Psalm 84: 2-3; 6-8
Carmel is that lovely mountain rising out of the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It is located twenty miles from Nazareth, on the border between Samaria and Galilee. Carmel (from the Hebrew Karem-el = garden and vine of God) is the symbol of grace, blessing, and beauty because of its luxurious vegetation (Is 35:2; Jer 50:19). It is above all the mountain where the renewal of the Covenant and of God's interventions through the prophet Elijah occurred (9th century B.C.). As recounted in the Book of Kings (1Kng 18:20-40), the Israelites returned to the one God and renewed the covenant with Him after the challenge by fire. Likewise, at Mount Carmel, Elijah prayed seven times for the life giving rain eagerly anticipated after a long drought and announced by a little cloud rising from the sea (1 Kngs. 18:41-46).
In this little cloud carrying the rain of blessing we see the sign of Mary, the Theotokos. Chrysippus of Jerusalem at the turn of the 5th century salutes the Blessed Virgin as "Hail, Cloud of Rain that offers drink to the souls of the Saints." In the 12th century, Carmel becomes a place of reverence toward Mary. In a book for pilgrims, written about 1220, depicts Carmel as "a delightful place, the residence of the Latin hermits called Brothers of Carmel. There is a small church consecrated to the Virgin." In feudal mentality, when a church is dedicated to the Virgin, it does not only signify the placing of oneself at the service of the temple but also of giving of oneself completely to Mary's disposal with a personal consecration ratified by a pledge. Thus, the Brother hermits of Carmel chose the Virgin as patroness and their official name became "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel." The title is not restricted in indicating Mary's guardianship over the Carmelites or even their devotion to the Virgin; it also expresses the Gospel likeness between Mary and the Carmelites based on their choice of virginity.
Carmel consequently becomes Mary's mount where the Brother hermits follow the spiritual footsteps of the Blessed Virgin and profess devotion to her. In the 17th century the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel arose with a large monastery of the Carmelites.
Searching for the face of the Living God in the midst of the people?
Tuloy po kayo sa Karmel!
ZELO ZELATUS SUM PRO DOMINO DEO EXERCITUUM