The Primitive Rule

Carmel is a Mountain, and the Religious who dwell on this mountain, are solitaries with God alone. This mountain, its rugged aspect, its thorns and briars, its heights etc., here one breathes pure air; its summit is a place of repose, far above the regions of the world, were storms and disorder gather. On this mountain of Carmel a mysterious silence reigns: the silence of God.

The Mountain of Carmel thus becomes, to the soul who scales its height, a place in the heart - whose ascent is in reality, the journey inwards, that is, from the edges of our lives to the centre.

In the Prophet Elijah, whom Sacred Scripture presents on the summit of Mount Carmel in profound prayer, (1 Kings 18: 36,37), burning with zeal for the glory of God, and living continually in His presence, (1 Kings 18: 15; 19:14). Here then is recognized the inspiration of the Carmelite life, dedicated to contemplation in solitude and silence, 'meditating day and night on the Law of the Lord and watching in prayer'. (Rule of Saint Albert, 4)

The Primitive Rule therefore, offers a tested doctrine for attaining perfection. In it, is emphasized as the principal end, the following of, and '...allegiance to Jesus Christ, serving Him faithfully with a pure heart and a good conscience.' (Rule of Saint Albert). This is then, for a Carmelite, the very essence at the heart of the Rule.

Thus the perfect practice of our holy Rule frees us, making this perfection attainable through penance, detachment, mortification of the senses, and a separation from all that is not of God.

Hence, a supernatural prudence ought to moderate such an austere and penitential form of life, but no limits should be placed on its demands, which are a consequence of the following of Christ. 'If anyone does more, Our Lord will reward him at His coming'. (Rule of Saint Albert, 15), The Rule of Carmel not only promotes the heroic exercise of the virtues, but also encourages one to advance still more, scaling the heights of perfection, and leaving everything, to live in reverence to Jesus Christ, imitating the sublime example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the prophet Elijah.

'Read the Rule everyday, and never let it slip from your heart'

Saint Teresa of Jesus