The Book of the First Monks (Latin : Decem Libri – Liber de Institutione Primorum Monacharum) is a medieval Catholic book in the contemplative and eremetic tradition of the Carmelite Order, thought to reflect the spirituality of the Prophet Elijah, honored as the Father of the Order.
A hermit is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sections of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well. Billionaire Howard Hughes is considered to be one of the most noteworthy examples of a public figure becoming a hermit.
Elijah or latinized form Elias was, according to the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible, a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. God also performed many miracles through Elijah, including resurrection, bringing fire down from the sky, and entering Heaven alive "by fire". He is also portrayed as leading a school of prophets known as "the sons of the prophets". Following his ascension, Elisha, his disciple and most devoted assistant took over his role as leader of this school. The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah's return "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD", making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. References to Elijah appear in Ecclesiasticus, the New Testament, the Mishnah and Talmud, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Bahá'í writings.
The book is one of the most important documents of the Order because it influenced many of the Carmelite Saints according to the spirituality of the first Carmelite hermits. Some medieval Carmelites thought it antedated the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert, although this is disputed due to a lack of evidence. It is this dispute that has caused this manuscript to be questioned today.[ citation needed ]
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The original charism of the Carmelite hermits, which still animates the spirituality of many contemporary Carmelites and the cloistered contemplative life of other hermits, monks, and nuns, was in imitation of the Prophet Elijah. Carmelite tradition relates that Elijah inspired the early hermits who settled near the spring on Mount Carmel, Palestine which bear's Elijah's name. Most often quoted from the Book of the First Monks is the following passage in which Elijah is named as the spiritual father of the Order:
Mount Carmel (Hebrew: הַר הַכַּרְמֶל, Har HaKarmelISO 259-3Har ha Karmell; Arabic: الكرمل, Al-Karmil, or Arabic: جبل مار إلياس, Jabal Mar Elyas is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. The range is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. A number of towns are situated there, most notably the city of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, located on the northern slope.
Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, some parts of western Jordan.
The goal of this life is twofold. One part we acquire, with the help of divine grace, through our efforts and virtuous works. This is to offer God a pure heart, free from all stain of actual sin. We do this when we are perfect and in Cherith, that is, hidden in that charity of which the Wise Man says: "Charity covers all sins " [Proverbs, 10: 12]. God desired Elijah to advance thus far when [H]e said to him: "Hide yourself by the brook Cherith" [First Kings, 17: 3-4].
The other part of the goal of this life is granted us as the free gift of God: namely, to taste somewhat in the heart and to experience in the soul, not only after death but even in this mortal life, the intensity of the divine [P]resence and the sweetness of the glory of [H]eaven. This is to drink of the torrent of the love of God. God promised it to Elijah in the words: "You shall drink from the brook." It is in view of this double end that the monk ought to give himself to the eremitic and prophetic life.
The book also gives one of the oldest explanations of the Carmelite habit and what each part of the habit signified.
Exemplars of the contemplative and mystical spirituality described in the book include the Discalced Carmelite Sts. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, and also the Polish Catholic layman Jan Tyranowski who guided Pope John Paul II in his young adulthood.
Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.
John of the Cross was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin, also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., was a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun who is widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known as "The Little Flower of Jesus", or simply "The Little Flower".
The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel or Carmelites is a Roman Catholic mendicant religious order founded, probably in the 12th century, on Mount Carmel in the Crusader States, hence the name Carmelites. However, historical records about its origin remain very uncertain. Berthold of Calabria has traditionally been associated with the founding of the order, but few clear records of early Carmelite history have survived.
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded since the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the habit of both the Carmelite Order and the Discalced Carmelite Order, both of which have Our Lady of Mount Carmel as their patroness. In its small form, it is widely popular within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church as a religious article and has probably served as the prototype of all the other devotional scapulars. The liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, is popularly associated with the devotion of the Scapular.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid-13th century. They built in the midst of their hermitages a chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the "Lady of the place." Our Lady of Mount Carmel was adopted in the 19th century as the patron saint of Chile, in South America.
Saint Simon Stock, an Englishman who lived in the 13th century, was an early Prior of the Carmelite religious order. Little is known about his life with any historical certainty. The Blessed Virgin Mary is traditionally said to have appeared to him and given him the Carmelite habit, the Brown Scapular. Thus, popular devotion to Saint Simon Stock is usually associated with devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Raphael of St. Joseph Kalinowski, O.C.D. was a Polish Discalced Carmelite friar inside the Russian partition of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the city of Vilnius. He was a teacher, engineer, prisoner of war, royal tutor, and priest, who founded many Carmelite monasteries around Poland after their suppression by the Russians.
The Discalced Carmelites or Barefoot Carmelites is a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. The order was established in 1593, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross.
Berthold of Calabria was a Norman French crusader who established a hermit colony on Mount Carmel in 1185. He was introduced into Carmelite literature around the 15th century as Saint Berthold of Mount Carmel and is said to have been a general of the Order before Brocard.
The Rite of the Holy Sepulchre, commonly called the Carmelite Rite, is the liturgical rite that was used by the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, Hospitallers, Templars, Carmelites and the other orders founded within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The Carmelite Monks or Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is a cloistered contemplative religious community of diocesan right dedicated to a humble life of prayer. They are known for their loyalty to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and to the ancient traditions of Carmel. Their life includes strict separation from the world and the living of the cloistered Carmelite spirituality and way of life established by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus. In accord with the Carmelite Rule, they engage in manual labor and the study of Carmelite spirituality in the solitude of the mountains, with the firm hope of attaining to Union with God.
The Byzantine Discalced Carmelites are communities of cloistered nuns and friars, belonging to several Eastern Catholic Churches – the Bulgarian Byzantine Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, the Ordinariate for Eastern Catholics in France and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, living committed to a life of prayer, according to the eremitic tradition and lifestyle of the Discalced Carmelites.
The eremitic Rule of Saint Albert is the shortest of the rules of consecrated life in existence of the Catholic spiritual tradition, and is composed almost exclusively of scriptural precepts. To this day it is a rich source of inspiration for the lives of many Catholics throughout the world.
The Constitutions of the Carmelite Order stand as an expression of the ideals and spirit of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Foundational sources for the Constitutions include the desert hermit vocation as exemplified in the life of the Prophet Elijah. For the Carmelite the contemplative vocation is exemplified par excellence in the life of the Virgin Mary, beloved to the Order under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Additionally, the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert and the Book of the First Monks comprise fundamental points of reference in the life and spirituality of the Order.
The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, officially Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Saecularis (OCDS), and formerly the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and of the Holy Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus, is a religious association of the Roman Catholic Church composed primarily of lay persons and also accepted secular clergy.
The Stella Maris Monastery (romana) or the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for monks is a 19th-century Discalced Carmelite monastery located on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Another Carmelite monastery of the same name is reserved for nuns and is located higher up on Mount Carmel.
Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. was an Italian Discalced Carmelite nun. During her brief life of quiet service in the monastery, she came to be revered for her mystical gifts. She has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
Francisco Palau y Quer, O.C.D., was a Catalan Discalced Carmelite friar and priest. Growing up in the chaos of the Peninsular War in Spain, he followed both the life of a hermit and of a missionary preacher in the rural regions of Catalonia. He founded the School of Virtue—which was a model of catechetical teaching for adults—in Barcelona. In 1860 he founded a mixed Congregation of Third Order of Discalced Carmelites, including both Brothers and Sisters, in the Balearic Islands. The legacy of this foundation is carried on by two religious congregations of women who serve throughout the world.
The National Shrine of Saint Jude adjoins the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Faversham, England, is a Roman Catholic shrine to Saint Jude, and a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and other Christians in the United Kingdom and other countries. It is served and looked after by the British Province of the Order of Carmelites.
The Hermits of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is a branch of the religious Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance, who originated as hermit monks and have been mendicant friars since the 13th century. The male Carmelites of this branch of the Order are not considered monastics as the cloistered Carmelite nuns are. However, Carmelite Hermits are new and separate communities of men and women living an enclosed life, inspired by the ancient Carmelite monastic life, under the authority of the Prior General of Carmelite Order (O.Carm.). Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the principal patroness of this type of Carmelite communities.
Servant of God John of St. Samson (1571–1636), also known as Jean du Moulin or Jean de Saint-Samson, was a French Carmelite friar and mystic of the Catholic Church. He is known as the soul of the Touraine Reform of the Carmelite Order, which stressed prayer, silence and solitude. John was blind from the age of three after contracting smallpox and receiving poor medical treatment for the disease. He insisted very strongly on the mystical devotion of the Carmelites. He has been referred to as the "French John of the Cross" by students of Christian mysticism.