Being July, we will touch on a few Carmelite topics. This one is more on information than formation. Did you know that when St. Teresa reformed the Carmelite Order -the Constitutions were a return to Tradition? This was done at the request of Our Lord Jesus, Himself. In the late 1980's, during the reign of Pope John Paul II, there was a request from Rome to all the Orders to "update" or modernize their Constitutions. This sat well with the Carmelite friars since they were already well on the road to modernizing and are still bearing much fruit because of it; namely, lost vocations and closed monasteries. But some of the cloistered nuns knew that St. Teresa gave a strict command to keep their Constitutions. We have St. Teresa's following words -
"Let them beware, for the devil through very small things,
drills holes through which very large things enter.
May it not happen that those who are to come say:
'These things are not important; don't go to extremes.'
Oh, my daughters, everything that helps us advance is important!"
St. Teresa of Jesus
[i]Foundations[/i], ch.29, 32
And on her deathbed, St. Teresa exhorted her sisters thus (these were her last words to them):
"My daughters and my ladies,
for the love of God I beg that you will take great care
with the keeping of the Rule and Constitutions,
for if you keep them as faithfully as you ought to,
no other miracle will be needed for your canonization."
John Paul II approved the work of the minority of Carmelite nuns which desired to keep the old Constitutions by renewing them according to the directives of Vatican II. On December 8, 1990, the updated 1581 Constitutions were approved and promulgated by John Paul II. The following year, the new Constitutions for the nuns written by the Discalced Carmelite Order were also approved promulgated by John Paul II. Thus two sets of Constitutions for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns were approved, and the individual Carmels were given a choice on which ones they would follow. (note: Carmels still have a choice, and can request to change over)
Under the 1990 Constitutions, the nuns are directly under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. Under the 1991 Constitutions, the nuns are under the jurisdiction of the modernized Discalced Carmelite Father General, and associated with the modernized friars. St. Teresa had wanted the Order to be united. But she also wanted a strict rule and enclosure for her nuns set out in the Constitutions of 1581.
The majority of Carmels chose the 1991 Constitutions, and a few were given permission to follow the 1990's in all ways, except that they would be under the jurisdiction of the OCD Father General. I believe it's 16 out of the 60 something OCD Carmels in the US that are under the 1990 Constitution currently. There may be more if they switched just in the last few years since the below article was written. (link below).
As written a month or so ago, there are Traditional Carmelite Friars springing up! Thanks be to God!! We have Traditional Carmelite nuns as well! These will flourish and those who are lax are dying out. A renewal is on the way! May we pray for its steady growth and grace to be brought back to the world!!
May we pray for the Carmelite Order - First, Second and Third Orders. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel bring us back to Tradition and to holiness.
Below are the links to more information:
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!