What Makes a Carmelite a Carmelite?
The 2020 Carmelite Lecture at The Catholic University of America
STUDIES IN THE CARMELITE TRADITION
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Vatican II initiated lively conversations about the identity of religious orders and congregations when the council pointed out that these religious communities are divine gifts in and to the church. Keith Egan examines the nature of these charisms including, not only the original or founders’ charism, but how charisms evolve over the centuries. Special theological attention to these charisms show that they are not something but, in fact, are the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit.
This volume offers a case study the original charism of the Carmelites. The first Carmelites originated when various hermits were displaced by the armies of Saladin. These dislodged hermits sought refuge on Mount Carmel in a ravine facing the Mediterranean Sea. There, these hermits, now Carmelites, sought from Saint Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, a description of their life of solitude. Albert’s Formula of Life describes the original Carmelite charism as a life of prayer and contemplation. This Formula eventually became a Rule that made possible a transformation of hermits into friars. Egan is at work on a sequel that examines this radical transformation.
"Keith J. Egan, the dean of contemporary Carmelite Studies, inaugurates the new series, Studies in the Carmelite Tradition, with this wide-ranging and penetrating analysis of a central question: What Makes a Carmelite a Carmelite? Employing both contemporary theological insights and careful historical research, Egan shows how the earliest eremitical stage of the Carmelite tradition, beginning on the slopes of Mt. Carmel ca. 1200, gave rise to the evolution of the Carmelite charism over the centuries. This book is a model for the study of the history of religious communities and their traditions."~Bernard McGin, University of Chicago Divinity School
"The Carmelite family has greatly benefitted from Dr. Keith Egan’s research into the origins and development of the Carmelites. In this volume Dr. Egan’s interest is in the very first years when the Carmelites were strictly hermits. They were part of a movement giving new form to Christian monasticism. Dr. Egan skillfully locates a community’s charism in the work of the Holy Spirit. The extensive introduction by Steven Payne, sets the table not only for Dr. Egan’s paper and succeeding annual lectures, but also for the ongoing work of the Carmelite Center."~John Welch, O. Carm., past President of the Carmelite Institute of North America