Thursday, December 15, 2016

Carmelites

The 12th Century was after the Norman Conquest of the British Islands, and what with the Normans well occupied it was a time of a very brief Reformation on the European Mainland, evils like science and new ideas reared like horrible dreams. Also in the 12th Century a group of what where essentially Western European Christian Hermits began living on Mount Carmel which is a plateau of higher land on the Eastern Shores of the Mediterranean. These Hermits were mostly men, many were former Crusaders, they had a thing for the miracle worker and prophet Elijah, who was all about the Yahweh, and as Hermits they preferred contemplation, because through silence a person could get closer to God and to hell with the rest, and yet after several attempts by less than friendly groups to remove the Hermits from Mount Carmel it became clear to the Carmelites that contemplation alone wasn't really part of God's plan, and they went to the Pope's representative in Jerusalem in search of closer ties with the Holy Roman Church which was an economic and political power with a big yearning for a Monopoly in the business of Faith.

Rest assured not much is known about the first Hermit Carmelites, it was only when they wanted recognition and through recognition a degree of protection, did they have to consider the responsibilities of joining a club. No one was sure who the Founded the Carmelites, a prerequisite of provenance in the Roman Church, I mean you just couldn't set up shop as Christian Order without having some degree of organization and a Founder who was preferably a Saint with a set of rules to follow and a Spiritual Focus, or a Charism as the less random prefer to call it. Soon enough the Carmelites had a Motto, they had a representative in Rome and they'd kind of given up on silent contemplation, done away with vows of poverty, given up on serious begging or Mendicancy, as some prefer to call it. Carmelites became wealthy in stuff and property, and by the 16th Century, when Teresa was young, Western Europe, having survived the Hundred Years War  and plague, was again struggling with a Reformation in science and thinking, or Dramatic Change. What with the new ideas spinning around her Teresa of Avila chose to believe that in the course of four hundred years her order had taken a wrong turn and it was time to go back to the more mysterious roots of the Carmelites.

No comments: