THE CARMELITE CHARISM #2
Some Background Material
For the second installment on Carmelite life, it seemed appropriate to share some background material that will help our understanding of what the Carmelite charism is all about.
The Two Orders of Carmel
It should be understood that there are actually two Carmelite Orders, the Order of Discalced Carmelites (or O.C.D.'s) and the Order of the Little Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (or O.Carm.'s). The O.Carm's are the original order prior to the renewal started by St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. The Carmelite Order that started as a result of that renewal is the Order of Discalced Carmelites. Discalced literally means 'barefoot.' Due to their stricter observance of the Carmelite Rule they simplified their religious habit, including their shoes. They chose to wear simple sandals, hence the name, Discalced. Because of the role of St. Teresa of Jesus in founding this reform, the O.C.D.'s are also known as the Teresian Carmel. While much of what is shared in these articles on the Carmelite charism applies to both Orders, they will always be done from the point of view of the Discalced Carmelites.
The 'Orders' within the Order
Another convention that one comes across in reading Carmelite literature concerns the use of the word Order to describe different groups within the Order itself. The usual convention is a numeric one. The First Order refers to the Discalced Carmelite priests and brothers. The Second Order refers to the cloistered, contemplative Nuns. The Third Order Secular refers to the Tertiaries, or 'secular Carmelites': priests and lay folks who have made their profession as lay Carmelites.
When a person makes their profession in the Discalced Carmelites, they take a new, religious name. For the Carmelites the name has two parts, the name of a saint, and a title that involves some mystery or aspect of the Lord. The appropriate way to refer to a Carmelite is by their full religious name which includes their title. However, since some saints also become popularly known by where they are from, in addition to their title, some Carmelite saints may also be referred to by their 'location'. For example, the proper Carmelite name for the Foundress of the Discalced Carmelites is St. Teresa of Jesus, but she is popularly known as St. Teresa of Avila. Or, in our own century, the complete proper name for the saint known as the Little Flower is St. Therese of the Infant Jesus and of the Holy Face, but she is popularly known as St. Therese of Lisieux. These articles will follow the appropriate Carmelite name for the saints and other Carmelites.