What is Carmelite spirituality? A couple of readers have asked me this question, and I assume several more have wondered and not asked. So I’m going to write this as a post (for maximum visibility and readership), then make it a permanent page soon.
Carmelite spirituality stems from the teaching and lifestyle of one of the oldest surviving religious orders in the Catholic Church. Like the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and others, the Carmelites have a particular way of living out the faith, which has been approved by the Church. St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the best-beloved saints of our age, was a Carmelite nun.
From ancient Mt. Carmel to medieval EuropeIn the 12th century, a group of Christian hermits settled on Mt. Carmel, where the prophet Elijah had once lived in a cave. St. Albert of Jerusalem wrote a rule of life for them to follow. They built a monastery and came together for prayer, but each lived in his own cell. They dedicated their oratory to Mary, becoming known as the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel.
As always, tensions were high in the Middle East at this time. Soon the Carmelite brothers left the Holy Land for Europe. There they assumed an active life–that is, living and working in the world. Blessed John Soreth established the Carmelite nuns in 1452. The Third Order, for seculars, began two centuries later.
CatholicFamilyGifts.com offered me a free first-Communion gift to review and give away to one of my readers. Since my boys are currently interested in hidden picture books, I chose Can You Find Saints?: Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women. After the review, I will tell you how can enter to win this book.
Can You Find Saints? is one in a series of four books by Philip D. Gallery. The series also includes Can You Find Jesus?, Can You Find the Followers of Jesus?, and Can You Find Bible Heroes? Janet L. Harlow illustrated all four books. They combine hide-and-seek fun with learning about the faith.
Given the cover and the genre, I was prepared for cartoon illustrations similar to the Where’s Waldo? series. Harlow provides more than that. The inside front and back covers contain a parchment-like timeline of saints, beginning with Abraham. “Search 1: Mary Lives a Life of Perfect Virtue” delighted me with its depiction of the mysteries of the Rosary and approved Marian apparitions, encircling a Renaissance Madonna and Child. A version of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam above St. Peter’s Basilica forms the background for “Search 7: Saints Who Were Popes.”
Finish reading the review and enter the contest.
This post is part of an occasional series called Finding God in Children’s Literature, in which I look at children’s books in light of the Bible and Sacred Tradition. All correlations between these books and the Christian faith are my own insights, unless otherwise noted. You may quote me or link to these posts, but please do not re-blog them or use these ideas as though they were your own. Thank you.
Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss is the story of a proud and power-hungry reptile. He starts out as king of a pond of turtles. Unsatisfied with that, he commands his subjects to stand on one another’s’ shells in a stack, while he climbs to the top. The stack of turtles keeps growing, despite the protests of the turtle on the bottom, named Mack. Yertle believes he is king of all he can see, so the higher his throne of turtles goes, the more powerful he becomes. Eventually, he over steps and the stack of turtles collapses. At last, Yertle is only King of the Mud.
Theodore Geisel, who is better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, was a political cartoonist before he began writing children’s books. He later said he meant Yertle the Turtle as a condemnation of Hitler. But there is a much more ancient culture than Nazi Germany that had striking similarities to Yertle’s kingdom–Babylon.