Carmelite Chronicles
Decline of Religious Fervor

October 11, 2019 |

Religious fervor had already begun to decline in the second half of the 14th century; the laxity which is only too apparent in the 15th century, the Age of the Renaissance, is but an acute form of old diseases.

From the middle of the century, general chapters begin to invoke sanctions against the neglect of the divine office. The chapter of 1354 complains that silence after complin, “alas, is observed very little.” Eating and drinking in the rooms, even by large companies, had to be legislated against.

Perhaps the most serious defect was the violation of poverty. Religious were permitted to keep money and other personal effects and to buy their own cells from the convent. Doctors of theology, who could keep their earnings from teaching and preaching, lived much more comfortably than the “simple” friars, who suffered want, when the community could not support them. Conventuality, or the attachment of each religious to the convent of his profession, became the rule after 1430.

From The Mirror of Carmel by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

Fr. Joachim Smet O. Carm.
Fr. Joachim Smet, O.Carm. (1915-2011) was one of the leading historians of the Carmelite Order. In addition to being a founding member and President of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome and editor of Carmelus, a journal of Carmelite Studies, Fr. Joachim was a gifted writer. he is well-known for his four-volume work The Carmelites and his Life of Saint Peter Thomas. Among his other works: Familiar Matter of Today-Poems (2007), The Mirror of Carmel: A Brief History of the Carmelite Order, (2011), various publications on Carmelite Nuns, Carmelite Liturgy, Carmelite Libraries of Spain and Portugal and the Carmelites of Medieval England.
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