Carmelite Chronicles
the Rule of St. Albert

May 14, 2012 |

The early Carmelites recieve the Rule from St. Albert

The Rule of St. Albert (and the way of the hermits of Carmel)

He composed a Rule for the Humiliati. In the Holy Land, where he arrived in 1206, he dedicated himself as legate to the much needed work of promoting harmony among the feuding Christian princes. On September 14, 1214, during a procession in the Church of the Holy Cross in Acre, Albert was assassinated.

The formula vitae outlined by the patriarch echoes the style of life of the oriental monks in the laurae of Palestine. The hermits obey a superior, but their relations are not determined in every detail. It was a loose relationship of reverence on the part of the subject (ch. 18) and of service on the part of the prior (ch. 17). Each hermit had his own cell apart from the others (ch. 3), where he was to remain, meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and watching in prayer (ch. 7). Common penitential practices, fasting and prayer, are prescribed (ch. 12, 16). The hermits came together daily for Mass in the oratory in the midst of the cells; in ancient times, the hermits of the laurae met only once a week, on Saturday or Sunday, for Mass and an instruction by the hegumenos.

The hermits of Carmel probably did not recite the canonical office. For the hermit his psalter was enough, and he knew it by heart.

To continual prayer are added two other elements of classical eremitical life:
poverty and manual labor for the purpose of earning one’s daily bread (ch. 9, 15).

The Rule does not prescribe the form of habit, but from a contemporary drawing we know that it was a habit of undyed wool, consisting of a tunic with belt, scapular and hood, over which was worn a mantle of seven white and dark vertical stripes.

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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