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of the Order
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
of Mount Carmel
by St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem
Albert, called by God's favor to be Patriarch of the Church of
Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit
to his beloved sons in Christ, Brocard and the
other hermits under obedience to him, who live near the spring
of Elias on Mount Carmel.
Many and varied are the ways (cf. Heb 1:1) in which our saintly
forefathers laid down how everyone, whatever his station or the kind
of religious observance he has chosen, should live a life of
allegiance to Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 10:5)
__ how, pure in heart and steadfast in conscience (cf. 1 Tim
1:5), he must be unswerving in the service of his Master.
It is to me, however, that you have come for a rule of life in
keeping with your avowed purpose, a rule you may hold fast to
henceforward; and therefore:
PRIOR AND PROFESSION]
The first thing I require is for you to have a Prior, one of
yourselves, who is to be chosen for the office by common consent, or
that of the greater and maturer part of you.
Each of the others must promise him obedience
__ of which, once promised, he must try to make his deeds the
true reflection (cf. 1 Jn
and also chastity and the renunciation of
If the Prior and brothers see fit, you may have foundations in
solitary places, or where you are given a site that is suitable and
convenient for the observance proper to your Order.
Next, each one of you is to have a separate cell, situated as
the lie of the land you propose to occupy may dictate, and allotted by
disposition of the Prior with the agreement of the other brothers, or
the more mature among them.
However, you are to eat whatever may have been given you in a
common refectory, listening together meanwhile to a reading from Holy
Scripture where that can be done without difficulty.
None of the brothers is to occupy a cell other than that
allotted to him, or to exchange cells with another, without leave of
whoever is Prior at the time.
The Prior's cell should stand near the entrance to your
property, so that he may be the first to meet those who approach, and
whatever has to be done in consequence may all be carried out as he
may decide or order.
Each of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the
Lord's law day and night (cf. Ps 1:2; Jos 1:8) and keeping watch at
his prayers (cf. 1 Pt 4:7) unless attending to some other duty.
Those who know how to say the canonical hours with those in
orders should do so, in the way those holy forefathers of ours laid
down, and according to the Church's approved custom.
Those who do not know the hours must say twenty_five 'Our
Fathers' for the night office, except on Sundays and solemnities when
that number is to be doubled so that the 'Our Father' is said fifty
times; the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in
place of Lauds, and seven times too for each of the other hours,
except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.
AND COMMON LIFE]
None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but
you are to possess everything in common (cf. Acts 4:32; 2:44); and
each one is to receive (cf. Acts 4:35) from the Prior
__ that is from the brother he appoints for the purpose
befits his age and needs (cf. Acts 4:35).
You may have as many asses and mules as you need, however, and
may keep a certain amount of livestock or poultry.
ORATORY AND DAILY MASS]
An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among
the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to
gather each morning to hear Mass.
DISCUSSION AND CORRECTION]
On Sundays too, or other days if necessary, you should discuss
matters of discipline and your spiritual welfare; and on this occasion
the indiscretions and failings of the brothers, if
any be found at fault, should be lovingly corrected.
You are to fast every day, except Sunday, from the feast of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness
or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from
the fast; for necessity overrides every law.
You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness
or feebleness. But as,
when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your
way, outside your own houses, you may eat foodstuffs that have been
cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts.
At sea, however, meat may be eaten.
Since man's life on earth is a time of trial (cf. Job 7:1) and
all who would live devotedly in Christ must undergo persecution (cf. 2
Tim 3:12), and the devil your foe is on the prowl like a roaring lion
looking for prey to devour (cf. 1 Pt 5:8), you must use every care to
clothe yourselves in God's armor
so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy's ambush (cf. Eph 6:11).
Your loins are to be girt (cf. Eph 6:14) with chastity, your
breast fortified by holy meditations, for, as Scripture has it: 'Holy
meditation will save you' (Prov 2:11). Put on holiness as your breastplate (cf. Eph 6:14), and it
will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul
and strength, (cf. Dt
6:5), and your neighbor as yourself (cf. Mt 19:19; 22:37_ 39).
Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you
will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one (cf.
Eph 6:16): there can be no pleasing God without faith
(cf. Heb 11:6). On your head set the helmet of salvation (cf. Eph 6:7), and
so be sure of deliverance by our only Savior, who sets his own free
from their sins (cf. Mt 1:21).
The sword of the spirit, the word of God (cf. Eph 6:17), must
abound (cf. Col 3:16) in your mouths and hearts (cf. Rom 10:8).
Let all you do have the Lord's word for accompaniment
(cf. Col 3:17; 1 Cor 10:31).
You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the
devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him
a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls.
In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of
Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words (cf.
2 Cor 13:3). God made him
preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations (cf. 1 Tim
2:7): with him as your leader you cannot go astray.
'We lived among you __
he said __ laboring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a
burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but
so as to give you, in our
own selves, an example you might imitate.
For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that
whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either.
For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among
you. We charge people of
this kind, and implore them in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
they earn their own bread by silent toil'
(2 Thess 3:7_12). This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow
it (cf. Is 30:21).
The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells
us to work (cf. 2 Thess 3:12). As
the Prophet also makes known to us: 'Silence is the way to foster
holiness' (cf. Is 32:17). Elsewhere
he says: 'Your strength will lie in silence and hope' (cf. Is 20:15).
For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from
after Compline until after Prime the next day.
At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly,
be carefu not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for, as Scripture
has it _
and experience teaches us no less __ 'Sin will not be
wanting where there is much talk' (Prov 10:19), and 'He who is
careless in speech will come to harm' (Prov 13:3); and
elsewhere: The use of
many words brings harm to the speaker's soul (cf. Sir
20:8). And our
Lord says in the Gospel: 'Every rash word uttered will have to be
accounted for on judgment day' (Mt 12:36).
Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh your words in; keep
a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in
speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal
(cf. Sir 28:29_30). Like
the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offense (cf. Ps
38:2), and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to
foster holiness (cf. Is 32:17).
PRIOR TO BE AT THE SERVICE OF HIS BROTHERS]
You, brother Brocard, and whoever may succeed you as Prior,
must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in
the Gospel: 'Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make
himself servant to the rest, and whichever of you would be first must
become your bondsman' (Mt 20:26_27; cf. Mk 10:43_44).
PRIOR TO BE HONORED AS CHRIST'S REPRESENTATIVE]
You other brothers too, hold your Prior in
humble reverence, your minds not on him but on Christ who has placed
him over you, and who, to those who rule the Churches, addressed these
words: 'Whoever pays you heed pays heed to me, and whoever treats you
with dishonor dishonors me' (Lk 10:16); if you remain so minded you
will not be found guilty of contempt, but will merit life eternal as
fit reward for your obedience.
Here are the few points I have written down to provide you with
a standard of conduct to live up to; but our Lord at his second coming,
will reward anyone who does more than he is obliged to do.
See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however,
for common sense is the guide of the virtues.
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25 ago 2007 by
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