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Liturgical Devotion

Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.

Carmelites honoured Mary especially in the liturgy." Until the debate at Cambridge, the Carmelites had celebrated an ordinary commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This mass was often held weekly and it was to thank Mary for her continued protection of the Order. After the victory at Cambridge, the Solemn Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted. It was felt that Our Lady had made sure that the Order

would survive and therefore had indeed fulfilled her role as patroness. This Solemn Commemoration began in England on the 17th July. It very quickly spread to the rest of Europe and was fixed on the 16th July.

Before the Solemn Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel had been instituted, the principal feasts of Our Lady celebrated within the Order were variously the Annunciation, the Immaculate Conception and in England especially, the Assumption.15 The Immaculate Conception, which was known as the sanctification of Mary in the womb of St. Anne", was instituted as a feast in 1306. In Rome the Carmelites invited the Roman Curia to their principal church to celebrate this feast as other orders did on their annual feast.

The Second Vatican Council stressed that devotion to Mary be nurtured especially through the liturgy. When possible Carmelites still celebrate the ordinary commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on a Saturday and the 16th July is still held as the patronal feast of the whole Order under the title of the Solemn Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The emphasis in the prayers of the masses in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is on her protection and her guidance towards Christ her Son. For example the prayer over the gifts for the solemnity puts it this way:- ".... In your service may our love become like hers and so unite us more closely with the work of redemption".18 The office of readings for the solemnity contains an excerpt from the writings of a Carmelite mystic of the 17th century Michael of St. Augustine. He explains what Marian devotion means:- "Whoever loves her as mother must strive to acquire her humility, her purity, her poverty, her obedience; to follow her in her love of God and her neighbour - in a word, in every virtue."'

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."