Brothers and sisters of the Virgin of Carmel

If we reflect on the beauty and density of the name we have received as a religious family, (we are discalced brothers of Mary). We realize that fraternity is not an accessory element, but a substantial one. We are not “fathers”, that is, priests, who live in fraternity: we are “barefoot” brothers and sisters, who have no other wealth or resources to present to the world, than the fraternity that unites us with Mary and Mary, between us. Like fraternity, the relationship with Mary is not a particular aspect or a devotion in Carmel, but expresses the essence of our vocation.

This relationship between fraternity and Mary is very interesting. It seems that the community of brothers in Carmel should be conceived and realized in the image of Mary. There is a kind of mutual reflection between Mary and the community: on the one hand, Mary is the image and model of the community, on the other, the community is the image of Mary. Mary is not only the moral model of the community, in the sense of an example (paradigm) to be imitated. Mary is the real model, the “type (typon)” of the community, or the copy, the form, of which the Christian community is the prototype, that is, the realization in present history. In Mary, there is a force that shapes and adds to the community, which goes beyond the simple exemplarity of its virtues or behavior. It is a prophetic foreshadowing of the reality of the community of disciples. To recognize ourselves in her means to allow her to stamp on us her ecclesial form in us. The relationship with Mary should leave in us “trace.” They are traces that make us, as the Fathers of the Church said, “Ecclesial souls”, people of community, and members of the body of Christ.

We, brothers of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, Do we live this Mary’s joy of having been chosen to serve the Lord? Do we have a dilated heart because in our littleness the gaze of God has settled? Do we have the hope that he will fulfill, or rather, is he already fulfilling great things in us and through us?

Obedience full of confidence, love that does not want the other, joy full of hope: these are the feelings of Mary’s heart that should spring from the hearts of her brothers and sisters. They do not ask to us to be heroes: we must be men and women with capacity to hold God and therefore capable of a deep fraternal communion in his name.

Fr. Saverio Cannistrà , Superior General

From the formation session in the Iberian Province


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