Discalced Carmelites of the Australia Oceania Region

Friars in Europe

From the 1230’s the situation in the Holy Land became more precarious for Westerners. Some of the hermits sought refuge in Europe. They made foundations and began to adapt their life to this new setting. In 1247, Pope Innocent IV approved the way of life written by Albert of Jerusalem as the Carmelite Rule modifying it to suit their new situation. This is the Rule which all Carmelites observe to this day. They were recognized as religious and placed themselves at the service of the Church as one of the orders of mendicant friars. [The term mendicant (from the Latin mendicans, begging) refers to a way of life that relies on the charity of others. Friar means brother.]

The Rule is brief and very scriptural. It is an exhortation to a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ, through pondering the law of the Lord by day and night and being clothed in spiritual armour while living in fraternal communion united in the daily celebration of the Eucharist. It is a life of silent work and penance, rooted in faith, hope and love, where God's will is discerned through dialogue and the Prior's service to his brothers.

As a result of becoming mendicant friars most Carmelites were ordained for priestly ministry. Their houses, with large public churches attached, were usually found in cities. Since they were the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel they considered themselves to be members of Mary’s Order and wore a white cloak in her honour and were known as the white friars.

In 1452 the horizons of the Order were broadened when the reforming Prior General, Blessed John Soreth, obtained permission from the Pope for the establishment of convents of Carmelite nuns and for the Order to accept laity as members of the Third Order. So, after 250 years the Carmelite Order began to welcome women members.