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The Rule



Primitive Rule of the Order of Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, Given by Saint Albert,
Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Approved by Innocenzo IV


Albert, called by God's favour 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, B. and the other hermits under obedience to him, who live near the

spring on Mount Carmel.


Many and varied are the ways 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 - how, pure in

heart and stout in conscience, 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:


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 deed the true reflection - and

also chastity and the renunciation of ownership.


If the Prior and the brothers see fit, you may have foundations in solitary

places, or where you are given a site 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 or 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 and order.


Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord's

law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers 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.


None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but you are to

possess everything in common; and each is to receive from the Prior - that is

from the brother he appoints for the purpose - whatever befits his age and needs.


You may have as many asses and mules as you need, however, and may

keep a certain amount of livestock or poultry.


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.


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 Sundays, 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, and all who would live devotedly in

Christ must undergo persecution, and the devil your foe is on the prowl like

a roaring lion looking for prey to devour, you must use every care to clothe

yourselves in God's armour so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy's ambush.


Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy

meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on

holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your

God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as

yourself. 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: there can be no

pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this - your faith. On your

head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only

Saviour, who sets his own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the

word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have

the Lord's word for accompaniment.


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 defences 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. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the

nations: with him as your leader you cannot go astray. We lived among you,

he said, labouring and wary, 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 your 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. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.


The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work.

As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster

holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope.

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 careful 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, and he

who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of

many words brings harm to the speaker's soul. And our Lord says in the

Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgement

day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his 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. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your

tongue give offence, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness.


You, brother B., 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 yourself servant to the

rest, and whichever of you would be first must become your bondsman.


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 dishonour dishonours me; 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 then 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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