Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures


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Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures



Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

I. – In the spirit and the strength of Elias. His double Spirit; To pray and to work; Prophet and Apostle; Recluse and Guide of Israel. His spiritual fatherhood. (paternity). Father and Guide. The double spirit of Carmel. S. Teresia and St. John of the Cross renewers, (renovators), maintainers of a respectful tradition. Characteristic feature of Carmel’s school drawn by the image of Elias. “I am standing before the Lord’s face.” To live in God’s presence. Example of particular virtues, crowned by supreme contemplation. Remarkable agreement of exercise of prayers and influx of grace, of contemplation and active life.

The cloudlet on the Carmel and the zephir of Horeb.

Symbol: The splendour of Carmel; hidden round the mountain’s holes, red roses grow upwards.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

2. – Carmel’s Recluses (Hermits)

The conquerors of the Holy Land. Deus Vult! Peace after victory. St. Berthold described by Phocas. St. Brocard. Rule and old institutions of the Carmelite Order. The rule sketched in broad outline. Combination of contemplative and active life. Vocation to contemplative life. First remarkable examples. St. Cyril. St. Angelus. Origin of the Order in the Holy Land. Carmel, centre and latest stronghold. Peace in the midst of war. They who love the solitude. Carmel’s martyrs.

Jacques de Vitry: Diligent bees looking for honey.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

3. – From East to West. Driven out the Holy Places. God forsaken for the sake of God. Miraculous Providence. Through dead to life. Distributed all over the world; Mitigation of the primitive rule.

St. Simon Stock maintainer of the old tradition in altered times. Simon’s right-hand man Henry de Hanna; Remarkable agreement of his six degrees of spiritual life with the doctrine of St. Teresa. Sparks of old-time. (sparks of earlier zeal). Nicholas Gallus’s Sagitta ignea. The first monasteries are caverns. They set out for town. Dangers of the active life “Abide with us Lord, for it is toward evening”. Two chosen disciples whose hearts were burning in them: St. Andrew Corsini and St. Peter Thomas. The promise made to P. Thomas “Watchman, what of the night?” Symbol of this time: Offsprings of the old stock take in new ground: storms and dryness are a danger for the young life.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

4. – The Brothers of Our Lady. The appearance of a cloud above Carmel. The Old Sanctuary of the Virgin on Mount Carmel: Friars of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel. The last words of St. Brocard. Saint Simon Stock and the scapular. The White Friars. Churches and cloisters consecrated to Our Lady, works done in her honour and for her defence. The wonder of Chester. The title of the Order proved by the Pope and the Bishops. Totus Marianus est. Remarkable cult: The Holy Virgin as the Mother of God. (The Cloud above the Carmel) The Immaculate Conception, mark of honour of the Virgin’s motherhood; the carmelite’s life of purity to share that motherhood. As the Blessed Lady received Her Son, so we shall receive Him. Devotion to the Incarnation. Mary example for our susceptibility for God’s presence in the soul. This oldest idea is affirmed especially by St. John of the Cross. A carmelite must be another Mary. The Imitation of Mary according Michael a S. Augustine.

Type: The sunflower is wending to the sun and does take it in, adopt its shape; The soul’s desire for the sun.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

5. – A new Daybreak: the Carmelite nuns.

The dangers of the world. Slackening and reformation. Two centres: St .John Soreth in the Netherlands and the congregations of Albi and Mantua.

Blessed John Soreth: “My kingdom is not of this world”. “Simplices et sinceri”: “simple et unaffected”.

Abduction causes new attraction. Nicholas van Cues in the Netherlands. The Christian Renaissance. Methodical prayer. The school of Carmel. The convent of the Carmelite nuns at Gelder. Its rapid extension and their sanctity. Blessed Frances d’Amboise.

Together with the revival in the north there was another in the south. List of beati of the carmelite Order in Italie. Correspondence of blessed Baptist Mantua with the Carmel of the northern lands. Two centres of christian Humanism. Extension of the Carmelite nuns in Italie; Blessed Archangela Girlani.

Type: The Pearl of the Gospel. The treasure of Carmel. New crusade for the conquest of the Holy Mountain.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

6. – The help of arts and science. Evasion of dangers. A word of St. Francis Assisi. Necessity of arts and science. On the one hand danger, but on the other hand a source of higher spiritual life, foundation of a more fruitful activity. For this reason it has linked with a revival of discipline. Remarkable symptom appearing always at the same time as reformation and renewal. None the less it has always proved to be dangerous. Two shining lights at Italie’s firmament; the apostate, the painter (artist) Filippo Lippi and the blessed poet Baptist Mantua, the christian Virgilius. Cultivation of Sciences in Carmel’s Order. The first doctors of Paris. The Carmelites on the other Universities. The Carmelites in the first places in refuting the several heresies. A good many preachers and writers. In science they are devoted to the Holy Scriptures, the theology and the Philosophy. Their glory: ‘The Theologia Mystica’. The school of Carmel.

Type: The birds in the forest. The lovely silence of Carmel’s forests broken off[3] by the warbling of many birds.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

7. – Mater Spiritualium; St. Teresa of Avila.

The Beloved. ‘The Way of Perfection’. Nature and grace. The watering of the garden of the soul. Mater of two cloisters. A new Guide on the old road. Are the roads separated? The seven resting-places of the interior Castle. On the highest degrees. Sense and intellect. Exercises of virtue and influx of grace. The contemplation and the Imitation of Christ. Jacob’s ladder. The seraphic Virgin. The stigmatization of the heart. The songster of love. The Mother from many children. The most eminent representative of Carmel’s Mysticism. Characteristics. Illustrious followers. Anna of Jesus. Anna of St. Bartholomew; Mary of the incarnation (Madame Acarie). Compiègne. Mary Margr. of the Angels (The nun of Oirschot). Mary of the Angels; Teresa Margaret Redi.

Type: Rain and sunshine in the garden.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

8. – The Doctor Mysticus ; St. John of the Cross.

The upbuilding of the spiritual life. The ascent of Carmel. To cut the fundaments. Negative and Positive Theology. The dark night. Eastern tendencies in Western mystic. Influence of Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite. The first discalced Carmelites.

S. Teresa and S. John of the Cross. Fruitful interaction on each other. The lover of the Cross. The Apostle. “Under this sign thou shalt conquer.”

Illustrious followers: Thomas a Jesu; Phillippus a SSma Trinitate; Frater Laurence; Joseph a Spiritu Sancto. The Blessed martyrs of India; Dionysius and Redemptus.

Type: Guide in a dark night. The turning lamb. (light)


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

9. – The old stock flourish again. St. Mary Magdelene de Pazzi and the blind John of St. Samson, the Seer. New flowers in Italy and France to the Netherlands. Florence and Rennes. The strictior observantia. Flowers on Netherland’s ground. Mary Magdelene de Pazzi, equal of St. Teresa. The ecstatical Virgin. “To suffer, not to die”. Penance and abstinence. New triumphs of the Cross. Love of the solitude. Apostolic thoughts.

John of St. Samson, the blind brother, pride of the French-mystic. Not separation but renewal. Revival of the old traditions. Vocation to the mystic life. Closely related with St. John of the Cross. Philip Thibault and John of St. Samson. The reformation of the Old Carmel. Remarkable witness of Bremond. The strictior observantia in the Netherlands. Introductio in terram Carmeli:

Imitation of Mary. Michiel of St. Augustin and Mary Petyt.

Type: The blind seers; the blind finches sing.


Carmelite Mysticism. Ten Lectures

10. – The ‘little way’ of ‘the little Flower’. Teresa of the Child Jesus and of the holy Face.

‘The Unflowered Rose’. The flowerstrewer. A new star of Carmel. Once more the eyes of all men are looking out for Carmel. The narrow way. To be a child of God. The communion of saints in the apostelate. Patroness of the Missions. The old principle of the Carmelite Mysticism upheld by St. Teresa. Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Many be called, but few chosen. The joy of God’s children. Founding of many new Carmel-convents. Revival of the Carmelite Mystic. Summary.

Type: The garden of the church is in full bloom; it is like a Paradise. We will gather the flowers like Angelico’s angels and strew them on the earth.

  1. Typescript, 10 pages A5, NCI-TBA OP088-008. The pages are all entitled ‘Carmelite Mysticism . Ten Lectures’. Also in this document, clearly evident typing and/or printing errors are tacitly corrected.
  2. In the summer of 1935, Titus Brandsma gave lectures in the United States. Among others he was in Washington, in Chicago and in Niagara Falls to speak about Carmelite mysticism. The lectures are further developed and published in: Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Mysticism. Historical Sketches, Chicago 1936. The critical edition of these lectures can also be found on this website (search for: “historical sketches”).
  3. In the typescript: ‘breaked off’.

© Nederlandse Provincie Karmelieten.

Published: Titus Brandsma Instituut 2020