University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Foundations of Carmelite Spirituality

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is intended as an introduction to the early sources and to the two principal inspirational figures that have shaped the Carmelite Tradition.

The first part will deal with the Carmelite Rule, an early thirteenth century document that presents us with the initial inspiration of the Carmelite charism. After studying its context and how it developed from formula vitæ to rule, the document will be thoroughly analysed and various themes will be discussed that will enlighten the depth of its message.

The biblical prophet Elijah was considered by the Fathers of the Church as a major model for consecrated persons. The Order of Carmel, originating near the source of Elijah on Mt Carmel, which in the Middle Ages was regarded as his mountain, inherited and enriched this tradition. This part of the study-unit will study the development of the Carmelite Elijan tradition with ample reference to texts from the thirteenth century down to the present.

The first Carmelites dedicated their oratory to the Virgin Mary, choosing her as their Patroness. This relationship developed greatly as Mary started to be experienced and considered also as Mother and Sister, the perfect embodiment of the Carmelite ideal and an unequalled guide on the ascent of Mt Carmel. From the sixteenth century onwards the Carmelite Scapular became a privileged way of promoting in the whole Church Carmel’s devotion to Mary.

The last part of this study-unit will be dedicated to the late fourteenth century work The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites, better known as The Institution of the First Monks. This book, compiled by Felip Ribot, a Carmelite from Catalonia, develops the legendary history of the Order. It embodies the Elijan and Marian tradition of the early centuries of Carmel developing them to the full. The book dominated the spirituality of the Order for centuries.

Study-Unit Aims:

By the end of the study-unit, students will have:
- defined, interpreted, and differentiated the original inspiration of Carmelite Spirituality as represented by its Rule;
- investigated and assessed the place of Elijah and Mary in the Carmelite Tradition;
- explored and defined the “legendary” early history of Carmel as pertaining to a different view of “History” as well as systematised a symbolic way of expressing its vocation and characteristics.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- FRIEDMAN Elias, O.C.D., The Latin Hermits of Mount Carmel. A Study of Carmelite Origins, Roma 1979.
- RIBOT Felip, O.Carm., The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites, edited and translated by Richard Copsey, O.Carm., Faversham/Rome 2005.
- WAAIJAM Kees, The Mystical Space of Carmel. A Commentary on the Carmelite Rule, Leuven 1999.

Supplementary Readings:

- ACKERMAN Jane, Elijah Prophet of Carmel, Washington 2003.
- BOAGA Emanuele, O.Carm., Nello spirito e nella virtùdi Elia: Antologia di documenti e sussidi, Roma 1990.
- BOAGA Emanuele, O.Carm., Con Maria sulle vie di Dio. Antologia della marianità carmelitana, Roma 2000.
- BOAGA Emanuele, O.Carm., The Lady of the Place. Mary in the History and in the Life of Carmel, Rome 2001.
- [CHANDLER Paul, O.Carm., ed.], A Journey with Elijah, Rome 1991.
- CICCONETTI Carlo, O. Carm., La Regola del Carmelo. Origine – Natura – significato, Roma 1973.
- [CLARKE Hugh, O.Carm., - EDWARDS Bede, O.D.C., ed.], The Rule of Saint Albert, Aylesford/Kensington 1973.
- MULHALL Michael, Albert’s Way. The First North American Congress on the Carmelite Rule, Rome/Illinois 1989.
- O’DONNELL Christopher, O.Carm., A Loving Presence: Mary and Carmel. A Study of the Marian Heritage of the Order, Melbourne 2000.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Glen Attard
Charlo Camilleri

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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