Karmel “Totus Tuss” Karmelittklosteret, Tromsø, Norway

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If we might recall them very briefly, the elements of monastic tradition recalled by Albert
in response to the desires of the hermits of Mount Carmel were:

 


1. Since they had decided to embrace the eremitical life as a group (and not as individuals) they must elect one of themselves to preside over them. The Superior elected will then govern with the agreement and collaboration of all; he will live in the cell nearest to the entrance to their settlement so as to be more easily accessible to anyone seeking to join the group; and he will be responsible for assessing candidates and making due provision for their admission to and initiation into their particular way of life. He is to regard himself as the humble servant of the rest, while they in turn are to honour and obey him as the representative of Christ in their midst.

2. Each hermit is to live in a cave or cell of his own.

3. They are to spend their time meditating on the word of God and watching in prayer, unless other duties require their attention.

4. Every morning they are to come together to celebrate the Eucharist.

5. All they possess is to be held in common and distributed to each according to his age and needs.

6. At least once a week, they are to come together to discuss the observance of the main points of the Rule and what concerns the salvation of their souls. This is the time to draw attention to any fault, be it in an individual or in the community as a whole, with a view to its correction.

7. They are to be austere in their eating habits: no meat at any time, a fast from the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to Easter. It was accepted that delicate health, illness or any just cause could excuse one from the fast or abstinence, as necessity knows no law.

8. The Patriarch then goes on to exhort them to live by faith, hope and charity and never to forget that life is an ongoing battle. Their whole energy must be directed, he said, towards loving God above everything else and loving their neighbour as themselves; and they were to look to the Lord alone for their salvation.

9. Work, something essential in the whole monastic tradition,is to be an integral part of their way of life. Following the example of St. Paul, it can be a means of earning their livelihood as well as a means of avoiding idleness - the occasion of so many temptations.

10. If they are to ponder God's law day and night, then silence is indispensable. During the day they must avoid all unnecessary speech and at night - from Vespers till Terce next morning - all communication is forbidden.

11. Should anyone wish to do even more than is required here, concludes Albert, he may do so, and the Lord will reward him when he comes. Let everything be done with that moderation which is the hallmark of all true virtue.

As you can see, the little Rule is a perfect synthesis of the most important points of monastic community living, and these are expressed as explicitly as any adult fully committed to the monastic ideal would need.

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