Today is the feast of our Lady of Mt Carmel.
Mt Carmel is where the prophet Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal.
He called the Jewish people back to worship of the one God, as distinct from the many gods of the surrounding pagan peoples.
In the Christian Era, a number of hermits began to live on Mt Carmel. This was the beginning of the Carmelite order.
When we think of the Carmelite order, some of the people that spring to mind are St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila, who were both great mystics, great reformers and doctors of the church.
Another name is that of St Therese of Lisieux, a young woman who was also a mystic and who won the hearts of so many with her ‘Little way’, a simple way to holiness by doing small things well and trusting in adversity.
There are many other Carmelite saints.
Carmelite spirituality is contemplative.
Contemplation is about the stilling of the mind and descending into the heart.
It is about moving from shallow living to deeper living, about being more real and moving from illusion.
It is about freedom, about a healthy detachment to live unencumbered by excess baggage. It is about a healthy self-denial so as to discover the real self that is not a slave to unhealthy gratification, wanting instant relief and band-aid solutions.