and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Integral to living out the Carmelite charism is a commitment by the Carmelite Family, its communities and individuals, to building peace, upholding justice, and maintaining the integrity of God's Creation (sometimes abbreviated to JPIC). The Carmelite Family in Britain and across the world seeks to preach Christ's Good News and build up God's kingdom on earth by living in solidarity with the planet and its people.
JPIC in Carmelite Spirituality
The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is reflected in the spirituality of the Carmelite Order.
The first Carmelites on Mount Carmel learned to respect their environment, tending the land and seeking to live in peace with others. Those first Carmelites took inspiration from the prophet Elijah who had dwelt on Mount Carmel. As a prophet, Elijah 'spoke truth to power', challenging the abuses of those in power, and defending the rights of the power and dispossessed.
When the Carmelites became a mendicant order within the Church, they lived poor among the poor, supporting and identifying with those on the margins of society.
The 1995 Constitutions of the Carmelite Friars speak of justice and peace as foundational to Carmel:
"The Rule of Saint Albert speaks of a community whose members are open to the indwelling of the Spirit and formed by the Spirit’s values: chastity, holy thoughts, justice, love, faith, the expectation of salvation, work accomplished in peace, silence which, as the Prophet tells us, is the cult of justice and brings wisdom to word and action; and discernment, 'the guide and moderator of all virtues'." (§16)
Today Carmelite friars, apostolic sisters and laity live "in the midst of the people", sharing the joys and sorrows of those around us. As the 1995 Constitutions state: "This way of being in the midst of the people is a sign and a prophetic witness of new relationships, of fraternity and friendship among men and women everywhere. It is a prophetic message of justice and peace in society and among peoples. As an integral part of the Good News, this prophecy must be fulfilled through active commitment to the transformation of sinful systems and structures into grace-filled systems and structures. It is also an expression of the choice to share in the lives of “the little ones” (minores) of history, so that we may speak a word of hope and of salvation from their midst - more by our life than by our words. This option flows naturally from our profession of poverty in a mendicant fraternity, and is in keeping with our allegiance to Christ Jesus, lived out also through allegiance to the poor and to those in whom the face of our Lord is reflected in a preferential way." (§24)
In recent years a number of reflections on JPIC issues have been produced by the Carmelite Family, notably two letters from the Prior General: The God of Our Contemplation (2004) on the connection between contemplation and the work for justice; and The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor (2006) on the meaning of poverty for Carmelite life.
Individual Carmelites (including Johan Bergström-Allen, Wilfrid McGreal and Míceál O’Neill) have written on issues of justice, peace and the integrity of Creation, and some of these reflections can be found in the Contemporary Authors page of the Carmelite Spirituality section of this website.
For a document summarising the Carmelite Order's interest in JPIC issues and a list of examples of JPIC ministry in the British Province, please click here.