THE CHARISM…… FROM THE BEGINNING
The carmelite experience do not have, from the origin, a well identified founder, but were a group of hermits in the Holy Land in the ends of the twelfth century, for which the charismatic identity can be configured around a few significant points:
A sacred place: Mount Carmel is a mountain range in northern Palestine, overlooking the sea. The Bible refers as a symbol of special beauty, covenant, spousal relationship, of the ‘appointment’ with the Divine. In the early centuries, Mount Carmel, according to ancient tradition, which considered Elijah founder of monastic life, has become a favorite place for monks and hermits, who withdrew from the world to meet God.
A rule of life: the first hermits want to make real the ideal of radical Christianity, “Living in allegiance to Jesus Christ … meditating day and night the Word of God and keeping watch in prayer”. An ideal, therefore, primarily contemplative, given to people who live for God alone.
• Marian devotion: In the wake of Mary, mother and sister, a Carmelite wants to open up completely to receive the Word Incarnate to continually generate Him to the world.
With St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, the Teresian Reform of the sixteenth century comes to life , which sees in the cities the riviving of the original vocation of a hermit, in small monasteries in which the practice of prayer, the intense fraternal life, poverty are the real possibility to keep that personal relationship with Christ the Bridegroom and Friend.
Teresa of Jesus puts at the center of her reform the Eucharist, she rethinks and renews the Caramel as a place of spousal love with the Lord.
The Carmel of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross exists to say that at the heart of every man’s life, and the consecrated one in particular, there is always love, that love that is endlessly given by Christ and often rejected by men who do not understand its wealth.
The Carmelite ideal is affirmed and passed on, so, as a proclamation of the dignity of man, called to friendship with the God of Jesus:
“What is the soul of the righteous if not a paradise, where the Lord says to take his delight? There is nothing that can compare to the great beauty of a soul and its immense capacity! ”
(St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle 1 M 1.1)
In this vein, the story of the Carmelite charisma continues to enrich and fertilize through the centuries the Church: the Holy Spirit has inspired men and women who, in the wake of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, but in different historical contexts, have established Carmelite families of active life so to walk alongside men in all periods of the time.
Teresa Maria of the Cross is one of them: in the footsteps of the Teresian Carmel in 1874 along with two companions she moves into a house near the bank of the river Bisenzio. Thus was born the Institute of Carmelite Sisters of Florence.