Carmelite Spirituality

Carmelite Spirituality is a spirituality of reception: receiving the free gift of God’s love and responding. The 16th Century Carmelite reformer Teresa of Jesus (Avila) described God as the One we know loves us.

Spiritual Direction conversations can help free us to respond more fully to God’s love, out of a place of love and gratitude. They can help uncover deep seated subtle beliefs about ourselves in relation to God which hold us back in developing a deeper relationship. Such beliefs may be that we need to earn God’s love; or that we are unworthy of God’s love; or that we are unlovable. These beliefs can unconsciously drive our behaviour which affects our relationships with others and also with God.

Three Carmelite saints describe their approach to God and to prayer, and reveal a deep seated belief that relationship with God is a relationship of love.


Prayer, as Teresa of Jesus (Avila) described it, is an intimate sharing between friends. (Book of her Life, 8:5)

Therese of Lisieux wrote, For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.

John of the Cross wrote, In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.

Over the years, I’ve come to express the 3 R’s of Carmelite Spirituality as Rest, Receive, Respond. These two poems were written almost twelve years apart reflecting a deepening experience of resting in God’s Love.

Resting in Love
Pull up an easy chair, my love,
Come sit with me and rest.
Kick off the shoes that hurry you,
Close the eyes that see such need.
Lean back in comfort,
beyond yourself
in the easy chair of My Love.
[BM 18/9/2004]

Incline your Heart
Incline your heart to me, my love,
and still your weary mind:
No past to mull, no future plan,
No problem to unwind.
With Love as guide and comforter
there’s no need to discern:
Lean in and be with me in peace
and rest without concern.
[BM 5/5/2016]

A taste

More articles about Carmelite saints coming here soon.

Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila): Four waters of prayer. (from the Book of her Life, Chapter 11 – 22) [Still to come.]

Saint John of the Cross: a human way to understand “The Dark Night.”

Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross): Transformation through Relationship. [Still to come.]

An aspect of Edith’s Stein’s life story.