The Celtic Carmelites live in the tradition of the ancient Celtic Church prior to Roman domination of the British Isles and in the "active/contemplative" spirit of the early Carmelite Brothers and Sisters. To know Jesus is to share Jesus in word and deed. To get to know Jesus requires solitude and intimacy with Him - through reading Sacred Scripture, living a gospel-centered life, and in contemplation of our Lord in the recesses of our hearts. We seek to share our rich history with others and, through the Holy Trinity, we endeavor to help heal a very disconnected world.
In a nutshell, the ancient Celtic Christian communities were isolated from the European influences of power and politics, and therefore enjoyed a love of the Gospel without an agenda. In Celtic theology, the fall of Adam and Eve represented a veil cast between mankind and God, and the consequences described in Genesis 3:14-19 included aspiritual death which could only be restored through the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Savior. If one reads the Old Testament without denominational prejudice, it is plain to see even from the time of Cain and Abel God maintained an active, Fatherly relationship with man and creation. Yet this relationship was marred by the pride of mankind who sought to keep the throne of the heart occupied by the pride of life. Early Celts were enamored with the spiritual realm, which set a fertile field for the first Christian missionaries to explain the Gospel message of Christ's perfect life, death, and resurrection to restore intimacy with the Trinity between God and man.
The Celtic Christian communities enjoyed an equality between men and women unheard of on the European continent, a love and respect for nature as a gift from God and a means to know Him more intimately. In regards to "original sin," the Celtic Christian knew that Christ saved them from themselves and their inevitable attraction to rebellion. A great analogy would be to see a baby and believe you are looking into the face of the divine. In a few years, you could look at the same child and know he needed a Savior. The Celts had an unmatched devotion to the saving work of Christ on the cross. They simply believed that the world needed saving because of the propensity of mankind to choose evil over Godly desires. The sacrifice of Jesus both to become a human being, to live a sinless and perfect life, and to suffer as the Lamb for of our sins was a work completed at the cross when Jesus uttered, "It is finished!" (John, 19:30). At the Resurrection, our Savior proved He had conquered death and restored mankind to fellowship with the Trinity. It is our joy to bring the Kingdom of God to fruition in the here and now, in the hearts and minds of all people.
WHY WE ARE CELTIC:
1) We hold to the position that God, mankind, and creation are united relationally. We support this view with Biblical texts such as Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork" and Jesus assures us in Luke 12: 24, "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?"
2) The early Celtic Christians had a great respect for women and children in society, unlike the European continent. Male and female monasteries could be found side by side, and it was not uncommon for women to hold leadership roles in both church and clans. We are Celtic for the reason that God created man "in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27).
3) We believe in the Genesis account that God created the heavens and earth as "good" and humans as "very good." We choose to live with optimism that God loves man and creation - He always has and always will. He gave His only begotten Son to redeem us. What greater reason to love God, creation, and each other than that?
WHY WE ARE CARMELITE: The Carmelite Order traces its history back to the Elijah who on Mount Carmel stood up against the priests of Baal as told in 1Kings 18:20-40. Elijah faced an overwhelming majority of pagan priests yet demonstrated the power of God over false religions. In New Testament times hermits inhabited the caves of Mount Carmel and lived lives of holy prayer and contemplation of the Word of God. In the thirteenth century, they formed what we now know as the Order of Carmelites. in the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross set about reforming the Order and bringing it back to its roots of contemplation and prayer. Both of these great saints were mystics, and both were honored as "Doctors of the Church" because of their insights into Sacred Scriptures. The fact that they worked together (male and female) and their mysticism ties in well with Celtic tradition.
WHY WE HAVE EVOLVED FROM OLD CATHOLIC TO SIMPLY CHRISTIAN: Briefly, the Old Catholic Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century when Rome declared the Pope as infallible. The Old Catholics believe in the ancient Catholic Church and hold to the first seven Councils. We do not recognize the anathema's rendered on Protestants at the Council of Trent in the 16th century, and believe in local Bishops overseeing geographical areas, yet God alone is the head of the Church.Overall, the option for many to leave the political systems of Roman Catholicism while retaining many traditions is admirable.
The challenge with being "Old Catholic" historically and currently rests with a very divided religious tradition in which heirarchy of individuals is self-appointed, doctrine is a matter of choice - some Old Catholics believe in homosexual unions, the ordination of women, a theology closely resembling New Age mysiticism, while other Bishops in the Old Catholic movement pick and choose which doctrines represent their particular beliefs. A very present danger arises when one is attracted to the Old Catholic Church but does not understand there is no true unity of the denomiation.
The Celtic Carmelites have determined to adhere to the most conservative doctrinal beliefs of the Christian Church. Like the hermits of Mount Carmel and the early Celtic Christians, extensive study of Scripture and a commitment to live in harmony with the Gospels is our foundation.