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Carmelite Wisdom and Prophetic Hope: Treasures Both New and Old (Carmelite Studies 11)

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Carmelite Wisdom and Prophetic Hope

Treasures Both New and Old

(Carmelite Studies 11)
Edited by Mary Frohlich, RSCJ


This newest volume of Carmelite Studies reflects the remarkable resurgence in Carmelite scholarship, especially throughout the English-speaking world, in recent decades. Several authors in the present volume are among the pioneers who made the latest in Carmelite scholarship available to an ever wider audience. Their voices are joined by those of other recognized scholars and theologians who continue to mine the rich heritage of this ancient tradition.

These twelve essays particularly focus on wisdom, hope, and prophecy, especially as understood and practiced in the Carmelite tradition. Weaving rich insights from the theme throughout these essays, the authors show the honored place of wisdom and prophetic hope and action from the Order’s origins on Mount Carmel and the Rule in the 12th century, to the teachings of the saints and Doctors of the Church Teresa of Ávila and John of Cross in the 16th, to the 21st century where Carmelite wisdom speaks prophetically and challenges Carmelites and all women and men of prayer in ever new ways.

This volume, tracing the contribution of Carmel’s richness from the hermit life at the prophet Elijah’s wadi to the challenges and invitations of the contemporary world, is an excellent resource for personal study as well as an invaluable tool for Carmelite formation, study groups, and anyone wanting to explore the intersection of Carmelite spirituality, biblical Wisdom, contemplation and prophetic action.

Includes a helpful introduction outlining each essay’s focus, notes for each essay, biographical sketches of the contributors, and a comprehensive index.

  • ICS code: C11
  • Format: paperback
  • Pages: 376
  • ISBN: 978-1-939272-63-8


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A strength of Carmel is its extensive literary tradition, providing rich material for study, reflection, prayer, and apostolic action. From 1983 to 2013, a group of Carmelite and Discalced Carmelite men and women gathered to study their shared tradition. This Carmelite Forum sponsored annual summer seminars in Carmelite spirituality at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. The seminars’ talks and workshops utilized past and present scholarship on the tradition.


The title of this newest Carmelite Studies volume is based on the theme of the 2009 Carmelite spirituality seminar, “Carmel’s Search for Wisdom: Prayer and Contemplation.”


The study of Wisdom, identified by Christians with the Son of God, confirms Carmel’s perennial commitment to the following of Jesus Christ and demonstrates the centrality of the humanity of Jesus in Carmelite spirituality.


Carmelite Wisdom and Prophetic Hope also shows how in recent decades Carmel has become more aware of its prophetic inheritance. The figure of the prophet Elijah, for example, has emerged as a balance to Carmel’s interiority and to an individualized spirituality. Following the church’s own clearer expression of justice as integral to the Gospel, Carmel has become more available and responsive to our contemporary world’s hunger for community, justice, and depth of meaning. Carmelite wisdom recognizes that contemplation is never for its own sake, but should be the deepest source of compassion for our world.


The contributors and their respective essays are:
Part I: Orientations to Wisdom and Prophetic Hope, Ancient and New

  • Mary Frohlich, RSCJ
  • “Contemplative Wisdom for An Axial Age: The Carmelite Tradition”
  • Keith J. Egan, T.OCarm.
  • “Wisdom: A Many-Splendored Tradition”
  • Constance Fitzgerald, OCD
  • “From Impasse to Prophetic Hope: Crisis of Memory”
  • Kees Waaijman, OCarm
  • “The Wisdom of Work in the Carmelite Rule”

Part II: Wisdom and Prophetic Hope in John of the Cross

  • Daniel Chowning, OCD
  • “John of the Cross: A Spirituality of Wisdom”
  • Vilma Seelaus, OCD
  • “Carmelite Mysticism as Theology: John of the Cross’s Theology of the Human Person”
  • Kevin Culligan, OCD
  • “The Wisdom of Emptiness”
  • Edward Howells
  • “O Guiding Night! The Psychology of Hope in John of the Cross’s Dark Night”

Part III: Prophetic Intimations from Teresa of Ávila

  • Sandra M. Schneiders, IHM
  • “The Jesus Mysticism of Teresa of Avila: Its Importance for Theology and Contemporary Spirituality”
  • Mary Frohlich, RSCJ
  • “How Love Transforms: Teresa and the Impact of Sanctity”
  • Tara Soughers
  • “Seeking Wisdom in Common Vocal Prayers: Teresa of Ávila’s Response to the Banning of Vernacular Books on Prayer”
  • Gillian T. W. Ahlgren
  • “The Prophetic Charism of the Mystical Life: The Model of Teresa of Jesus”

“This wonderful volume of Carmelite Studies 11 brings together in one place essays by a variety of contemporary scholars who find the Carmelite tradition in its contemplative core has much to say in our time about Wisdom and prophetic hope. We see in these essays how our age is longing for and bursting with the possibilities of contemplative wisdom and a hope which acts.

Reading these essays, one finds the heart and depth of Carmelite mystics, especially St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. All the scholars, especially those of the Carmelite Order, engage the reader on both the experiential and intellectual level. Reading this volume, one moves into the dynamic heart of Carmel and its timely message."


— Dr. Richard P. Hardy

Author, John of the Cross: Man and Mystic