Franciscan vs Carmelite

what distinguishes these 2 spiritual traditions?

As a possible future Franciscan, I feel compelled to answer. :smiley:

Well, first and foremost, Carmelites are obviously Monks and Nuns, while Franciscans are Friars and Sisters. Yes, there is a big difference. For the easiest way to learn how to distinguish the differences, find JReducation (A Franciscan Friar here) and he will tell you in great detail. :stuck_out_tongue:

It should be noted that Franciscans have Nuns as well

Secondly, their missions are completely different. Carmelites stay within their community, work, and pray. Franciscans go out into the world, preach, and care for the poor. Know that neither is greater than the other. Both are honorable vocations… I’m sorry, but out of pride, I feel the need to do this… FRANCISCANS ALL THE WAY!!!

Anyway, the biggest distinctions can be found in their Rule. The Rule of Saint Francis and the Rule of Mount Carmel (If there is one. I’m not very knowledgeable with Carmelites) are worlds apart. I would recommend simply reading the Rule of Saint Francis and reading whatever Rule the Carmelites have.

I wish I could offer more, but I don’t know much about Carmelites. ByzCath is a Carmelite, and JReducation is a Franciscan, so I would recommend contacting them on here to ask about the rules. I can tell you from experience JReducation will explode with excitement to explain the Rule of Saint Francis. :stuck_out_tongue:

Franciscan and Carmelite men are both friars. We are mendicant. The Franciscan and Carmelite families also have two kinds of women religious, we have nuns and sisters.

Franciscans follow one of the rules written by St. Francis. He wrote four rules for different branches of his family. The Carmelites follow the Rule of St. Albert. There are two Carmelite obediences. They have only one rule, but different constitutions.

Both families are called to live the Gospel, but with different foci.

Franciscans are called to live poverty in absolute obedience.

Carmelites are called to be hermits.

When not actively involved in ministry the Carmelite spirit calls for silence and solitude.

Among Franciscans, when not in ministry the Franciscan spirit calls for prayer and brotherhood. Franciscans spend a lot more time together.

In addition, Carmelites will go where ever there is a need for priests. They are a clerical order. Most friars are priests and the order is controlled by priests. Only priests can hold office. As long as they protect the life of prayer, they can do almost any kind of ministry in any kind of situation, parishes, schools, hospitals, retreats, soup kitchens, and other social ministries.

Franciscans do not serve among the middle and upper classes. They go where the poor are. We are an order of mixed life. Many friars are priests, but not all. Each community decides how they will be governed, whether by any elected friar or only by a friar priest. We go where we can serve the poor and live in poverty, regardless where the work leads us. Our work is not necessarily sacramental, though the ministry of confession is very special to our friars. That can be hearing confessions or forming consciences. Therefore, you don’t have to be a priest. You can be a priest and hear the confession or not be a priest and form consciences.

In terms of prayer life, the Carmelites are more formal than Franciscans. They have a very formal Liturgy of the Hours with chant, standing, bowing and all the trimmings.

Franciscans have a less formal Liturgy of the Hours. We recite the Divine Office, we don’t chant. Though a hymn can be introduced. We usually sit through the whole thing, except the Gospel canticle.

Carmelites live in a priory, headed by a prior. These houses tend to be comfortable and the friars are allowed to have certain possessions either in common or individually.

Franciscans live in friaries or community houses. St. Francis forbade the office of the prior under penalty of grave sin. Our houses are overseen by a guardian, who does not have as much authority as does a prior. Franciscans may not own anything individually. We ask for permissioin for everything that we have and it can be taken away at any time by the community. We rarely own our houses.

Both communities are governed by the chapter. The difference is that the Franciscans have a house chapter that is morally binding on the friars. I believe that is not the case among the Carmelites.

Carmelites do not have a patriarch. St. Albert is the Law Giver, not the father of the order. Saints Teresa and John of the Cross are the reformers of the Discalced Carmelites and their models.

Franciscans have a patriarch. We all look to Francis of Assisi as the Holy Father Francis, even though he was never a priest. We still vow to obey him. Eight hundred years later, even from heaven, he still governs his sons and daughters. Franciscans have a great attachment to him and not a day goes by when he’s not mentioned and everything that we do we compare to his life, his wishes, his rule. He is the teacher of the Gospel.

Externally, most people will not see the differences between Franciscans and Carmelites other than you may find a Carmelite running a parish in Beverley Hills, where a Franciscan is not allowed to go. The real differences are less obvious to the man or woman outside of the two orders.

The modern Carmelites are contemporaries of the Franciscans. They arrived in Europe at the time when the Franciscans were being founded. It is at that time that the Carmelites were absorbed into the mendicant movement which was all the rage in Europe with the founding of the Trinitarians, Dominicans and Franciscans, in that order. The Carmelite hermits became itinerant brothers or friars.

Contrary to popular opinion, Carmelites are not monks, nor are they monastic. They are itinerant hermits, unlike Carthusians who are secluded hermits. Franciscans are not monks either, nor are we hermits. There are Franciscan hermits. They are very few. They follow the Franciscan Rule for Hermits.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Brother JR,

Thank you for the clarification!

I love St. Francis of Assisi, and I am a Lay Carmelite. :slight_smile:

Peace,

Dorothy

One of the things I love about the Church are how there are so many roads for everyone to follow, each for their own needs and preferences, and yet they are all “watched over” by the Church and all lead to heaven. And yet there is nothing preventing a catholic from being influenced by other orders and spiritualities.

A couple notes of correction

As Brother JR points out we most certainly are not monks. We are friars as well.

Yes and no. We are called to be active as well. This is why we use the term “active contemplatives” to describe ourselves.

When not actively involved in ministry the Carmelite spirit calls for silence and solitude.

Our charism is threefold. Prayer, Service, and Community.

In addition, Carmelites will go where ever there is a need for priests. They are a clerical order. Most friars are priests and the order is controlled by priests. Only priests can hold office.

Mostly true but non-ordained friars may hold the offices of counselor and prior, they just may not be provincial prior or provincial vicar.

They also serve on various committees set up by the counsel.

Both communities are governed by the chapter. The difference is that the Franciscans have a house chapter that is morally binding on the friars. I believe that is not the case among the Carmelites.

All I am aware that the house chapter does for us is votation as to vows and ordinations, it is a consultative vote and not binding on the counsel/provincial prior.

Carmelites do not have a patriarch. St. Albert is the Law Giver, not the father of the order. Saints Teresa and John of the Cross are the reformers of the Discalced Carmelites and their models.

Yes, our founders wished to remain anonymous. We look to Elijah and Mary as our spiritual founders. The OCD look to Saints Teresa and John of the Cross as you say.

Contrary to popular opinion, Carmelites are not monks, nor are they monastic. They are itinerant hermits, unlike Carthusians who are secluded hermits. Franciscans are not monks either, nor are we hermits. There are Franciscan hermits. They are very few. They follow the Franciscan Rule for Hermits.

I like that term, “itinerant hermits”, never heard it before. We do have a small number of secluded hermits within our ranks though.

One other note, the OCD nuns actually have two constitutions. Each of their monasteries pick which set they will follow at a house chapter.

:D:p:D
On a side note, when I read the thread title an image of Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior came to mind. Who would win in a fight, a Carmelite or a Franciscan? While I am sure that three knotted cord will hurt, Carmelites do wear a leather belt.
:D:p:D

That’s why in my doctoral dissertation on Teresa and Francis I called you guys “itinerant hermits” :smiley:

Our charism is threefold. Prayer, Service, and Community.

Hey you! I thought I included that. :confused:

Mostly true but non-ordained friars may hold the offices of counselor and prior, they just may not be provincial prior or provincial vicar. They also serve on various committees set up by the counsel.

That’s a major difference between the Carmelite family and the Franiscan and Cistercian families. We can have Provincial and General Ministers who are not clerics; however, because we do have clerics, you must have someone who can grant faculties. If you have a Provincial or General Minister who is not a cleric, the Vicar must be a cleric. It falls upon him to grant faculties and to suspend. Or you can have a General Minister or Provincial who is a cleric and a Vicar who is not. This is what is allowed. Because we have 112 obediences, each obedience writes its constitutions form what is allowed. Some may have only clerics in high offices, some have only non ordained, as long as there are no ordained friars in the community. There are Franciscan congregations that do not admit clerics. As long as you do not step outside of the rule, you can adjust your government accordingly. What you may never do is discriminate between the ordained and the non ordained, nor may you encourage the laity to do so.

All I am aware that the house chapter does for us is votation as to vows and ordinations, it is a consultative vote and not binding on the counsel/provincial prior.

In the Franciscan’s case, the house chapter is written into the rule. Francis commands that the brothers must obey each other under pain of mortal sin. This obedience is through the house chapter. The brothers vote and everyone complies It is important to understand that no house can vote in or out anything that is in the rule or in the general constitutions. Whatever they vvote on binds only the local fraternity.

This was a big issue with the EF and OF. The rule does not allow the community to choose the form of the mass. When it was written, there were several forms. Francis chose the form. From then on, tradition has it that the successor of St. Francis is the only person who has the authority to choose the form of the mass. The houses cannot choose without the permission of the General Minister to do so. Fortunately, this permission has been granted with conditions. No house can use the EF exclusively. Every house can vote to celebrate it as an extraordinary mass.

Yes, our founders wished to remain anonymous. We look to Elijah and Mary as our spiritual founders. The OCD look to Saints Teresa and John of the Cross as you say.

Clare and Francis were superstars. They were control freaks. They were in charge and they did not want anyone to forget it. Both wrote a Testament rehashing what they had already said about the Rule and reminding their sons and daughters that they were watching us. Francis went as far as reminding the friars, nuns, sisters and secular Franciscans that they would go to hell if they glossed (softened) the rule.

He made it very clear that the Rule came to him through Divine Revelation and therefore, it is binding on everyone. The Church has upheld this. No one can change the rule, amend the rule, or soften the rule except the pope himself. Most popes are very hesitant to touch any of his rules. Pope Leo XIII once said that he did not want to incurr the wrath of God. Pope Leo XIII was a professed Secular Franciscan. He had a great affection for the rule.

Someone asked Pope Pius X to make some changes. Wrong man to ask. He too was a professed Secular Franciscan. He too declined to touch it. They went down the line. Pius XII, also a Secular Franciscan, John XXIII, also a Secular Franciscan. It was finally Paul VI, who was either a Dominican or Carmelite, not sure which, who allowed some changes in the third rule only. He was very careful to make sure that the changes were in matters that no longer apply to the 20th century.

I like that term, “itinerant hermits”, never heard it before. We do have a small number of secluded hermits within our ranks though.

They’re like the Franciscan hermits. Except that the Franciscan hermits have their own rule and your hermits follow the same rule as the rest of the order.

One other note, the OCD nuns actually have two constitutions. Each of their monasteries pick which set they will follow at a house chapter.

Are these the nuns with Obsessive Cumpulsive Disorders?

On a side note, when I read the thread title an image of Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior came to mind. Who would win in a fight, a Carmelite or a Franciscan? While I am sure that three knotted cord will hurt, Carmelites do wear a leather belt.
:D:p:D

Yeah, but with all that stuff that you guys wear, you’ll never catch us. There is an advantage to dressing like slobs. We can run in our habits.

I put on one of your habits once, with the white mantle and all. Good gravy! I gained 10 lbs. :eek: No wonder I’ve never seen a fat Carmelite. They don’t need a gym. They just put on their full habit and take a walk in the sun for 10 min. :wink:

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Brother JR, can you explain the differences between the different orders within the Franciscans (OFM, TOR, Capuchin, etc.)?

I’d rather explain the Holy Trinity. It’s easier. :smiley:

OK . . . let’s try this.

St. Francis founded three orders, each with its own rule and mission.

  1. Friars Minor – male religious
  2. Poor Sisters (Poor Clares)-- nuns
  3. Brothers and Sisters of Penance – secular clergy, secular laymen and women

The three rules were very simple. He never intended to found three religious orders. In his mind, these were three fraternities. As the numbers grew and time passed, new questions arose that Francis did not cover in the rules. There were different opinions on how to respond to these new situations. The biggest questions were:

  1. Can the order own property?
  2. Are we an order of priests?
  3. Can the order have sisters?

As a result of the first two questions, the Friars Minor wrote different constitutions. Each group obeyed one of those constitutions. Each group came to be known as “an obedience” meaning that they were obedient to Constitution X. They all followed the same rule The constitutions only speak to the points not in the rule.

By the 1500s there were two very large groups of friars. One group lived in large houses called convents. The Holy See agreed that they could not own the property, but they could have use of these properties as long as they were own by the local bishop or the Holy See. These Friars Minor came to be known as the Friars Minor Conventual.

There was another large group that did not like the idea of the large convents, because too many friars in one house felt like a monastery. Francis did not like monasteries or the monastic life. These friars felt that if they lived in convents, they would eventually end up incorporating Gregorian chant, a formal mass and a formal liturgy of the hours, as well as being responsible for property and ordaining too many priests, to the point that it was an order just like the Dominicans, which is a conventual order of priests. These friars asked for permission to live in small brotherhoods, without ownership or responsibility for property and with a minimal number of priests. They wore a habit with a large cowl, called a capuche in Italian. They came to be known as the Friars Minor Capuchin.

All of the other small groups continued to exist until the 1800s when Pope Leo XII gathered them all under one constitution. He simply called them the Friars Minor. Later, to distinguish them from the other Friars Minor, Capuchin and Conventuals, people started to call them the Franciscans. These friars do not own property, but they are allowed to have a few comforts that the Capuchins done allow themselves.

As to the question about priests, it was decided that priests were welcome as long as they hold no special place in the community. They may not be singled out. Their place is to serve the liturgical needs of the community and the sacramental needs of the faithful.

While all of this was happening with the Frias Minor, some interesting things were happening with the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Many of these secular people began to live in community. They adopted the same customs as the friars. They prayed together, worked together, slept together, played together and served together. Eventually, the Holy See divided this third order into two groups, the seculars who lived in their own settings, be it a rectory or family home and the regulars who live in religious houses. The seculars came to be known as the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) and the regulars came to be known as the Third Order Regular (TOR). They follow the same rule, but in different settings. Their life is about penance more than poverty, whereas the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares are more about poverty.

After the French Revolution, the clergy and religious had been decimated and the colonies in the Americas, Asia and Africa needed priests and religious. From the third order came secular men and women who responded to the needs by coming together as communities of penitents, who make vows, live in common, are canonically religious, but are not nuns. These were the first Franciscan Sisters. They taught, ran hospitals, and performed other corporal works of mercy. Eventually men were needed to do the same, more Secular Franciscans stepped forward and they grouped themselves into religious fraternities. Some came out of the Friars Minor and the TOR. These are penitent men, whose life is based on the life of St. Francis, but they minister in specific fields such as schools, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, poor parishes, retreat houses, colleges and hospitals.

My community, the Order of St. Francis (OSF) is a hybrid of Capuchin and Secular Franciscan. We follow the rule of the Friars Minor, but we have our own constitutions and we were founded by a former Capuchin and three Secular Franciscan men. Like this, every time there is a need, the Franciscan family subdivides and a new group is born to respond to that need. As long as the original rule written by St. Francis is observed, each community can add statutes known as a Constitution. This way we preserve the Franciscan succession.

Hope that helps.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Wow. Just about everything I said was shot down in flames. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know, Brother. All that time in the mountains the Carmelites spend. A Franciscan may win a fight automatically because the Carmelite dies of shock to see another human being. :stuck_out_tongue:

Hey! Be nice to the Carmelite Friars. I love them to death. They’re awesome.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I do too. I actually wanted to join them for a while, before I realized how incompatible their lifestyle was to mine. I just beat up the Carmelites out of love, as I do those nonstop talking Dominicans. :stuck_out_tongue:

May I ask what you feel in our lifestyle that is incompatible to yours?

Sorry for not seeing this before.

Well, the Carmelites that I know are the ones from Wyoming. They make Mystic Monk Coffee. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They’re pretty cool, but I couldn’t stand living the Monastic life. I like to be out in the world, speaking to people, counseling people, and preaching the Word. Monks spend most of their time in prayer and work. They’re not very big on any of these things. Besides all that, I wouldn’t last a week. They wake up at Four in the morning. They’d kick me out after quickly realizing I can barely handle six in the morning.

Technically they are not Carmelites.

That is they are not part of either the Carmelties of Ancient Observance (O.Carm.) or the Discalced Carmelites (O.C.D.).

I would not use them as a guide to Carmelite life.

Both the O.Carm. and O.C.D. are friars who work within the world as you state.

As Brother JR and myself have told you, Carmelites are not monks. You could find groups like this within the O.Carm., that is hermit groups, but the majority of the Order is not like this.

I recently watched an interview of one of the Carmelites from Wyoming. They don’t consider themselves monks. They consider themselves hermits. They also emphatically state that this is one house that follows the ancient Carmelite right to live as hermits. They do not claim to be a reform of the Carmelite family. They are hermits who follow the ancient Carmelite tradition. THAT is allowed. There are many small groups that follow certain traditions that are part of a particular school of spirituality. There are many confraternities and associatioins that follow some of the ancient Franciscan traditions. They don’t claim to replace the Franciscan family. These guys don’t claim to replace the Carmelite family or to be introducing something new. The Carmelite hermitage is a very ancient custom. It’s not a very common.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I realize this, but when I think of Carmelites, I think of these men: carmelitemonks.org/Aboutmonks.html This may not reflect all Carmelites, but I didn’t expect it to.

Your Carmelite order intrigues me quite a bit. Do you have a link to the website?

Here is our main website, The Carmelites Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.

And our vocations website (which is a link off of the above page but I think it is important enough to also give you directly), Order of Carmelites.

It is also important to note, because the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming are not affiliated with either Carmeltie Order they are not a religious Order. They are a community of diocesan right with the bishop of Cheyenne being over them.

The two Carmelite Orders are true religious orders and both are of pontifical right.

The only issue I have with the Carmelite Monks is that whenever someone speaks of Carmelties this group is held up as the example, this is wrong and I am sure they would agree with me on that.

We O.Carm. (that is Order of Carmel, also called the Carmelties of the Ancient Observance, or the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) also have two groups of hermit men in the United States. Here are their websites.

Carmelite Hermitage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lake Elmo, MN.
Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, TX.

I agree with that. Their lifestyle is not the norm for either branch, O.Carm or O.C.D.

We O.Carm. (that is Order of Carmel, also called the Carmelties of the Ancient Observance, or the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) also have two groups of hermit men in the United States. Here are their websites.

Carmelite Hermitage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lake Elmo, MN.
Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, TX.

I’d add that there is also one other community, the Carmelites of St. Joseph at Annunciation Hermitage in Austin, MN that is in the process of joining the O.Carms. Hopefully they will be fully incorporated into the Order before too long. They recently had the honor of hosting the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millan, O. Carm. at their hermitage.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.