OCD and O.Carm


Hello, I am having a hard time distiguishing the difference between the Discalced Carmelites and the Carmelites in the Ancient Practice (except for the fact that OCD was founded by St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross). Can anybody point out the difference between the two? How do these two differ in their lifestyle and spirituality most specifically? Thanks!!!


I believe OCDS is lay people who are consecrated and they are expected to pray Divine Office everyday.

I believe that the Carmelites in the Ancient Practice are cloistered nuns who lead contemplative lives.


OCDS = Secular Carmelites of the Discalced Observance.
T.O. Carm (or T.O.C.) = Lay Carmelites/Carmelite Tertiaries of the Ancient Observance.

Both the ancient observance and the discalced observance have friars (first order) as well as contemplative nuns (second order) as well as a third order secular for laity in the world/permanent deacons/diocesan clergy.


Relative to the (O. Carm.) Carmelites of Ancient Observance, I suggest you start here:


For the (OCD) Teresian reform…the Discalced Carmelites…I suggest you start here:


With regard to both websites, note especially the menus that give the various topic headings that should help to answer your questions.

For your specific questions about the differences…I would recommend this article from the British Province of the Ancient Observance.


Today, especially, there is a great closeness between the two branches of Carmel. Each has its own Prior General in Rome; they are separate and distinct but they work more closely together today and without the tensions that were once there.

Each branch has:
Friars (First Order)
Contemplative nuns (Second Order)
Laity/Permanent Deacons/Diocesan Clergy (Third Order Secular)

Additionally, there are also active Religious (male and female) who operate under either the ancient observance or the discalced observance and secular institutes which are part of the Carmelite family.



I know a bit about the Discalced Carmelite friars, as I have several friends who are among them. The Discalced Carmelites are, compared to the O.Carms, more contemplative in their charism; and the O.Carms tend to be more active.

The Discalced Carmelites, in addition to the normal requirements for hearing Mass each day and praying the divine office, have two hours of mental prayer each day – one in the morning, and one in the evening. I do not think the O.Carms have the same requirement. The Discalced friars tend, in their apostolic ministry outside of prayer, towards things such as retreats, conferences on spirituality, spiritual direction, the mystical theology of their saints (esp. Sts. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux), offering various support for the Discalced Carmelite nuns (who are strictly cloistered), the Secular Discalced Carmelites (third order lay members), and in just a few cases, parish ministry.

The friars and nuns tend to live in smaller communities – the nuns especially – at the request of St. Teresa of Avila. Generally, communities do not get much larger than around 20 - 30 for the friars, and I think the constitutional maximum for the nuns is 21 or so. On a similar note, the monasteries and convents are particularly community oriented. This, too, was insisted by St. Teresa. Different friars have different apostolic gifts to offer the Order and the Church, but community life has a certain priority over apostolic work. They are very much a family unto their own.

Hopefully you might find these links helpful:


Thank you Father, for your explanation.

In my experience as a Third Order Carmelite since 1975, I happily see that there has been a lot of coming together with the O.C.D. Secular Carmelites. We have had retreat masters over the years, from the O.C.D. Carmelites, and they have had some from the O.Carm. The Third Order Lay Carmelites do a great deal of studying of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross. Over the years we have also, of course, studied and discussed St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

In Our Lady of Mount Carmel,

Dorothy…Third Order Lay Carmelite (Ancient Observance)


Indeed. In the past years, the two Priors General and their respective Councils work very collaboratively and this has been very good…down to the lowest ranks in both branches of Carmel.


And we are very happy about this. :slight_smile:


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