EWTN has online a short book by Fr. Paul Marie de la Croix, a Carmelite priest who has written many great books on Carmel and it’s Saints. Go to http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/CARMSPIR.TXT
Here is an excerpt – the Introduction:
The Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel counts among its members
many mystics and many saints, its roots are plunged deep in
the Old Testament, its mission is specifically spiritual and
yet at no time in the past does it seem to have made any
special effort to define its spirituality. Does this not mean
that this present work is temerarious?
It is true that the members of the “Carmelite family” feel closely united
to one another by “a characteristic and permanent way of seeing, feeling,
willing”. It is also true that Carmel possesses texts that are
specially representative of its traditions and spirit but these texts are
rather like reminders or manifestations than sources.
To characterize the spirituality of Carmel is all the more difficult
because unlike other religious families Carmel has, in the strict sense of
the word, no founder who trained it or gave it a rule. As a matter of fact
no rule was written until the hermits of Mount Carmel requested one. And
this was but the codification of the form of life that these men had
Where are the sources of Carmel’s spirit to be found and how can that
spirit be acquired?
To answer these questions, two things are necessary. First, we must
understand the nature of this spirit which came down from heaven upon the
sons of the prophets dwelling century after century on the slopes of the
holy mountain; because without this spirit Carmel would never have started
and would never have lasted. We must also grasp the extraordinary signs of
this spirit that are evident in those who possess it and give it full
It will be seen that Carmelite spirituality is based only in part on
documents. It is above all spirit and life. So it follows that by
examining its origins, searching the Rule, the lives and writings of the
Order’s great saints that the soul of Carmel is revealed and, at the same
time, Carmelite spirituality is made manifest.