Carmelite Formation Reading List

  • A Pattern for Live, The Rule of St. Albert and the Carmelite Laity, by Patrick McMahon,O.Carm.

In this book the author presents a powerful defense of the suitability of Albert’s Rule (pattern for life_ for all Carmelites — laity and religious alike. In both setting an historical context for the Rule and providing a practical commentary for the laity, Fr. Patrick demonstrates that it is adherence to the Rule that defines a Carmelite and gives each of us our Carmelite identity.

  • The Ascent to Joy: John of the Cross, Selected Spiritual Writings, (Marc Foley, OCD, editor)New City Press, 2002

In this introduction and anthology, the author leads the reader step-by-step into the very heart of the spiritual way taught by John of the Cross. He provides substantial introductions and notes, but the core of the teaching is developed in carefully selected excerpts from John’s writings,presented in a systematic order, so the text functions both as a primer of John’s teaching and an introduction to the contemplative way.

  • Ascent of Mt. Carmel: Reflections, St. John of the Cross (Marc Foley, OCD) ICS
    Publications, 2013

The author weaves together insights from psychology, theology, and great literature to make The Ascent of Mt. Carmel both understandable and relevant to daily life. Through his explanations and examples, Fr. Foley “translates” spiritual issues of John’s day to fit the experience of 21st century pilgrims.

  • At the Fountain of Elijah, by Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm., Orbis Press

Overview of Carmelite Spirituality

  • Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God, by Kilian Healy, O.Carm., Sophia InstitutePress

(about living in God’s presence)

  • Book of the First Monks, by Felip Ribot, O.Carm.

Highlighting the Carmelites’ devotion to the Mother of God, their attentiveness to the Bible, and the Rule of Life by which they were guided, Ribot attempts to show the Carmelite Order’s antiquity, its privileged place within the Church, and its unique role in the history of salvation.
(somewhat difficult reading)

  • Carmelite Mysticism Historical Sketches, by Titus Brandsma, O.Carm.

Nine lectures by Titus on the development and progress of Carmelite mysticism including topics about the prophet Elijah, prayer and contemplation, and the often doubted Marian character of the spirituality of St. John of the Cross. (85 pages)

  • Carmelite Prayer, edited by Keith Egan, T.O.Carm., Paulist Press

Besides an examination of the spirituality of Doctors of the Church Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Thérèse of Lisieux, this book explores recent currents of Carmelite prayer, including the contributions to that tradition of Edith Stein, martyred at Auschwitz. (240 pages)

  •  Carmelite Tradition, Steven Payne, OCD, editor, Liturgical Press, 2011

This book offers no formal definition of Carmelite spirituality, but simply presents some of the major representative voices from the Carmelite tradition. The contributors have chosen representative texts from the main periods of Carmel’s history and from the main branches of the Carmelite family. Authors quoted include men and women, ordained and lay, scholars and nonscholars,famous and little-known.

  •  Carmelite Way, by John Welch, O.Carm

Overview of Carmelite Spirituality

  • Carmel — School of Prayer, by Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.

The chapters of this book began life as individual talks or letters on various aspects of Carmelite Prayer given by Joseph Chalmers during his second term as Prior General.

  • Contemporary Challenge of St. John of the Cross, by Leonard Doohan, ICS

Introduction to St. John of the Cross

  • Desert Springs in the City: A Concise History of the Carmelites, by Leopold Glueckert,O.Carm., Carmelite Media Press, 2012

This book surveys eight centuries of Carmelite tradition; it is a short and understandable narrative of the Carmelite story. The intended audience for this work is the general intelligent reader who is not a history specialist.

  • Distractions in Prayer: Blessing or Curse? St. Teresa of Avila’s Teachings in The Interior Castle, Sr. Vilma Seelaus, OCD, Society of St. Paul, 2005

The author takes the reader through the castle from the viewpoint of our distractions. Distractions are, after all, the major problem in anyone’s prayer, and this is why it is so important to have a commentator guide us through Teresa’s castle from the perspective of distractions, their meaning for us in our spiritual lives. As we reflect with her we begin to see how instead of being a curse,
our distractions are a blessing, a visitation from God, an integral part of God’s personal transforming process.

  • Encountering God in the Abyss, by Constant Dolle, from the Fiery Arrow Collection of Peters Publishing

Describes the spiritual journey of Titus Brandsma. (182 pages)

  • Essays on Titus Brandsma, edited by Redemptus Valabek, O.Carm.

Provides insight into Titus, a man with a down-to-earth approach to reality: material, cultural,spiritual (314 pages)

  • Essence of Prayer by Ruth Burrows, OCD, Burns and Oates, 2006

Prayer is a word we take for granted, but what do we mean by prayer? Almost always when we about prayer we refer to something we DO. But Burrows argues that our Christian knowledge assures us that prayer is essentially what God DOES. And what God is doing for us is giving us the Divine Self in love.

  • Formation and Communication at the Service of the Community

This is a collection of the Conferences from the International Congress of Lay Carmelites,September 2006, in Sassone, Italy. It includes presentations and communications by various speakers at the Sassone gathering.

  • Gospel Sustains Me, edited by Johan Bergstrom-Allen, T.O.Carm. and Wilfrid McGreal,O.Carm., Edizioni Carmelitane

Contributors reflect upon the central place of the Bible in the life and spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux; it encourages the reader to turn afresh to the living word of God as a primary source of sustenance on the pilgrimage through life (157 pages)

  • Hidden Life, by Edith Stein

Shorter spiritual writings on prayer, liturgy, the spirit of Carmel, the meaning of the Cross (360 pages)

  • I Consider the Labor Well Spent, by Joel Giallanza

A mini-course on St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle — an overview/introduction to the stages of prayer as explained by Teresa in this book.

  • Impact of God, Soundings from John of the Cross, by Iain Matthew, OCD, Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd. Of London, England

Introduction to understanding the principles underlying the writings of John of the Cross

  • In Allegiance of Jesus Christ, by Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.


Talks on Carmelite life

  •  Interior Castle, Study Edition, by St. Teresa of Avila (and Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD), ICS Publications

A guide through Teresa’s description of the various levels of prayer comparing the soul to a castle with many rooms.

  • John and Thérèse: Flames of Love, The Influences of St. John of the Cross in the Life and Writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, by Guy Gaucher, Auxiliary Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, St.Paul Publications

In this book the author traces John’s influence on Thérèse and finds that he was a presence that guided and inspired her through her short life. He gives a new understanding of some of the more difficult passages from the writings of her mentor, John of the Cross.


  • Lady of the Place, by Emanuele Boaga, O.Carm.

An aid in understanding the Marian dimension of Carmel, describing in great detail the role of Mary in the history and life of Carmel. (somewhat difficult reading)La Madre, by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, St. Paul’s Press


  • Love That Keeps Us Sane: Living the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Mark Foley, OCD, Paulist Press, 2000

This book offers a portrayal of St. Thérèse as a real person who experienced and dealt with all the vicissitudes and trials of the human condition. It is about Thérèse’s spirituality as a means of her dealing with the absurdities of daily life without losing her perspective, thus showing us how to preserve our sanity in today’s often-insane world.

  • Mary, Mother of Carmel, Vol. 1 and 2, by Redemptus Valabek, O.Carm.

Describes Carmel’s particular devotion to the Mother of the Lord. In two volumes, this work examines the early documents of the Order and the written reflections of Carmel’s brothers and sisters through the centuries to the present.

  • Mary The Contemplative, by Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm.

Examines the foundations of Carmelite Marian spirituality with particular focus on Mary as one who listened to the Word of God and allowed that Word to shape her entire life.

  • Practice of the Presence of God, Critical Edition, by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection,ICS

Includes Brother Lawrence’s maxims, letters, conversations; also includes a detailed introduction to the life and works of Brother Lawrence (190 pages)

  • Prayer: Insights from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, by Christopher O’Donnell, O.Carm., Faithworks Publications

In this book the author deals first with the Carmelite background of Thérèse’s prayer and the prayer-life of her convent, and then addresses her thoughts on the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, mental and vocal prayer, and the prayers that she composed. The book concludes with a consideration of St. Thérèse’s role as a guide of prayer for today’s Church.

  • Prayer Life in Carmel, by Redemptus Valabek, O.Carm.

Acquaints the reader with the main outline of our rich Carmelite tradition, offering a guide for the further study and encouraging the reader to sustain the charism of prayer in Carmel.

  • Prophet of Fire, by Kiliam Healy, O.Carm.

An incisive reflection on the life of the prophet Elijah as presented in the Bible and as his message challenges us today to rid ourselves of the Baals of consumerism and reckless selfinterest.

  • Science of the Cross, by Edith Stein

Shows difference in the symbolic character of cross and night, and why the night-symbol prevails in John of the Cross; shows how entering the night is equivalent to carrying the cross (360 pages— difficult reading)

  • Sounding Solitude by Sr. Mary Paul Cutri, OCD, ICS Publications, 2010

Solitude is not foreign to anyone. It is a universal reality that permeates all our experiences.When solitude brings us to God, God brings us into new vision. This book is directed to all who seek God and who long to know God’s ways more truly. Persons who enter into solitude and taste its fruits will no longer see as they saw before. Solitude offers another way of seeing. The mystery of solitude purifies the sight, the seeing, the beholding of each person.

  • Spiritual Doctrine of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Apostolic Contemplative, by Luigi Borriello, OCD, Alba House Publications

In this book the author highlights the various stages of the spiritual journey of the Carmelite of Dijon, with particular emphasis on the mystery of the indwelling Trinity in her soul. He traces the similarity between the writings of Elizabeth and teaching of the Second Vatican Council, revealing that Elizabeth was a forerunner of the idea of a new manner of being the Church and in the Church as a contemplative and an apostle.”

  • Springs of Carmel, by Peter Slattery, O.Carm.

An overview of Carmelite Spirituality.

  • St. John of the Cross, by Peter Slattery, O.Carm.

This book shows how the wisdom of St. John of the Cross provides guidance to the people in our society who are thirsting for nourishment on their spiritual journey through life.

  • St. Teresa of Avila Book of Her Foundations, Study Guide, by Marc Foley, OCD, ICS
    Publications, 2011

The Book of her Foundations is probably the least read, the least quoted, and the least known of Teresa’s works. This study guide helps the reader to see how Teresa grew in holiness in the marketplace as much as her cloister — perhaps even more so.

  • Story of a Soul, Study Edition, (autobiography of Thérèse of Lisieux, interspersed
    throughout with insights and reflections by Marc Foley, OCD), ICS Publications

The reader is guided through Thérèse’s own words by the contextual background and insightful reflections and questions of Marc Foley, OCD. This is a good book to facilitate the study and discussion of Thérèse’s autobiography.

  • Together in Prayer — Learning to Love the Liturgy of the Hours, by Charles E. Miller, Wipf & Stock Publishers

Written in a very simple, readable style, with much good humor, Miller explains the composition of the hours themselves and gives suggestions for better understanding how to pray the various psalms and canticles. In so doing, he makes these centuries-old prayers very relevant for today.
(This book is not Carmelite in nature, but is helpful to all who pray the Liturgy of the Hours.)

  • Way of Perfection, Study Edition, by St. Teresa of Avila (and Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD), ICS Publications

Teresa’s words present basic guidelines for praying and showing how to avoid potential pitfalls.This study edition, with its introduction, commentary, discussion questions, and glossary, helps the reader to make appropriate applications of Teresa’s words to his/her own life.)

  • Carmel’s Call. Rule and Statutes for Members of the Lay Carmelite Order, Eleventh Edition, Community of Teresian Carmelites, 2005.
  • Elizabeth of the Trinity THE COMPLETE WORKS, I have found GOD, Vol 1, ICS Publications, Washington, D.C., 1984.
  • Guidelines for Those Wishing to Join the Third Order (Secular), Anselm J. Abbley, O.Carm
  • Welcome to Carmel, Michael Griffin, OCD, Teresian Charism Press
  • Writings and Conversations On The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D., Conrad DeMeester, O.C.D., and Salvatore Sciurba, O.C.D., Trans., Washington, D.C., ICS Publications, 1994.
  • Vatican II: Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Austin Flannery, O.P., Costello Publishing Company, 1975 (1992)
  • Two Sisters in the Spirit, Thérèse of Lisieuz and Elizabeth of the Trinity, Hans Urs von Balthasar, San Francisco, CA, Ignatius Press, 1992.
  • Spiritual Doctrine of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Luigi Borriello, O.C.D., Alba House, New York, 1986.
  • Lay Carmelite Formation Guide — Phase Two: Initial Formation in Carmel, Thomas J. Zeitvogel, T.O.C., The Carmelite Press, Darien, Illinois, First Edition, 1995. (Preparation for Profession of Promises)
  • Introduction to Carmel, Christina Marie Griggs, O.Carm., Darien, IL, The Carmelite Press, 1992.