Item #: 0946-3
St Pauls Price: $14.95 $2.99 ends 12/31/2021



Author: Carolyn Hymphreys, O.C.D.S., OTR
Copyright: 2004
First Printed: 06-29-2004

Noverim Te, noverim me (May I know You, may I know myself). St. Augustine’s cry of the heart so long ago, is an insightful summing up of the goal of everyone’s spiritual journey. Noverim me – may I know myself – is of particular interest to Carmelites.

Their approach to God through self-knowledge and contemplative prayer had typified the Order throughout the centuries. It had gathered momentum with the passing of years, until contemplative prayer is almost synonymous with the Carmelite charism. Beginning with “As Carmelite Pilgrims,” followed by “Food for the journey,” “Traveling Light,” “Desert Land,” “Body and Soul,” “Stewards of Conservation,” “On the Mountain” and culminating in “Alpine Peaks” – the author, a Secular Carmelite, offers guidelines and admonition for our spiritual journey. This work, manifestly the fruit of deep personal experience in prayer, is full of wise observations and counsels, and will surely be of signal help to all those who have set their feet resolutely on the way to God.

It will help them persevere in their pilgrimage, until, as the Carmelite liturgy puts it: “They come to the Holy Mountain, Christ the Lord” – the goal of all our contemplative strivings.

About the Author: Carolyn Humphreys, OCDS, OTR is a Discalced Carmelite secular and registered occupational therapist. She is the author of From Ash the Fire: A Contemporary Journey through the Interior Castle of Teresa of Avila.

Book: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0-8189-0946-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8189-0946-7
Prod. Code: 0946-3

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          Although the first of its nine chapers is titled "Carmelite Pilgrims," this book, written by a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order is good spiritual reading for anyone making the spiritual journey to union with God. The author notes at the outset that "The reality that underlies our vast accumulation of information concerning the world is a painful ignorance of what is going on inside ourselves." As Father Michael Buckley, OCD, says in the Foreword, this book "is manifestly the fruit of deep experience in prayer, full of wise observations and counsels." 
          This writing sparkles in places with a nice turn of phrase, such as "swept backwards by the winds of fear." There is a pleasing admixture of stories, poems, and anecdotes throughout that are delightful and edifying. As for the overall content of the book, I think it encompasses all aspects of life especially a normal life lived in the world. The author's reflections range over work, leisure, eating, prayer, play, sin, suffering, love, simplicity, stewardship of creation, and contemplation. 
          The last two chapters of Carmel, Land of the Soul could be said to be the most explicitly Carmelite. At least the invocation of and appeal to Carmel is intensified and repeated frequently with such prrases as "the Carmelite school," "Carmelite students of prayer," "as Carmelites," "the land of Carmel," "we who live in Carmel," "Mount Carmel." In any case, the emphases is always on prayer and contemplation. 
          The final chapter delves more into the contemplative dimension of Christian life and prayer. The constant reference to Carmel and the recurring use of the phrase "as Carmelites" should not be taken to mean that the author is writing only for Carmelites. The author effectively says that Carmel is a land of the soul that "weaves in us a pattern of deep fidelity and silent love through simple days of prayer and toil," page 196. 
          Carmel, Land of the Soul has a lot to offer. My favorite chapter was "Desert Lands." I liked the story of a much-loved painting by Albrecht Durer, "Praying Hands." The use of various traditions to illustrate her insights was in itself a rich tapestry of Sufi sayings, Quaker hymns, poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lakota Sioux prayer, and many, many more bits of widsom gathered and woven in this tapestry. 
          The chapter, "Stewardship of Conversation," fits nicely into the Land of Carmel. This is a book to be enjoyed slowly with not even the intention of "getting through it." At times, the reader may feel overwhelmed with the profusion of insights and images. Sometimes, indeed, the writing does get a little too wordy and clever for its purpose, and the focus on the theme of a chapter is momentarily lost with the on-rush of observations not always relevant to the topic at hand. Reading this book was like entering a painter's studio where there are many pictures. We can peruse this studio, or we can rest our eyes on whatever we find that gives pleasure. Carmel, Land of the Soulwill please and edify the reader. --Stephen Watson, OCD in Carmelite Digest, Summer 2008


"The author is a Discalced Carmelite Secular who offers us guidelines and admonitions for our spiritual journey. Her wisdom and faith-filled words come from her experiences with the Carmelite tradition of approaching God through self knowledge and contemplative prayer. Carolyn Humphreys realizes the immense challenge we face in the modern world to find time and place for meditation in this technologically super-geared world. For her the answer can be found in the Carmelite way. Her book begins with a look at the roots of this tradition in St. Teresa of Avila and her predecessors -- those pilgrims who settled on Mount Carmel around 1135. Each following chapter looks more closely at work, the Eucharist, the spiritual meaning of the desert, detachment, and the spiritual life to come to the place where we know ourselves and God in our lives. This book is a clear, practical guide to the spirituality of the Carmelites, but it is written by a secular who knows the pitfalls of the world. It will be helpful to those already on the path to Carmel and to those looking for a personal way to better understand themselves and their place in God's world. It is recommended." --Arnold Rzepecki in Catholic Library World, March 2005


          This book gives a real flavour of Carmel to those seeking a deeper understanding of the Carmelite spirituality, charism and vocation, and will be of particular value to the serious inquirer or to those entering formation as a Secular Carmelite and their Formators. However, because of the author's deep prayer life and personal journey in Carmel, her writings will be an ongoing help and encouragement at all stages of this lifelong climb to the summit of this Holy Mountain. 
          Carolyn Humphreys takes us through a brief history of the Carmelite Order, the reform and renewal undertaken by St. Teresa of Avila and her associate St. John of the Cross and the traditions and spirit of Carmel inspired by both Elijah's fiery zeal and Mary's quiet contemplation and deep pondering. Would-be travellers in the land of Carmel, or indeed those already on this journey of love, cannot help but be gripped by the soul-stirring adventure that the author slowly reveals. Even on these lower slopes it becomes apparent that Mount Carmel invites the reader to experience, through a contemplative spirit and a deep sense of God's presence, the expedition of a lifetime and beyond. The signposts continually direct us away from the path of self to ongoing transformation through the love of God, with Mary's constant presence and encouragement. 
          "Labors Along the Way" and "Food for the Journey" are chapters where we encounter new terrain, with their own particular challenges and struggles that serve to deepen the growing awareness of our strengths and weaknesses and God's power working in and through us. The disciplines, commitments, joys and renunciations of the journey so far, coupled with God's grace, bring us now, in chapter four, to the desert lands -- the inevitable, frightful terrain that must be traversed by the Carmelite soul. Despite the suffering encountered, the spirit of Carmel continues to entice the traveller along this uncomfortably arid and empty road with deepening eagerness and fervour, interspersed with the hope and belief that God is urging us toward something very profound. 
          As we journey through the next three chapters, "Travelling Light," "Body and Soul" and "Stewards of Conservation" we are called to trust in God's providence, and love him for who he is, rather than for what he gives us. In these chapters we are given much practical food for thought, prayer and action regarding the personal and practical application to our every day living. Moving higher up this awesome mountain, we are led to testify to the grandeur of God and the primacy of prayer, allowing God, through our inner silence and solitude, to transform all that hinders or ensnares the soul's development. 
          Anita Roland-Howe, currently in formation, comments: "Setting out on the path of formation, this book provides sure steps for the spiritual journey to Christ, the Rock. It is informative, captures the beauty and use of imagery found in the works of the Carmelite saints, and invites us to discover God's loving presence through PRAYER, SILENCE and SOLITUDE." 
          This book leaves us in no doubt that Carmel offers the prospect of a deep journey into God and I therefore fully recommend it for anyone in search of a deep interior life of prayer, love, and commitment to the radically demanding aspects of the Gospel. Those to whom the spirit of Carmel is already calling will find themselves captivated as Carolyn Humphreys guides them through the dark nights and light-filled days of this mountain climb, where the mystery of prayer and the movements of grace bring the traveller to the mountain top of transforming union with God. --Julie Tranter, OCDS in The Vine, a quarterly journal published by the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order reflecting the life and spirituality of its members in England and Wales.

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