Friday, September 2, 2011

Feast of The Organiser

St Brocard receives the Carmelite Rule from St Albert of Jerusalem

According to the old Carmelite calendar, today is the feast of St Brocard, second prior of the hermits on Mount Carmel.   No longer appearing on our calendar, which is a shame to be honest, we can still celebrate his feast day, as I do today.

St Brocard was born in France, and came to the Holy Land at some point, ending up among the hermits of Mount Carmel who were organised under the first prior, St Berthold.  The first Carmelites were originally Crusaders who, after the many battles having won the Holy Land back for Christendom, sought a deeper life.  A group of them made their way to Mount Carmel to live a life in spirit of Elijah and St John the Baptist putting themselves under the patronage of Our Lady.  St Berthold was their leader who governed the community for about forty years.  On his death, the hermits chose Brocard as Berthold's successor, and he would govern the community until his death.

It was Brocard who went to St Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, seeking a Rule under which the community might formalise the life they had been living.  The bishop obliged and gave the hermits what is the basis of our life in Carmel - the Rule of St Albert.  Brocard, then, has an important place in the Order as the one who sought to establish the loose grouping of hermits into an Order, turning to his local bishop to guide them.

Brocard governed the community for thirty-five years, dying around the year 1231.  He was renowned for his holiness, prudence and goodness.  He was venerated by many during his lifetime including Muslims with whom Brocard nurtured an affectionate relationship.  He did a great deal to foster bonds with the Muslim community while still remaining true to his Catholic faith.

So today, in Carmel, we can celebrate the life and ingenuity of one who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sought to organise our Order and, in a sense, prepare it for its great apostolic mission in the Church.  Without Brocard, St Albert would not have given us a Rule, and that Rule has helped form Saints and holy men and women.  We might also invoke him in these difficult times so we might foster peace with Muslims, particularly those intent on violence, and through his intercession, may the Lord Jesus bring them to see Christ as he really is: their Lord and Saviour. Indeed, may we all be renewed in that vision.

O Lord,
sanctify your servants who humbly beseech you
on the feast of Blessed Brocard,
hermit of Mount Carmel and your Confessor:
that, by his salutary patronage,
our life may be everywhere guided through adversities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

St Brocard, dear brother in Carmel, pray for us

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