Thursday 14 April 2022

The Message of Carmel at Aylesford - Father Francis Kemsley O. Carm - CTS Christian Shrines Series

The Message of Carmel at Aylesford
CTS Christian Shrines Series
Father Francis Kemsley O. Carm
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860824777
CTS Booklet D692

Over the last few years, I have read over 250 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have greatly enjoyed many of the books in the Christian Shrines Series.  This is the only volume from the CTS that Francis Kemsley O. Carm wrote and I believe he only has one other volume in print. I have a university degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought I would have loved to have had books from this series, and many from the CTS catalogue to use as a resource during my schooling. The books from the Christian Shrines Series come in a few flavours, some for going on pilgrimage, some as overviews of the message, and like this one, on the recipient of the message, but back to this specific volume on The Message of Carmel at Aylesford. 

This volume is out of print, it was printed in 2008, at first it was not in my list for this series, but it was mentioned at the back of another volume I tracked down a physical copy of. The description of this booklet is:

“The Shrine of Aylesford, sitting a mile from the Pilgrims Way that leads to St Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury, is one of the gems in the story of the Carmelites, of devotion to Mary and of history of Christianity in England. This booklet enlightens pilgrims and others on Mary’s part in Carmelite spirituality, the Marian devotion of the scapular, and on the place and spirituality of the Aylesford Shrine itself. Prayers to Our Lady of Carmel are included.”

The first half of this volume is a history of the Carmelites, of this specific shrine, and a virtual tour of the shrine today. The second half is a prayer book, full of prayers and for each a suggestion of where at the shrine would be a good place to pray it. This booklet is an excellent volume in a wonderful series and I highly recommend it.
The chapters in the booklet are:

Carmel in England
The Message of Carmel
Aylesford Today
Mary in the Carmelite Tradition
Mary and the Carmelite Scapular
Prayers for Pilgrims
Prayers to Our Lady

This volume is worth it for the collection of prayers in the second half alone. The prayers in the booklet are:

Prayers for Pilgrims
     Prayer before a Pilgrimage
     Prayer in the spirit and power of Elijah
     Prayer for our homes and those whom we love
     Prayer for vocations to the religious life and priesthood
     Prayer for Christian Unity
     Act of Sorrow
     Prayer to Saint Simon Stock
     Litany of Saint Joseph
     Prayer to Saint Anne
     Prayer to the Saints of Carmel
     Prayer for the Carmelite Family

Prayers to Our Lady
     The Magnificat
     Ave Maria (Hail Mary)
     Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel)
     Verses to Our Lady of Mount Carmel
     Acclamations in honour of the Mother of Christ
     Prayer before an Image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
     Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen)
     Regina Coeli
     The Carmelite 'Saturday Station'
     Dedication to Mary, our Mother
     Our guiding star
     The Angelus
     The Rosary
          The Joyful Mysteries
          The Mysteries of Light
          The Sorrowful Mysteries
          The Glorious Mysteries

I copied a few of the prayers to my prayer journal for regular use. And as mentioned the book is more than worth the price just for the prayers. While reading this volume I highlighted several passages in the first half of the book, they are: 

“In the English county of Kent, a mile from the Pilgrims’ Way which leads from London to Canterbury, lies the pretty village of Aylesford. The medieval Carmelite Priory there,  commonly known as The Friars, is today a major pilgrimage destination. Alongside a number of well-preserved medieval buildings the modern Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary – Our Lady of the Assumption – provides a welcome and facilities for the many pilgrims (Catholic and others) who come from far and wide.”

“Centuries ago the Carmelite friars at Aylesford offered hospitality to pilgrims travelling to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury. During the Protestant Reformation the friars were expelled from their home, but since their return in 1949 the Priory has become a place of pilgrimage in its own right.”

“During the Middle Ages Canterbury and Walsingham were the principle places of pilgrimage in England. Those able to travel further afield strived to journey at least once to Jerusalem and the other places in the Holy Land associated with Jesus, his followers (the disciples of the New Testament), and his predecessors (the prophets of the Old Testament).”

“The community of hermits on Mount Carmel shared lives of work and prayer (especially the Mass, Divine Office, and meditating upon the Bible). However, their community was threatened by the continuing Crusader wars.  And so in the 1230’s they began to leave the Holy Land and migrate to Western Europe. Carmel was for them no longer only a physical place, but a spirit in the heart.”

“The Carmelites came to England in 1242 and Aylesford was the second hermitage they established (after Hulne in Northumberland).”

“The result of the General Chapter in Aylesford was that the Carmelites went from being hermits to become mendicant (begging) friars like the Franciscans and Dominicans. Aylesford was a place of rebirth for the Order, which was of great service to the Church. For this reason Aylesford is sometimes called ‘the second Carmel’.”

“The Carmelites became known as Whitefriars due to the white cloaks that were worn over their brown habits for preaching and solemn occasions. To this day Whitefriars Street in a town is an indication that there was once a Carmelite house on the site.”

“The Carmelite nuns, who are today the best known part of the Carmelite Family, were formalized in the 1400’s.”

“Just as there is no single ‘Carmelite method’ of prayer, so there is no single form of Carmelite ministry or service. Carmelites blend prayer with active service of those around them, and this takes many different forms depending on the time and the place Carmelites find themselves in.”

“Over the centuries ‘Carmel’ has produced some of the greatest Christian thinkers, mystics, and philosophers, such as Teresa of Jesus (of Avila), John of the Cross, and Therese of Lisieux (three Carmelite ‘Doctors of the Church’).  In the twentieth century, the Carmelite Family bore witness to the Gospel in the martyrdoms of Titus Brandsma, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and Isidore Bakanja.”

“The decision taken by the hermits at Aylesford in 1247 to adapt to new situations has had far-reaching consequences. Perhaps that is why so many people come to Aylesford for guidance at the cross-roads of life.”

“However, its most important work is the series of retreats, talks and spiritual events that are organized throughout the year. Also operating throughout the year is a counselling service.”

This is an excellent little volume. And other than Walsingham, this is the place I would want to visit most if I make it back to the UK. I could not put this volume down. And I reread sever sections multiple time. It is an excellent volume. 

A great read in a wonderful series, another excellent volume from the Catholic Truth Society. I loved this book, this series, and so many of the great resources from the CTS.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Christian Shrines series click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisi
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James

Pilgrim’s Companions:
Why Pilgrimage?
Fatima - A Pilgrim's Companion
Glastonbury - A Pilgrim's Companion
Holy Land - A Pilgrim's Companion
Lisieux - A Pilgrim's Companion
Poland: A Pilgrim's Companion
Rome - A Pilgrim's Companion
Pilgrim France: Shrines and Pilgrim Places

Books by Francis Kemsley O. Carm:
The Message of Carmel at Aylesford
The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Shrine of St. Jude: Whitefriars, Faversham Kent

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