It is over eight hundred years since the first hermits on Mt. Carmel banded together under a common rule of life and nearly four hundred and fifty since St. Teresa of Avila initiated her reform of the Order in 1562. Now, with hundreds of Carmels, of both nuns and friars, in every part of the world living according to the original, or primitive, Carmelite Rule it is not surprising that there should be some diversity of interpretation and practice regarding non-essential elements of the life, whilst those things which distinguish the spirit of Carmel are retained.
Prayer, silence, the Office recited or sung in common, simplicity of life, sisterly friendship and hospitality are all part of longstanding Carmelite tradition. Vatican II reinforced these traditional elements while deepening Carmelites' understanding of their origins by scholarly research and dialogue between different branches and houses of the Order.