"With zeal am I zealous for the Lord God of hosts"
1 Kings 19:14

The Prophet Elijah

In St. Peter's basilica in Rome there are statues of the founders of the major religious orders, Benedict, Dominic, Francis and others. For the Carmelite order there is the figure of the Prophet Elijah who lived in the ninth century before Christ for although, obviously, he did not found the order in the literal sense, his spirit has been its inspiration since the first Rule of Life was given to the hermits living near the fountain of Elijah on Mount Carmel eight hundred years ago.

In the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, Elijah appears as a fiery figure totally commited to God's service, a solitary whose prayer brought down fire from heaven to turn the hearts of a wavering people back to their God. He was consumed with zeal for God's service but was not immune from human fears - he fled from Jezabel the queen fearing for his life and sat down under a bush wishing he were dead - but God made his presence felt to Elijah on Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God, "in the murmur of a gentle breeze".

In the spirit of Elijah, Carmelites follow that journey to Horeb  where, in spite of their own human weaknesses, they listen in silence for the sound of that "gentle breeze" which comes through scripture and prayer.