Beauty in Liturgy: The Carmelites and the Resurrection

Kevin Alban O.Carm

This article looks at the subject of the Resurrection in the Carmelite rite from the perspective of beauty, and contends that this approach can bring a renewed appreciation of Carmelite liturgy, avoiding nostalgia on the one hand or historicism on the other. Kevin Alban O.Carm. is a priest of the Carmelite Order based at Aylesford Priory in Kent.

In 1972 the General Council of the Carmelite Order decided to put the rite which had its origins in 13th century Palestine into abeyance.1 The reason given at the time was that congregations were unfamiliar with this form of the Mass.

Two congresses were held in 2006 and 2009 to examine Carmelite liturgy, both in its historical form and in a modern context. One of the leading liturgists at these congresses was Arie Kallenberg (1926-2015), who emphasised the importance of the theme of the Lord’s Resurrection and how that emerged from typically Carmelite celebrations. This emphasis on resurrection is not new to us today. The Second Vatican Council asserted that every Sunday was to be a celebration of the Resurrection and that it was at the centre of Christian life and experience.2

Beauty in Theology
Beauty is not simply the object of an attraction or an external characteristic, but the object of the thinking process itself as it ‘dances in uncontained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable reaction to one another.’ 3 The apprehension of the beautiful presupposes, and in classical western metaphysics is convertible to, the search for truth by the intellect and the search for the good by the will.

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