Marianism in Carmel
This went a long way towards allaying my fears that Carmel was a cult of Mary.
Testing and discerning a vocation to CarmelFrom www.carmelite.com/ocds/discern2.shtml
We come to the second element-"under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel."
It is not just any devotion to Our Lady that identifies a person called to the Secular Order. There are many Christians who are very devoted to Our Lady and have a very highly developed Marian character to their Christian life. There are many Orthodox Christians as well as High Church Anglicans who are very Marian. There are many Catholics who wear the scapular for all of the correct reasons and with sincere dedication to Mary who are not called to be Secular Carmelites. Not only that, but there are some people who come to the Secular Order precisely because of devotion to Mary, the scapular, and the rosary who do not have a vocation to be Secular Order members.
The particular aspect of the Blessed Virgin Mary that must be present in any person called to Carmel is that of an inclination to "meditate in the heart", the phrase that Saint Luke's gospel uses twice to describe Mary's attitude vis-à-vis her Son. Yes, all the other aspects of Marian life and devotion can be present, devotion to the scapular, the rosary, and other things. They are, however, secondary to this aspect of Marian devotion. Mary is our model of prayer and meditation. This interest in learning to meditate or inclination to meditation is a fundamental characteristic of any OCDS. It is perhaps the most basic.
A very frequent experience of many groups is to have a person approach the Secular Order to become a member, sometimes a diocesan priest, who is very devoted to Mary, a person who has been on many pilgrimages to Marian shrines throughout the world, a person who is very familiar with many of the apparitions and messages attributed to Mary, a real authority on current Marian movements. Many times they do not have the slightest inclination to "meditate in the heart". They desire quickly to become the 'teachers' of the community about the Blessed Mother and introduce an entirely un-Carmelite strain of Marian interest into the community. If this person is a priest, it is very difficult for the community to protect itself from this detour in its Marian life. There are other Marian groups and movements that might be the home for this person, but it is not the Secular Order.
In addition, within the Teresian Carmelite family there is a place for people whose primary motivation is devotion to the scapular and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular, or the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Mary, for a Secular Order member, is the model of a meditative attitude and disposition. She attracts and inspires a Carmelite to a contemplative way of understanding the life of the mystical body of her Son, the Church. It is she who draws the person to Carmel. And in the formation program, which the person finds when they enter Carmel, it is this aspect that must be developed in the person. So, I say that this is the second element-"under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel."