Setting up the new foundations in Spain took St. Teresa out of the monastery and onto the highways and byways of the Spanish countryside. Traveling in Medieval Spain was either done by donkey, horse or mule, covered wagons or a carriage. St. Teresa preferred to travel with her nuns by covered wagon. This way St. Teresa and her nuns would not be visible to the curious as they passed through towns and villages. While traveling throughout the countryside to set up these new foundations, St. Teresa moved the life lived in the monastery into the covered wagon. The life inside this wagon had a “prioress, their schedule of prayer, a water clock, a tiny bell, their breviaries, holy water, a crucifix, and some statutes of our Lady, St. Joseph, or the Infant Jesus.” Even outside this wagon there was a driver, as well as a noblemen, merchant or friend ready to lend them a hand, just like the life these nuns live in the monastery. There was even a “chaplain who would celebrate Mass in whatever little church they might happen upon along the way.”
(The Collected Works of St. Teresa, Volume 3, page 51 by ICS Publications)
The principle aim of the reform of Carmel that St. Teresa of Jesus set out to do was to pray for sinners, but also to pray for priests. St. Therese of Lisieux had always believed priests to be “as pure as crystal
” and thought that praying for their souls was a puzzling idea.
“I lived in the company of many saintly priests for a month and I learned that, though their dignity raises them above the angels, they are nevertheless weak and fragile men.”
She had come to realize, as had St. Teresa, that holy priests means holy people in a holy church. “If holy priests, whom Jesus in His Gospel calls the ‘salt of the earth,’ show in their conduct their extreme need for prayer, what is to be said of those who are tepid? Didn’t Jesus say too: ‘If the salt loses it savor, wherewith will it be salted?’ ”
Carmelites are to pray for priests. Priests need our prayers, not our criticism. “How beautiful is the vocation, O Mother, which has as its aim the preservation of the salt destined for souls! This is Carmel’s vocation since the sole purpose of our prayers and sacrifices is to be the apostle of the apostles. We are to pray for them while they are preaching to souls through their words and especially their example.” (Story of a Soul, ICS Publications p. 122)
Prayer for Priest by St. Therese
O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep your priests
within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with Your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark
of the priesthood.
Let your holy love surround them
and shield them
from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit
and may the souls to whom they minister
be their joy and consolation
here and in heaven
their beautiful and everlasting crown.