St. Teresa’s Journeys

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)

St. Teresa's Journeys

Gratitude for the Gift of the Priesthood

We are still in the Year of the Priest, so some thoughts to help remember this special year are in order.

Our shepherds, the priests, are appointed by Christ to guide souls. All the powers given to His Church He has placed in the hands of His priests. He chooses these men, His priests, from among the people. Priests are called and sent to minister to the people. “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” (Lk 10:16) The dignity of our priests comes from Christ who appoints them as His representatives.

We, as the lay faithful, should see Christ Himself in our priests and try our best to overlook any faults we might notice in them. After all, a priest is a man and still is fallible and capable of making mistakes (who isn’t?). Nevertheless, this shouldn’t prevent us from seeing him as anointed by the Lord.

This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king. (Catechsim of the Catholic Church paragraph 1581)

“Without the priesthood we would be deprived of the Holy Eucharist; we would never have the consolation of hearing in the name of God, “Thy sins are forgiven thee” (Mt 9:2). If there were no priests, the churches would be deserted, schools would become secularized, there would be no nuptial blessings, the dying would be deprived of final consolation, children would be abandoned to evil; all men would become totally immersed in misery, with no one to raise them up and lead them to God, with no one to pray to Him in their name and for their welfare.” (Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD)

Think of all the times in our lives that our priests accompany us in our lives: soon after our birth at the baptism font; in the confessional when we have failed in charity; when we get married, he is there; when we need to understand some truth, or when we need to know how to live a good life, he is there to instruct and give example; he is there to bless us in our efforts and in our last moments he is there to offer strength.

Many priests work in ways unseen and unknown to us, they are often misunderstood, and never really fully appreciated. And yet what he does for us is priceless and indispensable.

“Every Christian ought to be grateful for the gift of the priesthood: in the first place, we should be grateful to Jesus who instituted it, and then to those who perform its sublime duties. We must express this gratitude, not only in showing reverent respect and filial docility to God’s ministers, but also by assiduously offering our prayers and good works for priestly vocations.” (Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD)

Pray for Priests.

St. Therese and the Year of the Priest

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.