These words from St. Therese really do encapsulate what is at the heart of every Carmelite. Our Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus (from Avila) wanted her daughters to be at the spiritual service of those who are at the front lines: priests.
I am reminded of this daily in many ways. It was, in fact, the most attractive aspect of Carmel for me when I was looking into religious life and now it is my greatest joy to pray and sacrifice for priests. A few days ago we had two priests who are with us for their vacation come to the kitchen to make dinner for our community. I was there to “help” but really, they had everything under control.
For inspiration, they were listening to Gregorian chant. It was a joyful, relaxed atmosphere and we were all enjoying the simple pleasure of preparing a meal. The tone changed ever so subtly to be slightly more reflective when the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus began to be heard from the CD player. One priest said to the other, in a reminiscent voice, “Remember that day?” Later, we also heard the Litany of the Saints. Again the almost wistful question, “Remember?” “It is possibly what I remember the most, lying prostrate on the floor during my ordination.”
The priests shared with me a little of what it is like to experience ordination, what it is like to be overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the whole event and especially the power that is conveyed to them, as well as the responsibilities that are laid upon their shoulders: nothing less than to be Another Christ, Alter Christus.
That night as I reviewed my day before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I sensed an even stronger conviction to pray for priests. I felt privileged to witness a glimpse deeper into their hearts and the tremendous mystery imprinted there through the sacrament of Holy Orders. I prayed very specifically for each priest to experience a renewal of the awe that flooded the day of his ordination, a revival of the wonder at the gift he has been given, and a strengthening in his desire to be faithful to the One Who has entrusted the flock to His minister. May God Who has begun this good work in them, bring it to completion. Amen.