Thursday, October 15, 2009

St Teresa of Avila and the Carmel commitment to Priests

St Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast of St Teresa of Avila, a great Carmelite reformer and doctor of the Church.

Often when I think of priests, I remember that they are 'Alter Christi' ~ another Christ. So when I reflect upon the words of St Teresa below, I think of the work of holy priests in particular:

"Christ has no body now, but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which

Christ looks compassion into the world.

Yours are the feet

with which Christ walks to do good.

Yours are the hands

with which Christ blesses the world."

~ St Teresa of Avila

The Carmelite Nuns of Haifa

The Carmelite community of Haifa is renewing its commitment to priests:

"to offer our humble supplication that you may be holy."

The cloistered religious have made this renewal in a letter marking the Year for Priests, under way through next June.The letter is directed to priests around the world. HT: Zenit

Icon of 'St Teresa de Jesus'

Here is the letter to priests that the Carmelite nuns of Haifa have written and published on their website, The Carmelites of the Holy Land:

"It is with immense joy and gratitude that we address all our brother priests. In you, dear brothers, we recognize the "other Christ", and we greet you with affection in our Lord. Peace be with you!

In our vocation as Carmelite Nuns, daughters of our Mother Saint Teresa of Avila , our essential mission is prayer; especially prayer for the holiness of priests. Therefore, the invitation of our Holy Father to place your ministry, during this year, at the centre of our concern, challenges us deeply.

For four centuries Teresa's voice never ceases to invite us to: " ... be occupied in prayer for those who are defenders of the Church and for preachers and learned men who protect her from attack ... " (Way of Perfection 1:2)

We are aware of the challenges you have in fully living out your vocation in today's society; being in the world but not of the world, as Saint John states. Ecclesial circumstances have changed much due to the accelerated pace of time but your call remains unchanged: " You are a priest … and forever... " (Heb 5.6) Today, we renew our commitment to offer our humble supplication that you may be holy.

Dear priests, you accompany a person throughout his life from his birth till he enters the warm embrace of our Father. You are there everyday, offering us the Eucharist and explaining to us the Scriptures. You are Ministers of God's Mercy. You are fathers and brothers to us. You show us the blank page in which God writes our history. You are the sentry who watches over us while we await dawn after the dark of the night, while we search for the spring of fresh water in the desert...

You are present when we make our Consecration in the Church, offering our lives to the One and Triune God...

Dear brothers, we find no words that can truly express our gratitude to each one of you.

Any one of us can give countless testimonies of the invaluable gift of yourselves: to serve the people of God, to care for the sheep trusted to you, with the wise guidance of a father and the tenderness of a mother. You are the "Good Shepherd" who is not afraid to leave the ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the one that was lost...

Only in heaven shall we know the wonder of ecclesial communion; where now we have only a glimpse of its amazing reality.

To you dear brothers, who are the living memorial of Christ and totally identified with Him, how can we not express our gratitude when every morning, in the Eucharist, you give us a foretaste of the joy of heaven, a foretaste of our homeland that does not belong to this world.

To each one of you: elder priests rich in years and experience, young priests beginning your ministry, those who are in the prime of your life, or enduring sickness. Priests afflicted by trials and persecutions, priest workers, and all of you who share the lives of the poor, the favored ones of the Lord.

Priests who are educators and those who promote and discern vocations; priests whose deeds are visible only to the eyes of God who sees in secret; priests who are monks sharing with us the same contemplative vocation.To each and every one of you, we say with simplicity of heart:you can count on the silent prayer and the hidden offering of your sisters!"

Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Land .

NB: There are four Carmelite monasteries in the Holy Land: Jerusalem , Bethlehem , Nazareth and Mount Carmel . The sisters come from 24 nations and four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and America .


Anonymous said...

This posting is so very beautiful to meditate on. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this profound testament of love for Priests by the Carmelite Nuns in the Holy Land. This letter should be spread throughout every diocese in the world so that every priest may be nourished by all that it contains, especially that he may be secure in the knowledge of his inestimable value.