- When a missionary from the “New World” came to speak to the first community of St. Joseph’s in Avila and told them of the millions of souls there perisnhing through want of Christian instruction, St. Teresa was pierced to the heart. This experience led her to form her communities so that our prayers and the consecration of all our energies might be directed toward the salvation of souls.
Our Holy Mother did not want her daughters to live lives of selfish seclusion. Instead, stirred by these mystical experiences, she came to interiorize the life of the Church—with her sorrows, the rending of her unity and, above all, the profanation of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and, as a result, she wished the new family of Carmel to have an apostolic thrust. St. Teresa directed that the prayer, enclosure and entire life of the Discalced Carmelites should be at the service of the Church—so much so that if our prayers, sacrifices and life are not, we do not fulfill the purpose for which God brought us together.
No better example of fidelity to this charge can be found than that of the patroness of the Loretto Carmel, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who was declared to be Patroness of the Missions on equal footing with St. Francis Xavier. In choosing St. Thérèse as local patroness, our Mother Foundress, Mother Marie Joseph, hoped to inspire her sisters to imitate the Saint’s example of fervent prayer and sacrifice “for those who spread the Gospel, for an increase of vocations, for the unity of Christians and for the evangelization of peoples, so that all may be open to the message of Christ” (Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, n. 127), in order to call down abundant graces upon the entire Church—both universal and local.
It is our special joy, then, not to go to the missions or preach, but to pray and sacrifice for all Seminarians, Deacons, Priests and missionaries so that they will be faithful, courageous and saintly and lead as many souls as possible to Christ.