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Saint Teresa of Avila on Righteousness

“May God give you fortitude so that you remain steadfast in righteousness, even if you find yourself surrounded by great danger. Blessed are trials when, however heavy, they do not make one turn aside in the least from righteousness.”

—from the book Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith 

Blessed Are You

Saint Teresa of Avila

<em>The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila</em> | Gian Lorenzo Bernini | photo by Tybo | flickr
Image: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila | Gian Lorenzo Bernini | photo by Tybo | flickr

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint of the Day for October 15

(March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582)

 

Saint Teresa of Avila’s Story

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social, and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer; a holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline, and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, and opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical, and graceful. She was a woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.

In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.


Reflection

Ours is a time of turmoil, a time of reform, and a time of liberation. Modern women have in Teresa a challenging example. Promoters of renewal, promoters of prayer, all have in Teresa a woman to reckon with, one whom they can admire and imitate.


Saint Teresa of Avila is the Patron Saint of:

headaches


Click here for Saint Teresa of Avila’s thoughts on prayer!


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Blessed Are You—Now

I often speak about the female saints to Catholic women’s groups, and two things tug at my heart. The first is the little boxes we try to put these holy women in. They weren’t perfect, folks, and they would have been the first to tell you about their struggles with the loss of loved ones, their health, their dignity. The faith and confidence they had in the Lord make them bigger than those little boxes. That brings us to the second thing: Like them, you are blessed. Not tomorrow, not when the kids go off to college, not when you get that next promotion. Now. Today. How do I know that? Because Jesus told us. Note the Beatitudes are not in the future tense, or the past, for that matter. You are blessed now, today and always. Believe it.

—from the book Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith 

Blessed Are You

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

We find our own spiritual poverty in many different ways: in humbling ourselves and working and living simply; in stripping ourselves of all the titles and possessions that give us pride; in finding the faith to set aside all the fears and paranoia that give us anxiety. For God to fill us up, we must first empty ourselves of all the stuff that stands between him and us. If we are strong enough to do that—to accept spiritual poverty, to understand that all we need is God and when we have God we have all we need—we begin to see the kingdom of heaven.

—from the book Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith 

Blessed Are You

The Eucharist Intensifies God’s Indwelling

It was that very Jesus who became for Francis, and all his followers, the closeness of God. For Jesus was and is the closeness of God. He is God become one of us, like us in everything but sin. He is the mystery of the incarnation of God, and that mystery was deepened for Francis with the knowledge that this Incarnate God can become present in us through the sacramental grace of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist wherein we eat the body and drink the blood of Christ whose effect is to intensify the indwelling of God in us.

—from the book Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

Jesus Is with You

How often does Love have to ask us: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness…and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life. Welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid. Trust him, be confident that he is close to you. He is with you, and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

—from the book Believe in Love: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

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God Is with All of Creation

It was the very closeness of God that moved Francis to the depths of his being. He was no longer alone. God was with him and with the whole world. God was in him and God was in every creature, and all was blessing.

—from the book Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

Learn to Say, ‘I’m Sorry’

Let us learn to acknowledge our mistakes and to ask for forgiveness: “Forgive me if today I raised my voice.” “I’m sorry if I passed without greeting you.” “Excuse me if I was late…if this week I was very silent…if I spoke too much without ever listening.” “Excuse me; I forgot.” “I’m sorry I was angry and I took it out on you.”… Don’t let a day end without asking forgiveness, without peace returning to our home, to our family.

—from Believe in Love: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

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Prayer Is a Mystery

Prayer is almost as much a mystery as God. Prayer always seems to be more than the words we use to describe it or the ways in which we understand it. Prayer is as old as the human family, stretching all the way back to the fall of Adam and Eve. Prior to disobeying God, our first parents lived in friendship with him. The intimacy they shared precluded the need for prayer. Their sin, however, produced a chasm between themselves and God. Because God created them to share his life, the desire for him not only remained, it also intensified. St. Augustine describes this as a restlessness within the human heart that can only be satisfied by resting in God. We can say, therefore, that prayer is the action that enables communication between that which is human and that which is divine.

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple

Prayer Everywhere

Celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary

Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the rosary.

 —from the book Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth

Praying The Rosary