October 15th is the feast of Theresa of Avila, one of three women “doctors of the church.”. On the 500th anniversary of her birth, Pope Francis described her as “primarily a teacher of prayer.” “The discovery of Christ’s humanity was central to her experience.”
The aim of prayer for Theresa was not to bring inner balance or get your blood pressure down– goals some see for meditation today.“ The saint opens new horizons, she calls to a great undertaking, to see the world with the eyes of Christ, to seek what He seeks and to love what He loves.” We should listen to her.
Far from taking us away from the world and retreating into ourselves, prayer calls us to new undertakings, new horizons, seeing the world with the eyes of Christ. It’s something to do every day..
Theresa knew what living day by day means. She lived day by day herself. How did she do it? By daily prayer, by following Jesus Christ daily, by looking for the daily bread God gives us, by doing God’s will.
Saint Theresa, wise woman you are, be with us these days. Make them days of blessing!
Here’s a prayer found in her prayerbook, which she must have said everyday.
Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you.
All things are passing,
God is unchanging.
Patience wins everything.
Who has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Follow Jesus Christ, Theresa says:
“Unlike our friends in the world, Jesus will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Look at the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart.
Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.”
Writings, Theresa of Avila
Her example remains powerful and pertinent to today’s culture. I like her words about nothing need disturb…Hear Taize chant her words: https://youtu.be/go1-BoDD7CI
The Taizé chant was very beautiful and peaceful. For a few moments I lost track of time. It was a blessing. Thank you for the link.
Teresa’s encouraging words to keep before me God’s pledge of love helps me to walk through my day with Christ. I recall when she was riding in horse carriage on rough road. The carriage swerved and she was thrown onto the muddy ground. Her reaction: “Lord if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.”
Dear Father Victor, Thank you for your inspiring reflection on St Teresa of Avila. It helps us know how to love in Christ and helps make following Christ something that is attainable and doable. Thank you, Father Victor, for these insights. Also, Father Victor, at the beginning of your reflection you mentioned that Saint Teresa of Avila is 1 of 3 Women doctors of the church. Are there 4??: Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux.
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Yes, Hildegard is Doctor of the Church – 2012 – see document from Pope Benedict XVI
Therese, Little Flower is Doctor of the Church
All 4 women are Doctors of the Church
Sorry I missed Hildegarde, just named by Pope Francis. Great woman.