Thursday, October 15, 2020

Memorial: St. Theresa of Avila

Saint Theresa of Avila
Saint, Mystic, Doctor of the Church

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens
St. Theresa of Avila is probably the second saint who ever "caught" my attention. She did so by force of her remarkable personality which comes to us down through the ages as vital and sparkling. She was a profound contemplative, a zealous reformer of religious life, and the first female doctor of the Church. Those things make us expect a person so far above us in prayer, thought, and accomplishments that we can never hope to understand her. Indeed, she is far above me in all those things. However, it is impossible not to love and relate to someone with this amount of sass:
Those watching from the river bank saw the carriage she was in swaying on the brink of the torrent. She jumped out awkwardly, up to her knees in water, and hurt herself in the process. Wryly, she complained. "so much to put up with and you send me this!" Jesus replied, "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends." She was not lost for an answer: "Small wonder you have so few!"
That's so very human and Theresa lets her humanity hang out in a very real way.
From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.
She scandalized people when they came upon her teaching the nuns in her convent to dance. When they received a donation of pheasant on a fast day, she instantly cooked them up for all to feast upon. "Let them think what they like, she said. "There is a time for penance, and there is a time for pheasant."

When I have trouble praying I remember that St. Theresa too said that she often needed to have a book to help her pray (obviously a soul sistah!). She was often distracted and couldn't calm her thoughts.
This intellect is so wild that it doesn't seem to be anything else than a frantic madman no one can tie down.
Heaven only knows that I have had more times like that than I care to admit. When I have trouble sticking with prayer at all, Theresa's open and honest avowal helps me hang in there just a little longer.
For many years I kept wishing the time would be over. I had more in mind the clock striking twelve than other good things. Often I would have preferred some serious penance to becoming recollected in prayer.
These things are those which give me hope that I could come near to loving God and serving Him the way that she did. Here is a little more information about her.

Last, but not least, here are a few of my favorite inspirational quotes (since I have already favored you with the more humorous above).
How is it, Lord, that we are cowards in everything save in opposing Thee?

Give me wealth or poverty, give me comfort or discomfort, give me joy or sorrow...What do you want to make of me?

As to the aridity you are suffering from, it seems to me our Lord is treating you like someone He considers strong: He wants to test you and see if you love Him as much at times of aridity as when He sends you consolations. I think this is a very great favor for God to show you.

Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.

It is only mercenaries who expect to be paid by the day.

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.

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