Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
October 15, 2020
Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta
Memorial Feast: Saint Teresa of Jesus— Teresa of Avila (1515-+1582): Reverend Mother, Prioress, Doctor of the Church, Patron Saint of Spain and Sick People
Readings: Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 1:1-10; Psalm 98; Luke 11:47-54
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Reverend Mother, Prioress, and Doctor of the Church. It is difficult to describe her. She was a profound and complex person. The task of explaining her individual spirituality is an overwhelming one. To put it into one sentence I would say that she was a contemplative who got a lot done. Also, she was as mystic who was extremely well grounded in reality. Who else but Teresa could say, “There is a time for penance and a time for partridge!” She was gentle and compassionate, but tough as nails and didn’t hesitate to speak the truth to those in power. She followed orders meant to confine her, but she refused to stay bound.
Her vocation was difficult, and she had many struggles. Once, one of her “enemies” had her brought up on charges during the Spanish Inquisition, yet, her inner peace can be felt in one her best known writings: “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid. All things are passing. God alone never changes. Patience gains all things. If you have God you will want for nothing. God alone suffices.”
Teresa came from minor nobility. Her father was a knight, and he was a very strict man who wanted to marry her off. Her mother died when she was fifteen. A year later, she went to a convent, in part, because her father didn’t think he could handle her. It took her some time to find her vocation. At the age of twenty, she was so greatly moved by reading the letters of Saint Jerome that she decided to become a nun at the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation at Avila. Then, after reading the Confessions of Saint Augustine and being deeply impressed by an image from the Passions of Jesus, she resolved to dedicate herself seriously to the practice of prayer.
Teresa of Avila was a contemplative who said, “The proof of good contemplations was shown by a person's deeds.” Her beautiful book, entitled The Interior Castle, describes the Christian soul’s journey in union with God.
Forty years after her death in 1582, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. In 1970, Pope Paul VI bestowed upon her the title “Doctor of the Church” along with Saint Catherine of Siena making them the first women to receive this distinction. Teresa is revered as the “doctor of prayer."
The mystical life of prayer is offered to all of us. Yet, we must “dispose our soul” to grow in union with God. We must set aside the time for contemplative prayer, and, like our good Saint Teresa of Avila, seek God with all our heart, mind, and strength.
Question of the Day: How will you look into your own “soul” in order to see God
Prayer: “Lord, you are closer to me than my own breath, nearer to me than my hands and feet.” (Saint Teresa of Avila)