St. Teresa de Jesus (St. Teresa de Avila)

One of the most amazing figures that towers as a giant in Church history is the person of St. Teresa de Jesus (St. Teresa de Ávila) whose feast day we celebrate on Saturday October 15.  She was born in Spain during the early part of the 16th Century following the Spanish Reconquista and the discovery of the New World.   The great Carmelite Reformer, mystic, theologian of the contemplative life, founder of the Discalced Carmelites convents throughout Spain, doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Ávila’s contribution to the Church cannot be truly measured.   She was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada in the city of Avila.   As a child she was fascinated by the lives of the saints, at the age of 7 she so desired to be a martyr that she ran away from home in order to die for Christ.    “I want to see God”, she told her parents.  

Her best known poem illustrates her complete confidence and trust in God “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away: God never changes.   Patience obtains all things.  Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” (Vida I, 7).   This self-abandonment would characterize her life as she endured tremendous loss and suffering.   Falling into a deep illness that almost claimed her life and then later the loss of her father, her siblings all emigrated to America.    She felt so abandoned that all that was left to her was to give herself completely in prayer to God.   It was the beginning of a deeply mystical and contemplative life for Teresa which she describes as “a feeling of the presence of God which would overcome me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him.” (Vida 10, 1).  

St. Teresa authored several books today known as classics of the spiritual life, part of the Church rich spiritual and theological patrimony.   Most known is her Vida (Autobiography), in which we find such jewels of spiritual growth and discernment.   For the sisters in her convents she wrote the El Camino de la Perfección (Way of Perfection) and El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle) in which describes in detail the paths of contemplative prayer.  This foundation of spirituality lays out four fundamental stages of spiritual development in prayer;  (1) “mental prayer” or concentration on the mysteries of the Lord’s passion, (2) “prayer of quiet” or a silence that fills the soul, somewhat freed but not totally from the distractions of memory and imagination, (3) “devotion of union” characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of the higher faculties of the soul and a consciousness of being in the love of God, and finally (4) the “devotion of ecstasy” the soul is intoxicated or absorbed totally in God, one is aware of no longer being in the prison of the bodily state, but totally in God’s divine presence. 

It was in this “devotion of ecstasy” where St. Teresa experienced a vision of Jesus Christ and a seraph spirit that drove a fiery lance through her heart which caused her such great pain “I saw in his hand a long spear gold…he appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out…[he left me] all on fire with a great love of God.”  (Vida).     At the end of her life she always was very aware of the need to be united to the Church, she humbly said “at last I die as a daughter of the Church, O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come, it is time to meet one another”.    May St. Theresa, a true teacher of faith inspire in us to “truly feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends.” (Pope Benedict XVI).   May she always guide us into union with Jesus Christ, her most beloved Spouse.  

 

In the Lord Jesus,

Fr. Vasquez

Comments

There are no comments for this post.

Add a comment

Will not be shared.
Add Comment
 
Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!