This Friday October 15th the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great saints of the Church and also of Spain. Is about Saint Teresa of Avilareformer of Carmel, mystic and author of great treatises on spirituality.
Barely 15 days separate her feast from that of another great religious saint, Saint Therese of Lisieux, also a Carmelite. What do they both have in common besides being holy and religious women? Both are Doctors of the Church, an honor shared by only two other women, Saint Catherine of Siena Y Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
The two Teresas were great contemplatives, and above all, great lovers of Christ… and both have much to teach the people of God and the entire world.
Father Ed Broom, Oblate of Mary Immaculate and prolific author of devotional and evangelization themes, pays homage to Saint Teresa of Jesus in Catholic Exchange highlighting ten of his great contributions to the Church and to every Catholic as a model of holiness.
One of the key hallmarks of the spiritual heights of Santa Teresa de Ávila is the importance of prayer. One of the lessons that she leaves us is precisely perseverance in prayer. “We must have the determined determination to never stop praying.” said the Spanish saint.
Jesus taught this all-important truth in the parable of the pushy widow and the judge. This widow, due to her stubborn and stubborn insistence, finally won the help of this cold-hearted judge. (Luke 18: 1-8). Saint Teresa insists that one must never give up in prayer. An analogy: what air is to the lungs, so is prayer to the soul. Healthy lungs need constant, fresh air; the healthy soul must breathe constantly through prayer: the oxygen of the soul!
2. Definition of sentence
Saint Thomas Aquinas offers simple but very solid advice: define the subject before you start talking about it. By doing this you can avoid a lot of confusion. Saint Teresa of Jesus gives one of the best classic definitions of prayer in the history of Catholicism. “Prayer is nothing more than spending a lot of time alone with the person I know loves me.” “A brief summary? Two friends love each other! Jesus himself called the apostles friends, so you are called to be a friend of Jesus!” explains Father Broom.
3. Love for Jesus
Saint Teresa offers a clue for the growth of prayer. This doctor of the Church said that he found many graces meditating on the humanity of Jesus. Spending time with Jesus, the Son of God made man, and engaging in conversation with him is a sure way to grow in prayer. “Try it!” asks this Oblate priest.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in the Spiritual Exercises, insists on asking for this grace: “Intimate knowledge of Jesus so that we love him more ardently and let’s follow it more closely.”
4. Love for Jesus in his sufferings
It seems to be a common denominator in many saints – the call to contemplate the love of Jesus through his painful Passion – Padre Pio, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Faustina and Teresa of Ávila. Teresa had a mystical experience of ecce homo. She saw Jesus with her crowned Head and this moved her to a greater love for Jesus.
5. Holy Spirit: the divine teacher in prayer
On one occasion the saint was really struggling with prayer and spoke to a Jesuit priest for advice on how to overcome her struggle. Her advice was simple and direct, but it changed her life! The priest insisted on praying to the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, following this great advice to trust in the Holy Spirit, Teresa’s prayer life improved remarkably.
Saint Paul to the Romans reiterates the same point: “In the same way, the Spirit also comes to the aid of our weakness; because we do not know how to pray properly, but the Spirit himself intercedes with ineffable groans ”. (Romans 8:26). For this reason, the Oblate religious advises Let yourself be guided by the best of all teachers, the Interior Master of prayer, the Holy Spirit.
6. Spiritual direction
To achieve constant growth in spiritual life you have to have some form of spiritual direction. Everyone can experience spiritual blindness. The devil can disguise or camouflage himself as an angel of light. And the higher one climbs in the spiritual life, the more subtle are the tactics and seductions of the devil, “for he seeks us out like a roaring lion ready to devour us” (I Peter 5: 8-9).
Together with Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Jesus undertook the reform of Carmel
During the course of her life, Saint Teresa of Ávila turned to various spiritual directors and some of them are now canonized saints: Saint John of the Cross (Carmelite), Saint Francis of Borgia (Jesuit), San Pedro de Alcantara (Franciscan), and finally Jerome Gracian, a well-known Dominican scholar and theologian. “It’s true that we can’t all have three canonized saints and a brilliant Dominican theologian to guide us, but we all can and should find some form of periodic spiritual direction,” says Ed Broom.
7. Conversion and reform
An important milestone in the life of Saint Teresa of Avila was the whole concept of conversion or reform. With Saint John of the Cross, she was the main instrument that God chose to reform the Carmelite Order. NeverthelessTeresa was well aware of this truth: to convert others you must start with yourself, in this he worked throughout the course of his life on earth!
8. Spiritual Masterpieces: His Writings
Undoubtedly one of the greatest contributions to the Church and to the world in general are the writings or spiritual masterpieces of Saint Teresa of Avila. One of his basic themes is the importance of prayer and the effort to go deeper and deeper in prayer until reaching the Mystical Union with Jesus.
Anyone who is serious about their prayer life should be familiar with Teresa’s writings and spend some time reading some of them. What are her classics? Are here: Life of Mother Teresa of Jesus, Path of Perfection, The dwellings of the Inner Castle either foundationsIn addition to these texts he also wrote many inspirational letters. “Do you want to become a saint? Read and drink from the writings of the saints, especially from the Doctors of the Church!” recommends Father Broom.
9. The cross as a bridge to heaven
Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be my follower must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Another common denominator in the lives of the saints is the reality of the cross. Saint Louis de Montfort would bless his friends like this: “May God bless you and give you many small crosses!”
Saint Teresa lived with a constant friend: the cross of Jesus. Her health was always very fragile; he almost died when he was very young. In addition, for Saint Teresa of Ávila to carry out the Carmel Reformation, she suffered constant attacks and persecutions by many nuns from the convent who preferred a more comfortable lifestyle, by priests (Carmelites) and other ecclesiastics. Instead of getting discouraged, he trusted even more in the Lord with joy.
10. Our Lady and Saint Joseph
During the course of her religious life, Saint Teresa of Ávila loved the Blessed Virgin Mary, as is common in the lives of saints. The title of her specific Marian devotion was Our Lady of Mount Carmel. One way to show this love to the Virgin is to wear the Escapulario del Carmen.
Also, Saint Teresa of Ávila cultivated a tender and filial love for Saint Joseph. He attributed his recovery from an illness that nearly ended his life to the powerful intercession of Saint Joseph. In addition, to each new convent that she established she gave the name of San José.
“May the great woman Doctor of the Church, Doctor of prayer, Saint Teresa of Avila, be a constant inspiration to you on your own spiritual pilgrimage to heaven. May she encourage you to pray more and deeper, to reach a deeper conversion of heart, and finally to love Jesus at the very center and source of your life!” exhorts Father Ed Broom.