Daily Saints

Saint of the Day – October 15 – St. Teresa of Avila

നുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ

Saint of the Day – October 15 – St. Teresa of Avila

Advertisements

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) October 15th – St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Ávila was born Teresa Ali Fatim Corella Sanchez de Capeda y Ahumada in Ávila, Spain. Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa’s mother loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle — especially since she liked the romances too. Her father told her never to lie but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong. When she was 7-years-old, she convinced her older brother that they should “go off to the land of the Moors and beg them, out of love of God, to cut off our heads there.” They got as far as the road from the city before an uncle found them and brought them back. After this incident she led a fairly ordinary life, though she was convinced that she was a horrible sinner. As a teenager, she cared only about boys, clothes, flirting, and rebelling. When she was 16, her father decided she was out of control and sent her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually she began to enjoy it — partly because of her growing love for God, and partly because the convent was a lot less strict than her father. Still, when the time came for her to choose between marriage and religious life, she had a tough time making the decision. She’d watched a difficult marriage ruin her mother. On the other hand being a nun didn’t seem like much fun. When she finally chose religious life, she did so because she though that it was the only safe place for someone as prone to sin as she was. Once installed at the Carmelite convent permanently, she started to learn and practice mental prayer, in which she “tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ present within me….My imagination is so dull that I had no talent for imagining or coming up with great theological thoughts.” Teresa prayed this way off and on for 18 years without feeling that she was getting results. Teresa suffered the same problem that Francis of Assisi did — she was too charming. Everyone liked her and she liked to be liked. She found it too easy to slip into a worldly life and ignore God. The convent encouraged her to have visitors to whom she would teach mental prayer because their gifts helped the community economy. But Teresa got more involved in flattery, vanity and gossip than spiritual guidance. These weren’t great sins perhaps but they kept her from God. Then Teresa fell ill with malaria. When she had a seizure, people were so sure she was dead that after she woke up four days later she learned they had dug a grave for her. Afterwards she was paralyzed for 3 years and was never completely well. Yet instead of helping her spiritually, her sickness became an excuse to stop her prayer completely. Later she would say, “Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.” She thought as a wicked sinner she didn’t deserve to get favors from God. But turning away from prayer was like “a baby turning from its mother’s breasts, what can be expected but death?” When she was 41, a priest convinced her to go back to her prayer. “I was more anxious for the hour of prayer to be over than I was to remain there. I don’t know what heavy penance I would not have gladly undertaken rather than practice prayer.” She was distracted often. Teresa sympathizes with those who have a difficult time in prayer: “All the trials we endure cannot be compared to these interior battles.” Yet her experience gives us wonderful descriptions of mental prayer: “For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.” As she started to pray again, God gave her spiritual delights: the prayer of quiet where God’s presence overwhelmed her senses, raptures where God overcame her with glorious foolishness, prayer of union where she felt the sun of God melt her soul away. Sometimes her whole body was raised from the ground. If she felt God was going to levitate her body, she stretched out on the floor and called the nuns to sit on her and hold her down. Far from being excited about these events, she “begged God very much not to give me any more favors in public.” She is the founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church for her writing and teaching on prayer, one of two women to be honored in this way. St. Teresa is the patron saint of Headache sufferers. Her symbol is a heart, an arrow, and a book. She was canonized in 1622

Categories: Daily Saints, Saints

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s