Today is the Feast Day of St Teresa of Avila and considering the quote in my tagline (Christ has no body now…) is from her I thought it would be appropriate to write a little post about her.
Picture a stereotypical Saint; pious, chaste and obedient. Now picture the opposite; that was Teresa of Avila. All in all, she was a pretty cool lady. A detailed description of her life can be found here: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=208
According to this website, she was rebellious, vain and materialistic as a teenager. Her father sent her to a convent to try to straighten her out and it worked eventually. She did become a Carmelite Nun but she definitely did not turn into a Saint overnight. She thought being in a convent would make it easier to avoid sin and temptation. However, religious life during her time (the mid 1500’s) was in turmoil and many convents were corrupt. Young women entered for the wrong reasons and were often more concerned with garnering donations than serving God.
Teresa had difficulty praying sincerely even as she got older and realized the error of her ways. Eventually she was able to break down the barrier between her and God and she began to have mystical experiences while praying. She finally began putting God first in her life.
Around the age of 43 Teresa’s gradual conversion of heart suddenly picked up speed. Fed up with the Carmelite order, she decided it was in bad need of reform. To achieve this, she resolved to open a new convent where the nuns would live as they should: a simple life of poverty and prayer. She also believed that prayer should lead to action for the good of the world.
During her life Teresa was persecuted harshly because she made people uncomfortable by pointing out their sinful lifestyles. According to catholic.org, “she was called “a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor” by the papal nuncio.” However she must have done something right because many young women joined her convents and after her death she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. Her desire to reform one convent sparked a widespread reform of religious life and her writings have had great influence on many well known theologians. It took St Teresa a while to figure her stuff out, but once she did, boy did she get it right.
St of Teresa of Avila spent much of her life thinking and writing about prayer. Here’s some of what she has to say:
“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.”
“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
“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.”
“Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”
I didn’t know much about Teresa of Avila before writing this post and I hope you enjoyed learning about her as much as I did. The information here is just the tip of the iceburg and I hope the small taste will entice you to learn more about this incredible Saint. I’m certainly going to add St Teresa of Avila to the list of holy people I model my life after.