October 15, 2015

Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila — Virgin and Doctor

 St. Teresa of Avila
It is impossible for a person who prays regularly to remain in serious sin; because the two are incompatible, one or the other will have to be given up. 
— St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, in the year 1515. At the age of seven she set out for Africa to die for Christ, but was brought back by her uncle. When she lost her mother at twelve, Teresa implored Mary for her maternal protection. In 1533 she entered the Carmelite Order; for eighteen years she suffered physical pain and spiritual dryness. Under divine inspiration and with the approval of Pope Pius IV, she began the work of reforming the Carmelite Order. In spite of heavy opposition and constant difficulties, she founded thirty-two reformed convents. (See video below for more on Teresa's life.)

Truly wonderful were the exterior and interior manifestations of her mystical union with God, especially during the last decade of her life. These graces reached a climax when her heart was transfixed (transverberatio cordis), an event that is commemorated in the Carmelite Order by a special feast on August 27. She practiced great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, whose cult was greatly furthered throughout the Church through her efforts. When dying she often repeated the words: "Lord, I am a daughter of the Church!" Her holy body rests upon the high altar of the Carmelite church in Alba, Spain; her heart with its mysterious wound is reserved in a precious reliquary on the Epistle side of the altar.

St. Teresa composed the following well-known lines:
Let nothing affright thee,
Nothing dismay thee.
All is passing,
God ever remains.
Patience obtains all.
Whoever possesses God
Cannot lack anything
God alone suffices.
St. Teresa is the patroness of: sickness; against headaches; against heart disease; lacemakers; loss of parents; opposition of Church authorities; those in need of grace; religious; those ridiculed for their piety; Spain.

From Today's Collect: 

O God, who through your Spirit raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus to show the Church the way to seek perfection, grant that we may always be nourished by the food of her heavenly teaching and fired with longing for true holiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Biography of Saint Teresa of Avila

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