SAINT TERESA OF AVILA
FEAST DAY – 15th OCTOBER
Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa, who pointed the way from outer turmoil to inner peace. As a little girl in her parents’ rich home, Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved to read the lives of the saints and martyrs, and felt that the martyrs got to heaven in an easy way.
So they set out secretly to the land of the Moors. They walked along, praying that they might die for Christ. Teresa 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 their heads there, to achieve martyrdom. They got as far as the road from the city before an uncle found them and brought them back.
Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, carrying his strictness to extremes. Her mother loved romance novels, but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in a dilemma, because her father had taught her never to lie, but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do it all wrong.
Teresa read so many novels and foolish romances that she lost much of her love for prayer, and began to think more of making herself look pretty. But after she recovered from a bad illness, Teresa read a book about the great St. Jerome. Instantly, she decided to become a bride of Christ. As a nun, Teresa often found it hard to pray, more so, since she had poor health. Teresa wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations. One day, in front of a picture of Jesus, she felt great sorrow that she did not love God more.
She started then to live for Jesus alone, no matter what sacrifice she had to make. In return for her love, the Lord gave St. Teresa the privilege of hearing him talk to her. She learned to pray in a marvelous way, too. St. Teresa of Avila is famous for having opened new Carmelite convents. These convents were filled with sisters who wanted to live holy lives. They made many sacrifices for Jesus. Teresa herself gave them the example. She prayed with great love and worked hard at the convent tasks.
St. Teresa was a great leader and true lover of Jesus and his Church. She died on 4th October, 1582 and was beatified on April 24th 1614, in Rome, by Pope Paul V. Canonized and proclaimed a Saint on March 12th 1622, by Pope Gregory XV in Rome, she was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. She is the Patron of Headache sufferers, and Spanish Catholic Writers.
She wrote her autobiography and her writings have made her distinguished as a prolific writer and author. One of her simple yet effective verses is:
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.
O Saint Teresa, seraphic Virgin, beloved spouse of thy crucified Lord, thou who on earth didst burn with a love so intense toward thy God and my God, and now dost glow with a brighter and purer flame in paradise: obtain for me also, I beseech thee, a spark of that same holy fire which shall cause me to forget the world, all things created, and even myself; for thou didst ever avidly desire to see Him loved by all men.
Grant that my every thought and desire and affection may be continually directed to doing the will of God, the supreme Good, whether I am in joy or in pain, for He is worthy to be loved and obeyed forever. Obtain for me this grace, thou who art so powerful with God; may I be all on fire, like thee, with the holy love of God. Amen. (By St Alphonsus de’Liguori)
St Teresa of Avila, Pray for Us.