Hello everybody; happy feast day! Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus (St. Teresa of Avila) – personally, my favorite saint. St. Teresa was a mystic, Spouse of Christ, Reformer of the Order of Carmel and the first woman Doctor of the Church. She exemplified the virtues of Humility, Poverty of Spirit, Joy and Perseverance. This great saint is a wonderful guide to turn to when discerning one’s vocation. May St. Teresa pray and intercede for us before the awesome Throne of God!
St. Teresa was born on March 28, 1515 to Don Alonso Cepeda and his second wife, Beatriz de Ahumada. Don Cepeda also had two children from a previous marriage and Teresa had a total of 10 siblings. When Teresa was fourteen, her mother Beatriz also died. Yet her faith was unshaken; for even after experiencing such a loss, Teresa turned to the Blessed Mother for motherly guidance and love. As a child, St. Teresa of Avila had a great yearning for sanctity, however as my spiritual director put it: “she was flame of zeal which lacked prudence.” One time Teresa convinced herself that she was called to be a martyr. So, dragging her brother with her, Teresa set out on a journey from Avila to Africa – where she was sure the Moors would kill her. The group had gone only a short distance out of the city, when a concerned uncle caught up with them. By this time, Teresa’s brother had lost his fervor and patience with his sister and turned her in to Uncle Francisco – blaming her for the whole matter. Yet, Teresa continued to grow in zeal for Christ.
Soon Teresa reached the marrying age for the girls during the time of the 1500’s and as she grew in beauty, she retreated in her fervor. However, she had consecrated herself to Mary and the Blessed Mother never abandons her special children. Teresa’s father had enough of her parties and sent her to an Augustinian Convent to get her act together.
After entering the convent, Teresa experienced a conversion and returned to her old ways of sanctity and zeal. Yet, with her conversion also came the lack of prudence she had shown previously when practicing penance. Teresa considered herself such a sinner that she took upon herself too many hard penances. She soon became sick and very nearly died (Teresa went into a four day coma and her fellow sisters almost buried her). She later credited St. Joseph’s intercession with her miraculous recovery, and to this very day, Discalced Carmelites have a deep devotion to him. It was finally her uncle Don Pedro and St. John of the Cross, the other great reformer of Carmel, who put her on the right track. By keeping consistent in prayer, St. Teresa grew in wisdom and holiness.
In her autobiography, St. Teresa defined prayer as:
“[Mental prayer] is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him by Whom we know ourselves to be loved (St. Teresa Life viii).
It was through this deep level of communion Teresa possessed with her Creator, that she derived the wisdom and courage necessary to reform the Order of Carmel and pen her many marvelous works, including: The Interior Castle, The Way of Perfection and her Life.
St. Teresa died on October 4, 1582. She was beatified 1614 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. In 1969, Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church – the first woman saint ever raised to such an honor.
So today, please join me in honoring this great saint. Below I will post “Day 3” in my mini retreat.
Today’s Theme “Closeness to Christ”
Stand with Jesus…Walk With Jesus.
– St. Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582
Today, the Holy Mother reminds us to remain close to Jesus. We must not just follow Him, we must “Stand with Him,” we must “Walk with Him.” No one accomplished this better than the Blessed Mother. She not only stood and walked with Jesus, she carried Him within her very self in her womb. We too carry Jesus within us when we receive Holy Communion. Let us today ask the Blessed Mother to help us walk and stand with her Son, just as she did so well.
O Sweetest Mother of God come to the aid of your children. You were created to carry your Creator in your womb; and not only your soul, but your body as well were purified to be an Unblemished Tabernacle for the Son of God. We receive the same Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. Help us to remain close to Him and to be His faithful sons and daughters. Teach us, for you are His Greatest Disciple. Amen.