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October 15 – Teresa of Avila

Bernini’s famous statue of Teresa in Rome

Today’s Bible reading

Read Romans 13:8-10 

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 

More thoughts for meditation about Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila was a Spanish contemplative, mystic, and theologian who lived from 1515-1582.

Here is a story about her: Teresa learned as a small child that one had to die in order to see God. She wanted to see God. Being practical and courageous by temperament, she devised a scheme. She planned to go to the land of the Moors with her brother, Rodrigo. There they would surely be martyred and go to heaven. Very early one morning the two children stole away from their home and crossed the bridge leading out of Avila. But the plan soon ran into trouble. An uncle who happened to be entering Avila at the time, met the children, heard their fantastic plan and unceremoniously returned them to their parents.

Later on in life, Teresa realized that one does not have to die to see God. “We need no wings to go in search of Him,” she wrote, “but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.” These words contain three essential steps for what she named ”mental prayer.” First, we must be searching for God; second, we must be willing to be alone with Him, and third, we need but look upon our Lord who is present within us.

“The important thing in mental prayer,” she says, “is not to think much but to love much.” Mental prayer becomes fruitful when we realize the gift of God dwelling within us. Referring to her earlier years in the convent, Teresa wrote these regretful words, “I think that if I had understood then as I do now that this great King really dwells within a little palace of my soul, I should not have left Him alone so often and never allowed his dwelling place to get so dirty.” Mental prayer, you see, is nothing but our side of friendship with God—our “yes” to God’s call and invitation.

“Beginners,” she says, “do well to form an appealing image of Christ in His Sacred Humanity. They should picture Him within themselves in some mystery of His life, for example, the Christ of the agony or the Risen Savior in His glorified Body. Once they are conscious of Our Lord’s presence within their souls they need only look upon Him and conversation will follow. This friendly conversation will not be much thinking but much loving, not a torrent of words, much less a strained prepared speech, but rather a relaxed conversation with moments of silence as there must be between friends.”

One of the profound things that she is known to have said matches our scripture today, “It is love alone that gives worth to all things.”

Paul also reminds us that love is the only thing we owe each other.  It’s a continuing debt.  It is a debt that gives worth to our lives.  We are compelled to love each other regardless of the circumstances.  For some of us, that seems like a lot.  But the fact remains that each one of us is loved and as loved ones in the world we have the capacity to love others.  When we go ahead and make payments toward that debt, we fulfill God’s vision for the world.

Want more?

More bio.

Teresa’s famous prayer.

You can read the Interior Castle for free.

Recommended biography.

A Catholic bio:

Suggestions for action

Meditate on Teresa’s wisdom:

  • Christ has no body now but mine. He prays in me, works in me, looks through my eyes, speaks through my words, works through my hands, walks with my feet and loves with my heart.
  • We may speak of love and humility as the true flowers of spiritual growth; and they give off a wonderful scent, which benefits all those who come near.
  • After you die, you wear what you are.

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