St. Teresa of Avila
Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.
The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.
As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man's world of her time. She was "her own woman," entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.
Teresa was a woman "for God," a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.
Teresa was a woman "for others." Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.
Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.
In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.
Ours is a time of turmoil, a time of reform and a time of liberation. Modern women have in Teresa a challenging example. Promoters of renewal, promoters of prayer, all have in Teresa a woman to reckon with, one whom they can admire and imitate.
Teresa knew well the continued presence and value of suffering (physical illness, opposition to reform, difficulties in prayer), but she grew to be able to embrace suffering, even desire it: "Lord, either to suffer or to die." Toward the end of her life she exclaimed: "Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."
Patron Saint of:
Daily Prayer - 2015-10-15
I pause for a moment, aware that God is here.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Rom 3:21-30
Brothers and sisters:
Responsorial Psalm PS 130:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab
R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Alleluia Jn 14:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 11:47-54
The Lord said:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Remembering that I am still in God's presence,
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
Woe to you ... (Luke 11:47)
Such harsh words Jesus had for the Pharisees and scribes who opposed him! But we should remember that when he cried out, "Woe to you," he wasn't really insulting them. Rather, he was expressing a deep sorrow—heartbreak even—at the ways that their sin had created a wall between God and them. Jesus knew that he had come to bring life, and he saw how these men had cut themselves off from this life—and how their attitudes and words made it even harder for their followers to embrace life. Jesus came to pardon and reconcile, and it broke his heart to see people turning their backs on his generous gift.
When you think about the state of the world or when you see someone cutting himself off from God (or maybe even running away from him at full speed), how do you react? It can be very easy to get angry or to condemn wrong choices and the people who make them—especially when those choices hurt us in some way. But all it takes is a moment to pause and intercede instead. Turning our hearts to prayer, we can get a taste of the way Jesus mourns over sin—and that taste can soften our hearts and wash away all judgmental thoughts.
How do you look at yourself? It's not uncommon for those who view people judgmentally to be equally hard on themselves. Don't let that happen! God isn't mad at you. He isn't weighing the bad in you against the good so that he can remove blessings from you. Remember, Jesus came into the world not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17). If anything, he is saddened when we erect walls between him and us—and when we place walls between one another.
So woe isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather than being a passive sadness, it can be a catalyst for restorative action. It can help us change the way we look at ourselves and our world. As we see Jesus' sadness over the world—or over our own hearts—we can feel moved closer to mercy and spurred on to intercession. It can also draw us toward him, into the fullness of his life!
"Lord, give me a heart softened by sorrow, like yours. I don't want sin to harden my heart. I want to love as you love."
After reading today's 1st Holy Scripture, you would think that St. Paul was a tremendous theologian by the way things were written, but it's not that He was trying, but He was simply being and saying what God wanted Him to do and say, and mostly...He was a zealous slave in love with His Master, doing and saying as the Lord wishes and pleases. Nowadays, people that don't really believe will say things like "I think God is playing games with people". Which is a projection of one's one faith, one playing around with the faith, not taking it serious, not really trying, not truly giving, not truly surrendering, not truly confessing, not truly seeking, rather, just summizing and guessing. For all the protestants in the world, the message is here: Stop Guessing, come to the faith of generations and milleniums. Is there salvation for protestants? Of course...by the grace of God. Then why should I sit here and invite? Because, the grace of God is divulged in ways unimaginable to man to the Catholic Faith. Yet, God is the God of all, and the call here is to a sincere surrender. What will it cost? I asked the co-workers last night "to what degree have you sacrificed till it hurts?" None could really answer. I wanted to know when it hurt last time they sacrificed to God. Slowly answers came, and I had to prime some answers out of others. But they were stumped because they knew they really hadn't suffered that much for the Lord. I heard a couple guys with a couple good answers "I lost friends because of my beliefs" and I said he had gained more. Another said he gets made fun of for being loyal to the bible gathering and he knew it was something to boast about...the sufferings. That's why St. Teresa of Avila said "Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value." Like the time a couple apostles got beat up and let go, they left rejoicing! Learn what it means to suffer for the Lord, for Love, for love of the Lord, and you'll learn what true rejoicing is.
The Psalms pray today "With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption. I trust in the LORD; my soul trusts in his word." Trust Him through the dark valley. How scary it is to walk and trust. Yet, this is when faith has to kick in. Faith is all St. Paul speaks about today, like when he said "For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law." This does not mean you should not have works, for works are what makes the Gospel reveal. St Teresa of Avila said ""Love proves itself by deeds, and how shall I prove mine? ... I can prove my love only by scattering flowers, that is to say, by never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance, a single word; by making profit of the very smallest actions, by doing them all for love. I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers." It means that faith is the quencher. Faith is the reason I write to you. So that your faith might be strengthened and grow. So that your faith can move mountains, and it can, and it has. Have faith, don't stop, those that stop don't get to the top, and it is Heaven we climb and aspire to. This is why St. Paul calls it a race. They say purgatory is like souls stopped on their way to Heaven, can't advance. Let your purgatory be purged now through your sufferings, and what else? God's grace! Trust in His mercy. Trust His redemption. Trust in His Word.
Jesus, our gracious King, speaks today "Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter." If then, you have sentenced the Lord by saying you have Him figured out, you have made yourself a scholar of the law. By remaining obstinate, stuck in your ways, you will block the ways for those around you to get to Him. Not blocked completely, but an obstacle to grace. This is why you can never remain. The words our Lord used were of a loving Father warning them to open up...or else. This is my worry among those I work with. They won't open up! LOL. Or could it be that they won't bud when I want the rose to flower? My job then, is to not see fruits when I want, but to continue tilling and working the soil, stop the whining and crying and giving up and put our head down and continue to work. Our job is to be faithful, full of faith. What do I get in return? I told my wife one time "look, we are going to help this other family for a while, they will live with us, and in the end, don't expect any gratitude, expect a slap in the face and a stab in the back...that will be how we are paid". Years later, that family is closer to God now. But it goes to show you, the attitude with which we are to help, not expecting nothing in return...this is what it means to give.
Now, it is your turn to give. Have you given til it hurts? What hurts? Giving your heart. Last night after co-worker study, the co-workers invited me repeatedly to our co-worker softball league team. I was very tempted to go, but I've not spent much time at home in the evenings. When I got home, I dressed to go to softball, and my wife said to go ahead. I went to turn in a movie we rented, and a few blocks away was the game, but I decided it was time for the kids. I got home and we prayed, and they went to bed. This was a sacrifice, but it's hard to explain unless you were in my shoes of temptation. What's really important? Sports? Or family? What's really important? Family, or God? Can you see the escalation to God? First place is God, second is family, then work, then friends and so forth. Keep these priorities in an attitude of thanksgiving and you will bring all to God. I want you to pray about having prayer groups, bible readings. How to meet, when to meet, what to study, those are all things the Holy Spirit will lead you to. The only thing needed is a willing spirit. Willing to be open to His knowledge. And when you study His knowledge, eventually it will hit you...His undending mercy and love that infuses into your soul, that binds you to Him, that binds those around you to Him. No more locked up hearts in confusion. Jesus is giving us the keys. First to St. Peter our first pope, and then, to the rest of us, the gift of being able to be with HIM!
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