nothing disturb you.

Thursday Reflection

15th October 2020

'St Theresa of Avila'

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582),
a Spanish saint and mystic who had
great influence on the Christian world.

She was quite a character;
    "Just being a woman is enough
      for my wings to fall off,"
      St. Teresa said.
This statement, written in her autobiography,
is one of the famous sayings
of this great saint.
This phrase reminds us that,
despite the social conventions
at the time, that clipped the wings of women,
Teresa would not let herself be held back.

In the world of the Spanish Golden Age,
society was not very inclined
to the independence of women;
rather, it was just the opposite.
Men were in control,
and women had to adapt.

From an early age
Teresa showed that she knew how
to get what she wanted.

Teresa was fascinated
by hearing and reading stories
about the martyrs,
because they had shed their blood
and had seen God.
And she, in order to see Him,
wanted to speed up time.

In fact,
she convinced her younger brother Rodrigo
to run away with her to Muslim lands,
so they could be martyred and,
in this way,
would be able to see God.

Their family members found them
just outside their home town of Avila.
But that was Teresa,
and that was her determination as a young girl.

She felt that a day, when she couldn't read
a new book, was a day lost.
With the complicity of her mother,
and behind the back of her strict father,
she read books about
the great deeds of knights,
which were very popular at the time.

There are hypotheses that suggest
that Teresa was part of a
network of women who exchanged books.

She was independent and autonomous.
When she understood that God
was calling her to be a nun,
and after she told her father
(who rejected the idea),
she decided to leave her parents' house,
and she went to the
monastery of the Incarnation (in Avila).

The day she entered the monastery
(November 2, 1535),
the bells were ringing for All Souls day.
She overcame bureaucratic
and economic obstacles and,
also the male chauvinism of the time
and managed to found new convents.

She established small convents throughout Spain.
She travelled on foot,
and thus became called the "walking"
("andariega") saint.

Theresa taught her nuns
to think and pray on their own,
and to concentrate in order to hear
the Lord in their interior,
in what she called the "Interior Castle."

She was closely watched
because she was suspected of heresy,
but they couldn't find anything
that contradicted the idea
that she was obeying God's will.
She always abandoned herself to God's will,
and was a very determined woman
who knew where she was going.

She often used to say,
   "I am yours, Lord;
    I was born for You.
    What do you want from me?"

She was the first of only four women
to be declared a Doctor of the Church.
This happened in 1970,
together with Saint Catherine of Siena.

As prolific writer she left a great legacy
and her writings are regarded as among
the most remarkable
in the mystical literature
of the Catholic Church.
Her poem 'Que nada'
is a 'go-to' for me when
I am feeling anxious.

Let nothing disturb you.      Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.       God is unchanging.
Patience gains all things;   nothing is lacking to those who have God;
God alone is sufficient.

She once admitted,
sometimes she felt like "a lion,"
and other times like "an ant."

St Theresa was an inspirational lady
who had a passionate love of the Lord.
She taught people a powerful lesson;
to look for God within themselves;
to pray with their own words
and to seek to hear God's voice -
not outside themselves,
but in their own Interior,
which she called, the "Interior Castle."

She left a rich legacy of
spiritual writings
for us to profit from.

What sort of legacy will we leave?