Saint Teresa of Avila: Virgin and Doctor of Prayer
many dangers, the evil intent of the Devil, and other obstacles which commonly prevent souls from advancing in prayer.
She describes a wonderful insight she received on the day she took the habit at the Convent of the Incarnation, outside the walls of Avila: "When I took the habit the Lord immediately showed me how He favours those who do violence to themselves in order to serve Him. No one saw what I endured, . . . At the moment of my entrance into this new state I felt a joy so great that it has never failed me even to this day; and God converted the dryness of my soul into a very great tenderness" (Ibid., p. 33).One of St. Teresa's most well known metaphors concerning prayer is the one in which she describes meditation as similar to cultivating a spiritual garden. She says of this: "A beginner must look on himself as one setting out to make a garden for his Lord's pleasure, on most unfruitful soil which abounds in weeds. His Majesty roots up the weeds and will put in good plants instead. Let us reckon that this is already done when the soul decides to practice prayer and has begun to do so" (Ibid., p. 78).
St. Teresa, Doctor of Prayer, is always careful to guide souls that they should diligently set themselves to prayer, not allowing discouragement to hinder them. She says of the worth of mental prayer: "It is of special note, that the soul which begins resolutely to tread this path of mental prayer, and can manage not greatly to care about consolations and tenderness in devotion, neither rejoicing when the Lord gives them nor being discouraged when He withholds them, has already gone a large part of the way" (Ibid., p. 81).
Note that when St. Teresa speaks of mental prayer, she speaks of our Lord as our focus, an important point some overlook. Prayer is man relating to and conversing with God, the All-Holy Creator; therefore, as with true religion, the first act of prayer ought to be adoration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: "Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,' says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy" (2096).
It is necessary to maintain and guard a proper perspective during prayer. Who is it to whom we pray? It is "His Majesty", as St. Teresa often addressed Him, the Giver of life and immortality, our God who first created us and now sustains us. She would tell us to be mindful of the fact that we are speaking with God. The Catechism explains: "In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?" (2735).
There are some who, coversing with God throughout the day, hope they are engaging in prayer but then refrain from setting a time to engage in prayer with purpose and dedication. Certainly God is aware of all we say and do and is eager for our conversation and communion. However, however, prayer is to involve more.The Catechism explains:"Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray. Through a living transmission (Sacred Tradition) within "the believing and praying Church," the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray" (2560).
Those who desire to advance in prayer yet ignore Sacred Tradition, who think little of submitting in obedience to the "believing and praying Church" can injure themselves. One does not walk with God in disobedience to the Catholic Church which He willed should exist. Who among us would be so dull-witted as to say to our Lord, "I want to walk with you, but I don't believe anything you say." Submitting in obedience to the Church was always a concern of the utmost seriousness for St. Teresa. "If I should say anything that is not in conformity with what is held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it will be through ignorance and not through malice. This may be taken as certain, and also that, through God's goodness, I am, and shall always be, as I always have been, subject to her" (Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila, Image Books, 1961, p. XXIX).
In directing souls, St. Teresa, in every book she has written, is unfailingly careful to mention the perils of mortal sin: "And, since this soul has separated itself from Him, it cannot be pleasing in His eyes; for, after all, the intention of a person who commits a mortal sin is not to please Him but to give pleasure to the ...
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, holiness, women saints, virtue, universal call to holiness, prayer, contemplation, Saint Teresa of Avila
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Christian Saints & Heroes News
- St. Catherine of Sienna Calls Each One of Us to Love God Right Where We Are
- After the Corned Beef: St. Patrick Challenges Modern Christians to be Missionaries
- Bet you didn't know these 10 things about St. Patrick and Ireland!
- The Vision of St. John Bosco and the Papacy of Benedict XVI
- St. Thomas Aquinas is a Model for the New Evangelization
- Saint John Neumann Calls us all to Apostolic Charity and Courageous Christianity
- Who are you? John the Baptizer, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen Call Christian Men to Live as Friends
- Prophetic Pope Paul VI, a Champion of Human Life, Now Venerable
- Feast of St Francis Xavier Calls for New Evangelization Missionaries For the West
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
Catholic Online offers the largest searchable database of Catholic Saints on the internet.
|A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|
|A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|