The reformer of the Carmel in Spain is one of the most radiant figures of modern times. Her teachings have been spread throughout the entire world and her spiritual advice continues to form truly contemplative souls.
A proof that one single canonized saint can do more that the myriad of saints currently being raised to the dignity of the altar after hasty and doubtful procedures. The recent canonizations of John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II are a sorry illustration of this…
Born in 1515, St. Teresa entered the Carmel at the age of 18 in her native city of Avila. With her strong temperament, iron will, and exceptional common sense, and her boundless Faith and love for her Creator and Lord, she would have liked to give her life for the conversion of the Protestants and the Moors.
She tasted the secrets of the spiritual life and was enlightened in mental prayer, rising to the highest degrees of the mystical life, and for this reason the popes themselves soon compared her to the Doctors of the Church. She conducted the reform of her Order, met the saints of her day (Francis Borgia, Louis Bertrand, Peter of Alcantara, John of the Cross…), and traveled throughout Spain founding convents everywhere, and often in heroic conditions.
She was blessed with extraordinary graces, visions and ecstasies, visions of the Child Jesus, the Mother of God, and St. Joseph. She suffered terribly the day a Seraphim pierced her heart with a flaming spear of divine love.
She died in 1582, in Alba de Tormes, in Castile, on the night of “October 4 to 15”, the day the Gregorian calendar came into effect. Exhausted and sick, she died as a daughter of the Church. Her last Eucharistic Communion brought to her lips this final exclamation: “My Spouse and Lord! The long-awaited hour is at hand. It is time for us to meet, my Beloved, my Lord. It is time for me to go. Let us go, it is time…”
The Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things; whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices. Raise your thoughts, look up to Heaven, do not torment yourself about anything, let nothing trouble you.
Follow Jesus Christ with all your heart and whatever happens, let nothing frighten you. Do you see the glory of the world? It is a vain glory; there is nothing stable about it, it all passes.
Aspire to what is heavenly, it lasts forever; faithful and rich in promises, God does not change. Love Him as He deserves, He is immense Goodness; but there is no true love without patience.
Let confidence and a lively Faith uphold the soul; he who believes and hopes obtains all things. Even if he is attacked by all of hell, he who possesses God will foil its attacks. Even if he is abandoned and suffers crosses and misfortunes, if God is his treasure, he will want for nothing.
Away with you, then, worldly goods; away with you, vain happiness; even if you lose all, God alone suffices.