In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), he enjoins us to embark on our Christian journey of holiness by embracing the ordinariness of everyday. Throughout his exhortation, Pope Francis calls out more than 40 saints who can assist us on our mission of Christian faith, and to teach us how to rejoice and be glad in all of life’s challenges, mysteries, and joys.
During the 34 weeks of Ordinary Time, we will introduce you to some of the saints mentioned in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation. #OrdinarySaints for #OrdinaryTime #HolyOrdinary
St. Teresa of Avila
#12 Within these various forms, I would stress too that the “genius of woman” is seen in feminine styles of holiness, which are essential means of reflecting God’s holiness in this world. Indeed, in times when women tended to be most ignored or overlooked, the Holy Spirit raised up saints whose attractiveness produced new spiritual vigour and important reforms in the Church.
#149 For St. Teresa of Avila, prayer “is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with him who we know loves us.” I would insist that this is true not only for a privileged few, but for all of us, for “we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored.” Trust-filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence.
St. Teresa of Avila, born in 1515, liked to stir up trouble. From a young age she found it difficult to stay away from sinful things. Her young life was characterized by a constant battle between desiring to liked in the world and desiring to draw closer to God through prayer.
Even life as a Carmelite didn’t ease Teresa’s battle with vanity.
When Teresa fell ill with Malaria and suffered a seizure, people were so certain of her death that they already dug a grave. She was paralyzed for three years and turned away from prayer – uses excuses that she wasn’t well enough to pray. For years she hardly prayed at all “under the guise of humility.” She thought as a wicked sinner she didn’t deserve to get favors from God.
At the age of 41 a priest convinced Teresa to turn back to prayer. She still found prayer difficult, but her struggle gave us wonderful descriptions of mental prayer. (see the remarks from Pope Francis above #149).
Once Teresa started praying God gave her mystic visions and spiritual delights. God’s presence would overwhelm her senses, sometimes her whole body was raised from the ground.
These visions became very divisive in her life. People mocked Teresa and friends said the devil was tempting her. But Teresa held strong because her mystic experiences continued to bring her peace, inspiration, and encouragement.
Teresa would experience hardships the rest of her life. She desired to start a new contemplative order and was hindered at every step. Even after her Discalced Carmelite order was established, Teresa’s troubles did not ease.
Despite a lifetime of push-back from laity, religious, friends, and others Teresa wrote scores of books about her life and prayer. She died at the age of 67. She was canonized in 1622 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.