St. Teresa of Jesus called people to a life of prayer and simplicity...
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus (October 15, 2021): ROM 4:1-8; PS 32:1-2,5,11; LK 12:1-7
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St. Teresa valued the love that Christ had for her as an individual and hoped others would recognize this great gift as well.
St. Teresa of Jesus was born into a wealthy family in Avila, Spain in 1515. After her mother’s death when she was twelve, Teresa was sent to live at an Augustinian convent. On her return home, she resolved to become a nun and entered a nearby Carmelite convent where she lived a fairly unremarkable life for about twenty years. In time, she became deeply unhappy with her own laxity and that of her convent. Many of the rules about solitude, penance, and poverty were largely ignored. St. Teresa started to have mystical experiences and became convinced that Christ was calling her to reform the order to the original stricter rule. Over the years, she traveled throughout Spain and reformed or established many convents. This caused a great deal of backlash and her efforts led to an investigation by the Spanish Inquisition. She was exonerated and able to continue her work although it did cause a split among Carmelites. Those in her reformed communities for women as well as those for men were called Discalced Carmelites because they went shoeless out of humility and poverty.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say, “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of you head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7). St. Teresa valued the love that Christ had for her as an individual and hoped others would recognize this great gift as well. She wanted people to embrace God’s love and to return it and wrote a number of still popular books about prayer and mystical theology. In a poem, St. Teresa wrote about her spiritual experience, “Myself surrendered and given, The exchange is this: My Beloved is for me, And I am for my Beloved.” She died in 1582 and was canonized forty years later. In 1970, Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church. She was the first woman to be so honored.