St. Teresa of Avila, mystic, author, reformer, and Doctor of the Church
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus (October 15, 2022): EPH 1:15-23; PS 8:2-3,4-5,6-7; LK 12:8-12W
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Through her love for God and service to her sisters and brothers, she has drawn her Carmelite family and many other people closer to Him for almost five hundred years.
The 16th century Carmelite reformer known for her deep mysticism and spiritual writings, was born into a privileged society as the child of a wealthy wool merchant. Taught by nuns after the death of her mother, she chose to enter a convent at age twenty. Nevertheless, while of a generally religious inclination, she neither showed nor experienced any remarkable signs of holiness until about twenty years later. At that time, a profound spiritual awakening changed her life. She spent more and more time in contemplation and began to have mystical encounters and visions. She also wrote a number of religious books. St. Teresa’s desire to live a humble, silent, prayerful life began to put her at odds with some of her sisters and superiors. The Inquisition even looked into her work. Nonetheless, she took steps to reform the Carmelite order; not only nuns, but eventually priests as well. In time she was allowed to proceed with the reforms at reestablishing the original stricter rules for Carmelites in dozens of convents and monasteries throughout Spain.
St. Teresa made a great mark on the Church in a difficult, even tumultuous age. Forty years after her death in 1582, she was canonized; then, in 1970 she was given the title, Doctor of the Church. St. Teresa of Jesus was a woman of courage and commitment, a mystic with practical abilities, and, like all saints, a human being who suffered and who loved. She said, “There are only two duties that our Lord requires of us: the love of God, and the love of our neighbor. And, in my opinion, the surest sign for our discovering our love to God is discovering our love to our neighbor. Be assured that the further you advance in the love of your neighbor, the more you are advancing in the love of God.”
Suggested missionary action: We can celebrate this dynamic saint by reading some of St. Teresa of Avila’s writings, such as The Interior Castle or The Way of Perfection; or reading a biography about her life. We can also ask her to pray for our own spiritual growth.