Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For Thursday: "God walks among the pots and pans."

Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of our Church

The Church now honors an extraordinary women.  Ladies please take note.  Daughter of a wealthy man, one of nine children, Teresa knew in her heart that God was inviting her to live a life of sacrifice and prayer.  She was a woman whose passion was her religious vocation and her love of Jesus Christ.  To fulfill God's intention for her life, she joined a Carmelite monastery not too far outside Avila, Spain, her home town.  At that time convent life was not terribly trying on the women in the communities.  Eventually she felt the call to establish a community of Sisters who would follow much more stringent rules and regulations: much prayer, sacrifice and poverty.  During an illness prior to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelite Sister, Teresa came to know that was what God wanted her to do.  In her recuperation she spent hours in prayer, opening herself to the will of God.

She wrote many letters calling for monastic reform.  It was an action that caused resentment from other convents who did have a comfortable lifestyle.  In Butler's Lives of Saints we read that Teresa had an aversion to "long-faced saints that make both virtue and themselves abhorrent."  In the description of her life we also read that she and the papal nuncio had there moments of major disagreement.  He said that she was a "restless, disobedient and contumacious gad-about woman, who ... has left the enclosure ... and gone about teaching, contrary to the injunction of St. Paul."  King Philip II brought about reconciliation!

Teresa was canonized in 1622 along with St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Philip Neri and St. Isadore, the farmer.  No insignificant class in the history of saints!  In 1970 Teresa was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church along with St. Catherine of Sienna:  the first two women to be raised to that dignity, an elite community of 33 men and women.

And what would our Church and religious communities be today were she alive and well?  After some thought there are, perhaps, two women of our times who might be like her:  Mother Theresa of Calcutta and Mother Angelica of Birmingham -- perhaps the two strongest women religious of our times.  The following words were found on a book marker in her prayer book:

Let nothing worry you;
Nothing dismay you;
Everything passes;
God does not change. 
If you have patience, you can do anything.
Those who have God want for nothing;
God alone is enough.
(Butler's Lives of Saints)