|“It is here-my daughters- that love is to be found. Not hidden in away in corners, but in the midst of occasions of sin. Believe me, although we may more fail and commit small lapses, our gain will be incomparably greater.” – Teresa of Avila|
If it’s not obvious yet, I will tell you that Saint Teresa of Avila is my Confirmation saint. People always ask me why I would choose this saint. Frankly, she wasn’t too popular with my class, most people thought she was boring. At first glance, sure, she looks like a regular old nun.
But she was anything but regular. I chose her for her beautiful, passionate devotion to God. But many saints have that. I also chose her because she is not perfect, and had struggles that I can relate to. Many saints as beautiful as they are, just seem perfect. They were virgins, they died young, they were martyred. (Again, not saying that they aren’t beautiful and inspiring and amazing because they are!) Teresa however, lived to a good old age, grew up rich, and at first didn’t even want to be a nun. She loved the rich life, full of perfumes, jewelry and titled men. In fact, it was her father that sent her to the convent to be educated and safe from the outside world where her delicate health was not flourishing. It wasn’t until later in her life that she realized God’s love and calling for her.
Her relationship with God wasn’t a picture perfect either. After she entered the convent, she loved and longed for prayer. She felt like she was were she was supposed to be. But then she got dangerously sick- sick enough to fall into a coma. Sick enough for people to assume she was dead, and they started to put wax on her body. It was a miracle that she survived, and it took her many months to recover. However, instead of feeling closer to God, she felt more distant. After she recovered, prayer felt forced and God felt far away. During her daily hour of prayer, she was counting the minutes until it was over. She didn’t really know what was wrong.
Then her second conversion happened, when she was looking upon Christ’s face, she became overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow and passion for our Lord. She wept for hours upon hours for Jesus, and sorrow for her sins.
|“We ourselves feel like what we are doing is but a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that drop.”|
Since then, she has left a legacy. She was a part of the Carmelite order, but she felt it was a little to posh and generous for her sake. So she reformed, and created her own little order which partially focused on poverty. She went around the whole face of Spain, establishing many convents. She was discriminated against, especially by the sisters in her former convent. They thought she was crazy, and that she just wanted attention. She was also condemned for her visions of God. During this time in Spain, anything out of the ordinary that had to do with Jesus was considered to be wrong, and made up only to appear holy. Throughout all of her life, Teresa was mocked for these. However, Teresa of Avila kept on going.
Furthermore she was a great writer, which is another reason for why I chose her. Her book, The Interior Castle, shows us the “castles” or stages of prayer. To me and to many others, Teresa was the queen of prayer and her writings showed it. She also wrote The Way of Perfection, which was kind of like a guidebook for her sisters in the reformed convent. She became very good friends with Saint John of the Cross, who also wrote many great poems.
“Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing
God alone never changes
Patience gains all things.
If you have God
If you want for nothing,
God alone suffices.”
Teresa was also a feisty one, which is also why I find her so great. When talking to God, Teresa complained about having people mistreat her. With good humor, God replied, “But that is how I treat my friends.” Teresa, being the sassy person she was, said back, “That must be why you have so few friends.” Despite her fiery-ness, she also had a great and endearing personality, which drew many people to admire both her spiritual knowledge and her lovely company.
But her relationship with Jesus was so beautiful and loving, that it is hard not to be jealous. In fact, Jesus even appeared to her in a vision (one of many) and took her as His “spiritual” wife, and gave her a ring. In one famous instance an angel pierced her heart with a golden arrow to purify her soul. And among other things she would sometimes levitate during prayer because she was so close to God. One day she was standing in front of the convent, probably tending to something, and a small boy comes up in front of her. He asked her, “What is your name?” Teresa replied, “Teresa of Jesus” (this was her given name at the convent. Today she is known “of Avila” because she was born in Avila, Spain). The little boy smiled and said back, “Then I am Jesus of Teresa.” How cool is that?!
And finally, Teresa’s last words were “My Lord, it is time to move one. Well then, may Your will be done. O my Lord, and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time for us to meet one another.” She was so happy to finally meet the man she loved most, after all these years. And if I have even 1/100 of her devotion to God, I know that I will be on very good terms.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.