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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA


John, Chapter 19, Verse 26
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”

It was Christ’s desire that we should all be a family; a family united in love. This is why our Lord submitted to His mother showing that now she was the mother and mediatrix of all mankind.

I would like to focus on the word desire. I like to hike and pray.  One day I was hiking in the Fay Canyon area of Sedona, Arizona and I was reflecting on the seven deadly sins and the opposing virtues of our Lord sermon on the mount.  As I was hiking and musing over the words that are associated with the deadly sin of lust: such words as long for, hanker for, hunger for, yearn, crave, and desire.  In my mind I repeated desire, desire, desire and I asked our Lord what do you want me to desire?  As I asked that question I looked up at the canyon and spied a rock formation in the shape of a chalice.  Yes Lord, I exclaimed.  I shall desire to receive you in the Holy Mass. Lust is just a corrupted form of love that takes yet our desire should be to give love and receive with a grateful heart.

Today would be a good day to rest in the Lord and go to Mass and receive His body and blood.  As we receive realize that He has heard our cry’s and has saved us.  Such is the love of our God!

Amoris Lætitia[1] Love in Marriage; Love believes all things (114-115)

Love believes all things. This goes beyond simply presuming that the other is not lying or cheating. Such basic trust recognizes God’s light shining beyond the darkness, like an ember glowing beneath the ash. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. This trust enables a relationship to be free. It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. This freedom, which fosters independence, openness to the world around us and to new experi­ences, can only enrich and expand relationships. The spouses then share with one another the joy of all they have received and learned outside the family circle. At the same time, this freedom makes for sincerity and transparency, for those who know that they are trusted and appreciated can be open and hide nothing. Those who know that their spouse is always suspicious, judgmental and lacking unconditional love, will tend to keep secrets, conceal their failings and weaknesses, and pretend to be someone other than who they are. On the other hand, a family marked by loving trust, come what may, helps its members to be themselves and spontaneously to reject deceit, falsehood, and lies.



Saint Teresa of Avila


Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. In her autobiography she mentions some details of her childhood: she was born into a large family, her “father and mother, who were devout and feared God”. She had three sisters and nine brothers. While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf. Vida,[Life], 1, 4); “I want to see God”, the little girl told her parents.

A few years later Teresa was to speak of her childhood reading and to state that she had discovered in it the way of truth which she sums up in two fundamental principles.
On the one hand was the fact that (1) “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is (2) “for ever, ever, ever”, a topic that recurs in her best-known poem: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes.

·         Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices”. She was about 12 years old when her mother died, and she implored the Virgin Most Holy to be her mother (cf. Vida, I, 7).
·         When she was 20 she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also in Avila. In her religious life she took the name “Teresa of Jesus”. Three years later she fell seriously ill, so ill that she remained in a coma for four days, looking as if she were dead (cf. Vida, 5, 9).
·         In the fight against her own illnesses too the Saint saw the combat against weaknesses and the resistance to God’s call: “I wished to live”, she wrote, “but I saw clearly that I was not living, but rather wrestling with the shadow of death; there was no one to give me life, and I was not able to take it. He who could have given it to me had good reasons for not coming to my aid, seeing that he had brought me back to himself so many times, and I as often had left him” (Vida, 7, 8).
·         In 1543 she lost the closeness of her relatives; her father died and all her siblings, one after another, emigrated to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9).
·         The Saint, who in that period felt deeply in tune with the St Augustine of the Confessions, thus describes the decisive day of her mystical experience: “and... a feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him” (Vida, 10, 1).

Teresa of Jesus had no academic education but always set great store by the teachings of theologians, men of letters and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always adhered to what she had lived personally through or had seen in the experience of others (cf. Prologue to The Way of Perfection), in other words basing herself on her own first-hand knowledge.

Among her most important works we should mention first of all her autobiography, El libro de la vida (the book of life), which she called Libro de las misericordias del Señor [book of the Lord’s mercies].

Among the most precious passages is her commentary on the Our Father, as a model for prayer. St Teresa’s most famous mystical work is El Castillo interior [The Interior Castle]. She wrote it in 1577 when she was in her prime. It is a reinterpretation of her own spiritual journey and, at the same time, a codification of the possible development of Christian life towards its fullness, holiness, under the action of the Holy Spirit. Teresa refers to the structure of a castle with seven rooms as an image of human interiority. She simultaneously introduces the symbol of the silk worm reborn as a butterfly, in order to express the passage from the natural to the supernatural. The Saint draws inspiration from Sacred Scripture, particularly the Song of Songs, for the final symbol of the “Bride and Bridegroom” which enables her to describe, in the seventh room, the four crowning aspects of Christian life: the Trinitarian, the Christological, the anthropological and the ecclesial.

Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.
Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.

A final essential aspect of Teresian doctrine which I would like to emphasize is perfection, as the aspiration of the whole of Christian life and as its ultimate goal. The Saint has a very clear idea of the “fullness” of Christ, relived by the Christian. At the end of the route through The Interior Castle, in the last “room”, Teresa describes this fullness, achieved in the indwelling of the Trinity, in union with Christ through the mystery of his humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends. This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”. Therefore, time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters.

The Way[2]

"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."

99.  If you are not a man of prayer, I don't believe in the sincerity of your intentions when you say that you work for Christ.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood



[1] Pope Francis, Encyclical on Love.
[2]http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-point-1.htm

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