SAINT TERESA OF AVILA
Luke, Chapter 12, Verse 4-5
4 I tell you, my friends, do not be AFRAID of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. 5 I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
It would seem that Christ is talking about the Devil here or is He talking about our very selves.
Christ may have been referring to the rabbinic duality of yetzer hara, the so-called "evil inclination," and the yetzer hatov, the "good inclination,". Yetzer hara is not a demonic force that pushes a person to do evil, but rather a drive toward pleasure or property or security, which if left unlimited, can lead to evil (cf. Genesis Rabbah 9:7). When a person’s will is properly controlled by the yetzer hatov, the yetzer hara leads too many socially desirable results, including marriage, business, and community. In Judaism adults are distinguished from children by the yetzer hatov, which controls and channels the drives that exist unchecked in the child. Thus, children may seek pleasure and acquisition, but they are not able to create a sanctified relationship or exercise the responsibility to engage in business. The young adult is not described as someone who has developed a sophisticated moral sense; in fact, the early adolescent may base moral decisions entirely on fear of punishment. Yet by age 13, the child’s moral sense has developed sufficiently to hold the child responsible for his or her actions.
Another Jewish source states:
ha-Satan, the Adversary, was one of the “severe” agents of God. Another such harsh but necessary force in God’s creation is the Yetzer ha-Ra, which is variously translated as the “Evil Impulse,” the “Evil Desire,” the “Selfish Desire” or just “Desire.” It is that aspect of nature, but especially human nature, which drives us to compete, to fight, to possess, but most of all to desire sexual gratification. Though it is counter-balanced by the Yetzer ha-Tov, the “altruistic desire,” it is nonetheless the source of much of the grief in human life – lust, violence, selfishness, vengeance, and ambition. One would think that humanity would be truly better off if we could destroy this impulse. We see evil in ourselves, it offends us, and we think the right thing to do is to totally purge ourselves of it. Yet we don’t truly understand it, for things we so easily characterize as “evil” actually spring out of the very nexus of holiness. Surreal as it is, this maaseh makes an incredible point – it is the strife of the spirit, the very struggle between our impulses that makes the world work. Without the Yetzer ha-Ra, the world as we know would cease – people [and animals] would no longer be driven to build, to create, to have children. In short, life as we know, including not only evil aspects but most of what we regard as beautiful also, would cease. Without Desire, Life itself would slowly wither away, and that would be a sad thing. So, the goal of the spiritual person is not to destroy the selfish-sexual-evil impulse, but rather to sublimate it to God’s purpose. To be truly what God wants us to be, to achieve our fullest human potential, we need to learn to bend both our impulses to godly ends. We should not cease to lust but should direct that urge toward love. We should turn our impulse toward vengeance into the desire for justice, our ambition for acquiring possessions into the creation of true wealth.
Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family-(58-60)
In and among families, the Gospel message should always resound; the core of that message, the kerygma, is what is “most beautiful, most excellent, most appealing and at the same time most necessary.”
Kerygma refers to the initial and essential proclamation of the gospel message. To put it simply, the kerygma is the very heart of the gospel, the core message of the Christian faith that all believers are calling to proclaim. “God loves you” “Christ died for your sins”
This is the first and most important proclamation, “which we must hear again and again in different ways, and which we must always announce in one form or another.” Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defense of a dry and lifeless doctrine. We need to model the gaze of Jesus and how he “looked upon the women and men whom he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps in truth, patience and mercy as he proclaimed the demands of the Kingdom of God.” The Lord is also with us today, as we seek to practice and pass on the Gospel of the family.
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 silkworm 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.
Fitness Friday-Hunting Workout
Recognizing that God, the Father created man on Friday the 6th day I propose in this blog to have an entry that shares on how to recreate and renew yourself in strength, mind, soul and heart.
Elk hunting (or indeed any rough-country hunt where drastic elevation changes are a routine part of the hunt) requires a different kind of planning and conditioning than your usual whitetail hunt. The most common problem out-of-state hunters experience is not being in good enough physical condition to handle constant up-and-down foot travel at high elevation - especially when carrying a pack. The result is a physically exhausted hunter who is unable to perform. Hours and days of precious hunting time are wasted due to need for rest and recovery. Here’s a twelve-week plan that will prep you for the high country. There are two main components to physical prep for rough-country hunting: cardiovascular and muscular. Plan on exercising thirty to forty-five minutes per weekday, alternating between cardio and muscular workouts. Be sure to stretch and warm up gradually before workouts and cool off gradually afterwards.
Week One: Start out easy on yourself
to lower risk of hurting joints or tendons.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Go for a brisk 45-minute walk, preferably including up and down terrain.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Spend 30 minutes climbing up and down the local bleacher stairs (or a nice steep hill). Take regular short rests.
Week Two: Step it up a little.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Add short stints of jogging to your walk.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: same 30-minute routine, just cut down on rest time.
Week Three: Start getting focused.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Begin pushing yourself, walking less and jogging more.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Same 30-minute routine, add three squats and three lunges (don’t use weights) alternately during short rest periods.
Week Four: You should be feeling much
stronger by now and hurting less. Remain careful to avoid injury.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Try to jog the majority of your 45 minutes.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Try to spend the entire 30 minutes climbing your stairs or hillside, alternating between five squats and five lunges every few minutes. Only rest at the ten- and twenty-minute marks.
Week Five: By now you should be
enjoying your workouts.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Warm up, then alternate two-minute sprints with walking to catch your breath. 45 minutes.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Wear a pack with 20 pounds of weight in it during your routine. Rest when needed.
Week Six: You should be feeling like a
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Back to jogging but pick up the pace a bit.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Try to get through your routine – hiking with pack and five crunches/lunges every five minutes – without stopping to rest.
Week Seven: Halfway there!
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Back to sprinting/walking. Push yourself.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Add five pounds to your pack (total 25), same routine.
Week Eight: Second amendment week.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Trade the jogging in for a smooth relaxed 45 min run. (Faster than jogging, but not a sprint)
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Same routine as week seven but carry your bow or rifle (empty of course) or object of similar weight/balance).
Week Nine: Hang in there.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: Sprinting and walking. Keep pushing.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Add five pounds – you’re up to 30 pounds plus your rifle/bow. Stay strong and focused.
10. Week Ten: Home stretch – only three weeks till the hunt.
Mon/Wed/Fri cardio: More smooth relaxed running. Keep it strong.
Tues/Thurs/Sat muscular: Same routine, add another five pounds. You’re up to thirty-five now, approximately the weight of a three-day bivy pack. Keep up the squats and lunges, they will prep you for big tough steps when climbing and crouching while stalking.
Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Families of St. Joseph’s PortersUnite in the work of the