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October 15, 2020

“And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

Today the church commemorates Teresa of Avila, renewer of the church. Also known of Teresa of Jesus, she was born into a Spanish noble family. Her mother was influential in raising Teresa in the faith but died when Teresa was only eleven. In her grief, she entered ever more deeply into a life of prayer. Often ill, Teresa noted that her prayer life flourished when she was grieving or ill but withered when things were going well in her life.

Teresa is one of the central figures in the development of contemplative prayer. In particular, she practiced mental prayer, in which one shows one’s love for God through dialogue, meditating on God’s words, and contemplating the face of Christ. She writes, “Contemplative prayer is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Her life of prayer had moments of ecstasy in which she glimpsed the world beyond this one; it also led her to be a reformer within this world, specifically in the lives of her fellow nuns.

Teresa is one of only 36 people who have been designated as Doctors of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church. Her legacy of prayer as a means of deepening one’s relationship with God in Christ continues to impact the church today. My own life of prayer is shaped by her practice; for this I give thanks to God. May your life of prayer flourish, even and especially during difficult times.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of joy, pierce our hearts with your presence and open our lives to your love. We pray for that our dialogue with you would be fruitful, giving us a sense of peace in the midst of difficulty. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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