Saint Teresa of Avila

15th October 2021

St Teresa of AvilaSaints are put before us by the Church for various reasons: to give to praise to God because by honouring the merits of the saints we are honouring what God has created; to give us examples in our way of living our own spiritual lives: to give us companionship – in the communion saints: as assurance of their constant intercession for us before the throne of God.

Saint Teresa has been thus for over five hundred years now and we look to her life and her legacy to the Church with awe and gratitude.  What she has to give us is no less relevant today than it was five hundred years ago.

Like all those whom we honour as saints, she did not start out life as a saint.  Yes, she was created in the image and likeness of God, but it was the way that she responded to God’s call and God’s grace that made her a saint.

Her life’s work was not at all easy.  The vision she had for the reform of her congregation met with such opposition that it almost cut her off in her relationship with God.  But she was drawn back by her God, and ironically it was in her realisation of Christ’s love for her through his suffering and cross that helped her understand how Christ can transform our lives.

She tried to tackle the problems of the Church in her time.  It was an overwhelming prospect, but rather than give up and give in to despair she decided to do what little she could trusting in the goodness and grace of God.  So often we give up when we think that the task might be too much.

The Carmelite spirituality is a spirituality of living the presence and experience of God in our lives because, as temples of the Holy Spirit, we know that God is within us.

St Elijah the father of the Carmelites looked for God in the World – in the great things, the spectacular things, like a mighty wind or a terrible storm.  Instead he found God in a gentle breeze, in a simple humble thing.  That is what God is like, simple, humble, and gentle. (1Kings 19:12)

This is the sort of relationship with God that is at the heart of the Carmelite charism.  God is present with us all and we have only to live our lives through the experience of Him and His love.  This is exactly what he calls us to do, to live and experience him according to our own individual makeup.

Teresa leads us by example in all of this.  She shows us how to trust in God entirely.  She teaches us how to experience Jesus by uniting our sufferings to His cross. 

Her humanity, her realistic relationship with the Lord is illustrated by the lovely story of when she was on one of her journeys in Spain and her horse threw her as she was crossing a river.  Soaked to the skin she looked up to heaven and said, “If this is how you treat friends, no wonder you have so few of them!” 

We should bring everything to God in our prayers, even our complaints!  For a complaint or a moan, in the end, is simply our way of offering up to God our lack of understanding of how good He is to us.

In honouring her, may she draw us to honour the One to whom all glory and honour and praise is due now and forever more.