Saint Teresa of Avila

Written by Michael K. Jones

Before sharing the history of Saint Teresa, I would like to note here that Teresa's writings are such a marvel, the Church declared her a Doctor of the Church. One of her writings I personally admire is added below in red, because of it's simplicity yet profound wisdom,

"Whoever makes a habit of prayer should think only of doing everything to conform his will to God's. Be assured that in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain, and those who practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God's greatest gift and will make the quickest progress in the interior life. Do not imagine there are other secrets. All our good consists in this."

Born in Avila, Spain, Teresa was one of ten children left behind when her mother died. A Spanish nun and mystic in 1562, she reformed the Carmelite order establishing 14 monasteries of nuns during her lifetime.

As a child Teresa was a large and rather quiet child. A buoyant personality gave her means of adapting to circumstances and people.

Her life took on signs of an unusual child as early as age 5, when she convinced her older brother Rodrigo to enter the Morish territory asking they be beheaded for the love of Christ. They were stopped by their uncle who saw them leaving the town.

Her rebellious teens lead her father to put her in a convent for a time. Torn between her thoughts of someday being married, and entering religious life, Teresa struggled in her own pity. When the confilct was resolved she asked permission from her father to enter religious life. He refused, so she ran away.

She entered the Carmelite Monstery of the Incarnation at Avila on Nov 2, 1535. The following year receiving her Habit, she began a life long devotion to prayer and penance, which was not without difficulties.

In July, 1539, Sister Teresa became gravely ill with malaria, leading her father to take her back home. Falling into a coma she awoke 4 days later to find that a grave had been dug for her.

For years after this she hardly prayed. It was a priest who convinced her to return to a prayerful life. Yet she found it a most difficult task. At a later date she wrote she sympatahizes with those who have a difficult time praying adding, all the trials we endure can not compare to these interior battles.

As prayer life returned, Teresa begin to experience God given graces. Example; her whole body would levitate from the ground. Her mystical experiences she viewed more as chastisments than graces.

Told she was no longer to speak to humans but only angels, Sister became the ridicule of her peers. Believing this the work of the devil, Teresa was scrutinized by a Jesuit priest. She was found believable by him, yet the ridicule continued, even by her confessor.

Being told by her confessor who strongly believed that the actions of Teresa was the work of the devil, Sister was instructed to give an obscene gesture every time she had a vision. Jesus took this lightly as He told Sister Teresa to obey her confessor.

When deciding to reform the Carmelite order because of hostility and gossip that surrounded her, she was denounced from the pulpit and threatened with Inquisition. Even so, during her lifetime she established fourteen monasteries of nuns.

Saint Teresa died on October 4, 1582 at age 67.

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