MEMORIAL OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, OCTOBER 15 2020
A Reading from the letter of Paul to the EPH 1:1-10
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the holy ones who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In Christ we have redemption by his Blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
REFLECTION: "In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ."
St. Teresa of Avila lived in a world full of turmoil and down in the middle of the Protestant Reformation.
She was a Carmelite nun, mystic, religious reformer, and theologian. She is one of the first female Doctor of the Church, (the other one at that time was St. Catherine of Siena).
In 1536, Teresa entered the religious life at the age of 20, Ann Boleyn was executed, and John Calvin instituted his Protestant theology.
During and after an acute infirmity, Teresa became acquainted with ascetic and mystic works which helped her dive deeper into her faith and love for God. She started to have mystical encounters with Jesus himself.
By 1560, it was clear to her that the convent where she lived was not keeping with the correct rules of cloistering and prayer. With the help of her spiritual advisor, Peter of Alacantara, she founded a "reformed" Carmelite convent. This was established in 1562, the same year the Council of Trent reconvened and the church of England was established and defined its doctrinal stance. She received a papal sanction in 1563. Some of the disciplines they kept were flagellation, and the discalceation of the religious. Thus the name "Discalced Carmelites".
Theresa travelled extensibly and founded many monasteries.
Her most widely known written works are "Autobiography", "The Way of Perfection" and "Interior Castle". These, and other works, helped many people during her lifetime, and spiritually aided many as a Counter-Reformation option to Protestantism.
God gave us in her a true force of nature. A relentless woman that at first lived a somewhat bourgeois life, but would eventually learn to love and give all of herself in the service of Our Lord.
She also lived in times of great upheaval, when the Church was losing the faithful to the Anglicans, Calvinists, Huguenots, and internal divisions within the Church itself. God sent her great spiritual advisors, amongst them Jesuit priests and a wonderful mentor in St. John of the Cross (a Carmelite himself).
We also live in times of great upheaval and turmoil. And God has not left us alone. Even in these times of self-isolation and pandemic, many good theologians, thinkers, and priests have poured over social media and other electronic forms of communication that allow us to learn more about Jesus and His Church. Without these events, they would have stayed in their classrooms or parishes without being able to positively impact many of us with their teachings and words of encouragement.
Pray for priests, especially the good ones that need encouragement because they are faithful to Jesus, and are not falling for the fallacies of our era.
And pray for the priests who are trying more to please the people, and strive for a good general opinion of themselves.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for all priests.