"His care is to rise early to seek the Lord
To open his mouth in prayer, to ask pardon for his sins.
If it pleases the Lord Almighty, he will be filled with the spirit of understanding;
He will pour forth his words of wisdom and in prayer give praise to the Lord."
- Sirach 39:5-6

 

Pope Francis writes on the occasion of the inauguration of the 2015 Teresian Jubilee Year: “read her books that tell us who and how Mother Teresa was and what she can teach us, the men and women of today.”

Our Carmelite martyr St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) in her search for the truth found it both in the Catholic Church and in the reading of the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. She later attested, “Her effect extends beyond the frontiers of her people and her Order and even reaches those who find themselves outside the Church. The power of her language, the sincerity and simplicity of the style of her writings open hearts and disposes them to divine life.  Only on the day of the last judgment will it become known the number of those who, thanks to her, have found the way of Light.”

Her writings were not only important for the life of the faithful, but also of great value to Spiritual Theology. They are an abundant source of varied experience, witness and spiritual insight. Though they were sketched for different reasons and under different circumstances, yet as a whole, they form a harmonious and compact body of doctrine.

At the center of her doctrine is Christ who reveals the Father, unites us to him and joins us to himself. The best foundations of this doctrine are Christian prayer as a life of love, and the Church by which is achieved in us the kingdom of God.

Our union with Christ is preparing the table of the Word of God, in constant meditation of the Gospel, and the banquet of his Body and his Blood, in the Eucharistic meal. In both these tables the humanity of Christ becomes intimately the man who trusts him completely in the mystery of his death, resurrection and glorious life with the Father.  For this most sacred humanity of Christ embraces all our good and salvation. Christ becomes the center of man’s life.

The life of prayer St. Teresa teaches is a lifetime of love because prayer is the necessity of friendship, so we talk for a long time alone with God whom we know loves us. God invites man and urges them to have friendship with him. Man tries to match that friendship with the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

So the greatness of prayer and contemplation, with greater longing, bring man to the kingdom of God and the Church. This is the life and wonderful works of St. Teresa, that in the fullness of contemplation, she made for the good of the Church this foundation of her doctrine. At her death, she repeated in full truth and joy: “Thank you, Lord, for I am dying a daughter of the Church.”

May we be nourished by her heavenly teachings and grow in our friendship with our Lord, Jesus Christ! St. Teresa, Pray for us!

1. The Book of Her Life

One journeys with her in the encounter with Christ in faith and prayer. She tells all the works of the merciful God has performed in her, explaining the meaning and aims of them before the eyes of the readers as an admirable “salvation history.”

2. The Way of Perfection

She exposes the ascetic foundations of the theological life, the three main virtues: detachment, charity and humility, as well as the need and the degrees of prayer with exceptional skills. She warns those who practice prayer the temptations they may encounter. She also gives a moving commentary on the “Our Father” intermingled with her own prayer to God.

3. The Interior Castle

In her most famous and classical work, our Saint scans the full development of divine life in man, in which one may participate in the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of Christ in the highest level of mystical experience.

The Interior Castle, St Teresa of Avila 



St. Teresa's Mansions - Fr Thomas Dubay SM



4. The Book of the Foundations

In this book, St. Teresa narrates her apostolic labors and how she toils for the reform of the Carmelite Order for the good of Christ's Church. One learns in it the Saint's fortitude and determination in overcoming difficulties to do God’s work and witness how one can harmonize contemplation with apostolic activities.

5. Shorter Writings: Meditations, Soliloquies, Spiritual Testimonies

In these writings of hers shine her holy desire to completely submit her divine gifts to the authority of the Church, God's ministers. And her ardent love of God in her soul is opened to the readers.

6.  Letters
Her letters were so full of humanity, showing the versatility of St. Teresa's genius and of the love of God in her soul, as she strives to actively live both the contemplative life that she intended, and to participate in the vigorous religious and earthly events of her time.